When I started this column I made a charge to all of us. That we demand that spirituality is a necessity to us as GLBT people. And, that in spite of rejection from our congregations, our families or society, that we are entitled to be people of faith. So how do we demand that? We must throw off our old ways, our cloaks of shame, our feeling of unworthiness and realize that the promise of new life, a life of faith and spirit, is ours. That we must come out as children of faith and let people see that just because we are Muslim, we are also gay men, and just because we are lesbian, we are also Catholic. Janine M. Denomme is one of those voices calling us to claim new life during this holy season.
Janine M. Denomme's Story
A Catholic lesbian. Seems like an oxymoron—or at least a moron. And yet, that is who I am—a lesbian, a feminist, an intelligent and well-read person—AND a practicing Catholic ... in a setting where I am able to contribute my gifts and forget Rome and all the nonsense and oppression born of misogyny. I have tried NOT to be Catholic but it runs through my veins thicker than blood. This church that denies a woman's call to priesthood and the sacred nature of my love relationship is also home to the rituals, symbols, prayers and stories that are the fabric of my life. The very Church that refuses to acknowledge the sanctity of my sexuality gave me the message of Jesus which affirms the sacred nature of both my life as a lesbian and the love I share with my partner.
The gospel, above all else, is a story of life and love as reflected in the story depicting the raising of Lazarus from the dead. It goes something like this.
Jesus' good friend Lazarus, brother of Martha and Mary, had died. Upon visiting the sisters, Jesus went with them to their brother's tomb and asked for the stone blocking the tomb's entrance to be moved away. After praying, Jesus cried out in a loud voice, 'Lazarus, come out!' The dead man came out, his feet and hands bound with strips of material, and a cloth over his face. Jesus said to those who were present, 'Unbind him, let him go free.'
God calls us to leave our caves, to leave our denial of who we are, to literally leave death behind and move toward the light, to move toward life. God also demands those who stand and watch as we emerge from our tombs to unbind us and let us go free. Both of these challenges are lessons learned over a lifetime.
The stories of our lives bear witness to our attempts to meet these challenges. When I came out at the age of 25 after having been married to a man, my parents were there to embrace me, unbind the strips of fear and shame that had wrapped themselves around me and participate in setting me free. In that moment, because of my choice and theirs, God's grace, love and healing were present. Both my choice and theirs were acts of love and faith in a God of compassion. Thanks to Fr. Bill Kenneally and St. Gertrude parish in Edgewater, I am able to share this journey with a faith community. During this month, Christians and Jews commemorate Easter and Passover respectively—both celebrations of life over death. May all of us find our tombs empty and our chains of bondage broken.
Amy c/o firstname.lastname@example.org . People of various faiths contribute monthly to column. Matheny is a co-host of Windy City Radio, Sundays, 11pm WCKG, 105.9FM.