Do not interpret the above to say I dedicate myself forevermore to the mantle of this single identity. I am so much more than “gay.” I grow every day in friendships, experiences and my Catholic faith. As I go to class, chat with friends and climb the endless crystal stair that is the journey to adulthood, I often forget that my experience of sexuality differs from the norm.
But now and then there are reminders: a wedding party leaving Dalghren Chapel; toddlers running around Healy Circle, pursued by doting parents who look just like them; a religious or political leader on campus or on the television proclaiming blandly — as if to take the high ground — the need for “tolerance.”
Advocates around the country are fighting for the rights of LGBTQ people — human rights, my rights, enshrined in options that are just as good. Yet when I came out as gay and Catholic in November of my freshman year, I asked myself a question whose answer still evades me: Will I ever be able to live my life in the Catholic faith without fear or reservation?
But if there is one thing that more than six years of Jesuit education have taught me, it is that no man or woman on a journey of faith should ever cease to ask this question. The inner struggle to contemplate God’s will for humanity and your place within it is the highest form of faith. To substitute uncertainty with another’s interpretation of the truth is a sign of weakness, not strength.
Every Catholic outside the heterosexual binary is faced with a choice: Hide your identity and experience the sacraments in the knowledge that you do so with a divided soul or live as you were created but find yourself excised from many church ministries and the sacrament of marriage.
Georgetown ought to be a leader in redefining the debate over marriage equality as viewed through the Catholic lens. On Thursday, members of Georgetown Pride stepped up to this task by joining 12 peer Jesuit universities in a letter-writing campaign urging the Church to reinterpret its stance on marriage and promote the integration of LGBTQ students at Catholic institutions. This effort is rooted in faith, not politics, and its objective is rooted in love, not a zero-sum game of progress for the sake of progress.
The Catholic Church teaches adherents from an early age that God grants each of us logic and a moral compass for a reason. We read in the New Testament, “If our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God.” If heterosexual love is a calling, homosexual love can be no different. As GU Pride’s recent letter concludes, “We can’t now be told that our hearts are somehow faulty measures of His will.”
Let me be clear: I do not support marriage equality for the egotistic reason that a New York courtroom fails to meet my stylistic threshold for a future marriage. My “coming out” did not mean I immediately became an activist for equality in that right or rite. Rather, at the time I believed I had to sacrifice the possibility of marriage and children in order to preserve my integrity and hold my head high without shame. Yet eventually this concept of sacrifice lost its validity. When I reflect on love I do not hear or feel or see God say, “Oops. You’re a unit of one.”
Our generation will never see a day go by when there are not those who claim that this perspective is unadulterated relativism, that homosexuality is the product of mental illness or misplaced Freudian affection. Such perspectives are on the wrong side of history and will only continue to be disproven with time. I have no words to persuade anyone otherwise: Baby, we were born this way.
Therefore, I conclude with a few lines from the landmark play “Inherit the Wind.” Henry Drummond, regarded as a heretic for his defense of evolution against famed preacher Matthew Harrison Brady, says of his opponent after the trial, “A giant once lived in that body. But Matt Brady got lost. Because he was looking for God too high up and too far away.” To which cynical reporter E. K. Hornbeck replies, “You hypocrite! You fraud! You’re more religious than he was!”
Like Brady, it is the status quo element in the Church hierarchy that has lost its faith in the living God, not the majority of lapsed Catholics. Traditionalists are so confident in their moral authority that they fail to acknowledge the hand of God working social change through those on the margins of society.
This world and this university need the Church, now and a hundred years from now. Society is changing, and God is in that change — do not reject it.
He that troubleth his own house shall inherit the wind.
Nate Tisa is a junior in the School of Foreign Service. He is speaker of the GUSA senate. CONTEMPLATION IN ACTION appears every other Friday.