17 September 2010

"Heart Speaks to Heart"

This is rich:

This Sunday, the pope will beatify a man named John Henry Newman (1801 - 1890). This means Newman will officially be raised a little higher above normal humans, and one step closer to being named a saint. What's great about this is that Newman may be the first (person reasonably thought to be a) homosexual to be given such an honor.

Evidence of this comes from several sources: he lived with a man (Ambrose St. John ) for 32 years, he was devastated at St. John's death, and he wrote about his feelings for St. John, saying "I have always thought no bereavement was equal to that of a husband's or a wife's, but I feel it difficult to believe that anyone's sorrow can be greater than mine." He even went so far as to request he be buried in the same grave as St. John.

Wait -- it gets better: the author of a new biography of Newman says that despite the fact that they lived together for more than three decades, they were not physically gay. John Cornwell, the author, says "Having read ... 32 volumes of (letters), I can't find any clear evidence of a sexual physical relationship" because, of course, back in the 19th century homosexuals ALWAYS wrote very clearly and definitively about their physical sexual activities.

I am gay and proud of that fact. I have written about my sexual orientation in my public journalism and other writings dating back to at least 1984; but I guarantee you no one reading those millions of published words would have any clue as to the actual sexual activity in which I engage. So, 100 years later, in an age where gay men and lesbian women are free to write about their feelings, you cannot find any evidence of my sexual activities; so, why would you expect to find them in the late 1800s -- between two male members of a religious order?

My understanding is that gays can be made saints; it's just that none (publicly acknowledged to be gay) have -- yet.

NPR did a piece about this story today, which you can hear here.

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