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Confirmed as a
solitary Christian

Confirmed as a
solitary Christian


Our high school diarist recalls his unceremonious ejection from his church just as he was ready for confirmation--excommunication without ritual. It shook his faith in the church, but not in God.

Satre is a junior at Notre Dame Academy, a private Catholic high school in Middleburg, Va., and the founder of the Virginia LGBT activist group Equality Fauquier-Culpeper. He writes regular journal entries for The Advocate.

Excommunication may be the most violent word in the intricate vocabulary of Catholicism.

Although the Catholic Church has specific doctrine for the process and analysis of excommunication, some petty diocesan priests have bestowed upon themselves the responsibility of performing the deed, something I have myself experienced.

We have come to a point in history when ceremony and ritual have become dying entities of the past. A gay couple in Tulsa, Okla., does not need to have their relationship celebrated in a church to know that they are married; their union is blessed by the minority of society. Children need not be baptized to know they are free to make their own choices from once being pure; their only original sin is the stain of human nature that binds them to the animal instinct.

I have a solid memory of being told--by a white-collared, black-clad priest of about 30 years--that I was not welcome in the church because of my position on homosexuality. He stood keenly over me, forcing me to cower in the corner on a stark wooden chair. "This church does not welcome you," he repeated to me in as flamboyant a voice as he could muster.

I have such a dark memory of eighth grade. I had been studying since the beginning of the school year to receive the Sacrament of Confirmation in the Catholic Church. I was stoked. This would officially confirm me into the church as an adult ready to take on the responsibilities of a Christian life.

Earlier that year I had been outed by my school's administration to my parents and to what seemed like the world. Now I was facing the pain of getting used to a new life--a brutally honest life to the community around me. Was it on the news? Everyone knew that I was gay--or at least my experiences that year made me feel that way. Why did all these people seem to care? And why did others not care at all? There were so many questions that no one could answer.

At the same time I was off twice a week--in addition to daily religion class--to train for Confirmation. I learned so much at these classes. I learned how to dodge blatant hatred, how to avoid being brutally beaten by various cliques of jocks. I acquired the skill of tactfully sneaking away from groups, learned how not to choke while being dragged across the floor by one of the staff monitors, and even managed to develop an attitude and a shell that led me to become independent of friendship.

During a period of five months I transformed into a different person. No longer was I the shy boy who had recently been outed and was so vulnerable to the constant letdowns that small-town society inflicted on my little teenage life, I was the man who was ready to start a new life as an adult in the church, and I was about to become a freshman in high school.

After I endured five months of brutality from a community of all ages, a priest shook my hand and told me in so few words that I was not welcome in this church. I had passed every class, taken every test, confessed every sin--yet the smallest detail of my life became the largest barrier between myself and the church.

There was no need for a ceremony. I did not need a sealed letter from the Vatican detailing its accounting of the reasons I was excommunicated from the church. No process, no ceremony, and surely no ritual was needed to tell me I was not welcome in the church served by generations of my ancestors. I had been excommunicated without need of documentation.

I was confirmed into my life as a solitary Christian. I maintained my dignity amid incessant judgment and false accusations from the religious community where I went to school.

I look back on so many memories and realize I do not regret that I was outed. I do not regret that I was excommunicated. I am thankful for the stronger and more dignified person I have become as a result of these vile incidents. I am proud that memories like these have driven me toward a life of activism to better the lives of people who may not be as lucky as I was.

The director of the Confirmation programs and I have since discussed what happened to me in great detail. Ironically, she and I have become very good friends, and she remains the only friend to have come out of that experience. It has been made clear that the church has become an immutable predicament for me. Of course, this is all a tangle of opinion from thousands of years of tradition.

Although I learned so many valuable lessons and have been confirmed in my own faith, I still have not been given a justified explanation as to why I need to rebuke the person God created in order to receive the Sacrament of Confirmation.

30 Years of Out100Out / Advocate Magazine - Jonathan Groff & Wayne Brady

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