I went back to church when my Grandmother died. One of the things she always wanted for her grandchildren was for us to go back to church. She knew that I am a lesbian. Just like she knew that my cousin is a gay man. She loved us just as much as the rest of her grandchildren. And this was a staunch, devout Catholic – 20+ rosaries a day, a stack of prayers to just about every saint you can name, and more religious statues and figures in the house than most people see in religious stores. What she wanted was for us to have a relationship with God. So, for her, I went back to church.
But now, I go to church for me. I was lucky to find a parish with a priest who – while not openly endorsing homosexuality – loves people for people. Just for who we are. Nothing more. Nothing less. He told my mother and I a story about a nun that he once knew. She was devout. Then her order decided that they were going to change their habits. Literally, the habits they wore. No longer would they have the full veil; no longer would they be covered from head to ankle. This nun was not comfortable with it. Apparently, she felt as though it was the habit she wore that made her forget her own body. You see, the habit – for her – removed gender and sex. She ended up leaving the convent and lived the rest of her life as she felt comfortable – as a man. Still devout. Still Catholic. But not as a nun.
What endeared me to this pastor is that he told the story completely without judgement. In fact, he told the account with a great deal of love. He even said, “Isn’t that beautiful? That he knew himself so well that he sacrificed a life that he loved – as a nun – to serve God in the way he best could.” Biologically, this person was a woman, always. But this priest had such love and understanding in his heart, that he did not say “she” – he respected the choice that was made.
So, while I went back to church for my grandmother, it was this priest – and his very open, loving ways – that helped me stay at church.
I’ve had discussions and debates with priests and bishops. I’ve told them – flat out – that I believe in the Catholic faith. But I have serious, SERIOUS reservations about the Catholic Church (capital C – Church). I’ve told them that while I do believe the Bible is a holy text, that it is just that…a text. And thousands of years have given us various interpretations – historical scholars will say one thing, Latin scholars will say something else, Religious scholars will say still something else. Therefore, those interpretations may teach me lessons and help guide me in my faith, but I simply cannot believe – as so many do – that the God I know hates. In any way. I have told bishops that they and those in positions above them have become politicians – almost to the point of the political life becoming equal to the religious life. Let me just say – there are a couple of Bishops who don’t debate with me any more. So, I tend to stay away from the Church (capital C – Church) and focus on the parish and my faith and the people around me. (I know a lot of priest who do this too – they have no ambitions for higher positions.)
So, yes, I am practicing Catholic. I am a lector – a declarer of the Word. I am a Pastoral Council member – some say a “leader” of our church. (Though, I tend to giggle whenever someone says that.) I love nuns – I think they are some of the best people on the Earth. (The nuns at our church are Carmelites; they are from India. I love them.) I wear a Miraculous Medal at all times.
I am a Catholic. I am a lesbian. I don’t think I need to give up one in order to have the other.