Authentic Dialogue Is Possible
May 2011By Melinda Selmys
Melinda Selmys is the author of Sexual Authenticity: An Intimate Reflection on Homosexuality and Catholicism (Our Sunday Visitor, 2009). A regular columnist for the National Catholic Register, her articles have appeared in numerous Catholic publications, including This Rock, The Catholic Answer, and Envoy. She writes from Canada, where she and her husband are awaiting the birth of their sixth child.
Last year I was invited to give a talk at the University of Notre Dame on the subject of homosexuality and identity. I arrived at the lecture hall to find a group of demonstrators from the campuss Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Questioning (LGBTQ) contingent reading queer poetry as a form of protest against my appearance. They distributed a small note, explaining the reasons why they objected to an ex-gay speaker talking at Notre Dame. The main objection: They thought I was going to say that homosexuality [is] curable, thus pathologizing it.
It was not an easy climate in which to speak. Several recent scandals had justly ignited the ire of the LGBTQ crowd at Notre Dame. The protest itself only served to deepen the divide: Most of the people attending the event were conservative Catholics who were stunned by the poetry, which came off as obscene. Campus security surrounded the building, and there was talk of calling the police. I put aside my prepared speech and decided that, instead of talking about dialogue with the gay community, I would try to do it.
Im sure the results were frustrating for some of the Catholics in attendance. Prof. Randall B. Smith, in his article Call the Police, Its an Academic Lecture! in the January-February issue of the NOR, noted that the question-and-answer period was dominated by the LGBTQ crowd, and wondered whether true dialogue was even possible. Yet, in spite of the obstacles and difficulties, I think that some small headway was made: If nothing else, at the end of my talk several of the protest organizers came up and thanked me for having come to speak.
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