I stay in the Church because it is home for me…However, it is a struggle to find a community where I can be fully myself.Mark Brown, School of Theology and Ministry, Boston College, ThM,’97
From my youth, I have been immersed in the Church. When I was old enough, I became an altar server, and later joined CYO, the choir, and folk group. I attended Catholic school from the 7th grade on. Growing up with no positive gay role models, I did what many have done, I hid and tried desperately to fit in. Mercifully, I did not hear the negative preaching that so many in the LGBTQ community have endured in the name of religion. Had that been my experience, I honestly do not know that I would still be here.
As a younger person, I saw my attraction to religious life and priesthood as a safety net, where I found a family and thought I could escape my sexual orientation. Ultimately, my experiences as a religious forced me to look honestly at myself for who I am, fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14). After 7 years in community, I left, but I have continued to stay connected to the Church, joining welcoming Catholic communities. Singing in church has been, and continues to be, a nurturing force in my faith life and my husband (a non-Catholic) supports me in my current ministry of leading Liturgy of the Hours.
I stay in the Church because it is home for me, where my faith was nurtured and has grown. However, it is a struggle to find a community where I can be fully myself. To paraphrase the hymn text by Delores Dufner, OSB: “Let us bring the gifts that differ and in splendid, varied ways sing a new Church into being” … a more welcoming and inclusive Catholic Church, a place where all are truly welcome.