Gregg, Jason, Chris, Mark and God

Editor’s Note: As the two editors of The Diss are Jewish, the following guest piece by Gregg Gethard isn’t something we could, or would, write. Considering that 24% of Americans identify as Catholic, and a full 77% identify as Christians, we generally feel confident that they have ample platforms to share their experiences and beliefs. However, on the issue of Jason Collins becoming the first major American team sport athlete to announce, the two most prominent Christian voices have been Chris Broussard’s ugly comments on Outside the Lines and Mark Jackson’s ambiguous statement. On this day, on this issue, we think it is important to hear from as many distinct viewpoints as possible.

I prayed for Jason Collins and his family yesterday, just like Mark Jackson.

I’m Catholic. And that’s what we’re supposed to do when challenging events in the world happen.

Mark Jackson took a lot of heat for saying he was praying for Collins’ family yesterday. I’m not going to pretend to say I knew what he was praying about or what’s in his heart. I’m not Mark Jackson.

But what I can say is what I prayed for. I prayed that Jason Collins continues to take on the mantle of being a role model for homosexual youths and athletes with the grace and dignity and courage he has already displayed. I prayed that his family stand resolute and with him because they, too, are now a part of Jason’s decision to come out. I prayed that the love that they were showed from not just the NBA community but most of the world continues. I prayed that Jason doesn’t have to suffer from being called a “fag” or even worse for his sexuality. I prayed that he and his family stay safe, since we live in a crazy world where a 19-year-old college kid can manage to shut down an entire metropolitan area.

I didn’t pray for Jason Collins to change his behavior.

This may shock you, being that I am a Catholic. We don’t exactly have the greatest reputation in terms of openness to homosexuality.

I can’t speak for the entire Church. I can only speak for me. I think gay marriage should be legalized. I don’t think a government has the right to tell anyone who people can enter into a lifelong partnership with. On the other hand, the Church has a few thousand years of tradition and definition of marriage on its side. It has the right to say who can and can’t participate in the sacrament of marriage.

I’ve learned not to be very open about my faith. The few times I have talked about my religious beliefs have been met with eye rolls and condescending remarks. They’re not universal, by far, and I have a few other friends who are religious. But, mostly, my spirituality and Catholicism is a lonely affair. I definitely think a lot of people who aren’t Catholic or Christian think we hate others, including homosexuals.

That’s not what I’ve been taught at all.

Yes, the Church does say that homosexuality is a sin.

I was brought up Catholic. I was even an altar boy. I lapsed, like most Catholics do. I discovered The Clash and The Ramones and teenage alienation. I rededicated myself to being Catholic when my grandmother, Nan, passed away. She was born in Ireland. She went to mass nearly every single day of her life. She didn’t have any money or anything to leave her grandkids. The one thing she really wanted for us was to share and embrace her faith. I started going for her and it stuck. It’s helped me so much through so many of the problems and burdens that I face.

Do you know how many times the topic of homosexuality has been addressed during the homily at the masses I’ve gone to? (And I try and go every weekend.)

Once.

It was shortly after Rutgers student Tyler Clementi committed suicide after his roommate filmed him having sex with another guy. The message we were taught was that this was a true tragedy and we should have love and compassion for people like Tyler, because that’s what God would do.

There was no condemnation of his lifestyle or sexuality. It was just a message of compassion and love.

Almost all of the messages at mass are about that. God and Jesus love us. We should love each other and have compassion for everyone. Jesus dies for our sins – we can take away the lessons of his life on earth and try our best to live in his image.

No one should be a leper. I have gay friends. I’ve had gay teachers. I’ve seen how much people suffer with the confusion and pain of their sexuality. We all have our crosses to bear. I pray that they have found comfort after emotional turmoil they face, and people who are attracted to the same sex continue to face.

No one should be a leper.

Chris Broussard came out and talked about his faith and how Collins’ actions fly in the face of God’s teachings and what’s in the Bible.

My religion agrees with that.

However, we’re also taught to Love Thy Neighbor as much as we love ourselves and to not cast stones at others. I try not to judge others for their sins and behaviors; I’m a human and fail and sin regularly, even though I do my best efforts to live my life in a positive manner.

However, God still loves me – as he loves everyone – no matter how many times I fuck up.

And he loves Jason Collins.

And he loves Mark Jackson. And he loves Chris Broussard.

He loves us all.

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2 Responses to Gregg, Jason, Chris, Mark and God

  1. David Smith says:

    Wonderfully put, Gregg!
    -Dave (used to work with you on the other side of the cubicle divide in Plymouth)

  2. Christopher says:

    As a Liberal Catholic I thought this was remarkable. Been to hundreds of Masses and never heard a message of hate once. Not once. Fantastic writing.

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