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Keeping faith with the Church during the 1960’s and 1970’s was difficult for me because of its conservative stances on social issues. However, the Second Vatican Council and Liberation Theology along with local groups such as Clergy and Laity Concerned and the Fellowship of Reconciliation kept hope alive. When I came out all the ties finally were cut. Even my friends in the more radical wings of the Church were shocked by my sexuality.
Eventually I found a spiritual home in the Zen community of Vietnamese Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh. This practice is fundamentally compassionate and open. The “bodhisattva vow,” love for all beings, is the definition of the practice. At the end of one memorable dharma talk about prejudice Thay (Thich Nhat Hanh) said, “When I think of God, I think he must be a lesbian.”
Zen practice does not in itself include a faith practice. That is left to the individual practitioner, who is encouraged to revisit her root religion. Over the years I kept turning to Teresa of Avila, Julian of Norwich, Meister Eckhardt, Noirin ni Riain, Tagore, the monks of Weston Priory, VT and others for guidance and company on the Path of God. As Christian-Zen dialogue grew over the years, the two paths began to join in my daily practice, but I still felt that becoming a practicing Catholic again would be like returning to an abusive family. I am feeling my way slowly to the Church, and may decide that it is a lost cause. However, I must acknowledge that so many of my teachers have been/are Catholic. I go to Mass for sustenance and for connection to teachers past. Connecting with other lesbian Catholics would help a great deal.
At fifty-one I’m happy to say that my spiritual life has been a wild, interesting ride, and God has never been far.
Thanks for your website and the chance to share my story with others who might have similar experiences.
I never regarded myself as being lesbian. I had a few boyfriends in my late teens but I was more interested in pursuing the vocation to monastic life which I thought I might have. However, after 2 years with the Benedictines, it was decided that this life was not for me. It took a long while for me to adjust but I eventually settled to a single life, living on my own and pursuing my career as a nurse. It was only when I reached my late forties that I met a woman with whom I fell in love. It was a great shock but made me realise that one falls in love with a person and not a gender. However, I went through the usual turmoil of trying to reconcile my new relationship with the Church’s teachings. I don’t think I have succeeded really. Some of the reasons may be that I felt there was no one I could turn to in the Church who would listen unbiasedly to what I had to say. I also felt that I could no longer receive the Eucharist at a time when I was in most need of it. I was also unable to share the joy of having fallen in love with any of my family and friends. I still struggle with these issues but I have learnt much also and consider myself the richer for having had experiences which I certainly would never have chosen.
I have always known that God has never left my side – regardless of what the church has tried to make me believe. At times, I could only hold on to a remote glimmer that I was still a child of the Lord. I left the church and I felt very alone – almost abandoned. But today it is clear to me that I was never alone – not for one minute. I want to tell other Catholic or Christian women that loving women does not preclude God loving you. Share your love for God with the woman you love and you will feel your soul take absolute flight unlike never before. God has never left us – we have just allowed others to make us doubt his undeniable, unconditional love for everyone of our souls.
I was moved deeply to read the stories on the pages of the guestbook. As an Italian woman and a lesbian for the past eight of my fifty-one years, I remember what it was like to struggle with a church that just did not look like me. My daughter had the courage to ask me to take her to the Unitarian church when she was refused the honor of carrying the cross during her first communion, because she was a girl. I have found connection and a deepening spirit in the history of many faiths, and ancient women’s wisdom. The feminine face of god is now a counselor to me. My deep sense of social justice and my own personal experience with discrimination, led me to Soulforce, We are an org. of GLBT and allies who do the work of M L King and Gandhi relentlessly and with nonviolence. Visit the website for soulforce: www.soulforce.org Blessings and Peace.
After taking more time to finish reading everyone’s letters, it has become clear that as lesbian catholic women we have walked on different paths, but are searching for similar answers to our faith questions. Many resources had helped a lot over the years, one of which is a book called “But Lord, They’re Gay” by Rev. Sylvia Pennington. Another great book is called, “Lesbian Nuns” Breaking Silence, by Rosemary Curb. A wonderful catalog that reaches lesbians from all over the globe is “Lesbian Connection”. You can E-mail them if you want a recent copy. [email protected] It’s also available in a gay/feminist bookstore. Thanks so much to all of you for sharing a part of your life stories.
I am a recently ordained Catholic Deacon who has known a number of women in committed relationships. I support your efforts and urge you to continue to bring comfort and fellowship. I know that the Lord is just creating awareness through you and your organization. I do my part in helping others to understand. I sometimes feel that it is never enough. However, it’s a plus to be in a position where a difference can be made to welcome women and men with same sex orientation (those are the words we have to use) to the Catholic Church. The Lord, not the ministers, clergy or laity welcomes you. We are but the instruments. My prayers are with you…..
I have been struggling with being Catholic and a lesbian. I was a Daughter of Charity for five years. I find myself questioning a lot and I am looking for other Catholic lesbians and religious to assist me with this conflict. I find it difficult to attend church knowing that they judge me as well as my “family” and friends. I struggled hard with coming to grips with my true essence. I know that I am not a bad person. My Catholic faith is very important to me and I find myself drifting further and further away.
I…was in the convent several years ago and am a newly out lesbian. I have a wonderful partner who moved in last November. I continued to struggle with Catholicism, but would like to have some spiritual path. I’m also learning to accept who I am. Keeping it a secret reinforces the negative. Life is wonderful, but a bit scary!