The weekend after New Ways Ministry’s Eighth National Symposium, “Justice and Mercy Shall Kiss: LGBT Catholics in the Age of Pope Francis,” I was reading an op-ed essay in the New York Times, and my mind reeled back to that meeting held in Chicago on the last weekend of April.
I was surprised that the essay would conjure up a memory of the symposium, since, on the surface, the text had nothing to do with Catholic or LGBT issues. Yet, on another level, I saw the essay was, in fact, speaking to the core of the Catholic LGBT conversation–or, perhaps, I should say lack of conversation.
The op-ed essay in question was entitled “How Censorship Works,” and it was written by a Ai Weiwei, a Chinese artist, whose name had recently been removed from several of his works by government officials at exhibitions in Beijing and Shanghai. The essay is an insightful analysis of the ways that censorship operates in a contemporary culture which seems to prize and valorize free expression.
It’s that time of year again. The beginning of summer marks the time of year when every major city hosts its LGBT Pride Parade. The cities will explode in a Molotov cocktail explosion of pink confetti, diva music, and piñatas filled with condoms. Or so I’ve heard.
For the first time I will be participating in the festivities. Not because for the first time in my life I’m gay, but for the first time in my life, I’m verging on something adjacent to pride when it comes to my sexuality.
For the longest time, I didn’t know what that meant. How could someone be proud of their sexuality? Did straight people walk around proud of the fact that they wanted to have heterosexual intercourse? Unlikely.
But really what was there to be proud of when it came to sexuality at all? It is an uncontrollable fact bestowed upon each of us. It’s like celebrating my red hair or freckles. Those don’t bring me a sense of pride. They’re just facts. I’m proud of accomplishments. My graduation from college, my job, the relationships I’ve built with those around me, my dedication to watch all of season 2 of True Detective no matter how bad it got. Those required work.
My gayness didn’t require work. It required being born.
But then I thought again.
Source: Gay, Catholic and Proud
The main thrust of this story is that Azzi is notable as the first major basketball coach to come out as gay.
Gay marriage: Supporters laud Jennifer Azzi for her bravery
Jennifer Azzi built a reputation for taking charge on the basketball court while becoming the greatest point guard in Stanford history.Now she’s leading in a new arena by becoming the only openly gay coach of a Division I men’s or women’s basketball program.
Azzi, 47, announced Thursday night that she is married to Blair Hardiek, her assistant coach at the University of San Francisco.
Hidden in the detail, however, is something else of interest to LGBT Catholics. She and her wife are coaching at a Catholic college – and has the support of the school.
USF athletic director Scott Sidwell said Friday the school supports Azzi, who led the Dons (21-12) to the NCAA tournament last month for the first time since 1997.
“We have a commitment to Jennifer,” he said, referring to a five-year contract extension signed in July. “We’re going to respect the dignity of each person.”
But Sidwell, who took over after Azzi was hired in 2010, declined to answer specific questions about the announcement and about a coach being married to one of her employees. He described the Jesuit school as an inclusive campus “committed to the workplace.”
Source: San Jose Mercury News
An Australian Catholic high school has asked an an author who had been invited to the school to refrain from speaking about his latest novel, which contains a gay character, after the writer came out as a gay man.
De La Salle College, a high school located in the Sydney suburb of Revesby, had invited William Kostakis to speak about his new book, The Sidekicks, in March and in June. But Kostakis withdrew from the engagements after being asked in a staff member’s email to him, that he be silent about his new book, The Sidekicks, which has a gay character in it.
Source: Bondings 2.0
Ian Dunn talks to Stonewall CEO Ruth Hunt, a Catholic, in search of common ground between religious groups and the gay community.
The head of gay rights organisation Stonewall is not someone you would expect to find in the pages of The Scottish Catholic Observer. Current CEO Ruth Hunt is, however, a practicing Catholic and she is on a mission to break down barriers and foster better communication between religious groups and the gay community.
Ms Hunt (above) spoke to the SCO to mark lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) month, which this year had the theme of faith, religion and philosophy.
“I think at Stonewall we have often seen the idea that the faith community and LGBT community have to come to blows as something artificially constructed,” she said.
”There are many LGBT people of faith and many LGBT people have lots of friends and family in faith communities. To think in terms of binaries and opposites is not helpful.”
The Rev. Cynthia Meyer said she was “called by God to be open and honest” about who she is. So, during her first sermon of 2016, Meyer broke the news: She loves another woman.
“I’ve been praying, and in a process of discernment for some time, particularly over the past few years, once I entered into a relationship,” said Meyer, pastor of Edgerton United Methodist Church.
Meyer, 53, was ordained in 1992 and served for 12 years as assistant dean of students at Emory University’s Candler School of Theology, a United Methodist-affiliated school in Atlanta.
In July, more than a year after she and her partner, Mary Palarino, began living together, Meyer accepted the call to be pastor in this community of 1,700 just southwest of Kansas City.
If the coming out process can be difficult, and coming out in church even more so, those difficulties can be even more so deeply religious parents of lesbian or gay people. Lance Bass was raised in Mississippi by a committed Southern Baptist family – not the easiest environment for any religious family to discover that their son is gay – and very publicly so, on the cover of tabloid magazines. At Huffington Post, Lance Bass describes what happened after he came out, how his mother prayed for a miracle – and how the miracle granted was not the one she expected.
The bulk of the post is in his mom’s own words, the text of a speech she delivered to a local church congregation. These are the central paragraphs of that speech (read the full text at Huffington Post Gay Voices).
The First Thing My Mom Did When She Learned I Was Gay… and the ‘Miracle’ That Occurred After
Seven years ago, we found out that Lance is gay. We were totally blindsided and devastated because never in a million years would we have guessed it. Also, because it was such a public thing, the situation was so much worse on the family. I do not want to go into the personal details of that revelation, but I will tell you that the ﬁrst thing I did was fall to my knees and ask, “What would Jesus do?” I almost immediately knew the answer… love my son. And that is what I have done. Never once did I ever think about turning my back on him. Never once was I ashamed or embarrassed. My feelings were more of sadness and just sheer disappointment in life.
If you believe that being gay is a choice, then the rest of what I say will not matter. I do not know why, but even as a staunch Christian, I personally never believed that being gay was a choice. I never knew a lot of gay people, but the ones I did meet I felt compassion for because I could feel their pain of being rejected and my heart always went out to them. Even though I never did believe Lance chose to be gay, I did not accept it as quickly as my husband did. His attitude was “It is what it is.” My attitude was “Yes, it is what it is but my God can perform miracles so I’m going to beg for a miracle to zap Lance and change him to straight!” And I did just that. I continued to love my son, stand beside him, and defend him, but for several years I continued to pray relentlessly for a miracle.
Well, Lance is still gay. However, I did get a miracle. It is just not the miracle I prayed for. You are looking at the miracle tonight. The miracle is that I learned to have unconditional love and compassion for my son and others in the gay community. I haven’t marched in parades or spoken at conventions, but I do feel that God has led me to speak out concerning the church’s role. My son is a Christian and wants to be able to worship, but he does not feel that the church cares about him and has pretty much disowned him as a fellow believer. There is something terribly wrong with that and I have to speak up on behalf of my son and others who ﬁnd themselves in the same situation. When I was a little girl, I went to a celebration with my grandparents on the courthouse lawn in Laurel. I was thirsty and ran to drink some water from one of the water fountains. My grandmother screamed at me to stop. When I looked at the fountain it had the word “Colored” on it and she told me I had to drink out of another one. I was only 6 years old but I knew something was just not right about that. Just as my heart told me something was wrong that day on the courthouse lawn, my heart is telling me that something is wrong with the way the church treats those who are gay.
I could tell you many stories that gay young people have told me about how so-called Christian people have treated them but I will only share one. One of the young men told me that he was searching for God and visited a large church one Easter Sunday. He was enjoying the beautiful service and feeling so drawn to what he was experiencing.
Everyone was standing singing a hymn and when he sat down there was a note in his chair. It said, “You know you are going to hell.” He told me that he never went to church again. I don’t blame him, but to my knowledge, he has not accepted Christ and is lost.
- Bass’ mum tells church to love gays (news.optuszoo.com.au)
- Shame on you, Lance Bass (aslongaswebothshalllove.wordpress.com)
- Lance Bass’ Mom Inspires With Her Words Of Acceptance And Unconditional Love (popwrapped.wordpress.com)
Wheaton, Illinois (CNN)– Combing through prayer requests in a Wheaton College chapel in 2010, then-junior Benjamin Matthews decided to do something “absurdly unsafe.”
He posted a letter on a public forum bulletin board near students’ post office boxes. In the letter, he came out as gay and encouraged fellow gay Christian students – some of whom had anonymously expressed suicidal plans in a pile of the prayer requests – to contact him if they needed help.
In a student body of 2,400 undergraduates in the suburbs of Chicago, at what is sometimes called the Harvard of evangelical schools, Matthews said that 15 male students came out to him. Other students seemed somewhat ambivalent about his coming out, he said.
No one told him he was wrong or needed to change, Matthews said some students were obviously uncomfortable with someone who would come out as gay and remain a Christian.
“I don’t think most Wheaton students knew what to do because they’ve been given ‘love the sinner, hate the sin’ rhetoric, but they don’t know how that plays out in real life,” said Matthews, who graduated in 2011. “They would mostly just listen, nod and say, ‘Yeah man, that’s hard.’”
As is the case at many evangelical colleges, Wheaton students sign an agreement to not have sex outside of marriage, including “the use of pornography … premarital sex, adultery, homosexual behavior and all other sexual relations outside the bounds of marriage.”
On campus, the college created an official group in February for students to explore questions of gender identity and sexual orientation. The group is intended as a “safe place for students who have questions about their sexual orientation or gender identity,” where students may self-identify as LGBTQ.
But cultural and political changes have created tensions for the academic and student life environment. As more mainline denominations ordain openly gay clergy and more states pass same-sex laws, some gay evangelicals – and their allies – are openly deviating from Wheaton’s official and long-held positions. Well-known Christian author Rob Bell, a graduate of Wheaton, came out in favor of gay marriage in mid-March.
OneWheaton, a group unaffiliated with the college, wants to offer an alternative view on homosexuality from that of the evangelical school. The group, which is not explicitly religious, wants GLBT students to feel affirmed in their sexuality, acting as a support network for students struggling with their sexual identity, whether they choose to be openly gay or whether they choose to remain celibate. But leaders of the group say that gay Christians do not need to be celibate to retain their religious identify.
“For those of you feeling alienated, it gets better,” says OneWheaton’s founding statement, signed by about 700 GLBT and straight, alumni, echoing Dan Savage’s national “It Gets Better” campaign for gay youth. “Your desire for companionship, intimacy and love is not shameful. It is to be affirmed and celebrated just as you are to be affirmed and celebrated.”
A widespread question
Wheaton is hardly the only evangelical college that’s seeing a growing spectrum of responses toward homosexuality among students, alumni and staff.
Last year, a group at Biola University in southern California came out with posters and a website called Biola Queer Underground. The group describes itself as “like-minded LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer) students and allies who have formed a private underground community in which we share our life struggles, as well as our love and support for one another.” Biola then issued a “statement on human sexuality” saying, “God’s design for marriage and sexuality is the foundational reason for viewing acts of sexual intimacy between a man and a woman outside of marriage, and any act of sexual intimacy between two person of the same sex, as illegitimate moral options for the confessing Christian.”
Groups from at least two Christian schools, Eastern University in Pennsylvania and George Fox University in Oregon, have formed OneEastern and OneGeorgeFox, which launched public websites in 2012.
-continue reading at – CNN Belief Blog
An open letter to the presidents of member institutions of the Council for Christian Colleges & Universities:
I am gay and I teach at a CCCU institution. I would like to tell you my name, my discipline, but I can’t because doing so would place my job at risk, as you well know.
My story is neither dramatic nor a profile in courage. Raised in a conservative Christian home, I only knew that homosexuality was a very serious sin. Then in graduate school, I fell in love with someone of the same sex — ironically enough, a conservative Christian like myself. My feelings scared me greatly. This person loved me as well, but we never articulated what those feelings were to each other until much later, when the feelings had changed. Since that time I have loved other persons of my sex, but only recently have I accepted my sexual orientation, when I am already teaching at a CCCU institution.
On institutional websites at Christian colleges one can find statements titled “Community Covenant” or “What We Believe” that discuss homosexuality, sometimes accompanied by biblical proof texts or “texts of terror,” as they are referred to by Christian gays and lesbians and our allies. Some institutions don’t have a separate statement on homosexuality, but do require faculty to conform to the student handbook that supports only heterosexual marriage. The language used in these statements includes “homosexual acts” or “homosexual practice” or “heterosexual marriage.” Such language allows your institutions to admit gay students, but carries with it the message that the institution does not think that they can look forward to a loving, committed, monogamous, same-sex relationship in the future.
At my institution there are no out faculty members. It is unclear to me whether simple orientation would place a person’s job at risk or whether behavior would be the primary issue.
You probably have read the 2011 New York Times article titled, “Even on Religious Campuses, Students Fight for Gay Identity.” I am perplexed by CCCU institutions whose student handbooks state that marriage is to be between a man and a woman, that refuse to hire openly gay faculty, and yet have clubs for gay and lesbian students in order to create a “safe” place for them. While I welcome such clubs, what does safety and hospitality mean if the real message is, “Here you can be safe as a gay student, but know that we think that you must be alone, without a partner, to be an obedient Christian”?
Read more:Inside Higher Ed
Homophobia is rampant in Kenya. Despite the challenging environment, an openly gay man is running for a seat in the new Senate established by the nation’s 2010 constitution.
Politician David Kuria Mbote once took an elevator in a Nairobi building alone after a group of people he had been waiting with recognized him as a gay rights activist.
“I entered the lift without thinking then realized no one wanted to join me,” he says. “Most of the people in the group were human rights activists going to the same conference I was attending. I couldn’t help but marvel at their hypocrisy.”
The 38-year-old man says he has faced this kind of discriminaton regularly for being openly gay in the largely homophobic Kenyan society. But he has learned to brush such incidents aside. He says he doesn’t mind when men avoid talking to him in public for fear that people may think they are gay.
Save for some tiny gray patches of hair, Mbote looks much younger than his age. He could easily pass for a man in his 20s with his slight build and easygoing nature. But it is his determination that dumbfounds both his friends and foes.
He comes from Kiambu, a county bordering Nairobi, Kenya’s capital. His conservative community considers him an outcast because of his sexuality and gay rights activism, which he has done for 10 years.
But Mbote now hangs up the boots of gay rights activism to seek political office. He is running to be his county’s senator in the country’s newly established Senate. He believes he will win the seat, bigotry in his community notwithstanding.
Mbote says he aims to change the game of politics – campaigning with social media and committing himself to good governance in order to effect positive social change. If elected, he says his main priority would be creating laws to fight HIV. But he has a challenging campaign ahead, as many people here reject homosexuality on the basis of religion. Voters are giving a mixed response on whether they would vote for a gay politician.
– full report at UPI.com.
- Gay politicians and the tabloid press (bbc.co.uk)
- Nairobi’s gay rights revolution (matadornetwork.com)
- Josh A. Goodman: Where Are the Gay Male Olympians? (huffingtonpost.com)
- Ireland elects first openly gay mayor (newstalk.ie)