The first thing my grandma asked when I came out was whether I’d been taking communion. If I go back to my home parish these days, my childhood deacon and his wife—whose dog and plants I used to sit for, who once took me on a road trip to Denver—ask me the same thing.
When I went to college, I didn’t set foot in my campus’s Newman Center. I later learned that might have been, in a strange kind of backwards way, a blessing. Many of my LGBTQ friends walked out the doors never to come back.
So when I stumbled back into a church in my young adulthood, that was my standard. Nobody opined about queer people from the pulpit. Nobody gave me the third degree about communion. Nobody asked me much about anything at all. I thought I’d found paradise.
It wasn’t until coming to STM that I realized that silence is not a blessing—that the silence had me holding my breath and waiting for the other shoe to drop.
Silence offers no comfort to the seminarians and novices and teachers and musicians and parish administrators who have been chased out of their vocations. It does nothing for queer kids absorbing cruelty in Jesus’s name from their Catholic family members and teachers and priests. Silence has no objection to LGBTQ Catholics being denied communion, confession, last rites, or baptism for their children, and it doesn’t convince queer students, who presume that they have no place here, to take the chance on walking through our doors.*
To do the dangerous thing and quote Martin Luther King, Jr.: “True peace is not merely the absence of tension.” Parishes can and should do better than a don’t-ask-don’t-tell policy. LGBTQ people want to be asked about our lives. We want to tell about our experiences of God.
My ability to love is God’s greatest gift to me, as yours is to you. My ability to love is the way in which I most reflect the image and likeness of God who is Love. When we demean and doubt other people’s ability to love, we demean and doubt God.
When we insist that the full body of Christ is welcome in our Church, we experience God and God’s love in each other. We allow ourselves to be “built together into a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.”
During this LGBTQ History Month, STM invites everyone to experience God’s love in this community.
Students, join the LGBTQ Ministry on Flocknote or by emailing email@example.com. And, everyone, tune in today at 5:30 PM here for Fr. James Martin’s lecture at YDS on the topic of Building a Bridge to the LGBTQ Catholic Community.
*Note: Silence doesn’t help the 40 percent of queer people who are rejected by a family member or close friend when they come out ; it doesn’t stop the ongoing epidemic of LGBTQ youth suicide fueled by that rejection ; it doesn’t repair the fact that queer kids are 120 percent more likely to be homeless ; or, that more than half of trans people report being harassed in public .