Even though some Church officials have tried to exclude us, we exercise our responsibility to redeem the Church from its prejudices. As our models we have the gentile woman whose insistent faith led Jesus to look beyond the Chosen People (Matthew 15:21-28) and the Roman centurion whose quiet faith was recognized in the healing of his beloved boy (Matthew 8:5-13). The Gospel of Jesus, baptism, and the Eucharist are central influences in our lives. We align ourselves with the Catholic faith community and its broader teachings on justice, respect, compassion, and human dignity.

Dignity and communities like us are Church on a grass-roots level. These gatherings are the sacramental sign that we can be lesbian and gay and Catholic. Here we listen together to God's Word and make room for one another at Christ's Table. Here we minister to one another, proclaiming the good news: God's love for Jesus lives within us.

These communities also are places where we can support one another in the continuing struggle to integral our sexuality and our spirituality. We do so by asking ourselves difficult questions and sharing honest answers.

We see our sexuality and its expression as the holy gift of God. The overwhelming majority of us are able to say that we are both sexually active and comfortable in our relationship with Christ. Being sexually active enables us to be more at ease with ourselves, more fulfilled in our relationships, more productive in our work and service. The Spirit is evident in a warmer and more peaceful prayer-life.

We acknowledge as well that sexual abstinence freely and positively chosen is good. Many of us, for various reasons, have attempted a lifestyle of sexual abstinence. Some have chosen sexual abstinence as a lifelong way of being sexual in the world, either as part of a formal religious commitment or as a way to pursue nonsexual interests more freely. Others have chosen to be sexually abstinent temporarily in order to pursue certain goals or to reassess or reestablish priorities.

However, when sexual abstinence has been imposed by an outside force life circumstances, institutional mandate, social pressures — the effect on our lives has generally been unhealthy, destructive, and alienating. The energy expended in maintaining an abstinent lifestyle left us too drained personally to enter into relationships with others or to grow spiritually. Abstinence attempted out of fear — fear of intimacy, fear of disease, fear of divine retribution — diminished our humanness, made us preoccupied with sex, left us hungering for the intimate love of another human being.

Like our heterosexual sisters and brothers, we have had to transcend centuries of teachings that not only separated spirituality and sexuality but also considered sexual expression, if not less than human, then at least a concession to human weakness. We have learned that the living Christian tradition has more to offer than prohibition and condemnation, that through the values and ideals of our faith communities we can create a positive and human sexual ethic. We want our faith to enter more directly into our sexual decisions and activity as that there well be a closer integration of sexuality and spirituality.