A new podcast celebrates queer Catholic love this Christmas season in the hope of sharing further the faith and the stories of LGBTQ people in the church.
Produced by Jessica Lemes da Silva, the podcast Sacred Hearts is described as a “Queer Catholic love story in four parts.” The story “declares that our lives and the way we love are not sins; we, too, are equally blessed.” A description on the podcast website explains:
“In an all-girls Catholic high school, a queer 12th-grade student outs herself to take her girlfriend to the Christmas dance and faces backlash. Finding support in surprising places, can she reconcile her newly revealed truth with her faith, family, and friends?”
Lemes da Silva spoke to Bondings 2.0 about her own journey as a queer, now-married Catholic. The podcast came about as a “mini homage to my ‘religious’ friends growing up, all of whom hung out and considered religious life in her younger days–or as they called it “joining the circus.” Lemes d Silva explained more about the podcast development process:
“It’s the story we wanted to hear during those awkward, angsty, teenage years. Sacred Hearts is for the young adults (and even not so young) who need affirming of who they are while also being rooted in church.
“On a more practical level, the immediate catalyst for this podcast was Call To Action’s Re/Generation program. I had the wonderful opportunity to be a part of the 2021 Local Cohort, and it’s not an exaggeration to say that this group of amazing individuals spread across many time zones, was a Godsend in reviving what was a corpse of a spiritual life for me. This program also offered funding for our projects, and having that practical support was really what sealed the deal in terms of getting Sacred Hearts out into the world.”
Also credited as inspiration is the LGBTQ-friendly parish where Lemes da Silva attends, St. Joseph the Worker Church near Vancouver. The podcast is aimed at allies, too, who “have the power, push, and courage to drive change from within the church,” in Lemes d Silva’s words.
Lemes da Silva’s own journey as a Catholic is complex, a pattern shared by many LGBTQ people. She said that, after leaving the church for many years, she is now “discerning this very question” of what faith means to her. She told Bondings 2.0 about this experience:
“I felt like I was evicted from my spiritual home. I still hold a lot of hurt with the church, and I continue to be angry whenever I read about residential school abuses, sexual abuse, women’s lack of presence in the liturgy, etc.
“However, the tugging in my heart back to the faith stems from the love my mother and grandmother had for me and their belief in loving your neighbour as yourself. One day it would be nice to bring my wife and daughters to mass and feel welcomed and affirmed. I may not see that day in my lifetime. In the meantime, my faith is a reminder of what heals, what lasts, what builds up, and what brings together, which is to say, love.”
About the podcast as an outgrowth of this discernment process, Lemes da Silva concluded:
“Ultimately, I want readers to know that every person— regardless of their sexual orientation, their gender identity, or their questioning —should feel safe, loved, and at home in their Catholic community.”
The podcast was made with the help of Lemes da Silva’s mentor, Anne Downing, and features voice actors Alesandria Mentari, Valentina Bula, Leonela Marquez, Patricio Mendoza, Barb Wong, and Oscar Needoba.
Sacred Hearts is available here or on many major podcast services.
—Robert Shine (he/him), New Ways Ministry, December 20, 2021