Gerald Hannon banned from church

A gay Toronto writer and activist has been banned from a local Catholic church because of his lifestyle and the articles he’s written.

“It seems to me further Roman Catholic absurdity,” says Gerald Hannon, who’s not allowed into St Basil’s Church.

“You’d think they would be happy to see a sinner back in the fold, composing sacred music. I guess they see it as a slap in the face that I, standing in for Satan, would be composing church music.”

Hannon, who sings bass with the community choir Kummermusik Toronto, has been told he can’t enter St Basil’s Church, part of St Michael’s College at the University Of Toronto. The choir is not affiliated with the church, but practices and performs there.

On Oct 27, the choir performed a piece Hannon – who is not religious – had composed for a Catholic mass.

Hannon says church officials received complaints about his presence from the audience.

These were picked up by a right-to-life website, and then by rightwing columnist and broadcaster Michael Coren (in the Toronto Sun and elsewhere).

The choir’s director told Hannon he was banned from church property in a Nov 7 phone call.

“He says he was directed that either I withdraw from the choir or the choir would be banned from the church,” says Hannon. “I didn’t want to put the choir in the position of looking for a new rehearsal space, so I withdrew.”

Hannon – who is also a board member of Pink Triangle Press, which publishes Xtra – has written about being a prostitute, and was fired as an instructor at Ryerson University’s journalism school over his politics. He also wrote an article for Xtra’s predecessor,

The Body Politic, entitled Men Loving Boys Loving Men, looking at whether children can consent to sex.

Neither Hannon nor Suzanne Scorsone, the director of communications for the Catholic archdiocese of Toronto, is clear on whether the decision came from St Basil’s or from the archdiocese.

“I don’t know all the specifics yet,” says Scorsone. “I have a call in

to the pastor of the church, but I believe he’s out of town.

“But as a church, we view both prostitution and the advocacy of sex with children as things we oppose. When someone publicly advocates those things, and is in what appears to be a public role in a church, that is a problem for us.”

Hannon says he’s being unfairly singled out because of his notoriety.

“I’m sure there are people there in the choir who have offended the

church, people who are divorced, who have had abortions.”

Hannon says he has still not received any official notification of his

status from either St Basil’s or the archdiocese. He says Scorsone told him she would call him back when she had learned more about it.

Krishna Rau

Krishna Rau is a Toronto-based freelance writer with extensive experience covering queer issues.

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