Father Tony

2010: A Lesson In Trust

Filed By Father Tony | December 30, 2010 10:30 AM | comments

Filed in: Living
Tags: gay groups, gay rights, LGBT rights, President Obama, unfulfilled wishes, year in review

I learned some personal lessons in trust in the course of 2010 when I became the second of three board members to Trust Turns To Rustresign from the fizzling Catholics4Equality, but that was small in comparison to what our entire LGBT community learned about trust in the areas of religion, government and activism.

While there is nothing wrong with folks feathering their personal nests while championing our collective interests, there is much wrong with insincere and often deceitful representation in the name of justice. Here's how I have honed my handle on the truth about the efforts that impact us.

Entities like Bilerico have helped us see the events of 2010 more clearly. Where would we be if we had to rely on lobbyists, apologists, bishops, politicians and mainstream media for direction? Did we as LGBT activists or writers press our own agenda? Of course we did, and very often fought over control of that agenda like a group of squabbling children grabbing all at once at the Rubik's Cube of LGBT rights.

I don't bemoan that. Committee work is never neat, and over the last twelve months, surveys have shown that attitudes are changing in our favor. The fear of living next door to a married queer couple is dissipating. The fear of showering next to an out gay soldier is becoming little more than a late night talk show joke. The fear of bullying in the lives of children is being addressed with the fervor that fueled the eradication of polio fifty years ago.

Sadly, in the process of these accomplishments, I lost a significant amount of trust.

I stopped trusting the words of our President assuring us that he really holds our interests in heart. Passing the repeal of DADT in the final moments of the year spoke volumes about his dread of the repercussive voice of our community more than about his actual intentions.

I stopped trusting in the secret good will of gay priests and bishops and cardinals, some of whom I have known for decades. I had hoped they would knock themselves out trying to bridge the huge distance between an oddly befuddled old pope and the faithful that they claim to love, as do shepherds guide and protect their flock. The terrible fact that not one member of the hierarchy produced an "It Gets Better" video was one among several final straws.

I stopped trusting many of our major LGBT activist groups. While the mission statements of such entities hold water for us, the flow of money that translates to potable sustenance is an unjustifiable trickle. It would not at all surprise me if 2011 marked a growth in local LGBT vigilante activism - swift and covert - directed against locally oppressive persons and institutions. Having personalized the face of LGBT America, we will now begin to settle our disputes as do neighbors with adjoining picket fences. Will this be the price or the prize of visibility?

I stopped trusting that somewhere in the unseen laboratories of national health officials, medical geniuses were burning midnight oil to find a way to vanquish HIV. I still hope that the prospect of a Nobel prize and monumental recognition will be enough to energize those brilliant researchers who continue to astound me with what they learn about those tiny voracious and bellicose universes that spin and forage unchecked downstream in our blood. I still believe I'll live to see the end of this nightmare.

I have stopped trusting in a national recovery and renaissance. Everything recent that has happened in our American automobile and banking industries - and our rather docile acceptance of those gross inefficiencies - makes me glad I have some cash socked away in a Canadian bank.

I have stopped trusting that in my lifetime, tens of millions of us will be using adjacent sea water rather than precious fresh water to flush down our toilets, or that I will be able to convince my condo board that our roof should be supporting solar panels or, God forbid, a wind mill.

Finally, I have stopped trusting my own hopes of an exciting afterlife. Every day, I dissect my motives for trusting that the universe intends my eternal life in some format or another. Maybe, after awhile, you just stop. Like a car that doesn't know it's been running out of gas. The passengers get out of you and find other ways of going somewhere. That's all. And in my head, there is always snow seen through a nearby street lamp, and the clatter of revelry in a nearby cafe. A darkness, not sad but peaceful. The knowing echo of your steps on the sidewalk. I wonder if that isn't enough for all time.

Anyway, I've miles and years to go before I solve that mystery. Meanwhile, I intend to devote 2011 to caring for my husband, friends and readers who put up with my perpetually imperfect performance. You doggedly dazzle me and in you I will trust.

(Photo via Señor Codo's Flickr photostream)


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WOW! There is a thin tightrope strung between belief in the ability to change one's world and despair. I've tumbled from it repeatedly, and only hope that Tony, with his passion and intelligence, finds his way back up again.

At the same time, I've not seen anyone cut so succinctly through the air reeking of the puerile Hosannas of "reborn" Obama faithful as he did with: "Passing the repeal of DADT in the final moments of the year spoke volumes about his dread of the repercussive voice of our community more than about his actual intentions."

Pax vobiscum, Tony.

Thank you Michael. I'm really not the despairing kind, but I'm also not a fan of whitewashing.

Blessings to you Tony.

I have learned a necessary distinction between trust and hope. Trust is a very powerful gift of vulnerability that risks betrayal in the wrong hands. Losing trust can lead to apathy, bitterness and eventually a sense of helplessness; so we must take care to place trust with vigilance. Rather than give trust too freely, let us have hope instead. Fostering hope allows for failure without too great a cost to the heart and gives us the freedom to hope again.

As to the afterlife: you have a thinking man's faith that continues to evolve. I will follow with interest to see where it leads.

Tony,
maybe this has been a more hopeful year for me because I had no expectation that those in power (church/politics) would jeopardize that by stepping in with us. I found hope in the kids who survived the year. I know it is a terrible thing to set the bar to 'they are all still breathing' but ... the kids I worked with in 2010 ARE. I found hope in the activists in Memphis, MGLCC, TEP who continue to go to the wall, and hope in those on the sideline who have begun to say 'why not?' I found hope in Fortunate Families outreach... hope in Equally Blessed... hope in the grassroots movement that will take a lot longer to effect change, but will make that change eventually. I am a straight catholic mother of a gay son. I find hope that he is OK. (scratch that- he is wonderful).
I find hope in my friends who support us in our outreach, and hope in my church (the people in the pews...) that they are beginning to get it.
Is it enough. NO. Are the detractors still in power... yes. I think with each step forward we have folks joining us in our effort. Nationally- I can't fix anything. Locally... I have hope!!!
And for me it has been one kid at a time, one small crisis at a time. I pray that those of you who have the national stage not get discouraged, find other avenues, other ears to bend. Keep working hard in 2011, so that those of us in the small movements have hope that the larger one will succeed.
Happy New Year...
Deb

Father Tony, your questioning regarding the afterlife particularly resonates with me. I don't know what my consciousness is, and I don't know how blood rushing through the tiny vessels in my brain causes it to emanate. If the blood stops flowing, the scientist in me predicts that the consciousness must cease, like a movie projector when the bulb burns out. End of movie.

But I do believe in the life force, although I'm not sure what is behind it, giving it fuel. This year I became less attached to people, and more attached to animals. Taking care of a dog and four cats put me in touch with what I do and don't have in common with them, because the life force they have is so primal and so obvious. Their life force gives them a default outlook of joy, a simple joy in existing, that I don't feel I have.

I'm not sure I care if my car runs out of gas and my soul-passengers inside find rides on other critters that the universe spews forth. But I do believe that the evolving, the growth that I go through is not pointless, that it gets carried on somehow. Can't tell you why I feel that.

Father Tony, I don't have the answers either ... but I hear what you are sayin' ... Man, do I hear what you are sayin' ...