Does the Church Kill ‘Gay’ People?
Part 1: Mistaken Identity
Simon Kent Fung does. Believe the Church kills ‘gay’ people, that is, like Alana Chen on whom he based his popular podcast, Dear Alana.
He curates the 8-part series on the early life and suicide of Alana Chen by feigning a tempered exploration (this guy’s good) of her life. In truth, he mistakes his very different life for hers. And concludes that the Church—through Her overreaching call of chastity—decimated their same-sex attracted lives.
Guiding Fung is the now rather boring belief that homosexuality is as inborn and moral as hair color and must be embraced for health and happiness. Or else! After all, there lies Alana Chen who, after a battle with acute emotional distress (fueled by deep faith and disintegrated same-sex attraction), took her life at 24-years-old.
At first, Fung appears to be unsure on Church and ‘gay’ stuff’, his exploration unfolding before us as he opens Alana’s life by amplifying her intimacies culled from cell phones, journals, and accounts of family and friends. For a shame-based guy (his own admission), he shamelessly offers us her confessions—teen-like musings mostly—and uses her edited ‘journey’ to clarify and express his own conflicts.
Wrong on three counts. First, he has already concluded she killed herself due to the Church’s teaching and polarizing presence in her life. He is using her stuff and editing it as evidence after the fact. Second, he employs a weird tactic, expressed in muted spiritual tones, to convince us that it is good to invade and parade her life. ‘How could I open up something as personal as her cell phone?’ he asks rhetorically, as if we all know he must do so to get to the truth. Note to Fung. It’s creepy for you to immerse yourself—and to edit—a young woman’s intimate life.
Third and more disturbing, deceased Alana becomes for 38-year-old Fung a spiritual guide. He makes her a martyr for the cause of Christians who like him have no choice but to defy the Church by embracing their ‘true selves’ as ‘gay.’ Alana becomes tinder, her death an incendiary force that burns up the Church and Her immovable ways. (Fung links Alana’s decline with the burning of Notre Dame Cathedral.)
Spoiler alert: in the last podcast, Fung f-bombs God but takes solace in praying to Alana who has taught him ‘that God can’t heal what’s not broken.’
From the info he gives us, Fung seems little like Alana. Though both were Catholic, same-sex attracted, and perfectionistic, Fung comes from a detached yet stable and supportive Catholic family. Alana emerged from a messy enmeshed family at odds with her faith and faith community. Her process and conflicts forged an emotional instability for reasons we cannot know. Fung misfires by trying to fill in the blanks. We all do.
What is the result of Alana’s and Fung’s ‘gay’ liberation? Near the end of her life, Alana takes a female lover she could not manage. Despite family and friend support, Alana couldn’t love as she wanted. I wonder where Fung will land. He gives us two uninspired accounts of coming out to family. ‘You are gay. So what?’ was my takeaway.
Turning from the holy to the ‘truth’ of ‘gay’ selfhood isn’t remarkable. It’s the road most travelled. I trust God with Alana’s life because she can’t speak, and He is utterly trustworthy. Uninspired Fung manipulates the words of a dead woman to speak for him. That troubles me.
Stay tuned. Next week I’ll explore how Fung employs the MacGuffin (look up this word; it’s a keeper) of ‘conversion therapy’ as the murder weapon. Join Andrew Comiskey, Marco Casanova and Katie Comiskey as they discuss this topic further. Listen now on Spotify, Apple Podcasts or YouTube.