In a wide-ranging essay on the fate of gay culture, Alex Ross closes with a stirring meditation on the shifting contours of religious belief and homosexuality – and his own grappling with God:
It may be, as John Cardinal O’Connor once intoned, that the Catholic Church will be teaching that homosexuality is a sin “until the end of time.” Recent history suggests, however, that change can happen blindingly fast. I knew as much when, earlier this year, I found myself standing in the chapel at my high school, addressing a meeting of the school’s Gay-Straight Alliance. The existence of such a group was staggering enough; then, there was the fact that the gathering was held in a religious space. I struggled for words, not only because I felt like a visitor from the time of the Mattachine Society—the faces in front of me betrayed little of the dread I once experienced—but also because I was standing in front of an image of Christ on the Cross. I fought off the ancient sense of not belonging, here or anywhere. Eventually, I stammered out something along the lines of what [Bishop Gene] Robinson states crisply in his book: nothing in Jesus’ teachings prevents the recognition of devoted gay relationships. Indeed, Robinson’s title flatly suggests that God wishes it so. Linda Hirshman, in “Victory,” says that the gay movement conquered a fortress of hatred on the strength of its “moral certainty.” That certainty is rooted in the conviction that abiding love cannot be a sin.