Opening Eyes, Opening Ears, Opening Hearts

“What you do to the least of these people, you do to me.”

(Matt. 25:40)

Blog by Sr. Mai Dung Nguyen

A conservative estimate is that LGBTQ people make up about 10% of the U.S. population. Hearing these numbers, I asked myself. “If at least one in ten people identifies as LGBT, how is it that I do not recognize them in my life?  Then a Bible quote came to me; “Have you had eyes but do not see and ears but do not hear?” (Matt.13:13-14) Looking back on my life, I have begun to realize that they were all around me but for some reason, I did not see them.

I began to remember that in my earlier life in Vietnam, I was introduced to the LGBTQ world at a very young age when my biology teacher told my class that her friend had transitioned from male to female. Then, during my high school years, I had two gay classmates. Years later, as a medical student, my friends and I met an intersex person in a hospital whose genital, chromosomal, or gonadal characteristics were not completely female or male. She identified as female and presented as female, but the doctors insisted she be assigned as male. When I came to the United States and attended a community college, I knew another transgender person who transitioned from female to male. To me these people were strange and weird, which is exactly how many of my friends saw them too. I did not try to understand them, or have compassion and sensitivity toward them.

The turning point came for me a few years ago when I came to know a transgender person.  I  listened to that person’s story and came to know the family.  I cried at the profound trauma and injustice this individual and their loved ones faced. I realized that they do not choose to be vulnerable, rejected, or alienated.  I needed to learn and understand more.

Recently I was blessed to meet another transgender person. After forty years of struggle to be the woman that was not inside of him, he is now a handsome man who is successful in his profession. He helped me to see transgender people from another perspective.  Each person is different, but all go through unbelievable pain, struggle and rejection. But yet, with courage and help, many of them get to the other side of that experience and live generous, productive lives with self-confidence.

As a Dominican trying to preach the Gospel through my living, I am questioning myself.  As a Dominican Sister of Peace, can I let LGBTQ people touch my heart and feel free to love and care for them as God loves and cares for them, without being afraid or judgmental?  Can I be a model of compassion to future generations in the Church as we live the Gospel in the midst of a violent world?

I thank God for giving me opportunities to meet such a diversity of people.  This community of marginalized people is educating me to appreciate the different parts of the Body of Christ.

For many years, I had eyes but did not see, and ears but did not hear.  How about you, my sisters and brothers in Christ?

Posted in News, Peace & Justice Blog

14 responses to “Opening Eyes, Opening Ears, Opening Hearts

    1. “How many” is not really the question, of course. It’s whether or not we, as Christ asked us to do, accept and love our neighbors.

  1. May our hearing & our vision improve spiritually even as we age gracefully!
    Thanks for your sharing and challenge!

    Ellen Dunn

  2. What helps me is to remember that I did not choose to be heterosexual. At some point I discovered my sexual attraction to the opposite sex.
    If I did not choose this attraction and persons attracted to the same sex or persons who discover that they have been wrongly labeled sexually did not choose either–what makes my attraction morally correct and theirs not?
    We are who our God created us to be and who this same God loves us to be.

    1. So, any sexual perversion, as long as it is determined and not chosen, should be considered moral? That’s your logic?

      Your sexual impulse is rightly ordered towards procreation. Whether it was chosen or not. A homosexual persons is ordered upwards sterility. Therefore, it contravenes natural law.

      The science supports the view that homosexuality is not genetic. It is mostly a result of father absence (even if just emotional)

      Homosexuality can in no way be called “moral”.

      1. We prefer to follow Scripture: “Judge not,” and of Pope Francis, who said: “A person once asked me, in a provocative manner, if I approved of homosexuality. I replied with another question: ‘Tell me: when God looks at a gay person, does he endorse the existence of this person with love, or reject and condemn this person?’ We must always consider the person. Here we enter into the mystery of the human being.”

  3. Thank you, Mai Dung, for your willingness to have an open heart and mind, and for your desire to learn about people you did not previously understand. Knowing someone makes all the difference, huh?

  4. Thank you, Mai Dung, for expressing your growth in compassion for the LGBTQ community! You words are an example of how each of us are to grow in compassion and understanding of others.

  5. Thank you Sr. Mai for sharing your journey with the LGBTQ community. As you expressed, when we personally get to know them and hear their stories of pain, struggle and rejection, our eyes are opened.

  6. Your piece was very well done, and I couldn’t agree more about our need to see others as God sees them. I once had a poster that I thought was remarkable, and it’s message fits your blog: “God Doesn’t Make Junk, and the Good Lord Made us All.”

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