Following are Paula’s thoughts on what McGrath refers to as the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender “lifestyle.”
The term “lifestyle” has become a pejorative word used to denigrate gays, lesbians, bisexual and transgendered persons. It’s a propaganda word, meant to segregate a group by its sexual practices and to exclude them from social acceptance.
Dennis McGrath, the Catholic Archdiocesan communications officer, is quoted in the St Paul Pioneer Press of June 24 as saying that GLBT persons who have “fully adapted to the lifestyle” may not be endorsed by a prayer service on church property.
Generally, the term “lifestyle” has economic connotations. There is the lifestyle of the rich and famous, the jet set. Their lifestyle is glamorous, not mundane. These are people who have lots of options in the way they live their lives. There is a middle-class lifestyle. We get up in the morning, get the kids off to school, get ourselves off to work, came home, make dinner, do all the things that need to be done and fall into bed. On weekends we play a little.
Middle-class partnered gays and lesbians have a lifestyle just like middle-class partnered heterosexual couples. They get themselves off to work, and live more or less decent, more or less happy, productive lives just like anyone else. Middle-class gays and straights who are not partnered probably live similar lifestyles. Their orientation is essential to who they are, but their lifestyle is not determined by it. Their sex lives are incorporated into a lifestyle that includes family life, work, civic engagement, religious practice and a myriad other cultural factors.
The Roman Catholic moral teaching sees same-gender sexual activity as “intrinsically disordered.” McGrath says celibate GLBT persons are welcome “in the pews.” They are obviously not “fully adapted to the lifestyle.” So the lifestyle must mean people who are sexually active. No one speaks of heterosexuals who are sexually active as “fully adapted to a lifestyle.”
The Archdiocesan spokesman restricts the term “lifestyle” to refer only to sexual practices when talking about GLBT persons. Why would he do that?
Does this restriction of GLBT lifestyle to sex imply that all sexually active GLBT people are promiscuous and lead decadent, dissipated lives? No doubt there are GLBT persons, just like straight persons, whose sexual practices are self destructive or harmful to others. The Archdiocese can’t be making that overly general judgment about all sexually active GLBT persons, but the suggestion is there in the term “lifestyle.”
When the Church uses the word “lifestyle” to designate same-gender sexual activity, it is saying that GLBT people are different from the mainstream culture, not only in their essential sexual orientation, but in all the other areas of human activity we associate with “lifestyle.” They are not people whose lives we can celebrate in a prayer service on church owned property.
Catholics can be ashamed of the Archdiocesan spokesman for being spiritually and morally obtuse.