The Return of the Thin White Duke (Throwing Darts at Father's Eyes)
Wow, it’s been two months since I last posted anything on this blog. I always wondered why people stopped blogging. I would come across a real neat site with an interesting angle and would read all the old posts, only to then realize that it was a dormant blog. Not that there is anything wrong with taking a vacation every now and then, but for quite some time I had managed to post something once a week, save the times when I was mourning the loss of one of my dogs.
So what brought about my own recent lapse? I think it was a combination of things.
I found out the local archdiocese donated $650,000 to try and pass an amendment to the Minnesota’s state constitution that would limit marriage to one man and one woman. As a currently practicing Catholic – one who sings in the choir, cantors, and attends mass on a regular basis – that struck me as absolutely wrong. Put aside the whole separation of church and state thing (although that alone should be sufficient enough reason to cause people to question just what a religious group is up to trying to alter a state’s constitution). For me, personally, as someone who has given a portion of his paycheck to the church on a weekly basis, I had to ask myself – just how much self-hatred must I possess to be involved in an organization that will take my money and then spend it in order to pass legislation meant to limit and demean my life?
I knew something was up when the local archbishop sent each church member an anti-gay marriage DVD that he had produced in 2010. That’s when I first began to question my relationship with the church. This DVD arrived in my mailbox. Like a piece of hate mail designed to put in my place. An anonymous donation of one million dollars was used to produce and mail this DVD. ONE MILLION DOLLARS! It arrived about a week before a visiting priest came before our congregation asking us to dig deep into our pockets to help the poor and starving in his native land. So – here is an organization that is given ONE MILLION DOLLARS and then turns around and uses it – not to feed the poor or help our brothers and sisters abroad – but to fire the first warning shot in the war on my civil rights. It didn’t sit well with me.
But I continued to attend mass. And sing with the choir. And cantor whenever I was needed.
Then I reached the decision to stop giving money to the Catholic Church. I didn’t want my money to be used against me in any way. My sister reminded me: Jesus said ‘Love one another.’ And the man did not fucking stutter.’ Based on Archbishop John Nienstedt’s rapidly ramping anti-gay campaign, I was beginning to not feel the love.
You see, ever since the late seventies, the church had begun relaxing a little bit when it came to the whole homosexual thing. They were having to heal the sick in the form of AIDS patients and that got a lot of people in the church who provide such services a real great opportunity to examine just what it meant to love one another. Then the whole question of exclusion became a hot topic. Who are we to exclude gay people from the church? God made them. Sure, that old dude in the funny hat over in Rome was still condemning gay folk, but the people in the trenches doing the real work? They were starting to think differently.
Fast forward to a point in my life when I am feeling good about life and hearing really positive things about the evolution of the Catholic Church (or at least small pockets of it), and I start attending church again. Then I join. Then I start getting involved.
That all ended on Easter morning, 2012. After sitting through a three and a half hour mass the previous night, trying to sight read music we never fully rehearsed (and I attended all rehearsals – never missed a one!), I went home and just felt depleted. And angry. Frustrated.
To his credit, the priest at my local church has been incredibly fair about this whole thing. He doesn’t insist on including ‘the marriage prayer’ as part of mass. He has gone out of his way to let people in the congregation know that it is okay to disagree with the church, and that good Catholics, historically, have done just that. His sermons often address the issues of inclusion, fairness, and unconditional acceptance and love. So he is certainly not to be faulted in any way.
The same cannot be said for Archbishop Nienstedt. If you want the real dirt on all of this, track down the June 20-26 issue of a local weekly called City Pages. They have a website: http://www.citypages.com/2012-06-20/news/archbishop-john-nienstedt-crusades-against-gay-marriage/ (here’s a link to the actual article). It contains all the details regarding just how divisive this issue is within the Catholic Church here in Minnesota and how destructive and hateful Nienstedt and his policies have become.
Since that Easter, I have continued to attend weekly mass. My mother likes to attend and my father, who has Alzheimer’s, has become increasingly difficult to handle in public, so I help out. I haven’t served as a cantor or sung with the choir since Easter. I think it is confusing to many in the choir and specifically the woman in charge of the church’s musical ministry. But I haven’t been able to bring myself to share my true reasons for stepping away. I miss them. Their spirits.
At the same time as my epiphany regarding the church bloomed, my ability to write left me. A piece I have been working on for a year and a half went untouched for five months. And then, I could not even bring myself to write anything for this blog. I’ve used summer and the warm weather outside as an excuse, but the cause was actually something much deeper, that which I have chosen to share in this post. It’s taken me all this time to write about the real reason.
During that time, I certainly had plenty to write about. Dan Savage and use of the word ‘faggot’ springs to mind. Along with Madonna’s PR issues, Global Warming news, political craziness (Michele Bachman!), advances in HIV treatment and prevention, and, of course, a number of interesting sexual encounters I’ve experienced this summer. I actually started a piece about the Dan Savage thing (along with several of the others), but abandoned it, unfinished. I’ll probably get around to it eventually.
So, for what it’s worth, I am back. I’ve even managed to make some progress on that piece I’d abandoned, and, in fact, it is that progress that made me feel capable of writing this post.
Oh, and other developments: I saw Kelly Rowland at Gay Pride this year. I’m also planning on being in Madison, WI for their upcoming Pride weekend. I have a new addition to my household – a twelve year old Boston Terrier (it’s been quite an adjustment for all of us). And I’m attending an all-male, naked yoga class once a week! My tan kicks ass, too, by the way. So, it’s not like I haven’t been busy.
Writing is good discipline. I’m hoping that going forward I will be able to find my voice again o – both on the page and vocally – on a consistent basis. That’s the plan, anyway.Hope you are all enjoying the summer as much as I am. Be good to yourselves.