Thanks to Colleen over at Enlightened Catholicism, I’ve become aware of a commentary by Andrew Sullivan that is definitely onto something important yet rarely discussed. It also seems an appropriate post to share on the eve of that great gay holiday, Halloween!
Chris Dierkes, who has both Catholic and Anglican roots, notes an irony in the Pope’s recent actions:
If personal experience and lifelong immersion in a sub-culture is any form of persuasive evidence, I can tell you that conservative Anglo-Catholicism – at the clerical level – is totally dominated by gay men. Mostly repressed. What used to be called when I was in seminary, the pink mafia. And the thing that is the initial trigger for this decision is the upcoming very likely to happen decision to ordain women as bishops in the Church of England (there have already been women priests there for about 15 years or so). Which has a certain irony in this case. If these Anglo-Catholics join the Roman Communion they can join up with very conservative Roman Catholic groups like Regnum Christi and The Legionaries of Christ, also totally dominated by closeted gay fellows. You don’t need to be Sigmund Freud to see the awesome tragic humor in a bunch of non-wife-having grown men wearing pink dresses (and in the Pope’s case super expensive fabulous Prada shoes!!!) telling everybody else they shouldn’t be gay.
We’re not supposed to talk about this aspect of the drama in the Vatican. But there is as much an overlap of closeted gay priests and bishops with liturgical and theological orthodoxy as there is of closeted gay politicians finding ways to oppress other gays who are out and open.
Part of this is a function of generations.
If you had based your life – and sacrificed much of your emotional health – on the “intrinsic disorder” theory, you aren’t exactly happy to reverse yourself in your old age. It suggests you gave up your life for an intrinsic illogic. Part is also just mysterious. But the fact that gay men have a disproportionate talent for order and theater and detail seems pretty obvious to me. No surprise then that among the best liturgical organizers are gay men – from choirmasters to priests to altar assistants. There is something very gay about a High Mass – it’s almost the religious equivalent of a Broadway musical. So Benedict’s sisterly outreach to the closet case smells-and-bells brigade among the Anglicans makes total sense. It’s partly about keeping all the queens under one roof – and surrounded by incense and lace.
Weird, I know. But true. And I might as well admit it: I too love the old liturgies and ceremonies and drama of Catholicism. But for me, it’s not sublimation but celebration of gay men’s contribution to our churches. [Well, a certain type of gay man] One day, we’ll be able to offer our talents without having to sacrifice our integrity as human beings. One day, when all this fearful nonsense is blown away and the church can return to the Gospels and the sacraments, and gay people can be treated as, you know, the sinners that everyone else is as well.
– Andrew Sullivan
See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
• Officially Homophobic, Intensely Homoerotic
• Gay People and the Spiritual Life
• Bless Me, Father
• Homosexuality and the Priesthood
• The Inherent Sensuality of Roman Catholicism
• The Archangel Michael as Gay Icon
• The Allure of St. Sebastian
• Sergius and Bacchus: Martyrs, Saints, Lovers
• The Gifts of Homosexuality
• What Is It That Ails You?
• A Humorous Look at Internalized Homophobia
Recommended Off-site Links:
Are American Bishops Gay? – Richard Sipe (RichardSipe.com, 2009).
It’s Time for Some Honesty, Not Blind Innocence – Colleen Kochivar-Baker (Enlightened Catholicism, October 30, 2009).