being a gay catholic at 27: taking stock

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being a gay catholic at 27: taking stock

(this is a repost from Young Adult Catholic blog by Francis Beaumier)

Today I want to break from the homily-style format of my first two posts and simply take an inventory of what being a gay Catholic means to me at 27 in the Green Bay, WI area. I’m trying to be neither positive nor negative here — just realistic. I’m sure your experience has been different (surely there are better and worse places to be a gay Catholic than northern Wisconsin), and perhaps this post will encourage you to share.

What does being a gay Catholic mean for me right now?

  • My byline has part of the answer. Right now, being a gay Catholic is spiritually not enough for me, which is why I’m also a member of the MCC church. Simply put, my Catholic parish is not gay enough for me, and MCC is not Catholic enough for me, so I need both.
  • It means having walked out during Mass once because you couldn’t take it and wondering if it will happen again.
  • It means opportunities to pray for your enemies (those who hurt you), taking the opportunity, and realizing how dang hard it is.
  • It means staying in touch with other LGBT Catholics and allies who are filled with faith so that you remember the good things about your faith.
  • It means championing inclusive language and female ordination and many other “progressive” things because you understand what it’s like to not always feel like a full member of the church.
  • It means knowing that you can find someone who will officiate your wedding, while at the same time wondering if anyone at your church will want to recognize your anniversary.
  • It means being thankful for a faith that has room for many theologies and that realizes that there are no simple answers.
  • It means needing to talk, and having the opportunity to do so, only to pause a moment to recall if you’re out to the person you’re about to talk to or not.
  • It means being thankful that your priest knows you, knows you have a boyfriend, and has shown you nothing but love.
  • It means being creative
    • … in figuring out what a healthy gay relationship looks like when your church doesn’t always want to talk about it
    • … in interpreting heteronormative scripture so that it applies to you
    • … by whispering “and everything in between” whenever we are told that “male and female God created them”
  • It means being nominated to sing at the cathedral and not being sure you want to.
  • It means being thrilled to hear the phrase “gay or straight” in father’s “all are welcome” speech and yet still wishing church felt more gay-friendly.
  • It’s thinking that Pope Francis’s “who am I to judge” remark is progress but still far from ideal.
  • It means refusing to leave the faith that you love because it’s your faith and you are the church; it means wanting to worship like everyone else, and it means having hope for a future of progress.

a catholic’s witness that it gets better

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a catholic’s witness that it gets better

At a time where the Catholic Church is under much scrutiny due to scandal, abuses of power, and upholding teachings that fracture rather then unite, this short video has rekindled my faith that all will be well within the tradition that I was raised in.

The priest’s message of love and acceptance not only embraces the queer community but also warmly welcomes all those who have been outed of their communities. It also reminds me that no religious institution is perfect for as humans we are all prone to blunders, both intentional and unintentional, especially when it comes to faith. The priest’s testimony reflects that the Spirit is moving in the Catholic Church and the wider religious world with an inspiring message that church is more than an institution’s hierarchy or leadership—church is the people, all of the people, who together form an interconnected web with G-d at the center holding us together.

The loss of the priest’s young friend to suicide is a tragedy that needs to end. Too many lives have been lost due to communal practices of marginalization and dehumanization of those of us who live and love beyond the norm. His death impacts the entire web, though things can be repaired it will not be the same. Together we must honor his life by making sure that all those on the fringes truly know that they are loved and celebrated for who they are. Things are getting better, little by little. Together as a web of people we must do all we can to make it better now!!!

born this way, oh yeah!

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born this way, oh yeah!

In a world where church, society, politics, schools and media try to limit our sense of self by imposing boxes and labels on us, Glee and Lady Gaga are refreshing reminders of the importance of self-expression, together forming a powerful witness and counter-narrative that encourage us to embrace all of who we are and to wear our unique identities with pride and gusto. Though the Glee characters focus in on just one part of their identities in this clip, I challenge us to embrace all parts of ourselves, to integrate our many identities: sexual orientation, gender identity, race/ethnicity, mental health, body type, socio-economic status – everything that makes us us, a human mosaic of goods and bloopers that are beautiful and worthy of being celebrated. May we all embrace with glee our inner gaga so you “don’t hide yourself in regret, just love yourself and you’re set. I’m on the right track baby, I was born this way.”

featured image found at:  http://imagequotes.tumblr.com/page/372

whats this facebook about?

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whats this facebook about?

Facebook has truly been an amazing tool and resource for people to carve out a space for themselves to connect with others: family, friends, relatives twice removed, new people, fellow supporters of a cause, fellow supporters against a cause, etc. With all of the likes, sharing, poking, videos, tags, comments and images, I wonder if all our status updates are truly accomplishing what this Facebook advertisment claims Facebook is meant to do: connect us. I am not against Facebook as I myself am an active member and I recognize its many benefits. But I wonder if it actually strengthens our ability to relate intimately with others. Part of building strong relationships consists of being courageous enough to be extremely vulnerable and show our true selves to one another, not just the image we want to project to the world. It is this practice of revealing our true selves that creates strong connections with others, ourselves, and the divine.  I don’t want to discourage you from using Facebook but rather, to help you see it for what it is, a social networking tool, which cannot replace the real effort and courage required to forge real connections.

all our voices count

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all our voices count

Despite the attempts of churches, communities, and organizations to silence those of us who live and love beyond the norm, we must remember that all of our voices, soft and loud, squeaky and bellowing, count. Throughout history we have seen how even just one voice can transform society, can revolutionize a people, and can widen the circle within churches.

Words can pack a wallop; we must be intentional on how we choose to use them. Just as our voices can hurt, dehumanize, and shatter, they can also heal, make whole, and radically transform—we must be mindful and careful how we choose to share our voices for a church and society that is just, inclusive, and welcoming. Even when we think its pointless and no one is listening, we never know when the seeds we are planting will bear fruit in the lives of others, lives of people we may never meet but who will find inspiration, insight, and incredible oomph in what we shared. Even the smallest, softest, and weakest voices (by society’s misguided standards) can ripple into justice, wholeness, and equality. Our voices matter, our voices count!!!

 

maya angelou, presente

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maya angelou, presente

Dr. Maya Angelou….poet, author, activist, civil rights leader, actress, dancer, survivor, poet, woman, prophet…she was and continues to be an inspiration on my journey.  Her death was a surprise to me but I also know that her spirit will continue to live on in me and so many others transformed by her life and witness.  I prepared this mini-liturgy in her honor for a meeting I went to recently.  ¡Maya Angelou, presente!  

Be a rainbow in someone else’s cloud – Maya Angelou (audio clip)

Peace Prayer – Maya Angelou
Father, Mother, God,
Thank you for your presence
during the hard and mean days.
For then we have you to lean upon.
Thank you for your presence
during the bright and sunny days,
For then we can share that which we have
with those who have less.
And thank you for your presence
during the Holy Days,
For then we are able
to celebrate you and our families
and our friends.

For those who have no voice,
ALL ~ we ask you to speak.


For those who feel unworthy,
ALL ~ we ask you to pour your love out
in waterfalls of tenderness.


For those who live in pain,
ALL ~ we ask you to bathe them
in the river of your healing.


For those who are lonely,
ALL~ we ask
you to keep them company.


For those who are depressed,
ALL ~ we ask you to shower upon them
the light of hope.


Dear Creator, You, the borderless
 sea of substance, we ask you to give to all the 
world that which we need most—Peace. Blessed be.

Draw the Circle Wide – Mark Miller (video)
Draw the circle, draw the circle wide.
Draw the circle, draw the circle wide.
No one stands alone, we’ll stand side by side.

Draw the circle, draw the circle wide.
Draw the circle wide, draw it wider still.
Let this be our song, no one stands alone.
Standing side by side,
Draw the circle, draw the circle wide.

honoring and remembering

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honoring and remembering

Though my feelings about the military are conflicted, I would like to honor those who have served our country (for better or worse) as well as honor their families and loved ones. today we remember all who have given their lives for our country especially those who served (and the many who continue to serve) in coerced silence…may the justice and freedom they gave their lives for ripple into the country and military they served that did not always (and continues to not always) recognize the full personhood of ALL. May our mimosas and bbqs and beach parties not overshadow our remembering or the ongoing struggles of lgbtq servicepeople.

http://youtu.be/dwcgu4zcdHc

graduating with pride

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graduating with pride

These are pieces of the ceremony I put together for Ohio University’s Pride Graduation Celebration (I took out the more protocol-ly portions). It was my first Pride Graduation as a person and as a director. Many blessings to all who are graduating in various ways in life…may the journey traveled provide insight and the journey to come much adventure!

Tonight we come together as community and as familia to celebrate the journeys and adventures of our graduates…as well as honor the journeys and adventures to come…with all of the bumps and bloopers, insights and inspirations, trials and triumphs, parties and passions, tears and laughter. We celebrate all members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer communities…those who have found sanctuary in the LGBT Center as well as those who have created sanctuary for themselves and others throughout the university.

Many have come into voice and self while here at OHIO…that living into wholeness will continue as you continue and/or start new chapters of your life’s adventure. Some of you are going to grad school, others to summer jobs and first “real”jobs, others back home to discern what comes next, and others all of the above. My challenge to you graduates and non-graduates, family and friends, allies and advocates, faculty and staff is to embody the words of prophet and poet Dr. Maya Angelou…“be a rainbow in someone else’s could”and my tweaked version “be a rainbow in your own clouds.”What the road ahead will bring we don’t know, but enjoy the confusion, take chances, and get messy…as Dr Angelou say’s “you alone are enough, you have nothing to prove, if you are always trying to be normal you will never know how amazing you can be”…and I would add, how amazing you already are.

The LGBT Center has gone through many changes this year—my joining the team as head queer and fearless leader…Sarah Tucker Jenkins bringing the sunniness of Florida…an increased visibility on all OHIO campuses, and more programming much to my awesome staff’s delight (and at times horror). We also finalized two new scholarship funds for the center, work that Dr. Susanne Dietzel began last year during her role as interim director. Retiring professor and associate dean of the Honors Tutorial College Jan Hodson and her husband WOUB director Tom Hodson initiated an emergency fund that will carry their name to support LGBT students in emergency and crisis situations. Our thanks to them for their generosity and solidarity.

A heartfelt congratulations to all our graduates…go out there and do it to it with your awesome selves…be rainbows!!!

On behalf of all of here at the center, we offer our glitterful, rainbowfilled, lgbtastic, queerest muchas gracias to all for celebrating with us tonight. Live long and prosper…and make good choices!

featured image taken at Pride Graduation by my dearly beloved Jason Hernandez

ain’t i a person

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ain’t i a person

For a few days now the words of Sojourner Truth’s “Ain’t I a woman”, specifically as proclaimed by Alfre Woodard, have been resonating in my heart and mind (words shared by Truth herself here in my new home of Ohio). Sojourner Truth…radical freedom fighter who fought for both gender and racial equality—she was a voice in the wilderness that demanded that all people be respected, affirmed, and treated as people.

Sojourner Truth…woman, mother, slave, prophet, abolitionist, activist, preacher…a person.

At a time where her humanity was questioned and doubted, her rant is a declaration of the remembering and re-membering of her worth, chutzpah, and personhood…a challenge for all of us to help make the world right side up again—a transformation sparked by solidarity and community. Truth’s spirit is echoed in Alice Walker’s Celie in “The Color Purple”… “I may be poor, I may be black, I may even be ugly…but dear G-d, I’m here.”

In the face of the hurtful and marginalizing messages we get from society of unrealistic and inhuman expectations regarding our bodies and identities….in spite of the dehumanizing messages we give ourselves of not being good enough…may today and always be opportunities to claim and reclaim and re-re-claim Truth’s and Celie’s passion… “ain’t I a woman…ain’t I a person”…I’m here, I’m here, I’M HERE! Amen, que asi sea.