“Ask a Priest: Is It OK to Patronize Gay Hairdressers?”

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Q: The previous, and present, hairdressers I have are both gay men. Both of them have married their partners. My question, is it wrong for me to support their business as a client even though I do not condone their style of living? – A.B.

Answered by Fr. Edward McIlmail, LC

A: This is a prudential decision that you would need to make.

Most of us probably patronize businesses where the owners or employees do something that is objectively morally illicit in their private lives.

So long as we aren’t intending to support their illicit behavior or giving them substantial material support that enables their bad behavior, then we can usually do business with them. In this case we aren’t engaging in formal cooperation in evil.

The fact that your hairdressers seem to be open about their partners would indicate that they deliberately are making their lifestyles known.

Here you would need to decide whether your continued patronage would in some way imply your support for their lifestyle or whether your presence in their shop might scandalize others who assume that you are in favor of illicit behavior.

This could especially be the case if you recommend their business to your friends and family members. And keep in mind the young people in your life who might already be confused about the morality of certain practices.

It helps to think ahead, too. What will you say in the future when the hairdressers proudly show off pictures of their adopted children to you? These might be children produced by in vitro fertilization and delivered by surrogate moms — practices that are grievous offenses against the children themselves, as well as the tiny human beings who might have died during the IVF procedure. Will you congratulate the hairdressers on their children and thus confirm them in their decision?

The fact that you are sending this question might indicate that the Holy Spirit is nudging you to rethink your relationship with the hairdressers.

None of this is meant to preclude your attempts to convert them. But you want to realistic.

This is something you might want to take to prayer and see where the Holy Spirit is leading you. And don’t forget that finding another hairdresser might spare you a lot of problems down the road – someone with whom you can feel more comfortable letting down your hair.

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  1. Fr., what an unloving response! No wonder people are leaving the Church in droves (many of them Gays). As for the IVF thing about “tiny human beings” dying, what do you think the risk is in natural childbirth: especially in the US? I think you are promoting being judgmental, in this response. I would say to this writer, Sure… go ahead and patronize them. What about all the other businesses we patronize, in which the owners probably do worse things? I don’t think most people do a background check before buying whatever it is they need to buy. I think this writer should go back to the business in question, and keep his or her heart open. It’s all above love, not about judgment. And it’s not a “lifestyle”, but an inclination towards romantic love of the same sex. You don’t seem to know much about it. I doubt Jesus would be so judgmental.

  2. I did not read Fr’s response as “unloving”, so how did you derive such?
    RE: “people…leaving the Church in droves (many of them Gays [sic])”, where’s the data? According to Pew Research data published in 2009, 48% of those Catholics who became unaffiliated did so between 18 and 24y and the most common reasons given were: “just gradually drifted away” (71%), “stopped believing in the religion’s teachings” (65%), “unhappy with teachings on abortion/homosexuality” (56%). As Tina Turner sang back in the 1980s, “what’s love got to do with it, got to do with it?” According to the data, nothing.
    RE: “the IVF thing”, I am not sure what your point is. Of the almost 4 million live births last year, there were 700 maternal deaths. I could not find information on IVF births or maternal mortality, so feel free to fill in that hole, please.
    RE: “love, not…judgment”, if I determine that you are headed down a road to a washed out bridge at 95 mph and you do not believe me that the bridge is gone, would I be being ‘loving’ or ‘judgmental’ if I punched you to get your hands off the wheel so we would not both die?
    Again, your conceptualization of concepts is fuzzy to me. What do you see as the difference between a “lifestyle” and an “inclination”? If I am ‘inclined’ to a certain behavior (e.g., daily consumption of Twinkies) and I yield to that “inclination,” am I not developing a “lifestyle” when I eat Twinkies three times a day?
    Fr was asking a specific question based on his expertise in theology, so I am unclear why you would say that he doesn’t “seem to know much about it”; about what? And just because you disagree with him does not make him judgmental. He clearly wrote at the onset that “this is a prudential decision that you would need to make” and offered factors to consider. How is that judgmental?

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