Sunday, 23 February 2014

Times: A cause worth fighting for
Saturday, February 22, 2014, 00:01 by Gabi Calleja

I worked with Fr Paul Chetcuti first through the Christian Community at sixth form and then at the Diocesan Youth Commission for 14 years. His open letter (February 19) was addressed to me among others. I know this because he chose to e-mail me to inform me of the letter.

This is my reply to him.

Dear Pawlu,

You chose to communicate with me and other lesbian and gay friends of ours in a public manner and I, therefore, feel somehow bound to reply in a similar fashion.

You were an important influence in my life for many years as you guided and accompanied me through my struggles with loneliness, my desire to love and be loved and my search for meaning.

I feel nothing but gratitude for your love, guidance and support.

My understanding of love, of family, of community, service, of solidarity, of justice, of friendship and of commitment all stem from those shared experiences.

You claim to know me, yet accuse me of being driven by pain, anger, bitterness and a thirst for power.

You forget that I am no longer the insecure, somewhat lost young person I was then. I am a grown woman fully cognisant of my strengths and limitations, of what drives my actions, my relationships and of my place in the world.

Coming out as a lesbian was a difficult but, at the same time, also liberating experience. It is a part of my identity that I have come to embrace and celebrate.

My intimate relationship is one that enriches me and brings me great joy and fulfilment, a true gift.

It saddens me to think that you have such little faith in my goodness; that you would somehow believe that for my own personal gain and to satisfy my own selfish needs I would ever knowingly choose to cause harm to children or anyone else, for that matter.

Our views on gender identity and gender expression have always differed.

My own thinking and understanding of what it is to be male and female, masculine and feminine has also been challenged.

My experience in the LGBT movement has led me to encounters with extraordinary human beings whose courage to be true to themselves despite the great obstacles to self-realisation placed in their way I have found to be truly inspiring.

I would wish you could meet some of my gay and lesbian friends who are also parents. It is a privilege to be a witness to the love that they share and the tenacity with which they confront a world which refuses to affirm the right of their families to exist.

I would especially wish that you could meet their children, full of life and joy in the certainty of being loved. Perhaps they might allay some of your concerns.

What drives me is not pain but a passion for justice and a deep-seated knowledge that who and what I am is deserving of equal dignity, respect and recognition before the law.

I do not expect you to accept what I have chosen to stand for.

I do expect you to consider that perhaps someone who has been taught very well how to discern good from evil, truth from lies, right from wrong, would not champion a cause unless they truly believed it was one that is worth fighting for.

Gabi Calleja is coordinator of the Malta Gay Rights Movement

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