Bishop Desmond Tutu yesterday in Cape Town:
I would not worship a God who is homophobic and that is how deeply I feel about this. I would refuse to go to a homophobic heaven. No, I would say sorry, I mean I would much rather go to the other place.
I am so deeply grateful to Desmond Tutu. I'm grateful, most of all, because he has spent his life seeking to make a place in the world for people like me--for people of color, for those on the socioeconomic margins of society, for gays and lesbians. For people for whom the rest of the world is determined not to make any place at all . . . .
The deepest trauma we who are gay and lesbian face in the world as it has been constructed up to now is that there is often no place at all for us. No place made for us . . . .
On vacations, when I'm away from home and the grind of daily chores, I frequently have the experience of re-connecting to the deeper traumas of my life story via dreams. That's what dreams are, I think: they're stories our psyches tell us when all our defense mechanisms have been turned off by sleep, stories in which we mull over past events and try to weave the narrative of those events in order to make sense of them. Traumatic ("dream" in German = Traum) events, which keep our attention because it's very difficult to fit the events into any sensible narrative about our lives . . . .
And so, vacation after vacation, I dream dreams about being gay and Catholic and finding no place at all in a church I love. Dreams about churches full of beautiful music, in which I'm impossibly far away from the altar, blocked from approaching it, tears streaming down my face . . . . Dreams about the Benedictine community in North Carolina that refused hospitality--a place--to Steve and me, ending our vocational lives as theologians, never honoring us as fellow human beings enough even to provide a cogent reason for taking bread from our mouths, ending our health coverage, placing us in atrocious financial distress just as we assumed the obligation of caring for my infirm mother in the final years of her life.
These are dreams about seeking a place in a church I love, which has no place for us. They're dreams about trying to deal with the savagery of far too many fellow Catholics who are simply willing to write off those who are born gay and lesbian, as if we don't exist, as if we aren't living and breathing along with them on this planet, as if we don't require jobs and lives and a place in which to pursue happiness without abuse.
This is why, of course, I kick and scream when a fellow Catholic chooses to inform the world--as a Catholic, as someone who has a secure, taken-for-granted place in her church of which I can only dream--that I am nothing more than a child-molesting, disease-spreading rapist. And this is why I continue to cry out when the intellectual arbiters of the Catholic conversation at blog sites like Commonweal keep pretending that we who are gay and lesbian simply aren't in the room and don't deserve any place at all in their conversation.
That we have no stories to tell and lives that really don't count, when it comes to talking about the meaning of Catholicism . . . . I am deeply grateful to Bishop Desmond Tutu for reminding us that the gospel means that those who are gay and lesbian are made by God to count along with everyone else. And I grieve that so few Catholic pastoral leaders appear to recognize this, and that far too many Catholics, including those who define what it means to be Catholic for the rest of us, seem incapable of understanding this. Or unwilling to understand it . . . .
The photo of Bishop Tutu is from the website of the Forgiveness Project and is by Brian Moody.