“I will Survive” and “I’m a Survivor”…two anthems that celebrate resiliency, healing, empowerment, new beginnings, and sass. At a time where attacks on my personhood as a queer person have become more vicious and heart breaking, the words of these songs have helped transform my victimization into surviving and thriving wholeness.
After the shootings in Connecticut, some extremist Christian groups justified the violence by stating that Connecticut’s decision to allow same-sex partners to legally marry was being punished by G-d…at his Christmas address and homily, the Holy Father blamed the relationship between my beloved and I as a threat to world peace and to civilization’s stability.
As I listened, and I admit jammed, to Glee’s intermeshing of the two songs on the eve of the Epiphany, I was graced with an epiphany. Despite the scapegoating of the queer community for tragic acts of extreme violence—I’m a survivor and will continue to survive. Though part of me wants to viciously lash back at the pope and shove his miter down…I’ll leave it at that, I realize that criticizing from a place of bitterness is not fruitful and makes me like them. For my honors undergraduate thesis I included a portion that engaged the idea that the Catholic Church was the perpetrator of relational violence towards the LGBTQ communities; many of us had formed traumatic attachments to the hierarchical institution of the church. Though this sentiment has been very much reflected these last few weeks in pronouncements and denouncements—as I wrote almost 8 years ago now, its time that I cut the unhealthy attachment to the Magisterial concepts of Churchiness and reclaim my personhood.
Perhaps a bit ironic but on this feast of the Epiphany in which we celebrate the gifts of the Magi to Jesus, I am thankful to the Pope and to those who share his beliefs for the incredible gift and opportunity to rediscover pride in who I am. Though their intentions are to dehumanize, they have gifted me by allowing me to remember and re-member that I am a reflection of the divine—“I am beautiful no matter what they say, [their] words won’t bring me down!”
I have a life to live, I have love to give, and I’m going to work harder to make it happen for I am a survivor and a thriver who refuses to be pushed away. The statements of Benedict over the last few years have gifted me the opportunity to embrace a Catholicism that questions and queries, a Catholicism that is no less sacred or Catholic than that of the Bishop of Rome. The Benedicts and Fred Phelpses of the world have inadvertently allowed me to discover and rediscover aspects of the Catholicism and the expansive world of religion that have been forgotten or purposely hidden. Like those who joyfully rave with much funk and spunk Gloria Gaynor’s and Destiny’s Child’s rhythmic proclamations of redefining who one is and living life on one’s own terms—I too will continue to be part of the movement to expand and redefine Catholicism and other spiritual spaces as sanctuaries to embrace and wrestle with the Great I Am.
Though the words and messages of anti-LGBTQ activists sting and hurt, I will no longer allow the pain to make me bitter or dehumanize me through a victimization of blame…as we live into the new year, my catholicity is resparked with a divine fury that seeks to challenge and be challenged to theologize how to wholefully celebrate all of who we are.
Though part of me misses going to Mass and being in communion Eucharistically and communally, I am not ready to re-enter a traditional church (YET). However, I most certainly will continue to queery theology, devotions, images, sacraments, liturgy, the hierarchy, catholic kichiness—the queerying is not to debunk or do away with the church but more so to reinterpret, re-embrace, remember, and recover hidden or lost meaning while discovering new epiphanies and insights.
A heartfelt muchas gracias to Fred Phelps and Benedict for helping me to become proud of who I am. May all of us queer-folk and allies use our apparent superpowers that are a threat to humanity (who knew? I guess I missed the memo to pick up my sequenced flannel spandex and cape) to embrace and re-embrace our divine given isness to not only survive but to fabulously thrive. Blessed Be :-)
Feature image from: http://inourwordsblog.com/2011/12/28/3236/