Byko: the LGBT embrace is one sided

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Andrea Vettori, wife of recently-fired Waldron Mercy Academy teacher Margie Winters, calls for Catholic inclusion if LGBT individuals at the LGBT Family Papal Picnic on Saturday, September 26, 2015. (AARON WINDHORST / Staff Photographer)

While the straight Catholic Church and traditional Catholics were  having their day in the sun on the Parkway and the Mall, marginalized Catholics and their supporters gathered in a courtyard in the Gayborhood, itself outside the Maginot Line of Papal Hypersecurity.

They called it a Papal Picnic. Some thought it responded to the celebration outside, others felt it ignored it.

Faithful LGBTQ Catholics -- yes, they exist -- invert the Groucho Marx aphorism that he wouldn't join a club that would have him as a member. These are people who want to be in a club -- the church -- that doesn't want them as members.

They thought, with the Francis Effect, that might be changing and the church would meet with local gays, but they were rebuffed by the hierarchy.

You won't meet with us? OK, we'll have a picnic.

They are not the first group, when rebuffed, to go its own way.

When Jews were prohibited from membership in the Union League, they opened the Locust Club. When blacks were barred from the Yeadon Swim Club, African-Americans opened the first black-owned pool.

In your face, but from a distance.

There is a rising tide of LGBTQ impatience with the status quo.

Marianne Duddy-Burke, executive director of Dignity USA, a gay-rights group, said families had infiltrated sessions of the World Meeting of Families to stand up, go to the microphone and speak out against the "heinous" lies told against gays.

Their sexuality, she said, is "a gift from God" and Dignity will "work for sacramental equality."

Three flags fluttered from the roof of a shed in the courtyard: the gay rainbow flag, of course; the Gadsden ("Don't tread on me") flag, and the gold and white Papal flag. I'm not sure if the last was there out of respect, or to tweak the church.

Another speaker, Margie Winters, who was fired from Waldron Mercy Academy after it became public she had married a woman, said Church employees "are being fired throughout the United States" just because they are gay.

"They wish to be accepted and recognized by the church" from which they draw their love, she said.

I found her words touching and wondered how the church could turn its back on people who were so desperate for its embrace. I wouldn't, but that's me.

The city's director of LGBT affairs, Nellie Fitzpatrick, found the picnic both positive and "absolutely necessary."

Stephen Seufert, of the social-justice Keystone Catholics, an organizer of the picnic, said Pope Francis' "tone" reaches out to the marginalized.

Has the pope been actually friendly to gays, I asked?

"Yeah, he's friendly to everyone, he doesn't want to discriminate against anyone."

The majority of Catholics support gays, he said, but "It's a 2,000-year-old church, change happens slowly."

He's right. And no one knows the church's or Francis' timetable.

 

I feel Catholic gays would prefer to wave the Papal flag, but will grab the Gadsden flag if they must.

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