I will never understand why my fellow queers think it’s OK to be intolerant of the religious freedom of others while calling for religious tolerance for themselves. Last week on Valentine’s Day, a group of LGBT activists protested outside Chicago’s Holy Name Cathedral in support of gay marriage and a friendlier stance towards gays by the Catholic Church. As part of the protest, my fellow LGBTers yelled at churchgoers entering the cathedral, a few of whom were quoted in the forelinked Chicago Tribune article saying the protest impacted their ability to enjoy the day’s special mass.
Raised Catholic myself, I understand how maddening it is to be schooled in a religious faith that tells you homosexuality is bad, at the same time that you’re discovering you’re attracted to the same sex. Arguments about the usefulness of gay marriage as a civil right aside (though given the high breakup rate in our community, we may want to have concentrated equally hard on the right to divorce, too), it’s a no-brainer that everyone has the right to expect to be treated fairly by the religious communities where they adhere.
I also get how so many of my fellow LGBTers become so turned off by the concept of God entirely, after a lifetime of dealing with the intolerance–and abject hypocrisy–of the Catholic Church as an institution. But I think it’s a big shame, too.
If gays think the Catholic Church is wrong on homosexuality, why do so many of them reject God based on the views of a church they reject? That’s about the worst internalized homophobia imaginable–believing God hates you solely because your church tells you so.
In reality, we all get to choose what we believe–about God, life, the universe, and everything else. Don’t like what the Catholic Church says about God? Find another church. I know it’s hard for Catholics to understand this, but trust me: you’re allowed.
You’re also allowed to have a personal relationship with God or a higher power of your own understanding, explore the many different versions of faith, and–just like the holy rollers many LGBTers oppose–say the word God in public with a sense of reverence rather than irony.
I say all of this as a Buddhist who made the leap to what for me has been an uplifting faith that let’s me handle my relationship with God on my own. Which isn’t to say that unhappy queer Catholics should run out and buy meditation cushions.
But it is to say that if you think it’s ok to shout down other people simply trying to practice their own religion, then maybe it’s time to examine your own beliefs. Because the Golden Rule applies whether you’re a Catholic or a Buddhist. What you give out you get back.
And always deservedly so.
Michael Thaddeus Doyle
I'm a NYC-native, Latino, Jew-by-choice, hardcore WDW fan in Chicago with an Irish last name. I believe in social justice, big cities, and public transit. I do nonprofit development. I've written this blog since 2005. Believe in the world you want to live in.