So, having discussed their overt support for the family, we turn now to the gay thing. Conservatives (Catholic and otherwise) tend to frame the gay agenda as a family values issue. So, is BLM pro-gay?
Now, you can stop reading here, if you don’t care about anything but the most general answer. However, as a professional Gay™ with a terminal case of pedantry, I’d like to do a nuance. Returning to BLM’s What We Believe statement:
We are guided by the fact that all Black lives matter, regardless of actual or perceived sexual identity, gender identity, [or] gender expression … We make space for transgender brothers and sisters to participate and lead … and do the work required to dismantle cisgender1 privilege and uplift Black trans folk, especially Black trans women who continue to be disproportionately impacted by trans-antagonistic violence.
This is obviously not how most Catholics approach gay or trans issues. But think about that for a second. The first statement here is: Black people’s lives matter, whether or not they are or seem straight, cis, and conventional about gender. That’s a basic truth no one should hesitate to agree with. The fact that so many Catholics feel the need to rush in with a “yes, but” here makes me for one feel kind of unsafe. It comes off like it’s more important to you to emphasize that we queers are sinful than it is to admit that we’re human beings with the right to live. That is, excuse my French, fucking creepy.
It’s also not actually that orthodox.
The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. … They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided.
That’s from §2358 of the Catechism. Catholics tend to ignore this paragraph, except when we trot it out to reply to charges of homophobia. (Good job guys, real convincing.) Respect, compassion, and sensitivity aren’t PC run amok. They’re explicit requirements of Catholic teaching. We aren’t known for any of those qualities, and that’s a huge scandal, in the technical sense—i.e., a bad example that drives people away from God.
And we haven’t even looked at what BLM is mostly talking about here. It isn’t just general queer affirmation. It’s specifically talking about violence against gay and trans people. Catholics are really, really bad at acknowledging that, let alone doing anything to help.
Here’s the thing, gorj. When you put
We don’t hate homos and Repent or perish
on the same sign, it sends what we
in the gay community call “a mixed message.”
(Photo by Jenny Mealing.)
I wasn’t always this cynical. When I converted, I took Catholics’ claims to not be homophobic at face value.2 Once I started writing on the subject, it quickly became clear that plenty of bigots were influential, in both the hierarchy and Catholic media. That didn’t faze me; I expected the Church to have problems. What broke the spell was the response to the Pulse massacre. Or rather, the incredible lack of response. I truly thought, if anything ghastly happened to the gay community, the Church would firmly condemn it. I was wrong. We got a bland “Oh how awful” statement from the USCCB, and two bishops addressed the shooting. Out of four hundred bishops in this country, we got messages from two. And that was it. That outrages and scares me as a gay man, and it outrages and embarrasses me as a Catholic.
Does BLM line up with Catholic teaching about gender and sexuality? No.3 But no organization except the Church herself lines up perfectly with any of her teachings. Plenty of Catholics are fine with that when it’s the GOP, and for once, I’m not even citing that as a criticism. Allying with a political party to achieve a concrete result isn’t always a bad thing.4 I just think that the result “gay and trans people get to be alive” is Good Actually. And so should you.
1Cisgender is the opposite of transgender, pretty much the same way straight is the opposite of gay. (If you’ve heard that “‘cis’ is a slur,” this is either a hilarious misunderstanding or a baldfaced lie.)
2For anyone who doesn’t know, I accepted §2357 of the Catechism when I converted, and I still do. This is not about the Church’s official teaching. I’m talking about how Catholics actually treat LGBTQ people in practice.
3That said, the difference between BLM’s queer-affirming position and the Church’s doctrine may not be as wide as people think. A lot of Catholics think (and insist) the Church is unconditionally against trans identities, but she has been a lot more cautious with her official statements than most self-appointed guardians of orthodoxy.
4My problem with the Catholic-Republican alliance isn’t that it exists. It’s that the GOP is manipulating and corrupting Catholics to stay in power, without even delivering on the pro-life legislation it promised to gain Catholic votes in the first place. That, and the way it obstructs every other aspect of Catholic social teaching, including things like universal health care, which we need to be an actually pro-life society.