Things Change. Coming Out and Being Catholic Without Hiding
This is the story of Emanuele Macca for the ‘Things Change’ special, as published in Riforma, weekly newspaper of Italy’s Waldensian, Methodist and Baptist Churches, November 26, 2013. Translated by Peter Luntz
My name is Emanuele. I’m 37 years old, I live in Pavia, Italy and – in addition to many other things – I’m a gay Christian. Labels like this can be useful, but only to a certain extent because, first and foremost, “I am myself in the entirety of my own history”. Being gay, however, was undoubtedly one of the main facets of my self that influenced the slow and constant suffering of my teenage and young adult years.
The “issues” that being gay creates were evident in the innermost sphere of my being, starting from my relationship with my parents at a very early age. My earliest fear was that I would never meet my parents’ most basic expectations of me.
Other fears came out as I grew up at school and also in my early career. As adults, we run the risk of not having our relationships recognized socially – so much so that we are often encouraged to hide this aspect of our lives.
We end up living with the fear of being marginalized somehow if we are truthful or make this aspect of ourselves visible to others. Over the long run, we continue living with these fears (and we often experience this marginalization firsthand). Due to this, we risk becoming numb to the ability and the need to build deep and honest relationships with others. This is often a way to prevent the disappointment and frustration we may already feel on the inside.
In my own life, this scenario was becoming a reality and the situation was getting out of hand. I finally realized that I had to do something about it. I felt it was my precise responsibility to find a solution, to find a way out of the tunnel I had found myself in.
From then on, all the steps I have taken in my life have led me towards presenting myself with my complete identity. This means not having to hide who I am from my parents, co-workers, fellow parishioners and those friends at ease acknowledging my homosexuality but who perhaps had never steped out of their comfort zone, as well as from my bishop or the Pope.
If you don’t search, you will never find. I searched stubbornly and Providence helped me find certain life experiences where I don’t feel alone, even within Catholic communities.
I no longer live with the idea that everyone needs to be on the same wavelength as me, not even the leaders of the Catholic Church. Now, I am concerned with each person taking care of others – without suffocating themselves or imposing their own thoughts on others – regardless of what role they play in our society (laborer, office worker, doctor or Bishop). This has allowed me to truly feel ‘united in communion with others’ and this is what it means to really be part of a “comm-unity”.