I tried writing this post before. It got way too long. So I’m starting again.
I was brought up Catholic. I went to Catholic schools, and I work at one now. It’s a part of my identity I can never escape.
How? When being queer and being Catholic are so irreconcilable? How can I still consider myself a Catholic?
Firstly, I know I don’t believe in it. My beliefs don’t make me Catholic. I used to lie awake at night pondering Creation and everlasting life and all of that and so far I’ve got as far as working out that humanity has as much chance of understanding the nature of God as a grain of sand has of comprehending the rock cycle.
What does make me Catholic is those memories of incense, sitting on the church floor during Midnight mass, reciting the Rosary, attending the Stations of the Cross, learning to genuflect, hour after hour staring at the image of Satan in the stained glass window, actually kind of horrified that someone would depict Satan in the stained glass window, nestled in among the skirts of the Blessed Virgin.
Shit like that doesn’t leave you. I still go to church from time to time, not because I think I’m saving my soul, but because I find it comforting.
I’ve read the Bible. Bits of it, anyway. I don’t know if Jesus was the son of God, but I do know that he wouldn’t have given two shits about what was between my legs. That was just how Jesus rolled. He took people as they were, not how society wanted them to be.
Meanwhile, modern Catholic media screams headlines like “The Pope’s take on transgender issues? Accept the body God gave you” as if Pope Francis had actually said such a thing. Good luck finding the quote. But as ever, “Catholics” believe what they want to believe.
“Accept the body God gave you” is a pretty simplistic (and fucking stupid) approach, to be straight. Hole in the heart? Accept the body God gave you. Cleft palate? Accept the body God gave you! Myopia? Fuck you and your glasses! Accept the body God gave you!
Of course I respect my body. It’s why I cut my nails, keep my hair tidy and clean behind my ears. I don’t strictly speaking have to do those things, but I just think it’s better for my social and emotional wellbeing if I do.
Whether or not I decide to enlist a surgeon to divest me of my excess chest fat, that is entirely my prerogative. It is not a decision I make lightly, and it is certainly not one I make by the rules of a load of lonely old men who have mistaken their own word for the word of the divine.
Despite their best efforts to cast me out, I will not go. I’m a contrary bastard and they won’t get rid of me easily. I also really want to get married in a Catholic church. It would make my mum very happy (because then it’s a real wedding in the eyes of God), but also make me very happy (because it’d be gay as hell and flip a massive bird to all the haters). But also it’d just be nice.
The Catholic church is all I have ever known. I grew up thinking marriages happened in churches. Going to the registry office seems to me like going to fill in a load of forms. It’s a legal exercise rather than a loving one.
The Catholic church is all I have ever known. And no matter how many times it tells me it will not have me, I will not leave. Because I don’t know anywhere else to go.