Elizabeth Stoker Bruenig Reviews “Gay and Catholic”

Elizabeth Stoker Bruenig Reviews “Gay and Catholic” February 5, 2015

for AmCon. Really like the point about my book being specifically lesbian rather than gay–and it should’ve been much more lesbian! If I had it to do over I’d do a LOT more research into the history of love between women, e.g. Boston marriages, “romantic friendship.” This piece focuses more heavily than the book does on the specific, perhaps outre case of vowed friendships, which I’m presenting as a beautiful possibility grounded in tradition and not some kind of universal Solution to the Problem of Gay People. (See also me on “Is celibacy the new ex-gay?”) But Bruenig’s points are well-taken & she’s clearly engaging with what I’m up to. She touches on various possible problems with the vowed-friendship model but notes that these problems are alternatives to our current problems of gay isolation and despair.

Tushnet sets out to “offer ways to create a celibate queer life that is better than the one I used to have,” which alerts readers at the outset that the book is something of a journey. But Tushnet’s autobiography takes up only the first few chapters and is revisited in asides from there on out; the journey, then, is more of an “adventure” in theologian Stanley Hauerwas’s sense—concerned with the daily heroism of Christian life—than a straightforward tale of personal triumph over adversity. As an interlocutor, Tushnet is entertaining and lucid, confident but comfortably self-effacing, with a fondness for her former self in all her awkward adolescent stages.

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