God, Gays and “Drama”—One Same-Sex Attracted (SSA) Man’s View

 

“Most Gracious Queen, we thee implore
To go away and sin no more,
But if that effort be too great,
To go away at any rate.”

Anonymous

Miss Richfield 1981
Miss Richfield 1981 (Photo credit: rauchdickson)

Twice in the last couple of years, it was suggested to me that I was an online “drama” queen.  In both cases it was from people, Face Book “friends,” who had previously seemed to be very sympathetic and were making apparently sincere attempts to understand the struggles of those with SSA or who were actively LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) persons.  And yet both used a common phrase (as well as stereotype) which is a severe and painful insult to those of us with that particular struggle. I am not sure if it was said deliberately or not, but I am betting my FB page that, had I been a straight male, even whatever differences we may have legitimately had would not have been expressed in that crude manner.

drama queen

noun

Informal. a person who often has exaggerated or overly emotional reactions to events or situations: You’re such a drama queen! You always have to have all the attention.

 

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/Drama+queen

Bathsheba Goes to King David
Bathsheba Goes to King David (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Frankly I am not sure what a drama queen actually is, but the above dictionary definition would indicate a person who deliberately attempts to drag others into their life’s “soap opera” on a regular basis.  And we all have one or more soaps going at any given time. Each of us has stories or situations which would surprise or even shock those around us if publicly shared. Most of us, particularly by my age, have as well a past of one sort of another which we have paid for dearly on some level. For godly King David it was his adulterous affair with Bathsheba while she was still married to another, and the subsequent murder of her husband to cover his tracks. As a direct result, he lost the most precious and pure outcome of a bad situation, which was the child conceived of their illicit union.  Although he prayed and even fasted, the child nevertheless died, and the affair with Bathsheba was forever then recorded as part of Sacred Scripture.  Obviously not the planned legacy from what began as a simple act of lust (and bathtub peeping). And yet one of the most beautiful Psalms (51) came directly out of his experience.  He was not being deliberately dramatic either—he was sharing the excruciating pain of his heart.  And in it at least some meaning came into the otherwise valueless situation.

For me, I started out as an extremely committed Christian, first as a Catholic and then for many years evangelical, “saved myself” sexually for my then-wife and even at a young age (14 onward) began to share my understanding of the Christian Faith with everyone I knew, both friends and family—and sometimes to an extreme wearing of patience on their parts I am sure.  But it was at that time in my life where I learned to “live life out loud.” Often I would force myself to share even when I did not wish to, knowing it might alienate those who I loved or whose loved I craved. I just felt, or believed, that I was called to do so. And so it was—and still is not an easy thing for me to do at times.  I am far more private by nature than this blog may indicate or seem.

Was I a drama queen back then? Perhaps in their eyes I was. At very least I was thought of as a misguided fanatic of some sort to at least some, and yet had the respect of numerous others for being willing to take those very real risks to my relationships and to speak up.

Most of you who know my story (and if not here is a link to it):

http://catholicboyrichard.com/after-coming-out-i-came-home-2013/ .

Those who do  likely see me as a somewhat similar person to how I was “back in the day.”  While I have had many outward changes since then, including many backs and forth in my Faith walk, one thing I have always required of myself has been to be up front about those struggles with those around me. I suspect it still drives some folks crazy at times. And it of course hurts when that happens—we all wish to be liked, particularly by those who we respect and whose friendships we covet.  But more than being liked, we wish for that respect—I know that I do anyway.

The online world can be icy cold at times.  We may say something with one motive and it can be taken with another altogether by the recipient. Unlike “real time” conversations, we do not have the advantage or luxury to quickly go and correct ourselves, or to take notice of facial expressions, hand movements, or other non-verbal clues which may change the tone of ours (or their) words almost totally. Instead, the cyber-ink simply dries on the Face Book page, and what was said cannot be easily taken back. Or at all in many cases.

I think that may be what happened both of the times I mention here. Those knowing me on a face-to-face level find me downright boring for the most part, and that is the total truth. People at work sometimes ask me what my weekend plans are and I cringe before answering, because it usually involves cleaning the apartment and hopefully going to church.  Perhaps on a particularly wild weekend I order in from Jimmy John’s or Domino’s too.  I might too (not nearly enough I will hastily add) take some extra time for prayer or reading Sacred Scripture or theology.  But, truth be told, they mostly have quit asking and I have quit volunteering the information. And yet the dizzying excitement which I just listed is what honestly fulfills me, causes me to be stronger in the Faith, and keeps me somewhere near sanity during the rest of the week.

A Jimmy Johns in Naperville, Illinois
A Jimmy Johns in Naperville, Illinois (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Awhile back I wrote a piece (linked here)

http://catholicboyrichard.com/2013/01/22/one-more-lick-no-not-that-kind/

regarding my more recent struggles and my ongoing commitment to the Faith. In it I acknowledged freely (not an easy thing to do I might add), that I had indeed “waffled’ during parts of the last couple years and expected it would take some time for certain people to once again gain respect me and my understanding of Christ and the Church—in short to trust me again. I get that. What I do not get is people not at least trying to understand the depths of some of those struggles.

Those who see me as “Mr. Drama” may not know the many hours I have spent the last couple of months repairing bridges with people who I may have hurt or confused in the process. In some cases those people had more or less written me off months ago and I am painfully aware of that, as much as anything by their silence. I suspect in the latest case of throwing the ‘d” word at me, the individual involved had already done so in fact. I do not really know. But I do know I was not attempting to involve her in my life’s soap opera, nor was I attempting to exaggerate, hurt, or diminish it for that matter. I just wanted her to understand that, if we were going to be friends, online or off, I needed some occasional input and not just the sense that she was lying in wait for me to ‘fall” again. And perhaps that was not the situation but when one hears nothing or very little, most of us tend to read between those soundless lines. I am moving too with so much caution these days that any lack of response or deleting of my posts (or simply ignoring them) probably feels a lot more personal than it might otherwise.  And this is what was happening, I think.  And when attempting to reach out and express that, it was then suggested that we go our separate ways due to my “online drama.” I realize my weakness in that I need to take such things less personally, but that does not mean I was deliberately manufacturing or feasting on feelings in order to receive attention. Simply not the case—at least in this case.

One significant point, and this is what I started out with in this short piece, is to please not ever refer to those of us from SSA backgrounds as “drama” persons or worse yet “drama queens.”  It is just possible that, whether logical in your eyes or not, we may feel or sense things more keenly or take them to heart in ways you do not. Sometimes people tend to see the behavioral or lifestyle aspect as the only issue when dealing with SSA. But, as with most human conditions, often there are side concerns as well. And part of accepting people and walking with them in their struggles is to fully realize this. For example a person with epilepsy may have perfect seizure control but still fight strong depression due to medications that they take. Or, as in my case, that (perhaps to a fault) I tend to share each and every one my own life changes with those who read my writings either on FB or this blog. And it sometimes backfires.

My late mother once told me that I often “made myself vulnerable.” She seemed to understand that, because in many ways she was similar. I remember times when she spoke up in our small town about her religious beliefs or expressed honest questions, and it was during an era when that was simply not politically or otherwise correct. People gossiped about her as a result. She was asked to no longer teach Catechism to her 6th grade class as a further result. Instead of someone coming to her (such as the priest in this case) and sitting down with her to discuss her differences or confusion, she was simply written off.  And in fairness to the priest, he may not have known the full situation. But in any case someone did. And that someone should have reached out instead of torturing her or penalizing.

We may think of the Amish as a religion which “shuns” those who fail their unbelievably high and legalistic standards, but truthfully most Christians do the shunning thing in rather spectacular ways. And in my experience I will dare to suggest our own Roman Catholic Church is pretty pitiable in this area still at times. And that is not “drama” Richard speaking. It comes from the genuine kind of pain which keeps one up at night. Ironically, in both the cases I mentioned, I suspect (although I will likely never know for sure) that the people involved slept well after their comments (and write-offs) to me. But I did not. And I wonder, as I wrote recently and linked earlier in this article, why we do not understand yet the concept of “seventy times seven” just yet.

We are not called to fully understand one another’s emotional make-ups, or to attempt to change them in that area generally. We are called to care that they are hurting. I am the first to admit I do not always do this well. I have more than once written others off who I later realized were trying to be there for me. But it is always a mistake. Even when the Church excommunicates, she leaves the door open for the person to not just repent but be reinstated into full fellowship. In other words, no one’s past—no one—should be a hindrance for their future. Consequences yes—but they are nevertheless full and equal brothers and sisters in the Faith. Even if they are “drama queens.”

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12 thoughts on “God, Gays and “Drama”—One Same-Sex Attracted (SSA) Man’s View

  1. Good post! While there are certainly people who can be outright aggressive face to face, I think FB (and blog comboxes) can bring out the monster in people too easily; too easily we cut others very deep, at least partly because we don’t have to see that person’s face after we hurt them. (Seeing a hurt follow-up comment I don’t think has the same human impact.) I say this from personal experience; I’m ashamed to admit that I found myself being defensive, inconsiderate and even aggressive on FB. That’s actually the main reason I stopped using it. (The time wasted was a secondary reason, but the one usually people tell people to avoid admitting the other side of it!) Once it “clicked” and I realized what I had started doing more and more frequently, I certainly didn’t sleep well at night. Generally, I do better with face-to-face. Even replying to e-mails gives me the chance to think carefully about how I respond to people in sensitive situations. By no means do I intend to defend or justify the actions of those who were verbally aggressive; reading this post just reminded me of some of own wrong-doings towards others, which I regret deeply.

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    1. Jacob you have a kind and sensitive manner online too, whether you realize it or not. But yes we can all improve. And in a way it reminds me of road rage–people use gestures and worse in ways on the road which they would never do without the shield of an automobile door between them. And yes I have been guilty for sure as well. God bless you, it is so nice to hear from you. Truly.

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  2. Mary Ann McAtee

    Very nice article, I don’t know why we are all so quick to label and criticize each other, part of our fallen nature I suppose. I’m sorry you have been hurt but I applaud your honesty and passion. One time I heard someone say, “If you want to follow Christ, you better look good on wood”. Blessed are those who suffer for the sake of Christ…..the kingdom of Heaven is yours if I remember correctly.

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    1. Thanks so very much and you are surely correct, this is indeed an issue of “labeling” and that is where it becomes painful. We can disagree on many things. But labeling is not an option. God bless!

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  3. The Lord's Blog

    PSS Love your blog and hope others come and see it to. Will link you on my blogroll. Im glad God sent you over.

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  4. Thanks for sharing! Do you have any good community groups in the parish you attend? You mentioned your weekends ofteb are quiet. There are Catholic young adult groups in GR and I have made some really good friends through involvement with them. Anything like that? Thanks again for sharing!

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  5. The Lord's Blog

    Richard will read your story this weekend if time. Secondly excellent article. Richard your aware of Courage Apostolate in the church I think? Anyway I enjoy the late Father John F. Harvey, O.S.F.S. who started Courage and have read one book which is of interest—–Homosexuality and the Catholic Church: Clear Answers to Difficult Questions. Need to reread for myself again. If you get the chance check it out from your end. God Bless and keep the faith. Love yah Brother Richard.
    PS. Maybe your subscribers might find this book of interest. Many copies at Amazon.com new and used for as little at 8 dollars and something. Anyway I think its one start to understanding. You can also get a heads up at the Courage Apostolate as well for more information on our Same Sex brothers and sisters and what they go through. Peace.

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    1. Yes I am very familiar with Courage and have that book in fact. I think for the most part that they do a great work and help many who would otherwise give up. And that book is good, others are now coming out too, a new one of late in fact by Father Louis Cameli called “Catholic Teaching on Homosexuality” is very well written. I would actually suggest starting with that one, less technical and shorter but full of info that is really helpful. God bless as always!

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      1. The Lord's Blog

        Thanks will do check the book out. Every Catholic should read at least one book by the good Fathers who study the situation. God Bless.

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  6. Thanks for sharing this Richard. I am always glad to hear what you have to say. I have been doing pretty well lately. I was wondering, does the parish you attend have good community formation programs? For instance , on the weekends you mentioned you often have a lot of time to yourself. I know there are some Catholic young adult groups here in GR that have helped me develop some really special friendships. Many weekends I try and spend time with some of them. And after mass Sunday evening some of us go down to a pizza place and get dinner together. Do you have any good friend traditions?

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    1. Hi Michael–I found all of your comments just tonight so thanks for them. I did not write the article as a complaint of being friendless or such. I have family and friends who I spend time with when I can. I work 2 jobs, one during the week and the other on weekends, though, and that is not a choice for me. Perhaps when I retire (in 5-10 years) I will be able to do other activities, it is hard to know. I also have some family serious physical issues and take a large amount of medications, all of which either make a person extremely worn out or cause other limitations. So yes I am alone a fair amount of time. Also not sure if you have noticed but there are virtually no “upper middle aged” types of groups out there such as exist for Catholics who are younger. I am not allowed to attend (nor would I particularly fit in with) groups such as Theology on Tap etc.

      Anyway that is very much a side issue, and I do have friends and family I keep up with when I can. So hopefully you will be getting a new computer soon! God bless.

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