In December, Bondings 2.0 invited readers to share the stories of their relationship with the Catholic Church by writing on the theme of “Why We Came, Why We Left, Why We Stayed.” We “borrowed” this topic from a feature that Commonweal magazine published recently. We felt it was important for LGBTQ people to share their own stories, so we made the invitation to our readers.
We asked contributors to keep their contributions under 500 words, and also asked how they would like to be identified in terms of name and gender/sexual identity, location. Anonymity was offered as an option.
We received many responses, and we have been posting a selection of them them over the last few months on Sundays.
However, because our Sunday Lenten reflection series has started, the “Why We Came, Why We Left, Why We Stayed” series will be moved to Saturdays during Lent.
To read all the previous posts in this series, click here, or click on “Why We Came. Why We Left. Why We Stayed” in the Categories section of the right-hand column of this page.
THIS POST IS THE FINAL ONE IN THIS SERIES. IN ABOUT A WEEK, WE WILL BE ANNOUNCING THE TOPIC FOR THE NEXT SERIES. MANY THANKS TO ALL THE CONTRIBUTORS!
WHY I STAY: Living in Joyful Hope
Name: Lindsay Hueston
Identified: Queer Catholic
Like Joe Biden said, I’m still in the church “for two reasons: the nuns, and the Jesuits.” Progressive members of our faith community have helped me not only accept my queer identity while in the church, but also embrace it. The institutional church has made me lose faith in the institution itself, but it is smaller groups of people who have taught me what true church should be: comprising the people who live their lives justly and full of compassionate, uninhibited love – not unlike the example of Jesus.
I’ve been Catholic since baptism as an infant, and it has never truly occurred to me to leave. I’ve wavered, sure, as young adulthood has progressed into adulthood itself, but this church is one that has shaped my morals, given me my truest friends, allowed me to hone my passion for justice, and allowed me to connect myself spiritually to a God who always manages to surprise me.
I won’t pretend it’s easy, or that I don’t censor myself around Catholics who potentially may or may not approve of my orientation. Staying in the church, for me, is hard. Each news story of priests who sexually abused their parishioners or students, each time I see that an LGBTQ church employee is fired, each time the church reinforces archaic and bureaucratic views on one topic or another without actually engaging it, I lose some faith, but I hold out hope.
And I can’t quite put my finger on why.
I think it’s because this church, and the people in it, have always guided me in the right direction and made me feel at home. Like Joe Biden said, I’m still in the church “for two reasons: the nuns, and the Jesuits.”
Over years of thinking and questioning why I still stay, reluctantly, in the church, the same answer comes up: joy.
I have seen joy among classmates, clients, volunteers across the country and world. Sheer joy is what keeps me here: the knowledge of love and being loved, without margin, without limitation. I know I can find it in other places, too, but there is something about Catholicism – despite all its problems – that simply feels like home.
I stayed in the church after I came to terms with my sexuality (as if the two necessitate mutual exclusivity), but I’m still not sure where my place in staying lies. I am frustrated by the church in many ways. I know that it is likely the church will not change its views and fully embrace me as a gay woman in my lifetime. By “fully embrace,” I mean not naming my sexuality as “intrinsically disordered,” but instead affirming that my queerness is in itself holy; it is how I can come to know God and myself more closely.
I still hold on to hope that the church will one day change. I know the good people that make up the church, the people of faith who have structured my life. I think of the joy that these people, brought together by Catholicism, have given me, and I can’t quite leave them.
I am always rediscovering the value of hope. Hope is what guides me through the news cycle: children’s deaths while trying to cross the border, corrupt politics, housing instability, and student loan debt. Hope lets me breathe a sigh of relief into the ether that is God, fervently trusting in a being that often borders on despondency. It is the same kind of desperate trust I place in God to reform the church: to accept, rather than exclude.
It is hope that keeps me going: a hope that reassures my queer siblings that “all shall be well, all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.” (Julian of Norwich)
–Lindsay Hueston, New Ways Ministry, May 4, 2019