Posts Tagged ‘Catholic’

The Solid Limb

Posted: August 17, 2013 in Uncategorized
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November 9th, 2011

Many of you know I recorded a video last year for the It Gets Better project (Gay Catholic Author Says It Gets Better). The video received notice in a news article by the Religious News Service (Gays tell teens It Gets Better despite religion) and continues to receive hits — and comments.

Recently, I received the following comment:

‘what is the matter with you? your story was beautiful up until you mentioned your boy friend and marriage. that’s terrible and completely wrong according to Catholic Tradition.Grgory58′

I prepared a response to Grgory58…but was not able to fit it all in given the 500 character limit on YouTube. Here’s my full reply:

@Grgory58

There is nothing wrong with me – or you either. We are both God’s perfect creation. You say that my having a boyfriend or being married to a man as ‘terrible and completely wrong according to Catholic Tradition.’

To the first part of that comment (the ‘terrible’ part), I strongly disagree. Love, self-acceptance, and the need for human companionship are not ‘terrible.’There are lots of things in this world that are terrible…like the fact that over 120,000 lives have been lost in the Iraq war. Or that gay teens are between two and three times more likely to commit suicide than their heterosexual peers. Or just plain old everyday bigotry or hatred. Those things are TERRIBLE. Think about it. Pray about it.

To the second part (the ‘Catholic’ part), I do agree that sexual relations between two people of the same gender are ‘completely wrong according to Catholic Tradition’ – although I would add ‘as we know it today’ (read John Boswell’s Christianity, Social Tolerance and Homosexuality to learn more about what that was like in the past). What I have learned in my head and heart throughout my thirties and now into my forties, is that God and love are much, much larger than Catholic Tradition. And that Catholic Tradition has not always ‘gotten it right.’ As a result, Catholic Tradition no longer drives my decisions.

I do recognize that, per the Catholic Church, I’m considered ‘out on a limb’ in my belief that same-gender love and commitment are blessed. But I’m filled with peace out here on this solid limb, swaying gently in the summer breeze. Because now, 45 years down the road of this life, I recognize that God is out here with me. Along with lots of other faithful, good people, all trying to make their way home.

Just like you and me.

                       

For fun, I post my stuff at www.GregoryGerard.net.

For serious, I post my stuff at www.JupitersShadow.com.

I invite you to visit my stuff.

October 19th, 2010

I was recently interviewed by a reporter for the Religion News Service (Gays tell teens ‘it gets better’ despite religion) about my video for the It Gets Better project (Gay Catholic Author says It Gets Better). What always surprises me is that, despite how much information might be communicated in an interview, how little often makes it to the finished product. I appreciate that attention spans are short — and that news must be consise, but to that I say, ‘Thank God for blogs!’

I’ve decided to post my extended responses to the interview questions below. To share the rest of the (gay) story.

Q: What do you think of the IT GETS BETTER project, both generally and in terms of the contributions that have come from faith leaders and people from Mormon/Catholic/Muslim evangelical, etc. backgrounds?

A: I couldn’t be more pleased. You know, this YouTube technology has existed for awhile – but it always takes someone with an idea and conviction to get something started. And it’s so simple! The GLBT community as a whole – present and future – owes a debt of gratitude to Dan Savage for having the courage and the conscience to initiate it.

When I was in grammar school in rural Western NY in the 1970s, homosexuality as a topic really didn’t come up in conversation at the dinner table, or at St. Michael’s School, or among my friends. At the time, I had the vague sense that the word had to do with something dirty or shameful…and certainly sinful.

When I began to recognize feelings within myself of attraction – not to girls, but to other boys – I almost immediately went into secrecy mode. There was NO WAY I was going to be a homosexual. And THAT’s when I started the investigation – all in secret. Back then, I had to rely on the library for human sexuality books, or my parent’s encyclopedia, or my bible from religion class at Catholic school – that’s where I was getting my information.

In my childhood, there were no positive gay role models that I recall. On the contrary, I remember a TV movie of the week with Joan Collins (The Making of a Male Model) and there was a gay side character that was tragically sarcastic – he ended up in a suicide attempt. That was my only image of gay people – being carried away on a gurney.

                       

The messages that I found in my secret investigation – they were so mixed. The encyclopedia talked about theories of angry fathers and overbearing mothers. The human sexuality books said that adolescent feelings of attraction between boys were pretty normal – that it was just a phase; that it would pass. The Bible used words like abomination. So the conclusion from my research was that I WAS NOT GOING TO BE A HOMOSEXUAL. Period. And that I’d just have to wait for the feelings to pass.

If I could have had access to information like the IT GETS BETTER project – holy cow. What that positive and thoughtful, everyday dialogue might have meant to me. Hearing that other people LIKE me had struggled like I was struggling – wow. I know I would have felt less alone. More like I belonged.

Again, the messaging I received from church was very minimal. I recall an article from the newspaper that a boy read in a public speaking class in 6th grade “Church Says No to Gays.” That stuck with me – even now, 30 years later.

The priests and nuns really didn’t mention gays. There were little innuendoes here and there – like the reading of the Sodom and Gomorrah story in 9th grade religion class. But the thing is, I had so successfully convinced myself that I wasn’t gay – I was so successfully hiding my secret, even from MYSELF, that I played along with the subtle homophobia – when kids would use ‘fag’ or ‘queer’ as a derogatory adjective. I’m sure I did some of it myself. Or, on the surface, I didn’t worry about Father Jamison’s raised eyebrows during the Sodom and

Gomorrah story. Because I was banking on the fact that my affection for other boys would pass as I grew older.

Of course, I would have watched IT GETS BETTER videos in total secrecy – but I could have discovered the one thing that I wasn’t finding elsewhere – HOPE.

I’ve observed that there’s a general perception of fear around this subject when the GLBT community proposes talking with grammar or high school kids. My own high school won’t even acknowledge on the alumni achievements’ site that I wrote a gay Catholic memoir. (I requested; they politely refused). They’ve celebrated other books by other alumni…but not mine.

What many adults don’t seem to be able to acknowledge is that kids ARE dealing with these things in grammar school. I experienced my first erection around 5th grade. I looked at my first “dirty magazine” when I was in 7th grade. I had my first masturbation experience and subsequent first sexual encounter in 8th grade.

And through all those early experiences with sexuality – I was so sickened and ashamed – because through all of them, I wasn’t thinking about Farrah Fawcett or Wonder Woman. I was thinking about Superman. And I mistakenly believed that such feelings were NOT OKAY with God.

The IT GETS BETTER project can reach kids who need to hear these messages in a private, powerful way. I know my next example is cliché, but that doesn’t make it any less true. Consider that an African-American adolescent who has been bullied for being black can come home to their African-American parents and potentially receive sympathy and solidarity. A gay kid who has been bullied and can come home and receive sympathy from straight parents – but not the solidarity. In my opinion, IT GETS BETTER can supply that sense of ‘I’ve been there.’

Q: In what way do you think religion has contributed to gay bullying/suicides?

A: In my opinion, the messages from many organized religions – although I’m most familiar with Catholic – ultimately empower the culture of bullying. They don’t condone it, but they do empower it. Don’t get me wrong – my faith has offered a lot of comfort when grappling with difficult subjects throughout my whole life. But the fantastic struggle I had as an adolescent was that God seemed to be sending me two opposing messages: condemning the behavior of two men loving each other – then consoling me in my grief and loneliness. I mean, when I got into high school and did even MORE secret research on gay sexuality, the messages I received at that point were more clear: Catholic gays who were sexually active were not welcome at the altar of Christ; homosexuals were called to live chaste lives (supposedly like all the other single Catholics out there – but nobody EVER seemed to want to point out the simple logic that straight single Catholics had the option to love and to marry. They had HOPE). I learned that, if I was truly gay, I was to link my sacrifice to the sacrifice of Christ on the cross, and endure a solitary life of chaste endurance. Which seemed like a pretty bleak message to a healthy boy of 17.

When you classify someone as “less than” for any reason, you empower others to feel – and act – “better than.” To me, that’s what the negative messages about homosexuality and homosexual behavior from many organized religions ultimately achieve.

Q: What is the responsibility of faith leaders and people of faith here?

A: I think that faith leaders and people of faith need to continue to educate themselves – even more than they are today. Talk to gay people. Watch 100 videos on IT GETS BETTER. Read the bible stories about David and Jonathan or Ruth and Naomi. Pray. Be willing to stretch their faith. Pray some more.

If, after all that, they still hold a belief that a loving, generous God does not celebrate the committed love of man for man or woman for woman, I ask them to consider how they act on that belief. ESPECIALLY if they work with children. Because the next adolescent they encounter might be like I was. A kid grappling with an overwhelming problem in secret. A secret big enough to encourage suicide as a more ‘holy’ solution.

Most of all, they should consider that ‘towing a Catechismal line’ that condemns homosexual behavior – all in the name of faith – can rob devout gay kids of something as equally as important as faith: HOPE.

Gregory Gerard is a gay Catholic author who resides in Rochester NY with his partner of thirteen years. His memoir, In Jupiter’s Shadow, explores the importance of emerging from the ‘shadow’ of others’ expectations and how people can often work to hide important truths from the most important person in their lives: themselves.

For fun, I post my stuff at www.GregoryGerard.net.
For serious, I post my stuff at
www.JupitersShadow.com.
I invite you to visit my stuff.

Oh-My-God October

Posted: August 17, 2013 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , ,

October 17th, 2010

I walk our spitz-husky, Cooper, around our city neighborhood in Rochester, NY, and cannot help but be stunned by the fantastic colors of October — even for a red/green color-blind guy like me.

Maybe this is what the world looks like to everybody else the rest of the year.

Thank God for the vibrant landscapes of October!

                       

For fun, I post my stuff at www.GregoryGerard.net.
For serious, I post my stuff at
www.JupitersShadow.com.
I invite you to visit my stuff.

April 11th, 2010

When you first wake up…I mean just when you’re coming out of that drowsy, half-sleepy, half-still-in-a-dream state, and the day is just beginning, and you start to think about getting up, WHAT DO YOU REACH FOR FIRST?

Is it a book, to spend a few minutes reading the next chapter in a mystery that you were too tired to finish the night before?

If you’re sleeping with someone else, is it your other half, to give a hearty hug (and maybe something else)? If you’re sleeping alone, is it a hug for yourself (and maybe something else)?

Is it a rosary, bible, or some religious object, to greet God as you greet the day?

Is it a candy bar that you keep stowed (possibly secretly) in your nightstand drawer, maybe Snickers or Twix?

It’s not my intention to pass judgement on any of these items. I have something else in mind. Just like the theme of my memoir/mystery, IN JUPITER’S SHADOW, I think it’s important to be self-aware. Knowing ourselves is the first step in evaluating our life balance, our passions, our addictions, our faith, and our “core.”

For me, it’s my Palm Treo PDA. That’s what I reach for first. I want to see if anyone’s emailed me since last night. And I want to check Facebook to see what’s happening with my friends.

It started to bother me how strong the desire to ‘grab the Treo’ has become. Here’s an example: if I’m tent camping and don’t have a place to plug the Treo in, I almost have angst that it’s not there. I remember once hearing a Dr. Laura comment that having angst about the absence of something was one way to evaluate addiction.

So, for me, I’ve made a little rule (in the series of little rules I make for me) that God and I talk first in the morning, before anything. Just to say hi. To center myself, my life, my thoughts, my day.

THEN I catch up with everybody else through the Treo. It just feels a little more in balance that way.

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For fun, I post my stuff at www.gregorygerard.net.
For serious, I post my stuff at
www.JupitersShadow.com.
I invite you to visit my stuff.

Good News

Posted: August 17, 2013 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , ,

December 5th, 2009

It is Christmastime and I long to be wrapped in the excitement of the season — the anticipation of parties and friends and family and church and that wonderful speech by Linus. The challenge: I am somewhere between discouraged and outraged with recent news headlines:

– New York State Senate rules against marriage equality 38-24 (with a report that said Senator Jim Alesi, the first Republican to vote, “hung his head in his hands and said, ‘so many people have called in from my district opposed to marriage equity.’ ” I have to wonder if a majority of people had called in opposing interracial marriage (a reasonable parallel), if this would preclude our representatives from doing what’s right. But I digress…)

–The Manhattan Doctrine, signed by a number of Christian leaders, including some Catholic bishops, with words like this, directed at those (like me) who have same-gender attraction:

We stand with them, even when they falter. We, no less than they, are sinners who have fallen short of God’s intention for our lives. We, no less than they, are in constant need of God’s patience, love and forgiveness. We call on the entire Christian community to resist sexual immorality, and at the same time refrain from disdainful condemnation of those who yield to it

So many big words that, on the surface, try to appear loving but firm. Now that I am old enough to discern, I clearly read condescension and bigotry. They are just not getting it. I get so charged up thinking about faithful adolescents who this very day are strugging in silence — and who are reading official pronouncements like these and feeling condemned as ‘immoral.’ I remember being in that situation. I remember that NOTHING good I read about homosexuality would sink in…because THE CHURCH said my romantic feelings, if recognized, were immoral. That my romantic life was destined to be about sacrifice, not fulfillment. That was a sad, sad time. I’m glad God pulled me through to a broader discernment in the silence of my heart. I pray that those struggling faithful adolescents today are more open to hearing messages of the positive, affirming, loving, spiritual, and God-blessed celebration of same-gender attraction. But I’m still digressing…

To counter those headlines, I’ve decided to make up a few of my own. Add yours, if you like. Maybe it’s not overly productive, but I’m a firm believer that our attitude is a powerful force in this world. And it’s kinda fun.

–WORLD EXPERIENCES OVERWHELMING SENSE OF HEAVENLY WARMTH THIS HOLIDAY SEASON; CRIME DOWN, LOVE UP

–GAY MARRIAGE AGREEMENT REACHED BY GOVERNMENT AND RELIGIONS ALIKE; ‘GOD IS LOVE,’ SAY TOP CHURCH OFFICIALS. ‘WE FINALLY GET IT.’

–WAR SUSPENDED; TROOPS SENT HOME; MILITARY LEADERS AFFIRM ‘THERE’S A   BETTER WAY.’

November 21st, 2009

I’m here in D.C. for two readings/speakings/booksignings for In Jupiter’s Shadow. Both events were wonderful — signing books at Lambda Rising Bookstore and sharing my testimony for the Allied in Pride group at George Washington University. That’s been a very uplifting experience.

The less-uplifting (would that be down-drafting?) part of this trip occurred when I learned that the U.S. Catholic bishops did move forward to ratify a pastoral letter on marriage that contains this text:

The legal recognition of same-sex unions poses a multifaceted threat to the very fabric of society, striking at the source from which society and culture come and which they are meant to serve. Such recognition affects all people, married and non-married: not only at the fundamental levels of the good of the spouses, the good of children, the intrinsic dignity of every human person, and the common good, but also at the levels of education, cultural imagination and influence, and religious freedom.

I think about my own experience — how I struggled during adolescence with feelings of same-sex attraction in silence. How I didn’t have the hope for a blessed union with a spouse in my life. How these types of statements, put forth by my own church and indicate a legal recognition of my loving commitment to my partner Jeff is a threat to the ‘very fabric of society’ and that such recognition affects ‘the intrinsic dignity of every human person’ are so discouraging.

When I was 23, after ten years of silent prayer, research, and loneliness, I considered taking my own life by jumping off the 11th floor of a resort hotel in Ocean   City, MD. At that time, I felt that God would hate the ‘sin’ of suicide less than the ‘sin’ of me loving another man. Prayerful self-preservation finally kicked in and I didn’t make the leap.

I’m very GRATEFUL that I’m here today to write these words. I’m very BLESSED to share my life with a loving male spouse for more than 12 years now. I’m very CONCERNED about the next generation of faithful kids like me who are out there today, researching (in silence) documents like the recent pastoral letter on marriage. I’m very CLEAR that God intended me to be with Jeff and that, though I’m out here on a Christian limb, I know God is right out here with me.

Ultimately, I remain very HOPEFUL for a brighter future, when all human respect and dignity, including the rights and romances of same-sex partners, is celebrated the planet over.

October 21st, 2009

I am deeply concerned about reports of an upcoming U.S. bishops’ pastoral letter on marriage that reportedly includes the following statements in its draft:
“The bishops decry the rise of same-sex marriage as ‘one of the most troubling developments in contemporary culture.’ Same-sex marriage ‘redefines the nature of marriage and the family and, as a result harms both the intrinsic dignity of every human person and the common good of society’.”

As a 43-year-old Catholic man with a homosexual orientation, I feel it important to share my own testimony with you before such statements are finalized.

I was raised in the 1970s in a very Catholic household with a great respect for God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. I attended Catholic grammar school, high school, and some college. Through all of these experiences, I was blessed with a close sense of God’s presence in my life; I held a profound awe of His legacy through our Catholic faith traditions, His sacrifice on the cross for our sins, and His involvement in our everyday journeys.
My own journey became troubled around age thirteen. At that time, I loved God very deeply – and I began to discern an attraction to boys.
This was a private struggle for many years of adolescent research and prayer. God and I collaborated to try and make sense of the feelings I held inside. There were roadblocks at every turn: the snippets in popular media that poked fun, scorn, or hate at gays without correction; the high school priest who read aloud the story of Sodom and Gomorrah and highlighted God’s condemnation without explaining modern interpretations of inhospitality; the gnawing realization that my beloved church had no sacrament to honor this love I felt at my core.

Catholic resources on the topic encouraged me to form “disinterested friendships” and to “conjoin my celibate sacrifice to Christ’s own.” As a teen, I prepared for this lifetime of sacrifice.
By the age of 23, consumed by a profound loneliness and lack of hope for a Catholic-sanctioned, fully realized commitment to another man, I considered taking my own life, under the erroneous assumption that God would hate the “sin” of suicide less than the “sin” of a homosexual relationship.
At that time, a book saved my life. I prayerfully discovered the memoir “The Best Little Boy in the World” by Andrew Tobias. I identified so strongly with the main character that, for the first time in my life, I realized my feelings of isolation were deceptive. The book propelled me forward on my path to self acceptance.

While that book helped me tremendously, the author was not raised within a religion – and I was not able to resolve some of my internal spiritual conflict through his words. My prayer journey continued with renewed hope. I am very grateful that, after years of reflection and discernment, in May of 2000, I was able to commit my life to another man, having the full certainty that God’s grace has bound us together here on earth.
With this letter I’ve included a copy of my own memoir, “In Jupiter’s Shadow.” I believe sharing this story is the best way I can communicate the profound struggle I encountered at a very young age – and the impact church doctrine had on that struggle.
As your schedule permits, I invite you to read it with an open mind – and to consider, if you move forward with statements condemning same-sex marriage, the hope that will be deprived from future generations of GLBT Catholics due to the misguided perceptions of the past.

I welcome any comments or questions you may have. And I thank you for taking the time to consider my concerns.
Respectfully,
Gregory Gerard