Part 1: Gay Pride Celebrations and a Vatican Document on Gender Theory
You know how to interpret the appearance of the earth and the sky;
why do you not know how to interpret the present time?
In Western Culture Gay Pride parades have become a yearly celebration that mark the month of June. Baton Rouge’s own Gay Pride parade is celebrated on June 15th in 2019. The Gay Pride movement, as a celebration marked by parades and festivals promoting the political vision, and personal and social commitments of the LGBTQ+ movement, is historically rooted in the Stonewall riots of 1969 in Greenwich village, New York City. The Stonewall riots were a violent response to a police raid at the mafia-owned Stonewall Inn. The violent response was claimed to be justified by transgressions of the liberty of the people who gathered there. Stonewall Inn was a place known to be accommodating to drag queens, people who self-identified as transgender, and male prostitutes, people who were even on the margins of the fledgling “gay rights” movement.
What was reacted against was a perceived overreach by city officials and police officers into the rights of men and women who self-identified as gay or lesbian (and men who cross-dressed) to associate and recreate publicly by virtue of their alternative lifestyles. In a sense, this was the second wave of a political movement to identify rights based upon factors that the present LGBTQ+ movement identifies with.
The first wave was associated with a political movement called the Mattachine Society, founded by Communist and labor activist Harry Hay. The Mattachine Society had an approach that was underground and organized similar in structure to Communist party organization at the time. Most of its early members are reported to have been members of the Communist party, though the official Communist party apparently rejected homosexual behavior. Representatives of the Mattachine Society rejected the in-your-face approach of leaders of the Stonewall movement, and in particular the rioting and violence associated with it. They had been lobbying for recognition of an “ethical homosexual culture”, which was viewed as socially and politically equivalent to ethical heterosexual culture.
The triumphalistic atmosphere of contemporary Gay Pride celebrations is rooted in the fact that the public rioting related to Stonewall was politically effective, and marked an important victory for the LGBTQ+ movement. Thus, the yearly celebrations called Pride events mark the anniversary of these riots, that began June 28th, 1969.
It is likely no accident, then, that June 11th saw the Chairman of the USCCB’s Committee for Catholic Education welcoming a new document published by the Holy See titled, “Male and Female He Created Them: Towards a Path of Dialogue on the Question of Gender Theory in Education.” This document, itself a product of the Holy See’s Congregation for Catholic Education, is a response to, “…what might accurately be called an educational crisis, especially in the field of affectivity and sexuality”(1). It speaks of a profound, “disorientation regarding anthropology” that is destabilizing the family and presenting a false notion of male and female as something that is merely the result of social and historical conditioning (1).
Specifically, Male and Female He Created Them refers to, “‘gender theory’, a theory that denies the difference and reciprocity in nature of a man and a woman, and envisages a society without sexual difference” (2), and where gender has no relationship to biological sex. The document, using the language of Pope Francis, refers to gender theory as an ideology that promotes a, “personal identity and emotional intimacy radically separate from the biological difference between male and female”(2).
Importantly, for the work of the offices of evangelization & catechesis, is the stated intention of the document: to guide and support those who work in the education of young people (5). The approach of the document, in keeping with the aim of dialogue, is threefold: to listen, to reason, and to propose.
To that end, stay tuned for a multi-part catechesis that will aim to support those responsible for the education of young people by listening, reasoning, and proposing, with the Church. It is important that Catholics entrusted with the education of young people can interpret the signs of the times, and respond in a way that is revelatory of God’s wisdom and love for every human person.