Confessions of a Millennial Gay Catholic: That Gold Chain Around My Neck – Why I Wear a Crucifix around my Neck
From day to day, what I wear changes — the style is the same, but the clothes differ. Other than the style, one thing does remain the same. Most people would not even notice it unless it happens to fall out of the collar; this thing is a gold chain with a crucifix attached to it.
The significance of wearing a crucifix is what I want to discuss because of what happened to it when I was away this summer.
I had the immense privilege of travelling through Europe this summer. I visited Paris, Barcelona, Montserrat, Malta, and Hungary. As most people know, it was a very hot summer! Malta was the hottest. Normally, I do not wear a muscle shirt because, sadly, I do not have the physique to fill it out as it should be. Nevertheless, I purchased three in Malta. The neckline plunges deeper than I am used to, so I decided that I would remove my crucifix. I only put it back on once I was returning to Canada.
This action made me think. It made me remember a passage from the book Call Me by Your Name, which was portrayed on the silver screen as well in the movie. For those who do not know, the main characters, Elio and Oliver, are Jewish. Elio’s mother always told him that they were discrete Jews; they did not wear kippah nor Stars of David around their necks; they blended in.
Oliver, an American, arrives to Elio’s family home in Italy wearing boldly a golden Star of David around his neck — much like my crucifix. The difference is, Oliver always wore his, and wore it proudly. After seeing Oliver wearing it, Elio decides to find his and copy Oliver in wearing it proudly. Me, although I have no qualms about being Catholic, I took mine off to be discrete about my faith.
Before we get to this summer, let us back things up to when I started wearing my crucifix again. I had worn a cross when I was in high school, then the string broke one day, so I was lazy and did not get a new one.
Then, I received the crucifix I have now. It was given to me by my mum’s late uncle; it is my inheritance, what he left for me. I dug out a gold chain that my mum had given me years before, and I hung the crucifix on it. For a few years, I would wear it sporadicly; it always got in the way of sporting/athletic activities, so I ended up mostly wearing it around important feasts: Christmas, Ash Wednesday, Easter.
Then this year, after eventually not caring what others thought about me wearing a crucifix, specifically one person, I donned it again.
The important thing here is why I wear it. For many, it is obvious. Just wear it because you are Catholic/Christian and proudly show off your faith; wear it on your sleeve essentially. But for me, my crucifix represents something more, something more human.
It connects me, yes, to my faith and is a constant reminder to love one another and to breathe before giving a haughty retort. Further to that, it connects me to my family, to a family that I hardly know because we are separated by the Atlantic Ocean.
It is not easy to wear a crucifix, especially for a millennial like myself. I am not ashamed to be Catholic; I think Catholicism is very compatible with my secular beliefs and has shaped my life and beliefs equally.
That being said, wearing a crucifix takes courage. It is like stepping out of the closet and admitting your truth. It is also hard because people may have preconceived notions of the type of people who wear a crucifix — I am sanguine to say that I do not conform to those preconceived notions!
The point is to remember that one must be true to oneself. It is not easy to admit things first and foremost to ourselves, to God, and especially to society around us and those whom we wish to bring into our personal lives. No matter the reason you choose to wear a crucifix or not, you need to be confident in yourself and not worry about what others think of you!