Thursday, April 25, 2013

To Gay Youth Amidst Anti-Gay Demonstrations in France: You Are at Home in Our Society

Words of concern (and inclusion and welcome) to gay young people in France, as marriage equality is enacted in that nation:

Tonight, we would especially like to speak to the adolescents in our country - boys and girls - who have been hurt during this debate. We speak to those children who found themselves in the midst of deep and frightening chaos. They discovered a society where a wave of selfishness led many to loudly protest against the rights of others. 
We simply want to tell these adolescents that they are at home in our society. 
We recognize them in this society. We recognize their contradictions, talents, shortcomings, qualities and fragility. These are the things that make each and every one of us unique. Regardless of any sexual issues, each one of us is unique. That is the strength of our society. It is even the basis of our society. It is the basis of our relationship to society. So we tell these adolescents: if you find yourself losing hope, sweep all of those thoughts out of your minds. They are only words. One day they will float away. Stay with us and keep your heads high. You have nothing to be ashamed of. We say that loud and clear, with our all the strength in our voices. As Nietzsche said: Truth kills. And if you repress it, it will kill you.  
Thank you all.

No, those worlds were not spoken by a Catholic priest, bishop, archbishop, cardinal, or pope. They're the words of France's justice minister Christiane Taubira, following the marriage equality vote in the French national assembly. She's addressing the young gay and lesbian members of French society who have just lived through events that, as she points out, have inflicted considerable pain on these young people.

In recent weeks, gay young people in France have had to confront the fact that many of their fellow citizens barely tolerate them as members of French society, and do not want to accord a place at the French table to them--do not want them to share in rights accorded automatically to all heterosexual citizens of French society simply because those human beings happen to be born heterosexual. Young French gays have had to deal with the painful recognition that "moderate" and "religious" people who may live next door to them and smile and say hello when they meet as neighbors are willing to mount demonstrations designed to bring down the French government, using the lives of gay and lesbian human beings as human targets in this political initiative.

If these young gay French citizens happen to be Catholic, they've had to grow up in a short space of time to the astonishing recognition that there is no place for them in their church--no real and welcoming place, but only a place of grudging toleration which asks them to accept second-class status because of how God has fashioned them. Young French gays have had to recognize that a sizable percentage of devout Catholics in France define Catholicism over against homosexuality, so that being Catholic means, ipso facto, not being gay: gay human beings are the other. They are not fully welcome in French Catholicism.

Young gay citizens of France have had to learn in the past few weeks that the violence enacted against gay people in France of late is directly related to the words and attitudes of the pastoral leaders of their Catholic church--to the words and attitudes of those who profess to stand in the place of the Good Shepherd in the Catholic community. They have had to listen to the leader of the French bishops' conference suggest that the violence directed against LGBT citizens of the nation is an understandable consequence of laws affording equal rights to LGBT citizens.

And now they have to cope with the recognition that words of healing, inclusion, and welcome which affirm their human worth and their place in French society come to them from the government's minister of justice, and not from the pastoral leaders of their church. Who have never made such welcoming and affirming statements to gay youth in any country in the world, including the U.S., where the Catholic bishops of the state of Minnesota are, at this very time, calling on all Catholics of their state to urge their elected representatives to oppose legislation designed to curb bullying of gay youth in schools. Just as the Catholic bishops of North Carolina fought bitterly several years ago to prevent a similar law trying to curb bullying of gay youth in schools in that state from being passed . . . .

As the first link above indicates, the translation of Christiane Taubira's statement to the French national assembly is by Joseph McShea at his Joe's Report blog site. I'm grateful to John Aravosis at Americablog Gay for the link to Joe McShea's blog.

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