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Volume 91, Issue 30

Wednesday, October 22, 1997

Suzuki side kick


Equal blessings for homosexuals?

©Brad Lister/Gazette

By Kimberly Butler
Gazette Writer

Ever since the 'coming out' revolution of the 1980s, gays and lesbians have fought endlessly for national acceptance and equal rights as members of the community. Political correctness has forced even the most conservative government leaders to include homosexual couples in spousal benefits.

Behind the heavy, closed doors of the nation's churches, however, homosexuality remains a tainted concept. It is not common to find a group of born-again Christians watching a Gay Pride parade – unless they are there in protest.

Historically, tribal 'society-formed union' was for procreation and since homosexuality is not for procreation, it was considered an unnatural act, Father Angelo Bovenzi, the Catholic Chaplin for Western, explains. "Part of marriage is the ability or desire to have children and is still in the church's teaching today," he states.

There is a greater understanding of homosexuals than before – a homosexual person's nature and how they are – there's also a lot of counselling and support, the Chaplain further explains.

However, "The 'acting out' is not where the church supports [homosexuality]," he says.

Clarance Crossman, director of education for the AIDS Committee of London, knows very well about the repercussions of a homosexual life. As a priest in training, finishing his Masters of Divinity at Huron College, Crossman announced his homosexuality to the order. In response, the Bishop not only refused to ordain him, but tried to block his ordination in all of Canada. Crossman would go on to find relief in the Metropolitan Community Church.

Originating in the United States in the 1960s, this church offered a place where gays and lesbians could be open about their sexuality and still find a place in the church.

Crossman who also revealed he would not take a vow of celibacy, comments on the importance of sexual freedom in everyone's life. "The church would wish for all homosexuals to live a life of celibacy in order to be sanctified," he says. "They fail to recognize, however, the real challenge would be to find two million heterosexuals who choose to live their whole life in complete celibacy.

"Celibacy is a gift that is given to only a few people. It cannot be imposed."

He goes on to reveal the tainted consequences which arise when such celibacy is imposed. There have been many reports over the years of Roman Catholic priests, perversely taking part in twisted sex acts and molesting young choir boys.

The problem with most Christian institutions and our social morality as a whole, is they have been taught to see sex and religion as two opposing forces, Crossman explains. One cannot be Christian and have an invigorating sex life at the same time; therefore, sex has always been equated with guilt, perversity and sin, he adds.

Instead of looking at any kind of sex as a perverse act, religion must learn to embody sex as a part of spirituality, Crossman affirms. It is a gift two willing players can give each other equally; it is a part of human nature. Sex is meant to serve creation, not to harm it. The real irony, therefore, is that social morality views it in a negative manner.

"If gays and lesbians, therefore, choose to practice their religion in church, they are quickly becoming part of the vanguard that allows Christianity to grow new and larger perspectives on truth so they can develop into all-encompassing institutions that serve not as places of condemnation but instead promote love and caring," Crossman says.

John Fortunato, an Anglican Benedictine monk and psychotherapist, touched upon this subject in a lecture at Huron College two weeks ago. Quite simply, he says gays and lesbians, contradictory to social ignorance, do have a place in Christianity and the Order. "I can not and will not believe in a God that creates millions of people attracted to the same gender while forbidding them to live out a life of sanctity in that manner," he firmly states. With an estimated population of 25 million gays and lesbians in the U.S. and two million in Canada, it is difficult to argue with this view.

Though there is debate against what kind of activity the Bible is referring to, even biblical argument seems to crumble when considering that at the time the texts were written, gay and lesbian activity was not understood, Fortunato explains. This is a crucial issue in terms of our understanding of homosexuality now. "In ancient times, anything that was not heterosexual was considered to be perverse as there was absolutely no concept of homosexuality," he says.

In light of these stringent guidelines of condemnation, many gays and lesbians have now chosen to turn away from conventional religious institutions to develop their own spirituality, Fortunato says. Though many are hungry for spiritual guidance, they are fatigued after so many years of hiding their homosexuality for fear of ridicule. It is in their sexuality that they now find their spirituality. Fortunato reveals that simply coming to terms with their sexuality, realizing it can be a good thing, not only adds to the worth of life, but is a spiritual act in itself. They can then hold themselves amidst a world of greater meaning and can then be models for others with questions.

"When we start to ask questions at a deeper level, that's where the answers begin to come together, Crossman states. "Spirituality is, in effect, coming out of the closet. We are realizing now there is a higher entity or domain outside of the religious circle.

"Therefore, exploring sex can and should be a part of a spiritual quest to reach greater truths for anyone, not just the gay and lesbian community."

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Copyright © The Gazette 1997