How L.G.B.T Catholics are celebrating Pride Month

A couple embraces outside the Stonewall Inn in New York on June 12, 2016. An L.G.B.T. ministry plans to hold a Mass on June 27 outside the bar considered the birthplace of the L.G.B.T. civil rights movement. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File)A couple embraces outside the Stonewall Inn in New York on June 12, 2016. An L.G.B.T. ministry plans to hold a Mass on June 27 outside the bar considered the birthplace of the L.G.B.T. civil rights movement. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File)

Dozens of Catholics are expected to gather for an outdoor Mass on June 27, just steps from the Stonewall Inn, the New York City gay bar that is considered the home of the modern L.G.B.T. rights movement because of an uprising against police brutality there 50 years ago this month. In some circumstances, a group of Catholics meeting near a celebrated gay bar could cause anxiety or puzzlement for L.G.B.T. people, but this group plans to mark Pride by meeting for worship and then moving to Stonewall or another nearby gay bar for fellowship. They plan to offer thanks that they have been able to embrace their sexual identities while remaining part of the church.

“We very much feel like our queer identity is linked to our Catholic identity,” said Xorje Olivares, a member of Out at Saint Paul, the L.G.B.T. ministry of the Paulist-run St. Paul the Apostle Church in New York, which plans the Mass. Mr. Olivares, who hosts a weekly radio show on Sirius XM, said it is important for Catholics like him to show people that they can be members of both the church and the L.G.B.T. community.

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“We very much feel like our queer identity is linked to our Catholic identity.”

“Despite what others might think, our spirituality and our sexuality” are not contradictory, he said. “We don’t feel like we have to jeopardize one in order to help the other.”

The Mass near Stonewall is one of many events and initiatives for L.G.B.T. Catholics and their allies in June, or Pride Month, when they celebrate advances in the struggle for civil rights and presses society to go further.

Some Catholics say this June has been particularly fraught for L.G.B.T. members of the church, with one bishop tweeting that Pride Month events are harmful for children and the Vatican releasing a document that criticized the very notion of transgender identity. While some Catholics agree with those sentiments, some members of the L.G.B.T. Catholic community say that for them, June is a month during which they can celebrate two parts of their identities that have not always coexisted peacefully.

Take Hilary Howes, the founder of TransCatholic and an advocate for making the church more welcoming to transgender people.

“It's sometimes as tough to be Catholic within a queer community as it is tough to be queer within a Catholic community,” Ms. Howes said. “When I’m at a Pride event, I wear my Catholicism on my sleeve so people know there are Catholics who support them.” The D.C.-area resident added that during Pride she offers to tell her own stories of transitioning and then converting to Catholicism, to show there is already great diversity within the church.

“When I’m at a Pride event, I wear my Catholicism on my sleeve so people know there are Catholics who support them.”

There is also Patrick Gothman, 32, who spent many years figuring out how to reconcile his sexuality with his Catholic faith. (Mr. Gothman has written about the challenges of being a gay Catholic for America and has been a guest on our Jesuitical podcast.)

A few months ago, Mr. Gothman connected with Patrick Weston, and together they launched Vine & Fig, “a space online where Queer Catholics could have our lives affirmed as true, holy, and beautiful,” according to the group’s website. They produce videos and articles and also run a channel on Slack, an instant messaging app, for about 150 L.G.B.T. Catholics to share their stories in a moderated environment.

The project is mostly self-funded, though the pair manage a donation page to help offset the costs. They have met a few times in person, mostly when Mr. Gothman, a flight attendant based in Austin, Tex., flies through Columbus, Ohio, where Mr. Weston resides. But most of the time, they communicate via text messages and video calls.

“We wanted a space online where people could meet other queer Catholics and talk about what’s hard, and what’s beautiful, about being Catholic,” Mr. Gothman said. One discussion on Slack asks members to share their “desolations” and “consolations,” Ignatian terms for exploring when God was present or absent in one’s life.

“There were a lot of Protestant resources out there, things that were really helpful, but they lacked the Catholic perspective I was looking for,” said Mr. Weston, 26, of his search for material that helped him reconcile his faith with his sexuality. “I felt like I couldn’t change the fact I am gay and I couldn’t change the fact I was Catholic.”

“I felt like I couldn’t change the fact I am gay and I couldn’t change the fact I was Catholic.”

He feels today that he does not need to change either, though he admits, “Being a queer Catholic requires living in a sort of gray space.“

Both Mr. Weston and Mr. Gothman said June presents an opportunity to connect with other L.G.B.T. Catholics to remind them they are welcome in the church. Vine & Fig released a video on June 10 in which they called on L.G.B.T. Catholics to be proud of their dual identities.

“You will see so much joy and so much love” during Pride events, Mr. Gothman said. “If the church looked a little more like that, we would all enjoy going to church on Sundays a lot more.”

“If the church looked a little more like that, we would all enjoy going to church on Sundays a lot more.”

Leaders from other Christian denominations issued statements in support of Pride, but U.S. Catholics may have difficulty finding the same. (Some U.S. bishops have expressed support for the L.G.B.T. community in recent years, such as when Newark’s Cardinal Joseph Tobin told NBC News in April that he found the church’s language on homosexuality to be “very unfortunate.”) Still, a number of affirming resources do exist.

The Sisters of Mercy of the Americas are publishing a series of reflections on its website about L.G.B.T. issues. Pride with Mercy is published in English and Spanish and it includes essays on the meaning of the rainbow flag that is associated with pride, the power of marching in a Pride parade and the challenges facing L.G.B.T. youth.

“How can we, in Mercy, assist LGBTQ+ youth who may not have access to anti-trafficking services because they are unaware of services in their area, the community lacks resources (e.g., bed space, funding) or they are concerned that providers are not L.G.B.T.Q+ friendly,” asked Sister Jeanne Christensen, writing in her blog post that L.G.B.T. youth are disproportionately represented among the homeless population. “How do we assist these youths, alleviate their isolation, fear or loneliness?”

The Catholic social justice advocacy group Network published an essay highlighting the economic challenges facing the L.G.B.T. community, writing, “This Pride Month, we continue to work toward federal policies that bring justice and equality for the L.G.B.T.Q+ community in the United States.”

During this year’s Pride Month, Catholic groups are also participating in parades, holding special prayer services and hosting educational forums. For example, Saint Francis Xavier Church and Fordham University will facilitate a conversation about Catholicism and global L.G.B.T. activism on June 26, with speakers from Mexico, the Philippines and Uganda.

Mr. Olivares said that Pride is an opportunity to let other L.G.B.T. Catholics know they have a home in the church, a message he hopes is conveyed by the rainbow flags that will fly during the Mass near the Stonewall Inn.

“No matter where you come from, no matter how deep in your Catholic faith you may be, at least there’s one place where you can have a home at, and there’s one place that celebrates you for who you are,” he said.

This story was updated on June 20 to note that Saint Francis Xavier Church is a sponsor of the June 26 event at Fordham University.

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Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.
Karl Miller
5 months ago

It's somewhat disappointing that you would write a piece like this that reflects only one view of your topic - those Catholics identifying as queer, and/or at odds with traditional Catholic teaching on same-sex attraction. It would have served your article, and your intentions, much better if you had tried to get a more rounded approach to how Catholics deals with Pride, including those of us who live by Church teachings.
I recently wrote an opinion piece for CatholicPhilly.com where I tried to advance a more synthesized approach to Pride that honors both Stonewall, and my Church. http://catholicphilly.com/2019/06/commentaries/its-pride-month-im-catholic-how-do-i-respond/

Mike Macrie
5 months ago

That’s a Fair Comment both sides should respect and hear each other’s views

Pancho Mulongeni
4 months 3 weeks ago

What a false equivalence! You know that your argument is the prevailing one throughout much of the world, where the "doctrinally correct literature" (to quote your own piece) of the "body" and "love" eliminates any possibility of sacred, sexually imbued, relationships for queer folk. Strange you claim the legacy of Stonewall, but conclude that the "Church's teachings" reign supreme. You eliminate all of us who are part of the Church, but are at odds with the Magisterium. We too are Church, so there is nothing about this article that is one sided, it comes from the Church, not a rehashing of the Magisterium.

Opting Out
5 months ago

My husband and I got legally married a few years ago. He also became Catholic at Easter Vigil a few years ago. We participate in our parish fully, attend Sunday mass regularly, sit in the front pew, tithe weekly and engage in parish ministries including those helping the homeless and immigrants refugees.

We also participate in Gay Pride events by simply attending the local venues and be an example to our gay brothers and sisters of lasting love, fidelity, love of Faith and being a witness as Christ calls us. My husband particularly likes St Therese of the Little Flower and talks about her to friends both gay and straight. I couldnt be prouder of my husband. Pity more “traditional” Catholics cant be as joyous in their lived Faith instead of being so miserable. Let the dead bury the dead.

Happy Gay Pride and thank you Michael for the article

G Reeder-Ferreira
5 months ago

I am also happily married. We will be celebrating 5 years of marriage in July! The best thing we have ever given ourselves. I regularly attend mass too, and he often joins me. He recently gave about 1,000 8oz bottles of water to St. Francis for their steps ministry to help the homeless during the hot summer season. I couldn't have been more proud of him.

I also work with 2 other individuals fighting poverty who are also, get this, gay and catholic!

The holy spirit works in mysterious ways...

Happy gay pride!

Jay Zamberlin
4 months 3 weeks ago

Congrats on you knowing someone who helps homeless. Nice. Same sex attracted is OK. Same sex marriage is an oxymoron according to the Church, the Christian tradition, the Jewish tradition, the Muslim tradition, the Hindu tradition. Men having sex with men, women with women is called an abomination in the Bible, one of the sins that cries out to heaven. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sins_that_cry_to_heaven

Tim O'Leary
5 months ago

Gosh - it's hard to keep up. A search on your system revealed 20 LGBT articles this year, vs. 4 on blacks and 1 on Hispanics - none in support of Church teaching, all in support of LGBT teaching. The same urgency of evangelizing, just a different mission.

G Reeder-Ferreira
5 months ago

It sounds like you could use a Chik-fil-a sandwich.

Tim O'Leary
5 months ago

Great idea, Gabe. Chick-Fil-A is a great example of a business staying true to its core purpose - great chicken sandwiches delivered by young people respectful of their customers. Forbes notes the chain’s average sales per restaurant were $4.4 million – nearly $2 million more than the figure for McDonald’s and more than $3.3 million more than KFC's, all with one less day of business per week than its competitors. Projected to become the third-largest quick-service restaurant in the country.
- https://www.forbes.com/sites/aliciakelso/2018/04/03/chick-fil-as-growth-trajectory-fueled-by-demand-for-simplicity/#634fcb195612

G Reeder-Ferreira
5 months ago

They do have great tasting food. But fast food isn’t very healthy either. Let’s look at Apple, a company that supports gays! Apple reported second quarter sales results at 58 billion!!! Fantastic for a company that embraces inclusion, diversity, and brings great products that connect us faster than ever.

Do you have an Apple phone Tim?

Tim O'Leary
5 months ago

I like Apple phones, although their sales and stock have have declined somewhat since Steve Jobs passed. I do worry about their impact on the culture and how the workers are treated - see here https://www.bbc.com/news/business-30532463 "Poor treatment of workers in Chinese factories which make Apple products has been discovered by an undercover BBC Panorama investigation."

Opting Out
5 months ago

Do you have an Apple phone Tim?

Touché, Gabe. Brilliant actually. You can extend your argument by asking hypocrites like Tim his BMI and hours per day on the internet. Gluttony and Slothfulness are 2 appetites described by the Dumb Ox as being sinful, though he describes Pride as the worse. See Summa. Additionally companies such as Alphabet Inc, Facebook and Twitter, as well as the big corporations that provide Internet Service Providers peddle all of the appetites known as Cardinal Sins. No doubt Tim and his “to hell with Catholicism” Trads wallow in the sins of their various appetites viz a viz ISPs.

I am a cradle Catholic and have seen Chiropractors (they call themselves physicians in public) join Catholic Apologetic movements ala Scott Hahn and Patrick Madrid, cling to their hubris and clobber many in the name of their version of katholicism. Best to let the dead bury the dead. Note that Tim posted almost 4 hours ago, which means past 1:30 am EST, and he lives in the Archdiocese of Philly. A man trolling the internet at any time is a red flag, but at 1:30 am who claims to be a “physician” and a traditionalist are screaming inner demons. Tim is a self-loathing closeted homosexual just like Raymond Burke. Good luck with that girlfriend.

Off to the gym! We cant all be sloths though fabulous looking homosexuals! ;-)

Tim O'Leary
5 months ago

Jose – I’ve had several iPhones, and watch the NFL & NBA, which threatened to move finals out of states that kept girl’s bathrooms for girls. Boycotting is more a leftist/gay thing. You might question if buying an iPhone or cable TV is a deeper commitment to an organization than your involvement in the Catholic Church.

I think gluttony and lust are already covered in the Pride Parade, but notice there is no Sloth parade. That is because it's unique to the LGBTQIAA (or is it QIATL-GAB?) movement to actually boast about the deadliest of sins. No one goes around boasting about sloth. TMI on your other boasts.

A most telling aspect about this ideology, which seems unique to the G in the LGBT, is that the worst insult they can muster for their opponent is “he must be one of us.” I never hear a lesbian say her opponent must be a lesbian. You might get out of your cradle for a moment and do some serious psychoanalytic unpacking of that one.

Mike Macrie
5 months ago

Why did the chicken go to KFC? A: He wanted to see a chicken strip.

source: http://www.jokes4us.com/animaljokes/chickenjokes.html

Mike Macrie
5 months ago

source: http://www.jokes4us.com/animaljokes/chickenjokes.html

J Jones
4 months 4 weeks ago

The current US administration and Republican party is working to strip the LGBT community of its civil rights and protections. Significant numbers of Republicans are Catholic. The RCC has contributed and is contributing significant support for this rollback of rights and protections. No other group of American citizens is currently facing level of risk to their civil rights and protections. That is why this group is a frequent focus of attention and concern.

Tim O'Leary
4 months 4 weeks ago

JJ - While I am not a Trump supporter, your comment is just pure fake news. Apart from the lunacy of having the military pay for castration (a war crime only a few decades ago - see the Nuremburg Trial records), their main focus is on removing any special rights and protecting religious freedom (i.e. giving Christians and Jews and Muslims the same rights of expression as the LGBT community). I have seen no attempts to roll back same-sex marriage or discrimination laws or even adoption laws (which I believe is plain wrong for the kids). You have a better case when it comes to the Trump administration reviving protections for the unborn, who are losing their already fragile rights whenever a Democrat gets any power, in any state or even a city.

Dionys Murphy
4 months 3 weeks ago

"protecting religious freedom" - No matter how much people try to spin hatred, exclusion and oppressive discrimination as 'protecting freedom,' the truth generally comes out that what these people are looking for is state sanctioned oppression and discrimination. Thankfully we do not live in a theocracy whereby the minority views of extremist religionists are forced on the public as a whole.

Frank Elliott
4 months 2 weeks ago

Removing “special” rights? You utterly brainless lying bigot, gays don’t even have the same protections Catholics have had for fifty years, which they gained through the Civil Rights Act of 1964.. No Catholic named “O’Leary” could have avoided such discrimination without this law, and the Catholic church has done everything it can to prevent even abstinent gays like myself from obtains such protections. You are an utterly mendacious cretin because you’re using your special protections to attack others, and you have the effrontery to lecture us.

Judith Jordan
4 months 2 weeks ago

Tim O'Leary--
Do you not see the obvious difference between someone who requests castration because of various issues and the Nazis forcibly castrating people? The former is not a war crime, but the latter is.

KKK members could say it is their religious belief not to serve blacks. Would you support that?

Michael Barberi
5 months ago

It is important that Catholics are permitted to celebrate their faith at Mass, in particular LGBT Catholics. The more we engage in a respectful conversation of the most difficult moral issues facing Catholics today, such as the treatment of the LGBT community, the closer we will come to a better understanding of truth and what salvation means for those born this way and do not choose it. To those that believe the truth is whatever the magisterium say is the truth, I want to remind my fellow interlocutors that while the truth never changes, our understanding of truth does change as we grow in wisdom in Scripture, theology, philosophy, the sciences and the human condition, et al. History support this and the most recent example of a change in teachings was Amoris Laetitia (AL) and the possibility of Holy Communion for the divorced and remarried without an anullment. Up until AL, Holy Communion was forbidden for these Catholics. While AL is not an omen for changes in other teachings, it provides hope that there might be a way salvation that is different than our current teachings.

I continue to believe that requiring gay Catholics to live a lifetime of sexual abstinence for their salvation is an extreme mandate that few can be expected to live without serous negative consequences.

This issue is not about biting the bullet or a litmus test of one's faith in following every moral teaching. It is trying to live a life pleasing to Christ in the service of love in a permanent and faithful relationship.

I know that some bloggers will want to argue over my comments. However, I have no interest in debating this issue as I have exhausted such arguments in many of my commentaries over the years on America Magazine. Hence, I do not want to repeat myself. To this end, this is my final comment.

My Christ enlighten us as we strive to love him and neighbor and become the men and women He wants us to be.

I pray for our brothers and sisters and for those priests, theologians and nuns who diligently minister to the LGBT community.

Robert Lewis
5 months ago

Michael, please do not let this be your “final comment”; I want to continue to engage you and other pro-lgbtq Catholics in a discussion of the findings of Alan Bray, in his magisterial tome, “The Friend,” which, in my humble opinion, offers a solution to the dilemma facing gay Catholics regarding how to remain faithful Catholics while at the same time asserting their right to life-long same-sex companionship in committed relationships. In the Apostolic Churches’ traditions, it was called “sworn brotherhood,” and their is substantial evidence for its usage and acceptance.

G Reeder-Ferreira
5 months ago

Hi! I’m new here. I’ll check out what Alan Bray had discovered. So far I’ve seen seven dilemmas for LGBT Catholics 1) how one reconciles their sexual orientation with their faith 2) how one goes about finding safe spaces to openly express and be themselves 3) how one finds the strength and confidence to continually come out in the face of adversity and ad hominem attacks. 4) how one copes with adversity and spiritual attacks in his relations to others 5) how one finds meaningful relationships not based on sex 6) how one finds communion among the faithful 7) And why they stay

Alice Pat
5 months ago

I agree with every word. I hope more Catholics can see that the church should not be about judgment and exclusion, that experts now know that people are BORN with their sexual orientation, that the Church needs to accept and love all people regardless of how they are wired to express their sexuality.

Kevin Murphy
5 months ago

I, and many others, don't accept Amoris Laetitia. It is an aberration. No Pope can change a direct teaching of Jesus. Certain truths are not negotiable.

Michael Penna
5 months ago

Hello, I'd like to say as a member of the lgbt community, I have two issues with the articles on pride put forth this past month..

First, there are many Catholics who identify themselves somewhere along the lgbt spectrum but still hold to the traditional sexual ethic and follow it to the best of their respective ability. Personally, for me, abandoning the traditional sexual ethic is not something I can reconcile while still being Catholic and worthily receiving the sacraments, particularly the Eucharist. I also think that profiling this group can help people younger people who are figuring out their sexuality with reconciling their faith and realizing they don't have to leave the Catholic church.
The second issue I have is that with lgbt-focused masses, it feel likes the sanctity and majesty of the Mass are taken away and replaced with more of a banal, mundane ceremony. Having pride-centered masses can appear like they take away from the Church's teaching that the Mass is first and foremost the re-creation of the sacrifice on Calvary done in an unbloody manner. Mr. O'Loughlin, if you, or anyone else for that matter, are willing to reach out, please let me know. This topic is something I have been thinking about and researching for many years.

Jay Zamberlin
4 months 3 weeks ago

Thanks for your courage at this critical time. You're right about "themed" masses, really of any sort, but particularly based on the "celebration" of what is, to me, lifestyle choices, which indeed, may represent a cross to bear more than a focus of some sort of church "celebration."

Pancho Mulongeni
4 months 3 weeks ago

It's easy to criticize these "masses" which are in fact such a minority. Honestly, you can go to the regular mass all other days of the week and all other times. It's bad enough our masses are demonised and now you too are jumping on the bandwagon, just cause you believe that you cannot receive the Eucharist in Church, because you received the Eucharist in bed the night before. Honestly, let us be.

Pancho Mulongeni
4 months 3 weeks ago

There are so many other masses in the Church, for different ethno-cultural communities, but they do not receive that same criticism. Honestly, please go for counselling to treat your internatilized homophobia and then come and criticize.

Tim O'Leary
5 months ago

Since some people celebrate this month as Pride month, I did a search of the bible for "pride" to see how Holy Scripture deals with the word. I found 66-68, depending on the English translation. I found a few positive uses, like “Children’s children are a crown to the aged, and parents are the pride of their children.” (Proverbs 17:6). The rest overwhelmingly negative - here is a representative dozen examples (NIV translation):
1. Job 20:6 – The pride of the godless person reaches to the heavens and his head touches the clouds,
2. Psalm 10:4 – In his pride the wicked man does not seek him; in all his thoughts there is no room for God.
3. Psalm 31:18 – Let their lying lips be silenced, for with pride and contempt they speak arrogantly against the righteous.
4. Psalm 56:2 - My adversaries pursue me all day long; in their pride many are attacking me.
5. Psalm 73:6 - Pride is their necklace; they clothe themselves with violence.
6. Proverbs 16:18 – Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.
7. Isaiah 13:19 – Babylon, the jewel of kingdoms, the pride and glory of the Babylonians, will be overthrown by God like Sodom and Gomorrah.
8. Jeremiah 13:17 – If you do not listen, I will weep in secret because of your pride; my eyes will weep bitterly, overflowing with tears, because the Lord’s flock will be taken captive.
9. Ezekiel 16:56 – You would not even mention your sister Sodom in the day of your pride,
10. Zephaniah 2:10 – This is what they will get in return for their pride, for insulting and mocking the people of the Lord Almighty.
11. 2 Corinthians 5:12 – We are not trying to commend ourselves to you again, but are giving you an opportunity to take pride in us, so that you can answer those who take pride in what is seen rather than in what is in the heart.
12. 1 John 2:16 – For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world.

Dionys Murphy
4 months 3 weeks ago

Thank you for firmly demonstrating the problem with both prooftexting and trying to use translated words with different meanings in the original language to prove your own personal bias.

Crystal Watson
5 months ago

Most US Catholics disagree with the church's teaching on LGBTQ people. A 2017 Pew Forum shows 67% of US Catholics support marriage equality. For those who are new here, be aware that there's a disproportionately large percentage of conservatives posting comments, as compared to actual Catholics. This seems to be the case at most online Catholic sires.

Tim O'Leary
4 months 4 weeks ago

Crystal - that 67% was largely of non-practicing/non-believing Catholics like yourself. So, more fake news.

Richard Neagle
4 months 3 weeks ago

Michael makes no distinction between same sex attracted catholics leading celebant lives and those engaging in homosexual acts. The latter preclude themselves from recieving holy communion due to being in a state of mortal sin.
That is a fact and for a catholic newspaper to ignore it is putting souls in jeopardy,. Remember Our Lady said at Fatima that more souls go to hell because of sins of the flesh then any other sin. Want to be catholic? Then follow the message of Fatima. It can saved your soul and transform your life, no matter who or what you think you are.

Dionys Murphy
4 months 3 weeks ago

I'm certain you are just as vocal about those who step up to communion wearing clothes woven of two threads.

Joan Sheridan
4 months 2 weeks ago

I read it quickly but I wonder why they don't mention that wonderful organization "Courage" Remember what John 23 said "Christain life is a sacrifice." I have been on the web site and i am impressed by these holy people and how they try to stay Chaste. Just like the rest of us it is not easy.

Frank Elliott
4 months 2 weeks ago

I have no interest in. Courage because it is an anti-gay hate group. Leading a chaste life doesn’t require the kind of self-hatred that Courage teaches.

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