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On affirmation

It was only a few weeks ago that I mused about the true intent behind Pope Francis’ positive words for the parents of LGBT individuals. I said it then, and I’ll say it once more: when the Pope says ‘God loves LGBT people’, I get nervous. It is the type of rhetoric that unaffirming spaces have been employing for decades, using it as bait, with the fish hook all too often being conversion therapy.

With the documentary Francesco screening in Rome this week, we now have another piece of papal wisdom to hold on to: Pontifex kind of said ‘gay rights’.

As LGBTQIA+ Catholics, our response to (the absence of) affirmation can be as tender as it can be resolute. Many of us start our lives longing for a single thought that doesn’t confirm to us how ‘intrinsically disordered’ we are. It makes us leave the Church, or worse, it makes us leave ourselves. By the time we’re old enough for fractions and substraction, we’ve internalized enough anti-queerness to last a lifetime. We carry the difficult burden of having to decide how many yeses it will take to overturn that first no.

Today, as we clap for progress, some more slowly than others, I think of one of my queer Catholic siblings. Like many of us, he has finally made it to shore, finding shelter in an unambiguously affirming space like Vine & Fig to practice what it means to love ourselves for who we are, wholly:

‘At one point I realized it wasn’t any longer about me missing out on Church, it was also about the Church missing out on me.’