Above: Carl Larrson, “In the Carpenter Shop” (1905).
“God created us to love and to be loved, so it is our test from God to choose one path or the other. Any negligence in loving can lead someone to say Yes to evil, and when that happens we have no idea how far it can spread. That’s the sad part. If someone chooses evil, than an obstacle is set up between that person and God, and the burdened person cannot see God clearly at all.” ~ Mother Teresa of Calcutta
I may have an overly broad, or too narrow, interpretation of the previous quotation from Mother Teresa, but the phrase that rings most crucial in terms of homosexuality – is this one: “Any negligence in loving can lead someone to say Yes to evil…” From my own experience as a former gay man, and the countless others who sometimes desperately or even resoundingly shouted out “Yes…I am gay!,” the negligence she refers to is that which takes place during childhood in the lives of, using her word, the “burdened.” On this point, several studies have consistently found that adult homosexuals are significantly more likely to have experienced childhood abuse, neglect or feelings of estrangement from one or both of their parents (in gay men, it’s with the father) and or sexual abuse, physical violence, or intimidation from same-sex peers. (See notes 1-3.)
Therefore, those burdened by their defective or sadistic upbringings are often left as adults to fend for themselves: in terms of homosexuality, accepting the orientation and “coming-out” are considered acts of the courageous; any thoughts of healing are practically non-existent or disregarded as quack-science or psychiatric homophobia. Yet, gay men suffered a certain negligence – either by their fathers or because of rejection from other boys – resulting in a misapplied attraction towards those of the same-sex. Consequently, the longing within gay men for male affection and love is transferred to men; usually with a fantasy of male affirmation confirmed by the hyper-masculine father-figure; hence, the immense and perennial popularity of so-called “daddy” porn in the gay community. For this reason, it’s also not unusual for there to be a large age discrepancy between male same-sex partners; and for the younger partner to normally take on the passive role and the older partner to take on the dominant role. (See notes 4+5.) Furthermore, when questioned about why they willingly participated in known high-risk sexual behaviors, a majority of gay men mentioned: “anxiety, loneliness, depression…[and] as a way of seeking pleasure and emotional connection with other men.”6. Because you experience this immediate rush of masculine reassurance through sex, a young man, usually already extremely lonely and needy for male attention, as soon as he enters the gay world – embarks upon an often unbridled and ultimately self-destructive tour of sexual excess; because, finally, for the first time in their life – it feels like a long buried need is being satisfied; a study of young gay men and their initial sexual habits: “…were characterized by relatively high rates of unprotected anal sex and a rapidly expanding sexual repertoire.”7.
My own life, intricately fit this scenario of a lost and isolated boy who goes to the gay community, initially, not so much in search of sex, but simply looking for love; but, as Mother Teresa warned, never really understanding just how far this would all go. Only, because Man is made to love and to be loved, when we perceive that we did not give or receive love – we become increasingly restless and further inclined to do almost anything to make that happen; for this very reason, at the near height of the first AIDS crisis, I risked my own life in order to find the love I so desperately needed. Like most of my generation, I found myself with men over twice my age: at first, it was an all-new amazing experience to be liked and wanted by other men – after spending years on the side-lines, making friends with girls instead of boys, and hopelessly admiring male c from afar. All of a sudden, I was no longer an outsider; and, it felt right and good. It was as if my earlier life, filled with pain, loneliness and seclusion was decisively over: that being gay, and accepting that I was gay, began the fulfillment of who I was meant to always be; here, I thought I would find lasting happiness.
The only problem, sex is fleeting and associations and relationships in the gay world are usually transitory at best and then greatly susceptible to pervasive gay male sexual boredom that routinely necessitated “opening-up” the relationship to outside partners.8. Because, unlike heterosexual couples who grow old and comfortable with each other, agitation is often the rule in the prickly all-male relationships that continually tend to disintegrate as the newness of the first few sexual adventures together become routine.9. I found this the case over and over again; as my boyfriends, who were always older, especially during the first few years out, – sort of fulfilled my teenage need for male attention and encouragement; in a very sick way, I became stunted forever as a boy; for instance – you play along with calling him “daddy” during sex and you curiously start to feel confident and somehow recognized in your masculinity, only to later realize that this guy is not your father, nor is he the kid who teased you in the 1st grade, nor is he the straight boy you fell in love with in high-school – the one who didn’t even know you were alive; as a result, being attracted to men and having sex with them solves nothing; in fact, when we conform ourselves in the orientation we subscribe to the idea that these attractions are healthy, or at least proportionally benign, and that, although the vast majority of the male population is heterosexual, we are not unusual, but merely unique. Then, the pain from childhood gets pushed deeper inside with every subsequent relationship. Only, the longer you stay in the gay world, the quicker you seem to figure out that we are far from exceptional and that almost every other gay man shares a remarkably similar life-story to your own.
After over ten years in the gay lifestyle, and, after unintentionally, but nonetheless rather methodically, reenacting almost every trauma that happened in my childhood: from my pre-pubescent obsession with porn to my overwhelming sadness at being rejected by many of the men in my life, I subconsciously understood that nothing was working anymore, and, I became increasingly desperate and willing to take even bigger risks. Strangely, I still sought salvation in another man; whoever that damaged boy inside was – he just got pushed further into the background. In my head – the answer still remained outside of myself, somewhere within the reality of my gay orientation; for that reason – I still required a man and had to be loved by him; at times, the fixation was so strong that I would drop everything and rush to the nearby porn-shop or bathhouse to meet any available faceless stranger. It was careless and sad, but at least it was something. Yet, this attitude goes part and parcel with the gay lifestyle: as the longer you stay in it – the more you become trapped; you inevitably get used and dumped by your first few lovers, you get a few STDS, you grow increasingly bitter and suspicious, the torment of childhood returns as you begin to feel discarded and forgotten by men, you may even become HIV+, at that point – it seems you have little or nothing to loss. Towards the end, there was practically nothing I wouldn’t do in order to once and for all settle this ache in my heart – even if I had to die trying.
Just before that, I helplessly watched as my friends fell to AIDS; one grew up utterly unloved by his father, the other – suffocated by his abandoned mother, and another – a victim of horrific child abuse; each of us, I suppose, coped as best we could. One day, ours paths converged in San Francisco and we collectively thought we found our city upon a hill. When they died one by one, looking back, my reaction was rather odd: I never quite mourned, but plodded ahead towards my own objective; proudly, I thought I was going to be different. Only, I ended up sinking into the same pit of desolation and darkness as they had. But, despite it all, I still believed: the gay dream never died in my imagination. Somehow, somewhere – over the rainbow, this burden would miraculously fall away; it didn’t. Slowly, I returned to the isolation of my youth: friends and lovers passed away, a few of the living got into bizarre fetish scenes, others coupled up out of anxiety and intermittently invited me to join them in a sporadic three-way. Gone was the blast of excitement that I felt as an 18 year old boy when I first got approached during my initial outing to a gay bar; now, I instinctively knew that no one was going to save me. I didn’t know what to do, for I had nothing else to believe in; so, I did nothing. I couldn’t see any way out: I was gay and there were no other options.
Why I was spared and so many that I loved were not – I do not know, but I was no different from them; because I would have staid. However, seemingly out of nowhere: there appeared a Man. At first, like all the men I had encountered before, I yearned to be with Him, but feared Him as well. In my still twisted sense of cosmology fused with a perception that related everything to gay sex – I thought to myself: is He to be my new “dad,” my new Father, but wasn’t He also the Son? On the contrary, Christ transcended all of that, but also strangely transformed and fulfilled it. For, when Christ touched me, He did so as both Father and Son: as the compassionate, protective, and strong figure that I spent all of my life looking for; however, He was also the Son – in that Father-Son relationship, elevated to the Divine, I underwent a process of healing by which I shared with Christ his boyhood and journey into becoming a Man; it began with my adoption as “the son of Joseph;” “Is not this the son of Joseph?” (Luke 4:22) This was probably the most painful, and fulfilling part of the healing process – accepting the role and importance of fatherhood and masculinity in my life: how many things went wrong in my childhood, including feelings of inadequacy, male rejection, and the often overwhelming desire to receive approval from other men – and, why these conflicted and painful emotions ultimately led to believing that I was gay and my eventual entrance into the homosexual lifestyle. Throughout this early journey, a constant presence was the masculine archetype represented by St. Joseph – someone who was strong and silent, but patiently caring; enormously manly, yet only reaching a state of completion by giving love to the Son: in Jesus Christ – this Love reaches its fullest affirmation; finally, consummated and received through the Holy Spirit; then, there was decisive healing when I heard the words: “Thou art my beloved Son; in thee I am well pleased.” (Luke 3:22) In Christ, I found the one Man who could fix me: who could heal the scared little boy inside; the one who couldn’t throw a ball; who got beat up at school; who felt unloved; who thought he was gay – He took away that burden and gave me something new: He showed me that no mere touch from a human male would surpass, or even replace, what God already ordained: that I infinitely shared in the complete Love of the Father for His Son.
1. “This retrospective study compares memories of the father-son relationship between lifelong socially well-adjusted, non-patient homosexual and heterosexual men. No homosexual subject reported the presence of a reasonably intact, positive relationship with his father or father surrogate during preadolescent years, whereas 12 of the 17 heterosexual men did. Previous investigators have hypothesized that a constructive, supportive father-son relationship precludes the development of homosexual orientation. This hypothesis stemmed from investigation of men who in general suffered from significant global psychopathology. The data in the present investigation supports the notion that a meaningful association, which is not attributable to confounding psychopathology, exists between quality of father-son relationship during early life and male sexual orientation.”
“Fathers, sons, and sexual orientation: replication of a Bieber hypothesis.”
Friedman RC, Stern LO.
Psychiatr Q. 1980 Fall;52(3):175-89.
2. “Homosexual/bisexual men reported higher rates than heterosexual men of childhood emotional and any physical maltreatment (including major physical maltreatment) by their mother/maternal guardian and major physical maltreatment by their father/paternal guardian. In contrast, homosexual/bisexual women, as compared to heterosexual women, reported higher rates of major physical maltreatment by both their mother/maternal guardian and their father/paternal guardian. Differences among individuals with differing sexual orientations were most pronounced for the more extreme forms of physical maltreatment.”
“Reports of parental maltreatment during childhood in a United States population-based survey of homosexual, bisexual, and heterosexual adults.”
Heather L. Corliss, Susan D. Cochran, corresponding author and Vickie M. Maysb
Child Abuse Negl. 2002 Nov; 26(11): 1165–1178.
3. “Results indicated that homosexual seminarians feel more emotional distance from their fathers than heterosexual seminarians. Whether these accurately reflect the emotional distance between the father and seminarian during earlier childhood is not definitive. Attachment theory (Bowlby, 1969, 1973, 1980) and family of origin theory posit that the structure of relationships with one’s parent is lifelong, a ‘straightforward continuation’ (Bowlby, 1969, p. 208) of attachments in childhood. More recent studies suggest that attachments can be modified through ongoing interactions (Bartholomew & Perlman, 1994; Shaver & Hazan, 1993). These findings are consistent with the ‘weak father’ theory of the etiology of homosexuality, however, cross-sectional associations do not directly address the underlying causal role of emotionally absent fathers. These findings can speak of a lack of childhood male role model (Bieber et al., 1962; Socarides, 1990), especially in the area of intimacy and relationships, or they could speak of the poverty of a present satisfying emotional connection with the father, needed to promote the development of a healthy sexual identity (Alexander, 1997).”
“Emotionally Absent Fathers: Furthering the Understanding of Homosexuality”
Ray A. Seutter, Martin Rovers
Journal of Psychology and Theology
2004, Vol. 32, No. 1, 43-49
5. “Do differences in age between sexual partners affect sexual risk behaviour among Australian gay and bisexual men?”
Prestage G, Jin F, Bavinton B, Scott SA, Hurley M.
Sex Transm Infect. 2013 Dec;89(8):653-8.
6. “Assessing motivations to engage in intentional condomless anal intercourse in HIV-risk contexts (“bareback sex”) among men who have sex with men.”
José A. Bauermeister, MPH, PhD, Alex Carballo-Diéguez, PhD, Ana Ventuneac, PhD, and Curtis Dolezal, PhD
AIDS Educ Prev. 2009 Apr; 21(2): 156–168.
7. “Early male partnership patterns, social support, and sexual risk behavior among young men who have sex with men.”
Glick SN, Golden MR.
AIDS Behav. 2014 Aug;18(8):1466-75.
8. “Specifically, 45% had monogamous agreements, 47% had open agreements, and 8% reported discrepant agreements.”
“Relationship Characteristics and Motivations behind Agreements among Gay Male Couples: Differences by Agreement Type and Couple Serostatus.”
Colleen C. Hoff, PhD et al.
AIDS Care. 2010 Jul; 22(7): 827–835.
9. “As relationship length increased, the proportion of couples who disagreed about their current agreement type increased. No direct trend was found for recent adherence to an agreement; however, the likelihood of ever breaking an agreement increased as relationship length increased.”
“Aspects of gay male couples’ sexual agreements vary by their relationship length.”
AIDS Care. 2014;26(9):1164-70.
10. “…36.0% reported participating in at least one GSE [group sex event] in the prior year. In multivariable logistic regression analysis, attendance at a GSE in the past year was significantly associated with older age, full/part time employment and being HIV positive. Of the men who attended a GSE, more than half reported condomless anal sex (CAS) with at least one of their partners (insertive: 57.7%; receptive: 56.3%).”
“Engagement in group sex among geosocial networking mobile application-using men who have sex with men.”
Phillips G, Grov C, Mustanski B.
Sex Health. 2015 Aug 10.