A Question of Language: ‘Same-Sex Attraction’ vs. ‘Gay or Lesbian’

I respect the work of New Ways Ministry. I do not always find myself on the same theological page as them. I agree though with the idea that we are more than our sexuality and are people of dignity in the eyes of God, whatever our orientation. And that is not the center of our lives. He is.

Bondings 2.0

The National Catholic Reporter (NCR) recently featured an interview with Fr. Philip Bochanski, the new director of Courage, a ministry which promotes celibacy as the only path for gay and lesbian Catholics.  The article states that the priest reported that “the organization feels supported by Pope Francis’ encouragement to accompany those ‘with same-sex attraction’ on their spiritual journeys.”  Bochanski is quoted as saying that Francis’ language of accompaniment, “is very useful for us. It recognizes the approach we take.”

Fr. Philip Bochanski

It is noteworthy that Courage is taking direction in their pastoral work from Pope Francis, who is seen by many as having initiated on new openness on LGBT issues in the Church.  But, as the NCR article points out, the leadership of Courage does not follow Pope Francis when it comes to language about LGBT issues. The reporter stated:

“[The Courage] approach includes using a language that some might…

View original post 827 more words


Why I No Longer Identify As a “Gay Catholic Christian”


There have been a deluge of articles on homosexuality of late within the Catholic and other Christian faith communities, many which seem to center around “what to call” those of us from homosexual backgrounds who are now celibate.  This is obviously of great importance to many people, and there is certainly some validity to the desire on the parts of those who, whether from homosexual or heterosexual backgrounds, wish to clearly define “what” those of us who have dabbled in erotic thoughts or behavior with people of our own gender should be termed as. To be honest that is the least of my problems when I get up in the morning and drag my ever-older body to work each day or go to Mass on Sundays or weekdays. It seems to matter not at all to our Lord Jesus Christ or to the Blessed Mother when I pray my Rosary at night either.  But it matters to society, and I get that point.  And that is why I write this essay.

Let me start out by saying that I am not writing this to attack those who may disagree or may find fault with my views here—I get, very much first-hand in fact, the reasons for using terms such as “celibate gay,” as well as those who may refer to themselves as “ex-gays” (mostly within evangelical Protestant circles).  I have also noticed that the term SSA (which I prefer, and which means “same-sex attracted” ) is becoming increasingly hijacked by many who do not understand its current connotations in the first place but who choose to use it in some cases against those of us who have come to a decision of celibacy and are aiming for ever-increasing chastity. I will add that I have noticed this trend to constantly redefine terminology among both “pro-gay” and “anti-gay” people, which is what makes it increasingly ironic and baffling to me.

Metamorphosis and Phraseology

But that in itself does not make one set of terms wrong at all times, nor the other one always correct.  I will deal with each of these semantics then, share my own observations on why they seem to be increasingly used, abused and misused, and finally give some concluding thoughts, and I do so fully respecting those who may disagree with my pre or post-suppositions. I think that words can create a metamorphosis, and I am noticing a whole lot of folks who are using them incorrectly while feverishly trying to explain me to myself. This then is my first point—please do not tell me who I am. Let me explain myself to you instead, just as I would hope you choose to do with me, and let me use the terms and understandings I have come to accept as a Catholic Christian.  That is called mutual respect. Is there room for dialogue and discussion?  Absolutely. But in the final analysis how I define myself is up to me. And ultimately God.

First off I resisted the term “SSA” for a long time, even after returning to the Church after 15 years of “gay activism.” It still seems clumsy to me at best, and like a clinical disease at worst. I would prefer to say I am “same gender attracted,” but even that was suggested to me by a fellow blogger to cause its own confusion since not all agree on what gender even is in these days. Yikes!  Besides if I started calling myself SGA then absolutely no one will know what I am referring to—not the least because it sounds more like a supermarket than a condition.  So, SSA will need to do for now.  But why use it in preference to “gay,” or LGBT, or (and I truly hate this one), LGBTQ? The last one should be a no-brainer in any case. I am not a “queer Catholic” or “queer” anything else. I am a human made in the image of an infinite God. And so are you.

What says the “LGBT community?”

To understand the connotations of “gay” as opposed to SSA, we need look no further than leading experts within the actively LGBT world. The explanation and definitions below are from http://www.pridenet.com/history.html, and not much could better show the ever-changing meaning of words than what is written on their site. An excerpt is below as well:

“The word (gay) started to acquire sexual connotations in the late 17th century,   being used with meaning “addicted to pleasures and dissipations”.   This was by extension from the primary meaning of “carefree”:   implying “uninhibited by moral constraints”. By the late nineteenth   century the term “gay life” was a well-established euphemism for   prostitution and other forms of extramarital sexual behavior that were perceived as immoral.

The use of the term gay, as it relates to homosexuality, arises from an extension of the sexualized connotation of “carefree and   uninhibited”, implying a willingness to disregard conventional or   respectable sexual mores. Such usage is documented as early as the 1920′s. It   was initially more commonly used to imply heterosexually unconstrained   lifestyles, as for example in the once-common phrase “gay   Lothario”, or in the title of the book and film The Gay Falcon (1941),   which concerns a womanizing detective whose first name is “Gay”.   Well into the mid-20th century a middle-aged bachelor could be described as   “gay” without prejudice.

By the mid-century “gay” was well-established as an antonym for “straight” (respectable sexual behavior), and to refer to the lifestyles of unmarried and or unattached people. Other connotations of frivolousness and showiness in dress (“gay attire“) led to association with camp and effeminacy. This range of connotation probably   affected the gradual movement of the term towards its current dominant meaning, which was at first confined to subcultures. The subcultural usage started to become main-stream in the 1960′s, when gay became the term predominantly preferred by homosexual men to describe themselves. Gay was the preferred term since other terms, such as “queer”   were felt to be derogatory. “Homosexual” was perceived as   excessively clinical: especially since homosexuality was at that time designated as a mental illness, and “homosexual” was used by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders to denote men affected by this “mental illness”. Homosexuality was no longer classified as an illness in the DSM by 1973, but the clinical connotation of the word was already embedded in society. By 1963, the word “gay” was known well enough by the straight community to be used fluently.”

“Not so gay” these days

When you read the above history and definition, given to us from the best research within the actively LGBT communities, the realization is apparent that the term pretty much assumes active involvement in the lifestyle and support of the overall homosexual community.  Since I am celibate, and I have withdrawn my support for such things as unconditional “marriage equality” and the like, dropped my memberships from the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) and OUTFRONT Minnesota, no longer attend or participate in Pride parades, and relinquished my position where at my place of employment I had been the lead “LGBT” spokesperson for several years,  all of which were only parts of activism activities I was involved with over the course of 15 years, I am not acting, by the actively LGBT’s own definition, particularly “gay” these days.  So there is not much of that lifestyle left in my life other than a still definite attraction to members of my gender. And I am definitely a man, despite the screen/blogger name “Catholicboyrichard.” But I will admit to being little more than a child when it comes to the Faith. In fact, none of us are. If St Paul called himself “chief of sinners” then what am I? Or any of us?

My point—I do not live as a “gay person” and yet I would be lying to deny the existence of those attractions.  So what am I?  I no longer identify with a community I was bound integrally to for 15 years, however nor am I suddenly “macho man” plus. Plus, yes, macho no.  The most macho thing I probably have learned over the years was how to become a couch potato, and my doctor is not putting up with that these days anyway. Oh well. So back to the definitions—I am someone with something.  I am a person, in the image of God my Maker, marred yes by sin, but in His Image nevertheless. I have leanings towards and see the beauty in other males more quickly than I do with females.  That is it. I am “same-sex attracted.”  SSA. The term fits and makes sense to me.  But I am not “gay,” which implies an innate make-up in my being that I am powerless to do anything about other than to but accept.  There is an old commercial (for Oil of Olay—or “Oil of Delay” as a friend of mine used to call it) which says “I do not intend to age gracefully—I’ll fight it every step of the way.”

The measure of a man?

That is how I view my SSA tendencies.  And when I say “fight it,” I do not mean I must become a boxing fan, watch excessively violent TV or movies, or start passing gas or burping in public places.  I am still allowed to be a fairly sensitive, kind-hearted person and to prefer cooking or reading to football.  It may surprise the straight men reading this that Jesus Himself was pretty “not-so-macho.” Let’s see—He wore a robe all the time, hung around with men constantly, loved women but never made passes at them or checked out their rears, secretly or otherwise, cooked for the 12 Apostles on occasion (fish for breakfast, anyone?), and shared parables and stories based on His own hours of prayer and studies.  In short He was strong but knew when to be tender.  And in His day and age, the societal standards of what made men “manly” were in any case somewhat different from ours today. This is exactly my point in fact. He showed us that the “measure of a man” consisted of very different things than what Americanized John Wayne types of guys currently look for.  And since the sports of choice in His day involved such things as throwing people to the lions for lunch, using them as human torches, and earning their freedom from noxious slavery by “killing their way to the top” via gladiator activities, I doubt He was particularly an athletics aficionado either.  He loved worshipful music and knew Sacred Scripture as if He wrote it—oh wait, He did! He could be tough as nails (not only such as the ones used to torture Him on the cross but the type apparently used in His carpentry work) and yet gentle towards women who would gladly have had Him for their pleasure, and simply told them “Go and sin no more.”  He was the quintessential man of men. We need to look no further for what makes one manly. And the same may be said for our Blessed Mother in regard to womanhood. Mary was the original authentic feminist—and the only person to ever get by with telling Jesus when to begin His miracle ministry at the wedding in Cana. She followed Him but never doted. She submitted to St Joseph but never backed down from her high calling or “fiat” even when he was ready to divorce her for becoming pregnant outside of wedlock while engaged to him. And she worked and travelled all through her pregnancy until the very day our Lord and Savior was born. “I Am Woman” by Helen Reddy could have easily been her theme song too, not just the famous feminism theme of the 1970s. She truly was and is womanhood personified.

One of the best lists of “manly” characteristics in the New Testament is in 1st Timothy 3:1-3. I am quoting from the RSV (Revised Standard Version, Second Catholic Edition) here:

1 The saying is sure: If anyone aspires to the office of bishop, he desires a noble task. 2 Now a bishop must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, sensible, dignified, hospitable, an apt teacher, 3 no drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, and no lover of money.

That is what being a “real man” is all about and nothing else. My point is this—neither our King of Kings nor His and our Queen Mother followed social norms, even of their own days, as to what being “manly” or “womanly” supposedly meant then or now.  The asexual parts therefore of my nature, which may or may not have indirectly contributed to my SSA leanings in some way, are not in themselves sinful, and do not need surgical removal. In fact there are a few of them I would prefer to keep intact. That is part of what scares me about some aspects of so-called reparative therapy, but that is for another time and post.

Label or description?

In any case this is why I believe we sell our actively LGBT sisters and brothers short when we do not call ourselves by the correct terminology. If we use inane expressions such as “that’s so gay” or, worse yet, call ourselves “queer Christians,” we are telling them essentially that we are at no different place in our journey than they are.  Such self-identification may get our foot in the door occasionally, witness-wise, but it makes it overall at least more difficult to differentiate between our experiences and theirs. St Paul was a God-loving and strict Pharisee fundamentalist—but a Christ-hater. He called all of those involvements and accolades for being one of the elite religious of the day “dung.” My good friend Chris Kluwe of MN Vikings/NFL fame would likely have had an even more clear term for that, I am sure. I will refrain from printing it here though. Just as an aside, Kluwe by the way still has my utmost respect for standing in solidarity with the LGBT/SSA community, even though I now clearly disagree with some of his conclusions regarding so-called “marriage equality.” Nevertheless I call my years of “gay pride” exactly the same thing–dung.  And no, I do not call actively LGBT people by such a term.  They, like me, are precious people in the image of a wondrous and holy God.  But, as in the beautiful (unfortunately out-of-print) book by David Morrison, Beyond Gay, I am at least, step by slow step, moving beyond that familiar world.  And I want to take my actively LGBT/”gay” friends and family with me on that journey.

Thus here is where I differ from those who wish to be called “gay Christians” or “queer Catholics”—I do not think referring to myself as a “celibate gay Christian” is particularly accurate or truthful. I think it automatically transports me into a corner of the world I no longer belong to. It seems to me a lot like calling myself, as a close friend of mine who happens to have epilepsy, an “epileptic.” Clinically, both terms are accurate. But one says I am something. The other says I am a human person with something. And, again, words matter.  One is a label, and the other is a description of an imperfect but real creation of God. One makes me sound like an “ex-con” and the other like a current and present member of the family of our Lord Jesus and His Church.  Which would you like better if you were in my shoes?

Disorder or condition?

Lastly, I have heard the ghastly use of the term SSA of late by someone referring to same-sex attraction as the “SSA disorder.”  Whether involved in the community or not, whether celibate or not, or even whether I term myself as “LGBTQ,” I might happen to be a doctor, lawyer, priest, minister, married or single, well-adjusted or poorly so.  I get very disturbed when I hear or read such things as “for we know that the gay lifestyle leads to a higher risk of HIV, depression, substance abuse, and a generally lower life expectancy. To oppose the normalization of a lifestyle that leads to this degradation of the human person — specifically the same-sex attracted person — is no hate at all, but a love. Not a love most people want, but a desire for the good of the beloved nonetheless.” If by that statement you are referring to same-sex “marriage,” I would clearly agree. But if by it you mean let us go backwards a bit further as a society and, for “their own good,” let’s get those anti-sodomy laws back on the books and start screaming “faggot” to the next homosexually inclined person we meet, then I would just say hold up. Now. 50 years ago, or less, it was commonly considered “acceptable” to beat up “queers” or at least bully them mercilessly. I was there and lived it. Less than 30 years ago it was a very real question within the health care industry as to whether we should even treat those with HIV, since they “brought it upon themselves.” I can only say then, please quit treating diabetes or heart disease, which are often direct results of obesity, or cancer, particularly if caused by smoking, and a host of other diseases or conditions which are preventable but deadly. And for God’s sake do not waste our tax dollars on preventative health education. Let them read it on their own via the ever-reliable information superhighway. And if they fail to do so, slam the hospital door in their faces. Just don’t miss Mass on Sunday

So how does this fit with the misleading term “SSA disorder?”  Quite easily in fact. If I as a human being am disordered, and I will concede that the wound of having SSA does include a “disordered passion,” so too are my non-SSA friends who undress every woman that they see while sitting by their wives in Mass or church, as well as the pastors (some statistics would say 50% or upwards) who have their occasional slippage into the world of pornography.  And “porn” is not what it was when I was 14 and sneaked a look at some old Playboys found in the neighbor’s dumpster by my friend Marty.  The most I ever saw at that time was the human body, but never in action as such. The fact that 10 year olds can now see actual sexual intercourse, neither hinted at nor suggestive of, but the real thing, including the climax, by the click of a button, should alarm us drastically. Do not call me “disordered” and then forget to include yourselves as part of the photo-op. We are all disordered in some way or another, and when the term was originally used in the Church it was quite clear that this was the case. When St Thomas Aquinas and Rome included that term, it was the overall passions of humans gone awry which they were referring to, not the modern Freudian or clinical definition of the word,  used primarily in our day and age to mean that SSA is somehow just a bit more disordered than what the average person deals with.  We already know we are a fallen people—so perhaps just look in the mirror if you think you are less “disordered” than I am.

So those are just some of the many reasons I am not defining myself as “gay” anymore. It does not mean I have been instantly or miraculously delivered from the “demon of homosexuality” or that I now can throw a football 100 yards.  It indicates I am not demarcated by anything I was, or even still struggle with—whether weight, sexual lust towards either gender, gossip, or slandering of others.  It states that, instead of being born a Capricorn, I was born again through baptism under the sign of the Cross. It means I am, and will be, a Catholic Christian. No more, and nothing less.

Below are some links which directly or indirectly relate to the article above:






More related articles:

The following are two very much opposing views on the topic by two NFL players, both whom I have met and happen to deeply respect, Chris Kluwe and Matt Birk. Beware of the rather “colorful” (but hilarious) language from Kluwe, and at the same time note the very respectful response from his friend and fellow former MN Viking Matt Birk.

WHY BEING “PRO LIFE” IS PERSONAL TO ME–a single white male’s voice

My name is Richard Gerard Evans. I mention that because my middle name is based on St Gerard Majella, one of the premier “pro life” Saints within the Catholic Church. I do not know to this day if my mother knew this when I was named, but I do know that my parents, devoted Catholic Christians, produced 8 children in a family where money was scarce and almost any alternative would have been easier.

Church of Saint Gerard Majella in Terhole. Ter...
Church of Saint Gerard Majella in Terhole. Terhole, Hulst, Zeeland, Netherlands. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For the amazing story of this great young Saint, read below please:



But now I must make a correction–there were 9 of us. When I was conceived, it was just a few months after my mother had suffered a miscarriage. She once told me that I was the one blessing from that event, in that she and my father would not have conceived me if that other child had lived. So not only do I have a sibling in heaven who I have never met, but I owe my life to that unknown and unnamed sibling. I also owe my life, the youngest of 9, not 8, to the fact that Roe v Wade was yet 17 years in the future at the time of my birth. While I do not believe my parents would have considered abortion, they certainly could have done so when I was still a “clump of cells” in an over-used womb which had produced 7 living children and finally a miscarried one. If there had been a “logical reason” to recommend abortion this certainly would have been a classic case. Instead, my parents not only had me but I was baptized and given the name of  a patron who obviously prayed for me then and still does so.

A few years ago I has posted a number of “pro life” articles on my Face Book page. As a result, I was told that I as a middle-aged white male had “no right” to even have an opinion on the issue. I think I do. I think we all do. Half of the children aborted are male. And I might easily have been one of them. Add to that, this was not the first time I heard a similar argument. When I was 14 or 15, I stated my pro-life views to another family member, and was shot down by the suggestion at that time that “I was too young” to have a view on the issue. So I was “too young” then, am “too old” now, have always been the wrong gender, even though it takes both a male and female set of cells to produce a child and always will, and on top of it all I am “white” and could not possibly know what poverty and desperation are like. Guess again on all counts.

As to the first listed of those reasons why my voice does not matter, I would not pretend to have first-hand insight on that one. I have never been a woman and have no intention of gender re-assignment in the near or distant future. But I do have a couple of closely second-hand experiences that I am pretty sure a number of  people do not realize or know about, and I would like to bear my heart and share those right now.

When I was 18, I met a lovely young woman who I began to care about very deeply. Although not a practicing Catholic at the time, I had made a serious and strong choice to follow Our Lord Jesus Christ and spent a fair amount of time sharing what this meant to me with her. I also had a certain amount of attraction to her, but we had no formal commitment to one another as such due to the difference in our beliefs primarily. So although seeing me from time to time, she was concurrently dating another man and eventually realized that she was pregnant by him. He left her, and fast. So now it was my turn. I was able to pray with her, and she surrendered her life to Jesus as Lord and Savior. But she was still pregnant. So, the summer after my senior year in high school, my commitment to this young woman deepened, and I made some calls and contacts with an early Crisis Pregnancy Center who was willing to take her in while she prepared to give birth to her child and then decided what to do about his or her future. Arrangements were made, and then…we had to tell her father. I again offered to be there during that difficult conversation, as well as a local evangelical pastor known by her family. We went there knowing she might be facing a tough sell–as this would be her second abortion and her dad had been behind that one as well.

We explained to him the arrangements that had been made, and I can still recall the shock and utter frustration with this man, a widower, who actually wanted his then 21 year old daughter to abort again, even though she had clear and huge support and was attempting to follow Christ this time around. Sadly, he won the battle in the end. But later she was so very, very sad knowing she had ended the life of her child, and did not have to. And I wonder where her father was then. The irony of it all was that, had she kept that child, I very likely might have married her eventually, and raised that child as my own with no questions asked. Would that have been best decision for me?  I do not know. But the opportunity was never given, because she had been abandoned by the biological father, and her own father, her one living parent, pressured her daily until she caved in. So do men have a voice?  Obviously so. But which voice do we have?

My next experience was when I was married, and my former wife and myself had repeated (4 total) miscarriages. Each of those situations were heartbreaking to us. To us both. I mention that because, even then, so many rallied around Shirley (for which I am deeply thankful) but in the process nearly or even totally forgot me. These children were mine too. And I held one of them, born far too early to live outside the womb, but yet still intact within the sac. I touched, as did Shirley, our first-born. But once we went to the doctor, there was no more contact as the “specimen” of only 2 months was collected by the Dr (ironically a Catholic by the way) and was never seen by either of us again. This was in the early 1980s, and today we might have been able to request our precious child back for a quiet funeral, but not then.

Skipping ahead we eventually went through a case study for possible adoption, but just 10 short years after Roe v Wade there were simply no infants available except in foreign nations. And those adoptions were far beyond our financial resources. Another barrier was that, although we were willing to adopt an older child, and/or a biracial one, we were literally blocked by a movement among African-American social workers at that time who did not wish white couples to adopt “their” children. While I can understand the reasoning to a large extent, we were a couple who had not only been exposed to numerous minorities, but had directly lived and intensely worked with those of a wide variety of backgrounds during our very interracial ministry. We would have taken pains to expose whatever child we adopted to their own races and cultures, but that did not matter. The door was thus closed to us, financially and culturally. And yet many of the children who we could have adopted instead grew up in foster homes and were given no stability, all for the sake of a small group’s political views. I can only hope that those children, adults now, do not follow suit.

So what has “pro-choice” done for me? It robbed me of initially raising or at least helping to place an infant into a Christian home at age 18, it robbed me of the chance to later on adopt an infant after our miscarriages, and it caused me to feel for over 20 years that I was not a “real” father, even to the child I held in my hands that now long ago fateful day. Perhaps if I had not seen that sac intact, I could have explained it away as “tissue” but, like the ultrasounds of today, I could simply look and see that my child was real, and not just subjectively. Each of them in fact were objectively a combination of the love of two people, and the only “clumps of cells” in our world which can claim that distinction.

My 4 children would be just over 30 years old now. Instead of buying gifts for my grandchildren, I collect records and books. I want you to know that I would trade every original Charlie Parker record or old Bible I own for one chance, one moment, to hold any one of those children, while they still lived.  But one day I will. When I returned to the Church I found out how much was now being done for those of us who had experienced miscarriages. My four children finally had a funeral at St Stephen’s Catholic Church here in Minneapolis, and I know I will one day have the opportunity to hold and hug each of them. They now have names–Bethany Rachelle, Nathan Joshua, Jeremiah Joseph, and Mary Delores. And I am at last a father.

So please do not tell me I do not understand the pain of women who face the pain of unplanned pregnancies. I at least have some idea. And I will never, never not be “pro-life” or call it by some other name. And do not expect me to be silent. I won’t be.

A monument dedicated to the unborn victims of ...
A monument dedicated to the unborn victims of abortion. This monument is next to the Church of Ste. Geneviève in Ste. Geneviève, Missouri. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Portal of the Church of Pilgrims, in Washingto...
Portal of the Church of Pilgrims, in Washington, DC, with a LGBT banner. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One phrase I never really heard growing up, or really until the last 10 to 12 years or so, is the terminology “world view.”  According to the American Scientific Affiliation, one of its definitions is the following:

“A world view is a mental model of reality — a framework of ideas & attitudes about the world, ourselves, and life, a comprehensive system of beliefs…”

Recently I attended a workshop co-sponsored by OutFront Minnesota and Minnesotans United for All Families.  It happened to be just after the November election, in which MN became the first state to block a constitutional amendment preserving traditional marriage. These two groups, working in tandem, had much to do with this election result.  The purpose of the workshop was to then discuss next steps towards same-sex marriage becoming legalized in MN.

I attended for a couple of reasons:  one, I have great sympathy/empathy for my fellow brothers and sisters within the LGBT/SSA community, many of whom wish to see non-traditional marriages come to pass in our state and nation. And, candidly, during the months this summer and fall when I was away from traditional Catholicism, I found myself increasingly on their side of this issue.  I would here clarify that I now once again fully accept the traditional Catholic view of marriage being between one man and one woman, both on a civil and moral level.

In any case, the workshop just happened to be two short days after I returned once and for all solidly to Roman Catholicism. I was already signed up, it was paid for, and I thought perhaps it would be wise for me to attend while I was still an “insider” so to speak. I also very frankly had yet to work through my understanding of Church authority once again, and I would still submit that the Church at times has some blinders when it comes to the real needs and concerns of same-sex attracted individuals.

As I say this, I would again state that I am not in any way rejecting official Church teaching:  I am however stating that, much if not most of the time, the issue of homosexuality is dealt with by two glaringly opposing world views even among Catholic Christians.  I would contend there may be a third view that is not as often discussed, much less practiced by many of us on either side of the barbed wire fence. That third way is not so much a new set of ideas, but rather attempting to find ways to put the old ones into practice—and it is the approach of genuine love and concern so many of us need on this hot-button issue, I believe. We speak of loving our homosexual neighbors, yes, but not in concrete ways. Or if there are concrete notions, they are too often brought forth with little or no sensitivity to the pain so many of us in the community feel at times.  That is what this article is about.

I would hasten to take a moment right now and say that I know I was wrong to leave the Church again, even for a short 4 months, and to reject the “home of Rome” which God had clearly brought me to. And, in coming back again, I realize implicitly that  I must accept the authority of the Apostles and their successors, and I do so willingly. But it is important to note that, even within those parameters, there is much that the Church allows us to work through without specific and exact methods of implementation. Example:  the Church teaches both that homosexuality is a sin, and on the other hand proclaims rightly that those of us from that background, sinners that we are, have exactly the same dignity and grace as our heterosexual counterparts. Not a new or novel idea. Where it becomes daring, however, is in looking for particular means to practice this teaching while following both concepts simultaneously.  I have read, for instance, of some Catholics who want to pass laws against us, even in areas of healthcare or other areas of basic necessity, and their reasoning in doing so is “for our own good.”  They reason that by denying LGBT people housing or work, or the freedom to walk down the street with their partners, or visitation of those same loved ones in the hospital even if dying, they are somehow doing the “misguided” LGBT community a secret favor because they thus hoping that actively gay people will one day awaken to their “evil influence” on society and run to the local parish begging entry.

If you are one of those, I have a newsflash for you. You are part of the problem, not the solution. Over the centuries horrific atrocities have been done to homosexual people, and even by, or sometimes led by, Church leadership. The Church’s history on the authentic rights of LGBT persons is not exactly stellar. If you read this account on St Bernadino of Siena, you will soon discover that sainthood did not mean perfect theology by any means nor should we sugar-coat it as such. And he is one of many. Does that make him not a saint?  Not at all. But it does make him a product of his time. And time often reveals how wrong our very sincere over-reactions can be.



For myself, I can count at least 4 ways in which the Church which I genuinely love and respect would have burned me at the stake, using, as John Calvin did to Michael Servetus, green wood so I would burn slower, presumably to give me a longer time of torture and thus repentance. One, I am same-sex attracted. In years past, before the mid-20th and into the 21st centuries,  and frankly within a lifetime I remember all too well, it would not have mattered that I was or am celibate, and have been so since 1999. Just the fact that I would admit such thoughts in my head would have been enough to stoke the fire.

I also left the Church, another punishable by death offense—and I have Jewish blood relatives.  Again reasons for the torture mongers. And, once I returned, the Protestant segments of Christianity would have been after me too back in the day. So yes, the Church has indeed failed and destroyed many, many good and sincere people over the centuries, whether gay, straight, Catholic or Protestant.  And we need to quit defending those actions, no matter who administered them or why.

So what does this have to do with today and my recent struggles?  A lot in fact. I left this time out of a deep and abiding pain within me, so profound that very few took the time to understand, or perhaps simply could not. I do not know. Is that an “excuse” of some sort for my actions? Not at all. If it were, I would have just stayed away and lived in excuse-land, which in many ways would have been much easier for me.  But my point is that there were some very real hurts, and valid wrestling of heart within me. Those things were not wrong on my part. How I handled them was. But I see within myself some of the reasons that so many other LGBT people have indeed stayed away.  And back to my original purpose on this post, I would like to suggest 5 possible ways that hurts such as I went through this last year could have been dealt with while still following Church teaching.

1)       Stop hammering about the “gay agenda.”  There is one, to be sure. There is also incidentally a Church agenda. We all have one in fact. One of the things I learned at the conference I mentioned earlier was that, the real goal of the leaders present was not to win the election only, but to “change the world views” of those around us. Those words chilled me frankly. They say to me that so-called “marriage equality,” should it pass in MN or elsewhere, will not be enough. And never will.  So I am not suggesting not to fight, politically or otherwise, about the issues here and their ramifications. But there are ways to combat without unnecessarily provoking others. That is one of the things which disturbed me about the Chic-Fil-A support day last summer. I am well aware that there are two sides to this sub-issue, and I am not trying to revive an old argument here. But I bring it up because affected me very personally. I was already becoming more and more conflicted about why Rome and our Archdiocese were pushing harder and harder against this issue, and when that particular incident came up I felt, and still do, that someone would be getting rich off of the fears others had of allowing homosexual people to have more power.  As it turned out, August 1, 2012 was this wealthy company’s all time highest sale day ever in their history.  In the past, when issues of social concern have been protested in this country or elsewhere, it is generally by a boycott or some other similar punitive measure. However in this case it was exactly the opposite. People were made wealthier and more powerful due to it. That did not make sense to me then or now. And the reason it felt “hateful” to some of us was exactly that. One of the statements of the Cathy family (founding owners of the Chic-Fil-A chain) was that they were all still married to their “first wives.” To which I say, great. You succeeded where I failed. It seemed, quite bluntly speaking, to be a kick to my gay groin and very braggadocio. It may not have been meant that way, but like so many sound bites in our day and age, it took a life of its own.  Later on I saw numerous pictures of “normal” families happily eating their tasty food and smiling broadly while doing so, Chic sign prominently displayed, and on an emotional level it seemed (again please note I say it seemed, not that it was meant as such) as though the words in between the waffle fries were saying, “LOOK AT US, YOU GAY PEOPLE, YOU FAGGOTS WHO INCIDENTALLY SUCK, BECAUSE YOU WILL NEVER, EVER HAVE THIS.” And that seared my heart.  Many of us (me included) were married heterosexually at one time or another and it did not end well. Can you at least understand why that might have felt like such a wrenching blow below the belt? We have and live with feelings we do not ask for. We pray, fast, go to church, and marry for years and yet those temptations do not leave us. We finally face all of our family and friends, losing some of them in the process, by “coming out” and admitting our deepest and most shaming secret. And the thanks we get for our integrity in doing so is having our face rubbed in a greasy chicken sandwich.  And then those same people are angry because, although perhaps misguided on some levels, we wish for what we perceive to be “equality?”  Get a grip.

2)      Stop saying inane things such as “gay people can already get married. They just need to marry someone of the opposite gender.”  Aside from miracles, and they do occasionally happen, most of us who have tried that route have miserably failed and hurt dozens of people in the process. And then still end up alone anyway. Would it not be far better to help us live chaste lives? And do not expect us to do so alone. I wrote awhile back on the Straight/SSA male connection. The link is listed at the end of this article, so I will not repeat everything I said there, but suffice it to say we cannot do it without you—the straight Christian. And many of us feel frightened of or horribly wounded by many of you who are straight.  That fear is in fact the root of at least much of the anger towards the Church from the LGBT/SSA world. We are told that the Church is a safe place to go, and welcomes all. Then we dare to give it another chance, and find we just do not fit in on level after level. I was told one time, if I wanted to develop some male friends, to just “join the Knights of Columbus.” Not a bad thing of course, but so many of their discussions and plans these days are all about “fighting all those gay folks and their damned agenda.”  If this was your area of battle, would you honestly wish to sit through that every time you went to church or church-related social events?  We eventually feel beaten to a pulpit and then the straight element of the Church wonders why.

3)      Another thing bothering me about the Chic-Fil-A incident, and again I realize that there were two sides to the issue, was the lack of charity shown by so very many people who took up the Appreciation Day challenge.  On Face Book, where I seem to live most of my life, I saw person after person, those I respected, those who I believed respected me as well, gearing up for August 1 as though it was going to be the St Valentine’s Day Massacre, only this time for those hell-bound fags who dared to disagree with them.  That struck terror within me—real terror. I lost sleep over it, had stomach pains, and felt that those who previously had encouraged me in my Catholic Christian quest for celibacy had all turned on me. I realize now that was not the case, but when we are in the midst of internal chaos we do not always see things clearly.  So I eventually turned it back on them. That of course was where I went very, very wrong. But I was and am fairly well catechized and I have to wonder what those types of comments did to people who were not. I suspect some of them left the Church and may never return as a result. One such comment mentioned “vomiting” when thinking of a gay couple kissing.  The pain that particular comment caused me was worse than anything I had felt since I had returned to the Church over 6 years earlier. I felt utterly alone, not loved or trusted by the “gay activists” who felt I had forsaken them for enemy territory due to my conversion, and now just as distanced from the Catholic Christians who I thought honestly accepted me as I was.  Again without excusing myself, that was much of what triggered me into thinking of leaving. I wondered how on earth a Church which encouraged such mob-like behavior through the ages and even in our century could be “one, true, holy, and Apostolic?”  Can you at least see why someone who was not raised in the Church would think us insane for following such a system? I can.

4)      Do not quit fighting—but do it kindly. Someone who welcomed me back “to the fold” caught me totally off guard very recently because this person, in emails, wrote very kind things to me privately, but in public writes slam after body-slam against gays. I guess I am acceptable to this person, but only as long as I “toe the line” (which I intend to do as a Catholic in any event) but one slip up and I think she would be the first to pile up that green wood mentioned earlier. I am 57 years of age—celibate for 12 years, and now a returned Catholic for 7 of those same years. What if I were a young 21, un-churched, and all I ever read was this person’s public writings? How would I ever possibly guess that the Church wanted me, or that Jesus Himself gave a rat’s ass about my soul? Answer—I wouldn’t.  If this same person posted around half as many articles on her page and said the exact same things in a kinder, even slightly gentler way, as was done to me privately, I still might reject her words but then it would be on me not her. As Hank Hanegraaff  (a well-known Protestant evangelical apologist known as the “Bible Answer Man”) often says (and here I paraphrase a bit), “The Cross has its own offense—do not add to that offense by yours.” Seems simple. But it isn’t. Why? Because we all tend to have deeply emotional reactions to issues that affect us, in particular ones as serious and far-reaching as this one does. I am not suggesting to turn the other way or not to present, as my dear friend Brandon Vogt recently did (par excellence I might add), some clear and compelling reasons to oppose gay “marriage.” But Brandon is one of the best examples I know of a kind-hearted approach while yet speaking the truth. Long before he ever wrote this article for Our Sunday Visitor, again linked below, he publicly acknowledged me on his blog several times, and shared (with my permission) about my SSA struggles. I have never met him in person but trust him more than some of my closer friends and even family. Kindness and sensitivity go a long ways in issues of the heart. And this one certainly is that.

5)      Be willing to dialogue—some of you are cringing at that very word right now. It is one of the most overused and under-explained terms in our language of late. Perhaps you are not aware, though, but our Holy Fathers Pope Benedict XVI and Blessed John Paul II have each in turn paved the way for more dialogue with opposing groups than probably any two Popes in recent history. However one of the things Benedict says regarding this topic is to actually start out by laying out the parameters of your disagreement. We do not need to pretend we go along with sin. We do not need to avoid politics. But at the same time, in fact at the same moment, we need to publicly stand for those who are sinning. A very fine conservative evangelical pastor I once knew was asked the question “what do I do if I find out my family member or co-worker is gay?” His answer has always stuck with me. “Take them to lunch.”  The real battle here if for souls. Even if we win every court battle and vote down every aspect of the “gay agenda,” those from my background are planning to keep on fighting. And part of that fight is right. Not all of it. But support those parts which are, and not just with words.  So invite me out. Or better, an actively LGBT person you know—and be willing to pick their brains and let them pick yours.  Just do not take them to a fast-food chicken place…

Okay that is a lot to digest, even for me as I write it. And some of you may disagree with parts of what I suggest here—that is okay. What is not okay is to ignore the pain and hurt of your LGBT sisters and brothers while you crusade to stop them from taking over your territory.  Fight if you must, in the political and other arenas. They certainly plan to. But do it with a meal in hand. And do it for them, not you.  You may both win that way. If Maggie Gallagher and John Corvino can do it, so can you and I.

Recommended Reading:



HHS Mandates, Families, and Sometimes Strained Friendships

"The Kiss of Judas" is a traditional...

Jesus told us that, should we choose to follow after Him, that many of those most vociferously opposing us would be those we are closest to, whether family or friends. While far from experiencing what Jesus went through, I have learned more and more of late the truth of this when attempting to fight in some small way the culture of death and jeopardy to religious freedom that we live in today.

Below,  in context, is an example of what happened to our own Lord Jesus Christ when He “went home” after becoming well-known and arguably the most powerful spiritual leader within Judaism of his time or thereafter. The passage is Mark 6: 6-7, and the translation used is the Revised Standard Version, considered by many scholars,  both Catholic and Protestant, to be one of the very most accurate available. The bold print is added by me.

1 He went away from there and came to his own country; and his disciples followed him. 2 And on the sabbath he began to teach in the synagogue; and many who heard him were astonished, saying, “Where did this man get all this? What is the wisdom given to him? What mighty works are wrought by his hands! 3 Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon, and are not his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him. 4 And Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor, except in his own country, and among his own kin, and in his own house.” 5 And he could do no mighty work there, except that he laid his hands upon a few sick people and healed them.  6 And he marveled because of their unbelief. And he went about among the villages teaching.

While this passage is dealing with the preaching of the Gospel in general, it with certainty applies extremely well to the recent HHS Mandate which will potentially force all religions (not only Catholic) to follow government guidelines on women’s healthcare or to be heavily fined or possibly even shut down if not. Since the Catholic health care system is the largest in the world, and Catholics make up the largest religious group in the United States, the effect on health care for both women and men could be staggering.  The effects on religious liberty even more so.

Others have written more eloquently than I could hope to on this issue, and I would not waste your time or mine in repeating their words here (I have linked to some of them at the end of this post however). But what has prompted my post today is a series of comments made by Rush Limbaugh, who arguably made a rather rash and hasty judgment of the motives behind one Sandra Fluke, a Georgetown University law student who appeared before Congress earlier this week to state her case about the “needs of women” to have access to birth control during college.

Rush Limbaugh Cartoon by Ian D. Marsden of mar...
Image via Wikipedia

I am not into name-calling. I do not agree with Rush or his attitude in how he presented his views here. He referred to her as a “slut” and has refused to apologize. His words have not helped the case in any way, but rather have simply lost him advertisers (ironically one has been Select Comfort, a bed company!!!). But Limbaugh for once makes a daring but valid point. A good friend and colleague of mine had a rather heated exchange with me on this whole thing last night, particularly in regards to the definition of “slut.”  I think it may be partially a generational thing, as my colleague is younger than I, but to me “slut” and “prostitute” are pretty much interchangeable. To him they are not. Rather than wrestling about the words here though, the argument Mr. Limbaugh was actually making has some validity in my opinion. Asking the government to force payment for women (or men) to have sexual relations is “slutty” on many levels.   At one point he (Rush) likened government involvement to prostitution for that very reason, and he does speak an element of truth here. By forcing payment for universally free contraception, “we the people” become the “pimps” of both men and women who choose to become sexually active, when, at least in most cases, no gun is being held to their heads to do so.

My friend rightly brought up two seeming inconsistencies, however. One is that insurance should not be forced to pay for Viagra either, since it would be doing the same thing for men. I think he is right to a large extent. We hand out “pleasure candy” to both genders and then wonder why they “eat and enjoy.” As I wrote earlier and reference below this article, we have become very good at “enabling” bad behavior in the United States and beyond. There is one difference between Viagra and contraceptives, however, and it is a “huge one” (please pardon the unplanned pun here!). Viagra can be used to create life, at least indirectly, in an otherwise infertile couple who is not able to have sexual intercourse and thus become pregnant.  Part B of that difference is that Viagra or its other forms such as Cialis do not ever remove life from this planet, however tiny. Birth control pills on the other hand do, as does the IUD(inter-uterine device) and even more true with the infamous “morning after pill,” now becoming available in many cases over the counter for anyone over age 17! Each of those ingestible or otherwise invasive contraceptives have the potential of working after fertilization, and science and medicine have proven clearly that it is at that moment of fertilization where a new life technically begins. Not even an atheist can disprove that point, nor do they try.

viagra is a commercial produced medicine conta...
Image via Wikipedia

The other inconsistency, which is the one Ms. Fluke spoke of, are the rare times when a woman really does have a health issue such as endrometriosis that can be helped or greatly aided by using a contraceptive such as the Pill. What interestingly appeared in a very passing way during her conversation with Congress was that Georgetown University already covers such use of those particular medications under their insurance in such cases!  While it quite apparently true that she had a good friend who was denied this by the college’s insurance administrators, that would then be the insurance who is at fault in their processing of the claim, not the college or the Church. I do not think there is a person, Catholic, Protestant, or other, who would disagree that this was a terrible injustice done to her friend. And without putting words in His Excellency’s eloquent mouth, that would most surely include Cardinal Timothy Dolan, head of the USCCB (United States Conference of Catholic Bishops).

But to change the entire way in which the contraceptive issue is dealt with by every single Catholic or otherwise religious institution in the nation due to the “fluke” (pun intended this time) of the Georgetown insurance providers is not only ludicrous, but was not seemingly her main reason for speaking on the issue at all. While extremely important, is nonetheless a side issue, albeit one that arguably must be included in the protection of women’s health on any final bill in regards to this whole complex set of issues. It, in fact, would be the only time that contraceptives ever even become a health issue. And as such, this has already been the long-standing policy of the Church on that topic. And that is no “new news.”

The late and great Father John Hardon of happy memory wrote on this exact thing a number of years ago (he passed away in December of 2000, almost 12 years ago ). In his highly informative Modern Catholic Dictionary, he writes the following on other uses of contraception rather than birth control: Again the emphasis is mine.


A gynecological illness caused by the abnormal presence of tissue that more or less perfectly resembles the lining of the uterus (endometrium) but growing outside of the uterus itself and distributed in other pelvic areas. Since this aberrant endometrial tissue responds to the hormone-induced changes of the woman’s menstrual cycle but, unlike the true endometrial lining of the uterus, is entrapped in other tissue such as bone and muscle, its cyclic changes of menstruation, causes the problem to repress, and even after the pregnancy improvement is sometimes sustained for a period up to three or four years.   

Since a surgical approach to the problem is not always practical or successful, the so-called “contraceptive pill” has been recommended for use over prolonged periods to eliminate the cyclic changes of the menstrual cycle and thus eliminate the periodic pain of endometriosis. It should be noted, from a moral viewpoint, that although this progestational-estrogen type therapy is, in itself, essentially the same as that used in the “contraceptive pill,” it is not used in theses cases as a contraceptive. the purpose of the therapy is to ameliorate a seriously abnormal and indeed pathological condition insofar as it is aggravated by hormonal changes of the menstrual cycle. Although temporary sterility is a side effect of the treatment, contraception is not the purpose, and thus the treatment in no way conflicts with Catholic teaching.

The point of this whole thing to me is simple:  none of this has been hidden away in the proverbial “closet” somewhere. Taking certain contraceptives, if done primarily for health reasons and not reproductive ones, has not been and is not the issue here, nor will it ever become such. But when my friend’s Wisconsin Synod Lutheran minister is one day arrested for speaking out against homosexuality, just for an example, which he apparently frequently does, my friend may wish he had opposed what is the biggest affront to overall religious liberty in our time. The other point, more subtle but still serious, is that such invasiveness is pitting people against one another.  My friend and I will do just fine–but some will not. And the idea of using such difficult and divisive issues to “divide and conquer,” as it clearly appears the Obama administration is expert in doing, is reprehensible to me. I have begun to believe it is his hallmark.

Last but not at all least, I would like to share Cardinal Timothy Dolan’s official letter, as of just yesterday, on this ongoing battle. If you are Roman Catholic, you are obligated as part of your Catholic Faith to be in willing submission to what he shares here. The Bishops, particularly the Bishop of Rome (Pope Benedict XVI) are the legitimate leaders of the Catholic Church. And that is not negotiable.

United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
Image via Wikipedia


Much has been made about the fact that a significant number of Catholic couples ignore the prohibition on contraception, as if that somehow justified it. But as my dear, dear friend and brother in Christ the late Angel Cruz used to often say (and Angel knew, first-hand, having been a former heroin addict and dying of HIV/AIDS as a result in 1986, at age 33) “If the whole world decides to go to hell, that does not mean I have to.” I am with Angel.

I do not ever recommend for anyone to leave the Church.  But if you truly cannot abide by her principles and precepts, then it is far better to leave in honesty than to stay and attempt to deliberately undermine the entire leadership as some have done in this fight. Perhaps Sister Carol Sheehan, Kathleen Sebelius, and Nancy Pelosi, among others, need to be reminded that they are neither practicing Catholics nor leaders within her sacred ranks. And pretending that they are is unbelievable hypocrisy and arrogance at best, and endangering their very souls at worst.

William-Adolphe Bouguereau (1825-1905) - The F...
Image via Wikipedia

NOTE:  After I released this article Mr. Limbaugh did indeed apologize to Ms. Fluke.  I will leave it to the reader as to his reasons or sincerity, but at least it was not a “oops it was a wardrobe malfunction” type of apology.   Here is a link to it:


Other related articles: