Every time you turn around these days, you bump into another news story where the LGBT community is being skewered by those with religious authority. Whether it’s Catholic nuns being admonished for spending too much time ministering to the poor and not speaking out against gay marriage, or a disturbing video goes viral where a toddler in Indiana sings, “ain’t no homo’s gonna make it to heaven” to a cheering church, the examples are endless. It’s clear that our community lies at the very center of this culture war — the crossroads of where religion and politics intersect. But as a person of faith, what interests me more than the political fallout are the wounds that are opened up for so many of us. These daggers have driven many of us away from organized religion, and have forced us to question our beliefs. It is in those questions that I’d like to find an opportunity for healing, and a time to examine our own journeys — and how all of this hatred directed at us has affected our own relationships with God, however we may choose to believe. And of course, I recognize that many of us are not believers, and this hatred directed at us only deepens the divide that already exists. I’m not saying that there is space for reconciliation — what I’m saying is that there are many LGBT people of faith filling Sunday pews each week, or worshiping in their own ways, and like every other aspect of our community, it is through this visibility that change happens in the hearts and minds of others. I’m seeing signs of those changes all around me, and it’s both encouraging and exciting. These are not boring times we are living in.
On a personal note, I was married with two young children when I came out. It was a terrifying prospect, that I might be whispered about by the congregants of north side Catholic parish. Despite any official teachings of the church or condemnations from the bishops, I was fully supported and nurtured through my divorce and coming out process, and asked to continue on in positions of ministry within the community. This is where we find God — in community with other people, supporting each other, loving each other, being there for each other in the day-to-day dramas of life.
So, if you happened to run into any sign-toting haters during your Pride celebrations, I’m here to deliver one simple message: God loves you. Yes you. All of you. Because God IS love, and any religious person who hasn’t figured that out yet has so much more to be focusing on than us and our community.
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Valency was born in San Francisco to hippie parents, but is a Chicago girl through and through. Ten years of Catholic school helped her develop a finely-tuned bullshit detector, as well as a love of all sorts of Catholic kitsch. Valency isn't fond of labels. She is, however, fond of embracing her many paradoxes, and walking the fine lines between religion and politics, with an eye turned toward postmodern religion, feminist theology, and challenging patriarchy from inside religious institutions. She lives on the northside with her two daughters and two female cats, and is always looking for more ways increase the estrogen in her household.