Monday, February 23, 2009

"What's that you say, Mrs. Robinson? Joltin' Joe has left and gone away."

The Oscars last night were good. My husband and I liked "Slumdog Millionaire" and its supercool "Jai Ho" song and dance, and "Benjamin Button". We were happy to see those movies run away with so many awards.

However, the pro-gay marriage frenzy accompanying "Milk" hit me hard. These Hollywood figures have become our culture's heroes--we salivate over their personal lives, we take their political commentaries seriously, we include them in distinguished national events, we imitate their fashion and manners. As I sorted my sweet little boy's clothes in preparation for laundry day today, the screenwriter of "Milk" Lance Black gave his acceptance speech:

Oh my God. This was, um, this was not an easy film to make... When I was 13 years old, my beautiful mother and my father moved me from a conservative Mormon home in San Antonio, Texas to California, and I heard the story of Harvey Milk. And it gave me hope. It gave me the hope to live my life. It gave me the hope one day I could live my life openly as who I am and then maybe even I could even fall in love and one day get married.

I wanna thank my mom, who has always loved me for who I am even when there was pressure not to. But most of all, if Harvey had not been taken from us 30 years ago, I think he'd want me to say to all of the gay and lesbian kids out there tonight who have been told that they are less than by their churches, by the government or by their families, that you are beautiful, wonderful creatures of value and that no matter what anyone tells you, God does love you and that very soon, I promise you, you will have equal rights federally, across this great nation of ours. Thank you. Thank you. And thank you, God, for giving us Harvey Milk.

And later from Sean Penn, who played gay politician Harvey Milk in the movie:

I think that it is a good time for those who voted for the ban against gay marriage to sit and reflect and anticipate their great shame and the shame in their grandchildren's eyes if they continue that way of support. We've got to have equal rights for everyone.

Where have all the real boyhood heroes gone--the cultural icons who were also decent, manly role models for boys? Joltin' Joe DiMaggio and Hank Aaron, John Wayne, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin. They may not have been impeccable in their personal lives but they stood for traditional values and inspired young boys to do the same. Hard work and self-discipline. Masculinity. Courage and strength. Chivalry.
We immerse ourselves in saints and knights and athletes of old around here, but I do on occasion grieve the loss of good masculinity in popular culture, for the sake of my little boy and other boys. Last night was one of those occasions.


Anonymous said...

I actually took a look at last night's commentary from a different perspective. How sad would it be to be a 13 year old boy who identified himself as gay and have someone tell me that I was not loved by God or that I was going to hell?

Our highest rates of teen suicide in this country are among high school boys who identify themselves as gay. Whether they really are or not is not the issue, but what are they missing from their faith communities and loved ones that would cause them to feel such despair that they would kill themselves?

I saw it as an eye opener that within the Catholic Church and its teachings, we need to find away to minister to these people and provide them with love and support so they can feel God's love as we are fortunate enough to know it. I am in no way advocating gay marriage. I am not in favor of it at all. I am for bringing people, all people, back to the Church. How can we counter this with the wonderful tools our faith provides?

As quoted from the Cathecism...

"The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God's will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord's Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition."

This is a tremendous opportunity for ministry. How are we going to respond to these people? What would Jesus do?

margaretjdmom said...

There are a number of ministries within the church that serve the homosexual population.

The problem is that the culture at large, as evidenced by the Oscars last night, doesn't like the whole of the Church's teaching on homosexuality. You quoted CCC 2358- an important part of the church's pastoral care of homsexuals. It is important to look at CCC 2357 and 2359 also. They point out that homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered and can never be approved. Thus, all homosexual persons are called to live a life of chastity. We're not just talking no gay marriage, we're talking no gay sexual activity, ever. We are called to love people no matter what and treat them in a Christian manner, but we, as catholics, cannot support homosexual activity, just like we can't support premarital sex, contraceptive sex, masturbation or pornography.

The quotes from the CCC follow.

CCC 2357Homosexuality refers to relations between men or between women who experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction toward persons of the same sex. It has taken a great variety of forms through the centuries and in different cultures. Its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained. Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity,141 tradition has always declared that "homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered."142 They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.

2359 Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection.

margaretjdmom said...

ok, that sounded sort of harsh, and I didn't mean it to be....

in terms of how to respond- I always loved how the Missionaries of Charity ran their AIDS hospice in DC. They loved, smiled, and took care of people who had no one left. Many of these patients contracted AIDS through homosexual activity but died in the arms of the Church thanks to the gentle, loving kindess of the nuns! Many a deathbed conversion occurred there. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE! I think that is where the Catholic church has a head up on the other Christian churches when it comes to reaching out to homosexuals. It isn't just that the Bible teaches homosexuality is wrong, but that these people are made in the image and likeness of God and he died for them as well.

Joanne said...

The comments in the speeches hit my ears hard as well. However, I did feel for the 13 year old boy (and boys and girls like him) who thought nobody loved him - that the Church and *God* didn't love him. I do think that Catholics can be hard on homosexuals and maybe not so hard on others that are having sex outside of marriage, or artificially contracepting, or masturbating, or not loving thy neighbor, or whatever. Sins are sins and I wish that in my church (and in the Church) other sins were recognized as being dangerous, too.

I think that the screenwriter for Milk was raised as a Mormon. It makes me so sad that he was impressed that his mother loved him! I love my children, no matter what they do. If they are homosexual, or fornicators, or ... whatever, I will still love them, and I will (hopefully) guide them in the same way - toward the Church, the Catechism, and God. But I wouldn't consider one sin as being worse than the other. We are all sinners, I try to remember.

Right Said Red said...


You might want to remove Joe DiMaggio from that list. Divorced twice, estranged children, carousing...while clearly an AMAZING baseball player, he wasn't exactly an ideal role model for little boys.

And I would like to also add, haven't the number of suicides by young gay males (and females) actually INCREASED since gay lifestyles have been accepted in the mainstream? While this is SOOOO incredibly sad, it seems these suicides might be related to something other than a lack of acceptance by the church. Is it possible that these individuals are inherently VERY unhappy? This seems the more likely explanation. Deep confusion about sexuality and relationships could be the cause of their depression and ultimately their suicide. It seems to me that Hollywood's campaign to normalize these behaviors is only making the situation worse.

All that being said, I do wish the Church had more local programs in place to help those suffering same sex attraction.

Marian said...

Just a thought, Red: It's possible that suicides of self-identified gay teens have increased as homosexuality has become more accepted simply because more teens feel comfortable identifying themselves as gay. In the past, they might have simply been identified as troubled teens.

Joanne said...

I think the point about Joe M. is a good one - or how about Mickey Mantle, known alcohol abuser and womanizer? I guess it's time to realize that maybe we shouldn't look to Hollywood or the professional athlete community for role models. I think all we can do is look to the Saints, maybe.

I wouldn't presume to know why young possible homosexual teenagers commit suicide, but if even one person thought it was better to lose their life than live the way that they are, I think the onus should be on us, as Christians and mothers, to do what we can to help those people, to think What Would Jesus Do. I hardly think Jesus would care what Hollywood thinks. At least I hope not!