Pride Month

“I’m not looking to change your mind. I’m not trying to convert you to my way of thinking. I just want to know that you love me.”

The other day a dear friend of mine came out to me as gay. It’s obviously not my story to tell, nor is this the first time I’ve had this experience with a friend, but it is the most recent and the first time I’ve had a friend tell me they’re gay since I became Catholic. 

We had a really beautiful talk. I cannot fathom the bravery and vulnerability and trauma and confusion my friend carries. Except that I can because I’ve been on the giving end of it. Growing up in Bible Belt culture made me guilty by association and complicit in the commission of many sins, I’m sorry to say. And for that I ask forgiveness. 

“I’m not looking to change your mind. I’m not trying to convert you to my way of thinking. I just want to know that you love me.”

I am a Catholic, faithful to the teachings of the Church and loyal to the Pope. I accept the Church’s teaching on sexuality, but I reject the methods in which Her children carry out those teachings. 

It’s Gay Pride Month. Do you know what the queer community wants? They just want you to love them. You don’t have to accept or condone every action or decision a community makes in order to love people. You don’t have to agree in order to love people. 

Alienation and isolation and hate and hurt are not part of the Gospel of Christ. In my experience, “love the sinner, hate the sin” looks an awful lot like shaming and repressing. Only specific sinners are left walking away from church feeling unwanted while those of us with “more acceptable” sins sit in the cat bird’s seat. 

Every person is fearfully and wonderfully made. Every person. I believe that the queer community has so much to offer the church, so much to offer the world. I know there’s a wide spectrum of belief on this, that we affirm and support our gay brothers and sisters in different ways. This is a conversation that’s hard for all of us because we’re all in different places. That’s okay. 

But, guys, it’s time to get past the rhetoric and just simply love God’s people. That’s it. You don’t need to worry about micromanaging their salvation. God’s got that. I’m not saying you’re required to attend a pride parade this month. But what I am saying is that our best witness to Christ’s love is simply accepting people and loving them. It is vital to people’s very lives that we in the church show up and love them right here in the present, in the hard, confusing, uncomfortable moment right where they are. Unconditionally. The way the Father loves us all. 

I honestly don’t know the best way for that to all play out on a practical level. I know I’ll screw it up and make a mess of things. But I also know that I won’t hurt me to try to understand the experience of others. Even in my failures, it won’t hurt me to listen – just listen – to the story and experience of someone who believes differently than I do.

I am called by Christ to love my brother. I am capable of listening and reading and learning. I am a recipient of God’s grace through the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist and that grace allows me to follow the Church while simultaneously loving the queer community. Grace does the impossible, after all.

Water into wine, deniers into popes, bread into the Body.

If He can do all that, then surely He can soften our hearts to do this, too.