"Let Me Be" – One Irish Man's Experience of Being Gay, Catholic and A Primary School Teacher 7 years ago

"Let Me Be" – One Irish Man's Experience of Being Gay, Catholic and A Primary School Teacher

On May 22nd Irish voters will take to the polls to vote in the Marriage Equality Referendum. 

The referendum proposes to add to the Constitution a declaration that "marriage may be contracted in accordance with law by two persons without distinction as to their sex".

In advance of this landmark vote, teacher David Mooney has published his view on the realities of life in Ireland today as a young, gay, Catholic teacher. He is appealing to the Irish public to vote Yes.

david-face

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I am gay, I am Catholic and I am a primary school teacher in a Catholic school. 

One day I’d like to be a husband and perhaps even a Dad; if I’m lucky enough. For as long as I can remember, however, there have been people putting limitations on me being me. Limiting my capacity to love, to be a teacher in a Catholic school, to be gay, to be a parent, to be a husband. I’m here to ask you to remove those limitations and restrictions once and for all and just let me be me.

It’s ironic that these days I’m finding it much harder to admit my religious beliefs than my sexual orientation. Saying “I’m gay” comes easy to me and elicits very little reaction from people. Saying “I’m Catholic” however, is a different story. I believe in God and I believe that God, in His wisdom, planned for me to be gay. And thank God He did too. The God that I believe in is wiser and greater than any human mind, than any words we can put on human experience; than any laws, frameworks or structures that we can put on life in our societies. God knows what He is doing in making me gay. The man-made structures in our society, however, are currently limiting my potential to express and live the love that I have the capacity for. God’s dream for me is not a dream of limitations. His dream for me is to be as fully me as I can be. I’m asking you to vote yes to let me live as fully as everybody else.

Love is God’s greatest gift to us. I trust in God. I trust in the positivity of love. I know I have done things in my life that the church would consider sins but I know in my heart that loving another man is not one of them. I know this because I have been in love once. And it was fantastic! I loved seeing him, I loved being with him, loved holding his hand, loved sharing life with him, loved being in love – he made my world a brighter place. In the end, we grew apart; we needed to say goodbye and go in separate directions in order to move forward on our individual paths. It was a taste of love. Something I pray I get to experience again, something that motivates me, something that I look forward to sharing again one day. I hope. I fail to see how allowing me to love and supporting that love as equally as the love expressed by my straight friends could be damaging or destructive to society. I’m asking you to vote yes and let me love as fully as everybody else.

I know that the church’s position states, broadly speaking, that the male-female unit is the most ideal for the upbringing of kids. It has even been suggested that allowing same-sex couples to marry would attack, damage or even destroy the uniqueness of male-female marriage. I have to disagree. Men and women will continue to procreate. Male-female unions will continue to be in the majority.  Elevating the status of gay relationships to the same as straight relationships in marriage doesn’t diminish that which is special or unique about straight relationships; just as elevating the status of black to that of white hasn’t diminished that which is special about black or white, nor has it said that black is the same as white. The same can be said for women and men. It simply says that black and white, women and men, gay and straight all deserve to be treated equally. In the not-so-distant past; sections of our society believed that being white was most ideal, that being a man was most ideal. People were conditioned into these beliefs; the beliefs around “ideals” in families are similarly conditioned beliefs. I’m asking you to vote yes and let me feel equal.

I’d like to think I’d make a good Dad. I’d like to think that I’d choose a partner who would also be a good Dad. If we decided to have kids it would be a very informed decision; it wouldn’t happen casually, as can be the case in some straight situations. The significant difference between my relationship and a straight relationship is that we’d need external help to have children; adoption services, surrogacy, egg donors etc. We’d have to jump through hoops. It wouldn’t happen by chance or by accident; it would be considered, planned and fought for. And that child would receive every ounce of love, support, encouragement and care that I could give it.  I want to provide a loving, caring, nurturing environment for a child to grow up in, an environment in which their uniqueness is cherished, an environment which allows them to blossom into the best possible version of themselves. Equality in Marriage would indicate to any children myself and my future partner may have that their Dad’s relationship; although different, is valued and supported and accepted as equally as their classmates’ family situations. I’m asking you to vote yes and let any kids I may have know that their family is not second-class.

God made me. He did not make the institution of marriage. The institution is a man-made response to the interpreted best needs for society. It was constructed at a time when homosexuality was largely misunderstood, ignored, taboo and in the shadows. We now have a greater understanding of what it means to be human. We have hundreds of years of advances in science, psychology, sociology, psychiatry, medicine etc that inform and influence our current understanding of what it means to be human. Thus our understanding of what it means to be gay has advanced. The man-made institution of marriage needs to grow and evolve with our evolving understanding of what it means to be human and our expanding understanding of what society needs. Church and State now need to incorporate these advances and include all consenting, loving, committed adults who wish to marry, the capacity to do so. It is time for church and state to treat us equally and to be inclusive of our relationships. This referendum does not affect church marriage. I’m asking you to vote yes and let me be supported by the state in marriage.

If I do meet someone to add to my life, someone whose life I can add to, someone I want to spend the rest of my life with, someone with similar morals and values to me; I’d like to have the relationship respected by other people of faith. Any potential relationship I may have in the future, however, has been deemed by superiors in the church as less worthy, deviant, morally or intrinsically wrong. It upsets me that two people could commit to one another and that certain others could look at it from the outside and judge it to be wrong. It frustrates me that anyone who passes the church doors from one end of the year to the other without entering into the building can avail of church and state marriage. Yet I can’t. It frustrates me that I’ve given to the church and my local community, that I’ve dedicated time and energy to the church, that I’m a Catechist in my local school and have passionately prepared children for the Sacraments of Penance, Communion and Confirmation and that I cannot avail of the sacraments as equally as everybody else. Voting yes in the upcoming referendum won’t change church marriage but I’m asking you to vote yes to let the hierarchy of the church know that you support me.

I’m 30 and for as long as I can remember there have been people telling me that I cannot be fully me; people who have put limitations on me being me. So once more; I’m asking you to please just let me be. Let me love. Let me commit. Let me feel supported. Let me be equal. Let me be a husband. Let me be a Dad. Without the limitations or restrictions. I already am many of these things and I’m doing as good a job at it as the next person; so support and protect me as equally as my straight friends. Please. I’d like to live in a world where I can be as fully me as God created me to be. I’d like to live in a world where the love that I have to offer can be expressed and celebrated confidently; without limitations. Now wouldn’t that be ideal?

by David Mooney

 

Blog post republished with permission of the author, via Not A Second-Class Teacher

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