Catholicism and Queer Identity

I don’t know how to be one without the other.

Anonymous

At age 21, I discerned my way from my evangelical background into the Catholic Church. Five years later, I discerned my way into a loving partnership with the woman who is now my wife. As odd as it may seem to others, the same process—following my conscience and trusting the Spirit—led me to both Catholicism and my queer identity. Many elements of the institutional Church claim that these identities are incompatible, but I don’t know how to be one without the other. Perhaps it’s my queerness that gave me the courage to leave the tradition of my birth and enter the Catholic church; perhaps “coming out” as Catholic was the practice I needed to “come out” as queer. 

I often joke that I converted to Catholicism because it’s so progressive. While that statement inevitably draws laughs, it is true in comparison to the evangelical fundamentalism of my youth. Studying theology and church history has only strengthened my conviction that the Church is wide enough to have space for people like me. 

I currently serve as chaplain of a Catholic nursing home in the Midwest, where I am only out to a few residents and staff. Spending most of my days with Catholics in their 70s, 80s, and 90s can feel like a time capsule because I encounter the prejudices of that generation. While I do not feel comfortable sharing some portions of my life with the people I serve, working in healthcare provides job security relative to other ministry settings.

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