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Mace & Crown | April 25, 2018

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“Not That Big of a Deal:” Tim Bostic

For a guy whose name has been in The Washington Post, New York Times, and even The Guardian over the last few weeks, Tim Bostic has a remarkably small office.

A passionate man focused on his work as an educator, Bostic is an assistant professor of English at Old Dominion University, as well as one of the plaintiffs in the potentially landmark case to overturn Virginia’s same-sex marriage ban, which took place in Norfolk.

The ban was ruled unconstitutional on Feb. 13 by Judge Arenda Wright Allen but is awaiting appeal to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond.

Although he’s excited about the victory, Bostic isn’t one to play up being a local celebrity.

“My partner and I have been together almost 25 years. It’s not a shocker to anyone that we wanted to get married,” he said.

“I really didn’t think it [the case] was that big of a deal… I know that sounds naïve but I just didn’t think people would be that interested in it.”

Despite the media buzz surrounding the case, sometimes referred to as “Bostic vs Rainey,” Bostic has managed to stay out of the spotlight, for the most part. This is fitting for a man who is more dedicated to his work than any amount of airtime or sensationalist headline

“We laugh at all the publicity, we really do,” he said. “We’re older and we’ve got our feet firmly planted on the ground. I know who I am, we know who we are. No outside person, for good or bad, is going to alter that.”

Bostic may not take advantage of his star status, but he does use perks that come with being in such a high-profile case to organize this new, chaotic chapter of his life. He and his partner, Tony London, have professionals who set up interviews, run public relations and keep private information private.

Bostic, who was raised almost entirely out of the country, had a “protected” upbringing that fostered a strong set of American based ideals, without being blind to the country’s shortcomings.

Abroad his family had, at most, two television channels and little access to outside information. He relied on what his parents told him to shape his world view.

“My dad fought in World War Two and I was brought up to believe that in this country everybody gets a fair shake,” Bostic said.

“When I first started teaching in the public schools and I saw how kids, poor kids, black kids, were treated, it shocked me. Education is the one thing we give everybody; it’s the one social safety net we provide regardless of class, race, gender, any of these things.”

Bostic has been involved in education since the mid ‘90s, spending much of his adult life working and advocating for underprivileged schools, teachers and most importantly, students.

Balancing the burdens of being part of a controversial federal court case and keeping up with teaching might seem a daunting task, but so far he hasn’t cancelled a single class. The day before the hearing, he did a number of press interviews, scheduling them around university meetings and evening classes.

“It’s hard to explain how much it [his work] matters to me because it’s part of how I contribute to helping make a just society for kids… Yes this is part of that mission too I just didn’t realize that at the time [the beginning of the case].”

Since filing the papers to sue the Commonwealth, Bostic has received an overflow of messages of support from former students, which he says, “is the best part of the whole thing.”

“You always taught us to stand up for ourselves, it’s nice to see you standing up for yourself,” he recalls one student telling him.

“I go and speak to people and do talks and fight the good fight and do my research on equity issues and education across the board. But it feels a little odd doing it for myself,” he admits.

“However the one thing I will say is I realize this isn’t just about me…One of the things that I has been so moving about all this is the number of parents I’ve heard from with gay kids saying ‘you know we really appreciate you doing this, you’re opening doors for our son.”

Bostic and London have also received messages of support from many members of the community, including the current and former rectors of their church, Christ and St. Luke’s.

The case has garnered impassioned reactions from the “traditional marriage” side. The morning of the hearing, demonstrators from a number of regional and national organizations, as well as area churches, filled the sidewalk outside the courthouse.

“Do you know how many of our straight couple friends we’ve seen get divorced over the years? Or our neighbors you know… they’re rolling around in the bushes with someone they met at the club… somehow or another we’re going tohurt marriage? You know I don’t think so, that just doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense,” Bostic said.

By Sean Davis & Adrienne Mayfield
News Editor & Copy Editor