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Priest on Church stand on LGBTQ community: They are still children of God

By: Wenilyn Sabalo - Multimedia Reporter - CDN Digital | June 19,2023 - 10:00 AM

(Second of two parts)

Priest on Church stand on LGBTQ community: They are still children of God. In photo is Luis Gerunda LGBTQ

Teacher and LGBTQIA+ member Luis Gerunda| Photo by Luis Gerunda

CEBU CITY, Philippines — Coming out takes courage and time.

So said, Luis Gerunda, who acknowledged that coming out of the closet as part of the LGBTQIA+ family took him courage and time.

“As early as six years old, I knew I had this feeling of being gay,” said Gerunda of Barangay Sambag 1 in Cebu City.

READ: LGBTQIA+ yesterday and today: A teacher’s thoughts and the SOGIE bill

Gerunda, who is a teacher, shared with CDN Digital that he thought, too, that his father would not be able to accept him until an incident in the summer of 2014 proved his hunch untrue.

“My mama [had a] nervous breakdown…[and so] one day, niadto ko sa Behavioral Sciences [Unit] sa Sotto, Ward 12. Mubo kaayo akong shorts, gaespadrille ko ato, unya gared ko ato nga checkered nga polo kay mao man toy uso. Unya mao to pagmata niya (mother) [ she asked me] ‘Kinsa diay ka?’,” he said.

(My mama [had] a nervous breakdown…[and so] one day, I went to the Behavioral Sciences [Unit] in Sotto, Ward 12. My shorts was really short, I was wearing espadrille shoes then, I was also wearing a red checkered polo because at that time it was the trend. And when she (my mother) woke up [she asked me] ‘Who are you?’.)

READ: FACES OF CEBU: Zoren Alesna, 31, teacher and LGBTQIA+ member

Before he could answer, his father answered on his behalf, with the words: “Si Dodong bitaw na, Cel… Unya, ana siya (mother), ha? Bayot lagi. Niana akong papa, sige lang, wa man tay mabuhat. Siya man na. Ato man nang anak. Anha man siya malipay. Ato siyang suportahan.”

(That is Dodong, Cel. And she (mother) said, ha? He’s gay. Then my father said it is okay, we cannot do anything about it. That is him. That is our child. That is where he is happy. We will support him.)

That moment, he said, was a defining moment of his life. He was 14.

READ: Support your children if they are gay, pope tells parents

“From that day on, I could always say that my mama and papa have whole-heartedly accepted me for who I am, and kana siya (that is), it was an assurance for me. I know that I am gay, but it is so lisod (difficult). It is so lisod (difficult), maabot ka sa (if you reach the) gender identity crisis nga makaingon kag (you can really say)  what will I be?” he said.

“I will always be inspired to do more in life because I have a very supportive family,” he added.

Aside from working as a teacher, he is a proud part-time TESDA-accredited trainer for bread and pastry production (NC II) and a part-time cake decorator.

These dignified jobs help him provide for his parents, who are now senior citizens.

“We are not less…and after knowing enough through letting people know this is who we are, we coexist. I provide you with safe spaces, provide us with safe spaces as well…Ug bayot ko, unya laki ka. Ug bayot ko, unya babaye ka (If I am gay, and you are a man, If I am guy and you are a woman, Who cares? Let’s just coexist. You don’t harm me, I don’t harm you. We live life on Earth good, well,” he said.

A priest’s take on LGBTQ

For Fr. Loreto Jaque, whose work is into mental health ministry of the Church and into doing expressive therapy in various mental health facilities in Cebu City, everybody has the right to be seen, heard and loved regardless of color, nationality, religion, politics or sexual preference.

“As children of the same merciful God, we are all created out of love, we exist in love and are destined for eternal love…As Christians, we are called to love and to love well. That should be our first responsibility,” he said.

“Having said that I say that lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer love is a valid form of love and therefore can be an experience of God’s loving presence,” he added.

Priest on Church stand on LGBTQ community: They are still children of God. In photo is Fr. Loreto Jaque, who teaches Creative Dreamwork at the Pastoral Formation Year Seminary inside the Archbishop’s Residence Compound in Cebu City. | Contributed photo

Fr. Loreto Jaque teaches Creative Dreamwork at the Pastoral Formation Year Seminary inside the Archbishop’s Residence Compound in Cebu City. | Contributed photo

Asked if he thinks the Catholic Church has become more accepting of the LGBTQ community, the priest replied yes and no.

Priest cites Pope Francis

He said yes because, according to him, Pope Francis, Himself, said that “homosexuals are children of God and have a right to be part of a family. Nobody should be thrown out or be made miserable over it,” quoting the Pope’s comments in the documentary “Francesco” by Oscar-nominated director Evgeny Afineevsky.

READ: Pope Francis says laws criminalizing LGBT people are a ‘sin’ and an injustice

“And with regard to some bishops who are supporting the state laws criminalizing homosexuality in their respective countries, Pope Francis even said that they need “conversion” and “tenderness” as God has for each of us,” the priest told CDN Digital.

“For me, this is a clarion call coming from no less than the supreme pontiff of the Catholic Church, a call for a more loving, compassionate, and merciful attitude toward the members of the LGBTQ community. There is hope then,” he added.

Jaque also answered no.

READ: Pope says homosexuals should be covered by civil union laws

Still forced to live secret lives

For him, until now, and based on his experience in pastoral counseling and therapeutic work, there are still many lesbians and gays who are good and practicing Catholics and yet are still forced to live secret lives.

“Why? Because they are in constant doubt and fear of being discovered [as] lesbians or gays in their communities. And they include priests, nuns and seminarians,” he said.

“Sad to say,  until now, the members of the LGBTQ community are still labeled as “the worst of sinners,” “sick, perverse, immature people,” or “freaks of nature,” as one latin american cardinal has called them, simply because they are men who love men or women who love women,” the priest added.

Jaque added: Worse, we have not made any attempt to really listen to them. Along with the rest of society, we only see them as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer, but never as children of a loving God. Doing so, we simply reduce sexuality only as an activity that happens inside the bedroom when the lights are  put off, men having sex with men, women with women, but never do we see sexuality as relationship-centered. We simply focus on the sexual act but never on the quality of the relationship.

READ: Coming out as gay: Trust the power of time

Jaque said the Church needs to create more spaces of listening and dialogue for members of the LGBTQ community.

“This will surely make a statement that, as a Church, we are not tolerating any unjust labeling or bullying within us. The only efficacy of the Church is the efficacy of love in history. But often, too many laws and structures in the Church can stifle creativity, innovation, progress, and even love, especially for the voiceless in the Church, like our brothers and sisters in the LGBTQ community. God is love. Where there is love, there is God. Love is the one and the only thing demanded of us,” the priest said.

READ: Being a Transwoman: Transitioning is ‘bravery’


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TAGS: LGBTQIA+, pride month, teacher

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