LATHAM— Lebsian Catholic author and blogger Eve Tushnet spoke at the Saint Ambrose Catholic Church recently, bringing with her her story of conversion to Catholicism, and how she has managed to forge her path as a gay, conservative woman.
Tushnet was not raised Catholic, rather, she was raised secular Jewish. Her family had gay friends, and she said she was comfortable with gay people growing up. She was 13 years old when she realized she was attracted to a female classmate, and said it was a relief for her because she was able to define what exactly her feelings were. She converted to Catholicism in 1998, and has written many books and authored pieces in the National Review, as well as the National Catholic Register.
When she was in college, Tushnet said, she began to learn more about Catholicism. She said she eventually fell in love with the Catholic church, and that none of the people who brought her into the church seemed to fixate on the fact that she was gay. But, she said, her experience is pretty much the opposite of how other gay people are approached in the church, noting that many gay people who are in the church are subject to intense scrutiny of their personal lives. But, she said she was “shocked and dismayed” when she found herself trusting the sexual ethics of the Catholic church, and that’s where her challenge began.
Tushnet, who is celibate, and also against same-sex marriage, spoke to the parish about creating a space and a path forward in religion for gay people. At the event, she detailed how, in her writings, she has attempted to detail the history of homosexuality in the Catholic church, as well as a way for people to move forward towards acceptance in church communities.
“What I tried to do in my book, was to delve into both history and a possible path forward that would allow some space to imagine the lives of gay people in the church,” Tushnet said. Tushnet said that frequently, dialogue about homosexuality in the church is framed in an inherently negative way.
“I, who had had this totally charmed life, I’d had a fantastic experience in the Catholic church, began to hear stories from people who were sincerely seeking god, and who were often sincerely trying to live the church’s teaching, who had had much harsher experiences,” she said.
Tushnet noted that many people approach the intersectionality of homosexuality and Catholicism with fear and skepticism. She said that providing spiritual support to young people is a pathway that can lead to the acceptance of gay people into the church. She said it’s important to ask people what they need to bring them closer to Jesus.
“If you believe that everybody should be Christian, and believe that people’s journey towards Jesus is often very long, and complex, then I think you have to make more of a space in the church for people who are not receiving Communion, that is an honorable place to be at, that is honest, that is challenging, and that accepts how difficult all this is. That is honest about just how hard it is to accept the bizarre and shocking claims that Catholic church makes both about what happens to the wafer, and what should happen in our own lives.”