This year I was invited to attend the AP reading in Cincinnati, Ohio. More than 1,000 Spanish teachers from around the country and I converged on downtown Cincinnati for one week to grade Spanish AP tests. It was a lot of work!
|Downtown Cincinnati from the Kentucky side of the Ohio River|
We were organized into table groups of nine people. My group consisted of me and a bunch of Hispanic women. I felt really young all week (which was a nice change of pace because I usually feel the opposite) because most of the AP readers were so much older. One woman at my table is about to have her first great-grandson. She's in her sixties and I tried to do the math to figure out how old everyone from each generation would have to be in order to have a great-grandson at 65, but the math got too cumbersome for my brain and I'm sure the answer would have disappointed me. Most of the women at my table were in their forties or fifties, but the lady who sat directly across from me was in her late twenties. She usually wore low cut shirts and had a large piercing right above her cleavage that looked like sparkling diamond. The shininess of the piercing subconsciously drew my eyes to her chest area every time I looked up. Not only did I not want to be looking at her chest, but I for sure didn't want to be caught looking at her chest. I didn't care for that piercing.
A few days in my roommate Josh ran into an AP friend that he had met at a previous AP reading. After the usually hugs and "Oh my gosh! How are your kids?" I was introduced to Meghann. She asked me my name and I unoriginally said, "I'm Ben Schilaty." She said, "How do you spell your last name." I told her and she said, "Shut up! Did you write your master's thesis on such-and-such a topic?" I did. She then said, "I printed out your thesis before I came and I'm going to read it while I'm here." I was stunned. It was such an unexpected honor to meet one of the 12 people who has heard of my thesis. It's a very exclusive group. Meghann and I then became friends and I'm sure we'll excitedly hug each other if we're both at the AP reading next year.
|St. Peter in Chains Cathedral|
After going to mass I met up with 18 other LDS folks who were also at the AP reading. Every year they get together on Sunday for a short devotional and testimony meeting. I only knew one person in the room from before and everyone else was basically a stranger. However, I felt an instant connection with those people and sitting in a circle with them in a small room in a convention center in Cincinnati felt like being home. As we sang a hymn I was familiar with and said a prayer I felt the Spirit in a remarkable way. None of us was there under any pretences or because of any kind of social pressure, we just wanted to worship together and share or thoughts and feelings about the Savior. It was the best religious meeting I've been to in months.
I shared my testimony and in it I mentioned being gay. After the meeting as we were putting the chairs away (it wouldn't be a Mormon meeting if we didn't put chairs away after) two guys approached me with some questions. One of them has a son who identifies as gay and the other is a newly called bishop. They were very interested in my perspectives as a gay active latter-day saint and we talked for over an hour. That night I felt so grateful for this small group of latter-day saints who meets together every year at the AP because I was uplifted and inspired by the things that were shared. When I got back to my hotel room that night everything felt right with the world.
|I loved the architecture in Cincinnati|
|And how their buildings look like Pringles cans|
|One day it rained and I got very wet|