3 Advent reflections for queer Catholics

This Advent, imagine God actively celebrating the uniqueness and vision of all God's children.
Our Faith

Of all the liturgical seasons, Advent is my favorite. I love its sense of expectation, that image of God coming as a light in the darkness, which so resonates here in the Northern Hemisphere. And I appreciate the season’s many rich stories and feasts.

On December 12, for instance, we’ll celebrate the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. In 1531, an Indigenous Mexican man named Juan Diego had a vision of a young woman who revealed herself to be the “Mother of God.” The woman instructed Juan Diego to ask the local archbishop to build a church on the site where she had appeared. The archbishop initially did not believe Juan Diego, and honestly, Juan Diego also doubted whether he was the right person to share Mary’s message. “I am really just a man from the country,” Juan Diego told the Virgin Mary, “a man of no importance. I myself need to be led.”

But Mary called on him to trust her. On December 12, after he gathered flowers for her, her image appeared on his cloak. This miraculous image has spiritually nourished more people in Mexico and around the world than Juan Diego could ever have believed.

For me, part of the blessing of Advent is how I can hear stories like these each year and yet continue to discover new things in them. This season, I’m particularly struck by the invitations the scriptures and feasts of Advent offer to queer Catholics like myself. For instance, the miracle of Our Lady Guadalupe begins with someone dismissed by the people around him, someone who also dismisses himself. That’s an experience queer Catholics can relate to.


When we go to church, we must constantly be doing so much internal work, a lot of which has to do with the struggle between integrity and accommodation. How much of ourselves are we allowed to be or show at Mass? Can we hold hands with our partners? Kiss at the sign of peace? Wear the clothes in which we are most ourselves? How much of us is too much? How “everyday real” can we be? Like the animals peeking in on the birth of Jesus, it’s easy to feel like we’re really just guests here, lucky just to be allowed to watch from the windows.

Yet in the scriptures, we hear that Jesus came to this world to love and be with all of us as we are. In the eyes of God, is no part of us is “too much,” any more than for Mary there was any part of Juan Diego that was “too little.” Who we are exactly as we are is the gift that God means for the world.  

Throughout this Advent season, God offers queer people stories like this filled with invitation, celebration, and reassurance.  

Lead, for you are called

At first, Diego didn’t quite believe he could be the proper person to share the vision. Yet it turned out he was. And the vision God gave him would change hearts and bring about so much life for the whole world.


There are plenty of voices out there telling those of us who are queer Catholics that we should discount our visions of God or our roles in the church. How can we imagine ourselves as disciples, when we’re constantly faced with our community’s question of whether we’re terrible sinners?

But as Juan Diego learned, God is a God of surprises. God invites us to share the beauty of Divine love in ways we would never have imagined. The call of discipleship isn’t just for straight people or even people whom the community readily accepts. So often in the scriptures, it’s the outsider whom God calls: the second-born son, the enslaved person, the public sinner.

What would it be like if this Advent, we heard the words of Isaiah in the Third-Sunday reading? “The Lord has anointed me; he has sent me to bring glad tidings to the poor, to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and release to the prisoners, to announce a year of favor from the Lord and a day of vindication by our God.” What visions or mission might God entrust to us?

Celebrate, for you are fabulous

That Third-Sunday reading from Isaiah also imagines the Holy One dressing God’s beloved people in ways that signal the extravagance of Divine love. “He has clothed me with a robe of salvation,” Isaiah writes, “and wrapped me in a mantle of justice, like a bridegroom adorned with a diadem, like a bride bedecked with her jewels.”


For many queer people, our dress is an expression of our belief. Our garments convey our faith that we are not damaged goods but children of God. When some people insist we feel shame, we respond with beauty and truth.

A couple years ago, I had the chance to interview drag queen Eureka O’Hara. I wondered how she would explain drag to people who have no experience of it. “What drag gives you is a moment to be in the spotlight,” she told me. “Everyone wants to feel beautiful and loved. When you’re in drag, it gives you a moment to feel fabulous and glamorous and fierce with who you are.”

This Advent, could we imagine God as not only accepting us but actively celebrating us, dressing us in our own personal versions of fabulous, and inviting us into the spotlight?

Be not afraid, for God is with you

In the first reading of the Fourth Sunday of Advent, David wants to build God a house as a way of honoring what God has done for Israel. Instead, God reminds David, “It was I who took you from the pasture and from the care of the flock to be commander of my people Israel.”


Then God tells David that in fact, God is the one who was building a house for David. “I will give you rest from your enemies,” says God. “I will raise up your heir after you . . . [and] your house and your kingdom shall endure forever before me.”

This is a message of reassurance for David and for us as well. We don’t carry the weight of the future—a longed-for kingdom of acceptance and justice—upon our shoulders alone. God promises to walk with us. And God is building us a home. God promises.


This Advent, what would it be like to sit and listen to God telling us again and again: “I will give you rest. I am preparing a home for you. I am preparing for you a future”?

Image: Unsplash


About the author

Jim McDermott

Jim McDermott is a freelance screen and magazine writer living in New York. He writes a weekly Substack on pop culture and spirituality called Pop Culture Spirit Wow.

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