Wednesday, March 17, 2010


For many years now I have observed a reluctance on the part of gay leaders to acknowledge and welcome the support gay liberation receives from faith communities. A striking example of that occurred at the 25th anniversary of Stonewall in New York city. Three major gay religious events occurred that day. The first was an event sponsored by Integrity, the Episcopal gay group at the Cathedral of St. John The Divine. (The cathedral kept an AIDS memorial with the names of all the thousands who dies of AIDS in New York City.) Over four thousand gay believers gathered that morning to pray for gay and lesbian liberation. The preacher was Bea Arthur who ended her sermon singing "I'll be seeing you"! There was not a dry eye in the Church.
That afternoon, Dignity, the gay and lesbian Catholic group, held a service at St. Bartholomew's church on Park Avenue. There were several thousand in attendance. The preacher was lesbian theologian Mary Hunt, who forsaw the day when a woman would be pope.
That evening Metropolitan Community Church, a gay friendly church which is the fastest growing Christian Church in the world today, held a service at Lincoln Center. Again over a thousand people attended this gay church service. Troy Perry preached a very charismatic sermon on self love and self acceptance.
The next day the newspapers and the gay press showed pictures of the more provocative paraders and exhibitionists, etc., but not a word about the many thousands who attended these services. In fact, throughout the years the vast majority of people marching in New York's annual gay pride parade have been the religious groups. But there has never been any acknowledement of their presence and their support. For example. It is a fact that a sizable majority of Catholics favor and vote in suppot of gay rights despite the homophobia of the Catholic hierarchy. Gay historians have systematically overlooked or deliberately censored the contribution that gay religious groups have made to gay liberation.
This deliberate myopia (short-sightedness) came to a climax for me personally with the New York Times obituary last Monday , March 15th in memory of Father Robert Carter, S.J., my close friend and associate, a brilliant scholar and theologian who came out of the closet as a gay man, helped co-found Dignity/NY with me and was a founding member of the National Gay Task Force. Bob left academia and trained as a therapist and gave himself full time to working with AIDS victims in New York City. A subheading in the article calls Carter "A priest who saw no contradiction between homosexuality and Christianity".
In fact, the obituary quotes Carter going way beyond "no contradiction" all the way to affirming total compatibility. In his memoir Carter wrote: "Since Jesus had table fellowship with social outcasts and sinners, those rejected by the religious establishment of his time, I consider myself to have been more fully a Jesuit, a companion of Jesus, when I came out publicly as a gay man, one of the social rejects of my time. It was only by our coming out that society's negative stereotypes would be overcome, and we would gain social acceptance."

Here is the link to Fr. Carter's obituary in the NY Times:

The greatest opposition to GLBT liberation comes from the homophobic churches, many of whom mistakenly, even if sincerely, believe that God in scripture condemns gayness. To overcome that false belief the world needs the witness of respected gay theologians such as Father Robert Carter. I can understand and share the anger of the GLBT community against homophobic institutions. But by refusing to acknowlege the witness of their friends in the Christian community, the gay community is giving the impression that they see their enemy not just homophobic churches but the faith itself. I hope and pray that this is not the case, but that impression appears to be justified by the gay community's refusal to acknowledge and accept the support they have from the believing community.

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