A Christian-based fellowship group for LGBT persons, their families, and friends
Gay and Straight in Christ welcomes, supports, and affirms LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) persons, their families and friends and those who wish to stand in solidarity with them in Christ. This ministry works to help the LGBT community find comfort in taking its rightful place within the Catholic community.
We will strive to provide:
- The message that our church is open to all persons as a welcoming and affirming Christian community. We affirm the love of Christ for everyone and offer a place of worship for any who may have felt unwelcome or disenfranchised in the Catholic faith. God does not discriminate. We choose to do the same.
- A safe environment where ideas can be exchanged without fear or judgment. As gay and straight Disciples of Christ, we share our unique gifts and perspectives openly. All are held in confidence.
- Support for those coming out or struggling with someone else’s coming out. We provide encouragement and spiritual resources with a modern Christian perspective.
- Education for all as we worship, learn and grow together in Christian faith.
- Faith sharing by exploring what the Bible says regarding homosexuality and what it does not say. We reflect on the Bible within the context and culture in which it was written.
- Outreach to the LGBT community, their family members and friends. We endeavor to help LGBT people be an integral part of the Catholic Christian community. We believe that God’s love is inclusive and unconditional and we pride ourselves in our demonstration of that love.
What is the History of this Ministry?
- GASIC began in the early 2000s at Good Shepherd in Menomonee Falls.
- St. Mary’s in Hales Corners initiated this ministry about 2010.
- We occasionally collaborate with these two parishes for “larger events” such as movie nights, speakers, or community events.
GASIC 2016/2017 Calendar
All meetings take place from 7:00 pm – 8:30 pm in Room 3 at Our Lady of Lourdes unless otherwise noted. Meetings consist of prayer opportunities, discussion, and occasional guest presenters.
October 5 [note this is the 1st Wednesday] November 9
No December gathering
March 15 [note this is the 3rd Wednesday] April 12
How do I get involved?
If you are interested in joining us or know of someone who would benefit from this group, please come to any meeting!
For more information, kindly contact Nancie Chmielewski at (414) 541-9470 x13
This support group is committed to maintaining confidentiality. Every individual attending any meeting is assured that their stories and/or faith sharing will be kept in confidence by all other attendees.
Myths and Facts
Being gay is contagious
Most LGB individuals were raised by straight parents. Sexual orientation is most likely determined by genetics.
Gay people recruit others to be gay
Sexual orientation can’t be changed. Gay people are attracted to other gays. This myth may come from the fact that many gay people don’t come out until they older, when they meet someone to whom they are attracted. This doesn’t mean that they weren’t gay before, just that they hadn’t come out yet. Gay people do not sexually stalk straight individuals for casual sex.
There are specific gender roles in gay relationships
There are a variety of forms of gay relationships, just as heterosexual relationships. Sometimes there may be specific roles for each person, sometimes these roles are very flexible. Original butch/femme roles may have come from imitating heterosexual roles.
Gay men want to look like women and lesbians want to look like men
Some gay men do enjoy wearing women’s clothes, but most don’t. Most conform to cultural expectations for men’s dress. Lesbians usually do not want to look like men. Their choice of dress is more often determined by comfort and, possibly, by rebelling against stereotyped ideas of what women should look like. Some lesbians enjoy dressing very feminine.
Gay people could change if they want to
Research has repeatedly shown this is not true–that sexual orientation is something we are born with. Examples of people who claim to have changed their orientation usually indicate someone who has changed their behavior in response to internal or external pressure to be heterosexual. This is often at great cost to self, because basic feelings haven’t changed.
Sexual orientation emerges for most people in early adolescence without any prior sexual experience. And some people report trying over many years to change their sexual orientation from homosexual to heterosexual with no success. For these reasons, psychologists don’t consider sexual orientation for most people to be a conscious choice that can be voluntarily changed. The American Psychological Association has made several official statements that conversion therapy is unethical.
Therapy could cure homosexuality
Treatments that claim to cure homosexuality are just successful in coercing heterosexual behavior—you cannot change a person’s inner feelings about their basic orientation.
People are gay because they were sexually abused
Most people who were sexually abused do not take on a gay identity. Gay and lesbian people, just as heterosexuals, may have been abused, but this has no relation to their sexual orientation. Straight women who have been sexually abused by men may have difficulty relating to men, but this does not mean they are lesbians.
Gay persons sexually molest children
Approximately 95% of child molesters are heterosexual men. A molester who abuses boys is not usually gay–many will abuse children of either gender.
Gay people do not have stable or long relationships
Even though gay and lesbian relationships do not have the social supports which heterosexual relationships have, many gays and lesbians form long-term, monogamous, stable relationships and consider themselves to have a lifetime commitment to each other. Many heterosexual people have trouble forming stable relationships; so do some gay, lesbian and bisexual people.
Homophobia only exists in straight people
Homophobia–an irrational fear of homosexuals or of being homosexual–exists in straight, gay, lesbian, and bisexual people growing up in a culture that oppresses people who are not heterosexual. Gays, lesbians, and bisexuals have homophobic feelings just as straight people do. They have internalized these feelings from the culture, and often have problems with self-hatred and lack of self-acceptance.
If a person has sex with opposite sex, then they can’t be gay
Many people do not realize they are gay until later in life, partly because of the negative views our society holds of gay people. Prior to this they may have heterosexual relationships. Some gays and lesbians also engage in heterosexual relationships in an effort to hide or deny their gay/lesbian identity. And many people are not exclusively either heterosexual or homosexual. They may find themselves attracted to people of either gender. At different times they may engage in both heterosexual and homosexual relationships.
Gay people can’t control their sexual urges
Gay people have the same range of level of sexual desire as others. This myth may arise from defining gay people by their sexual behavior, i.e., being gay or lesbian is all about whom you have sex with. Many other factors go into LGB identity.
Coming out is a one time process
For most gay people, coming out is a lifetime process. In any new situation or relationship, the gay person must decide how out to be. These situations can include simple activities (i.e. shopping, opening a joint checking account, picking out furniture, buying jewelry, taking your child to the doctor, attending parent night at school, or having company over to your home).
Gay people are not happy because they isolate themselves
Some gay people are isolated because of fear of disclosing their gay identity. However, many are active in gay and lesbian communities and find that a great source of support. Except for how they are affected by oppression, there is nothing to indicate gay people are any less happy than others.
Hollywood portrayals of gay people are accurate
Hollywood reinforces gay and lesbian stereotypes and prejudices. There are few accurate portrayals. The media often focuses on the individuals behaving in extreme ways (e.g., during gay pride marches, acting effeminate).
Discrimination only impacts racial and ethnic minority groups
There is extensive discrimination against LGB people. People can be fired, lose custody of their children, experience housing discrimination, etc. In most states there are no civil rights protection for LGB people. GLB’s are not eligible for federal jobs (prisons) or military positions. Security checks still inquire about sexual orientation.
Being gay is a mental illness
The APA has determined that being gay is not a mental illness. Research has shown that being homosexual is not associated with emotional or social problems. However, many LGB people experience distress due to oppression and homophobia. Objective scientific research over the past 35 years has consistently shown that homosexual orientation, in and of itself, is not associated with emotional or social problems.
In 1973, the American Psychiatric Association removed the term “homosexuality” from the official manual that lists all mental and emotional disorders. In 1975, the American Psychological Association took the same action. Both associations urge all mental health professionals to help dispel the stigma of mental illness that some people still associate with LGB orientation.
Can be either male or female. Someone whose primary sexual/emotional attraction is toward someone of same gender
Term representing gay women, although some women prefer to be called “gay”.
Attracted to both men and women. May form relationships with either gender at different times in life.
Primary attraction is toward someone of opposite gender.
Experiences conflict between biological gender identity and inner feeling of being male or female. May feel like a man in woman’s body or vice versa. May pursue surgery to change physical gender.
Irrational fear of homosexuals or of being homosexual.
The assumption of the inherent superiority of heterosexuality, obliviousness to the lives and experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered people, presumption that all people are, or should be, heterosexual. A systematic set of institutional and cultural arrangements which reward and privilege people for being or appearing to be heterosexual while establishing potential punishments or lack of privilege for being or appearing to be lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgendered. (Evans, N. J., & Rankin, S., 1997)
Compiled by Dr. Carmen Cruz and Courtney Aberle of the TWU Counseling Center
More Myths and Facts
Lesbian, gay and bisexual people cannot be identified by certain mannerisms or physical characteristics. People who are lesbian, gay or bisexual come in as many different shapes, colors and sizes as do people who are heterosexual.
Sexual experiences as a child are not necessarily indicative of one’s sexual orientation as an adult. Many lesbian, gay and bisexual people have early heterosexual experiences, but are still lesbian, gay or bisexual; many avowed heterosexuals have had sexual contact with members of their own sex, but are still heterosexual.
No one knows what causes sexual orientation. Many lesbian, gay and bisexual people know that they are attracted to members of their own sex at an early age, sometimes as young as 6 or 7 years old. Others learn much later in life, in their 30’s, 40’s or 50’s. Some research indicates that sexual orientation is determined between birth and age 3, but no one is sure what causes particular orientations.
Many people accuse lesbian, gay and bisexual people of “flaunting” their sexuality when they talk about their partner, hold hands or kiss one another in public. These are activities that heterosexual couples do all the time. Due to homophobic reactions, some lesbian, gay and bisexual people are actually forced to hide their sexuality in public, not flaunt it.
People who are lesbian, gay and bisexual work in all types of jobs and they live in all types of situations. They belong to all ethnic and racial groups. They are members of all religious communities. They exhibit a range of mental and physical capabilities. They are young, middle aged, and old.
Sometimes oppression based on sexual orientation escalates into acts of physical violence. In surveys of lesbian, gay and bisexual people, 52-87% have been verbally harassed, 21-27% have been pelted with objects, 13-38% have been chased or followed and 9-24% have been physically assaulted.
Most lesbian, gay and bisexual people are comfortable with their own biological sex; they don’t regard themselves as members of the opposite sex. Being lesbian, gay or bisexual is not the same as being transgender.
The majority of child molesters are heterosexual men, not lesbian, gay or bisexual people. Almost all studies show that over 90% of child molestation is committed by heterosexual men.
Homosexuality is not a type of mental illness and cannot be “cured” by psychotherapy. Although homosexuality was once thought to be a mental illness, the American Psychiatric and Psychological Associations no longer consider it to be one. Psychiatric and psychological attempts to “cure” lesbians and gay men have failed to change the sexual orientation of the patient. These “treatments” may help change sexual behavior temporarily but also can create emotional trauma.
There is no definable gay “lifestyle”. Similarly, there is no standard heterosexual lifestyle. Some people might like to think that a “normal” adult lifestyle is a heterosexual marriage with two children. Less than 7% of all family units in the U.S. consist of a mother, a father and two children living together. The most accurate generalization might be this: lesbian, gay and bisexual people are different from one another in the same ways that heterosexual people are different from one another.
Compiled by Youth Pride, Inc. with the help of The Campaign to End Homophobia.
What the United States Catholic Bishops Say
Short Excerpts from
A Statement of the Bishops’ Committee on Marriage and Family
The purpose of this pastoral message is to reach out to parents trying to cope with the discovery of homosexuality in their adolescent or adult child. It urges families to draw upon the reservoirs of faith, hope, and love as they face uncharted futures. It asks them to recognize that the Church offers enormous spiritual resources to strengthen and support them at this moment in their family’s life and in the days to come. A Critical Moment, A Time of Grace
In this pastoral message, we draw upon the gift of faith as well as the sound teaching and pastoral practice of the Church to offer loving support, reliable guidance, and recommendations for ministries suited to your needs and to those of your child. Our message speaks of accepting yourself, your beliefs and values, your questions, and all you may be struggling with at this moment; accepting and loving your child as a gift of God; and accepting the full truth of God’s revelation about the dignity of the human person and the meaning of human sexuality.
We address our message also to the wider church community, and especially to priests and other pastoral ministers, asking that our words be translated into attitudes and actions that follow the way of love, as Christ has taught. It is through the community of his faithful that Jesus offers you hope, help, and healing, so your whole family might continue to grow into the intimate community of life and love that God intends.
Accepting Your Child
How can you best express your love—itself a reflection of God’s unconditional love—for your child? At least two things are necessary.
First, don’t break off contact; don’t reject your child. A shocking number of homosexual youth end up on the streets because of rejection by their families. This, and other external pressures, can place young people at a greater risk for self-destructive behaviors like substance abuse and suicide. Your child may need you and the family now more than ever. He or she is still the same person. This child, who has always been God’s gift to you, may now be the cause of another gift: your family becoming more honest, respectful, and supportive. Yes, your love can be tested by this reality, but it can also grow stronger through your struggle to respond lovingly. The meaning and implications of the term homosexual orientation are not universally agreed upon. Church teaching acknowledges a distinction between a homosexual “tendency,” which proves to be “transitory,” and “homosexuals who are definitively such because of some kind of innate instinct”(Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Declaration on Certain Questions Concerning Sexual Ethics, 1975, no. 8). In light of this possibility, therefore, it seems appropriate to understand sexual orientation (heterosexual or homosexual) as a deep-seated dimension of one’s personality and to recognize its relative stability in a person. A homosexual orientation produces a stronger emotional and sexual attraction toward individuals of the same sex, rather than toward those of the opposite sex. It does not totally rule out interest in, care for, and attraction toward members of the opposite sex. Having a homosexual orientation does not necessarily mean a person will engage in homosexual activity. There seems to be no single cause of a homosexual orientation. A common opinion of experts is that there are multiple factors—genetic, hormonal, psychological—that may give rise to it. Generally, homosexual orientation is experienced as a given, not as something freely chosen. By itself, therefore, a homosexual orientation cannot be considered sinful, for morality presumes the freedom to choose.1 Some homosexual persons want to be known publicly as gay or lesbian. These terms often express a person’s level of self-awareness and self-acceptance within society. Though you might find the terms offensive because of political or social connotations, it is necessary to be sensitive to how your son or daughter is using them. Language should not be a barrier to building trust and honest communication. You can help a homosexual person in two general ways. First, encourage him or her to cooperate with God’s grace to live a chaste life. Second, concentrate on the person, not on the homosexual orientation itself. All in all, it is essential to recall one basic truth. God loves every person as a unique individual. Sexual identity helps to define the unique persons we are, and one component of our sexual identity is sexual orientation. Thus, our total personhood is more encompassing than sexual orientation. Human beings see the appearance, but the Lord looks into the heart (cf. 1 Sm 16:7). God does not love someone any less simply because he or she is homosexual. God’s love is always and everywhere offered to those who are open to receiving it.
Like all gifts from God, the power and freedom of sexuality can be channeled toward good or evil.
Everyone—the homosexual and the heterosexual person—is called to personal maturity and responsibility. With the help of God’s grace, everyone is called to practice the virtue of chastity in relationships. Chastity means integrating one’s thoughts, feelings, and actions, in the area of human sexuality, in a way that values and respects one’s own dignity and that of others. It is “the spiritual power which frees love from selfishness and aggression” (Pontifical Council for the Family, The Truth and Meaning of Human Sexuality, 1996, no. 16). To live and love chastely is to understand that “only within marriage does sexual intercourse fully symbolize the Creator’s dual design, as an act of covenant love, with the potential of co-creating new human life” (United States Catholic Conference, Human Sexuality: A Catholic Perspective for Education and Lifelong Learning, 1991, p. 55). This is a fundamental teaching of our Church about sexuality, rooted in the biblical account of man and woman created in the image of God and made for union with one another (Gn 2–3). Two conclusions follow. First, it is God’s plan that sexual intercourse occur only within marriage between a man and a woman. Second, every act of intercourse must be open to the possible creation of human life. Homosexual intercourse cannot fulfill these two conditions. Therefore, the Church teaches that homogenital behavior is objectively immoral, while making the important distinction between this behavior and a homosexual orientation, which is not immoral in itself. It is also important to recognize that neither a homosexual orientation, nor a heterosexual one, leads inevitably to sexual activity. One’s total personhood is not reducible to sexual orientation or behavior. Respect for the God-given dignity of all persons means the recognition of human rights and responsibilities. The teachings of the Church make it clear that the fundamental human rights of homosexual persons must be defended and that all of us must strive to eliminate any forms of injustice, oppression, or violence against them (cf. The Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons, 1986, no. 10). It is not sufficient only to avoid unjust discrimination. Homosexual persons “must be accepted with respect, compassion and sensitivity” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 2358). They, as is true of every human being, need to be nourished at many different levels simultaneously. This includes friendship, which is a way of loving and is essential to healthy human development. It is one of the richest possible human experiences. Friendship can and does thrive outside of genital sexual involvement.
The Christian community should offer its homosexual sisters and brothers understanding and pastoral care.
More than twenty years ago we bishops stated that “Homosexuals . . . should have an active role in the Christian community” (National Conference of Catholic Bishops, To Live in Christ Jesus: A Pastoral Reflection on the Moral Life, 1976, p. 19). What does this mean in practice? It means that all homosexual persons have a right to be welcomed into the community, to hear the word of God, and to receive pastoral care. Homosexual persons living chaste lives should have opportunities to lead and serve the community. However, the Church has the right to deny public roles of service and leadership to persons, whether homosexual or heterosexual, whose public behavior openly violates its teachings. The Church also recognizes the importance and urgency of ministering to persons with HIV/AIDS. Though HIV/AIDS is an epidemic affecting the whole human race, not just homosexual persons, it has had a devastating effect upon them and has brought great sorrow to many parents, families, and friends. Without condoning self-destructive behavior or denying personal responsibility, we reject the idea that HIV/AIDS is a direct punishment from God. Furthermore, persons with AIDS are not distant, unfamiliar people, the objects of our mingled pity and aversion. We must keep them present to our consciousness as individuals and a community, and embrace them with unconditional love. . . . Compassion—love—toward persons infected with HIV is the only authentic Gospel response. (National Conference of Catholic Bishops, Called to Compassion and Responsibility: A Response to the HIV/AIDS Crisis, 1989)
Nothing in the Bible or in Catholic teaching can be used to justify prejudicial or discriminatory attitudes and behaviors.2 We reiterate here what we said in an earlier statement:
We call on all Christians and citizens of good will to confront their own fears about homosexuality and to curb the humor and discrimination that offend homosexual persons. We understand that having a homosexual orientation brings with it enough anxiety, pain and issues related to self-acceptance without society bringing additional prejudicial treatment. (Human Sexuality: A Catholic Perspective for Education and Lifelong Learning, 1991, p. 55)
To our homosexual brothers and sisters we offer a concluding word. This message has been an outstretched hand to your parents and families inviting them to accept God’s grace present in their lives now and to trust in the unfailing mercy of Jesus our Lord. Now we stretch out our hands and invite you to do the same. We are called to become one body, one spirit in Christ. We need one another if we are to ” . . . grow in every way into him who is the head, Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, with the proper functioning of each part, brings about the body’s growth and builds itself up in love” (Eph 4:15-16). Though at times you may feel discouraged, hurt, or angry, do not walk away from your families, from the Christian community, from all those who love you. In you God’s love is revealed. You are always our children.
What Vatican II Says
Lumen Gentium (Light of the world)
Dogmatic Constitution of the Church
“It is the special vocation of the laity to seek the kingdom of God by engaging in temporal affairs and directing them according to God’s will. They live in the world, in each and every one of the world’s occupations and callings and in the ordinary circumstances of social and family life which, as it were, form the context of their existence. There they are called by God to contribute to the sanctification of the world from within, like leaven, in the spirit to the Gospel, by fulfilling their own particular duties. Thus, especially by the witness of their life, resplendent in faith, hope and charity, they manifest Christ to others.”
“The laity… are given this special vocation: to make the church present and fruitful in those places and circumstances where it is only through them that it can become the salt of the earth.”
Gaudium et Spes (Joys and hopes)
Pastoral Constitution of the Church
“Deep within their consciences men and women discover a law which they have not laid upon themselves and which they must obey. Its voice, ever calling them to do what is good and to avoid evil, tells them inwardly at the right moment: do this, shun that. For they have in their hearts a law inscribed by God. Their dignity rests in observing this law, and by it they will be judged. Their conscience is people’s most secret core, and their sanctuary. There they are alone with God whose voice echoes in their depths.”
“For guidance and spiritual strength let them turn to the clergy; but let them realize that their pastors will not always be so expert as to have a ready answer to every problem, even every grave problem, that arises; this is not the role of the clergy; it is rather the task of lay people to shoulder their responsibilities under the guidance of Christian wisdom and with careful attention to the teaching authority of the church.”
“Give us the courage to stand with our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters, their families and those who minister to them. Give us the grace to confront their rejection, to ease their loneliness, to calm their fears and to belie their sense of abandonment.”
From “A Prayer in Honor of Those Whom Jesus Loved”
by Sr. Joan Chittester, OSB