So then, a little background, I’m Dana and I’m an LGBT traditionalist Catholic. I started this curious addiction when I converted to Catholicism roughly a decade ago from a middle of the road, vaguely evangelical Anglican background, only complicated by the fact my dad is an Anglican priest. When I converted I had to vow that I agreed with everything the Catholic Church teaches, and at the time I was happy doing so. I thought the logical conclusion of Christian theology and philosophy is Catholicism and shock horror, for the most part, I still do.
Of course back when I converted I was also still very much in denial about my sexuality and gender identity. I was so far in the closet I was eating Turkish delight with a witch. Even the Catholic Church’s position on homosexuality, which I no longer agree with, is at least more philosophically coherent than most protestant groups. Perhaps at the time I thought that if I signed on the dotted line the pesky part of me that was transsexual and bisexual would quietly disappear.
Of course it didn’t and like all things that are quietly but brutally suppressed the inconvenient truth will out eventually, but not before it caused me huge psychological damage. Cue the obligatory therapy sessions and pill popping until finally I faced up to the root of the problem.
Joining the LGBT Christian fellowship has been a long time coming and it has been a breath of fresh air to know I am not alone; it’s so invigorating to meet people who have, like me, chosen not to allow homophobia in the Church, institutional or otherwise, to drive us away from Jesus. I will always love the Catholic Church, I love the Mass, I love the Catholic faith. I will never give it up; even if the Church cannot escape this straight jacket it has made for itself on the issue of homosexuality.
My mind is now made up, I am now in favour of gay marriage, my past reluctance to endorse gay marriage was gradually eroded the more loving gay Christian couples I met. I’ve come to the conclusion gay marriage is the only honest response to the romantic love God seems to be giving gay Christian couples.
It never occurred to the early Church that gentiles might become Christians until God gave gentiles the Holy Spirit. Likewise the Church now has to recognise the reality of gay love. Because I knew that a lot of secular people have a warped idea of marriage to begin with it took gay Christian couples to convince me. But now the words “what god has united let no man divide” have an additional depth.
Christianity invented the idea of marriage being about love, but just as Jesus said the Sabbath was made for man, so marriage is made for love, not the other way around. When you find gay people with this Christian desire for the sanctity of marriage for their relationship it is eye opening, when you see that they really do genuinely and deeply love one another it takes a certain kind of callousness to grope around for reasons to tell them that their love is not worthy of the Church’s blessing.
The Catholic Church argues against homosexuality by extolling the virtues of the ‘complimentary nature of the sexes’. Love between a man and woman is beautiful and is bountiful in children. But you do not defend straight marriage by attacking gay marriage. You are simply saying “I can have my good thing, but you can’t have yours”. Complementarity of the sexes is truly all well and good, but God also created gay people and straight people, and what if gay love is complementary to straight love?
It seems to me that gay love is a mirror of God’s limitless love for humanity not bound by our human frailties. Maybe Christian homophobes think every time two women or two men kiss a child dies? Well I’ve got good news, there have been gay people since the dawn of time and there are now seven billion humans on the planet.
Actually if straight Christians obey the Catholic Church when it comes to contraception then there will be plenty of sons and daughters to become priests and nuns and there will also be more than enough of us so that the one in ten of us who are gay can be welcomed as joyous addition to humanity and be accepted for who we are in the Church.
I’ve been ruminating a lot on this in my sleep, because on Saturday, for the first time, I went to bed genuinely happy to be queer, I’ve finally realised why ‘Courage’ (The only gay Catholic group endorsed by the Vatican) ceaselessly use the term ‘same sex attraction’ on their website. They cannot use the term gay because for them it would be a lie, they are deeply unhappy to be the people that God created them to be. It does not have to be this way; God calls us to life and life in all its fullness.
The reason I went to sleep happy was I had just been to another fantastic LGBT Christian event and heard Tracey Byrne the ceo of LGCM and the newly minted (Catholic) ceo of Stonewall talk about their work, both spoke simply and powerfully about how right it is that gay people be true to who they are. The theme of the event was Desmond Tutu’s quote “There comes a point where we all need to stop just pulling people out of the river, we need to go upstream and find out why they are falling in” or in the case of gay Christians, why we are being pushed in.
It is within this context that I can begin to look past the psychological hurt done to me by the Church that does not seem to notice it is crucifying its own members on the issue of homosexuality. Remind myself that I am just one person, and that actually there are many more like me, and that whilst keeping my head below the parapet might be a good survival technique I owe it to my gay brothers and sisters in Christ to voice my dissent against the machinery of this institution that really does grind so many of us into paste.
The Catholic Church does not realise how brutally it erases its gay members. It seems to think that insisting gay people never do anything gay is somehow a loving acceptance of gay people. It is not, it is annihilation. The Catholic Church said in the Catechism decades ago now that gay people need to be loved and accepted, but when it comes to what that actually entails it still needs to be educated.
Being gay absolutely is not a ‘cross to bear’, being gay is wonderful, what is a cross to bear is the Church’s small minded refusal to truly accept gay people for who they are and who they love. I am happy because the gay Christians I’ve met are wonderful and from now on I will endeavour to put my head above the parapet for them, I will not be beaten down because now I have other people I can stand up and be counted with and be vociferous in their defence.