I’ve shared previously about how I was confused when I was younger about why my soul felt so masculine. People often ask me how I could identify as part of the LGBTQ+ community and still choose to remain Catholic. There’s actually a really simple explanation.
When I was in preschool, I vividly remember the teachers telling me I was “bad” and “don’t ever say anything like that again”. My best friend had been upset that her “boyfriend” had moved away, and I tried to comfort her and tell her to be happy, if she was so sad, she could be my “girlfriend” instead. The reaction from the teachers was so awful and hateful that I actually stopped speaking to anyone at school after that. When I started kindergarten, my parents enrolled me in a Catholic school, where we were told over and over that God loves ALL of His children. That message stuck with me to my core and I instantly felt a whole lot better about myself (and I slowly started speaking to strangers again).
For as long as I can remember, I’ve had dreams about an Irish woman who called me cousin and comforted me in the land of my dreams. I eventually talked to my grandparents about the whole thing, and how I kind of always felt like a boy trapped in a little girl’s body. They comforted me and told me, turn to Saint Brigid…she was a strong woman just like you. She did amazing things in her time and has sadly been nearly erased out of memory now for most Catholics. The more they told me about her, the more I wondered if she was the Irish lady in my dreams.
Disney explains in the movie Brave that some of us are led in our lives. I truly believe it is entirely possible that Saint Brigid has indeed been the Irish woman sending me messages in my dreams for the entirety of my life. There’s just been too many unexplained “coincidences” for me to continue to believe that it was all just my intuition.
My grandparents taught me about a dream that Saint Brigid had one day while she was napping during mass (hilarious, right?! Even saints get bored in church sometimes!). In the dream, she saw people planting seeds of weeds along the carefully planted rows of plants. The dream was interpreted to mean that there would be people who would come along and attempt to destroy all of the carefully planned work that her and Saint Patrick did in Ireland. They were Catholics who ministered to the pagan community in a peaceful manner, with nonviolence and inclusion for everyone. They worked to show the community that we are all on the same team, and that there are actually a whole lot of parallels between the two seemingly different faiths. That is a huge lesson that the entirety of Christianity should be listening to, especially in our current state of our world.
Saint Brigid has been erased from Catholic history outside of Ireland, and it’s pretty obvious to me why that has happened. She founded a co-ed monastery and was actually “accidentally” ordained a bishop instead of a nun. She was the first and ONLY female bishop in the history of the Catholic Church. It’s very convenient for the patriarchal system to erase a woman of that level of importance. As soon as I heard as a child that she had been a bishop, I said “I want to be a bishop too!!” My grandparents let me know that sadly that just wasn’t an option, and the option of becoming a nun felt completely unfulfilling to me since I had no interest in teaching or sitting around all day praying. Saint Brigid worked to teach their clergy that praying is not enough…God calls us to get out in our community and work toward improving our environment and our community.
I’ve realized over the past few months that her humanity has also been erased from the non-Christian side as well. Before she was born, there was an Irish pagan goddess of the same name, who had a holy well not far from where Brigid the person was born. Saint Brigid founded her monastery near that same well. To me, that screams out as something fairly significant…how can anyone argue that would all just be a coincidence?
Over the past few months, I’ve seen that #brigid was suddenly trending on social media and I realized with disappointment that it’s not Brigid the person people are suddenly talking about, but just her pre-Christian goddess side. I even saw multiple women both online and in person, attempting to hold up a Saint Brigid cross in an effort to attack the Catholic Church. That is beyond insulting and the very definition of cultural appropriation. Saint Brigid wove that cross lovingly out of reeds as an effort to demonstrate that we are all on the same team as a community, regardless of our beliefs or background. It breaks my heart that people seem to have forgotten that she was once a real life person, with real life feelings, just like Jesus.
The more I have read about her as an adult, the more I wish I could have actually known her in person because she really sounds like someone I would have loved to have been friends with. She supported equality for EVERYONE in her community, and was provided housing and support for artists and poets. For many Irish Catholics, she also screams for LGBTQ+ inclusion, which is why I still have hope that perhaps Pope Francis may actually be able to make some big changes in the Catholic Church toward equality. Saint Brigid initially started as a pagan priestess and then converted to Catholicism, so I have a feeling some of her magical stories and legends were there to teach us all a lesson that some people are just born with “unusual talents” and it doesn’t mean there is anything inherently evil about women, and that men were completely in the wrong with the way women were burnt at the stake for simply being more complex than men could understand.
Over the past few years, I’ve been frantically trying to find ways to follow her instructions for us to “raise an army of fruit trees”. My 6 year old son has horribly severe pollen allergies and even though he already went through surgery (which helped some), he still has breathing problems at night. I firmly believe based on my research that there is tremendous wisdom in her pleas to work on planting fruit trees and working on healing the Earth. The city of Los Angeles has had a problem from the very start of the way the city was planned that they filled our city with only male trees, which makes pollen allergies significantly worse for sensitive individuals (especially children).
I am gearing up for a big shift in direction for my life, which is why I’ve started filling my blog with personal stories and self portraits. I feel strongly called to start focusing on landscaping solutions and using my gift of my “magical” green thumb to help my community. I believe my talent with gardening is in large part due to my spiritual connection to Saint Brigid, and I hope she can help lead me in making change in my local community, and hopefully even the global Catholic Church.
At this time, I am no longer accepting client bookings for photo shoots. That may change at some point in the future, but honestly I am growing tired of feeling like strangers are constantly scrutinizing every aspect of my family life when they come here for a photo session. The last straw for me was after someone intentionally smashed the head of Jesus on one of our garden statues, in the spot where my boys sit and pray in our patio. Our society has become overcome with hate and division and darkness and I refuse to allow that kind of toxic energy enter my family’s refuge.
I pray that Saint Brigid will protect the LGBTQ+ community here in the United States, especially as the Supreme Court begins a very important court case today. EVERYONE deserves EQUAL rights as human beings!