Four members of our little EB group speak Spanish, so we’ve been able to talk to young people from all over South and Central America. I’m ashamed to admit though, that when forming my expectations for the trip, I forgot how many places speak English as a first language. We have talked to pilgrims from India, Jamaica, South Africa, Ghana, Canada, the Philippines, Ireland, Australia and many many more places. Of all the people we’ve met, the USA represents only a handful of the individuals I’ve talked to.
The thousands of international people we’ve talked to are so eager for information. They take stacks of our prayer cards for friends back home, copies of each brochure to read and share, ask questions about how EB got started and share stories of LGBT friends and family. They are the ones who hug us and thank us for being here. They tell us that at home the topic is taboo to speak of but that everyone knows an LGBT person and many young people follow the news of LGBT issues around the world. They remind us that we are lucky to live in a place where we can live proudly and openly but they also can relate to our struggle within the church, where we still sometimes have to hide or be treated like second class citizens. Those from very Catholic countries, like Ecuador or Ireland have said that they are inspired by a Catholic LGBT movement because the secular LGBT movements in their home countries hit a giant wall when faced with the huge cultural importance of people’s Catholic identity and upbringing.
Speaking to these pilgrims has been eye opening and inspiring and has also reminded me again and again that we are part of a worldwide church and that our struggle as LGBT and allied catholics is universal. The stories of rejection, hurt, confusion, love and healing that we’ve heard again and again are so similar to the stories I’ve heard in the U.S. One of the goals of WYD is to celebrate the worldwide church and remind us that we are all one family, certainly I have felt this unity. I’ve been inspired to work even harder because it isn’t just about the rights of me and those in my own parish, but about the Catholics from all over the world that have been so eager to learn and to share in this witness.
(photos: 1) With pilgrims from Ireland (notice the rainbow pin on the blue shirt!); 2) With pilgrims from Suriname; 3) Megan interacting with pilgrims from Ghana)