Michael Sean Winters wrote yesterday that the Catholic Theological Society of America has "repeatedly been concerned about including . . . different sexual orientation voices within its fold." And I confess that I'm surprised to read this.
Admittedly, I haven't attended a CTSA meeting in about two decades now, but I can state unambiguously that, at the time I stopped attending CTSA meetings, there was no mention of gay and lesbian people and issues in either the many keynote lectures I heard each year at CTSA or in its workshops. There were no committees or working groups set up specifically to study or provide a voice for LGBTI members of CTSA.
Those members did not exist, to all intents and purposes. We were totally invisible. I can't tell you how many times I sat through litanies of the marginalized, oppressed, poor in CTSA presentations that included every group of people imaginable who were struggling on the margins of global societies except gay and lesbian people.
I stopped attending CTSA meetings because I was, to be honest, simply tired of being invisible. In the past week, after I read a recent Commonweal essay by a former CTSA president who happens to be a graduate of the theology program Steve and I attended, I've thought about an experience that crystallized for us our determination to give up on CTSA. This fellow graduate of our theology school, a married man whose career as a lay theologian has been entirely secure because he fits in, presented himself as our friend up to the point that Belmont Abbey College fired us and we decided to be open about our lives as a gay couple in the wake of that decision.
At which point we became, quite literally, invisible to this former friend. At one of the last meetings of CTSA the two of us attended, we'd walk past our "friend" in the hallways of the CTSA gathering, and he would. not. see. us.
He did, of course, see us. There's a certain glazed-over look that the eyes of someone who sees you but doesn't intend to acknowledge that he/she sees you have. It was very clear to us that we were being snubbed. And it was also clear to us that we were being snubbed precisely because we had chosen to be public about our sexual orientation and life together.
An act that was not in any way permitted at CTSA meetings. Where there were no gay or lesbian people. Where all gay and lesbian people were invisible. Where we did not exist.
If things have changed now such that CTSA shows repeated concern to include LGBTI voices within its fold as Michael Sean Winters maintains, then things have really changed. I'm writing this posting to invite any readers who know more than I do about these important changes at CTSA to provide information about them to me. After reading Winters's statement, I've googled my fingers to the bone to find information online confirming that CTSA now welcomes and includes LGBTI voices, but I have to admit, I'm not finding any such information--other than Winters's claim that this is the case.
And I also have to admit that I wonder if Winters can be correct when, to my discernment, the Catholic theological academy in the U.S. remains heavily heterosexist, with openly gay and lesbian faculty members at Catholic universities hardly nowhere to be seen--and with faculty members who are punished for being openly gay or lesbian receiving next to no support from CTSA and the U.S. Catholic theological academy.
I'm certainly willing to be proven wrong. I'd love to be proven wrong. Does anyone have evidence to share with me that disproves the conclusions I've just reached? If so, thanks for sharing it with me.