Queer Latinx Catholics are finding new ways to cultivate spiritual joy by placing an emphasis on the Gospels, nurturing personal spirituality, and building supportive relationships.
Yahoo! Life recently interviewed a variety of queer Latinx Catholics, painting a picture of the vibrant faith life of the members of this community.
For Victoria Jiminez, Christ’s attitude toward the marginalized is important to her spirituality:
“‘What matters to me is what Jesus said. Jesus was a Black anarchist illegal immigrant who was undermining the state, who was anti-capitalist and emphasized community and loving your neighbor.'”
Yunuen Trujillo, who does LGBTQ ministry for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, observed that many supposed Biblical justifications for LGBTQ-negative attitudes are cultural rather than scriptural. She underscored that many Catholics who are not accepting of queer community members may lack a robust understanding of the Bible:
“‘It’s hard to separate culture from religion. The problem, in my opinion, [is that] a lot of people who are very religious discriminate against the LGBT community based on what they believe are religious tenets, but most people haven’t studied the Bible.'”
As for those who argue that LGBTQ-positive expressions of the Catholic faith ignore the doctrines of the church, Trujillo argued that all people of faith can be accused of being ‘cafeteria Catholics,’ but that the most foundational doctrines of the Church rest in service to the poor:
“‘Everyone picks and chooses. For the issue of queer identities, everybody will tell you, “Well, doctrine says this.” But what does doctrine say about helping the poor? There are more quotes about that in the Bible than anything else.'”
Queer Latinx Catholics have also demonstrated the importance of supportive faith networks. Jiminez, who did not experience a welcoming upbringing or home life, described their Catholic faith as a source of strength during hardship:
“‘What else do you have when you’re gay except your internal monologue and your spirituality? It’s not like you can rely on the community, because you see how they react to other people – kids internalize that. We grew up listening to that – some people have amazing families, but again, everyone’s interpretation [of the scripture] is really different.'”
Andy Ruiz described finding an accepting Church as an important component of coming out, and expressed gratitude that she experienced “another side of Catholicism” which was integrated with a variety of Indigenous spiritual practices which she found empowering:
“‘With my queer identities, that’s why my mom took a more active role to find a church that was supportive of [my siblings and me. Coming out as trans to my family, it was like, “Well, if the priest says you can come through, come through.”‘”
Finding an accepting faith community is sometimes a difficult challenge for queer Catholics who do not live in urban areas. In these cases, some LBGTQ Latinx faithful have made their homes into worship spaces, and have built a connection with Christ outside of the traditional parish structures. Trujillo situated such arrangements within the context of the Gospels, in which Jesus undertook similarly subversive liturgical practices:
“‘You don’t have to go to church to be Catholic. In Catholicism and Christianity, there is a lot of common theory, [but] the only thing that matters is what Jesus said. When I go to the gospel, [Jesus] was eating with everyone who was discriminated against; he would talk to women and put women in positions of leadership. He would break all the rules: he did the opposite of whatever religious and social rules were at the time. You have to love yourself, and you have to love others – that’s what justifies staying in the Church. That’s the biggest teaching.'”
Queer Latinx Catholics are exploring vibrant new ways of living out the faith. Their stories and experiences illustrate the dynamic nature of Catholic queer spirituality, and the potential for LGBTQ people to find avenues for self-understanding within the church.
—Andru Zodrow (he/him), New Ways Ministry, May 16, 2022