My button collection from twenty years ago reveals one angry young man—politics on my sleeve, my lapel, my backpacks.
You young'uns: before there were memes to share on Facebook we ancients had only these buttons. Over the next decade I would accumulate an impressively diverse array of them.*
To me, everything was political. You name almost any progressive cause, and I was for it. (Not that my ideals were uniformly wrong! I was sincerely seeking justice, which is an attribute of God, and some of my values had merit. However, I seized on certain ideas that as I was drawn to the Catholic Church I would discover were badly wrong-headed, and as an ideological thinker I foolishly made social change into an idol.)
At centre-left near the top is a memento of Lesbian and Gay Pride Day in 1984, which was a year of firsts for me: worshipping at a gay-positive church, where I would stay for the rest of the 1980s; marching on International Women's Day, albeit hesitantly when I began, for abortion rights; participating in the Pride march, which I would go on to attend religiously. And one important first for all of Canada, where it now seems almost every student newspaper has a gay and lesbian column: thirty years ago at the University of Waterloo I pioneered the very concept.
But Pride and watered-down Christianity no longer hold any allure for me.
Suddenly it became an open question whether giving up gay sex for the sake of my relationship with God might actually be worthwhile.
And all along, I recalled, there had been a still small voice asking, "Is this all there is?" Sure it had been fun, but you can be all for having sex with any attractive guy who's available yet still come away from Pride feeling strangely let down and "gayed out."
I've found a love that actually satisfies.
So when the drums beat incessantly this time of year for the empty promises of LGBTQ+ Pride, my heart breaks for all those who don't yet know something far better is possible; and I've felt weighed down by memories of encounters I now recognize as a counterfeit for what love is supposed to be. Seeing the problem, my wife ushered me to the Tabernacle, where Jesus heals and restores what has been wounded in me. (If you're not familiar with my radical conversion from gay activist to Catholic lay minister, here's more of the backstory. To God be the glory!)
We realized two years ago that during the Pride season Catholics need to unite in prayer in reparation for offences against charity, clarity, and chastity. During the Year of Faith we repeated the prayer event, a joint project of EnCourage Toronto and Courage Reparational Group – Toronto. This third year we are again committing to fasting and extra prayer in the presence of Jesus in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar.
Throughout Toronto's long-anticipated festival, which officially kicks off tomorrow, please join us and friends around the globe in Charity, Clarity, Chastity, an event of prayer and sacrifice in reparation for World Pride. Wherever in the world you are, your prayers for these three intentions are so sorely needed at such a time as this.
*At least one button is duplicated. The first reader to spot it wins our spare copy of Dr Bernard Nathanson's memoir, The Hand of God.