When I woke up yesterday, and read about the horrific massacre at Club Q in Colorado Springs, I felt sick.
I was overwhelmed with horror on behalf of the five dead and twenty-five injured. I didn’t want to think of how their families and friends must feel. I was terrified of a copycat crime hurting any of my queer friends. I was in awe of the as yet unnamed hero who stopped the gunman by yanking the gun from his hand and beating him with it. I wished there was something I could do, and of course, there wasn’t.
And then the heckling started. Few of the Catholics on social media were able to say “what a horrible tragedy” or “pray for the victims at Club Q,” without ranting about how sinful and disgusting it is to not have been born heterosexual. We even got public Catholics ranting that the queer community was appropriating this tragedy to paint themselves as victims of a hate crime– and this from people who have been calling us “groomers” and accusing us of mutilating children for months now.
I know I shouldn’t pay so much attention to Catholic talking heads who get paid to say shocking things, and I’m not trying to. But I also saw how individual Catholics without much of a social media following were treating other individuals, and that was just as bad.
I have a friend who is transgender: a gentle, empathetic, compassionate person, a Catholic who goes to Mass every Sunday, and a person who suffers from depression and suicidal thoughts. All he said on social media, in response to the shooting, was “being LGBT hurts.” And a total stranger quote tweeted him with “Being gravely disordered shouldn’t be a piece of cake.” The stranger was Deacon Rob Federle of Saint Michael’s Catholic Church in the Diocese of Oakland, and I know that because he proudly posted that in his bio. Deacon Rob didn’t know my friend. And he completely misrepresented Catholic teaching, because the actual teaching of the Church is NOT that queer people are themselves intrinsically disordered; we’re children of God like anyone. It’s that homosexual intercourse is a disordered act. And my friend is not having intercourse. But the deacon didn’t care. He got his cruel sound bite at the expense of someone who was scared and suffering.
The deacon boasts of being a proud father of five, and I hope that those children escape his influence and grow up to be as caring and loving as my friend is instead.
If you’re wondering why I can’t see Christ in the Catholic Church anymore, it’s because of people like that.
Shame on all of you.
Catholics are catechized to believe two things about LGBTQ people: that acting on our homosexual desires is a sin, and that we “must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity.” By your own rules, you’re committing a sin. There’s no acceptance, respect, compassion or sensitivity in what you say. And you think you’re extra-special and righteous for your cruelty.
The Gospel doesn’t say anything about queer people, but Christ had a lot to say about self-righteous people like you.
My heart and my prayers go out to all the victims of this tragedy. May our society be better.
image via Pixabay
Mary Pezzulo is the author of Meditations on the Way of the Cross, The Sorrows and Joys of Mary, and Stumbling into Grace: How We Meet God in Tiny Works of Mercy.