Lesbian and Gay Ministry at St. Matthew’s Church, Long Beach, CA

Our November Meeting: A presentation of Baby, You Are My Religion: Women, Gay Bars, and Theology Before Stonewall by the book’s author, Dr. Marie Cartier, with a Q&A to follow that will include testimony and participation of several persons who are profiled in the book—plus our annual Steering Committee elections.

Tuesday, November 4th, 7:00 p.m., Fr. Gerald Meisel Parish Hall at St. Matthew Catholic Church, 672 Temple Ave., Long Beach

Dr. Marie Cartier and a cover of her book,
Baby, You Are My Religion: Women, Gay Bars, and Theology Before Stonewall (Rutledge, 2012).

For our November meeting, we’re excited to host Dr. Marie Cartier—scholar, artist, and activist who teaches in the Departments of Film and Media Studies at UC Irvine, and Gender and Women’s Studies at CSU Northridge—who will be discussing her new book, Baby, You Are My Religion: Women, Gay Bars, and Theology Before Stonewall. It’s a book that examines the American butch-femme bar culture of the mid-twentieth century, a topic that, even in its secular aspects, scholars have insufficiently studied, let alone with respect to the topic’s religious aspects, which Dr. Cartier places a special emphasis on. One of the book’s central arguments is that lesbian bars should be understood not as spaces in which women merely hid out in, but as sacred spaces where women congregated, community flourished, and where traditional and non-traditional religious activities took place. Before Stonewall, she reminds us, when homosexuals were still deemed mentally ill by the medical establishment and declared unwelcome by people all around them, bars were often the only place where gays and lesbians could experience any sense of community. Her book explores this largely unexamined and important history, revealing, for example, that religious institutions such as the Metropolitan Community Church were founded in such bars. Dr. Cartier’s work draws on more than 100 interviews, a third of them from residents in Long Beach, and a quarter of them with women of color. We’re delighted to announce that several of these women will be on hand to participate in our discussion of the book and the lived and lively history that the book documents.

Copies of Baby You Are My Religion can be purchased at the meeting and Dr. Cartier has graciously agreed to sign copies if persons wish them to be inscribed.

Annual Elections to Our Steering Committee

Did you know that Comunidad is celebrating its 28th anniversary this year? Yes, twenty eight years! Of course, as so many persons can confirm, St Matthew’s has warmly welcomed gay and lesbian persons in its congregation for much longer than that; but, we are especially happy and proud that this wonderful Catholic community that we belong to has, for these many years, formally supported a ministry made up of gays and lesbians and their supporters which is dedicated to meeting the special needs of gays and lesbians and their families. Since the very beginning of this ministry, its work has been carried out in a special way, through a steering committee that reflects the women and men whom this ministry serves and which works in partnership with our pastor and other clerical and parish staff members.

For those who have only recently been receiving our newsletter or attending our “First Tuesday” meetings or other special events, you may not know that each autumn, at one of Comunidad’s general membership meetings, we hold elections (a requirement of the ministry’s bylaws) for those wishing to serve on the ministry’s Steering Committee for the next 12 months. This year we’re holding our annual election at the November meeting— serendipitous timing, it turns out, given that our November meeting is being held on the same day as the U.S. general election (by the way, please do your duty and vote in the general election, but do so early enough that you can safely arrive at the Comunidad meeting, which starts at 7:00 p.m! If you reside close to Saint Matthew’s, one of the parish’s classrooms may, in fact, be your polling place, so for those lucky folks, you can participate in two important voting traditions by visiting the same location—just show up at about 6:40 p.m. to vote in the general election and then walk twenty-five feet to the parish hall where we’ll be holding our meeting. No matter where you live, you can confirm your polling place for the general election here.)

In addition to having executive members—President/Chair(s), Secretary, and Treasurer—the Committee also includes between four and eight others who serve either in a special capacity that flows from the particular talents or as a member “at large.” Steering committee members gather once per month—usually at 7:00 p.m. on the second Monday—for about ninety minutes to plan and coordinate Comunidad’s activities. It’s a wonderful opportunity to help guide the ministry in the important work that it undertakes.

We are happy to announce that some of the Steering Committee’s current members will be seeking to renew their terms on the Committee, but there is plenty of room for others, and thus we welcome nominations of names not yet put forward. If you have a particular skill or simply a general interest in getting more involved in Comunidad, please contact Marilyn Pires or Keith Brittin, Comunidad’s current Co-Chairs, either by sending an e-mail to them at or by calling Marilyn at (562) 706-7195. Nominations will be accepted through the beginning of Tuesday’s meeting. To cast your vote in the election itself, whether or not your name is on the ballot, you must be present at the November meeting.

We hope you can join us for the meeting, and we look forward to seeing you there. Don’t forget, as is our tradition, refreshments will be available both before and after the program. This month, given that we’ll be in book presentation mode, in addition to some light snacks and other drinks, we’ll also be in coffeehouse mode with decaf and full-strength varieties and sweet deserts.

Our December Meeting: A Christmas Party with a “White Elephant” Exchange

Tuesday, December 2nd, 7:00 p.m., Fr. Gerald Meisel Hall, St. Matthew Catholic Church, 672 Temple Ave., Long Beach

As we love to do each Christmas season, we’ll be gathering together to celebrate the holiday in style and good cheer. This year, Comunidad will be hosting a holiday party with lots of goodies and some classic Christmas tunes, which will make for a perfect excuse to wear that Christmas sweater or tie or scarf or hat that you haven’t been able to part with after all these years. So keep the date free on your calendar, and please join us. Between now and then, though, keep an eye out for that special item that’s been collecting too much dust on your shelf or hiding out unused in one of your drawers, cabinets, or boxes that you would like to part with—the more odd or unusual or especially ungainly and inelegant the object the better—something you know could be put to much better use in someone else’s home, and be prepared to bring it with you to the Christmas party. We’ll have more details in our next newsletter.

It’s Killing Me

By Joe Maffucci

She keeps her distance
And sits on fences
Puts up resistance
And builds defenses

What's the problem?

You leave me hanging on the line,
Everytime you change your mind.

First you say you won’t
Then you say you will
You keep me hanging on,
And we’re not moving on
We're standing still, Jenny
You’ve got me on my knees

It's killing me

In the 2005 song Jenny, The Click Five sing about a courtship that is going nowhere and seems doomed to failure. Sound familiar? It should if you were paying attention to the reports from the Extraordinary Synod on the Family that Pope Francis called for last year and which recently met and finished its first session in Rome. (Continue reading here)

Many Thanks to Our Generous Donors

We’d like to offer our sincerest gratitude to those who have so generously responded to this year’s annual appeal. If you’ve not yet responded, can you give of your time, talent, or send a financial contribution?

Comunidad’s annual appeal has gotten off to a great start thanks to those who quickly and generously responded with a contribution and/or offer to volunteer. If you’ve not yet responded, and are able to send us a small financial contribution or help us by volunteering your time or talent, it would be much appreciated. Because we have been, since last year, running in deficit spending mode, the financial contributions we have thus far received have been especially helpful. Every donation, no matter the amount, and whatever the kind, helps.

Know that St Matthew Catholic Church—Comunidad is a registered 501(c)3 charity organization, so monetary donations are tax-deductible.

If you did not receive our annual letter in your postbox it is likely because you are registered with us only through your e-mail address or because the postal address we have on file for you has changed since it was provided. Indeed, several dozen envelopes were returned to us as undeliverable with no forwarding address, a situation that results in the postal address portions of those member records to be purged. Thus, if you believe that your contact information has changed since it was supplied, we ask you to please visit your membership profile page and update your information—or you can send a message to moc.bldadinumoc@pihsrebmem‎, and we can update it for you.

Even if you did not receive our annual letter via the postal system, you can respond to the campaign by downloading the return form and mailing it back to the address declared on it. Financial contributions can be sent electronically via PayPal, which will save you the cost and trouble of affixing a stamp on an envelope. You needn’t be an PayPal account holder (or create an account) to use the service. To do so, visit our donation page.

Food for Thought: Catholic Parents of LGBTQ Children

Videos Released by Ignatian News Network

Given the subject of our member’s meeting this past February, we thought it especially timely that two new episodes to the Ignatian News Network’s video series on Gay and Lesbian Catholics were released at about that same time. The first videos in the series, parts one and two of “Who Are We to Judge?—Gay Catholics,” were published in July of last year. The two new episodes focus not on lesbian and gay Catholics themselves but on “Catholic parents of LGBTQ children.” We think the videos are worth watching and thinking about. Each episode runs about six minutes. The videos are hosted on Ignatian New Network’s YouTube channel, “IN Network.”

We’ve got other upcoming events, too!

Tear Down This Wall

By Joe Maffucci

“Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate!” exhorted Ronald Reagan in his now-famous speech during the early summer of 1987; “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” Shunning the advice... (Continue reading here)

An Interview with the Holy Father

Pope Francis, in a lengthy interview conducted by Antonio Spadaro, S.J. of La Civiltà Cattolica, which took place over three meetings this past August, and which was simultaneously published by several influential Jesuit magazines around the globe so as to provide the world’s Catholics the content of the interview in each of the world’s major languages, has revealed a welcome change in tone regarding the Church’s ministry as it pertains to gays and lesbians. The interview provides much insight into our Pontiff’s personality, thinking, and theology. The editors of America, who provided the English translation, titled the interview “A Big Heart Open to God,” which seems fitting. We teased you with several, short excerpts from the interview in our October e-newsletter—but it’s worth reading in its entirety here.