For most gay Americans in the 20th century, the church was a place of pain. It cast them out and called them evil. It cleaved them from their families. It condemned their love and denied their souls. In 2004, a president was elected when religious voters surged from their pews to vote against the legal recognition of gay relationships. When it came to gay rights, religion was the enemy.
A decade later, the story is very different. Congregations across the country increasingly accept, nurture, and even marry their gay brethren. Polls show majorities of major Christian denominations — including American Catholics, despite their church’s staunch opposition — support legal gay marriage. Leaders of some of the most conservative sects, like the Southern Baptists, have moved away from the vitriolic rhetoric of yesteryear and toward a more compassionate tone. Mormons march in gay-pride parades. A sitting Republican senator, a Methodist from the heartland state of Ohio, says the question was settled for him by “the Bible’s overarching themes of love and compassion and my belief that we are all children of God.” A new pope says, “If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?”
more at Molly Ball – The Atlantic.
As the movement to marriage equality steams ahead globally, obvious exceptions are Africa and the Caribbean, where far more pressing issues are securing simple tolerance, freedom from violence, and even decriminalization.
But even here, there are signs of progress. In Jamaica, where homosexual acts can lead to a criminal conviction, an Anglican priest and a government minister both agree that change has already begun (and by implication, decriminalization will follow).
ANTI-GAY HYPOCRISY: Jamaica destined to become tolerant of homosexuality, says clergyman
Tolerance for homosexuality will eventually become a reality for Jamaica, according to one Anglican priest who says it already exists in many circles, including the Church.The Reverend Father Sean Major-Campbell believes, however, that hypocrisy on the matter has been the preferred route of Jamaican society for centuries.”I do not believe there was any Jamaican who would believe 30 – or even 20 – years ago that it would become the norm for so many Jamaican men to expose their underwear and posterior,” he said. “However, you are in style and good company if your boxers are fully on show in a conveniently homophobic society.”Major-Campbells comments have come on the heels of statements made by Pope Francis during a recent press conference on the issue of homosexuality within the Catholic Church. Some commentators say that the pontiffs comments struck a conciliatory chord on the attitude towards gays.
Justice Minister Senator Mark Golding says there has been an evolution in Jamaicans’ attitudes towards homosexuality over the years.
“Polls show that a fairly substantial portion of the population believes that we should be tolerant towards persons, regardless of sexual orientation. Certainly, the position taken by me and the Government is one which rejects totally any acts of violence against any of our citizens based on them being a member of some minority group.”
Golding added: “Some people really feel that homosexuality and a homosexual lifestyle are intrinsically immoral. My own view on the matter is that what people do as adults in the privacy of their home is really a matter for them and shouldn’t really be subject to any kind of state interference.”
The pope’s statements about gays have opened up wide – ranging commentary and debate. One of the most intriguing consequences will be more open discussion on gay priests, and on the core teaching itself on same – sex relationships. This story from Vatican Insiders combines both of these: an openly gay former priest from Argentina has responded by writing directly to Pope Francis, requesting that the teaching be revised:
The Pope’s remarks about gays to reporters on the plane from Rio has triggered discussion worldwide, and led a former gay priest to write to him
Pope Francis’ remarks on gays, when he spoke to reporters on the plane returning from Rio, have sparked considerable discussion worldwide, and have been welcomed by many in the homosexual and lesbian community.
One member of that community, a former gay-priest from Mendoza, Argentina, Andres Gioeni, has written a letter to the pontiff urging him to “deepen the opening and renew the Church’s moral teaching on sexuality”.
He did so after hearing Pope Francis say, “If they accept the Lord and have goodwill, who am I to judge them? They shouldn’t be marginalized. The tendency [to homosexuality] is not the problem … they are our brothers.”
Gioeni told La Nacion, the Argentinean daily paper that Francis reads: “I wrote to him because I believe there is a ray of hope in the response that he gave about not judging gays. I see humility and an opening in him”.
He revealed that he had left the priesthood to become an actor and author after discovering his homosexuality, and was now celebrating “the fresh air” that has come with Pope Francis.
In the letter, published on his Facebook account, he says he dares to present himself as “a spokesman for a great many of the people who belong to the homosexual community”, and asks Pope Francis, “simply, with humility” that he “encourage, stimulate and promote a deepening of the theology of sexual morality about (regarding) the place and experience of the homosexual person”.
-complete report at Vatican Insider.
- A “Revolutionary” Statement on Gay Priests from Pope Francis (slog.thestranger.com)
- Pope Francis On Gay Priests: ‘Who Am I To Judge?’ (thinkprogress.org)
- Ken Briggs on Pope Francis’s Statements about Gay Priests: “Is There a Degree of Willful Deception in a Larger Plan to Give the Church an Upbeat, Loving Face?” (bilgrimage.blogspot.com)
- Why I Take Hope in Pope Francis’ Statement on Gay Priests (thewildreed.blogspot.com)
A gay teenager in Canada’s Yukon province has successfully lobbied to have a document which describes homosexual orientation as “intrinsically disordered” and homosexual acts as “acts of grave depravity” to be removed from his Catholic high school’s website.
Liam Finnegan’s complaint arose when he read the document “Living with Hope, Ministering by Love, Teaching in Truth,” on the website of Vanier Catholic Secondary School, in the city of Whitehorse. According to The National Post, Finnegan, 16, observed:
“There were a few things in the document that were not homophobic and that made me think that maybe this isn’t such a terrible thing, since it said homosexuals shouldn’t be discriminated against, and I liked that part of it. But then as I continued reading the policy it veered into the ridiculous, describing homosexuality as an ‘intrinsically moral evil’ and saying that I was a ‘sinner’ and that I needed to be ‘healed.’ ”
“Somebody had to say something.”
So Finnegan, supported by his fellow students, started speaking out about the document, and his complaint eventually rose to the highest level of provincial government. Xtra.com reports that Scott Kent, the provincial education minister eventually met with Bishop Gary Gordon of Whitehorse, and the bishop agreed to remove the document:
“ ‘Both [Kent] and the bishop could agree immediately that the most important thing was that students felt safe, welcome and protected in school,’ cabinet communications director Matthew Grant says. ‘The minister requested that an actual policy be developed around the particular issue in question, something developed on the grassroots level with students, parents and members of the school council.’ ”
Catholic schools in Canada receive government funding, and so are answerable to government policies concerning education. Xtra.com explains the church-state relationship and why the Catholic document needs to be re-thought to conform with government standards:
“[Grant] says that work needs to be done to bridge the gap between the religious document and the Department of Education’s policy on gender identity and sexual orientation. That policy, which was adopted in September 2012, requires schools to provide a safe and supportive environment for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, transsexual, two-spirit, queer and questioning people.
“Grant confirms that the policy applies to all publicly funded schools, including the Catholic schools. With the exception of the French secondary school, Yukon does not have school boards. Instead, Yukon’s 28 public schools, which include three separate Catholic schools, are administered by the territorial government with the assistance of elected school councils, which advise the minister. Both public and Catholic schools in Yukon receive all their funding from the government.”
Congratulations to Mr. Finnegan for his successful campaign! May we all follow his example of speaking up against injustice!
–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry
at Bondings 2.0
A few years ago, I was on a studio-based television show. One of my fellow guests was a reasonably well-known Catholic priest. He was in a buoyant, perhaps reckless mood, pepped up by the adrenalin surge that comes with the nervous anticipation of a live appearance before the nation. And he was charmingly, delightfully camp.
He flirted harmlessly with everybody, made amusingly risqué comments to the make-up ladies about another male guest who had just sat in the same chair, created self-consciously exaggerated gestures with his hands. He was for all the world like Mary O’Rourke in a dog collar.
I watched on the television in the green room as he went live on air, riveted to see what the nation would make of this camp clerical persona. But the persona had vanished. The priest had performed an exorcism on himself. It would not be true to say that he was now a paragon of macho manliness. But there is a priestly demeanour – soft, asexual, unthreatening, controlled, precise – and he seemed to have just slipped it on like a mask. He was fluent and self-confident and charming, but all the campy exaggerations were gone. The charm was now bland, the body language stilted, the voice half an octave lower.
I have no idea whether or not the priest in question is gay and it’s none of my business anyway. Being camp doesn’t mean you’re gay and most gay men are not camp. But it was pretty clear, at least, that he was quite comfortable, behind the scenes, with a version of himself that matched a certain kind of gay male persona. And equally clear that he could switch that persona off at will, that he could be a different person on the altar, on the pulpit, in a parishoner’s home, on television. Maybe he had worked out some kind of compromise with himself and, if so, he seemed able to manage it with admirable agility.
Everybody who has had contact with clergy over the years knows that there are many, many priests who are gay. How could it be otherwise? At the very least, one would expect the same proportion of homosexuality in the priesthood as in the general population. But – and Colm Toibín has written particularly perceptively about this – the likelihood is that the proportion within the priesthood is actually significantly higher than among the general population of men.
Sexuality is a very troubling issue for young gay men, especially if they come from families where coming out would be impossible. The celibate priesthood seems to offer a refuge from those storms of doubt and guilt. Even when it becomes clear that the storms will not subside, the black suit and white collar create a decent disguis
– continue reading at The Irish Times
DANI Garavelli talks to a gay priest about living in the shadow of shame cast by the conflict of his vocation and his sexuality
LOOKING back from a distance of more than 20 years, Fr Joe can see that his decision to join the priesthood was motivated in part by his homosexuality. Coming of age in the 1970s, when there was still a huge stigma attached to coming out as gay, it provided an alternative to getting married and having children.
“I was hugely idealistic and genuinely believed in the priesthood, but I think it was also the only respectable way to be Catholic and single,” he says. “I wouldn’t have recognised it at the time, but I think I was trying to escape having to tell my family about my sexuality or even having to face up to it properly myself.”
Once ordained, however, he realised being gay in a church which considers homosexuality to be intrinsically disordered brings problems of its own. Prey to the same temptations as everyone else, but unable to talk openly about them, many homosexual priests find themselves feeling undervalued and isolated. Trying to navigate their way in a highly sexualised society, with little or no pastoral support, it’s hardly surprising if they sometimes find it difficult to keep their vows.
“I think celibacy is always a struggle, it’s the same for all priests – in fact it’s the same for married people – you try to keep your integrity, to stay true to what you have been called to, ” says Fr Joe, who was a priest in Scotland but has now moved abroad. “I belong to a religious order that means you live with other guys; it means you have emotional support and your chances of being lonely are less. The ones I feel really sorry for are the diocesan priests who are alone in a parish. I think celibacy must be even more difficult for them. They have no-one to confide in when they are feeling low or horny or any other normal human way of feeling.”
As with any same-sex environment, such as a boarding school or prison, there can also be a kind of “super-heated effect” in the seminary or church where, regardless of sexual orientation, men have crushes on other men and that is more likely to spill over into sexual behaviour when the whole subject of sexuality is taboo. “I think that is something gay men in the Church are prone to,” Fr Joe says. “Because the subject is hidden, it creates this secret club kind of environment because priests who are gay are only likely to be open with other priests who are gay, you become part of a secret club, not because you want to, but because your peers are your support group.”
Fr Joe’s experiences are not rare. Studies have suggested the priesthood attracts a disproportionate number of gay men, with Dominican Friar-turned-journalist Mark Dowd suggesting earlier this week, the figure could be as high as 50 per cent. Such statistics have become headline news because even as the Church has become increasingly strident in its position on such issues as gay marriage it is being claimed that an increasing number of homosexual priests, Bishops and even Cardinals are breaking their vow of chastity.
– continue reading at Scotsman.com.
Koyuki Higashi is slim, articulate and intelligent, things that make a would-be wife attractive to many in Japan. But Higashi knows she will probably never marry because she is a lesbian.
Despite the increasing tolerance of gay marriage in much of the developed world, especially in Europe, and a gradual acceptance of the issue in more liberal states in the US, the subject is not on the radar in Japan or in many parts of Asia.
But when Barack Obama gingerly put his head above the election year parapet, announcing he was in favour of same-sex marriage, it lit a spark of hope on the other side of the Pacific in conservative Japan.
“Seeing the US president expressing his support for same-sex couples was like being told it was ok to be who we are,” said Higashi, 27.
“Everyone now knows Obama supports same-sex marriage. The impact is so big, it’s incomparable.”
Her partner, 34-year-old Hiroko, who uses only one name, agreed.
“I was really happy to see Obama use his starpower in that way,” she said.
Obama’s pronouncement preceded a global campaign aimed at encouraging a stronger voice for gay rights.
His administration dispatched Mark Bromley, chair of advocacy group Council for Global Equality, to Japan in June — gay pride month — where he told reporters equality for same sex couples was an important tenet of human rights.
“(Hillary) Clinton was very elegant in saying that minorities can never fully protect themselves; minorities need majorities to find full protection and full acceptance,” said Bromley, who has a 2-year-old daughter with his husband.
“That requires laws and political support, and social space.”
Homosexuals in Japan welcomed the gesture, but, warned gay expat David Wagner, it was likely to disappear into the void.
“I doubt it will have much impact on other nations such as Japan where the will of the people rarely takes priority,” said Wagner, who has lived in Japan for 25 years.
But “tolerance has limits in Japan,” he said.
via Bangkok Post: news.
After nearly two decades of separation sparked by its inclusion of a gay pastor, a San Francisco congregation has finally rejoined the Lutheran Church.
On Sunday, First United Lutheran Church voted to rejoin the church nearly three years after receiving an apology and an invitation to reunite, according to the Examiner.
The reunion follows a 17-year split between the congregation and the Lutheran church after the congregation ordained–and refused to abandon–an openly gay pastor. The congregation was suspended in 1990, and formally expelled in 1995. Another San Francisco congregation, St. Francis Lutheran Church, was also cut loose for its protection of two lesbian pastors in the same year.
Finally in 2009, The Lutheran Church voted to admit gay and lesbian pastors into the clergy, issuing an apology and an invitation to reunite to both of the San Francisco congregations.
“There’s been an acknowledgment that these two congregations were forward-thinking and committed to their ministry,” said Bishop Mark Holmerud to the San Francisco Chronicle at the time. “They took a stand, paid the consequences, and our church has finally seen the wisdom of our opening the rosters to all committed gay and lesbian couples. And we’re all the better for it.”
- Minnesota Lutherans reject gay marriage ban (queeringthechurch.com)
- Once Banished From Preaching, New Pastor Takes Over St. Paul Congregation (kstp.com)
- Progress towards (Church) Marriage Equality (queeringthechurch.com)
- A Sermon by Rev. Dr. Kathlyn James (closetprofessor.blogspot.com)
Award winning gay actor Simon Callow is to host an episode of TV series UK360, focusing on the Britain’s LGBT communities.
12 JULY 2012 | BY DEMITRI LEVANTIS
Critically acclaimed gay actor Simon Callow will host an LGBT special of TV show UK360, on the Community Channel next Monday (16 July).
Callow, most famous for his roles in Four Weddings and a Funeral and Shakespeare in Love, will present a special episode of UK360 focusing on LGBT communities all around the the country. The program will showcase a tour of the gay scene in York and a report on attempts to reduce homophobia in Brighton.
A debate about the need for LGBT arts companies and a segment on the London Gay Men’s Chorus will also be featured.
‘It’s a very good thing that there’s a television channel devoted to the stories of people in their ordinary lives,’ Callow said. ‘The stories of LGBT people are sometimes quite heroic and sometimes very funny and sometimes rather moving.
‘I’ve always loved the London Gay Men’s Chorus,’ he added. ‘They’re just joyful, they make a joyful sound, I love the spirit of these guys. There’s something about their spirit which is quite unique.’
-more at Gay Star News.
- Campaign of the Month for July 2012: Kaleidoscope’s ‘Illegal to be you’ (campaignsworthsharing.com)
- New Coalition Lifts Up Latino LGBT Familia (npr.org)
Two devout Buddhist women are to hold the nation’s first gay Buddhist wedding next month as part of an effort to push for the legalization of same-sex marriages in Taiwan.
“We are not only doing it for ourselves, but also for other gays and lesbians,” Fish Huang said in a telephone interview.
The 30-year-old social worker at a non-governmental organization said that marriage never crossed her mind until she saw a movie last year.
The film portrayed two lesbians whose ill-fated relationship concluded after one died and the other was left heartbroken over the denial of spousal benefits.
“It’s so sad,” Huang said, who plans to wed her partner of seven years on Aug. 11 at a Buddhist altar in Taoyuan County.
Both brides are planning to wear white wedding gowns and listen to lectures given by Buddhist masters about marriage, accompanied by a series of chantings and blessings from monks and nuns.
Although homosexual marriages are not legally recognized in Taiwan, Huang insisted on tying the knot because she wants to make her relationship complete and raise awareness about the difficulties faced by sexual minorities.
Alternative sexual orientation and marriage have yet to be widely accepted by the general public, despite years of effort by activists to secure equality in Taiwan.
The first public gay marriage in Taiwan took place in 1996 between a local writer and his foreign partner. The event drew widespread media attention and inspired many gays to follow their footsteps.
Huang’s wedding, however, will be the first with a Buddhist theme.
– more at Taipei Times.
- Multi-faith Perspectives on the Grace of Gay Marriage
- Progress towards (Church) Marriage Equality
- Blessing Same – Sex Unions: “The Jesus Thing to Do”
- Taiwan’s First Gay, Buddhist Wedding (towleroad.com)
- Taiwan to stage 1st same-sex Buddhist wedding (newsinfo.inquirer.net)
- First Gay Buddhist Wedding in Taiwan. (therainbowpost.com)
- Most gay people in Taiwan would want to be married: poll (wantchinatimes.com)