Posts Tagged ‘politics’

June 25th, 2011

I join many, many people today to celebrate the passage of a marriage equality law in my home state, New York.

As one (straight) friend put it: ‘we were thinking of you tonight and the lifting of Jupiter’s Shadow.’

I am filled with joy for all of us here today — and hope for the next generation to which we can now leave this wonderful legacy. I do believe this will provide more hope that love is always blessed, more proof that it gets better, and more light to those who feel crushed in the shadows.

Thanks to all the senators who had the bravery and integrity to pass this legislation — including some who risked much politically to do so.

                       
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.

October 10th, 2010

If you haven’t yet heard news about the “It Gets Better” project, I encourage you to take some time to check it out.

In support of theIt Gets Betterproject, I’ve recorded the following video to add my voice. It’s my prayer today that all kids learn to celebrate diversity in all of its forms. I recognize that’s a bit of a utopian ideal, but I do have faith in ultimate goodness.

Also, as of today, the ebook of IN JUPITER’S SHADOW is available as a free download to anyone who struggles with same-gender attraction and their faith. My wish is that this story helps those who struggle with sexuality and religion to feel less alone; to feel less condemned by God, or church, or family, or society — or even 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.

The Pink Review

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

February 22nd, 2010

So I’m on a work meeting phone conference the other day and one of the guys says that we need a dry run of our presentation. Or, as he says it’s called, a ‘pink review.’

But then he goes on to say that ‘I wish they didn’t call it the pink review. Ya know, couldn’t it just be another color?’

I chuckled, and the other team member chuckled…but I thought about it a little more later in the day and I felt a little sad.

Am I being too sensitive? The implication was obvious…that my teammate didn’t want to participate in a review called a ‘pink review’ because the name was too effeminate.

It’s tough to get a strong take on this. I respect that men in the corporate world don’t want to be perceived as effeminate. But I can’t help but realize that there’s an implication for the other side of the coin…that a pink review is something that’s reserved for homosexual men. And that being homosexual is less than desired.

Again, I may be reading too much into this. My colleagues are good guys. I don’t think they meant any harm with these comments. And I chuckled along with them. But a part of me still feels a little sad. Sad for the next generation of gay kids who hear these messages…and think less of themselves as a result.

They don’t deserve to feel anything but equal.

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.