I have a friend – very different from me, but like all “gay” men we had a lot in common: we both were damaged little boys –and both of us jumped into the “gay” lifestyle looking for some way to fix what happened to us as kids. In being “gay” – we thought we found the solution. We never looked towards the Church – because for the most part, we had grown up in a time of experimentation: where Jesus loved us, but offered very little in terms of a moral guidebook on which to center our lives; we were advised to follow our consciences – wherever that may lead us; we were told that there were bigger issues in the world, that social justice should be our focus; and that being kind was the most important thing. We thought: we don’t need the Church to do that.
By the time we first met, we were unattracted to each other and incompatible: he liked to stay home, but after a hard bleary-eyed weekend – I wanted to go out on a Monday night. He had a series of semi-monogamous relationships and I had a lot of encounters while pressed against a wall in the dark. Oddly enough, my friend who is thoughtful and an unpretentious intellectual, holds onto his faith – while I abandon it without a second-thought. His religion becomes intensely personal – while I solely worship at the temple of the male body. He strangely thinks there is still meaning and power in Catholicism, but I think its nonsense. He values righteousness, standing up for the Truth, and being a man of your word – more than anything. Most of this energy he channels into his devotion for a certain sector of the “gay” community – those somewhat pass-for-straight guys who are into their careers, go as a group to 49er games, and don’t particularly intermingle with our more colorful members, but won’t fault anyone for flaunting their sexuality. One day, I tell him to join the nearby “pro-gay” Church, but he loathes them. For he instinctively senses that they are a false religion. He is proud of being “gay,” disagrees with the official Church teaching, but he also cannot tolerate hypocrites.
Over the next few years, we never walk into a Church, except for the odd family funeral or wedding, and when we too often attended the masses and memorial services for friends and acquaintances who succumbed to AIDS. I shiver in these places, overcome by the stench of death and the ever-present sight of a purposefully closed casket hiding the blotched and shriveled corpse of a once dazzlingly beautiful man. But my incredulous friend, even he is moved by the kindness of these priests who want to touch those of us that no one will get near. At these times, he doesn’t seem to mind that they are flawed men, because at least they care.
One day, we both attend the funeral for a friend who belonged to this parish; he was a guy, more like my introspective friend than me. This man wavered for awhile about his homosexuality but became confirmed when a priest told him to read the works of Father John J. McNeill. He was excited about it and gave me a copy of “The Church and the Homosexual.” I said I would read it, but I never had any intention of even opening the book. I still feel oddly guilty about that. However, back then I was becoming pretty cold and it wasn’t unusual for me, for example, after a funeral, to hit the clubs not long after the body had been lowered into the grave.
Years later, with nothing left but beaten flesh and a prolapsed anus, I give-up on the “gay” experiment. My friend – who tended to play it safe, is still rather physically unscathed. Knowing only one Church – I inexplicably sought salvation by returning to Catholicism. Now in different cities, we lose contact. In San Francisco, because I still perhaps thought I was “gay,” but desperately desiring some other way of life, I naturally gravitated towards those parishes and ministries close to where I lived – in the neighborhoods with a predominantly “gay” population. There, I asked for bread, but received stones. I was told that God “made me gay for a reason,” that I needed to integrate my homo-sexuality with Catholicism, that perhaps I had gone about being “gay” a bit too over-zealously, but now I needed to concentrate on settling down with one man; for that was not the ideal, but God would understand. In my case, this was told to me while I was literally bleeding from every orifice – so recent was my escape from that life. Without even having to think about it, I knew that what I was being told was wrong. But for a few moments, I thought maybe he was right – perhaps I just needed to be more like my cautious friend.
Time goes by. Then, I think about giving up altogether and, for a few seconds, I consider going back to the only community I ever knew with a consistent message, albeit a perverted one. I reconnect with my old friend – he doesn’t say much, but he thinks that what I am doing is pointless; and the recently exposed gay-priest-child-abuse sex scandal only confirms his earlier suspicions: that on homosexuality – the Church is confused and conflicted. I wonder too.
The madness continues. But through the Grace of God, I am able to find some consolation in the Courage apostolate. With my new found sanity, and in a belief that there are some in the Church who uphold basic Catholic teachings with regards to homosexuality, not just on paper, but in their ministry, I begin to have hope for the friends I left behind. Including you. So I start a very small and modest outreach. I show up at “Pride,” the street festivals, and some other “gay” spectacles in San Francisco. But, as I go back into the “gay” community, I am continually confronted with the rainbow flags and false promises that the Church will change on this issue; those expounding this false doctrine are the organized and well-funded ministries operating unchecked and unrestricted from the same parishes that tried to convince me that I was “gay” and that compromise in my situation was okay. Then, I watch as young people, as confused as I was at their age, are lured with a convincing approach that offers acceptance and nothing else. Sometimes, I write to our Bishop. I plead for guidance and leadership on this issue – but the only response is silence and an empty mail-box. I write letters, send emails, make phone calls, show up to the chancery, and ask other friends do the same.
Read the First Chapter of Fr. John Harvey’s book “The Truth about Homosexuality: The Cry of the Faithful,” and there is a reason why he titled it – “The Cry of the Faithful;” he wrote: “Because in so many cases, I know from hundreds of letters from all over the country, bishops and priests have been silent on the need for positive help for our fellow Catholics, struggling persons have felt deserted by the Church. By and large this segment of the faithful has been ignored, while ironically in several diocese homophile organizations have arisen with the claim of helping Catholics…” …deserted and ignored while groups which deny fundamental Catholic teachings thrive. That book was published in 1996 – and we are still crying.
As I began to share some of my experiences on this topic a few years ago, I did so just to my informed and intrepid band of friends who followed my insignificant blog – mostly ex-gay men, recovering porn addicts, and those worried Catholic parents with “gay” kids. Suddenly, people from different backgrounds and different parts of the country began to contact me. I was shocked by the scope of the problem, for I often assumed that the weird-gay-affirmation in the Church was somehow peculiar to liberal San Francisco. It was not. Typically from the mother of a “gay” son or daughter – I received countless letters detailing how their confused child sought out help from these parishes and ministries and reemerged later at “gay” Pride with their newfound family.
So I wrote about it – a few (very few) Catholic journalists were interested; namely from LifeSiteNews and ChurchMilitant; while I often disagreed with their writing style and presentation, at least they were willing to listen, which is more than what the Bishop had done, and perhaps bring some attention to the problem. They empathized with my disillusionment concerning Church leadership, as they experienced their own with the Church – often because of some flagrant abuses within the Liturgy that no one in authority would resolve or even acknowledge.
I am not trying to make a direct analogy, yet I am often reminded of those deeply flawed and terribly misguided priests, that buried our dead, but who loved the sinner and excused the sin. Only, they wanted to help. And that’s why we turned to them. No one else was there. Some would say that certain news services, like those well-intentioned but misdirected priests, are merely disobedient and self-serving. Although, God forgive me, I still blame a few awful priests for the deaths of the many that trusted them; I can now look back and understand something about that chaotic time. The burgeoning homosexual revolution, the rise of gay neighborhoods, and the AIDS epidemic. A few good men, such as Terence Cardinal Cooke, scrambled to do something and hence the foundations of Courage. Nonetheless, everywhere, priests and religious struck out on their own – anarchy ensued and it’s been messy ever since. Though no one wants to clean it up. On this issue, there is a massive lack of leadership. For whatever reason, the main-stream Catholic media will largely not report on it. What I see – reminds me of the past; people who care, are on their own: they are getting some things right, at other times, they are failing.
Some are concerned because of how others are perhaps over-reacting to this lack of leadership, but I get it because I understand frustration and disappointment. Especially for those, who like myself, became ruled by chaos, we were originally drawn to the Church because of its long unswerving history and thus we thought it could provide a sense of stability in our lives. After being constantly reassured that homosexual activity within a stable monogamous relationship was slightly problematic, but entirely acceptable for those with an “indelibly set” orientation, I somehow found honesty and refuge within the small indult Mass communities and later at the Society of Saint Pius X. And for similar reasons, I think many have coalesced around the clear consistency of Cardinal Raymond Burke and Athanasius Schneider. Perhaps not the most charismatic men in the Church, but they plainly speak the Truth.
As for my dear friend, we were estranged for a few years and then he died. I would have stayed in contact with him, and tried, but he didn’t agree with what I believed about homosexuality, the “gay” community, and myself; he thought I was “gay” and I was kidding myself to think differently. After his death, I made some inquiries and found out, that the guy who intensely disliked Catholicism had made a return. At first I was thrilled, and then I found out that he became involved with gay-affirmative apologists. I was crushed. Because the end did not come suddenly for him, he had time to prepare, to perhaps change his life, but no one was there to help. Sadly, those who claimed to represent Christ and His Church blatantly condoned his continued behavior and in fact supported it. While it was not their responsibility to convert him, it was their obligation to convey the Truth and not to facilitate his obstinacy. They provided false comfort
Postscript: What’s the point of all this – I don’t know. Death seems to make everyone introspective and you look over the past like it was an old book with yellowed pages that you would like to make crisp white again and rewrite. I will never forget – sitting in a dimly lit Catholic Church, reaching out for help, and a priest telling me that the best thing a “gay” man can do is to settle down with one partner.
Many sincere Catholics, mostly heterosexuals, listen to this and state that where they come from – the priests and parishes are solid on this issue. And I have no reason to doubt that claim. But what they fail to understand is that the “gay” community is relatively small –at most about 4% of the population; of those, an infinitesimally tiny number of “gay” men and women are interested in Catholicism. For the most part, they live in proximity to certain large metropolitan areas: New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston, Atlanta, San Jose, Portland, Seattle, Newark, Baltimore, Minneapolis, and others, and in each of these cities, there are incredibly zealous gay-affirmative parishes and Catholic LGBT ministries that do not uphold the teachings of the Church, in fact, they openly disregard them. Even back in 1986, the Vatican sensed that things had gone out of the control and issued a dead serious “Letter” to the Bishops regarding outreach to the “gay” community; over 30 years later, the situation which the Holy See recognized and warned the Bishops about – has only gotten worse. And that’s no one’s fault except for those whom the Letter was addressed to.