I gotta say, there had been a point in time when I, as a Christian, was embarrassed about this woman. Her clown makeup. Her goody-two-shoes perkiness. Her simplistic worldview of Christ as Love.
And then, two or three years ago, I watched the season of Surreal Life that featured her. When the promo said that she would be on there with Ron Jeremy, I just had to check it out. And to my amazement, she was — how best to put this — a very classy dame in the grand tradition of larger than life women.
She was both strong and gentle, never compromising her own principles, and never condemning anyone else in the process. Her behavior won over her roommates, who never felt like they had to pretend to be anything other than themselves in her presence. She always engaged people in conversation about what they wanted to discuss. She asked questions about them, and encouraged them.
When I learned that she had been for some time an icon in the gay community (via Jim J. Bullock), I was surprised. But then when I saw a large contingent of gays and lesbians turn out for her book signing, and gush about how wonderful she was and how important she was to them, I had a cathartic moment. I thought to myself, ‘My goodness, how she has changed over the years!’.
And then I realized, it wasn’t she who had changed. It was I. Watching her that season, my own judgmentalism melted away. I was able to see her for who I think she really is, a humble servant of Christ who sets an example for people like me. I’m ashamed that I’d been ashamed of her.
Here’s to you, Tammy Faye. […tink!..] God go with you always.