Kevin McKenna: Why My Church Is Wrong About Gay People
After years of watching The Devil Wears Prada and Sex and the City and preferring the products of Habitat and Ikea to Adidas and Puma, you finally acknowledge that there may be trouble ahead. What to do, though? Even if you tell your parents gently that you are having issues with your sexual identity, you know that they will either pretend they didn’t hear you or that you should seek counsel from the parish priest. You might as well tell him that all this time he thought you were human you were really a horse. If he’s not actually gay himself he’ll simply say: “Take two paracetamol and lie down until the feeling goes away.”
This is why we really ought not to be surprised by the number of gay men who continue to join the Catholic priesthood. Suddenly, a lifetime of celibate service in the church becomes rather appealing. What better way to submerge your sinful sexual desires and assuage your Catholic guilt than to become a priest? After all, they never have sex so your exotic and unusual sexuality will never become an issue.
But life can rarely be compartmentalised quite as simply as that. And so from being a troubled adolescent you become an unhappy, lonely and resentful man. You continue to serve the church and care for those whom God has sent you as best you can. Inside, though, you die a little more each time the Vicar of Christ and St Peter’s successor tells the world that you are a grotesque, an abnormality, a freak show.
This is a chilling time to be Catholic and gay in Scotland. For some of the rest of us it is simply depressing. My beloved church is not enjoying its finest hour as it steps up its opposition to the SNP government’s plans to permit same-sex marriages. The church, led by Cardinal Keith Patrick O’Brien, as wise and gentle as senior clergy come, believes that the unique importance of marriage in the world will be damaged and undermined if the gift is extended to two people of the same sex.