Tag : Lesbian

By osp@stpaultheapostle.org

OSP Advent Reflection Series 2017

Join us this Advent as we embark on a journey to deepen our Catholic faith and more fully realize and understand the joy of LGBTQ and Catholic identities. Each day we will send a brief reflection and link to that day’s readings right to your inbox. In these busy days leading up to Christmas, we hope that these thoughtful and personal words will facilitate prayer and a growing connection with God in our daily lives. The theme for this year’s reflections are gifts the LGBTQ community brings to the Church. READ MORE

By osp@stpaultheapostle.org

Alleluia! Christ is risen

Dear OSP friends and family,

Alleluia, alleluia, Christ is resurrected from the dead! Alleluia we exclaim, our voices joining together as one, professing who we are. Who are we? We are an alleluia people; we are called to be an Easter people. After forty long days and nights of liturgically fasting from the word, ‘alleluia,’ there may not be as sweet a sounding word as alleluia, and as instrumental in revealing who we are.

Lent and the Paschal Triduum are long periods of time marked by many highs and low, times of darkness and light, and that gray area in between where most of our lives may be spent. It is a time of much waiting and uncertainty yet it is a time that reveals who we are individually and communally before Christ. Catholic spiritual writer, Henri Nouwen once wrote, “learning to weep, learning to keep vigil, learning to wait for the dawn. Perhaps this is what it means to be human.” More famously, gay, singer-songwriter Steve Grand sings, “we are the night…we are the heavy hearts on subway cars…today could be our last. And we’ll just live as we are, unmoved by the darkness we face ’cause we are the night. They’re gonna say we just ain’t right, but we are the night.” This is what we are about: we are people of the night waiting together in resilient hope, and we are people of the day with the gift of the joy of the resurrection.

The joy of the resurrection and the alleluias we sing call us to respond courageously and whole-heartedly with all that we are as LGBTQ and more, sharing our stories and the life of Christ. Our mark as an Easter people is found in how we act, caring for our brothers and sisters and the resurrected Christ we find within them, the world, and ourselves. Ours is a faith of action and Easter allots us the gift of finding out where our exclamation of alleluia comes from while doing the work of the resurrected Christ. May all that you are sing alleluia in the joy of the resurrection this Easter.

With love and Easter blessings,
Out at St. Paul Ministry

By osp@stpaultheapostle.org

Happy Thanksgiving!

As we come together to celebrate Thanksgiving, we pause to give thanks for our community and the countless gifts you bring to OSP, St. Paul the Apostle Parish, and the whole body of Catholic faith. The ministry you share in is a light for the entire church and a sign of hope for God’s Kingdom yet to come.

Our hearts are drawn to the words of St. Paul, who in 1 Thessalonians 1:2-3 writes, “We always thank God for all of you and continually mention you in our prayers. We remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.” In a world where homophobia tears many down, your faith builds a community of safety and hospitality. In a church that is often hostile to LGBT people, your witness to love calls Christians to follow Christ more faithfully. You endure in spite of all the obstacles, contributing in hope to God’s in-breaking renewal of life in the world.

This Thanksgiving, we are thankful for the OSP community. We value your many gifts and the countless ways that you share in OSP’s ministry. We remember your faith, love, and hope that continue to build up the Kingdom of God in a world and church that desperately need you.

Happy Thanksgiving.

In faith, love, and hope,

The OSP Ministry Team

By osp@stpaultheapostle.org

Gay and Lesbian High School Students Report ‘Heartbreaking’ Levels of Violence

New York Times
AUG. 11, 2016

Doctors and teachers who work with gay, lesbian and bisexual teenagers have long warned that they are especially vulnerable to a host of psychological and physical harms. Now the first national study to identify these high school students and track their health risks confirms those fears: sexual-minority teenagers are indeed at far greater risk for depression, bullying and many types of violence than their straight peers.

“I found the numbers heartbreaking,” said Dr. Jonathan Mermin, a senior official at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which includes a division that administers this school health survey every two years.

The survey documents what smaller studies have suggested for years, but it is significant because it is the first time the federal government’s Youth Risk Behavior Survey, the gold-standard of adolescent health data collection, looked at sexual identity. The survey found that about 8 percent of the high school population describe themselves as gay, lesbian or bisexual, which would be 1.3 million students.

These children were three times more likely than straight students to have been raped. They skipped school far more often because they did not feel safe: at least a third had been bullied on school property. And they were twice as likely as heterosexual students to have been threatened or injured with a weapon on school property.

More than 40 percent of these students reported they had seriously considered suicide, and 29 percent had made attempts in the year before they took the survey. The percentage of those who use various illegal drugs was many times greater than heterosexual peers. While 1.3 percent of straight students said they had used heroin, for example, 6 percent of the gay, lesbian and bisexual students reported having done so.

“Nations are judged by the health and well-being of their children,” said Dr. Mermin, who is the director of the National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention. “Many would find these levels of physical and sexual violence unacceptable and something we should act on quickly.”

These comparisons have emerged because the federal survey, which looks at more than 100 health behaviors, included two new questions last year. It asked how students identified themselves sexually, and also the sex of those with whom they had “sexual contact” — leaving students to define that term.

While transgender youth have increasingly appeared on the national radar, most recently in debates around school bathroom access, this survey did not include an option for teenagers to identify themselves as transgender. But that possibility may be forthcoming. The C.D.C. and other federal health agencies are developing a question on gender identity to reliably count transgender teenagers which, a spokeswoman said, might be ready for a pilot test in 2017.

Some 15,600 students across the country, ages 14 to 17, took the survey. The population who identified as a sexual minority is in line with estimates from other state or local surveys, and with national studies of young adults. While the figures paint a portrait of loneliness and discrimination that is longstanding and sadly familiar, they are important because they now establish a national databank.

Dr. Debra Houry, an emergency medicine physician who directs the C.D.C.’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, said the numbers argue for more comprehensive intervention and prevention programs. She praised programs like Green Dot, which trains students in how to support a victim of bullying or a physical altercation. Other programs, she said, teach coping skills to vulnerable students. As the data suggests, she said, these students need better access to mental health care, as well as support from families, schools and communities.

The report does not delve into why these students are at such risk for so many types of harm.

Dr. Elizabeth Miller, the chief of adolescent and young adult medicine at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, said, “The intensity of homophobic attitudes and acceptance of gay-related victimization, as well as the ongoing silence around adolescent sexuality, marginalizes a whole group of young people.”

And such marginalization, added Dr. Miller, who writes extensively about dating and sexual violence, “increases their vulnerability to exploitative and violent relationships.”

Dr. Miller also pointed out that the report implicitly underscores the fluidity of adolescent sexual identity. When asked to identify themselves sexually, 3.2 percent of students chose “not sure.” Among students who said they had “sexual contact” with only people of the same sex or with both sexes, 25 percent identified as heterosexual and 13.6 percent said they were not sure of their sexual identity. Among students who had sexual contact only with someone of the opposite sex, 2.8 percent nonetheless described themselves as gay, lesbian or bisexual.

Dr. Miller, who is also a professor of pediatrics at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, said that self-acceptance can begin at home. “We have to start conversations early with young people about healthy sexuality, attraction, relationships, intimacy and how to explore those feelings in as safe and respectful a way as possible,” she said.

Any survey has limitations. In this one, the respondents were students in school and so the research would not have captured dropouts or others who were not attending, a disproportionate percentage of whom are lesbian, gay and bisexual.

How students interpreted “sexual contact” or why some defined themselves as “not sure” could also be open to interpretation.


By osp@stpaultheapostle.org

One Month After Orlando Massacre, Sr. Jeannine Gramick Decries Silence On Violence

49 people were murdered one month ago today at Pulse, a LGBT nightclub in Orlando, and 53 more were wounded. These victims, constituting the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history, have stirred conversations about anti-LGBT prejudice and violence and prompted many Catholics to memorialize the victims.

Sr. Jeannine Gramick, Co-Founder of New Ways Ministry, says even more speech is needed around this event, given that there is still too much silence in the world–and in the church–around anti-LGBT violence. Acknowledging a long history of violence against LGBT people, and the daily threats they continue to face “through verbal threats, intimidation and bullying, and even imprisonment, torture and death,” she wrote in the National Catholic Reporter:

“One kind of violence not often recognized is the violence of silence. After the Orlando massacre, some in our church were guilty of this kind of violence. Headlines the world over noted that the shooting took place in a gay club, but statements released by the Vatican press office, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, and Orlando’s bishop conspicuously passed over references that the people targeted were lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. Some bishops issued no statement at all.

“Silence is violence when, as in this instance, it denies the existence of a whole category of people, people who have been targeted with physical violence because of who they are. If I don’t acknowledge your existence, I do not need to recognize your rights; I do not see that you need added protections. Furthermore, I am unable to know you or to relate to you in a meaningful way.

” ‘Silence=Death,’ the slogan of AIDS activists in the 1980s, not only questioned President Ronald Reagan’s silence about the disease, it also boldly declared that, as a matter of survival, silence about the repression of LGBT people must end. The violence of silence kills.”

Gramick acknowledged that less than ten U.S. bishops identified the Orlando victims as predominantly LGBT people. Of these, only a few challenged anti-gay prejudices in the church and in society. One Florida bishop evencriticized another bishop who courageously acknowledged the church’s contributions to homophobia.

Tying the Orlando incident to the news of the Vatican’s proposed further questioning of at least three communities of U.S. women religious, Gramick called for an end to silence and secrecy:

“Church investigations of individuals or groups have usually been shrouded in secrecy, which has had disastrous consequences for the life of the church. Secrecy instills fear and enables authorities to exercise control of mind or action. When significant matters are kept secret from the faithful, church leaders cannot be held accountable for their actions, nor can the faithful engage in informed conversations about important issues. . .

“Silence can even destroy the spiritual family we call church. . .If our church were a democracy and this a campaign year, my yard signs and buttons would read, ‘Down with the violence of silence and up with a victory for speech!’ “

LGBT Catholics Westminster, gathered at the Farm Street Jesuit Parish in the Mayfair section of London, remembered the victims during Mass in late June. Homilist Fr. Tony Nye challenged his listeners to question their priorities in view of Orlando, asking them:Other Catholics around the globe have spokenout since the shooting in Orlando a month ago, too, remembering the victims and recommitting to the cause of LGBT justice.

“Do we put God and God’s justice first in our thinking? That may mean controlling our anger and discovering any prejudice that lingers in our thinking. That may mean being ready for the cost that following our Lord may entail, the cost of standing up and being counted on behalf of justice, of respect for our neighbour whoever he or she may be, of truly seeking God’s will in our attempt to follow Christ’s call.”

The Archdiocesan Gay and Lesbian Outreach in Chicago remembered victims at Mass the following week, placing victims’ photos before the altar and reading each person’s name and age, reported Crux. A comforting letter from Archbishop Blase Cupich was read, which included Cupich’s statement to LGBT people that he and the archdiocese stand with them.

In a more troublesome incident, a June 24th Mass for the victims held in San Juan, Puerto Rico was interrupted by a bomb threat and Communion was distributed outside, reported the National Catholic Reporter. Fears about an unattended backpack, later disproven, reveal the heightened vigilance many have felt during commemorations. San Juan’s Archbishop Roberto Gonzalez Nieves tied the memorial to the day’s feast, St. John the Baptist, patron of the city, who the archbishop said “was also a victim of hate and caprice.” Gonzalez called for an end to discrimination facing LGBT people, imploring Catholics to be converted like John the Baptist away from violence and to Christ.

Beyond just remembering those people killed at Pulse, Catholic memorials include acts of prophetic speaking out. They have made room in the church for LGBT people, to acknowledge not just their sufferings at this time, but their ongoing presences in our communities and the contributions they offer the church. Alfred Pang recentlyreflected on this blog about the way Pride celebrations have functioned in the wake of Orlando. The Global Network of Rainbow Catholics launched a sign-on statement of solidarity with the victims of Orlando and LGBT people in the United States, which you can sign here.

A further petition, signed already by 1,300 people, asks Pope Francis to retract harmful language about lesbian, bisexual, and gay people in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, as well support decriminalization efforts at the United Nations. The petition, which you can find here, reads, in part:

“Faced with the horror [of Orlando], it is not enough to deplore or even sympathize, we must fight and fight which leads to hatred and crime. . .Pope Francis, you can combat hatred. Repeal immediately Article 2357 (1) of the catechism stigmatizing sexual orientation. The criminal repression of homosexuality is, as we know, a fertile ground for transition to the murderous act, which is why we call on you to engage in your UN authority and that of the Vatican, today strangely acting in abstention, for the universal decriminalization of homosexuality.”

These liturgies and prayer services, these statements and speaking out have all re-membered the Body of Christ, relocating a horrific tragedy in the context of the communion of saints and the resurrection. Sr. Julia Walsh wrote about her experience of this mourning, yet life-giving process for Global Sisters Report. Walsh attended a Mass where the victims’ faces were printed on posters, about which she wrote:


“Our bodies are united. We are one; together in the grief, pain and trauma. No one suffers alone. We hurt together; we are frustrated and disturbed together. . .

“We were gathered in sacred space, in a place where we could safely and fully express our common experience and beliefs. In some ways, we were not unlike those who entered the Pulse dance club in Orlando seeking sanctuary from a world that persecuted them for their difference. Just as they had found a home and a loving, accepting community where they felt free to be themselves, we Catholics had found our home around the Eucharistic table and were free to express our faith. Our sea of faces bowing toward the Bread Broken for All was not unlike the sea of sacred faces encountering safety and freedom on a dance floor.

“Expecting a typical liturgy, I entered the church with my grief for the Orlando victims engulfed by my busy life. I left changed, weary and soaked from a good cry, with the faces on the posters and of the kind people in the church community embalmed in my memory.”

To read Bondings 2.0′s full coverage of the Orlando massacre and Catholic responses to it, please click here.

–Bob Shine, New Ways Ministry

By osp@stpaultheapostle.org

Is Church Teaching a Weapon Used Against LGBT People?

Weeks after both the Orlando massacre and the pope’s call for an apology to lesbian and gay people, I’m still wading through articles and commentaries about both incidents.  It’s no wonder. For entirely two different reasons, both events certainly touched deep emotions in many people.

Because I’m reading about both events almost simultaneously, I’d like to report on a little linguistic oddity that I found, though I’m not quite sure what it means.

On June 22nd, Jesuit Father Russell Pollitt, the director of the Jesuit Institute of South Africa, reflected on Orlando, noting that organized religion, and Catholicism in particular, needs to take some responsibility for propagating the hate which causes violence. Pollitt ends his reflection with what I consider the most powerful and blunt observation I’ve yet to read:

“Bad religion, which includes bad religious language, is an assault rifle – and it is used often. Some pulpits are assault rifles. We need an urgent discussion in our church about the way we speak about and treat gay people. We need a conversion of mind, heart and language.”

Pope FrancisOn June 26th, just a few days later, Pope Francis uttered his now famous call for the church to apologizeto lesbian and gay people.  Probably in the interest of journalistic brevity, usually only the main sentence of his interview was reported:

I think that the Church must not only ask forgiveness from the gay person who is offended, but she must also ask for forgiveness from the poor too, from women who are exploited, from children who are exploited for labour.

But later accounts also took note of the sentence which immediately followed these words:

“She [the Church] must ask forgiveness for having blessed so many weapons.”

Assault rifle? Many weapons?  Coincidence?

Honestly, I’m not quite sure.  I will admit that the first time I read the pope’s full quotation, before reading Pollitt’s essay, I assumed that Francis was referring to the fact that churches, historically, have literally had blessing rituals for weapons of war.  After reading Pollitt’s reflection, I started to wonder if there was a different way of interpreting the pope’s remarks.  Was he saying that some of the church’s language and messages about gay people, the poor, women, and exploited children can be compared to weapons?

I acknowledge that I may be stretching it a bit. I was an English major, after all, and we are known for sometimes finding meanings where none were intended. But Pope Francis is a Jesuit.  Is it too much of a stretch to think that just a few days before he uttered his call for apology he might have read the online reflection of Pollitt, also a Jesuit and the head of an influential Jesuit agency?  Even if Pollitt were not involved with the pope’s language, the question still remains if he meant “weapons” literally or metaphorically.

It may be impossible to discern Francis’ intentions from the linguistic evidence, and I do not want to stretch the point beyond credibility.  What I do know, though, is that many LGBT people–and women–have experienced the church’s language and messaging as weapons.  For some, their experience has shown that weapon is not just a metaphor.  Pollitt describes an incident:

“When I was working in a parish community I remember being called to the emergency room of a local hospital one night. A young man had been admitted, hardly recognisable, because he had been beaten to a pulp. Earlier that evening he had “come out” to his family. His father justified the assault saying that it was against his religion to have a ‘moffie’ in the family. The family was deeply involved in the Catholic Church.

“While religion and religious language cannot be used as the sole motivating factor for this killing, it seems appropriate that believers interrogate the words they use and the positions they take. Religious positions and language contribute to a cocktail in which homophobia is incubated and bred. The kind of language, for example, which is used in official texts of the Church powerfully shapes perceptions, attitudes and actions. After all, isn’t that what religious teaching strives to do – shape perceptions, attitudes and actions – hopefully for the good? Phrases such as ‘objectively disordered’ are not helpful.”

I would like to think that Pollitt’s metaphor of bad religious language as an assault rifle is an overstatement, but I’ve heard too many painful stories over the years of physical, emotional, and spiritual violence to be able to convince myself of that position.  Similarly, I would like to think that Pope Francis’ use of the church having “blessed so many weapons” might indicate that the pontiff was making an extremely strong statement about the harm the Church has caused people, but I don’t have enough evidence of that for certainty.

What I can be sure of, though, is that whatever Pope Francis meant by his words, he did call for the Church to apologize, and it is now incumbent on our leaders to begin this process of apology before more people are needlessly harmed.

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry

By osp@stpaultheapostle.org

‘Terror’ Attack At Orlando Gay Nightclub Leaves 50 Dead, 53 Wounded

A mass shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, that police are calling a “domestic terror incident” has left approximately 50 people dead and at least 53 injured.

Authorities say a gunman stormed the downtown Pulse nightclub around 2 a.m. Sunday before opening fire and taking dozens of people hostage.

“Our SWAT officers exchanged gunfire with the suspect. The suspect is dead,” Orlando Police Chief John Mina said at a press conference. “He appeared to be carrying a rifle, an assault-type rifle and a handgun and had some type of device on him.”

The suspect has only been identified as someone who was “not from this area” and “was organized and well-prepared,” the FBI said, according to ABC News.

FBI agent Ron Hopper said the suspect may have leanings toward extreme Islamic ideologies, the Orlando Sentinel reported.

Around 5 a.m., authorities decided to attempt to rescue the hostages, leading to a gunfire exchange that ended in the suspect’s death, Mina said.

“We are investigating this from all points of perspective as an act of terrorism,” said Special Agent Danny Banks, who’s in charge of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. “Any time we have potentially dozens of victims in any of our communities then I think we can qualify that as terrorism activity. Whether that is domestic terrorism activity or an international one is certainly something that we will get to the bottom of.”

Witnesses recalled hearing a barrage of gunfire at the start of the violence. The dance club urged patrons to “get out” and “keep running” in a post on its Facebook page.

Javer Antonetti, 53, told the Sentinel that he was near the back of the dance club when he heard the gunfire.

“There were so many [shots], at least 40,” he said. “I saw two guys and it was constant, like ‘pow, pow, pow.’”

Police said they had carried out a “controlled explosion” at the club hours after the shooting broke out, but did not say why that was done. They described the scene as a “fluid situation.”

Video posted online showed a large number of police and emergency vehicles outside the nightclub. Bomb-sniffing dogs were also on the scene, CNN reported.

It was the second deadly shooting at an Orlando night spot in as many nights. Late Friday, a man thought to be a troubled fan fatally shot Christina Grimmie, a rising singing star and a former contestant on “The Voice,” while she was signing autographs after a concert in the Florida city.

There was an outpouring of support from the community as they took in the morning’s horrors.

 Nadine Smith, CEO of Equality Florida, which advocates gay and lesbian rights statewide, said they are holding off judgment until more information is released.“We have received a steady stream of emails and messages from those seeking to help or to make sense of the senseless. We make no assumptions on motive. We will await the details in tears of sadness and anger. We stand in solidarity and keep our thoughts on all whose lives have been lost or altered forever in this tragedy,” she said in a statement.

With News Wire Services


By osp@stpaultheapostle.org

June is PRIDE Month – Alan Turing

June is PRIDE Month. Each day OSP will bring a new post with moments in history and profiles of prominent figures who made a difference in the lives of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender people.


Alan Turing, (23 June 1912 – 7 June 1954) was a British pioneering computer scientist, mathematician, logician, cryptanalyst, philosopher, mathematical biologist, and marathon and ultra distance runner. He was highly influential in the development of computer science, providing a formalization of the concepts of algorithm and computation with the Turing machine, which can be considered a model of a general purpose computer.

Turing is widely considered to be the father of theoretical computer science and artificial intelligence.

During the Second World War, Turing worked for the Government Code and Cypher School (GC&CS) at Bletchley Park, Britain’s codebreaking centre. For a time he led Hut 8, the section responsible for German naval cryptanalysis. He devised a number of techniques for breaking German ciphers, including improvements to the pre-war Polish bombe method, an electromechanical machine that could find settings for the Enigma machine.

Turing’s pivotal role in cracking intercepted coded messages enabled the Allies to defeat the Nazis in many crucial engagements, including the Battle of the Atlantic; it has been estimated that the work at Bletchley Park shortened the war in Europe by as many as two to four years.

1954 – Turing commits suicide by cyanide poisoning, 18 months after being given a choice between two years in prison or libido-reducing hormone treatment for a year as a punishment for homosexuality.

Turning was later the subject of the Academy Award winning film “The Imitation Game.”

OSP Advent Reflection Series 2017
Pope Congratulates, Blesses Gay Couple on the Baptism of Their Adopted Children
LGBT Pilgrimage to Newark Cathedral
Alleluia! Christ is risen
Happy Thanksgiving!
Gay and Lesbian High School Students Report ‘Heartbreaking’ Levels of Violence
One Month After Orlando Massacre, Sr. Jeannine Gramick Decries Silence On Violence
Is Church Teaching a Weapon Used Against LGBT People?
‘Terror’ Attack At Orlando Gay Nightclub Leaves 50 Dead, 53 Wounded
June is PRIDE Month – Alan Turing