What does this have to do with my use of the term gay you're wondering. Well, first of all, Saint Paul instructs that we are to become all things to all men, he writes thus:
This is important because it highlights that if we are to connect with the poor, the disenfranchised, the marginalised - and this includes our gay brothers and sisters - then we are to become like them, understand their position and identify with them. I am not arguing that members of the Church hierarchy come out of the closet, I am asserting with Saint Paul that we must be willing to identify with those persecuted in the Church if we are to bring truth and grace in salvation. That's the first reason that I identify as gay: as an act of identification with all those lapsed or struggling Catholics that feel unable to commit to a Church that persecutes them (and if you don't think the Church persecutes, take a look at the Nigerian Bishops applauding a law that criminalises same-sex unions and public displays of homosexual affection here).
I identify with gay people, where they are, bringing salvation to them.
The second reason I identify as gay is for political reasons. I identify as gay because we live in an era where the term gay has become toxic by the Church and the language She uses in connection with this term. A friend of mine, Gabriel Blanchard, has an excellent post where he describes the term gay in reference to C. S. Lewis' Deplorable Word, which again highlights this idea that gay has become so fraught in Catholic discourse that to assert it, much less to identify as it, is a sort of Latae Sententiae excommunication. You may be tempted to think this is an exaggeration, but how many good and proper Catholics insist on policing the identities of others, warning them that they're in danger of sin by identifying with something the Church considers anathema. The problem with this is that we're talking about real people; when we declare with authority on Facebook that gay people are morally disordered we are, in the words of James Alison, binding the conscience of our brothers and sisters in Christ, becoming a stumbling block to them and their identity in Christ. I identify as gay as a political act of resistance, resisting all those that condemn homosexuality or gay people to exist outside of the Church. The Second Reading to-day was 1 Corinthians 12 where St Paul talks about diversity and plurality in the Body of Christ, highlighting that each of us are ordained by God in Baptism to become Christ to the World, and as a warning to any man that might Lord it over another he solemnly declares:
"On the contrary, the parts of the body which seem to be weaker are indispensable, and those parts of the body which we think less honourable we invest with the greater honour."
For every gay person reading this that has ever wondered that their weakness and frailty - as is so often pointed out to them - might prevent them from full participation in the Church, know that you are loved by God in Christ so much more than you can imagine, and your presence and participation in the Church is necessary, not in spite of your homosexuality but precisely because of it!
The final reason I identify as gay is about ownership of common history, struggle, and suffering. Catholics won't often admit it but gays have been persecuted throughout history, including notably in the Holocaust of which to-day is Holocaust Memorial Day. Some 100,000 of us were arrested with upwards of 15,000 incarcerated in Nazi concentration camps, some 60% executed (see here). I identify as gay then because I choose to stand in solidarity with all those men and women that were persecuted and exterminated because of their sexuality, that have throughout history been marginalised and erased from socio-political life. Whilst I cannot stand with my gay brethren on every point of civic rights (I am a Roman Catholic and I cannot advocate anything that stands in contrary to my faith in God and His Church), what I can do is to stand alongside those gay brethren of mine, as a fellow brother in shared suffering and as a Roman Catholic.
In many ways I identify as gay then as an ecumenical action: choosing to identify with and stand alongside those with whom I share a history of struggle, persecution, and suffering. Whilst we may have different end goals we must still stand together, and I reject any teaching that expects me to disown my sexual and cultural identity in the belief that it prevents me from being fully alive in Christ and his Church. God came to me, received me into His Church, as a gay man: all that has changed is my patterning and direction, my final end and beatitude: I am still that same gay man, and I'm not going to be ashamed to admit that - and neither should you brethren!
Ora pro nobis, Sancta Dei Genitrix.