A Pain in the Apse – The Advocate, 6/30/2002

I don’t know about you, but this Gay Pride, I can’t wait to see the Dignity float!

In years past, the Gay Catholic group lived up to its name and was like a prayerful moment of silence between the highly-amped, Zima-sponsored, bar floats and the mega-megaphoned, chanting, whooping affinity groups.

Many a blazing Sunday, standing under the mandatory billowing rainbow balloon arc, I have been asked by a fellow reveler who couldn’t see what was going by on the parade route, “What happened? Did somebody’s generator go down?” “No, I bet it’s Dignity.”

Long ago, after sixteen years of Catholic education and much to the chagrin of my daily Mass-going, Irish Catholic mother, I renounced the Catholic Church and most of its works. I did not want to be in something that did not want me. From a very early age I sensed the hypocrisy of Christian dyslexia. They hated the sinner; they loved the sin, couldn’t get enough of it. I had also come to believe that a spiritual idea that needs large buildings and expensive outfits to keep it going, is not all that spiritual.

But that was just me. I marveled at my Catholic gay friends in Dignity who continued their church-going and worked for change. Goddess bless them. I had little faith that change would come. But thanks to gay liberation, and in a shorter time than it took to pardon Galileo for suggesting the sun, not the Church, was the center of the universe, change is a-coming!

The cosmetic changes of Vatican II – feng shuing the altar, strumming the hootenanny mass, dropping the Latin – were mere spiritual Botox on the face of things. Gay liberation, which offered the possibility of living full, well ordered, gay and lesbian lives had to have siphoned off many so-called “vocations” from the Church. But most important, and in this, I have absolute faith, the courageous, act of coming out of the closet, telling our truth with all the freedom it brings, is a spiritual act and it has had a quantum cultural effect. Those poor souls who lived for years with the secret of their abuse, compounded by the shameful, clerical cover-up, finally came out and spoke their truth. What’s that sound I hear? Why it’s walls come a tumbling down.

Do we get any credit? Heck no, we are still a pain in their apse. The pope called the US Cardinals to Rome for his Red Party. [Next stop for the Bishoprics Circuit Party? Lock up the altar boys, it’s Dallas this summer!] And even though he sounded like Cosmo Castorini in Moonstruck – “Idonwannatalkaboudit” – His Extreme Roundheadedness did manage to say in his address, “Non Askium, Non Tellium” that homosexuality is a disorder and should be rooted out. After, in the slowest spin session ever, baldheaded Cardinal after baldheaded Cardinal condescendingly informed us, “You don’t understand what celibacy is.” No, Clothman, YOU don’t understand what celibacy is.

The Vati-because-we-can is sending out doctrinal alb-blasters on “apostolic visitations” of U.S. seminaries, because as you know something like this would never ever happen in Poland, to bust up aggressive gay cliques and to evaluate “ecclesiastic flamboyance – a tendency to embrace stagier elements of the liturgy.” In what parallel universe are ukulele masses considered flamboyant?

Despite the predictable gay scapegoating, I had been wondering how long it would take to blame women for the whole mess. Faster than you can say “Mother Church”, Gary Willis in his examination of the scandal in The New York Review of Books coolly points to the role of a priest’s mother in the moral infantilization necessary to commit such crimes with such impunity. According to Willsand many boys became priests to satisfy their status seeking mothers. Oh, I see, it’s the pedestal, not the pedophilia.

We can all see the handwriting on the sanctuary wall: The backlash is coming. But meanwhile, let’s celebrate! This gay pride season, f they’ll give me a special dispensation, I’ll be riding high on the Dignity float, celebrating the power of gay liberation. So far we’ve destroyed the military and the church. That’s some powerful stuff. I’ll be the one in the ball fringed Papal Drag cut on the bias, with the bullhorn. Please come up and kiss my ring.