Monday, October 12, 2009

All is well that ends well.

Today I announce with bittersweet sentiments that this blog must go on hiatus... indefinitely.

In the last several weeks my struggle with homosexuality reached a turning point. I was engaged in a homosexual relationship with a wonderful young man. Tonight I broke it off. It is the lessons I have learned that made me decide to put this blog on hold. I wish to share them with you.

I have always had 3 major doubts plaguing my spiritual life, causing more damage than any others:
1) Whether a gay romantic relationship could fulfill me,
2) Whether I had the strength of will to resist,
and, most devastatingly,
3) Whether I had any real love of God.

Prior to this relationship I had experienced all of the elements of gay relationships separately with different people. This relationship combined all of them and was, on the temporal level, perfect. He and I got along very well. I discovered towards the end, to my greater dismay, that he even believed SSA was disordered and didn't want to be in the homosexual lifestyle. What had stopped me prior to getting into relationships like this in the past was a fear of what would happen on the temporal level. Could I get out of it? Would I be able to maintain good family and friend relationships? How would those who looked up to me react? Mostly it was a fear of disappointing others and a fear of despair. In the face of the powerful experience that is Eros, many of these concerns melted away. I was faced with the possibility of going to Mass on Sundays, or even during the week, and just not receive Communion so as to continue this relationship.

What I was really looking for was a deep intimate connection with another man, a connection with masculine and boyish beauty that could be expressed through physical affection. We are our bodies, and I needed to know that a beautiful young man could love and appreciate me, all of me. A guy whom I could be free to touch and not be afraid of his touch. And that's what this was. Existentially, it was beautiful, incredible, and I was very happy. In the end, however, it was not satisfying. On a human level it was. I might have been able to be happy with it for the rest of my life, save that I had already tasted something deeper: a relationship with God, a relationship that was being strained by this other one.

As I was sitting at a weekday Mass, unable to receive Communion due to my lack of contrition, I was confronted with something unexpected: the charity formed by the Holy Spirit in my heart. I realized that the ONLY reason I was there was out of love for God. I could not get anything out of going to Mass; all I could do was to express my worship to Him who was made present on the altar. I witnessed the love Christ had for me in this sacrifice by the love I had for Him.

Later that night I saw this young man again. I knew then and there things would change, and afterward I went to see one of my close Catholic friends who had helped me through similar situations in the past. After a conversation with said friend I made up my mind: I was going to end it - not out of compulsion, as I had in the past, but freely and (more importantly) out of love. I went to confession, and for the first time in 5 years I felt like myself again. My doubts had been dispelled: God did and does give me the strength of will, I DO love God, and this fantasy that I lived could satisfy, but not in the way that I knew I was made for.

Tonight I said goodbye to this very dear beautiful young man. While it may be just wishful thinking fueled by infatuation, I do believe that someday I will see him again, and we will view each other then just as brothers. I now am motivated more than I have ever been before to rid myself of this evil struggle. Prior to this my motivation was only fear, which was insufficient; now it is love that motivates me. I want nothing to do with SSA. I will not pretend I do not struggle; on the contrary, I will finally actually struggle with it instead of trying to find loop holes and justifying it. In some ways I was using this blog to do just that. I now need to avoid all unnecessary contact with homosexuality, which includes this blog. And while there is great good that may come from this blog, in the end, those goods pale in comparison to the good of freedom. As a substance abuse counselor I know once told me: "You have to be selfish in your recovery." My salvation is my first and primary goal.

In the end I have, through the prayers of many and the grace of God, given up that which was most dear to me for love of God. I believe that I am meant for God alone. I have tasted other streams and though they were sweet, I know only that which comes from the Lamb will satisfy. Hopefully someday I will be able to bring Christ to others sacramentally at the altar. In the meantime I will renew my pursuit of my true beloved. For my happiness lies in God Alone (Psalm 16:2). Keep me in your prayers.

Monday, August 31, 2009


Sometimes I have the most illuminating conversations with friends who have no personal experience with homosexuality. I am often impressed at how clearly they perceive some things, and interested to learn which things they have little to no concept of.

This weekend, I was discussing this blog with just such a friend, talking about how thrilled I am to have discovered a medium in which I can spread my knowledge about homosexuality without publicly associating myself with it. Because not only would public association as an ex-gay draw all kinds of attention (mostly negative or ostracizing) to me, but (more importantly) it would brand the children I hope to have with a terrible label. Can you imagine being raised by a woman who was known for having left the gay lifestyle? It'd be worse than being a Preacher's Kid!

My friend then spoke with great perception: I seem to still connect some part of my identity now with who was then. But I really wasn't very deep in the gay subculture; I was just a high schooler who experimented a bit. It was as if he said, Is it really so important to take your past so seriously?

He had a very good point. If people with SSA are thrown into a murky lake and are forced to just tread water for most of their lives (in such a case, it's little wonder many just give in and enter the society below the water), I was the weird kid who thought it'd be a good idea to run into the water and splash around a bit, 'cuz my friend in there wanted some company, but really, I was never so far in that I couldn't touch the ground. In fact, it's debatable whether I was ever bodily submerged. But after my miraculous healing (thank you, Eucharistic Jesus!), in which I was enabled to get up, walk out of the muddy lake, dry myself off, and clean myself thoroughly, I've been mostly surrounded by people who've done no more than look upon that lake from afar, or perhaps watched with confusion and sadness as dear friends of theirs foundered in that same lake.

So the question became: is that part of my past, which is entirely divorced from who I am now, really so important? Or can I just brush it off as something I did once when I was young and stupid?

But then reality set in. While my brief foray into the life of a lesbian is an insignificant mistake I made in high school, and fits into the grand scheme of mistakes that most people make in high school, there's one crucial difference here: other people's perceptions.

If you did drugs in high school, people are pleased that you're clean. If you were a partygoer, people are pleased that you've discovered priorities (or at least that you now only get wasted sometimes). If you slept around, that's a shame, but at least you came to a fuller understanding of sexuality with enough time to start over, if you will, before marriage. But if you committed sexual sins with another girl? Ooo, that's weird. People distance themselves from you, wonder whether that's still a part of you. Or else they think it's awesome that you had that experience because it broadens your horizons (these people then think you condone such sins). Regardless, it changes how people perceive you, and it takes either a great deal of unconditional love or a whole lot of explanation on your part for people to understand where you've been and to treat you the same way they did before they learned of your past.

Gay relationships are still scandalous. As much as they are becoming more mainstream and accepted, they still confuse people and incite strong emotions (which are often divorced from reason because of their strength). And we all struggle with judgmentalism, with treating people differently because of what we know about them.

No, I will not back down on this one. Think about how hard it was to grow up without a family reputation to break free from. The sins of my past are insignificant, but other people do not understand this, and I refuse to burden my children with my sins. These stories will stay here, remaining entirely separate from my daily life (I'll be like Batman!).

Sunday, August 16, 2009

The full spectrum

The rainbow has been a gay pride symbol since 1978. Gilbert Baker of San Francisco first developed it. Some suspect the Wizard of Oz had something to do with this. The song "Over the Rainbow" I find resonates very deeply with this struggle (not to mention how idolized Judy Garland was by the gay community). Today the flag simply represents diversity. Originally it had eight colors, each of which was symbolic. The original eight colors were hot pink, red, orange, yellow, green, turquoise, indigo, violet. Pink = sexuality, Red = life, Orange = healing, Yellow = sunshine, Green = nature, Turquoise = art/magic, Indigo = serenity/harmony, Violet = Spirit. Due to fabric constraints it was reduced to seven minus the pink. This quickly morphed into the six color flag that is common today, which has red, orange, yellow, green, blue and purple.

If you are observant you will notice that our design does not match any of the above sequences. I must admit this was not intentionally done. When we first designed it we assumed the popular symbol simply followed the naturally occurring color sequence, popularly remember as Roy G. Biv (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet), or the more proper CMYK (red, orange, yellow, green, cyan, blue and violet). We chose the former for aesthetic reasons. In Catholic culture I am sure each color can easily represent a different meaning, however what struck me more was the numeric significance.

Two things: First off, this blog's premise is that 1) Homosexuality is unnatural 2) No one has the complete picture. Secondly, According to Thomistic understanding (and Aristotelian understanding before that), moral virtue is the median between two extremes. It requires proper quantity and kind. Therefore any addition or subtraction leads to vice and/or an improper hierarchy, and improper order leads to vice. In the original flag there is not only an improper order, since it doesn't follow the naturally occurring rainbow (there is no blue), it also has an additional color: pink. Hot pink actually. The subsequent flag due to the lack of that color in fabrics still had an improper order (still no blue) and finally the modern flag has only SIX colors. It is missing indigo or cyan depending on which rainbow you go by. In Jewish numerology the number six is the number of incompleteness. Seven, on the other hand, is the number of completeness, of fullness.

Seven is a unique number that occurs in nature in various ways beyond just the primary colors. There are seven days in a week and what's really cool is how there are seven primary notes in a scale (an octave is formed by the repetition of a higher pitched first note of a scale). In Catholicism there are seven sacraments and seven capital virtues that fight against seven vices. Need I say more about that?

When it comes to the symbolism of the colors themselves, note that the modern flag no longer contains the colors for "serenity" or "art". I'm not sure if the blue is meant to symbolize something; perhaps it symbolizes both; if it doesn't, that's pretty significant. In either case the color for "sexuality" is removed. This perhaps is most symbolic because in reality homosexuality isn't sexuality at all. True sexuality is that which is unitive and procreative. Intentional disregard for these ends in the use of the sexual faculties in a way denies the activity the right to be even labeled "sexual". Today that term more often simply means "involving aroused genitals of one or more people". The teleology of sexuality has been usurped in people's minds by a motivation for its by-product (sexual arousal), making them no longer cognizant of its true end, which is far superior in every dimension to any consequent personal satisfaction gained in the process. The subtraction of hot pink from the rainbow ironically indicates that homosexuality isn't really sexuality at all.

I don't believe in coincidences; even something simple can contain vast amounts of meaning. It is significant to me that we try to complete this picture and to do it in the proper order, both literally and figuratively.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Patron Saints

We Catholics often like to ask the saints to pray for us, akin to how we might ask our friends to pray for a particular intention, except that the saints are much closer to God than anyone here on earth.  Many saints are patrons of something; that is, they have a particular connection to that intention (whether it's an occupation, a country, a state in life, etc), and God seems to heed their petitions more closely in those areas.  It's kind of like when I ask my mom to pray for my friends (which I do a lot).  She'll gladly pray for all of them, for whatever their problems may be, but when I asked her to pray for the 24-year old girl whose father just died, I'm sure she prayed much harder, because her own father died at 22.  Praying to the saints goes kind of like that.

So Catholics often wonder who is the patron saint of homosexuality?  Is there a saint to whom they can look for an example as to how to live past this cross?  Someone who can intercede for others who has full knowledge of their situation and how it affects life?

Unfortunately, there is no official patron saint for homosexuality.  A priest once suggested to me St Charles Lwanga, a Ugandan missionary who was martyred (along with many men who converted to Christianity because of his testimony) partly for being Christian in a pagan country, but also because they refused to let the king have his way with them.  While tangentially related to the cross that gays carry, I find his story to be rather lacking in many of the essentials that a patron saint should have, and I do not find him sufficient as a patron for this (though he really is a pretty awesome saint in his own right).

So where else to go?  It's not like there's a registry that suggests that this and such saint may have struggled with same-sex attratction.  Admittedly, the active gay community has claimed a few saints (the historical claims behind which are tenuous at best), but that's still not the same.  We don't have a great option right now...

But I do have someone I pray to.  The Servant of God Terence Cardinal Cooke was Cardinal Archbishop of New York at the time Courage was founded there, and that is enough for me.  While he's not canonized yet, the process has been begun, and that's enough to guarantee to me that he's in heaven praying for me when I ask him to.

Terence Cardinal Cooke, pray for us.
All you saints and angels, pray for us.
All holy men and women, pray for us.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Terminology - Gay & Homosexual

I hate to post something like this so late in the game. But it needs to be done. Words are extremely important . Over time it seems the connotative can overpower and replace the denotative. With something that is very emotionally charged this can lead to muddled denotation. With the word "gay" this is certainly the case.

According to the dictionary, gay means a homosexual. When and how this happened is for another post. "Homosexual" according to is: "(noun) sexual desire or behavior directed toward a person or persons of one's own sex." I balk at this in general since it links sex with sexual behavior. You can have a homosexual high-five, two people of the same sex giving a high five. It completely removes the idea of one having a sex without having to have sex. I also balk at this when being applied to a person for the following reasons: 1) There are folks who have homosexual encounters without being particularly attracted to people of the same sex. 2) There are folks who have infrequent or minimal same sex attraction. It can mitigate the gradation in sexual orientation. 3) The word homosexual wasn't even coined until the late 19th century by psychiatrists. (Interesting to note is the word heterosexuality originally denoted the desire to have sex with the opposite sex without family life.) Prior to that point sodomite or pervert was given. Nevertheless, when understood properly this is a good definition to describe non-personal behaviors or inclinations. I would be inclined to state that a person is a homosexual only when either inclinations and/or behaviors are predominant. If someone is homosexual by predominance in behaviors - regardless of inclinations - the term "active" is best applied in conjunction for clarity. Behaviors or inclinations that are directly related to sexual acts with people of the same sex are homosexual too.

The problem is that the word "gay", more so than "homosexual", seems to carry connotations and thus restrictions or non-existent implications. For whatever reason there ARE "gay" subcultures, and predominant "gay" subcultures at that. Sometimes when the word is used it is meant that the person it is applied to chooses to act on their un-chosen same sex attraction (SSA). Or even simply that they have many of the mannerisms or preferences associated with the term. When it is used in the pejorative sense this is especially clear.

An even deeper issue is how "gay" fits into the English language. English in general is odd in that we say "I am hungry;" we speak as if it is a state of being, as opposed to other languages which say "I have hunger," something that is possessed. English has no way of conveying depth or duration of a state of being without being verbose. The closest we get is in the distinction between titles and general nouns. We say "I am hungry" or "I am tired", not "I am a hungry" or "I am a tired". It's as if we are saying we share in this universal nature of hunger or tiredness or sloppiness or whatever. This can lead to some level of identity conflation when it comes to other things we say we are. For this reason, along with what was mentioned earlier about the frequently concurrent mannerisms and preferences, it is easy for the word to conjure a huge chunk of identity in the person whom it is being applied to. If so-and-so says "Bobby is gay," one cannot help but think back to earlier interactions with Bobby and recall aspects of his personality and preferences that somehow are now linked to his sexual preferences. It's easy to get trapped and have it consume one's entire identity, which is why I am uncomfortable saying "I'm gay". Since it seems identity issues are at least correlated to same sex attraction, it is also another reason to be cautious.

Many people who believe in reparative therapy or even just the immorality of homosexual acts avoid using this term for those reasons. It's kind of funny now that I think about it. One of the aforementioned arguments against using the word gay is that it connotes or even denotes aspects of one's identity and personality that aren't necessarily true or at least desirable. But if there is genuine correlation between the term and one's preferences, temperament and mannerisms, wouldn't that aid in the argument that homosexual inclinations are largely developed by implicating these other aspects as precursors or exacerbating factors?

Also I feel that many who oppose using the term gay are doing so for more subtle reasons, primarily out of an anxiety to not endorse anything they cannot condone. I can't help feel when I use the term that I am somehow conceding to an agenda, that they have succeeded in warping language. That somehow by using the term "gay" I am legitimizing certain aspects of it that I can't agree with. And when applying it to myself I can somehow communicate that I condone the behaviors that are immoral or even practice them myself. However, these people fail to see that CULTURES define words, not necessarily intellectuals who can make clear distinctions. Even if an agenda pushed for a term, if it is adopted we need to respect how context defines things.

If "gay" is simply understood by the culture to mean: "One who has predominant same sex attraction," then I'm gay. Nevertheless it is next to impossible to weed out associations. Then again, there are campy stereotypically gay preferences and mannerisms that I do have. So if "gay" were to mean: "Someone who has predominant SSA and more than likely associated mannerisms and preferences" I would still fall into that category. If "gay" means to most people: "I experience predominant SSA, I participate in homosexual behavior and have many of the correlated preferences and mannerisms" I would STILL fall into that category. However if it meant: "I experience same sex attraction, I participate in and CONDONE homosexual behavior and have many of the correlated preferences and mannerisms," only then I would have a problem with it.

When I am confronted with all of the additional words I need to use to articulate myself and other nouns without using the word "gay" I am faced with a daunting task. Additionally, I risk alienating my audience. While I am not one for dumbing down my vocabulary, I do appreciate the effort to relate to people with words that show I can empathize with them. In the end it comes down to two primary dangers: First is the social, somehow by saying "gay" I am conveying that I condone immoral behaviors and false ideas. Or even just that I agree with something I don't, simple miscommunication. Second is the danger of it consuming my identity or overshadowing the identity of other nouns which I apply it to, especially people. In which case I view the word much like the term "sinner". It is something that I am and will be until I die. There is even a nature to being a sinner that is immediately connotatively suggested. The danger is letting that become the focus. If I avoid applying the word entirely to me I can fall into pride. If I use it to much I can fall into despair. Likewise if I use the word "gay" too much it can overshadow my personality and usurp my identity. For the purpose of this blog "gay" will mean not only "a person who experiences predominant SSA", but also "those preferences, personality traits and mannerisms associated with SSA and homosexual behavior". Context will largely communicate which is which.

Thus, there is gay culture. Even if there is segregation and even polar opposites it doesn't stop it from existing. Pink and pleather can be gay, but so can cowboy outfits. Light is a particle and a wave. Denying that light exists isn't going to solve it. It is a difficulty, not a doubt. A thousand difficulties do not make one doubt. Fortunately there are terms to describe the differences, i.e., pink and pleather = fem or queen (which is a fem guy) and butch. I plan to do a post talking about all the subcultures someday.

With that being said, the only final argument against using gay as a term that denotes associative things (for lack of a better word) with homosexuality is that it can extend or validate that with which is associated. This can lead to excessive suspicion, which in turn can lead to legit homophobia and loss of that which is good and not explicitly or more fundamentally tied with homosexuality. All of us have something we like, do, think about etc... that can be considered "gay" in this sense. A good way to avoid this is to systematically bring up all that which is seen as gay which shouldn't be. Which really is the purpose of this blog. To point out how we are all gay, but not all gay and that one can be gay without being gay ultimately so we can all be gay.
In all of these instances gay meant something different. And that's ok, I'm not going to stop using the word because some people may not be able to distinguish its meaning based on context, but I will make an effort to make sure what I mean by it is clear.

For simplicity's sake, in this blog the word gay can mean:
1) A person who is homosexual (according to definition above)
2) A person who condones homosexuality and is homosexual ("pro-gay homosexual" is best)
3) Behaviors or inclinations directly related to homosexuality
5) Those mannerisms and preferences that are culturally or indirectly associated with being homosexual
5) Being happy

There are many uses of the word gay which one can be without belonging to the others, too (with the exception of two).

Friday, July 31, 2009

An Interesting Distinction

Seraphic Spouse made a very interesting distinction in her combox yesterday:

I don't think relationships are sinful, and Church teaching doesn't say that they are. I think (and the Church teaches) that particular acts are sinful.
While Seraphic's statement is objectively true, I am not at ease with it.  What immediately comes to mind is an analogy to gay civil unions and marriages:

Gay civil unions are not inherently wrong, and in fact could be argued as good insofar as the state exists to serve its people, and those people need to be able to designate whoever they want for certain legal reasons.  However, gay civil unions are being used merely as a stepping-stone to gay marriage, which is not for the good of the state or its people (cf. this article in the LA Times), for which reason I would be wary about supporting gay civil unions.

I will have to ponder this further.  Comments on this are especially welcome.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


According to the woman I spoke with at the national Courage office in New York a few months ago, the statistics for those who seek inner healing from same-sex attraction are that only 1/3 are completely healed to the point of being able to enter healthily into marriage, for 1/3 the attraction becomes a lighter cross but remains, and for fully 1/3 the attraction never lets up, and it is a cross they must bear for the rest of their lives.

I count myself among that first group (though I never experienced SSA per se, my insides still got reasonably screwed up, and my time in a lesbian relationship definitely changed me).  But, despite the great works the Lord has done in me, I realize again and again that I still have vestiges of those feelings of isolation and being misunderstood that plague all who have personal connection to the gay world.

That is to say: much as I desire and appreciate heteronormativity*, part of me also resents it because I feel excluded from it.  Even now, even after years of healing - so much so that I often forget about the unusual sexual experiences in my past - I sometimes struggle to find my proper place in some (familiar and unfamiliar) social settings.

See, here's the thing.  I believe in objective truth (cf. About the Contributors).  I believe that masculine is different from and complementary to feminine.  I believe that gender is far more than just a social construct (though social pressures do play into gender roles to an extent).

And yet I naturally fit in with the men as well as with the women.  Many psychologists credit failure to identify with same-gender stereotypes with being a possible cause for SSA.  It's not that I didn't associate with female stereotypes (though there were, naturally, some I rejected) so much as that I felt nearly just as comfortable with male stereotypes!

Most people would be incredulous at the amount of time I spend thinking about gender issues - and this after I've been away from the scene for five years, and markedly healed for four!

I envy those women who, when they see a group of guys that they'd like to spend time with, go right over without worrying whether she's infringing on rare "guy time".  I envy those women who have no problem being a tomboy by day and a girl girl by night.  Sometimes I even think I envy those women who don't have close guy friends, and thus don't have to be concerned with maintaining appropriate boundaries during the friendship.

But I wouldn't trade my quirks for the world.  Strange as it may be, I count myself extremely blessed to be able to see both sides of most issues.  I love playing "Girlish Translator" for the boys, and I delight in the society of my male friends.  There's nothing quite like an evening of philosophy and pipe tobacco with the guys (especially when the following evening contains a sleepover and makeovers with the girls).

I suppose I, like everyone else on this planet, am still searching, still healing, still not yet entirely whole, so I must be content with being imperfect.  But how much imperfection sucks!

*Heteronormativity is a term that refers to those people who identify clearly with one gender in a typical heterosexual way.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Marriage, can it be gay?

This is a very philosophical post. If you have the patience for it perhaps it will give you a better understanding of arguments for the proper definition of marriage.

If we say that God intended marriage and sexuality for one man and one woman we then have to ask "why?" and "how do we know this?" A fundamentalist view is to simply that "the bible sayeth so and ye hamasaxuals (pronounced hama (like llama) saxual (like saxiphone... but "ual" added on) will perish! (along with papists!)". Such a mind frame hardly takes into consideration the historical ::ahem:: ecclesial origins of the bible. It is likely these folks will have a hard time with logic. Especially since they are appealing to an authority without first establishing its legitimacy. Even so in general appealing to an authority is a logical fallacy.

Why does God say one man, one woman? Ultimately "theology of the body" demonstrates why. (When I say theology of the body and you think "Christopher West" it's about time you actually get the latest translation and read it yourself. Since that is almost as depressing as thinking "Marty Haugen" when you hear "traditional music".) Although, really common sense kind of provides the answer to this.

What is the function of that which we call the sexual organs? Science says reproduction. It's very simple and biologically proven. When a man is stimulated to the point of ejaculation and if it is while penetrating the vagina the result under normal circumstances are several hundred million sperm swimming up and actually being sucked up by contractions in the woman to an egg. That is if intercourse is within that small window of time. This is empirically indisputable.

So why should we not thwart such processes? Well, there's a couple reasons. First is if you accept there is a God, then logically (since the essence of God is creator) He "created" (notice I believe in evolution so this isn't 6 day creationism) and what's important about that is he has intention and puts order into what He made. If we can say there is a God and we can say He "created" that is he also designed (no, not intelligent design theory there's a difference, see the works of the late Fr. Dr. Jacki) then we can say that there is a purpose, a meaning and an end to this design. Notice this inference of a design is ultimately a philosophical one. Science cannot tell us if it is random or design, it only tells us what is.

If this is the case we can say we reflect God's nature most fully when we procreate. Only God can create something out of nothing, so to participate in that activity that begets kiddies is to reflect God most fully.

As a side note, if you adhere to a monotheistic belief system that believes in the Trinity, ordered sexual relationships reflect the holy Trinity. As God the Father eternally begets the Son and the love between the two is the Holy Ghost. A man and woman loving etc... then there is a third... except we are in time which means it happens chronologically and, well, there's a lot more to it now that Sin has kind of screwed up the whole process.

In the end, if you accept that an essential part of our being is sexuality and an essential part of sexuality is procreation which then is predicated on the idea that God has created the universe a certain way, which is to say he intended for various things to have a certain purpose and because of how they were made. We can then safely say using sexuality for any other purposes is damaging to us since it goes against his intent. This is because of how essential sexuality is to our Nature.

What does this have to do with marriage?

The argument is simple; marriage is that institution that humans engage in to ensure the best situation for a sexual relationship. If children are to be raised then a life-long commitment is necessary to ensure the best rearing of children. I think I can safely say without citing a statistic that most people who have grown up in a divorced family can testify to the negative effect of divorce on the family life.

But let's address the arguments people use for homo-marriages. This is not meant to be exhaustive, but here are some I have heard:

1) "Two adults who love each other should be able to make a commitment to each other.”

2) "Straight people have messed up marriage so gay people should be able to give it a shot."

3) "Some traditional marriages used to involve rape and other antiquated things."

4) "There was this one time a gay lover was refused from seeing his beloved who was in the hospital, if they were married they would be allowed to do this."

And just for good measure I will include one that I haven't heard, but could hear:

5) "If marriage is about raising kids what's wrong with a committed relationship that adopts? It includes sexual expression and the raising of kids". With the case of some lesbians there is even invitro fertilization which mimics the 'natural' process anyways".

Response to objection 1) This objection begs the questions: “What is love?”

The answer to the former is that loving is the willing of the beloved for their good according to their Nature and the nature of the relationship. Nature in this instance is not what is necessarily observed in nature. Nature in this instance means what /should/ be. Nature with a big “N” is a philosophical inference, not a scientific one. Science only tells us what is, what has been and what could be, not what should be. With that establish we return to what was mentioned earlier. If there is a God who established the universe with intention we can then discover what he intended versus what is etc…

2) This can be addressed in to wasy: A) It is right that people who have heterosexual relationships have damaged the institution of marriage. If we accept contraceptives, divorce etc… as norms for marriage then marriage has been redefined and technically this argument could (sort of) work. That is if it was formulated properly. If, however, the norms of marriage insist upon an exclusive, totally open to life, sexual relationship occurring within an indissoluble bond this argument does not follow.

B) A person who fails to do an action properly does not give license for another person to fail at it even further. A man who does not succeed in jumping over a fence and claiming he did succeed does not give a man the right to jump over a wall and say he jumped over a fence no matter how similar the action.

3) While all marriages involve traditions that is a matter of attribute not of substance. The substance of marriage persists despite better or worse things that have concurred with it.

4) This argument is basically saying that a particular instance in which a subjectively dissatisfying experience that may or may not have been the result of injustice is sufficient reason to give license for people to use the term marriage how they please. Presumably this is because it will provide the necessary legal rights and privileges that will prevent such a situation from occurring. The rights and privileges in this particular case focus on common practices in medical institutions. Quite simply providing the people who are in these situations with the rights and privileges to avoid such a misfortune is the way around it. Not redefining marriage. It should also be known that even the California supreme acknowledges that the rights and privileges of same-sex couples are identical to that of married persons. ( See the post Beyond Gay and Prop 8).

5) Once again this implicitly denies the intention of our sexual faculties. It gives license to use them in a way that will never naturally produce children. Invitro is an unnatural process in two ways. It does not occur in nature and it goes against our Nature. Same gender sexual activity will never result in children no matter how committed the individuals are. Adoption is not the result of same sex activities.

In the end if you reject God it’s impossible to prove that marriage should remain a heterosexual institution without turning to utilitarianism or consequentialism.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

The Ex-Ex-Gay Phenomenon

Participating in Bridging the Gap's recent synchroblog sent me all over the internet to read what other bloggers had written about Christianity and homosexuality.  I came away from this with two predominant impressions:  1) No other blogger is doing what we're doing here - i.e., understanding homosexuality from the inside and sympathizing, yet still maintaining that such actions are wrong.  2) There is a large community of gays who used to think they were ex-gays.  This not only hurts the credibility of my story as someone who legitimately has no more such struggles but also breaks my heart all over again.

Stories of people like Christine and Jacob are not unusual, unfortunately.  It would seem that many, many people have been hurt by the ex-gay movement.  I suppose this is no different from how many people are "saved" (or even come into the Church through RCIA) and then fall away again within a year, back to their old lifestyles.

This is not meant to be a critique of the ex-gay movement; I know little to nothing about it.  But I can look into the heart of a generic homosexual and imagine what the journey must have been like.

First, the adolescent confusion of feeling what one is not "supposed" to be feeling, and the consequent interior isolation.  Probably some experimentation, mixed in with some sort of coming out (possibly publicly, but first more furtively, within a small group, which adds feelings of hypocrisy and leading a double life).

Next, an experience with the transcendent God.  An invitation from a Christian who promises healing and freedom in Christ from the chains of same-sex attraction.  Embracing such claims and noticing that the feelings have faded away in the enthusiasm of the cause.  Relief and feelings of finally reciving a share in that normalcy to which one was entitled but never before received.  Great zeal to spread the "truth" of this way of life.

Then, the honeymoon period ends.  Those hated feelings return, and simple prayer does not get rid of them.  Additionally, feelings of hypocrisy, shame for being unnatural, failure for not being able to change by will alone, fear of rejection by loved ones...  Eventually, something cracks and an admission is made: Ex-Gay was a false label.  Friendships are lost, bridges are burned - rejection of the most painful kind.

So one turns to what is left: the only place happiness and acceptance seem available to them, and looking out for others, to try and protect others from the same heartbreak they've felt.

Little wonder there seems to be no hope in the ex-gay movement.  *sighs* My heart breaks for these people to whom are held out false promises.  Change is sometimes possible, but not easy, and can't be the ultimate goal.  The goal is living chastely and seeking fulfillment in God alone.  Not easy by any means, but entirely worthwhile.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Understanding Gays, Part One

Most people who’ve never personally wrestled with homosexuality are under one of two misconceptions (heck, many who have wrestled with it labor under the second):

1. Living the gay lifestyle is a free choice, and anyone who makes such a choice is dumb, misguided, and/or selfish.

2. When someone has a homosexual orientation, there’s nothing he can do about it, so he has no choice but to give in and live that out if he wants to have anything resembling a normal life.

Neither of these statements are true. Like most things in life, the truth is found in the grey area, the mean between the extremes. Choosing an actively gay lifestyle is an extremely difficult choice (if most choices are 50-50 or at least 40-60, this one is 97-3, with the pressure on the pro-gay side). But it is a choice nonetheless, and there are numerous people who have successfully made that choice to live chasteley, ignoring their disordered carnal desires, and in some cases even receiving healing. But that’s another story.

What I want to focus on right now is the first misconception, because many people who have never experienced persistent same-sex attraction think that this is just like any other temptation, or even like any other sexual temptation. This is not the case.

I once asked a dear friend, who is one of the most ardent Catholics and most powerful instruments of the Holy Spirit I know (despite being attracted to other men), why he kept putting himself in situations where he’d bend and almost break under the incredible pressure of the temptation right in front of him, and he boiled it down to this: the temptation is so great and the oppression so relentless (and for so many years) that, even with full knowledge of the consequences of his actions, it seemed worth it to give in just for a moment, to have just a moment’s relief from those terrible, constant, inescapable desires. That statement of his has remained with me ever since, a reminder of the terrible cross that is borne by those experiencing same-sex attraction.

There is much more to say on the subject, but I want to let that sink in. Consider the enormity of the temptations of same-sex attraction. I cannot emphasize that enough. Look forward to more discussion here on this topic.


Thanks to Bridging the Gap for organizing today's Synchroblog.  Definitely a worthwhile initiative, and what response they've gotten!

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Best Interview I've Ever Read

All week, my mind has been on this long but entirely worthwhile interview with a traditional Catholic nun and her actively gay cousin. I identify with her more than with him, at this point in my life, and I feel that she has struck an incredible balance whereby she truly, thoroughly, deeply, and without judgment loves her cousin. You know the old saying, Love the sinner; hate the sin? Because she doesn't struggle with this particular temptation, and because he hasn't invited her into his life as a moral advisor and confidante (only as friend), she doesn't need to display hatred for his sin (this is all my paraphrasing). Instead, she loves the sinner and ignores the sin.

And that's the key, I think - she ignores the sin. As a general rule, we straight folks fall into the same pernicious trap that ensnares anyone who's faced homosexuality in their own life: placing so much emphasis on the homosexuality that it overshadows absolutely everything else about a person.

All this begs the question: Why do Catholics (and other conservative Christians, I suppose) feel a need to make it known that we don't support the gay lifestyle whenever we're with people (even sometimes total strangers) who are practicing it? We don't feel the same need when people are remarried, and if it's present with people who are cohabitating, it's much less strong. Why do we feel a need to denounce the lifestyles of people who are, theologically speaking, living in public sin almost before we feel comfortable to talk about anything else? Is this really so different from a gay man's need to put feelers out and make sure his friends support his sexuality before spending time with them?

The theory I've come to is this: We Catholics who actually believe what Mother Church teaches are so accustomed to being lumped in with cultural Catholics who pick and choose what's convenient for their lifestyle (which frustrates and pains us) that we feel a need not only to preach the Gospel at all times but to be preachy about it. Unfortunately, many of the most visible sins are the least pernicious ones, and so we make a big deal out of something that is really more passion than sin, though it still separates people from God.

If I'm being abstruse, I trust that Theophilus will explain me in the comments. Thank you for reading; I return to my regularly scheduled life with new resolve not to judge, but only to love.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

"Beyond Gay" and prop. 8

I recently finished a book entitled: "Beyond Gay" by David Morrison. It's basically a biographical and apologetic work rolled into one. The book follows his conversion from being a gay activist to a faithful Catholic. The rest of the book is his case for a Catholic view of sexuality mixed with some encouraging words for those who struggle with the phenomenon of SSA directly or indirectly. I have to admit at first I was skeptical that this book would be worth my time. Not because it doesn't hold anything valuable in it, but because I probably had heard everything he was going to say. While that was mostly true I found this book to be very valuable nonetheless. Largely because of the con-natural knowledge it imparted. I have heard testimonies similar to his before, but somehow reading a complete book made a better impression. I would highly recommend this to people who are trying to find a balanced way to talk about the issue of homosexuality. It is interesting to note that the realizations he has had are just as valid today as they were 15 years ago. The tensions, misconceptions and caricatures of both sides has seemed to only be strengthened with only minor progress on the Christian "side".

One point I really appreciated is how he based his disagreement with the gay affirming "theology" on the basis of what it means to love. I don't know if there can be a genuine dialogue, especially about the issues now facing us, without talking about what it means to love. This is tied intimately with what it means to be human, what our sexuality has to do with that and ultimately our idea of how things "should be".

This week the supreme court of California upheld the ban on gay marriage. I found this refreshing, not so much for preserving traditional marriage in America (it's a little late for that), but because the justices decided to put aside their personal agendas and rule in favor of a democratic society. Their exceptions for the however many who had already been "married" demonstrates a philosophical inconsistency, but it is understandable why they would make those exceptions. What is important to note that this battle is nothing other than a symbolic one. Since the court ruling states:

Accordingly, although Proposition 8 eliminates the ability of same-sex couples to enter into an official relationship designated “marriage,” in all other respects those couples continue to possess, under the state constitutional privacy and due process clauses, “the core set of basic substantive legal rights and attributes traditionally associated with marriage,” including, “most fundamentally, the opportunity of an individual to establish — with the person with whom the individual has chosen to share his or her life— an officially recognized and protected family possessing mutual rights and responsibilities and entitled to the same respect and dignity accorded a union traditionally designated as marriage.” (Marriage Cases, supra, 43 Cal.4th 757, 781.) Like opposite-sex couples, same-sex couples enjoy this protection not as a matter of legislative grace, but of constitutional right.
Pg. 41, 2nd Paragraph,

What I'm more afraid of is a total disintegration of the framework in which these debates occur. If our justice system is so contradictory that it rules an amendment to the constitution is unconstitutional, I would seriously begin to question if our nation has any hope. It's kind of the whole thing with Obama and Notre Dame, most people thought the battle was because of Obama's position on abortion. What people didn't realize is that abortion as such was not the issue, it was whether or not a Catholic institution can reward someone for doing things that are opposed to her teachings. It was about intellectual honesty and Catholic identity more so then affirming the right to life. But, that's a dead horse.

What amazes me is how it seems the major people opposed to prop 8 have given up fighting the notion that allowing for non-traditional definitions of marriage is a slippery slope. Since at polyamorous unions are now supposedly something worth getting behind.

Finally, I do believe that perhaps if only a fractions of the $40 Million used to support prop. 8 had gone to developing programs that help further our understanding of SSA perhaps this whole mess could have been avoided. The gay activists have been a constant drip through the moral roof of our society since the 1960s (perhaps since the 1860s even) and we put up the umbrella only when we're already soaked and it's really starting to pour. It's going to be messy fixing that hole now and a bucket isn't going to stop the house from flooding. Especially since there are leaks in every room. All in all, David Morrisons book is worth reading to help keep a balanced perspective on this and to remember that this is not so much a legal or even idealogical issue, it's a human one. Real people are involved and since that is the case great sensitivity and openess is neccessary from both sides in order to procede without doing damage to people.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The Road Less Traveled

Sorry to steal the coveted top-post-on-the-blog space from Theophilus so soon, but it's his excellent post below that prompted mine here, now.

See, after reading his musings I was reminded of my interior dedication to this blog, and my promise to myself to post at least once per week for the time being. So I was inspired to search Google BlogSearch for words like "queer" and "gay", and added at least nine new blogs to my blogroll (staying up at least two hours after my intended bedtime to do so). Then I shut off my computer and got ready for bed.

But as I stood in the shower, it suddenly hit me: I am extremely vulnerable to the pro-gay rhetoric. Not so much that I'd be convinced to call up my ex-girlfriend and say, Hey, you were totally right about this alternative sexuality thing, I was definitely brainwashed through college, let's do lunch. But enough that I'd be hesitant to talk about the issues to anyone who was not 100% on the same page (Catholic teaching), and that I might call up Theophilus for some encouragement and a reminder that there really is objective truth.

Then another realization hit me: I am not a warrior. Though the many pro-gay websites and blogs out there beg to be addressed by rational people who have a clue, the thought of being that person just about paralyzes me with worry.

I am not a warrior; I am a catechist, a teacher. All I desire to do is to bring information to others - in this case, primarily to people who are coming from a philosophical worldview similar to my own - to enable them to love others better by understanding their struggles and supporting them without judging them.

That is my mission here on this blog. And I don't have to feel bad about leaving aside the most obvious path down this road. After all, I'm already accustomed to discovering the roads less traveled...

Monday, May 25, 2009

To come out or not to come out.

May 31st 2009 is the 5th year anniversary of my "coming out" to my parents. I was a faithful Catholic back then as I am now so it mostly consisted of me informing my parents that I was likely to be barred from the priesthood due to my struggle with same-sex attraction. At the time I labeled myself as bi-sexual since I did experience the occasional attraction to women. Which I am certain the vast majority of gay guys do, but that’s for another posting. Eventually I would come to call myself “gay” but I have issues with that now, but again that’s for another posting. The real question I would like to grapple with is one of prudence. Unless you have been living under a rock it is pretty clear that there is a LOT of confusion about same-sex attraction. I am convinced that this is due in part to how few who struggle with it have opened up. The dilemma is this: I have been advised by multiple Catholic pastors/Christian leaders to keep my struggle with same-sex attraction quiet. I can see an issue of it being made known for a couple reasons: 1) The tendency to place one’s entire identity in one’s orientation is especially strong among those who struggle with SSA. Whatever one may say about theories in regards to its development, I suspect identity perception has something to do with the core of its development. 2) It exposes one to being extra tempted by those who struggle likewise, either openly or secretly. It makes one an easy target for seduction.

The problem is neither of those were reasons these leaders gave to me. The main reason given was misunderstandings could arise that would lead to me being ostracized. I have frequently acted as a youth minister or in some other leadership position, which then made the possible ramifications of misunderstanding that much worse. However, part of me thinks that this only makes the whole cycle of confusion and misunderstanding worse. I mean, how else are we going to get past those misunderstandings unless we talk about them openly? It’s not like I am going to just come right out during the middle of mass and scream "I’m GAY! And it’s fabulous!" I could see myself maybe convening a special meeting to share my struggles and how to charitably approach the issue as Catholics. For the most part I would just let people know what it’s like when it comes up. The fact is “keeping it quiet” perpetuates the cycle on several levels. 1) On a communal level, people judge, criticize “those gays” without understanding why people are driven to such behavior. It’s not that the “gay rights” activists are all that innocent, but is anyone? Perhaps if Catholics knew other Catholics who struggled with SSA it would be less of an ideological battle and more of an interior fight to love. 2) Even worse is on the personal level. Here I am trying to overcome the overwhelming sense of shame and when I bring it up I’m told in effect: “That’s too messed up to talk about openly; keep it quiet or people will demonize you”. Unfortunately there is another phenomenon that also occurs, when you’re being told to keep big secrets you learn to keep big secrets. I am among the unbelievable number of men who have maintained, at least in part, homosexual relationships on the side without anyone knowing about it. To this day very few of my friends know the extent to which I have strayed in some of my darker days. I’m back on track now, but there have been several points in my life which I was extremely close to abandoning everything for a gay relationship. It felt like the only honest thing to do. On second thought it actually felt like it was the only way I could get help. I knew it would bring total derision from some, but at least others would see me in a more honest light. However if I were to have done that it would only reinforces the misunderstandings! The same false perceptions these pastors are afraid of. Sad day.

To this day I’m still perplexed about this. At some point in my life I may have to be open about it, for now I will be silent. Well, not to those I’m accountable to, but you get the picture. That was a big reason I started this blog, so I could remain anonymous, but still fight the misunderstandings.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Jumping to Conclusions

I know, I'm too far behind for the journalistic standards of the blogosphere, but I wanted to address this story about Archbishop Robert Weakland (emeritus of Milwaukee) - the revelation that his soon-to-be-published autobiography includes him speaking frankly about his struggles with homosexuality.

Of course, the Catholic blogosphere was abuzz with the expected critiques.  How sadly unsurprising, that a liberal bishop already in scandal who did great harm to the Liturgy (though his social justice works were good) throws into his autobiography accolades for the gay lifestyle, they all seemed to say.

I suspend real judgment until I've read the book (which I intend to do this summer, with a review to be posted here).  I do believe that Catholics who are promoting such things have a significantly flawed understanding of what it means to be Catholic, and a bishop doing so is doubly scandalous (meant in the Biblical sense, i.e., leading others to sin).

But here I take the Archbishop at his word.  He says that the book discusses "his struggles".  That's good.  We all have struggles, and it's important for us as humans to understand each others'.  What will make or break the book is how he portrays those struggles: as a natural struggle which he tried to overcome (falling repeatedly, but always getting back up to try again), or as an imposed struggle to which he would not have been bound had the Catholic Church only wisened up and got with the times.

I look forward to the read.  I will do my best not to judge this book by its cover.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Something Is Missing

I read a lot of blogs (more than I'd like to admit, actually), several of which discuss themes of gender and sexuality. I would like to highlight two of them in particular as symptomatic of the same problems faced by many people who are in support of traditional marriage.

Recently, the Art of Manliness (a laudable website that suggests that what it means to be a man is to be honest, loyal, thoughtful, courageous, brave, caring, etc, and helps men to practice these virtues) reviewed a NY Times blog post about gender in adolescents (particularly, in boys). The Times post began with the story of a little boy who actually shot himself because a bully suggested he should (said bully, along with other classmates, had been telling this boy he was gay just because he did well in school). It then mused that despite the fact that gender has become much more flexible in this day and age than it once was, the reactions of little boys today are very similar to what they might have been 50 years ago: if a boy doesn't meet others' standard of rugged manliness, he is ostracized and his manliness called into question.

The authors of AOM (Art of Manliness) connected this with the growing movement in our generation (20-somethings) to return to what he called "gender roots" - that is, our innate gender identity as felt deeply within us, before the pansexual prodding of today's society.

Another blog, For the Love of Men, looks at gender roles from a complementary female perspective. In the recent post linked above, she begins:

THE VAST MAJORITY of responses I get about this blog are very positive. There is no doubt in my mind that men and women have had enough of being told how they should act and think around each other. Our intuitive wisdom about our sexual natures is too strong to be quashed anymore.

She speaks with strong language about the innate sexual desires written on our hearts and in our bodies, in part because she'd been taught for so many years to ignore them and do as society told her to (something I'm sure many readers of this blog can relate to).

There is much truth in the views expressed on both blogs. I firmly believe that today's boys and girls need to know that it's okay to be men and women, rather than some androgynous, politically correct in-between thing. But both blogs, like the previously-mentioned book Captivating that, well, failed to captivate me, are missing something crucial: a bridge to unusual experiences of gender and sexuality.

There are things innate to being a man. I do not possess these things. Rather, I possess things innate to my womanness. Yet I feel supremely comfortable doing many manly things, and less than comfortable doing many womanly things. There are plenty of aspects of womanhood with which I simply do not identify. So if womanhood means following my instincts and feelings as a woman, what does that mean when I don't feel womanly?

That paragraph is not very clear, but I don't know how to phrase it any better, and I think its very confusion underscores my point: Whether you believe homosexual tendencies are innate or inbred, nature or nurture, genetic or psychological, the fact remains that there are plenty of men who don't identify with typical manliness and women who don't identify with stereotypical womanliness. Whether they're meant to be that way or something went wrong and such feelings are a by-product thereof, these men and women don't feel things the way they "should." The rules that apply to heteronormative men and women cannot be applied in the same way.

And it is from this stark contrast, this great confusion, that the gender continuum we have today arises. Neither way is an effective solution. I don't know what is a good solution, and I'll continue poking my little head around until I find something that is, but in the meantime all I can do is point out the holes in others' arguments and hope that eventually I'll find enough little pieces to put together something of my own.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

A Long Introduction from a New Contributor

Even as a little girl, I loved to defy stereotypes. Gender stereotypes in particular were a lot of fun, though I suppose that comes with the territory of being a little girl who loves dinosaurs and bugs and reptiles and science in general.

Too, I always loved boys. Not like, Oh, he’s so dreamy! boys, but more like Are they really doing THAT!? Boys are so hilarious; girls would never do this kind of stuff! Perhaps it has to do with the fact that the girls around me would do dumb things like stand and talk to each other when they were supposed to be guarding second base in the gym class kickball games, or would scream and carry on for minutes about the fly that buzzed past the lunch table. In short, even before I started liking them romantically, boys had always held a certain charm for me. As far back as I can remember, I’ve always taken pride in the fact that I’ve had about as many close guy friends as close girl friends.

But don’t think that I didn’t enjoy being girly. I was some creative variation on “princess” for many a Halloween, and I thoroughly enjoyed dressing up in a fancy dress for Christmas and Easter, adorned with a corsage from my father. It’s just that there was a time and a place for everything. And besides, I delighted in seeming contradictions. (“What? That girl in the ball gown over there can burp on command louder than I can and will gladly demonstrate!?”)

Then, when puberty hit, I was just like most other preteen girls, oooing and aahing over the “hot” (read: popular and conceited but admittedly attractive) boys from a distance. After a few of these crushes, though, I realized that all the boys to whom I was attracted physically were jerks, so I put a lot less stock in that.

Not that I’d ever cared a whole lot about the looks department. From childhood, I was feminist enough to want to spare my future husband from having to measure up to an impossible Prince Charming ideal in my head, so I never made one. Never dreamed about my wedding, my husband, my family. (Well, not until college, but that’s getting ahead of ourselves.)

I dated a few guys in high school. Each relationship was different but not unexpected – I had the cute best friend-turned-boyfriend (our relationship was little different from our friendship), the gangsta with whom I had nothing in common (except that we were both good kissers – but maybe I should’ve taken the hint when I had to take his hand out of my bra twice on our first date), the long-term high school boyfriend. Over the year that I dated that last one, I gradually lost touch with my other guy friends and spent more time with his (I went to an all-girls high school, so I had to go out of my way to spend time with guys); consequently, when I entered my senior year of high school a single girl, I didn’t have any interaction with guys whatsoever.

Gradually my circle of friends shifted; I spent less time with my classmates and more time with my sports teammates and fellow actresses. One of them confessed after several months that she’d only liked one guy in her life, but always girls, always women.

This took a little getting used to. I’d been raised Catholic, so gay relationships were a no-go, but most important was to love and not judge (because everyone sins; it’s just how we sin that’s different). Up ‘till this point, I’d read up on arguments for both sides of the homosexuality debate, and it seemed to me that both sides had good, solid arguments, so who was I to choose one?

Eventually, she admitted she was attracted to me, but I was quite used to guy friends having unrequited crushes on me, so what difference did it make this this was a girl friend who had such feelings? Well, over a few months of soccer practices and play rehearsals nearly back-to-back with this girl, we started “playing games.” It started as the old isn’t it funny when we pretend to be lesbians? look at the guys’ mouths water as they watch us! shtick, but quickly progressed to how far can I push before I make you pleasantly uncomfortable... and before you know it, we’d spent the night together in what was clearly either a one-night stand or the beginning of a relationship.

Well, my Catholic upbringing had succeeded in impressing upon me the importance of sexual acts, so I didn’t like the one-night stand idea, and I didn’t want to have to stop our little games, because I was quite good at them. I wasn’t attracted to her any less than I’d been to my previous boyfriends; in fact, I’d always found the female form beautiful. Besides, a man doesn’t know what a woman wants; you have to make such efforts to communicate with him, and it so taxing on both of you. On the other hand, I could walk into a room and give a significant glance to a woman, and she would know exactly what I was desiring or feeling. Besides, I read somewhere that Vatican II said to follow your conscience over objective teaching, and that was enough: we were dating.

It was a tumultuous time, inside of me. I was absolutely terrified that I was doing the wrong thing, and consequently clung to it more tightly. (My parents even brought me to confession once, and it was my only experience of imperfection contrition: not so much sorrow for sin as terror of going to hell for it.) I told my parents after a week, thinking that since they were great parents who supported me, they would support my every decision. They did what they were supposed to do, to love the sinner and hate the sin, to support me but not that lifestyle, but I felt completely rejected and pulled back from them entirely.

The last few months of my high school career (and the summer following) are a blur. When she and I were intimate, I couldn’t help but think to myself, This is good, but imagine how good what she’s doing now would feel if it were a guy doing that! I knew from experience that, while the things she did produced quite a charge, it was nothing compared to the charge of even lesser actions from the previous boyfriend. (I was lucky: I was wired right.)

Long before we broke up, I knew it would be just a fling (though a months-long one) and I’d never date another girl. But we made the most of every moment, even hiding away in places as absurd as under the blankets with other friends in the room to have our moments.

But I wasn’t about to enter college with a girlfriend, and especially not the out-of-state conservative Catholic university at which I was quite excited to begin my college career. Going there was really a turning point: the people I met and the things I learned while I was there opened my eyes to the possibility that maybe those people against gay relationships did know what they were talking about. Slowly but surely, I considered this more and more thoroughly, until I reached a point where I wanted to go to a priest and confess this relationship as a sin.

Unfortunately, confession turned out to be exactly what i’d feared: I knew in my head that I was forgiven, but I didn’t feel it in my heart. But I’d met these people who called themselves “charismatic,” and there were two things that stood out about them: 1) They were really serious about living their lives radically for Christ, in a way I’d never encountered before, and 2) They had this idea that the dumb things we did in our lives left us with baggage that we carried around, and if we invited Him in, the Lord would come and heal us – in His own time of course, but He’d take that baggage away from us and free us from those worries and insecurities. That sounded cool. So I told God He could heal me of this relationship if He wanted.

One night, He took me up on that offer. Through receiving His Body and Blood in the Eucharist, and later in the evening through nearly two hours of prayer with four of the aforementioned charismatics, He removed from my heart, mind, and soul all the baggage that I’d accumulated from my relationship (friendly and romantic) with her.

But every healing has a moment and a process. My process began with the assurance that, though I had homosexual sins in my past and none of my peers did, that didn’t make me categorically different from them. They had other sins in their pasts that I’d never come in contact with, some of which were much worse than what I’d done! But I was different, my actions and experiences had set me apart. After a while, I got over that, and began to accept that what truly mattered was that I was a person, not that I was a person with a history including homosexuality.

That was a hard lesson! Once I finally learned it, though, the Lord’s work in my heart changed. True, I was not categorically different from any of my friends. But the sins I had chosen had left a different kind of mark on my psyche and my heart. One relationship does not a disposition make; there had been other things askew, dating back to childhood, that needed to be corrected in order for me to be truly healed.

That semester, I took a class on Christian Marriage and learned the philosophical and theological reasons why homsexual relationships are wrong (a summary is linked in the sidebar). For the first time, I read a book that changed my life: The Homosexual Person by Fr. John Harvey (founder of Courage, linked in the sidebar). This book unpacked the psychological underpinnings of homosexuality, and his words still ring true for every single homosexual person I have ever known. I found a few other people who were in various stages of dealing with same-sex attraction or relationships, and we worked together to iron out what God was doing with us and how to leave behind the bad from what we’d done and felt, and move forward towards the good and the true. Finally, I spent a lot of time with one group of normal guys (I have often been the one woman among men), and learned through them that men don’t really mind most of the silly female stereotypes I’d hated so much. For instance: it’s not a big deal if a woman owns thirty pairs of shoes, so long as she doesn’t have to mortgage the house to pay for them.

I read a book on Christian femininity that semester, Captivating by John and Stasi Eldredge. It didn’t touch me at all, because they spoke to childhood dreams of being the princess or the bride, and playdates where the girl is the damsel in distress. Not that we ever played that sort of game when I was a kid, but I would’ve been hard-pressed to have willingly sat there and waited as the princess. I totally would’ve gone with the more exciting adventurous part (actually, I probably would’ve volunteered to be the bad guy. The bad guy parts were always more fun to pretend). But at the same time I began to see the positive side to some of the quirky things women did. No longer did women go to the bathroom in groups because they were too insecure to go on their own (though that did happen); more often, though, they went to express candid observations about the evening, and even to keep the guys wondering just a little bit (which they kind of enjoyed). And besides, if I missed some great joke or something at the table while we were gone, it wasn’t the end of the world.

I suppose what I’m trying to express is that I was relearning what it meant to be a woman, letting go of a lot of the baggage I’d just heaped upon myself because I saw the world as unfair and insecure. When I reread Captivating a year or so later, I found that I’d grown enough that I could relate to heteronormative Christian feminine spirituality. I found that those desires I didn’t remember as a kid had emerged late (like, in college).

I’ve been at this too long, and the later healing bits are always the hardest part to write; I’m rambling like nobody’s business! The point, I suppose, is that there’s hope. Maybe I wasn’t as firmly entrenched in the gay lifestyle as you are. Maybe you’ve experienced only same-sex attractions, which I was pretty well spared. But there are others with stories like mine. Others who have been there, and are there no longer. Others who have found in Christ a peace unlike anything they’ve ever known, and One who understands their suffering and bears it with them.

There is hope. You don’t have to choose this just because it’s what you feel. The road won’t be easy, but it will be entirely worth it.

Oh, and in case you were wondering, my physical attractions to men have become much more frequent. One day, I will date a man who is positively hot, and I won’t feel like a liar when I tell him that. :)

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Existential Inquiry

A swirling bed of emotion. The light slips like a rug out from underneath me. My mind tumbles down a dark hallway towards that emptiness. The bitter sadness that bites the consciousness, searing hopes with accurate depictions of reality.
What human being can bear to endure the lifeless drudgery that encompasses my daily events?

The cross.
The cross.

My shame, my glory.
Where else can such sweet and sad emotions find harmony?

Do my perceptions make things worse or merely make things more bearable? Even the cynic finds pleasure in his negativity, or at least some control. May I shed myself of despair? May I destroy the fountain of fear that springs up inside me? Is it so naïve, so foolish to rid myself of concern for myself? Those who seem to care the least about themselves are often the most selfish.
Who will I be? An accuser or a Paraclete?

Am I alone?


I have found that ancient life. That reverberating melody, rhythm and holy song that penetrates the fabric of the material and immaterial universe. Yet perceiving this holy song only make me more lonely, for no one else can hear it as I do. I want to sing it, to live it, to hold it, to be it. The song is alive, it is Love. Hope in it, laud it still.

Who can touch that sacred space in my heart but God? Here He calms me of my deepest fear and yet when I see Him leave the hole is bigger than before. That hole, oh that hole! It widens, it deepens until only He can fill it. I suppose that is His purpose in filling all holes in my life until those pits, spreading like cancer, forming into a singular chasm, where I am truly nothing and He alone can subsist in the space where I was.

Yet some how now I am with more substance than before.

I am afraid more now of what I want than what He does. For His desires can only lead to happiness.


Emptiness... pain.

This is the mystery of His will, that in making me He has given me His desires in the form of my own. The task is then to distinguish between that which has been distorted by creatures and designed by the creator.

Can what I desire truly bring me deeper into Him?

The wisdom of old says to desire nothing aside from the All. Yet I have stunted, squashed and suppressed my desires from early in my youth. Some were good and some were bad. Through the colored lenses of fear and expectations it is hard to tell which was which and which was more. Unrestrained they only lead to internal tyranny and desolate seeking of pleasure. Ignored they lead to explosions of passion and subsequent confusion.

Who am I?
How can I answer this unless I know what I want?
Which are the desires rage in me from my diseased flesh or wounded memories?
How much are my desires dictated to me or am I dictating to my desires?

It seems to me the greater mystery in discerning God’s will is discerning my own. Desires arise from deep within me that I am told are the result of warped perceptions, hurts that haven’t been healed and yet they come back new, fresh and reshaped. Waves crushing the sandcastles of my self-understanding.

Is this a lengthy rant merely romanticizing my angst and immature, reckless desire for Love in general or are there legitimate yearnings that man has neglected through distraction?

I don’t know. But here I am.

Here I am.

"Let it be done unto me according to your word."

Sometimes the inflamed wound of my soul acts as the perfect sign to the goodness of God. At other times it is merely the intellectual recognition of the emptiness of all other loves that keeps me pushing forward in darkness, hoping for the True Love.

The temporal and eternal desires of life crisscross in a mesh captivating my attention in a futile attempt to see where each is coming from and where each is going. I believe all desires ultimately come from and lead to the All of love in God even if in their manifestation they have been mangled.

Yet that is impossible to grasp while I am still physical, while I am still an intensely finite amalgamation of material and immaterial. Is it in these temporal experiences that I am called to grasp those eternal ones? Am I to journey in the cloud of unknowing? Or is it in the light of human interactions that I am to be catapulted into His divine light?

Yet all which is most like Him to me is still less like Him to Him than that which is least like Him to me. Ergo darkness.

How can I want that which I cannot perceive and not want that which I do? Especially when it is my experience of Him, which is not actually Him, that leads me to seek that which is Him.

If I explore any alternative to the narrow gate of faith I only find wide road labyrinths and layers of lust leading to the twisted alleyways of the psyche saturated in the seven sins. Milemarkers of iniquity throughout history. Grimey walls painted in foundationless sin-justifying false logic. To whom shall I go?

I am called to be in the world, this I know without knowing how.

What then are these forbidden desires of my heart?

I long to be known. I long to be loved. My soul and body craves for the conjugal relationship with the mystery that is woman. I realize it cannot be woman that I want but a woman, a unique person. I feel that I must be captivated by her whole person in a genuine and homogeneous flow of beauty from spirit to body. A symphony of qualities that is harmonious to my own. More often than not, I am compelled to want the want. Devoid of the natural draw I am drawn to it because I am not drawn.

I cannot shake a desire for intimate masculine affection and companionship. As the inordinate lusts, possibly born of rejection begin to dissipate these desires do not. They cease in their compulsive nature but remain, nagging me constantly.
Is it the residue of sinful thought patterns? Is it a subtle seduction in the form of seemingly innocuous hopes? Am I deceiving myself? Am I being deceived? Do I want to consume? Do I want to receive an impossible confirmation of my masculinity through another? Do I futilely seek to reconcile past lies, hurts, false perceptions?

My fear is that this desire for an exclusive, intimate and affectionate relationship with another man is actually all these things in some combination and nothing more. I have always had issues with applying the label of “best friend” to anyone. I always seem to be different, not necessarily in person hood, but intention from all of those whom I have had companionship with upon which this label could fall.
Is this self-pity distorting my memories of current and past relationships? What if most of these fears are true on some level, does that mean my desire for this relationship is purely a construction of these illusions?

I want to know the truth.

I cannot speak to if this desire simply lays dormant in all men or in merely a few. I do know that it is strong in my own heart. Maybe the reason it is stronger at times than the more fundamental masculine draw to that of a woman is because it is augmented by all of those lies, wounds, sins and distortions. It is my suspicion that this is the case. Yet it's difficult to endorse such a formal cause when all the material causes seem absent and even the opposite.

Jonathon and David.
Paul and Timothy.
John and Jesus.

How do I know when it is right for me to have this relationship? How do I find it? Am I to find it? Is it before, beside or after the ordered romantic relationship? Does it come suddenly or grow slowly and organically? For I know from experience that even if it is not dangerous it is at least futile to seek it.

I want a man who can be free in affection, intimate in conversation, unashamed and unafraid of his body. A man who in body in soul is fully and magnificently masculine. Some one who wishes to be exclusive with me and is not indomitably tainted by the constructs of homosexuality, neither in expression or foundation. Someone who is not seeking to be fulfilled in me or excessively dependent on my affections and affirmations. A free exchange of fraternal love that is built on seeking a common good. A constructive relationship of giving and receiving that can be admired, even if initially viewed with suspicion.

If I were to find such a person, would they want this with me? Would I be able to overcome my fear?

Maybe this idealism is making it improbable for me to discover it where it already is.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Redefining marriage.

There are few things that irk me more than inconsistencies in Christian efforts. There are two that come to mind most readily.
1) As noted in a previous post, my belief is that if Catholics and Christians spent more time focusing on getting at the root of homosexuality we wouldn't have to deal with all the (fruitless) legal battles. This plays into the idea of "cafeteria Catholicism". That phrase is used to lambaste politicians and public figures who, while generally are worthy of excommunication, nonetheless receive rather unchristian treatment. Which is ironic since when that happens the people laying into the unfaithful Christians are themselves being cafeteria. Whatever happened to "cook the truth in Charity until it becomes sweet"? It's my belief that some times how you say something is more important than what you say, since truth is relational. The truth is not something it's someone. But that's for another rant. All in all the whole "love your neighbor", "tax collectors and sinners getting into heaven before you" bit seems to be frequently missed as good intentioned Christians reflect on my, I mean... ::ahem::... the depravity of homosexuals.

2)What also really irks me is that most Protestants opposing gay marriage. Rather sweeping judgement, I know. Let me explain why. Most protestant churches not only do not have a total condemnation of contraception and divorce, but explicitly allow for it. The fact is marriage was "redefined" in western civilization a looooooong time ago. Arguably with King Henry XVIII and his whole divorce thing. Once again in the early days of "the pill" it was Episcopalians who made allowance for such effective contraception. Contraceptives are the ultimate blow to the definition of marriage. The end result is "marriages" that last a few years and bring few children, if any. In effect they are no different than gay "marriage". Rick Warren I think recognizes this. Basically for the sake of consistency you need to reject contraception, fornication, divorce, masturbation and every sexual deviation that will never lead to kiddies. Otherwise I think the gay groups are right in their arguments, they do deserve a shot at that kind of "marriage".

In the end only a handful of protestants and Catholics have any level of consistency in their arguments. And while it may seem [somewhat] unrealistic, to be truly consistent Catholics should start pushing for legislation that will make divorce and contraceptives illegal. Not only that, but legislation that gives the family more power than the government. Social services should not be the ones to step in if there's a bad situation, the closest kind should and the government should enforce that. Otherwise it's just going to be reactions to the latest depravity in the culture.