Harm Might Be Intentional; I Hope and Pray Not

Harm Might Be Intentional; I Hope and Pray Not March 13, 2023

In my part-time work of religious trauma recovery, listening to older LGBTQ+ Catholics, and speaking with some conservative clergy, laity, and non-religious conservatives, I have now concluded that some will never admit that human sexuality and gender are an intrinsic parts of the human identity, for heterosexual, homosexual people, gender conforming, and gender non-conforming people. I am starting to think that through the denial of reality and science denial, harm, marginalization, oppression, and even the extermination of LGBTQ+ people and their families might be at least partially intentional. I woke up in this cold state of reality this morning.

Since the Trump era, I have watched right-winged clergymen and laity dismiss, downplay, create an alternative reality, excuse, further choose to ignore, and even wish harm to others that the fascist branch of the GOP tells them to hate, not all of the GOP.  This is especially true of LGBTQIA+ people, especially trans people.  As a Catholic Christian, I have wanted to admit that these observations are only born from ignorance, for I was ignorant about the life issues of LGBTQ+ people and their families until my eyes were opened as a practitioner and parent. Now, I am beginning to think that some clergy, laity, and even some people and institutions outside the Church are intentionally trying to harm LGBTQIA+ people and their families, or at least partially.

Here is why. I have attempted to show certain laity, clergy, and conservative non-religious people the reality of the life issues which are at stake for LGBTQ+ people and their families, many of who are also Neurodiverse and disabled. I know older LGBTQ+ Catholics who have attempted to educate certain clergy and laity. Not much tends to “sink in.”  There are “niceties” but no action to make changes so that pastoral ministry will align with science to create safe (not dangerous space) as Pope Francis has instructed. After all of this,  I still see clergy and lay leadership direct families of “same-sex attracted” children to reparative therapy, gay conversion programs, coerced celibacy, and healing and deliverance programs, knowing that these programs have a history of rotten fruit, especially if the parent participates in the harm. Some of the rotten fruit from these pseudoscience programs includes but is not limited to: depression, anxiety, self-hatred, shame, self-harm, substance abuse, eating disorders, separation from God, the church, community, isolation, anger, serious mental illness, and even suicide.

As I tossed and turned all night about this, I think the intent to harm LGBTQIA+  people and their families is possibly a reality, at least partially.  As I stated above, until now, I have only wanted to believe that all words and actions have been born of ignorance and the great difficulty of opening their eyes.  I can say that for myself, once my eyes opened to the life issues of LGBTQIA+ people and their families, I immediately made major changes in my faith, profession, and as a parent. As this point, with all that has been shown to clergy and all of the burials of young LGBTQ+ people they have witnessed, I am not sure how much of their difficulty to see reality or even chosen ignorance are actually related to the intent to harm.  I hope and pray it’s not.

As I see more, I will write more Patheos pieces about this.

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