We’ve all got a past — some mostly good and some not so great. It’s what happens to us as we grow up and begin to take on the mantle of adulthood. We make mistakes and we sometimes do things or say things that we come to regret or realize we sure aren’t overly joyed with the outcome. I don’t have to enumerate them here — the list can be long.
Recently, the former president of the Charlotte LGBT Chamber of Commerce, Chad Sevearance-Turner, was publicly “outed,” not for his sexual orientation, but for a legal matter that happened nearly two decades ago when he was still a teen. Reports were brought to the forefront about his status as a sex offender, and personally, it caught me off guard.
You see, having the information about Chad would have been preferable. Blindsides are not something that I take lightly. But once I understood the background of the events leading up to the disclosure by ulta-conservative, right-winged fundamentalist Tami Fitzgerald and others, I was more understanding of what transpired.
I had developed a lovely friendship and camaraderie with Chad, and as a long-time staffer of this paper, had not been made aware of his past situation.
Chad was a very young man when he underwent the trials he encountered. I do not know the exact nature of what happened, other than what has been reported in the media and court records many years ago.
Since then, he has become a very productive and well-respected member of society, at least among the progressive side. His grit and determination to help shepherd the growth of the chamber is enormously noteworthy. Before he took the helm of president, the organization had been clicking along and had survived, even when others throughout the community had not due to apathy or attrition. In the last year or so, the organization received national recognition, as well as much notice locally. He has always been warm and welcoming. He has put his personal agenda aside for the greater good. And, that’s remarkable. It is evidenced, for example, in his decision to step down from his role as head of the chamber.
Chad has been able to pull himself out of the ashes of his past and reached a point of redemption. That is a good thing. He could have done the opposite, right? No! It seems that he did not want to waste his life focused on the negative and opted for something more positive.
For any of us who has undergone trials and tribulations, and have not risen above it, redemption is illusive. For those who have fought their way back to a more productive and healed life, redemption is possible. Chad chose the latter. How many of you chose the former?
If someone has faced their fears and lot in life and pushed through it, redemption is an achievable goal. Choosing to and working through issues that plague one from one’s past keeps a person from falling into the crippling nature that can easily transpire and result in being shut down and forever isolated. It does no good. Maybe someone who had an indiscretion previously, be it major or minor, might one day overcome that adversity and contribute to society positively and purposefully in a large or remarkable way. A scientific discovery? Championing justice? Breaking records? Saving a life? The world has proven this as seen by actors, sports figures, governmental officials, fashionistas, business leaders and many more who paid their debt to society, used the situation as a valuable education and then made amends and turned their lives around. How have you handled your circumstances?
Is one circumstance in one’s life a definition of who that person is? Maybe yes and maybe no. However, if someone has directly made a well-thought-out decision to turn from what some may call sin and others simply wrong doing, then should that person be punished for the rest of their life for what they had done in error? This is a difficult question to answer, and yet so simple. What would you do and how would you handle the situation?
I hope that as we continue our good fight for equality, that we take time along the way to “audit” our choices. If we made poor ones, then make better ones the next time. And, if there are folks whom we encounter who have had difficulty and/or have paid their dues to society and have risen above it, then show them some consideration and understanding. It has taken a lot of moxie and guts to make big changes. What kind of changes are you willing to make and what are you going to do to achieve them?
Redemption is the key to making a bad situation one that can be used as a valuable life lesson so one can switch gears and do good.