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Joselle Vanderhooft

Joselle Vanderhooft

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Published by: Scratch Hunter on Nov 29, 2010
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01/14/2013

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Interview with JoSelle Vanderhooft by Jeremy Yamashiro
 JoSelle Vanderhooft is in bold.
Jeremy Yamashiro is in regular font.Alright so we're rolling.
We're good?
Alright so let's start if you want to introduce yourself.
Kay.
 Tell a little bit about your history in Utah like where you grew up - that kind of thing. Yeah we'll go from there.
Okay. I'm JoSelle Vanderhooft one of the many Vanderhooft tribes in thevalley. Basically we have the same last name - it's uh, we're all related. Igrew up, I was born in 1980, and I grew up in Sandy - in the Sandy/Midvalearea. That meant that I would have been just a few months in collegewhen Matthew Shepherd was murdered. And you asked for somethingelse. I'm sorry.
Um. Yeah I just, kind of, that's pretty good.
That's basically where I'm from. I've lived most of my life in Utah with theexception of two years when I lived... one in New York and one inKentucky both for a few reasons, but I'm sure we'll touch on that at somepoint.
Okay. Cool...so that you say that you were in college for a few months whenMatthew Shepherd got killed.
 Yeah the first semester of my freshman year. So I was about 18. And Iknow that this is, we're talking about this a lot in the series. So let's see, Iwould have been 18 years old, just barely, since I was born in August.
Do you remember....[?]
I'm honestly trying...this is going to sound dreadful, but I'm honestlytrying to re-member exactly where I was when I first heard about this.And to be fully honest with you, I don't know. This isn't because it wasn'tnot important to me at the time. It wasn't because it wasn't on my radar,although it may have been because I didn't come out until I was nineteen,and at eighteen years old I was trying very hard to figure out what wasgoing on with me sexually. So I may not have been as aware of all thingsqueer as I was from nineteen on. It could have been that, it could be that,I did know all about it and I'm just not remembering very well. So I hateto disappoint with that.
Oh no, that's fine. So you came out at nineteen?
 
Uh huh.
Do you want to tell me a little bit about the stories surrounding that?
I can do all of that. It's a really interesting one. I remember ...I'm one of these queer people who remembers being attracted to the same sex at avery early age. I'm going to say between 4-6 probably more around 4-5.But it was kind of a complicated issue for me because I also have a past of sexual abuse, and you know, kind of a meanness out there about how if woman get sexually abused when they're children they grow up to belesbians. So I had that cultural misconception for a better word. BecauseI think sometimes there is a grain of truth to it. But I had that to contendwith.To be fully honest with you, I didn't think a whole lot about sexuality.Until I was kind of late in the game - about 17. In fact at 13 - I still I ampracticing Catholic - at about thirteen I desperately wanted to become anun. In retrospect I think it was because I just had been sexually abused Ididn't really know how to process that. Probably knew deep down that Iwasn't quite straight and didn't want to deal with that. And honestly mythinking at the time was that if I just don't get married and be a nun thenI'll never have to deal with it, which I think is part of the reason, thoughthere are a lot of reasons, that are involved with the pedophile scandalsthat happen. People who know that there is something up with theirsexuality and they're Catholic think that they can just push it away.As great as the Catholic Church can be on a lot of things, they can be anti-sex undercurrent even though the parish I went to didn't really advertisethat, it cer-tainly is, there it certainly is in the air as it were, and I think Ikind of picked up on it, and that made the situation even worse. Just bythe fact that no one ever really said anything about it, or did anything tome. I mean, I never had a member of the clergy try to molest me or someawful thing like that. It just never really came up. But I don't even really,I certainly never remember anyone ever saying anything bad about gaypeople in my parish. Which is not true for all gay Catholics.In fact I remember one priest actually talking about how he had at aparish he had been, he had officiated at before, he had one man from[____?_____], he had a gay son and he didn't know what to do. And thepriest told him that he should embrace and love his son and the man justdidn’t do it and the poor kid ended up killing himself. And this wasactually what he told us in a sermon, right? So that was clearly not givingme an anti-gay message right there. And you know it's kind of interestingbecause, for as much crap as the hierarchy, especially the arch-bishopsand the bishops, say about gay people, when you get more vocal, whenyou get down to the actual parishes and especially the lay peoplethemselves, it really is a whole different story. Especially in Utah.
 
There are, there is one very gay anti-gay priest up in Ogden who the lesswe say about the better. Honestly on his blog he has a quote from EricCartman about being taller and I think that he really honestly thinks thatwas awesome and not horrible because Cartman was saying it. I don'tknow what his deal is but we don't want to read his blog. [laughter]
Perhaps the intended irony of it.
I don't even know, I just know that I would not feel comfortable going tohis parish and I'm kind of glad that he's advertising that fact. If I ever endup in Ogden I can, you know, pick some, somewhere else to go thatweekend.
What do you think, the disconnect, well maybe not disconnect, but why thedifference in practice from the local level to the parish level.
Because I think I had a priest once who actually, and we can get into mywhole issue with sexuality and the Catholic Church, which is kind of adifferent story than Mormons and sexuality, and I think maybe importantfor people who are watching who are non-Mormon to hear, you know, but Ireally think it is because priests, you know, they can't be in this cushylittle office, I mean not that that's all that they should do. They are toobusy to say listen to confessions and deal with getting called at 4 AMbecause someone's beloved wife has died and they have to go over andcomfort them I don't think they see a lot of the day to day, I mean, theyhave to start out as priests at some point, but I think they forget whenthey get into the office of bishop and higher that, you know, this is whatbeing a parish priest is like, and I think that it divorces them a little fromthe humanity of all of that, and since they are not hearing confessions,they are not having people coming in and saying things like, I know thatthe church teaches that my having a gay partner is sinful, but this isn'twhat my conscience tells me to do.One thing that is interesting about Catholicism that for some very bizarrereason has gotten them played a lot since Vatican II is the primacy of conscience. So basically, as I think that it's totally fine if you have a gaypartner, even if you have multiple partners, as long as you know you arecommitted to them. If I were to go in not thinking this was sinful andtelling a priest that I did this and, you know, I'm confessing it. Well, firstof all, it's just stupid because how can I confess to something I don't, I'mnot sorry for. And secondly, I'm condemning myself before God. You justyou can't do that - it doesn't work that way basically. So con-science hasto be well-formed conscience. You just can't say, well you know, you haveto question why am I kind of going against this teaching, and often youmight find because it is too hard to deal with, or it's too fun doing this orwhatever, and you know you can say, well then, you know, maybe I needto form my conscience more towards what the church teaches. But, youknow, and that was a big struggle for me but when I really kind of spentlike a whole five months trying to deal with this. It really finally came

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