Suffer the Arrows

Saint Sebastian, Oil on canvas, 206 x 154 cm
Image via Wikipedia

Following a link from “Reluctant Rebel”, I was delighted to find this site:  Suffer the Arrows, which I have not previously come across. (I don’t know why not, as it has been around for some time, with archives going back to 2008.  The blog name is a clear reference to st Sebastian, whom I wrote about recently, and whom I suggested as a useful role model for gay Catholics – in his refusal to die, and his return to the Emperor Maximilian to scold him for the persecution. (See the story, and a delightful picture, here).

In an explanatory post, he puts his position like so:

“Suffer the arrows” is a reference to St. Sebastian, who is an iconic figure of one who suffers unjustly without becoming unduly perturbed by it, even though he eventually dies from his wounds. Artists have, for centuries, portrayed St. Sebastian’s tribulations in varying stages of undress and musculature. It is not surprising, therefore, that he has become somewhat of a gay icon too. I post here under the name “Sebastian,” which is a nom-de-internet. It affords me some degree of privacy, and therefore permits a greater degree of honesty than I might otherwise be comfortable with. I am trying to find my voice in the Church, a voice that is honest and true, respectful and faithful, but not self-denying or obsequious. That is a tall order.

Go across and read his take on outing gay priests; or for something more cheering, have a look at his reaction to Scott Pomfret’s “Since My Last Confession“, a book  I loved:

Toward the end of the book, in sections marked “why be Catholic,” Pomfret quotes one of his fellow parishioners:

“Why are you still Catholic?” I asked a gay father of three.
“Entirely aside from my spiritual life and my promise to the good priests and nuns that were here when my children were christened, I also feel a political responsibility not to leave but instead to sit my gay ass in the pew and not be budged by people who don’t want me there,” he said. “It’s a Rosa Parks thing. I’m just not moving. It’s my Church too, as much as theirs. If I want to leave, I will, but I won’t leave because somebody else wants me to leave or because it makes somebody else uncomfortable. I just won’t do it. I won’t do it for myself, and I won’t do it for people who are not yet born, who will have the same struggle. That’s …my very quiet way of saying, ‘We’re here, we’re queer, and I’m proud of it.’ I’m there, and [my husband] is there, and I’m proud we are there. If it were appropriate to raise my middle finger, that’s what I am doing – in a polite, kiss-of-peace kind of way.”

That, my friends, is brilliant, in a Rosa Parks kind of way………………………
Sebastian strikes me as sane, sincere – and hurting, just like the rest of us.  Go give him some support.


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4 Responses to “Suffer the Arrows”

  1. Mark from PA Says:

    Thank you for sharing these with us, Terence. I must say that in a way I feel blessed because I went to 12 years of Catholic school and never heard one word said against gay people by priests or teachers. I have also never heard anything said against gay people from the pulpit. I was effeminate but I was never in a fight in all of school and don’t feel that I was bullied in high school. I was somewhat shy and a lot of the kids didn’t talk to me much. In fact I think I was sheltered to an extent by the other kids. The other guys for the most part didn’t use bad language around me, tell me dirty jokes and discuss sex or drugs with me. I treated everyone with respect and never had a bad word to say about anyone so I think I pretty much got respect back. My best friend did use homophobic terms around me when I was a senior but I think he just did this to keep me at a distance. One odd thing that I remember is that he had a dictionary with the word sodomy underlined and often he would show me the word and laugh and I was clueless as to why he did this. There was only one teacher that was negative towards me, the priest that taught our class religion. He could be sarcastic to me at times and I would feel that he was poking fun at me. He took a lot of the kids on outings and trips but he gave them alcohol and since I didn’t drink I never got invited. Last year, I found out that this man was a predator and that he had abused several guys in my high school. This was upsetting to me and kind of brought home the abuse crisis to me in a personal way. Finding this out has made me see things differently.

    • Terence@queerchurch Says:

      Thanks to you, Mark, for this contribution. All of our experiences are different. I too never experienced any hostiltiy or negative teaching in school – but that was back in the 60’s, when the subject was just never raised. Even so, I was well aware of the outright condemnation I would experience if I were to be honest and come out – so I never did, even to myself, until mnay years later.

  2. Mark from PA Says:

    “So I never did, even to myself, until many years later.” Well, this really hits the bulls-eye with me. And when you talk about many years later, in my case we are talking over 30 years. I was married right out of college and I think that I thought that I would change as I got older. I have read your story and can relate to an extent. It is odd though, when I was a young person and people (mostly strangers) would get homophobic with me, my attitude was pretty much, “Who are you to judge me?” The one thing that I am glad of is that in all this time, I was never angry about it, so in a way I suppose I accepted myself in a way. I never prayed to God to change me. Even now I can’t really talk about this to most people in my life so I am still very much a work in progress. But I have learned a lot by hearing the stories of others (mostly on the internet) so it is a learning experience for me.

    • Terence@queerchurch Says:

      Stories definitely help – that’s why I am collecting them. There are more that I have picked up from assorted comments that I still need to post. Yours are adding to my collection, so thanks to you, too.


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