A reader writes:
I've spent my whole adult life singing in Catholic church choirs, and, like your other readers, I would say most of my colleagues are gay. This is just as true, or more so, in the most traditional parishes, which tend to have more professionals in the music program. For several years I have mostly sung at traditional masses, where the music was plainchant and renaissance polyphony, at several different churches. Almost all of the men I've collaborated over this time have been gay, many of them married. They have had to sit through some sermons over the years that are uncharitably and downright ugly; in stark contrast to the liturgy being celebrated. Mostly they're used to it, I think.
Once when I was directing such a choir, a singer was called out of town when his partner had a medical emergency.
It was during Holy Week: a difficult time to find a substitute on short notice, and I regret that I repeatedly hid the truth from my boss as I scrambled to replace this singer, leaving the nature of the family emergency vague. I did this to avoid outing this person, but what a horrible thing it was that I could not even speak openly for fear of scandal. How cowardly of me! And how complicit in the illusion that same-sex relationships are not real or are "inherently disordered."
Gay organists and singers are a fact of life in the church, even in the most traditional enclaves. They devote their lives, along with their straight colleagues, to making sacred music which is one of the clearest paths to the grace and trancendent beauty of God. I don't know how this difficult situation will be resolved in this present institutional church, or even in this world. But I have known and learned from many gay church musicians, and the church is richer for their contribution, even if they refuse to admit it.
What a sad mess.
Sad and callous.
(Photo: Choir members sing during mass officiated by Roman Catholic Patriarch in Jerusalem Michel Sabbah (not in photo) at the Nativity Church grounds in the biblical West Bank city of Bethlehem on December 25, 2005. By Mus Al-Shaer/AFP/Getty Images)