Tag Archives: Coming out

Ignatian Spirituality and LGBT Inclusion

In referring to my own faith journey, I have often referred to the value that I have derived from my time exploring Ignatian spirituality, in a Jesuit parish, and in the Jesuit – sponsored lay movement, the Christian Life Community (CLC). It has given me a firm conviction that there simply is no contradiction between a life of integrity as an openly gay man, and my Catholic faith. This conviction, developed over many years, was based initially on extensive Ignatian prayer, spiritual direction, and an extraordinarily intense, genuinely mystical, Ignatian directed retreat.

In my earliest encounter with the Jesuits and sexuality, I was told by a parish priest that “faith” is not a matter of the intellect, but of experience.  Based on that definition, I have the faith. Conversely, one definition of theology, is “faith seeking understanding”. I have the faith – what I have been doing these past dozen years or so, has been a search for understanding. All that I have learned, from explorations of the bible, of LGBT and church history, social anthropology, natural science, and theology, has left me more convinced than ever, that this is indeed so. “Gay Catholic” is not an oxymoron, but for those of us with a natural same – sex affectional orientation, a simple statement of personal integrity and honesty.

The notable Jesuit theologian Karl Rahner has written that it is possible for each of us to experience what he calls a “personal encounter with God”. Once experienced, he notes, nothing can stand between us and that experience: not the Church, not the Bible itself. It is my firm belief that in the retreat I referred to earlier, I was blessed with just such an experience – thus reinforcing even further my deep conviction that for gay Catholics, coming out and accepting that sexuality as part of our “sexual identity” is no more than adherence to an important Catechism command.  And so, I strongly advise anyone still struggling to reconcile sexuality and Catholic faith, to explore the riches of Ignatian spirituality.

There is no need to do this alone. My own experience was immeasurably helped by membership of a Jesuit parish, and a particularly strong CLC group, but there are other routes. The Jesuits have a well – deserved reputation as a gay – friendly order of priests, for which the evidence is clear. Of the explicitly gay welcoming parishes worldwide, a high proportion are Jesuit led.   In many countries, there are Jesuit priests who run spiritual retreats, specifically tailored to LGBT needs and concerns. One final indicator of the value of Jesuit support, is found in the program for the “Ways of Love” conference, to held in Rome this October, as part of the foundation meeting of the Global Network of Rainbow Catholics. Of the 10 headline speakers for this conference, three are Jesuit priests, and two are religious women in orders shaped by the Ignatian tradition.

One of these, works directly with the CLC community. In a notable article earlier this year, he describes how openly acknowledging their sexuality, enabled a gay CLC group not merely to find acceptance by other CLC groups and the national CLC community, but also to break down prejudice, and even develop straight allies.

Read his full article in Spanish, or below, in an English translation, courtesy of Gionata.

A.M.D.G.

(“Ad maiorem Dei Gloriam”).

Continue reading Ignatian Spirituality and LGBT Inclusion

Evangelical Campaigner to Lead “Accepting Evangelicals”

Yet more evidence that in all Christian denominations, LGBT people are making their presence felt, working for inclusion.  With her background, Jayne Ozanne will be a formidable campaigner for equality.

She once denied her sexuality, believing that being gay and Christian were incompatible. Like others in the ex – gay movement, she  tried to change her sexuality, even resorting to exorcism, but found that denial led to a mental breakdown, and that so – called “conversion therapy” is a charade. She has since come to terms with her sexuality, found that it is indeed possible to be openly both Christian and gay, and will now lead “Accepting Evangelicals”

The Independent has the story:

Jayne Ozanne: Evangelical campaigner comes out

One of the Church of England’s most influential evangelical campaigners, who for years believed it was impossible to be both gay  and a Christian, has declared that “God is a God of surprises” as she came out as a lesbian.

As a member of the Archbishops’ Council between 1999 and 2004, Jayne Ozanne held what she called “extremely black and white” views on sexuality and “did not believe it was compatible to be gay and a Christian”.

But yesterday she came out as gay, and was announced as the new director of Accepting Evangelicals, a Christian group aiming to promote “acceptance of faithful, loving same-sex partnerships”.

–  more at The Independent.

Irish Priest Comes Out During Mass, Endorses Marriage Equality to Applause

Another sign of the times!

Bondings 2.0

Fr. Dolan celebrating Mass in Dublin

A priest in Ireland recently came out as gay, telling Catholics to vote for civil marriage equality in Ireland’s upcoming referendum on the issue.

Irish Central reports Fr. Martin Dolan, longtime pastor of St. Nicholas of Myra Church in Dublin, spoke during Masses last weekend:

“Calling on his Dublin city congregation to support same sex marriage in the upcoming Irish referendum, set for the end May, Dolan said ‘I’m gay myself.’ “

Parishioners applauded him and said they were “very proud” of Dolan. Congregant Liz O’Connor told the Irish Sun that the priest consistently witnesses for the rights of all people, even speaking up for victims of clergy abuse during the Irish church’s ongoing scandals. She continued:

” ‘There’s not many of them (priests) that would come out because they’re afraid of the bishops and that, but Martin is his own man. He is…

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Queer Saints and Martyrs for October

October

  • Oct 2nd
  • St Poplia , woman deacon (Womenpriests.org)
  • October 31st
    • Hallowe’en?

The Miracle that Created a Southern Baptist Straight Ally

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.

Lance Bass
Lance Bass

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.

via Huffington Post –  Lance Bass.

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James Stoll, Unitarian Pioneer of LGBT Inclusion in Church

Rev. James Lewis Stoll, who died on December 8th 1994, was a Unitarian Universalist minister who became the first ordained minister of any religion in the United States or Canada to come out as gay. He did so at the annual Continental Conference of Student Religious Liberals on September 5, 1969 in La Foret, Colorado. Later, he led the effort that convinced the Unitarian Universalist Association to pass the first-ever gay rights resolution in 1970.
After training at Starr King School for the Ministry, in Berkeley, followed by ordination, he served as pastor at a church in Kennewick, Wash., from 1962 until 1969. For reasons that have not been disclosed, he was asked to resign, and then moved to San Francisco, where he shared an apartment with three others.
In September of 1969, he attended a convention of college-age Unitarians in Colorado Springs. One evening after dinner, he stood up and came out publicly as a gay man. He declared his orientation, stated that it was not a choice, that he was no longer ashamed of it, and that from then on, he would refuse to live a lie.

“On the second or third night of the conference,” according to Mr. Bond-Upson, “after dinner, Jim got up to speak. He told us that he’d been doing a lot of hard thinking that summer. Jim told us he could no longer live a lie. He’d been hiding his nature — his true self — from everyone except his closest friends. ‘If the revolution we’re in means anything,’ he said, ‘it means we have the right to be ourselves, without shame or fear.’

“Then he told us he was gay, and had always been gay, and it wasn’t a choice, and he wasn’t ashamed anymore and that he wasn’t going to hide it anymore, and from now on he was going to be himself in public. After he concluded, there was a dead silence, then a couple of the young women went up and hugged him, followed by general congratulations. The few who did not approve kept their peace.” ’

After the convention, Stoll wrote articles on gay rights, and preached sermons on the subject at several churches. The following year, the full annual meeting of the Unitarian Universalist Association passed a resolution condemning discrimination against homosexual persons, beginning a gradual but irresistible move towards full LGBT inclusion.
No action was ever taken by the church against Stoll, and so he remained a minister in good standing, but he was never again called to serve a congregation. It is not clear whether this had anything to do with lingering prejudice against his orientation. It could also be on the grounds of some suspicions of drug abuse, or of inappropriate sexual behaviour.
Later, he founded the first counseling center for gays and lesbians in San Francisco. In the 1970s he established the first hospice on Maui. He was president of the San Francisco chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union in 1990s. He died at the age of 58 from complications of heart and lung disease, exacerbated by obesity and a life-long smoking habit
Stoll’s name is not well known today, but for this brave and honest public witness, he deserves to be better remembered.In declaring himself, he was not the first ordained clergyman to come out, but he was the first to do so voluntarily, and the first in an established denomination. His action undoubtedly made it easier for the others who followed him, and to the formal acceptance by the Unitarians of openly gay men and lesbians in the church, and to the now well-established process to full LGBT inclusion in so many denominations.

Source:

Haunted Man of the Cloth, Pioneer of Gay Rights (NY Times)

The Bible In Drag “Unbinding” (John 11:43-44)

Then Jesus called out in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!”

And Lazarus came out of the tomb, still bound hand and foot with linen strips, his face wrapped in a cloth. Jesus told the crowd, “untie him and let him go free”

John 11:43-44

The Bible In Drag - Queering Scripture

Lazarus Come Out, by Larry Farris

Like Mary and Martha – Lazarus’ sisters – the queer community knows death. Sisters and brothers beaten, jailed, killed because of their gender identity or sexual orientation. It’s enough to handle these external threats to life, but we also have to handle the internal threats. Self-loathing, born of internalized heteronormative attitudes, erupts within many souls of our community as suicide. The statistics speak for themselves. Within the general US population the suicide attempt rate is 1.6%. Heterosexual teen suicide attempt rate is 4%. LGB teen suicide attempt rate is 20%. Transsexual suicide attempt rate is 41% (source CDC). Then there is, of course, disease, with the great plague of our times – AIDS – having swept away many friends and loved ones. Yes the queer community is accustomed to death.

To add to our sorrow are the metaphorical deaths we receive in our psyche. The rejection which comes from public detractors, the fear shown by some of our own families, the “friends” who keep reminding us that we are in the “wrong.” We react in a variety of ways. Unfortunately among them are self-hatred, alcohol and substance abuse, and other self-negating behavior that stops short of suicide yet, is just as life denying.

Like Martha and Mary we shed our tears for the great loss of life and love from our community.

via The Bible In Drag – Queering ScriptureSeptember 19, 2013

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