Fortunate Families. Catholic Parents from the US who are struggling for a gay inclusive church
By Delia Vaccarello, L’Unità (Italy), 18 July 2011, translated by Kathryn
Fortunate Families is an association that seeks respect for their gay sons and daughters. In Italy it has inspired the creation of the project Gionata (Italy), one of the most active Christian groups that is fighting for gay rights. Fortunate Families define themselves as “Catholic families that demand respect for their gay and lesbian sons and daughters”.
(…) Fortunate Families run a support service for the many families struggling to accept the homosexuality of a family member, helping them to overcome their prejudices, not only social but also internal.
They applauded the recently approved law on equal marriage in New York, and carry out extensive press reviews. It is an activism that has yet to arrive in Italy, where there is a parents´ association that supports recourse to so-called “reparative therapies” that purportedly seek to “cure” gays.
At this year´s Europride 44 gay Christian groups wrote for the first time a letter to the Pope, asking him to condemn these extremely harmful practices.
The gesture did not go unnoticed on the other side of the Atlantic. Fortunate Families (the name is designed to communicate both joy and undermine stereotypes), has published an article highlighting this demand of gay Christian groups across Europe. Fortunate Families has served as a source of inspiration for the Italian group Gionata, a group of Gay and Lesbian Christians among the most active in Italy.
“It is touching to see the commitment and dedication of so many Catholic parents that in the name of love of their children and of the Gospel do not give up in their efforts to dialogue with the church in order to raise awareness about our situation.
(…) “A recent study shows that American Catholics are quite open on a number of socially sensitive topics such as equal marriage, despite the fact that the Catholic hierarchy remains closed on this issue”, adds Pontillo. In England dialogue is also starting. “The English Catholic church has published a pamphlet edited by the Marriage and Family Life Project Office in May 2007 that provides information to parents with gay children”, describes a Gionata volunteer.
The problem in Italy is going “public”. “Parents even if they timidly come to our gatherings, maybe they speak with a priest or a bishop, but they are still very reluctant to publicly associate themselves, to give their first and last names”, says Pontillo. This lack of action discourages all those who are seeking a role model, or just a first gesture that they can then follow.
The Gionata website now includes a new section “parents and children”, and recently the survey of Lidia Borghi on Catholic parents of gay children has been published. That the theme is important is also reflected by the attention paid to it by the independent press agency on the Catholic world and other faiths (http://www.adistaonline.it).
What is needed is to start speaking about this long taboo subject.But for the moment most parents prefer to remain silent, to help them with their “coming out” are only trusted friends, enlightened parish priests, and their own children.