To be sure, Tushnet and orthodox Catholics disagree on key philosophical issues. Gay identity is one sticking point. In the question-and-answer section, Tushnet picked up a 3×5 white index card that asked why she insists on being identified as a lesbian. She said the identifier is a cultural construct. “This is also true of journalists,” she said, adding that knowing their background helps a person understand their outlook and inclinations.
After the talk, Panula volunteered that he disagreed with Tushnet on this point. “They say, ‘I’m gay.’ I say, ‘No, you’re not. You’re a child of God.’”
Yet Tushnet met little opposition on other possible points of contention.
Take her idea of service and sublimation. She said gay Christians should channel their erotic desire to serving others and living their vocation. A counselor at a crisis pregnancy center, Tushnet said she learned to be more humble and patient while helping women considering abortion. “We live in this atomistic age. Single people feel alone; married people feel alone. We need to build and care for people. It’s something they really want,” she said.
About an hour after it began, Tushnet ended her speech and repaired to the main room. “I don’t want to be a jerk or a know it all,” Tushnet said, sitting on a chair as book buyers waited in line to speak with her. At least publicly, on Tuesday night nobody accused her of either. More than one said they would pray for her.
Corrections: This article has been modified from the original version.
Mark Stricherz covers Washington for Aleteia. He is author of Why the Democrats are Blue.