Friday, June 17, 2016

In Post-Orlando Discussion of Religion and Homophobia, "Liberal" Catholics at NCR and Commonweal Once Again Fail to Meet the Mark

As I just noted, the problem queer people face in challenging religious believers to understand the barbarism, the utter cruelty, of erasing us from an account of our own mass murder is not a problem we face solely with conservative religious people: the challenge is equally sharp as we interact with religious people who regard themselves as liberal, as embodying principles of fairness, justice, and inclusion within their religious traditions. Discussions of the Orlando story at both the "liberal" National Catholic Reporter website and the "liberal" Commonweal website richly illustrate my point.

Here are two postings I've shared in the last two days with my friends on Facebook and Twitter: 

Here's one example from many demonstrating why I keep saying that discussion threads at "liberal" Catholic journal sites are really unsafe places for LGBTQ folks, especially younger ones trying to find a healthy sense of identity. 
Michael Sean Winters calls on the U.S. bishops at their upcoming meeting to address their inability to say the word "gay" or the acronym "LGBTQ" — the inability of most of them, that is — even when an act of mass murder of LGBTQ people has just occurred. 
Catholic feminist Nora Bolcon responds by slamming "cocky gay men" and claiming that they do not like women and they support misogyny in the Catholic church. She responds to an act of mass murder against LGBTQ human beings by slamming some of them, that is to say, by refusing to stand in solidarity or compassion with them, by driving a wedge between her feminist community and the LGBTQ community. 
And she gets away with it. This false meme that gay men hate women and are responsible for the misogyny of the Catholic church is perfectly acceptable discourse in liberal Catholic circles. The women, many of them heterosexual, offering this analysis are never asked to analyze their heterosexual privilege, or how their false meme plays into the heterosexism of the institution which harms both women (by supporting male entitlement) and gay folks. 
It's a false meme because the vast majority of LGBTQ people including gay men strongly support women's rights and stand in solidarity with the movement for women's rights. I wonder what it says about the basic moral instincts of many "liberal" Catholics that they simply do not see how heinous it is to slap a vulnerable minority community in the face after members of that community have just been killed in an act of mass murder.


A leading U.S. Catholic journal, Commonweal, finally publishes a blog posting about Orlando, which contains not a single reference to the fact that those killed in this act of mass murder were mostly LGBTQ people at a gay bar. Not. one. word. 
Reader Jack Marth responds: "I am dismayed that a blog posting on this site with the headline 'Orlando' not 'Orlando and Guns' (the first posting on this topic, btw) fails to even mention that this act of gun violence was directed at the LGBTQ community. Given the need for our Church to repent of the sin of homophobia and atone for our Church's responsibility for creating a climate of hatred it is hard not to label this posting as oblivious. It is easy for Catholics to be self-righteous about gun issues. Our Church and its leaders are actually generally on target on this issue. When gun violence was directed at people because of their race, our leaders were not at all hesitant to speak of racism. Kudos. But for a few exceptions (Cupich, Lynch and McElroy are the ones I am familiar with), our Church leaders have ignored the fact that LGBTQ people were the targets of the Orlando violence or have used offensive terms like 'personal lifestyle' (Cordileone) to describe our LGBTQ brothers and sisters. Catholics don't need to prove they are pro-life about gun violence right now -- we need to prove that we stand in full solidarity with the LGBTQ community." 
And with notable exceptions, the Commonweal regulars who have logged into the conversation thus far — almost all of them heterosexual white Catholic people — have totally ignored Jack Marth, as they often do when someone makes a point like this. Freezing it out by pretending it's in bad taste and that the person who made it is not in the room.

After I wrote this, a number of readers did, in fact, log in to challenge the refusal of this Commonweal statement (written by a heterosexually married man — and this is typical of Commonweal; it is how Commonweal has long done business vis-a-vis the LGBTQ community) to address the fact that LGBTQ people were murdered in Orlando. As did a number of other Commonweal regulars who predictably accuse LGBTQ people of being anti-Catholic bigots and thugs willing to incite violence against those who disagree with us….

One of these statements refers to the fact that posters have gone up in West Hollywood telling queer people to shoot back against those who attack us, but conspicuously not mentioning that the person responsible for those posters is Sabo, a right-wing street artist-cum-provocateur who emphatically does not speak on behalf of the LGBTQ community.

And, finally, another of my postings to my Facebook/Twitter circles, which is a footnote to the preceding one — this one referring to Zack Ford's assessment of the refusal of the Southern Baptist Convention to say "gay" or "LGBT" as it spoke about murdered LGBTQ people in Orlando as "cruel":

Even when they say they love us — when we're dead, that is — they still cannot speak our name. 
But, then, this exceptional cruelty is absolutely no different from the belligerent refusal of Pope Francis and the head of the U.S. Catholic bishops' conference Archbishop Kurtz to refuse to speak our name, even as they say they love us. 
When we're dead. 
Or, for that matter, it's no different from the belligerence of the leading U.S. Catholic "intellectual" journal Commonweal, which just posted its first blog statement about what happened in Orlando. It's by a straight married man. And it does not say a single word about who was killed in Orlando, as it calls for stricter gun control laws. 
It conspicuously avoids saying LGBTQ or gay. 
This anti-LGBTQ belligerence and in-your-face heterosexism are very typical for Commonweal, and the academics and Catholic journalists who represent this journal throughout the U.S. Catholic church are deeply responsible for reinforcing these attitudes within the Catholic academy, journalistic sector, and parishes in the U.S.

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