Photo by Vince Donovan
The Rev. Dr. Bishop Megan Rohrer's ancestors must've liked the cold.
In Part 1, Bishop Megan traces their South Dakota family lineage back to Switzerland, Germany, and Norway. In the new country, they lived in barns and farmed the land. Their great-grandmother carried a bucket of lard with a piece of bread in it when she went to school. Eventually, their family survived the Depression.
They discuss the culture in South Dakota as being one where grudges can't be held long. As they put it, "Your neighbor might be the one to pick you up when your car runs off the road and into a ditch."
Their mom grew up in a small town in the state and moved to Sioux Falls, where their dad grew up. Dad, a veteran, eventually turned to alcohol. Things got so bad that his restraining order meant he had to move out of state. He chose California—Visalia specifically.
On a visit to see their dad, Bishop Megan learned of some half-siblings in California. They also have a full brother and half-sister from back in South Dakota.
When it comes to growing up in Sioux Falls, Bishop Megan says the Eastern South Dakota town is more diverse than you might think. They go on to explain the politics and economics of the place, and point to the reason many of us might already know of the town. We also talk about the weather there.
After graduating from high school, they moved onto to the college campus in town to work there. Through that job, Bishop Megan got free tuition to college, which they finished in three years.
We end Part 1 with Megan's experiences following the death of Matthew Shepard, something that eventually led to their going to religious school.
In Part 2, Bishop Megan talks about their trans identity. Through popular culture and with age, they knew they were queer around the time they went to college. Eventually, as the world and language evolved, "trans" became what they identify with.
One of their children is also trans, and Bishop Megan shares their perspective of what it's like to parent the kid.
Then they us about life after college. Deciding to pursue religious studies wasn't so obvious, as churches at that time refused to ordain LGBTQ people. They ended up at Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary in Berkeley. Within the first year there, they started working with hungry and homeless folks on Polk Street in The City.
We pivot to the story of meeting their wife. It involves therapy homework and falling off a curb.
Needless to say, the two hit it off. Because they wanted to adopt children, they moved to the Sunset to a place with multiple bedrooms. They continue living there with their family today.
Next, Bishop Megan discusses the arduous process of becoming a bishop in the Lutheran Church. If you missed it, Megan is the first trans bishop of a major U.S. church.
We end this podcast with Megan talking about the current state of things in San Francisco as well as their vision for the next phase here in The City.
We recorded this podcast at Harvey's in the Castro in August 2021.