Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Caleb Crain: Gay-Panic Defense Began to Be Challenged When Gay People Were Permitted to Write about Anti-Gay Crimes — Implications for the Catholic Media

A seed of change, however, was finally planted in the late nineteen-fifties, when the gay community began to write about such crimes themselves, making visible the complicity of the judicial system and the press in entrenching homophobia.

I'm struck by Caleb Crain's statement above. His article discusses the long history of the gay-panic defense in American courts and media, a defense that permitted men who targeted and killed gay men rto eceive no punishment because they claimed they had been sexually solicited by the gay men they killed.

What strikes me in Crain's observation: one big thing that began to change how society viewed the gay-panic defense was that gay people themselves began investigating and writing about these crimes. This allowed people to hear accurate depictions of the crimes and of the gay lives ended by brutal murderous attacks, when the judicial system and the media were complicit in covering these crimes up and presenting ludicrous accounts of the lives of those murdered because they were gay.

There's an important principle underlying Crain's observation — and it's one that the Catholic media still fail to heed. This principle says loudly and clearly to the Catholic media: stop talking abut LGBTQ people in your (heterosexual) voices. Let LGBTQ people finally have a voice in your conversations and speak for themselves.

What you think you know about us is different from what we know about ourselves. Stop using words like "listening" and "dialogue" when you make no room for openly LGBTQ voices in the Catholic media. Stop lamenting the failure of the hierarchy to dialogue with queer people as church leaders craft yet another ludicrous statement about "gender theory," when you yourselves have done next to nothing to create a safe, respectful place within the Catholic media for openly queer Catholics to speak in their own voices.

You are part of the problem — a big part — because you have made almost no effort to solicit and include the voices of openly LGBTQ people, openly LGBTQ Catholics, in your reporting. I speak from long experience in saying this. I will not forget — nor should any of us forget — the absolute refusal of the Catholic media to cover the story of what was done to me and others at Belmont Abbey College in the first part of the 1990s.

Thee's a direct line from that refusal — I was told by a leading "liberal" U.S. Catholic publication that these stories of how gay employees are treated in Catholic institutions are too common to be newsworthy — and what's happening today in places like Indianapolis. And nothing will change, at a fundamental level, until the Catholic media admit their complicity in the problem and begin changing how they connect to the queer community.

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