For this blog, which covers Catholic LGBT issues, we usually think of it as important news when an LGBT person achieves some positive recognition by a Catholic institution. Today’s news is actually the inverse of that scenario: a Catholic person achieving recognition by an LGBT institution.
Ruth Hunt, a practicing Catholic has been appointed as the new chief executive of Stonewall, the premier LGB equality organization in the United Kingdom. London’s Independent reported that Hunt, who has been serving as acting chief executive for six months, has said that she is pledging to win over “hearts and minds” as part of her agenda.
PinkNews.co.uk reported that another item Hunt has mentioned to be on her radar screen is to be more in contact with the transgender community. Stonewall currently only works on lesbian, gay, and bisexual issues. The news story quoted her comments:
“We’ve always spoken to trans groups – I have hosted round tables at Stonewall with trans groups, and there are a lot of conversations to be had with a lot of people who have strong opinions. . . .
Transgender activists in the UK have traditionally maintained their own equality agenda, but Paris Lees, a commentator, sees that Hunt may provide a good opportunity for building bridges:
“I understand that in the past prominent trans activists asked Stonewall to let trans people campaign on their own issues. I certainly understand that request, but we can’t ignore the fact that Stonewall is well funded, respected and professional, and I firmly believe there are many areas where we cannot separate combatting homophobia from transphobia. I look forward to the discussions that now look likely to happen happen between Stonewall and the trans community.
“I wish Ruth and Stonewall well, sadly we still need charities that fight prejudice.”
The Guardian noted Hunt’s faith perspective as important to her work:
“Hunt, who is a Catholic, said there were still many isolated gay people, including those with faith, throughout the country who needed support. ‘Some have gained more from these legislative changes than others,’ she said. ‘People living outside big cities people belonging to faith groups – I have been speaking to a young woman who is a committed Muslim and gay, and she can’t imagine speaking to her parents, never mind meeting a partner – there is still a lot to be done.’ “
In the recent past, Hunt has spoken out specifically on the pastoral care of lesbian and gay Catholics. When London’s “Soho Masses” for LGBT people was moved to a different parish by Archbishop Vincent Nichols, Hunt, who was then Stonewall’s public affairs director was quoted by the BBC:
“Given what’s happened over Christmas, where there were vitriolic and mean messages from the pulpit about same-sex marriage, there has never been a more important time to provide a safe space for gay Catholics to pray. . . .
“”The archbishop’s views on gay issues are well rehearsed and have nothing to do with the spirituality of some lesbian and gay people and their desire to express their faith.”
We extend our very best wishes and congratulations to Ms. Hunt, who is personally serving as a bridge between the Catholic Church and the LGBT community!
–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry