Tom O'Toole
Speaking about homosexuality? Melinda Selmys' 'queer' way to save gays
By Tom O'Toole
April 6, 2013

In her article, "How to Speak About Homosexuality," (and subsequent follow-up, "What I Mean By Acceptance"), former gay-turned-committed-Catholic author Melinda Selmys makes first one, then two attempts to trash and bash Michael Voris' "FBI (Faith Based Investigation) into Homosexuality," with mixed – or more accurately – mixed-up results. And here, the fault is not so much Selmys', who admits her journey from "sin" and "confusion" to Truth and Catholicism is still filled with "doubts, depression, self-loathing, and intellectual pride," but with First Things, who offers up the still-evolving Melinda as the authentic voice of Catholic/gay evangelization without the brash-but-accurate corrections of someone like Mike.

First, after categorizing Voris' film as angry (not to mention "paranoid, hysterical, and alienating... [and] homophobic"), Selmys then slashes back by saying, "I'm tempted to rip into its bloody meat and leave behind a mangled carcass as a warning to others who might desire to make something similar," seemingly not realizing that by writing thusly she just revealed her own anger out loud. But whereas Voris clearly delineates early on in his video that his (righteous) anger is directed at the sin and not the sinner, Selmys immediately evokes an anger that is personal. Of course, after many readers rightly call her on the carpet for this, she tries to jokingly dismiss it by saying, "Several people have mistaken my desire to rip into Voris' production for rage. It's nothing that elevated. More like intellectual blood-lust, really" – and then proceeds to make the mess even worse.

For after her questionable jest, Selmys goes on to say, "My problem is not with people telling the truth about homosexuality, my problem is with people mistaking anger and disgust for [the] truth [of homosexuality]," claiming that Voris' 94-minute documentary contains "factual and logical errors...about one every two minutes." But instead of then depicting even a single so-called Voris lie, she sighs that "it would take me thousands of words to detangle them all," and instead plays the "C" card (that is, "Charity") and trots out the ol' "Offenses Against Truth" section of the Catechism (CCC 2475-2479) as her sole defense, something that should have made her editors cringe.

For as one who has had that Catechism passage thrown in his face when he exposed the vile sexual sins of Fathers John Corapi and Thomas Euteneuer, I can state from experience that Selmys calling Voris a liar, and later, uncharitable, without uncovering even one of his errors is a grave mistake indeed. Since Voris is neither saint nor savior, I suppose it is okay to claim the commentator named after the Church's defending angel doesn't always know when to hold 'em, know when to scold 'em...provided you give the proof. But to bring out this passage every time someone raises his voice in defense of the Church, especially when Christ called the religious teachers of his time "blind guides," "whitewashed tombs," and "brood of vipers" (see Matt 23:23-36), and St. Paul stated that the ways of the first century Roman homosexuals were "degrading...and unnatural, shameful...and evil" (see Romans 1:18-32), is to be in serious error yourself.

Her unwillingness to debate Voris notwithstanding, perhaps Selmys' greatest shortcoming as spokeswoman for gay evangelization is her failure to identify both the issue and her audience. For after criticizing Voris for his offensiveness toward gays, Selmys then manages to alienate just about every orthodox Catholic or evangelical who isn't a former practicing homosexual... Selmys may be correct in saying that Voris' juxtaposition of "pictures of gay couples snogging in the park" with "images of Sodom in flames" will not appeal to gays, but at least you know where Michael stands, and you have to admit Voris realizes he is appealing to not just practicing homosexuals, but lukewarm and committed Christians as well. Meanwhile, dumping on the devout by urging "[t]he Church in America" to "move on" and give up the fight against gay marriage as her Canadian counterparts have done "while the corpse is still...warm on the table," she admits her acceptance of this loss is easier, since, "I'm a queer Canadian girl...raised in a liberal Anglican tradition and educated within a gay-positive public school system."

There are (at least) two major problems with this last statement; both of which reveal Selmys' inability to distinguish compassion from confusion. First, by identifying herself as "queer," she is either ignorant of the fact that this word is offensive to "straight" Christians (just as the "N" word is to blacks) or she is deliberately being more "in the face" than her nemesis Voris ever was. Of course, she could claim she is just being "in" or cool, just as it is cool for (some) blacks to call each other "n – er" while at the same time okay for them to whack a white when they use the word. Again, if Selmys was speaking in "the Village" or writing for a publication primarily aimed at promoting the sexually active gay lifestyle, I might say okay. But thankfully, this is something First Things is not, at least not yet.

The even deeper problem is that Selmys does not say she was "queer," but identifies it as her present condition. Again, perhaps one could argue that Selmys' declaration "I'm a queer" is the equivalant of an AA member who hasn't taken a drink in years saying "I'm an alcoholic," but as the Church has never encouraged Her believers to claim a past sin as part of their current Christian identity, this present tense statement is confusing to say the least. And in "What I Mean By Acceptance," Selmys' next blog and her attempt to clear up the confusion, her confusion becomes even clearer.

As with "How to Speak About Homosexuality," "What I Mean By Acceptance" does deliver some decent lessons. Selmys' discovery that "militant homosexual activists...[are]...[m]y brothers and sisters" or "that my enemies were actually beautiful people, beloved of God, seeking the Good, the Beautiful and the True as earnestly and imperfectly as I do myself," are both insights worthy of an orthodox Catholic publication. But when she states she had to get past her former "confused, atheistic, occasionally nihilistic, frequently narcissistic, suicidal, self-harming, self-isolating, and unbearably intellectual proud" former self by "identify[ing] with this creature that I had come to try to remember what it was that made me fall in love with my girlfriend," a red flag should pop up just as if the Church had named Nancy Pelosi the Cardinal of Los Angeles, California, or Joe Biden the Bishop of Boston.

I'd like to dismiss the "fall in love with my girlfriend" quote as merely imprecise language, such as a simple believer stating she "prays to Mary" when she really means "I ask Mary to pray for me to Christ." But Selmys is not an uneducated laywoman, and in her "desire for genuine communion with another human being" (as she calls it), Selmys' insistence on still using the word "love" to describe this intrinsically disordered sexual relationship she gave up fourteen years ago is more than problematic. It suggests she has yet to completely come to terms with the difference between the friendship and the lust in this relationship, and her choice of words implies, whether she realizes it or not, that not only is Selmys still sexually attracted to her girlfriend, but that these feelings of "love" are okay, even (or perhaps especially) for a Catholic.

While I agree with First Things that the convert Selmys has much to offer, I think if FT wanted to truly increase the effectiveness and expand the horizons of the "new evangelization" to include gays, they would encourage the debate between Selmys and Voris, if not face to face, then side by side in their publication. But whereas FT finds Voris' penchant for naming names of rogue clergy offensive, they, as well as This Rock and the National Catholic Register (some of the other Catholic publications that publish Selmys) find her errors, if not totally acceptable, at least still publishable. Voris, it is said, "polarizes," and polarization is not supposed to be conducive to donations, the renewal of subscriptions, or attracting advertisers. But whether that is true or not, it's time that Catholic publications started printing the whole Truth, and started worrying less about losing donations or subscriptions and more about losing souls; including their own.

Postscript: Since the first edition of this article, Michael Voris has reached out to Melinda Selmys asking her to come on his Blog Talk Radio show. Let's pray that she accepts!

© Tom O'Toole


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Tom O'Toole

Thomas Augustine O'Toole was born in Chicago and grew up in a devout Catholic family with five brothers and two sisters. He was the sports editor of Notre Dame's Scholastic magazine, where his story "Reflections on the Game" won the award for Best Sports Feature for the Indiana Collegiate Press Association... (more)


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