Anticipating Papal Visit, Author Sends Gay Memoir to 278 Catholic Leaders

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Disheartened by recent comments from the US Conference of Catholic Bishops that the June 26 SCOTUS decision on marriage equality was ‘a tragic error’, Rochester NY author Gregory Gerard has successfully raised funds to mail a hard copy of his gay, Catholic, coming-of-age memoir "In Jupiter's Shadow" to 278 active US cardinals, bishops—and Pope Francis. Gerard has included a plea to church leadership, asking them to consider how pastoral guidelines resulting from an upcoming papal visit and subsequent conferences will affect future generations of religious children who might struggle with same-gender attraction.

When tradition, perception, or bigotry robs faithful gay kids of hope for a committed, blessed relationship—to me, THAT is the tragic error.

Can a book help reverse the belief that marriage equality is a ‘tragic error?’ Author Gregory Gerard hopes so.

On June 26, 2015, the US Supreme Court offered a historic ruling for same-sex marriage equality. In response, US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) President Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz called the decision ‘a tragic error that harms the common good and most vulnerable among us.’ (Full statement at: http://www.usccb.org/news/2015/15-103.cfm).

Flash forward three months. This week, Pope Francis, the leader of 1.2 billion Catholics worldwide, visits the United States for the first time, in concert with the World Meeting of Families. Next month, Catholic cardinals will gather in Rome for a synod, to conclude a year-long reflection on the mission of the family in the Church and contemporary world. These meetings will most likely influence, among other things, pastoral guidelines regarding gay relationships and their place in the larger church family.

When Gerard considered this convergence of events, he felt compelled to offer one more LGBT testimony to church leaders: his memoir.

A gay man raised Catholic in rural Western NY, Gerard has been encouraged in recent years by evolving comments from church leadership, hinting at a more inclusive church landscape for LGBT faithful. “In 2013, we heard Pope Francis say ‘If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has goodwill, who am I to judge?’ An early draft of the October 2014 synod document acknowledged that ‘homosexuals have gifts and qualities to offer to the Christian community.’ This is a significant shift from what I knew as a Catholic teenager in the 1980s,” Gerard said. "Then came the ‘tragic error’ comment. I’ve been considering this idea for a while. Reading the statement from Archbishop Kurtz got me charged up enough to take action.”

Gerard’s memoir, "In Jupiter’s Shadow" (2009, Infinity Publishing), chronicles the struggles of a devout teen working to ‘solve the mystery’ of same-gender attraction. “Given the back-and-forth messages of ‘gay is welcomed; gay is disordered’, I couldn’t watch these meetings unfold without urging them to consider one more narrative,” Gerard said. “The time is ripe. I think about how I struggled silently in the ’80s—how the next generation(s) of teens will continue to struggle if misperceptions about same-gender relationships continue. As a kid, I sensed the stigma attached to the feelings I was experiencing. I relied on secret research to educate myself, studying things like public statements from church leadership.”

“It took me a lot of years to reconcile my faith with my orientation. When I was 23, a memoir by Andrew Tobias, "The Best Little Boy in the World," helped save my life—literally—by letting me know I was not alone. I wrote my memoir to share the profound religious angst I experienced at a very young age—angst perpetuated by the teachings of the Catholic Church. I believed if I could authentically capture the essence of that inner conflict, it might help those who struggle today. And it might speak to those who continue to classify the rights and relationships of LGBT persons as ‘tragic.’

Gerard points out that statements like the USCCB response to the recent SCOTUS ruling have an impact beyond civil legislation for adults. “When the bishops approve and publicize such viewpoints,” he said, “I have to consider that they are the ones perpetrating harm on the vulnerable. I think many church leaders are well-meaning, but many may not have first-hand knowledge of faithful gay Catholics. They might be missing the full impact of a ‘love the sinner, hate the sin’ pastoral approach on the greater church family—on the thousands of vulnerable boys and girls who, today, are secretly wondering if God approves of their same-gender romantic feelings. When church officials suggest that gay relationships are unequal or disordered; when tradition, perception, or bigotry robs faithful gay kids of hope for a committed, blessed relationship—to me, that is the tragic error.”

“Books are a personal, tangible item you can carry around and read at your own convenience. I am sending a hard-copy memoir to each of the US Catholic leaders, including Pope Francis, so they’ll have something right in hand that shares one faithful teen’s experiences with Catholicism and same-gender attraction. I hope my narrative will prayerfully speak to their hearts. You know, the Episcopal Church recently opened their marriage rite to same-gender couples across the entire denomination. Change can happen.”

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Gregory Gerard is a gay author who resides in Rochester NY. In 2013, he legally married his partner of 18 years. His GoFundMe campaign successfully raised nearly $4,000 to cover the costs of producing and mailing hard copies of his memoir to the 278 active members of the US Catholic leadership, including Pope Francis. Each mailing contains an impassioned plea urging Catholic leaders to consider LGBT testimony when they make church policy. Gerard’s full letter to the bishops is available for download from http://www.jupitersshadow.com/resources/USBishops.pdf.

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Gregory Gerard, editor
@GregoryGerard
since: 11/2009
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