Recently, I shared a post on my Facebook about a Denver Archbishop preaching hate in the form of conversion therapy (which is widely debunked and incredibly harmful, just to make that clear). I dismissed him with a series of invectives, and then edited the post after someone asked why I’d share the post in the first place, since it just draws more attention to him.
(On that point, the answer is pretty basic: because I’m super-tired of answering variations on the following question: “Are things really still like that?” See also: “Now that gay marriage is okay, things are better, right?” “What do you mean you can’t donate blood or organs?” “Conversion therapy isn’t illegal in Canada?” and many, many more. The reality is, every time I share news about the reality queer people face, at least one of my non-queer friends—especially those who are parents—reach out to me to thank me for letting them know. The mainstream media generally ignores us unless someone is bleeding or dead. It doesn’t have to be blood or death to hurt us, and in fact, all the stuff leading up to the blood and death is super important and in need of being disassembled, but that’s talk for another day. Short answer? I share news about queer reality because so many of my nonqueer friends are parents and they need to fucking know, even if it does turn out that none of their kids end up queer, because they outnumber us and they can vote, call organizations to task, speak out, make change, etc.)
Literally the first comment was someone saying, “This isn’t representative of the Catholics I know!”
So, I took a breath, replied a somewhat cheeky “Hashtag-not-all-Catholics” and tried to move on with my day. Way to miss the point.
And then it happened again. A much more eloquent response from someone pointing out there are queer catholic people and—there it was—”not all Catholics.”
Respectfully, I know. Also? I didn’t say “All Catholics” at any point. I shared a news article about something someone sanctioned by the church was doing, and made it clear this is an awful thing.
And boom. “Not All…!”
So here’s the thing. As always when I post these, I’ll try to draw a parallel, since so often when I talk queerness people focus on the queerness to the point where they miss the general and just toss queer examples my way instead.
So let’s talk “Not All Men!”
When women talk openly about how nearly every woman they know has been on the receiving end of sexual harassment and/or violence from men and men step forward to say “Not all men!” the position is similar: no one has stated all men are anything.
Rather, what’s being said is the perpetrators of this violence and harassment are overwhelmingly men. They’re saying there is a culture that is supported, protected, and embedded that systematically allows this to continue to happen, and that that culture needs to get dismantled for the sake of the safety of women and girls.
Men (almost always, but it can be folk of any gender) hopping in to say “Not all men!” doesn’t add to the discussion or develop it in any way. All it does is derail and dismiss the lived experiences of women and girls, and place them in the position of having to say “Oh, of course not you, let’s talk about you now, to make sure you’re okay, instead of the abuse and pain of women and the culture that keeps this violence going.”
So. Going back to conversion therapy being put forth by an archbishop?
When I point out the horrors of church-sanctioned conversion therapy, or church-sanctioned ostracism, or church-hushed abuse or violence, I’m not saying everyone of that faith is a horrible person. I’m saying that there is systemic harm done to queer people by that faith-based organization, and that I know very, very few queer people who haven’t been on the receiving end of harassment or violence from faith-based points of view/people/organizations. We’ve had signs waved at us, or slurs hurled at us, or bled on sidewalks while people told us we are evil/sick/sinful/you-name-it.
But no. Not all Catholics. I know. Believe me, every time I bring up an evil done to queer people by organized religion, I’ll be reminded, despite me never having claimed so in the first place.