Philippines: Painting the pulpit with the rainbow

RJ knew he’s gay since puberty. “I was attracted to guys,” he said, adding – with a smile – that “even my wet dreams were about guys.”

But after graduating from college, RJ had a calling. And so RJ became Father RJ, a Roman Catholic priest.

By becoming one, Fr. RJ therefore became one of the members of the LGBT community who chose to dedicate their lives to serving an institution that is not necessarily welcoming of them.

Gay tales in the church are not exactly new, with these tales emanating all the way from Vatican, and with even the Papacy involved. The likes of Pope John XII (who reigned from 955 to 964), Boniface VIII (r. 1294-1303), Paul II (r. 1464-1471), and Sixtus IV (1471-1484) had reigns that were marred with gay-related (substantiated or not) controversies. If any, these highlight how the gay issue has always been around in the Roman Catholic Church.

Fr. RJ added: “Being LGBT is not a sin. Logically, therefore, LGBT love and LGBT relationships are not sinful.”

Nonetheless, he recognizes that many LGBT people have been hurt by their faith – in the Philippines in particular, by the Roman Catholic Church. Their “courage” to continue following their faith serves as an inspiration to Fr. RJ.

“I feel joy in my heart whenever I see LGBT people attending Mass, praying in the church, or practicing Catholic devotions. I am inspired by their bravery and strength despite the hurt inflicted by homophobic Roman Catholics,” Fr. RJ said. “To my LGBT brothers and sisters: There will always be haters. The haters will misuse the name of God to justify their hate. Ignore them. As Ms. Melanie Marquez said, ‘I won’t stoop down to my level!’”

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