Cousin Butchie's Opinions, Since You Asked!
Dear Cousin Butchie,
First of all, I want you to know that I read your blog type advice column whenever I see that it runs. You have made me laugh at times. You have also made me really think about your replies.
I would like to know how you feel about certain issues that face us all the time in today's world. My peeps won't know I said they are too dumb to discuss much with, or that I said they only talk about celebrities and other people behind their backs, etc.
The subjects are below, and I really would value your opinions. I know you are a Catholic (which I find kind of strange for a gay man to be) so I'm guessing you will not say much that's opposed to what they teach.
Totally Anonymous Forever.
Dear Totally Anonymous Forever,
Your letter gave me a chuckle when I first read it. I want to respond, but I must clarify some points first.
I am not a theologian or a shrink, and my opinions as a Catholic are about as liberal as you will find anywhere. I read that when the late John F. Kennedy was running for election as the first Roman Catholic president, he made it clear that the church does not and will not dictate his programs and actions in office. As a gay Catholic, Cousin Butchie can say pretty much the same thing.
The subjects on which Totally Anonymous Forever asked me to give my opinion:
Assisted Suicide: I believe that this is the kind of policy which needs to be qualified. While, I can agree that all human life is sacred, I do not believe that someone suffering pain and emotional distress (and doesn't have much more time to live) should have the freedom to decide when he/she wants to put an end to the misery. My qualifications would be that this decision not be made by someone who is suffering from a condition such as major depression. I also do not believe that anyone besides the dying patient should make this decision, and it should be verified by more than one medical doctor and by a psychiatrist. At no time should it be the decision of the government or the insurance companies. While palliative care may be effective for some, no religion should be able to dictate the policy for all Americans.
Gay Marriage: This must have been a trick question! Of course, I am in favor of the right of two people of the same sex to make the choice to marry. At the same time, I don't think that marriage is a mandatory step for all LGBT people. Somehow, we are often guilty of looking down just a little at LGBT people who have no desire to commit to a marriage.
Religion: The basic question is whether I believe in God. Since I have admitted to being a gay Roman Catholic, I think some readers may assume what my answer will be. So, the quick answer is that on some days I do, and on some days I doubt. It's more a question of deciding whether my life experiences point to a validation of some religion. Faith is only called "faith" because the acceptance of the teachings must be essentially a decision to believe. If every situation one encounters is completely answered by his/her religion, I wish them well, but I don't ascribe to the notion that one must leave one's mind at the door when entered a church, temple, mosque. In many instances, it's a case of taking what makes sense and gives meaning to the person...and leaving the rest.
Part B.... Why stay in the Catholic Church? Very simply, I don't believe the church will ever change if all the LGBT Catholics depart. For some in high places this would be the answer to their prayers. Aside from that, being the gay boy that I am...I really like the ceremony and the incense and the bells.... and I simply go crazy when I see a suppoedly conservative (anti-gay) priest at a gay bar. I also believe that Pope Francis is a remarkable man who has already surprised many in the church. He will continue his simple and loving teachings. There is no doubt that he has opened a dialogue about LGBT Catholics, and even if he doesn't succeed in bringing about the acceptance and change we need, he has begun a dialogue which will continue. It doesn't fall into the category when John Paul II said that the ordination of women and married men were issues never to be debated again. Fancis put a big "x" through that kind of domination.
Safe Sex: Cousin Butchie agrees with all the straight men in the world who complain about condoms not feeling great, yada yada yada. Be that as it may, AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases have not disappeared. It is better to be safe than sorry, and it would be totally stupid to trust that another attractive (aka hot) dude is HIV negative. They may not have been tested and assume they are negative, or they may be lying to you. And even if you are crushing with another dude, don't assume that he is negative until you have both been tested and you commit to monogamy.
Transgender People: Sometimes we forget two parts of our LGBT title. (I know that some people add other letters, but that's a story for another day). A person who is transgender knows that he/she is living within a foreign body. They do not feel or identify with or want to be identified by the gender they are born. We have all experienced feeling "strange and misunderstood" because we were in the closet and not admitting our true sexuality to anyone else. It was uncomfortable and we were not so happy being pretend straight people. I believe it is best to be welcoming and friendly toward transgender people. Tell them that you are attempting to understand and that you are truly interested in them because they are part of the "family" of the LGBT community-- a fact we often forget about each other no matter how we identify. If you are a transgender person and need information and friendship with people who know all the elements factoring into your life, the Jersey Shore chapter of P-FLAG (Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) has one special meeting each month dealing only with transgender issues. You are welcome to ask for more information by emailing Cousin Butchie at KippyNJ@aol.com or checking the organizations listings right here on NJGayLife.com.
Hillary Clinton: I have always lliked her, and would have voted for her before voting for Obama.
Abortion: I am pro-choice with some qualifications. I believe that a woman has the right to do what she feels she needs to do when she finds she is pregnant. Some women decide early to terminate the pregnancy. Sometimes the pregnant woman is only a child herself...incapable of caring for a baby when it arrives. There are also the cases of rape which are often best handled by termination. It is a grave situation for a child to give birth to a child.
As I am answering as a gay Catholic male, I will also go out on a limb and say that the decision for a woman to have an abortion cannot be legislated by supposedly celibate priests, nor by men in general, nor by gay men. It's a woman's body and the decision is hers before a God who is undeniably more loving and compassionate than people who lead our religions. In the Catholic situation, if birth control were approved and encouraged, the need to consider an abortion would be elimianted 99% of the time. As one woman put it...referring to her teenage daughter's pregnancy.... "In Rome, they don't play the game so they don't make the rules." The other classic comes from a bumper-sticker "Pro-Choice before Conception, Pro-Life afterwards."
I hope I have answered to some degree the questions posed.
If not, I value your opinions sent on-line....and I welcome more questions.