— Two small gay Catholic thoughts
By Eve Tushnet
For the New Year!
1. I’ve said this before, it’s in Tenderness, but I’ve been thinking about the way that spiritual progress can make you look gayer. I do my best to obey the guidance of Mother Church in all things (lol my best is not always that good but I do try) and I’ve noticed this dynamic in my own life more than once. I’ve seen it in others’ lives too. Coming out is, for many people, a practice of honesty and integrity: living in truth. In this interview I mentioned how when I got sober, I stopped getting weird fantasy-based, reality-fleeing “crushes” on guys; I went from “mostly gay but also bisexual???” to just lesbian, because of an extraordinary experience of healing and rescue that I received from the Lord, my Higher Power.
I’ve known people whose orientation shifted more straightwards as they healed or grew in various ways. But I want to make it clear that healing and spiritual growth can also shift people in the other direction.
Even in the area where people might expect “gay identity” to be especially fraught for Catholics, viz. chastity, I and others have seen how the same experiences that make us more obviously queer have also helped us grow in chastity. Coming out can be part of that story: it can be a way of taking responsibility for your sexuality and seeking to integrate it. I’ve written about my various *~*struggles with chastity*~* and while I uhhh have still not received that angelic girdle Aquinas got, my deepening love for a woman has brought me increased peace in that area as well. I love her, and being with her offers all kinds of help: increased accountability, but also her prayers; my greater ambition to give all my desires to God through my love of her; my deep longing to integrate body and soul, so that I can respond to her beauty in the way that she deserves.
If you see us out and about, including at Mass, you’ll likely guess that we are a lesbian couple. We are! We are also learning to live more deeply in harmony with our shared Catholic faith, the bedrock of our lives and our love.
2. I love seeing how the symbols of faith and the saints emerge to play new roles in our lives as we love one another. I’m creating a workbook companion for Tenderness, and one thing I want to include is reflection questions asking readers to interpret a hymn, Scripture passage, or symbol of faith in a way that sheds light on their experience of being LGBT+. There is so much in what we already know of God’s love that can guide and comfort us. The star that guides us to Christ, the blue of Mary’s cloak, the dove; St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, St. Francis, St. John the Beloved; the raising of Lazarus, the empty tomb, the Resurrection: they have all gained new resonance in our life together.
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