Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Gaysket Ball

Jason Collins
I'm a 34-year-old NBA center. I'm black. And I'm gay. 

I didn't set out to be the first openly gay athlete playing in a major American team sport. But since I am, I'm happy to start the conversation. I wish I wasn't the kid in the classroom raising his hand and saying, "I'm different." If I had my way, someone else would have already done this. Nobody has, which is why I'm raising my hand.

This isn't breaking news. It's almost broken and beaten to death since the announcement yesterday. The article sited above is the original text of Jason Collins' open letter to the public about him, well, going out in the open.

Of course the internets blows up about this. This particular article by Frank Bruni sort of anticipates the diverse opinion on the issue.

"...I know that some conversation in the days to come, perhaps not public discussion but certainly private grumbling, will include questions about why Collins has to rock the boat, why the news media is paying such lavish heed to him and why gays and lesbians in general make such a fuss of things. I know this from my in-box, where some readers routinely tell me that they’d be less bothered by homosexuals if we’d just please shut up about it."
The article goes on to bring in some progressive talking points concerning the issue of homosexuality in America:
"Many of us want to, and will: when a gay, lesbian or transgendered kid isn’t at special risk of being brutalized or committing suicide. When the federal government outlaws discrimination against people based on sexual orientation, which it still hasn’t done.
When immigration laws give same-sex couples the same consideration that they do heterosexual ones. When the Defense of Marriage Act crumbles and our committed relationships aren’t relegated to a lesser status, a diminished dignity.
When a Rutgers coach doesn’t determine that the aptly ugly garnish for hurling basketballs at his players’ heads is the slur “faggot.” When professional football scouts don’t try to ascertain that potential recruits are straight."

And then in his combox, this ironic bit of opinion:

  • Socrates
  • Downtown Verona NJ
NYT Pick
'He mentions his Christian values. “I take the teachings of Jesus seriously, particularly the ones that touch on tolerance and understanding.'

Not only is Jason Collins coming out as gay man, he's also coming out as a thoughtful Christian in a land of thoughtless Christians.

If America's Christians practiced the real Christianity that Jason Collins articulated, homosexuality would have been accepted as the natural variation it truly is eons ago.

I would love to see organized religion stand up and come out as the primary progenitor of homophobia it truly is and ask for forgiveness from the civilized world.

Mr. Collins is a religious role model.

First, anyone who is screen-named "Socrates" and uses a Buddha as his avatar, is probably not the best source for Christian correction. Or even choosing a "religious" role model.

I am not discounting Collins' comments. He may very well be a devout Christian and he's not asking for any change to the Faith as I read it.

However, it seems that there is a fear that "Christians" persecute gays and lead to teens committing suicide or being bullied.
For our culture, maybe Collins' statement was needed and timely. But the response from Catholics should not be one of hate, persecution or even snark. Seriously, let's get over the "I don't tell people I'm straight" or "He did that to get attention because he's too old to play basketball". Not. Helpful.
To whit, the Catholic church teaches this on the Christian families acceptance of those adolescents who are homosexual. It's good advice for EVERYONE and not just teens, however. I've added some notes in bold.
 Read, rinse, repeat:

There seems to be no single cause of a homosexual orientation. A common opinion of experts is that there are multiple factors—genetic, hormonal, psychological—that may give rise to it. Generally, homosexual orientation is experienced as a given, not as something freely chosen. By itself, therefore, a homosexual orientation cannot be considered sinful, for morality presumes the freedom to choose. So, therefore, Catholics aren't required to believe that one CHOOSES to be gay. As one gay person told me, "I did not choose to be ostracized, alienated and abandoned." Point taken.

Some homosexual persons want to be known publicly as gay or lesbian. These terms often express a person's level of self-awareness and self-acceptance within society. Though you might find the terms offensive because of political or social connotations, it is necessary to be sensitive to how your son or daughter is using them. Language should not be a barrier to building trust and honest communication. Culturally, we have a strange relationship with "naming" persons and classes of persons. But that does not mean to be disrespectful if someone chooses to identify themselves as "gay". Certainly, calling them a derogatory or morally offensive term is not at all Christian.

You can help a homosexual person in two general ways. First, encourage him or her to cooperate with God's grace to live a chaste life. And not to assume just because someone has same-sex attraction that they are sexually active or want to be. Second, concentrate on the person, not on the homosexual orientation itself. This implies respecting a person's freedom to choose or refuse therapy directed toward changing a homosexual orientation. Given the present state of medical and psychological knowledge, there is no guarantee that such therapy will succeed. Thus, there may be no obligation to undertake it, though some may find it helpful. We don't believe in Gay Re-education camps. Some people and movements that are on the fringe of Catholicism do think they can "pray away the gay", but they are not part of the mainstream.

All in all, it is essential to recall one basic truth. God loves every person as a unique individual. Sexual identity helps to define the unique persons we are, and one component of our sexual identity is sexual orientation. Thus, our total personhood is more encompassing than sexual orientation. Human beings see the appearance, but the Lord looks into the heart (cf. 1 Sm 16:7).

God does not love someone any less simply because he or she is homosexual. God's love is always and everywhere offered to those who are open to receiving it. St. Paul's words offer great hope:
For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor present things, nor future things, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Rom 8:38-39)