As the LGBTI community wakes up with a hangover from the Papal visit in the United States, discovering that the Catholic Church might not be anywhere closer to embrace LGBTI equality, the real surprise is the depth of our community’s disappointment.
Gay men and women this morning – even after the New York Times relayed the confirmation by the Vatican that “#CoolPope” did actually meet Kim Davis – posted on their Facebook wall incredulous and hurt messages: “If he did meet her, my support is gone!”,” If this is true – this would really S*CK!”. They ask themselves how a religious leader can reconcile chuckling at the sight of a baby dressed as a Pope, lunching with homeless people, claiming that every life is sacred and still standing on the side of discrimination based on sexual orientation. We had apparently forgotten that only yesterday, a leading Catholic scholar described homosexuality as “a tendency to evil”. The Church remains the most powerful institution in continuing the promotion of the unnatural feature of homosexuality.
We as a community are legitimately hungry for acceptance, dignity, the right to spirituality and are ready to turn the page on centuries of often organized religion-led oppression. All is forgiven. Tout est pardonné! The wounds we carry are deep and we would like to see them heal now. Yet, as US activist and author Larry Kramer said in 2007 “[LGBT people] are not crumbs, [they] must not accept crumbs”.
This eagerness for reconciliation makes us particularly vulnerable to letting our guard down, settling for less than we deserve and accepting the first signs of progress as the end of our struggle. Yet the reality is that recovering our dignity will require much more than a handshake with the Pope. We must be determined and patient because our journey is far from complete. LGBT people worldwide need to continue to demand full acceptance and equality for all and work to accelerate social change worldwide.
The scale and pace of our efforts is no commensurate to the urgency of the situation of our brothers and sisters abroad. We are not sufficiently angry, we show gratitude for each crumb we are given, we do not donate enough of our income to the cause and we do not systematically use our influence starting with international organizations. In the meantime, hundreds of millions of LGBTI people worldwide are painfully aware that an archaic prejudice is robbing them from the opportunity to fulfill their lives. They have only one dream: leaving their country for a more tolerant society where they would stand a chance to live with dignity.
Yesterday it was the launch on Capitol Hill of an important organization Alturi (on the Board of which I proudly seat) – designed to help Americans learn about the issues facing LGBTI people around the world and take action in support of those advocates creating change worldwide. Alturi is bridging the gap between the desire of American LGBTI people to support our global struggle and the people that are fighting on the ground.
These are our real friends and in supporting their struggle we recover our dignity. Whether the Pope agrees or not, eliminating discrimination worldwide is not only the right thing to do; it is also key to social stability, economic prosperity and true reconciliation.