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Matthew LaBanca's one-man play titled Communion is based on events surrounding his 2021 firing as music teacher of St. Joseph's Catholic Academy in Astoria, New York, and music director at a parish. This happened after it was found that he was civilly married to another man, in violation of Catholic teaching.
According to LaBanca, the play "spotlights themes of delusion, spiritual trauma and hope, reminding those who would use religion to discriminate against LGBTQ people that the most basic tenet of spiritual life is that we are called to love one another."
He also notes, "Aside from sharing my own personal story, I wrote Communion because LGBTQ people deserve to be treated with equity by a church that indoctrinates them from birth. They deserve to fully know the joy of loving and being loved, as God made them, without judgment or condemnation."
"Religion is the root cause of the ostracism experienced by LGBTQ people. I wanted to address the source of the pain. I wanted to write a piece to fly in the face of religious discrimination, about the need to be fully accepted, as we are," the actor declared in an article explaining the show.
The event drew the attention of the pro-gay Catholic group "Out at St. Paul," which posted, "Hey OSP Community, check out this production," along with the details for the Friday–Sunday performances.
The group describes itself this way:
Out at St Paul (OSP) is the LGBTQ+ ministry of our parish, which seeks to engage our Catholic faith through service to our community, social activities and the exploration of Catholic spirituality.
We host events and activities around three guiding principles:
SPIRITUALITY: Enrich the spiritual and intellectual needs of LGBTQ+ Catholics.
DIALOGUE: Build a positive community spirit and provide a safe and nurturing environment for LGBTQ+ parishioners at St. Paul's.
SERVICE: Leverage the talents of LGBTQ+ parishioners to focus on needs within the LGBTQ+ community in NYC.
The parish recently drew major criticism for its "God Is Trans: A Queer Spiritual Journey" art exhibit. In July 2020, the parish's former pastor, Fr. Rick Walsh, preached that Christ is lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer — and that all Christians are LGBT in Christ.