What good can come from homonegativity?

Dr. Bernard Ratigan, writing in Comment is Free over at the Guardian, is a member of the International Association for Relational Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy and observes that the “gay issue” is thorny for many reasons, not the least of which being a strong distaste for it coming up again and again to the detriment of, as some see it, more important work in the church. Dr. Ratigan comes at it from a more clinical point of view, noting that gays who remain in a church that is hostile toward their sexuality have a greater rate of mental illness:

From a psychotherapeutic point of view, one of the risk factors for mental health difficulties among gay and lesbian people is growing up, and remaining, in one of the toxic versions of the monotheistic religions. The Abrahamic faiths – Judaism, Christianity and Islam – all have early texts that can be read as forbidding same-sex sexual activities, although the Hebrew Bible does have some notable male/male and female/female relationships.

In my clinical work, I am often struck by how some gay and lesbian patients from these backgrounds seem to home in and have a detailed grasp of relatively few lines of admonitions, and a much less extensive understanding of the overall message of their scriptures. Religious professionals sometimes reflect this narrow focus in a preoccupation with aspects of genital – usually anal – sexuality. As usual, it is a preoccupation by male religious professionals with what they see as transgressive male sexuality; the experience of lesbians’ sexuality is still largely ignored.

In Leicester, where I work, it is not unusual for sexual-minority teenagers and young adults from the black and ethnic minority communities to seek consultations after getting little satisfaction from their religious professionals and GPs. The web is an invaluable aid for young adults, helping them find confidential sources that will take their concerns seriously without making judgments. A frequently posed question is: if my faith is wrong about my sexuality, where does this leave me?

Dr. Ratigan is also a member of the Roman Catholic caucus of the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement, and chides the Catholic church for fanning the flames as Anglican bishops wrestled with the question. You can read the whole piece here.

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