The New Homophiles (so termed by Austin Ruse in a blog post for Crisis Magazine) are a group of Christians/Catholics who are trying to navigate what it means to be a Christ follower who struggles with same sex attractions (SSA). While reading Ruse’s article, I was somewhat offended by his tone and some of the terms he used to describe this group, but I found myself identifying with them. My desire to belong to something greater than myself began to search for similarities and a place where I could fit in to this new movement. I began to read some of the blog posts at Spiritual Friendship where many of these New Homophiles write and I was instantly drawn to writers like Ron Belgau and Wesley Hill finding some many similarities between their stories and mine and feeling inspired by the deep thought they had put into these issues and the wisdom they had to share.
However, I do find myself questioning this group of thinkers in one area; the desire to embrace the terms “gay” or “queer” as a self-identifier is something I’m not sure I can get on board with. I am hesitant to use these words to describe myself mainly due to the associations I have with these words as well as how these words are viewed by others around me, primarily conservative Christians. I think that when using any word, especially one as emotionally charged as gay, you have to be aware of not just its objective meaning, but also the possible subjective meanings to your audience. I believe this is why many people criticize these writers for their use of this term. I honestly believe that if the writers of Spiritual Friendship were to sit down and have an in-depth conversation with each of their detractors about what they mean when they say they are gay, there would be a lot more common ground than what it appears on the surface.
This leads me to another area that some (including Ruse) find troubling about the writings of Belgau and his companions. Ruse believes that they intentionally “obfuscate” words to muddy the waters and make it impossible to nail down an exact point of view. I can see where this idea could come into play, but I believe what is really occurring is that two people are honestly trying to express an opinion and understand where the other person is coming from, but they are going about it using the wrong medium. A simple blog post does not begin to allow the type of dialogue necessary to truly express a belief or opinion about such complex issues as the ones they are debating. Again, if Belgau and Ruse were to sit down in a room together and discuss their differences, I think they would find that they aren’t as different as they once thought and they would probably be much more comfortable with the other’s stance.