One of the questions that most troubles gay and lesbian Catholics, is how to reconcile the apparent conflict between two important sides to our make – up. For some, the seeming contradiction leads them to reject the Church, for others, to reject or hide their natural sexuality. Yet others attempt to live openly as both Catholic and gay – but are constantly troubled by guilr or doubt. Yet the contradiction may be more apparent than real. It is indeed possible, as many of us have found, to be simultaneously openly Catholic, lead lives of authenticity as gay or lesbian – and also free or guilt or shame about simply accepting the truth of our dual identities. At Quest Bulletin, the magazine of the British support group for gay and lesbian Catholics, there is a continuing series on “Real lives, real people”, as well as additional posts on “life stories”.
There are both practical and theological reasons why these life stories are important. One of these that caught my attention is by Ania Kowalski, at the time the women’s officer, and currently the youth offficer. What particularly attracted me was a section with an idea we don’t often see – her concluding sub-heading “The Beauty of Being Gay and Catholic”.
Here it is:
I am now at a point in my life where I am certain that how I am is good, because God made each of us in His image. I have a girlfriend who is not Catholic herself, but deeply understanding and supportive of my voluntary gay Catholic work. I see the divine in our relationship, and through expressing my love of another, and being loved back, I feel so much closer to God. I know God is in our relationship, and I know that our love is good, because God is in all love. These feelings make me feel certain that God had a wonderful plan for me when He made me gay, and I feel fortunate to be this way, with all the opportunities this gives me. I believe that having a loving, committed same-sex relationship, which includes sexual intimacy as an expression of that love, is in complete concordance with being Catholic, and in complete agreement with my conscience. I recognise that other gay Catholics might reach a different conclusion in careful consideration of their conscience where they hear the inner voice of God, and I fully respect that.
In being a gay Catholic, God has also made me question, explore my faith and inform my ideas, resulting in the situation where I think deeply about what I believe in and why. My faith is stronger now because of all of this, because I had to frantically dig around to find answers and then embed the foundations into my life. Many people can drift along, going to Church ‘out of duty’.
However, many gay Catholics bear beautiful testimony to their faith despite going through feelings of rejection or, sadly, homophobic incidents in Catholic communities. I believe I am also a more loving, tolerant and sensitive person, and these are all wonderful gifts I treasure. They make me a more compassionate human towards other humans, and I realise I am less quick to assume and make conclusions about others, because I know that despite external appearances, people often have desolate personal battles they are fighting. I also consider that gay Catholics have so much to contribute to the Church in terms of a broader view of human life and love, outside the traditional family structure. We show that we need to celebrate our differences, rather than feeling threatened by them, and to embrace others and love as much as we can, in all the ways we can.
Fundamentally, I see this as the crux of the Christian message. We are fortunate that we can bear witness to this in our own way.
For the rest of the post, under the sub-headings
- My faith journey
- Being visible as Catholic and gay
see the complete post at “Quest”
(At the time of writing the above story, Ania was Quest women’s officer. She has since passed on that responsibility, but continues to serve on the Quest national committee as “Young Adults” convenor.
Contact her at <firstname.lastname@example.org>