Testing The Wind – story of coming out as a gay man and young pastor in the 1980s.
Testing the Wind by Peter Ilgenfritz (Coffeetown Press, April 2021) is a memoir of coming out and coming of age in the 1970’s and 1980’s. It tells the story of Peter’s wrestling with the meaning of sexual identity in the 1970’s and the particular challenges of coming out as a gay man and young pastor in the 1980’s.
It relates his experience working with community leaders to start one of the first organizations to support people living with HIV/AIDS in north suburban Cook County in the 1980’s-90’s, the search to find a church to serve with his partner in the 1990’s, a call to a church in Seattle and being part of the legal effort to overturn the Defense of Marriage Act in Washington State.
Amidst the particular costs and struggles of that time, Peter seeks to find an elusive grounding beyond the confines of fixed labels and identities. Testing the Wind is a book about the possibilities of love and commitment and living with the consequences of commitments that end and change. It’s a testimony to the pursuit of living into the wonder, call and mystery of who we are and the discovery of the work we are called to do in the world. Testing the Wind tells a particular story that helps open up stories for those who lived through the tumult of these particular decades and provides historical understanding and perspective for those who came of age after this time.
It is encouragement to all to be about the work of becoming a self and the mystery and wonder of offering yourself in vulnerability for encouragement, understanding and healing in the world.
Peter Ilgenfritz, Coach, Spiritual Guide, Author, Interim UCC Pastor Boothbay Harbor, ME. For 33 years Peter Ilgenfritz has served as a pastor in the United Church of Christ. A native of Massachusetts, he served for 25 years as pastor at University Congregational Church in Seattle before following a call to walk with others through times of change and transition. Peter is a member of Chobo-Ji, a Rinzai Zen community in Seattle and a graduate of Colgate University and Yale Divinity School. Peter loves running, biking, conversations and writing. His book of poetry, Setting Sail, is available through Lulu Press. For more information on his ministry of coaching, spiritual accompaniment and retreat leadership contact him at Peter@navigatingthroughchange.com or through his website, NavigatingThroughChange.com.
Peter currently serves as interim pastor at the Congregational Church of Boothbay Harbor, Maine. Learn more at: @PeterIlgenfritz
“There are journeys in life we would never choose to take, but we do so anyway, because we know that our lives depend on our taking them. In a tippy little boat, on a tiny lake in downtown Seattle, I learned to sail. I discovered a practice that helped me let go of the life I had and discover a new life I’d never imagined. Along the way, I crashed into waves of grief and despair but did not drown. I was tossed by anxiety but did not die. Instead, I discovered parts of myself I’d never dared to embrace. Eventually, I learned what was on the other side of letting go.”
Testing the Wind by Peter Ilgenfritz is available from Coffeetown Press.
About the Author
Bryen Dunn is a freelance journalist based in Toronto with a focus on tourism, lifestyle, entertainment and community issues. He has written several travel articles and has an extensive portfolio of celebrity interviews with musicians, actors and other public personalities. He’s willing to take on any assignments of interest, attend parties with free booze, listen to rants, and travel the world in search of the great unknown. He’s eager to discover the new, remember the past, and look into the future.