Reflections on an LGBT retreat

rosaryThis weekend I went on my school’s LGBT retreat, and it turned out to be one of the best experiences of my life. It also gave me much to think about.

Let me start by saying that I had a lot of reservations going into it. I might not even have gone if I hadn’t signed up to be one of the student speakers. I knew very few people who were going, I didn’t know how welcome I’d be as a trans person, and I was somewhat afraid the whole thing would devolve into trite, politically correct pedagogy.

What happened instead was one of the most authentic, loving, and spiritually open atmospheres I’ve encountered in a very long time. People weren’t just “tolerant” – they were truly accepting and loving. I know I don’t only speak for myself when I say that many spiritual friendships formed this weekend.

There were several other things about the retreat that really caught my attention.

First of all, the retreat made evident how ludicrous most of the sterotypes are about queer people. No one present really fit the media’s mold of “flamboyant” gay, “butch” lesbian, crazy bisexual, or off-the-wall “tranny.” The religious, political, and social views really ran the gamut; there were traditionalist Catholics and agnostics, democrats and republicans, and people sworn to chastity and others currently in same-sex relationships. I felt perfectly at home as a serious Catholic uncertain about my views on sexuality. In fact, I was amazed at how intelligently and spiritually most people went about reconciling their gender or sexual identity with their faith life. I talked to many people who’s faith was truly the center of their life. I met more than a few fellow fans of the blog Spiritual Friendship.

I and others were also struck by the personal authenticity inspired by the retreat. You’d think that at a college event mostly focused on sexuality, the environment would be incredibly over-sexed. In reality the social dynamics were way more normal than the everyday life of my university. People were real with each other and had fun without the hassle of sexual tension.

At the start of the retreat I was about as repressed as I’ve ever been. Months of mounting grief from various forces in my life left me pretty desolate. I’d had no social life for weeks. It’s amazing how 24 hours of genuine acceptance was able to undo weeks of damage and open my very frightened heart.

I let everyone at the retreat call me ‘Anna’ instead of my masculine name. It’s incredible how euphoric I felt from such a simple recognition. I felt free and alive. So much crushing shame simply evaporated.

I’m very struck by the importance of Catholic LGBT community. This journey is impossible without the support of understanding friends with similar lived experiences. I was blessed with true joy on this retreat, and I can’t help but see this as fruit from a good tree.

6 thoughts on “Reflections on an LGBT retreat

  1. In the early 1990’s a group named Blind Melon did a song called No Rain. In the video a chubby little girl with red hair and freckles; wearing a bee costume dances around with different crowds. She is shunned and made fun of until she comes upon a whole group of people dressed in bee costumes. I think inside we are all looking for our own group of bee people. I am happy to hear that you found yours.- Brenda Kaitlin

  2. Reblogged this on TogetherStyle and commented:
    It’s easy nowadays to get information (and argue) on the internet but this post reminds us of just how powerful connecting with others in real life can be.

  3. I have great admiration for you, Anna. I’m grateful for your retreat experience for your sake and for others. There sure are many good lgbt people. Some are strong in their convictions. Others, including me, are slowly reconciling the Faith or their faith with their sexuality. So many are so wounded, I hesitate even to mention my current stance, which may well be contrary to their safe-feeling convictions. Having said that as a buffer, I’ll say my current stance is loving kindness to all (listening and watching for the Spirit’s timing in communication), while morally allowing for HRT if necessary, maybe, just maybe, surgery in extreme duress, and intentional orgasm limited to the conjugal marital act between one genetic man and one genetic woman. People certainly don’t have to accept my views to be in the saving peaceful hands of Jesus. I have good relationships with many people who disagree with my stance. Even my 30-year-old marital relationship is improving, while divorce is still on its way. God bless and guide you all, ~~~Miriam/Misco

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