View Point

Saturday, January 10, 1997

Choosing a gay son over church

By Carolyn Martinez Golojuch

DURING a recent sermon at St. Andrew's Episcopal Cathedral in Honolulu, the Rt. Rev. Richard S.O. Chang addressed fear in our lives, referring to the biblical theme, "Be not afraid."

As I sat in the pew listening, I thought of the new year ahead. Could it be that 1998 will be when everyone in Hawaii is respected and treated with dignity, regardless of their sexual orientation?

The night I sat in the Episcopal Church, I remembered why I wasn't sitting in the church of my childhood, a Roman Catholic cathedral.

A couple of years ago, I chose love for my gay son over love for the Catholic Church of Honolulu, headed by its current bishop, Francis X. DiLorenzo.

I have no regrets for picking my son over a church that demands that I sacrifice my son. If I had sacrificed him and my love for him, I would have destroyed the very fiber of our family.

In my eyes, I chose love over rules dictated by men who have lost sight of the greatest commandment of all, "Love one another."

I guess Catholicism taught me about love better than it taught me about hate. For that I am grateful.

There are no regrets for leaving the church that Bishop DiLorenzo heads. My family is more important than the acceptance of a church or a man in vestments.

Later, in the Episcopal service, during the Prayers of the Faithful, I was touched by the prayer that "there be peace and justice on earth." This prayer was speaking to my hopes for many families in our community and around the world.

These families are too many in number, fragmented by trying to follow the dictates of misguided churches and segments of our society that mandate hatred for gay relatives. Even when these dogmatic instructions are encased with sugar-coated words, the true meaning is hate and non-acceptance.

The old saying that "pretty is as pretty does" has much to say when it comes to the double talk that is currently playing in the family dramas related to relationships with gay relatives.

No matter how many times it is said that people love their relatives, it is meaningless if their actions aren't loving. If there is silence in families after relatives share the information that they are gay, lesbian, bisexual or trangendered, then what is really happening is denial.

Silence is not golden when a person's sexual orientation is ignored. This leads to ignoring one element in the makeup of a whole person. The very creation process is also being denied.

When families ignore a relative's sexual orientation, we free ourselves to not only deny part of their identity but their equal rights. The silence surrounding a person's sexual orientation also gives some people the freedom to discriminate. Discrimination has nothing to do with traditional marriage or family values.

At the same time that rights are denied to any minority, we send out the message that they as persons are non-existent, not deserving of our respect and, thus, we can deny their rights. To deny rights is to oppress people.

When we consider the oppressions of any minority, we are then able to understand the fear they live in.

This fear can be understood when we reflect on the closets people are forced to live in when fear surrounds them.

The time that stands in front of us gives us the opportunity to create families of love and acceptance. As we face the end of one millennium and the beginning of another, we have a wonderful opportunity.

We live in this unique time in history to unseat fear within our families and work for true love and family values based on love. The choice is ours.

May Bishop Chang's words guide each family struggling with fear to love each of their relatives and overcome fear so they can live in love. May there be peace and justice for all in 1998!

Carolyn Martinez Golojuch is the mother of a gay son and member of PFLAG -- Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays.

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