Let me tell you all about my homosexual lifestyle. I am married to a woman, with whom I live. Our differences from all you heterosexuals end right about there.
J. and I own a house together. Although we don’t have children, we have co-parented a series of wayward dogs. We go on vacations together and eat dinner together and watch television together (unless there’s hockey on, in which case J. kindly goes downstairs). We do all the things that you straight folks do.
I’m telling you this because there’s been quite a lot of talk about the homosexual lifestyle in the editorial pages of our local paper recently, in reaction to the recent retirement of Bishop Fred Henry. Bishop Henry has been presiding over the Catholics in our fair city since 1996. His support of the poor and the vulnerable has been hard to hear over his unrelenting venomous rhetoric, particularly toward LGTBQ people like me. Sometimes it is hard to see the good in someone whose views are so vile.
You may think I am anti-Catholic but that is not the case. Some of my best friends are Catholics! Were Bishop Henry Jewish, I’d still take issue with his narrow-mindedness. I think Pope Francis is the cat’s meow (said with tongue in dog’s cheek), and I admire him for pushing the boundaries of traditional Catholic doctrine. Sure, there is room for improvement within Catholicism–you’re telling me a woman impregnated through sexual assault must carry that baby to term?–but those Catholics have come a long way in my lifetime.
Bishop Henry is rabidly anti-abortion and he fought the legalization of gay marriage vociferously. He was against HPV vaccination for preteen girls in Catholic schools, despite this vaccine’s cancer-preventing effects. Since premarital sex is verboten, Catholic schoolgirls shouldn’t need the vaccine, he claimed. (Thankfully, the Catholic school board allowed the vaccines.) He recently forbid gay-straight alliances within Catholic schools, despite the provincial education ministry mandating safe spaces for LGTBQ students. Bishop Henry’s views on transgenderism are just as ill informed. Where are all those poor Catholic transgender kids going to pee, let alone seek support from their peers?
My worst memory of Bishop Henry is an email exchange between my dear gay friend and Bishop Henry. The bishop’s hateful comments to my friend included, among other things, his equating homosexuality with pedophilia. Did you know that homosexuality and pedophilia were one and the same? Neither did I, because they’re not. Pedophiles have a sexual disorder. They are breaking the law and may go to prison if they engage in sex with a minor. In contrast, in 1967, our prime minister asserted, “There is no place for the state in the bedrooms of the nation,” thereby decriminalizing homosexuality.
Bishop Henry’s supporters describe him as an enigmatic character who is outspoken on tough issues. Outspoken or not, when his views become hurtful and mean spirited and degrading, no one should have to hear him spewing his nasty rhetoric anymore. I’m hopeful that the new bishop will be kinder to those of us living our sinful homosexual lifestyle. I’ve chosen this lifestyle, just as I’d choose to be denigrated by someone as narrow and ignorant as Bishop Henry. Wouldn’t you?