Monday, October 04, 2010

Speaking to the Fears of Same-Sex Love and Recent Suicides: A Prayerful Response

The past month's headlines reporting the suicides of young people - who have chosen to end their lives because they are perceived as gay - has caused the deepest sorrow in my heart. I have been praying about how to respond.

My prayer is informed by my own life experience. My best friend committed suicide six weeks before we graduated from high school. The death of Greg Schulte has shaped almost the whole of my life, career, vocation on this earth to date. I have worked in many ways - since the events of March 28, 1987 - to be a person of great love, using the gifts I believe God gave me to inspire others in their life journeys; I have worked to cultivate young and old people's perceptions: to see and believe in themselves as beautifully, perfectly made and with a great purpose on this planet. Namely: to love.

When young people kill themselves in such alarming rates, I am called again to revisit my vocation, my response, my work.

My brain, heart, spirit go to my daughter. I look into the face and eyes of Marguerite Marie Kiemde: this beautiful five month old child conceived by François Kiemde and me. I don't want her journey as a young person to include such encounters with self-loathing, hate and fear that inspire such death. I don't want Marguerite - or any of her peers - to encounter the taunting, teasing, tormenting because they might be viewed as homosexual. I don't want any more young people to want to die and to act violently on this desire to not want to continue living.

I try to go to the root of this horrible phenomenon of young people committing suicide. I pray about the best way to address this, transform it, see a way toward a life-giving and loving response and solution.

I read. I listen. I pray. I talk to friends and family who are gay and those who fear homosexuality, and judge same-sex love and relationships as sinful.

I hold the news of these suicides alongside the recent release and mailing of a DVD by our archbishop in Minnesota who is working to define and defend marriage as that natural and appropriate for heterosexual men and women. And I pray. I hear a larger message about a call to partner and commitment, delivered I believe with the most sincere of intentions -- as one extended in love -- but also conveying a message of diminishment to all gay men and women who love and respond to their call to partner. I feel diminished in hearing the message.

I try to hold the contradictions. I wonder about how these messages of our church are connected with the deaths of young people? Is it possible our church leaders are part of the root problem inspiring a desire to die?

Ellen De Generes spoke recently to the bullying of gay young people on her TV show. I wonder how much of a problem this hate of gay children is with just younger people taunting them, as compared with their parents, teachers, priests, elders sending equally hateful messages that torment?

"Respect the person" is a phrase uttered repeatedly by our church and community leaders about our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters. This is a form of the "hate the sin, love the sinner" mantra coming from a number of our Catholic priests and bishops, Christian leaders. And I have to say: It's simply not enough. I have to back up and challenge the sin that is being identified in the heart of homosexuals. I ask: "What is it? The sin of loving someone of the same gender? The sin is desire? The sin is attraction? The sin is acting on your desire to love and connect?"

I keep hearing Sr. Eileen Currie, my spiritual director at Sacred Heart Jesuit Retreat Center in Colorado: "Who do you think gave you your desires?" After a brief pause, she answered emphatically: "GOD!" I can hear all the non-procreative arguments about the root of this desire to physically love someone of the same gender being wrong. And I hold firm: That any intentional alignment with another, of any gender, honoring the intimate soul and being of that person, is nothing, save for a generative and loving action. Period. Heterosexual. Homosexual. Love begets love. It fuels and inspires our every waking moment. If it can be honored, seen, as in fact what it is: the most natural and beautiful gift God gave us. The sin of our leaders, teachers, adults, preachers, is not seeing this, in my humble opinion. We diminish and trample on the dignity and gifts of whole faction of God's creation. It's rampant in our society, culture. And, then, it leads to this. Death.

Why does anyone want to live when all they see and experience are messages of how bad they are? When they are told their call to love is inferior, or rather, intrinsically evil and wrong?

I'm with Ellen. I'm with so many trying to create space to dialogue, educate, be in relationship, transform this fear-space and culture that perpetuates the desire of a person to die. I don't want this walk of fear, shame, death, tragedy for Marguerite, or anyone else's child. I pray for Love.

In peace and prayers,
Melissa Borgmann-Kiemde

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