Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Question Orlando Atrocity Raises for Catholic Parishes, Journals, Blogs: When Will You Begin Creating Safe Spaces for Queer People to Make Their Voices Heard?

In what I just posted, I stated, 

For the sake of mental health, I recommend avoiding the discussion of Bishop Lynch's comments in response to Brian Roewe's report about them at the National Catholic Reporter site. While some good people hang out there and make valuable comments, many others made by Catholics who claim they're the best of the best will turn your stomach with their insensitivity and downright cruelty. And they're allowed free rein to talk in these spaces — which are, as I told young queer folks seeking to form healthy self images yesterday,  not safe spaces for LGBTQ folks. 
In fact, if anyone can tell me of any Catholic journal that has invited LGBTQ folks to talk about what we ourselves feel and think following the events in Orlando, I'd love to hear about it. I'm sick and tired of hearing my life as a gay man dissected by married, straight people of faith who speak on my behalf, but never talk to me — and who claim the astonishing prerogative to define my identity and the moral worth of my life without even knowing me.

I'd like to say more on this point. In the wake of the Orlando atrocity, much is being written about how gay bars have long functioned as a sacred space for the LGBGQ community — a safe space in which we can be ourselves and not fear the kind of violence we all too often encounter (either verbally, via discriminatory acts, or through outright physical acts of assault) in the world around us. 

I welcome this commentary, but something about it strikes me as exceedingly odd, especially when it's offered in a Catholic context: those speaking about gay bars as sacred and safe spaces for LGBTQ people in a Catholic context in recent days are often not themselves members of the LGBTQ community. They're straight allies, and ones I value. 

But they frequently write— as married heterosexual Catholics — for Catholic publications that simply cannot be described as safe and welcoming spaces for LGBTQ people and LGBTQ voices. They write for Catholic journals that almost never feature the voices of openly queer people, but who parse queer lives via the mouths and perspectives of heterosexual (and heterosexually privileged) married Catholics.

Something's distinctly odd about this approach to understanding queer people. Something's more than a little morally awry about this approach to doing business with LGBTQ human beings.

The fact that Catholic journals, including those on the "liberal" end of the spectrum with highly educated editors and contributors, don't even seem to see the moral disconnect here is troubling in the extreme. What causes such moral blindness on the part of people writing about moral issues or issues of human rights and justice and mercy?

Would these same journals ask me, as the descendant of white slaveholding families in the American South, to tell them what the African-American experience has been all about? Would they ask, say, John Oliver to analyze the female experience in the United States for them?

Why, when LGBTQ humanity is at stake, are queer voices so conspicuously absent from Catholic discussions? And why the total lack of embarrassment about recycling — all over again, as if nothing important has just happened in Orlando — the same old heterosexual (and heterosexually privileged) voices of married Catholics analyzing the events in Orlando and their significance for the LGBTQ community and the Catholic community?

In what conceivable way is this erasure or invisibilization of queer lives even the least bit moral— especially when you are discussing an event of mass murder of queer human beings? How have you arrived at such a point in your moral thinking, and your understanding of what it means to be Catholic?

And when will you begin making your journals into safe spaces for queer Catholics and queer people in general to make their voices heard? If not now, then when?

Please see the next posting, which is a footnote to this one designed to add clarity (as I hope it will do) to the point I wanted to make in this posting.

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