On Coming Out, Queer Catholic Says “I Think Hope is Huge”

The Advocate featured a queer Catholic woman as part of its series for National Coming Out Day on LGBT people of faith–and she is someone newly connected to New Ways Ministry and Bondings 2.0!

Lizzie Sextro

Lizzie Sextro identifies as a faithful Catholic who is also queer woman. She shared her coming out story which involved bringing together these two identities through what she described as a “difficult process.” The Advocate reported:

“Sextro, a self-described ‘cradle Catholic’ originally from St. Louis, came out as queer in 2012, when she was an undergraduate at Loyola University in Chicago. ‘Coming out at college was really easy,’ she says. ‘I had a lot of supportive friends.’

“She was able to resolve any conflict between her queer and Catholic identities, she says, through her studies and through talking with those supportive friends who had been through similar experiences. . .

“Coming out to her parents was more problematic. They aren’t quite at a place of acceptance even now, she says, but they have advanced to the point that she can bring her female partner home. ‘We still have work to do,’ Sextro says of her family relationship.”

Sextro, who currently studies theology at the Boston College School of Theology and Ministry, said her coming out was aided by a faculty mentor at Loyola Chicago Studying queer theory  there and living in the more accepting environment on the Jesuit campus also helped. She also said having faith helps with the coming out process because it involves “putting trust in something outside of yourself.”

Being a person of faith, specifically a Catholic, means concerning oneself with LGBT equality in the church. Sextro said that in the Catholic community, “I see gay people everywhere,” which is a sign of change. But she continued:

“‘It’s going to be baby steps from here on out,’ she says of the process of changing the church. It may even have women priests before it discards anti-LGBT doctrine. ‘It’s not going to happen in my lifetime, but hopefully it will,’ says Sextro, who expects to finish her master’s degree in the spring, then aims to eventually get a Ph.D. and teach at the university level.

“One of the main reasons she stays in the church, she said, is to help that change along. ‘I stay because there is more work to be done in the church and because I feel committed and responsible as an aspiring theologian myself to offer a critical perspective to the Catholic Church,’ she says. ‘That’s not to say that I have not considered leaving — I certainly have. That would be a heck of a lot easier. But I borrow from one of my professors at the [School of Theology and Ministry] in saying this: If you are looking for a perfect church in this life, you will be looking forever. No church is perfect, and I stay because I can offer something to the church as a queer woman and theologian that may bring the church a little bit closer to working toward justice. I wouldn’t stay if I didn’t have hope. . .I think hope is huge.”

In addition to studying theology, Lizzie is now a regular contributor to Bondings 2.0 who will be reporting on and commenting about Catholic LGBT issues. To read Lizzie’s posts, you can click her name under the “Editorial Staff” listing on the right hand column of this page or simply click here.   Welcome, Lizzie!

Robert Shine, New Ways Ministry, October 31, 2017

4 replies
  1. Father Anthony
    Father Anthony says:

    I am a gay person. What I am not is queer. I dislike very much the use of the word queer to describe me. I am as normal as the next person.

    • Kris
      Kris says:

      I hate that word, too.

      When my mother found out that I had a boyfriend at primary (elementary) school, she was furious, slapped my face hard, and demanded of me: Do you know what they call people like you? And then she spat out this word: ‘queers!’

      As much as I love my mum, that word helped lead to years of internalised homophobia for me.

  2. Marion Flynn
    Marion Flynn says:

    Thanks for this wonderful story of our young sister, Lizzie. Also called to the priesthood, and called, too, to stay in the Catholic church, I know her path well. A wonderful Lutheran woman pastor wrote a note the other day, and closed by saying she gives thanks for my calling. I tear up, still, after all these years. I do this work so Lizzie will be able to respond to her call!


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