The name Youth Specialties (YS) carries a lot of weight with it. For good or bad, any big organization constantly gets both hated on and praised for their work and successes. There are some people out there who have nothing better to do then to try and discredit and rip apart people/organizations for no other reason because they have made something out of themselves. YS falls into that category. But as many in the ‘spotlight’ tell me, it comes with the territory. And with that, YS totally understands who they are, what they’re all about and the mass audience they command (YS averages anywhere between 13,000 – 21,000 people throughout their 3 national conventions each year).
So I’d be lying if I said I expected them to ask me to be a General Session (GS) speaker. I’d be lying even more if I said that I also expected them to ask me to be a GS speaker at all 3 of their national conventions! I was shocked. Why … a number of things which include the following:
I am 27 years old
I talk about homosexuality in a very non-traditional way
I am not pro-gay or ex-gay
I don’t have a book (not released, anyway)
I’m not super famous (PS – it’s like the only folks who get to grace a YS main stage session are big … real big, with a big following – and I am not that)
And I am reletively new to the public speaking "circut"
I am not anything that, from what I had previously gathered, YS was ever looking for. Not looking for, that was, until Marko (the President of YS) told me why they asked me to speak 4 times per convention. As he said in his introduction of me during the Friday night GS in Sacramento this past weekend:
“YS has looked for, and thought really hard for many years in how to address the topic of homosexuality. And in each idea we never found the right person or the right method to do such a thing. But I think our [YS] inability to talk about homosexuality has said more, loud and clear, then if we were to have ever talked about it. But we have found the person … “
Talk about setting the tone and the expectation for what I was going to be talking about?!
I wouldn’t have had it any other way because not only did it grip the thousands of people sitting in the audience, but it gave the intentionality this topic deserves in conservative/evangelical/ecumenical/middle of the road/swaying left/Christian/Catholic/general religious circles that it utterly deserves these days!
(even though I needed a big dose of Zanax while I was sitting in my hotel room before-hand totally doing the freak). Just a side note about why I was doing the freak …
Every person (past YS speakers and YS staff as well) I asked about the vibe and environment I was going to be walking into told me the same thing: “I have no idea how they’ll react, good luck and stick it to ‘em!” OH, isn’t that comforting?
When I got up on that stage the tension and uncertainty in that large convention ballroom was so thick it could have been cut with a flimsy feather – I mean we’re not even talking about solidly constructed butter knives!
And thus I started talking.
To be continued ….