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Gay and Catholic, In Response to “ResLife Poster Does Not Support Love

Published: Thursday, December 8, 2011

Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 19:01

 

There are some articles that I have read that made me cringe because the message was so disturbing, offensive, and ignorant. When I read The Observer's recent articles, "ResLife Features ‘Support Love' Poster" and "ResLife Poster Does Not Support Love," I not only cringed, but I began to feel sick to my stomach. How, at Boston College, could there be so much hate?

But I am not writing in order to question the condescending tone, the fact that the Catechism was quoted out of context, nor to point out that the Bible contains passages that preach love above all things, for I am most disturbed with how out of touch the authors were. The articles talked about gays as if they were an abstraction, as if the authors had never actually had a full conversation with one.

It's easy to condemn an abstraction. A group of people from a distance can easily be judged, hated, and stereotyped, but move a little closer and one realizes that indeed they are unique individuals. They each have a story, a face. It's easy to condemn the Support Love shirts and posters. They are just stick figures without a face. So now I am giving mine.

My name is Marty Long. I am a junior in CSOM; I like to travel, volunteer, and try new foods. When I was 5, I dove off a castle playground and broke my arm (not one of my smartest moments), and these days I dive for BC's swim/dive team. I am currently in my 16th straight year of Catholic education, and I'm gay. I list it last because it really is the least interesting thing about me, but in the case of this article, it is quite relevant.

I struggled in middle school and high school trying to define exactly what that meant for me as a Catholic. I knew I was gay when I was 12 or 13, but it took several years to accept it. I was very involved in the Church and knew, as the aforementioned article noted, gays are called to chastity.

But what exactly does chastity entail? It would mean never falling in love, never sharing my life with that special someone that we all dream about. Moreover, I was not willing to pretend I was something I was not.

Like all of us, I have my flaws, but one of my greatest strengths is that I try to be honest and genuine with everyone I meet. I was not willing to give that up.

 So I came out. To my siblings first, then my parents, and eventually my friends. My confidence grew, and my relationships deepened. I had never been happier.

With that said, going to church was a struggle. One Sunday afternoon during winter break of my freshman year, I remember the deacon reading the Prayer of the Faithful, and praying that "gays do not desecrate the notion of love and commitment that we so respect in this Church."

My heart dropped. I remember feeling like I was in the wrong house, that I had gone to a party and only 19 years later realized I was never invited in the first place. I was ready to walk out, but my mom squeezed my hand, and her sad eyes said, "Please don't."

I stayed. It was my love and commitment to my mother that kept me.

When I returned home that summer after my freshman year, I still went to Church because it was important to my mom. I knew, however, that homosexual acts were a mortal sin, and in turn I was no longer permitted to receive Communion until I went to Confession. I was not willing to confess kissing my boyfriend like it was a sin. I was not willing to hate myself. Moreover, I did not believe that God would condemn me for being an honest, loving individual.

At the same time, I respected the Church, and so I decided I would stop receiving Communion. I remember the first time my whole family received Communion without me, and I pretended to go to the bathroom. Instead, I went into a stall and cried. I felt like my Church had abandoned me.

Yet here I am, at a Catholic school, and I write this for the same reason that so many responded so strongly on Facebook when the original articles were published: because I have hope that things can change.

Today, I love my family, my friends, my boyfriend, my school, and God. This is only possible because I have come to love myself.

We don't get to pick the cards that life deals us, but we should still play the best hand we can. Along the way we should support each other. Support love.

If you did not already, now you have a face to the issue. When you see the Support Love shirts, think of me; think of the hundreds of other GLBTQ students and faculty at BC; think of the countless gay youth who killed themselves because they didn't feel accepted; and think of yourself. I support your confusing and trying quest for love. Please support mine.

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5 comments

Anonymous
Tue Dec 13 2011 15:42
I am writing this in response to "Gay and Catholic" because it misconstrues the Catholic faith. It is not possible to be gay and Catholic. I am Catholic, but I am not gay. I am a Catholic who struggles with same-sex attraction (SSA). There is a key difference. The entire crux of the problem between those who outwardly identify as gay and the Catholic Church is that those who profess to be "gay" unite their identity to a sin. Therefore, when the Church condemns homosexual acts as a sin, they also necessarily see it as a condemnation of their identity--who they are.

It has been a long road, personally, dealing with this cross. I, too, used to think "gay" was an identity, and I can empathize with the alienation felt by the Church's teaching. I can empathize with that loneliness, the despondency, the crying, the anger, the sinking feeling in your stomach when someone says "faggot," and that overindulgent self-pity. I have experienced all of that. But as soon as I learned, through spiritual direction, that it is wrong to identify yourself with a sinful temptation (homosexual orientation), my life began to change. Only when you give up identifying yourself with a sin, can your eyes see clearer the Beauty and the Truth of the Church's teaching. Until then, you will never understand.

As Catholics, our primary identity is followers of Christ, and it is never our sexual orientation. Once I realized this, I no longer felt alienated by the Church. This didn't diminish the challenge to which I am called-a life of chastity. This is a challenge to sainthood! And it is possible, never by ourselves alone, but with Christ's help and the Sacraments. The Church actually respects those who struggle with SSA greatly with this call to chastity. The Church does NOT say, "Only unmarried heterosexuals are called to chastity, but those who struggle with same-sex attraction are not, because they are not strong enough to live up to Christ's call." No. The Church calls all unmarried individuals to lead chaste lives, and married men and women to chastity according to their state in life.

Marty said, "But what exactly does chastity entail? It would mean never falling in love, never sharing my life with that special someone that we all dream about." This definition could not be further from the truth. So many people go through life without finding "that special someone" and their lives are brimming with chaste love, in friendships and those they work with. The Catechism of our Most Holy Church says, "Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection."

The Church calls all those who struggle with same-sex attraction to be saints. That is the beauty of its teaching. We who struggle with SSA are called to be saints, by praying the Rosary, receiving Christ in Communion, regularly attending Confession and reforming our lives. A life of chastity and purity will not be an easy road. It will not be a smooth road. We will fall many times along the way. However, Christ showed us in the carrying of His Cross, that when you fall, you get up-you go to Confession and you recommit yourself to a life of chastity.

All I can beg of you is try it. Too often the Catholic call to chastity of those struggling with same-sex attraction is written off and ignored. I can tell you that walking with Christ and carrying this cross with His Help is beautiful. I do not understand why some of us have this attraction that we did not choose, but we all can choose how we respond to it.

I am writing this anonymously, because being "gay" is not my identity. Struggling with same-sex attraction is a private, personal struggle where I rely on Christ, my spiritual director, the Sacraments, and people very close to me.

I will not stand by and let my faith be diminished by the editorial "Gay and Catholic" here on campus or beyond. We cannot knowingly half-live a life of sexuality in opposition to Church teaching, and half-profess to be Catholics. Absolutely not!

We who struggle with SSA are called to make a choice with our entire being-live according to this attraction that we didn't choose to have or live according to Christ and His Church, with His Help. There is no in-between.

One helpful article is "Struggling Alone." It is about another Catholic's struggle with same-sex attraction, his realization that he did not have to embrace it as his identity or a lifestyle he had to live, and his journey toward living a truly authentic Catholic life.
http://www.firstthings.com/article/2007/01/struggling-alone-13

Anonymous
Sun Dec 11 2011 16:25
I am a closeted BC student and thank you for your honest review of the situation. I hope that someday soon BC will be a place where others like me feel safe enough to be ourselves.
Eagles14
Sun Dec 11 2011 15:53
To the poster, what you have said was incredibly intelligent, poignant, and, in my eyes, necessary to be said. It is all too easy to demean and demoralize a faction of people that is so abstracted and obscured. I applaud your courage, determination, sincerity, and candor - I hope that one day I can be more like you in those regards.

@Honest_Man, I do not think that what you are saying is nearly as "pro-GLBT" as you claim to be in your post. To say that "there are worse people in the world than homosexuals" and then list people that have committed heinous crimes puts homosexual people somewhere between heterosexuals and criminals. Do you think that's a fair assessment? If so, you would absolutely be defined as someone who is, at least to some degree, "anti-GLBT".

In addition, Boston College is not aiming "to promote unnatural relationships between members of the same sex". The "Support Love" campaign was designed to do one thing and one thing only: to encourage members of the Boston College community to support love in all its forms. It is not saying that gay people are superior, nor is it attempting to alter the Catholic Church's perspective on homosexual intimacy. The campaign is designed to show people that a loving relationship between two consenting, adult individuals should be encouraged, not condemned. Jesus taught to "love God and your neighbor as yourself", and supporting love or, more explicitly, supporting the special, magical intimacy that two adults can share together (regardless of gender) is something that, in my opinion, Jesus would not have condemned.

Honest_Man
Sat Dec 10 2011 21:36
In all honesty, the original Observer article was correct and was not offensive. I am not anti-GLBT at all, but a Catholic University should not promote unnatural relationships between members of the same sex.
As stated before, I have nothing against the GLBT community, but a Catholic University should not have policies that promote and encourage such behaviour. I am willing to concede the marriage issue to you, and I do not believe that simply kissing your boyfriend is a mortal sin. I applaud your courage and your commitment to the faith and respect for the Eucharist.
I'll close with this, the Catholic Church has long been a backward institution (the world is flat, Earth is center of the universe, etc., etc.) and regardless of what the Cathechism says, I am sure that a loving God, the same God who created you!, would never damn you to hell.
You seem to have a good head on your shoulders and have the right values, so enjoy your life, there are worse people in the world than homosexuals (Clergy scandal, murderers, rapists, Madoff, etc.).
Anonymous
Fri Dec 9 2011 23:42
you are courageous, smart and strong. not many can say that. you inspire me!




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