Raised in a strict fundamentalist church in Kentucky where homosexuality was hardly tolerated, Gene Robinson has evolved to become the first openly gay man in the Anglican (Episcopal) Church to be elected a bishop, after assisting the Bishop of the New Hampshire diocese for sixteen years. He was consecrated on 2 November 2003. Robinson has previously worked as a curate at a church in New Jersey and run ministries for teenagers, AIDS patients and congregations in conflict.
Vicky Gene Robinson was born at Good Samaritan Hospital after a long, rough and very difficult delivery. He was dragged into the world by a doctor's forceps; the doctors declining to perform a Caesarean section because they lacked blood for transfusions that would match his mother's rare blood type. Hospital workers warned the parents that their baby might die or be permanently impaired. The doctor asked his parents for a name for both the birth and the death certificates, just in case. Victor and Imogene Robinson had hoped for a girl and - considering that their son was near-death - gave their newborn the names they had already chosen (from their own monikers) for a daughter - Vicky [Imo]Gene.
For ten days, the infant Robinson was in an incubator, fed with an eyedropper, his head bruised and deformed, one eye swollen shut and one side of his body paralyzed. The doctor wasn't sure if he had much of a future, saying that "he may never walk, he may never talk, he may never have any mind," according to his mother. Although the worst was expected, he recovered marvellously. "Oh, he was as bright as he could be," his mother adds (Lockwood).
Having overcome paralysis, Vicky Gene grew stronger and was taken home to the farm where the Robinsons worked as tobacco sharecroppers. He had a poor childhood, particularly during the early years when his father worked as a tenant farmer before moving to Fayette County, where he became a firefighter while continuing to farm. "It wasn't until we moved to town when I was 8 or 9 that we finally had running water and that kind of thing," he says (Smith). His father eventually became Fayette County's fire chief.
Robinson did well at school and was always the lead in school plays. After being named valedictorian at Lafayette High School in Lexington, he went on scholarship to the University of the South in Sewanee, TN. In 1969 (the year of the Stonewall Riots in New York City), he earned his Bachelor's degree in American studies and History there, and entered the Seminary. Robinson completed a Master of Divinity degree at General Theological Seminary in New York City in 1973.
While attending the Seminary, Robinson chose to undergo therapy to try and end his same-sex thoughts and desires. The therapy was (of course) unsuccessful, but in 1972 he married, informing his fiancée that he still had doubts about his sexuality. They had two daughters and Robinson became a pastor in New Jersey. Eventually seeing his homosexuality as something to affirm, he decided he could not live honestly as a married man. After coming out as gay, he and his wife divorcing amicably in 1986. Around 1989, Robinson met his current partner, Mark Andrews. Today, Robinson, his current partner, his ex-wife, and his daughters all remain close friends. They all attended his consecration.
His Bright Stars
Like many successful folk with Pluto rising closely conjunct the Ascendant, Gene Robinson is a born survivor. And with Saturn there too, he has turned considerable hardships into achievements. Robinson made it through a harrowing birth to a full recovery. Unsure of his sexuality, he nevertheless entered a marriage (as was expected of him), co-parenting two offspring, and after a friendly divorce retaining a good relationship with them and his former wife. While a church leader, he came out very publicly as a gay man, and has built a long and loving relationship with his companion. Before appointment as bishop-elect Robinson faced an allegation to the effect that he had "inappropriately touched" an adult male parishioner on two occasions. This was soon quashed due to lack of evidence and the next day Robinson was confirmed by majority vote. Being at the centre of a worldwide controversy over the authority of gays and lesbians in churches, he responds to his critics by saying that he has been called by God to become an openly-gay Bishop.
Pluto, Saturn and his Ascendant are found in Leo which is ruled by the Sun, which is conjunct his North Node. This explains his spiritual quest and the leadership qualities he has honed in the face of the many great challenges that have shaped his life. The Sun and Leo have a theatrical bent, and Robinson is a born leader. As a child he took the lead in school plays, today (in his Sunny golden robes) he is a leading figure among gay and lesbian spiritual folk.
With the Sun (Life, Spirit, Faith) and North Node (Soul purpose) in (literary) Gemini, Robinson says the deepest lesson he learned from his church was a "love for Scripture," adding that "it was a living faith. I didn't learn about a God that stopped revealing God's self when the canon (books) in the Scripture was closed, but a God that's active in our lives every day" (Smith). With the trine from (interpretative) Neptune to his Sun, Robinson says that homosexuality should be understood in the context of other biblical passages, such as Jesus' teachings on the acceptance of outcasts. Robinson speaks through his Sun-Node conjunction when he explains that he has a higher calling from God to become an openly gay Bishop, while the semi-sextile from Mars (conjunct and ruling his 29° Aries Midheaven) to the Sun gives him the courage to be such a religious pioneer.
Clarke, Rachel. "Profile: Bishop-elect Gene Robinson." BBC News Online, 20 October 2003.
"Gene Robinson" Wikipedia.
Lockwood, Frank E. "Testing the Fabric: Ky. native says negative reactions won't deter him" Lexington Herald-Leader 26 October 2003.
Smith, Peter. "Gay on brink of becoming bishop: Heated debate over Kentucky native's election threatens to cause rift in the Episcopal church" Courier-Journal 3 August 2003.
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