Musical Nun Sings: ‘You Are Not Alone’

From New Ways Ministry Blog:

Bare-MusicalArtThe character of a nun, in an off-Broadway musical provocatively entitled Bare, is now singing a song which one writer thinks will become an anthem for LGBT youth facing bullying and harassment.

Despite the title, the show does not focus on nudity, but on the struggles of two gay high school students at a Catholic boarding school

In a Huffington Post piece, Mark Canavera draws attention to a song in the second act, “You’re Not Alone,” sung by the character Sister Joan:

” ‘You’re Not Alone,’ developed by lyricist Jon Hartmere and composer Lynne Shankel for the current off-Broadway revival of the musical Bare, will become a new anthem for LGBT youth. Bare churns in tempo with the lives of a group of sexually awakening teenagers who are struggling within the confines of a Catholic school. ‘You’re Not Alone’ comes late in the second act and represents the show’s emotional pinnacle, piercing through the turmoil. (Although no official recording of the song yet exists, a demo version is available to stream here.) Sister Joan, an empathetic nun, is consoling one of her gay students who is caught in the whirlwinds of the drama. She uses the clearest words imaginable:

“You’re created in His image. / You’re a perfect child of God. / And this part of you / It’s the heart of who you are. / It’s who you are / And you just need to know / You’re not alone.” ‘ “

Canavera describes how the song was developed, and the reason the composer and lyricist put it into the mouth of a teacher:

“That the song is sung by a teacher to her student illuminates the special role that teachers can play in supporting their students while opening new horizons. ‘I think that teachers have such an amazing opportunity-slash-responsibility to their students to open a kid’s eyes to what is possible beyond what they think is possible,’ says Shankel. Hartmere himself was a teacher who spoke frankly to his classrooms about his sexual orientation and the offense he felt at hearing insults tossed around. ‘One day on the yard,’ he describes, ‘I heard a kid call someone else gay, and one of the girls from my class said, “Don’t use that word because my teacher’s gay, and I like him.” ‘ “

Of course, more importantly is the fact that the character is not only a teacher, but a Catholic nun:

“In addition to being a teacher, Sister Joan is obviously a nun. Hartmere, who was raised Catholic and whose great aunt is a nun, believes that this character and her song should help to provide a counter-balance to conceptions of the Catholic Church as a monolithic, doctrinaire haven for sex offenders. ‘There’s another angle here,’ says Hartmere, ‘another way of looking at things. Nuns are an amazing group of people who have an amazing worldview that should be listened to more.’

“I couldn’t agree more. Listening to Sister Joan send her clarion message to the struggling student in a recent performance of Bare transported me directly to 1992, when I was a freshman at a Catholic high school in Charleston, South Carolina. I was coming to terms with my sexual orientation, lonely, lost, confused, and yes, suicidal. My Sister Joan was Sister A.J. — short for Alice Joseph — of the Sisters of Mercy order. Sister A.J. was in her 50s when she taught me and passed away some years ago now; God rest her soul. Much like the teacher whose supportive note to a gay studentrecently went viral, Sister A.J. wrote the following note on one of my essays:

By the way, you were born homosexual, overweight, and with a loving heart. Don’t worry about your homosexuality. One day the pope will understand. PS…I love you.

” ‘You’re Not Alone‘ and such notes are crystal lasers of love, beaming direct and clear from the hearts of nuns to their LGBT students. May such love go viral.”

At New Ways Ministry, we’ve known for over 36 years how much nuns have been supporting LGBT people and ministry because they have been the backbone of our financial and spiritual support.  We are deeply grateful. We are glad that a song such as “You Are Not Alone” is helping to spread the message of nuns’ love–and God’s love–of LGBT people.

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry

See The 10 Montana Senators Who Want Gays To Be Criminals

From Cowgirl:

 

On Tuesday, the Montana Senate voted, finally, to erase our “anti-sodomy law” which makes it an imprisonable crime to be gay.  Although invalidated by our state supreme court in 1997, the law has remained on our books because Republicans have always refused to go along with efforts to scrap it.

 

But yesterday, SB 107, a measure to strike the offensive language from our statutes finally passed the senate.  That said, the vote was far from unanimous.  Ten Republicans voted no.

To see them, click here.

MT Schools Anti-Bullying Bill Pulled- But Not For The Reasons You May Think

From Rep. Jean Price:

Good news for supporters of the anti-bullying bill! 

It turns out that at the same time we were working on language for HB 219, the Board of Public Education adopted the same bullying prevention language in their school accreditation standards.  The Board of Public Education has the constitutional authority to adopt new rules for schools.

 The new standards require that schools adopt policies and procedures to address bullying.  You can find the document on the Board of Public Education website under proposed Chapter 55 Accreditation Standards. Here is the direct link:  http://bpe.mt.gov/content/PDF/VariousDocs/Chapter55.

These standards go into effect July 1, 2013. Taking the new rule adoption into consideration, and after discussion with the Office of Public Instruction, I have withdrawn HB 219 from consideration by the House Education Committee on Wednesday, February 6th.

Remember that this is good news!   I encourage you to share the section of the new standards with students, parents, teachers, counselors, administrators, and other community members.

While we won’t have a state law on the books,schools will be required to abide by the new standards.

Thank you so much for your interest in HB 219.  I appreciate your commitment to this very important issue.

Rep. Jean Price

Update: Homophobic Attack In Missoula

The Missoulian, KPAX and Towleroad are all reporting on the Missoula beating of a young gay man on his 22nd birthday.

Wipeout Homophobia’s Facebook page posted photos earlier today- I can’t bear to put them up here- they’re upsetting and I don’t think I need to make the point that there are people out there who think it’s okay to beat up people they see as queer- as ‘fags’, as ‘dykes’ as ‘trannies’, as, well, whatever.

There are people everywhere who think it’s okay to do that- not just in Montana.

After the most successful Pride Celebration in Montana history, when more supporters than ever showed up for equality and to support their LGBTIQ brothers and sisters, it’s very hard to see the reality of hate and ignorance that we all have to face every day in the U.S.

It’s not just Montana. It’s not “just” anywhere. It’s everywhere.

And that’s why we can’t be silent. That’s why we need to keep standing up in the face of bullying and violence. It goes against the values of the Montana I know and love. And sadly, bullying and violence still seems to be promoted as a value in some Montana circles (yeah I’m talking about you, Tim Ravndal).

But I still believe more people have our best interest at heart than don’t. The ignoramuses just have the advantage of jumping out of dark alleys.

So, again- please- be careful out there.

Update: Police are now saying that this investigation has taken a turn- from the Missoulian:

Missoula police are examining a videotape that purports to show a young gay man injuring his face while doing a backflip.

The man reported to police that he’d been beaten up outside the Missoula Club early Sunday morning, allegedly because of his sexual orientation.

But the video shows him doing a backflip off a curb on North Higgins Avenue and smashing his face on the sidewalk as he lands.

“Until we finish the investigation, we won’t know the entire story, but it has certainly been a major development in the case,” said Missoula Police Chief Mark Muir.

I’m making no further comments until we know more.

But what I said above applies nonetheless.

Study: That Queer-bashing Bully Could Be Gay

A fascinating study, discussed in the New York Times this morning, reveals that, at least in a clinical setting, “very straight” persons often struggle with same-sex feelings:

No Homophobia logo

No Homophobia logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One theory is that homosexual urges, when repressed out of shame or fear, can be expressed as homophobia. Freud famously called this process a “reaction formation” — the angry battle against the outward symbol of feelings that are inwardly being stifled. Even Mr. Haggard seemed to endorse this idea when, apologizing after his scandal for his anti-gay rhetoric, he said, “I think I was partially so vehement because of my own war.”

It’s a compelling theory — and now there is scientific reason to believe it. In this month’s issue of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, we and our fellow researchers provide empirical evidence that homophobia can result, at least in part, from the suppression of same-sex desire.

Well, as anybody whose been following Glee knows, the bully can often turn out to be the would-be boyfriend. I remember a few of them from my own life- who were the most vehement haters of the gays- and later turned out to be, as one of them told me later “a relieved homosexual.” The authors conclude:

It’s important to stress the obvious: Not all those who campaign against gay men and lesbians secretly feel same-sex attractions. But at least some who oppose homosexuality are likely to be individuals struggling against parts of themselves, having themselves been victims of oppression and lack of acceptance. The costs are great, not only for the targets of anti-gay efforts but also often for the perpetrators. We would do well to remember that all involved deserve our compassion.

Read the full article here.

A Catholic’s Easter Lament: Dogmatic Tone-deaf (Seattle) Bishops

Joel Connelly, who has written about the official church’s anti-gay craziness before, now addresses the move by Seattle’s Catholic bishops to use churches as places to gather signatures for Referendum 74, which seeks to rollback marriage equality in the state of Washington. Excerpt:

A painful truism of this Holy Week, Christianity’s most important days of the year:  Moral leadership in America’s Catholic Church is starting to flow from lay persons in pews and priests who deal with human problems, not prelates on thrones wearing white, red and purple hats.

Just look around to events from Rome to Berlin, and from Worcester, Mass., to Seattle.

In the Archdiocese of Seattle, our bishops issued a letter saying parishes will become signature-gathering centers for Referendum 74, a ballot measure designed to roll back same-sex marriage.  But the state’s marriage equality law was sponsored by a Catholic state senator and signed into law by a Catholic governor.

Archbishop Sartain and Bishop Elizondo talk about treating all persons with “respect, sensitivity and love,” but then urge support for a campaign put together by the National Organization for Marriage — an outfit that wants to “drive a wedge” between blacks and gays, “sideswipe” President Obama and make opposition to marriage equality “an identity marker” for young Latinos.

Connelly correctly identifies the root of all moral teaching: experience. The authentic experience of human beings who want nothing more than to live authentic lives is the only thing behind marriage equality and relationship recognition. The only thing. Most people care little for the dogma behind the teaching- especially, as in the case of thoughtful Christians, it doesn’t match their experience.

A key lesson:  Moral authority is earned.  It is not  simply acquired when a bishop/cardinal/Pope is installed.   The American (and Irish, and Dutch, and Belgian , etc.) hierarchy has forfeited a lot of that authority through its handling of the priest sex-abuse scandal. The despair is mitigated by the good works and wise words from  those in the pews. As Pope Benedict XVI used a Holy Thursday sermon to tell priests to obey orders, Medina, Wash., lay Catholic Melinda Gates was speaking from conscience about contraception at a conference in Berlin.

Contraceptives are not a code for abortion, she said, nor an invitation to promiscuous sex.  “We are talking about giving women the power to save their own lives and their children’s lives — and to give their families the best possible future,” said Gates, talking of the need for birth control in the developing world. Gates discussed the instruction in faith she received from sisters in a Catholic high school:  “In the tradition of great Catholic scholars, the nuns also taught us to question received teachings.  One of the teachings most of my classmates and I questioned was the one saying birth control was a sin.”

She didn’t question lessons on service, and giving back, and social justice, worthy grounding for the future co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Read it all here, and then forward it to everyone you know.