Inner Vision: Confessions of a Catholic Schoolgirl
It began like this: 'Hey Lisa. I just read your column about Prop 8...and I wanted to talk to you about it.' A rather direct voicemail message from my relatively reserved long-time girlfriend. A long-time Catholic. I was, of course, immediately intrigued...
It began like this: "Hey Lisa. I just read your column about Prop 8...and I wanted to talk to you about it." A rather direct voicemail message from my relatively reserved long-time girlfriend. A long-time Catholic. I was, of course, immediately intrigued.
When I called her back Girlfriend told me how her daughter, on the cusp of 16 - who self-identifies as lesbian, recently attended an anti-Prop. 8 rally; while her brother, the priest, was representing the Diocese at a traditional marriage demonstration. Oh the conflict, I thought, as I listened. This is the real-life drama that makes great reading - and writing.
But the first thing I heard first was the Universe answering my query. For I have been asking myself of late: What is the next step for this column? How do I bring other voices into the conversation? I mean, as much as all writers love the soliloquy - and believe me we do - my work is about illuminating the divinity that dwells within by sharing the universal experiences from which we are meant to learn and ascend. What more natural way to expand that vision than by sharing other voices? And what could be more synchronistic than that first new voice calling to tell me she had something to say? There's always an answer when we let it unfold.
The next thing I heard was Girlfriend playing ping-pong with her conscience as she slowly told me her tale.
Q. Do you feel caught in the middle?
A. I, myself - [gay marriage] doesn't bother me. I do believe they have the right to love whoever they want, marry whoever they want. But I also have the church, I guess, nagging at me. That's just there. Even though my beliefs are I love everybody, I give everybody a chance. I have a lot of gay friends, and they're wonderful people. It just doesn't bother me.
Q. Do you feel like it should?
A. Maybe. Like, I should not believe in it because there are so many good Catholics and Christians who don't. When I was growing up...There are teachings engrained in my brain from Catholic teachings and school, and my dad and mom are strict Catholics, and I'm sure my dad didn't believe in that. They're old school. Everything that was taught to me. I have big-time Catholic guilt - about everything. You know, I'm a big sinner - I married outside of the church and everything else. I'm not totally clean.
Q. So how do you feel about voting against the ban?
A. I don't regret it. I felt it was the right thing, what I believed in. I'm sure there was a little nagging guilt there.
Q. Do you and your brother ever talk about it?
A. My brother and I get along so well, but I wouldn't get into a discussion like this if I didn't have to - and neither would he. We both have our beliefs; we just love each other for who we are. If my brother feels he needs to go down there, and that's what he believes in, that's his job, then good for him. I love my brother and whatever he chooses to do, I'm not going to let my own beliefs take over like [a friend who's been emailing her lots of anti-gay propaganda]. That's too harsh - trying to push your beliefs on everybody else.
Q. How did you find out [your daughter] was going to the rally?
A. I think she told me. Then I saw her on TV. I'm proud of her that she wants to do something like this - I don't feel bad about it. But my family's going to see her and they're not going to approve of it. I don't want my brother to think I'm going to hell because I don't believe the same way he does. [I think to myself] I'm not a good mother, because you didn't raise them right in the Catholic Church, I didn't teach them right. That's the way the Church would look at it. But I can't force them to be one way or another.
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Q. What about Catholicism as it pertains to her being gay?
A. I'm not worried about her as far as the religion itself, like when she gets to her Judgment Day, that it's going to be bad for her. I look at it as something that's going to be hard for her in her life, just because it's still not accepted. And also my family and how they're going to react. Probably not the most gung-ho supportive mother that I should be, but I don't really think it's because of my religious beliefs or how I grew up - more about how it's going to affect her life. But maybe it will be a better life.
Q. Your girls went to Catholic school, too, right?
A. Yes. They've been to the Church, catechism, all of it. And when they were little, I went places with my gay friends and they've been around people that were gay and I let them know that was okay, and in that way it could be my fault.
Q. So you think exposing your kids to gay people can "turn" them gay?
A. No. That's what [my husband] used to say. That it would be my fault. I don't know if he really believes that - he thought I was going to turn gay because I was hanging around with gay people. He said I was going to become a lesbian, be gay.
Q. But you're not sure if [your daughter] is gay?
A. I'm not sure - I don't know if she's one way or the other. I'm not sure if she's gay or if she's being influenced by the people she's hanging around with. She's more of a follower, not a leader. But then I guess the same thing would apply about being around other friends. Sounds like a hypocrite. All the kids are more accepting - being bisexual is cool.
Q. Did she know her uncle was out there, too?
A. Yeah. She doesn't care, she's going to say what she wants to and if he doesn't like her - oh well, she said he could write her out of her will if he wants to. But I wish she would try to be a little discreet - not in front of the camera. That's just me not wanting to deal with something that I know I'm going to have to deal with one of these days.
A. Do you think that things happen for a reason?
Q. You mean, do I think this happened for a reason? Her going to the protest, my brother?
Q. Yes, this or anything else. Things, experiences, in general.
Q. Why do you think this happened?
A. I don't know. It didn't really come to anything or make anything happen, but maybe to make me more aware; make me think about it more. In the context of [my daughter] - like I need to be more supportive of her views, I guess. My mom said the other day - I don't believe in this lesbian stuff - she doesn't understand how two women could be together at all. Totally old school.
Q. How do you reconcile the conflict?
A. I can't reconcile it. I just live with it.
As you might guess, Girlfriend asked me to protect her anonymity. So don't ask, and I won't tell.
Until next time,
Read more Inner Vision here.