Thursday, March 04, 2010

Anger in the Lobby

I had an angry man on the phone this morning complaining about what I had recently written. He objected strongly to my use of the term "elements of the vociferous hedonistic gay lobby". He assured me several times he wasn't a member of the Labour Party.

By using the term I was trying to suggest there were plenty of "gay" people who are neither vociferous or hedonistic, nor are in the lobby. That there are actually people who had a same sex attraction who might say they were homosexual or had a homosexual attraction or curiosity but would refuse to use the identity of being "gay", in part because it suggests a certain lifestyle and in part has certain political connotations.

My parish has many single people. Some try to cope others are content with living lives on their own. Many have close friends, some share flats or houses with a particular friend, occasionally some define their friend as a "partner". It could be a business partner or any other form of partnership; I can't see the problem. Some might say they are "gay", I ask them if they believe what the Catholic Church teaches, they say "yes", they come to Mass, they go to confession, they pray, sometimes together; I can't see a problem. They support the Church they tell me about their brothers and sister, their nephews, their nieces, they regret they have never had children themselves; I feel sympathy. In the confessional they might tell me of the battle they have with their sexuality, sometimes of their defeats in this battle; I give absolution and a light penance, assure them of God's strength and often admire their extraordinary heroism and their great love of God and appreciation of his Grace. Are these "elements of the vociferous hedonistic gay lobby"? No, they are Catholics looking for salvation along with everyone else, bearing a very heavy cross. Often these men, occasionally women, have been distanced from the Church and have returned. Often they have misunderstood what the Church is saying and why, sometimes they have met deliberate cruelty and misunderstanding from priests, and are still faithful; that is heroism!

My caller this morning said I didn't know much about the Brighton "Gay" community, that could be true. I have never visited a "Gay" club, I try to avoid walking through the pinker area of Brighton, I am a little shocked when I see men or women kissing or fondling one another on the street, whatever their sexual orientation and I try not to be on the streets during "Pride" weekend. My caller just saw it all as being friendly and supportive and fun.

As a Catholic priest one tends to pick up the debris of peoples' lives and hear almost too much of their pain and suffering. I am not sure that my caller has done many funerals for young gay men who have died of a drugs overdoses or suicide. I haven't kept a tally and I suspect many don't have a priest at their funeral but there have been a number over the last 10 years, outside of the gay community I can remember only one funeral for a man under 35 years old. There is a larger number of parents who ask for Masses to be said for dead gay children, their lives are torn apart when their offspring have died through suicide or drugs or AIDS. Then of course there are curious young men, exploring their sexual orientation, who have gone into bars and clubs and have got or been gotten high on drugs or drink and found themselves in someone's bed and things have gone much, much further than they had intended. I knew of one young man who had claimed he became HIV positive after one single encounter, I heard he killed himself. One hears of men too, who try to sleep with a different partner each night, of teenagers passed around from one older "lover" to another. I could go on and on, but I suspect you get the taste. This is what I meant by hedonistic gay lobby and I haven't even touched on the various fetish sub-groups. Why is it a lobby? Because it makes money for Brighton: money speaks.

28 comments:

Physiocrat said...

Well said, invite him for a chat. But I am sorry you get upset about people of the same sex kissing and hugging each other. That is just a British hang-up. It is perfectly normal in most European countries these days, and certainly in Arab cultures.

Even seen regularly in the streets of towns in Lutheran Sweden. Kramar.

Fr Ray Blake said...

Don't see many Arabs doing it.

Roger Buck said...

Such honest, moving, REAL expression could do so much more good in the world, if only it were not all but "blacked out" by the tunnel-visioned media bent on a single, shallow agenda...

Thank you for your work not simply carrying out the principal charges of your vocation with your parish, but also publicly speaking and standing for another desperately needed perspective with such evident sincerity and depth of experience and reflection.

Volpius Leonius said...

Well the way he vociferously confronted you sure proved you wrong eh Father clearly those who support the gay lobby are not vociferous after all.

Charlotte said...

For years I hung out with my gay friends in the gay community and everything you relate here is true. It is generally a sad, sick group of people who do abuse drugs, alcohol, and engage in overly-extra curriculur sex. No, it's not everyone. But a vast majority, yes.

When I say so on my blog, I get attacked.

shadowlands said...

"I haven't even touched on the various fetish sub-groups."

Well maybe do that in your next post Father haha!

Fr Ray Blake said...

Not funny Shadowlands.

shadowlands said...

oops sorry Father.

gemoftheocean said...

I hope at least some of your detractors will read this post. Too many have been conditioned by the media to believe that "the Catholic church hates gays."

I hope they come to realize that while the church believes sexual transgressions of both hetro & homosexual people to be objective sins -- the church is a hospital for sinners of all kinds.

One gay man I know once told me that he resents it when Christians treat him as sinning worse than hetero fornicators, etc. i.e. the heteros are welcome back into the fold, but he as a gay man (Jewish upbringing, as it happens) is made to feel the outcast by conventional society. He feels too many religions operate on a double standard. He's essentially, a non-believer in anything.

I pray for him, and others who struggle with same sex attraction. IT's a tough row for them to hoe, and theirs is a heavy burden - but with the grace of God, they can perservere.

gemoftheocean said...

Phisiocrat, you must be young. Discomfort over PDA (Public displays of affection) is not necessarily a "hang up" or by any means "British" per se. Until fairly recently it was considered gauche for people to display such behaviours in public, sailors kissing spouses when they come off the ship after a year leave are one thing -- but even two straight people in public desplaying affection to the point of where people are thinking "rent a room already, you people are tacky & gauche" is too much. I don't want to see some guy grabbing at his girl friend's boobs any more than I want to see some guys tongue kissing each other. Overt sexual PDA does not meet the standard of good manners.

Hugging an old friend one hasn't seen in a while, or kissing one's loved one in a non-"let's get into bed" way in public in the AM or on arrival home while in public view isn't what I'm talking about.

Frankly, two gay men going at it in the street are just flaunting it to make people uncomfortable.

I don't want to be within 2 miles of a "pride" parade either. And frankly, I think a lot of the NOT "in your face" gay people are a little upset themselves in the bad manners of "out there" types who'd parade in a leather thong with a bullwhip up their behinds. The more "normal" gays I happen to know don't want anything to do with that sort of flaunting and preening, because it gives the rest of them a bad name. they just want to mind their own business, as a rule of thumb and don't need any flack or "waves."

Elizabeth said...

Father, what a very moving post. With God there are no hopeless situations, just people who have grown hopeless about them. God never abandons us. I thank God that we have such good and holy Priests like you and that so much of the love of God is shown to us through your work.

shane said...

Charlotte, your experience corresponds with what I've had related to me from friends at uni. It's a bit of an enigma to me because gay people are also famous for their creative and artistic abilities. Many of the best writers, musicians, sculptors and painters have been homosexual. There is also, very clearly, a massively disproportionate number of homosexuals in traditionalist churches. Anglo-Catholicism is also notorious for its homosexual associations.

George said...

Physiocrat - just because everyone is 'doing it' doesn't make it right! And certainly this kind of 'amorous' behaviour should NOT be seen on the streets whether gay, straight or otherwise.

mikesview said...

Father: Re your post of 4/3/10 4.43pm Agreed. Same sex kissing in Saudi Arabia would probably result in same day retribution. Fact. Been there. Never saw nuthin' like that.

Terry Nelson said...

I think you are quite a saint Father - very kind and compassionate. God bless you.

Fr Ray Blake said...

Terry, I think most priests try to be compassionate, especially in the box.

Physiocrat said...

George, hugging in the streets, male/female or same sex, is normal in Sweden. I don't know how long ago this has been going on for but these things are conventions. It is quite formal, like the use of second person singular (thou). It is an affectionate gesture with no sexual connotations.

Let's get this in proportion. Shouldn't we be more concerned about people sticking knives in each other?

Crux Fidelis said...

Father: What's the betting that the Argus will pick up on your blog and print your explanation? I reckon you've more chance of winning the Euro Millions.

Physiocrat: There's a big difference between an affectionate peck on the cheek or a hug between friends (of whatever sex) and what our transatlantic friends call "making out" (heterosexual or otherwise). The latter is embarrassing to most observers and is indicative of extreme immaturity.

Physiocrat said...

Oh dear, once more we are coming up against the problem that the same language appears to be spoken on the two sides of the Atlantic when in fact there are two different languages. This creates endless scope for confusion.

We need to be able to converse in a single common language. Latin, perhaps?

Independent said...

I shall always remember what a homosexual friends of mine - chaste I hasten to add - once said to me. "I am jealous of you because when you fall in love you can marry her but I will never be able to marry him". He is now a Catholic priest in the West Country. His chastity excites one's admiration and compassion, and there are no doubt many like him.

Mac McLernon said...

Fr. Ray, thank you for (yet another) excellent post. You can console yourself with the thought that, if people are having a go at you for what you've said, then you must have said something right...

;-)

gemoftheocean said...

Physiocrat: What part of "neither gay nor straight should do as track 15 on the White Album urged" don't you get?

Gross, tacky, degoutant, infra dig., nekulturni - take your pick!

[There sure as HELL will be "someone watching" I don't care what the Beatles said.]

Terry Nelson said...

Father, I do believe most priests are kind and compassionate in confession as well - but you blog about it - you let people know that. Thanks.

Richard said...

Physiocrat said...
"Shouldn't we be more concerned about people sticking knives in each other?"

On a practical level of stopping crime, maybe. But on a philosophical, moral level, no.

Hardly anyone is suggesting that knifing people is an acceptable lifestyle choice. But many people (including the State) are saying that homosexual acts are. Therefore knife crime isn't a moral problem in the same way.

Since Fr Blake is a priest rather than a policeman, we shouldn't be surprised when he focuses on the moral issues.

George said...

Hey, Physiocrat says "...Let's get this in proportion. Shouldn't we be more concerned about people sticking knives in each other"?

This smacks of the old 60's mantra 'Make Love not War' - wow, that one really got us far so yes let's get this in proportion.

Let's see now no-one really took the war bit to task because we had the Vietnam war, Gulf war, Falklands war, Afghanistan war, etc.... not to mention the zillions of abortions due to the irresponsible 'love' bit!!! Eh?! Think about that Physiocrat - and oh yes, those millions of abortions were all as a result of 'people sticking knives in other people' were they not?

Sorry to be so brutal, but when you allow an inch the rest of the world takes a mile! So keep the amorous behaviour out of public places. It is private, intimate and not for public display!!!

Physiocrat said...

OK, send in a task force.

pelerin said...

It looks as if life is going to be more and more difficult for Priests to speak the truth from the pulpit today. The Daily Telegraph has an item (linked from Catholic Church Conservation)regarding a Priest who has had to apologise for saying in the pulpit that marriage was made for Adam and Eve and not Adam and Steve.

Incredibly he received a complaint from someone in the congregation. I would not be surprised if someone infiltrates the congregation at St Mary Magdalen's to see if they can criticize you Father.

Surely Priests are on 'private' ground in their own churches and can proclaim the truth without having to apologise?

Marcus said...

It may be that being unmarried and childless, rather than gay per se, is the operative factor in the 'unhappiness' amongst gay men you've encountered - dead or alive. Reserach suggests that single people are less content, more susceptible to illness, etc - gay or straight. We cannot extrapolate from the minority of 'dysfunctional' gays who get noticed to belief that the majority have the problems you describe.

A large percentage of priests are gay by orientation - quite possibly a quarter to a third. God appears to be calling such men to the Church, which is sobering.