For more than 50 years, I have endured every conceivable slander, ridicule, condemnation, and insult because, among other things, I happen to be gay. While I have tried in my own simple way to effect some social change in the acceptance of gay men and women in our society, I also have tried to keep any attempt at gay activism on the sidelines when it comes to my Roman Catholic Church. But I have had it, and I’m not going to remain silent any longer.
The latest condemnation from my church has come in the form of denying the authors of the book Are There Closets in Heaven? permission to speak in a Catholic church about their remarkable journey. Archdiocesan spokesman Michael McGrath stated (Minneapolis Star Tribune, Oct. 23) that Archbishop Harry Flynn would not approve of a lesbian who is “in an actual full sexual relationship” speaking at a church, and that gays and lesbians are welcome in the church as long as they are not sexually active.
Please tell me, Archbishop, is there a distinction between a “full sexual relationship” and a partial sexual relationship that would make a difference here? Would an unmarried heterosexual couple in a “full sexual relationship” or partial sexual relationship be allowed to speak at church? Would they be allowed to be a lector at mass or receive communion? Or, for that matter, how do you presume to know who is having a sexual relationship and what that relationship might be. Doesn’t the church have much more important things to ponder than who is doing what in their bedroom? Church history is not on your side in this matter, so stop being so self-righteous.
I am a 56-year-old man with a professional career in social services, and am active in my contribution to the betterment of society and the dignity of human life. I have been baptized and confirmed in the Roman Catholic Church. I have served God as a member of a religious community, and now as an active member in my parish ministries. I also happen to be gay, and happily partnered with the most wonderful man in world for more than 21 years. I’ll save you the effort at guessing: Yes, we have a very happy and “full sexual relationship.”
I am a card-carrying Roman Catholic, and I’m not going anywhere. I am also the Church. Go ahead, condemn me to Hell, but I will still have my Catholic faith in God, and will embrace you when we meet in the Heavenly Kingdom. Refuse to give me the Eucharist, and I will go to another Catholic church to receive it. Excommunicate me, and I will keep coming back to church to receive the Eucharist, and celebrate God’s love for me.
As St. Paul says in the Letter to the Romans, “For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor present things, nor future things, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
And that includes the hierarchy of my church. I’m not going anywhere, and I will not leave.
Editor’s Note: Are There Closets in Heaven? was reviewed in “The Page Boy” in the November 9 issue of Lavender.