In the late 1960s, there was little interaction between the groups of people that are now represented by the letters LGBT. In the early morning hours of June 28, 1969, this changed forever. At that time, police raids on gay bars were becoming more common. Bystanders usually scattered quickly to avoid arrest or unwanted “outing.” When the police raided the Stonewall Inn, something inspired the crowd to stay and witness. They jeered as the bar owners and several gay male patrons were hauled to the paddy wagon. When two drag queens and a lesbian were arrested for violating the statute requiring individuals to wear at least 3 pieces of gender-appropriate clothing, the tolerance for discrimination snapped, and the Stonewall Riots commenced for 5 days. The solidarity demonstrated by the gay, lesbian, and transgender communities became a powerful symbol that galvanized the beginning of political activism that would lead to the gay rights movement. The following June saw the first Gay Pride marches. Soon after, the month of June became Gay Pride month in honor of the bravery shown by the LGBT community in the face of oppression, harassment, and discrimination.
Some Catholics don’t believe that there are LGBT folks in our pews. I assure you, we are here. It can be scary to be both LGBT and Catholic. Imagine choosing to walk through the doors to participate in an organization that labels you as “disordered” because of who you love, when the reason you walk through those doors is because of Christ’s Love. Imagine wondering if you should go to Communion because you’re not sure if your haircut or the shirt you chose will cause someone to deny you the Eucharist.
We have to do better than this. If you google the definition of catholic, one response is “all-embracing.” Wouldn’t it be nice if we as a church actually lived up to the definition? I invite you to take home a copy of Fr. James Martin’s article from America that will be available at the church entrances throughout the month of June. He shares his thoughts on how we could start to build a bridge between the LGBT community and the Catholic Church. You will also find prayer cards and solidarity ribbons. Feel free to take one and show your solidarity with the LGBT community by wearing a ribbon throughout the month of June, especially at church.
Many people don’t realize that LGBT is the short version of the full acronym LGBTQIQAA, which stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, Questioning, Asexual, and ALLIES. That’s right, you don’t have to be gay to be part of the LGBT community or experience the harassment that persists more than 40 years after Stonewall. This was painfully evident on June 12, 2016, when many of the victims at Pulse Nightclub in Orlando were allies who were there to support a loved one.
May all who pass through the doors of Loyola feel welcomed and loved. May the Loyola community continue to strive to be “all-embracing.”
-A Loyola Parishioner