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When I Came Out to My Mother

Remarks made at demonstration at the United Nations during Pope Benedict XVI’s Pastoral Visit to the United States

By Lourdes Rodríguez-Nogués
Vice-President, DignityUSA

When I came out to my mother, the first question she asked me was:

“What about God?”
I think that what she really was asking was:
         “Do you still love God?”
         “Does God still love you?”
         “Can you go to Mass? Would you?”
         “Is God going to reject you?”
         “Are you going to abandon God?”

My mother knew the position of the Church and as the very good Catholic woman that she is, she was expressing the conflict that she felt inside her heart between her daughter and the Church, between God and the daughter that she loved.

I knew I would not be the one out, and I also knew that my mother really did not have to choose.  That was not what God wanted for her or for me.

I reassured my mother that my heart was filled with love for God; and that I knew with all certainty that God loved me and was delighted in the way I lived my life.
That was enough for her.

But I ask Pope Benedict:
Why did the church put my mother in that excruciatingly painful dilemma?
Was all that angst that my mother went through necessary?
Did it serve and honor God?

My mother and I did very well, still do, and when my partner Diane and I visit her in Puerto Rico where she and my father now live, we do go to Mass together. She has been at Dignity/Boston with us and she knows that God loves me and that I have not abandoned my faith.

But I know about other Latino men and women whose stories do not have such a happy ending.
Such unnecessary pain.
And again I ask you Pope Benedict:  Does all this serve and honor God?

When Pope John Paul II visited Cuba several years ago, he said that he had gone there to advocate for the respect of human rights and the freedom of religion.  He went to give hope to the Catholic faithful.

As a Cuban, I felt excited for the visit and respected and admired the Pope’s stance on human rights and his decision to make the Cuban government accountable.

What the Pope went to do in Cuba is what I am doing here today:  Standing up to speak in defense of human rights.

Today I call on Pope Benedict to do what his predecessor did in Cuba.  Stand up for civil rights.

Take back the discriminatory and hurtful language that you use to talk about GLBT people.

Speak in a language of love and inclusion like Jesus did.

Speak in support of the civil rights of all people – including mine, a Cuban Catholic lesbian, and all my brothers and sisters who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender.

Que así sea.