In order to save my life, God sent me the one saint who perfectly exemplified the human attributes that I most feared:
For as long as I could remember – I yearned to embody those things and simultaneously feared them. Hence, during my boyhood – I adored symbols of imaginary manhood like: Superman, Batman, and Buck Rogers. As a teenager, I went on a search for those qualities in every man I encountered. I quickly discerned that in the gay male community, I could participate in the ultimate physical union with another man. But everything became a hollow reenactment of the martial union or a perverse simulacrum of Christian ritual. Every time, I walked away not feeling empowered, but further emasculated. Only, I kept trying. Yet the sacred embrace that I sought only resulted in disappointment and a frantic sort of restlessness.
It sounds contrived, but every human being instinctively needs to know that something transcends our earthly existence. But many of us keep finding ourselves plunged in the wholly material. And although we try to appear happy – we hate it – and we begin to hate everyone around us, and then ourselves. If the late-20th and the early-21st centuries have been defined by anything: it’s self-destruction; through the false salvation of materialism, drugs, a multiplicity of identities, violence, and increasingly perverse sexuality.
But not only homosexual men have been affected, straight males often turn towards the exaggeration of the masculine extreme in order to find security and solace – in the process, becoming arrogant and abusive – especially towards women. And, perhaps, worst of all – abandoning or neglecting the children they helped to create.
For most of my Catholic school years, I knew about the Virgin Mary, St. Joseph – and of course Jesus Christ. But the image of Jesus that I grew-up with was almost forever disfigured by the picture of the effeminate Christ-like figure in the movie “Godspell.” As for Our Lady – I thought of her as distant and lofty, epitomized by the 1999 song “She’s so High” by Tal Bachman. Only Joseph remained. And something inside me whispered” “Go to Joseph.”
I didn’t want to.
I could voluntarily kneel before the corrupted visage of manhood that other desperate men had formed out of pop-culture and their daydreams. In its unadulterated form – I revolted. Though when I collapsed – there was nothing left.
St. Joseph scraped me up and took my near lifeless corpse home. There, I could finally lay witness to the precious gift that he protected: Our Lord Jesus Christ. What I could not find in the body of men – I reached a final consummation in the Body of Christ.
Many have found Jesus through Mary, but I was brought to Jesus through Joseph. Sometimes, especially the men of lost and lonely generation, require the might and muscle of a masculine intercessor. Its not meant to sound homoerotic, as this is one of the ways that the forces of confusion have tried to make men afraid of their innate qualities. But even those unique traits that are located most abundantly in men must be shaped and refined through the proper modeling of humility and selflessness that is only learned from other men. And this where the world has gone wrong. Fathers have been negligent and other men are too busy, too self-absorbed, or simply too disinterested in the problem – and therefore no one picks up the lost stragglers. As a result, they are quickly seduced to take the one-way ferry towards the mythical “Pleasure Island,” famously visited by the wayward Pinocchio; and brought into the real-world at the gay male New York enclave of “Fire Island.” Only slavery and death await; in the 1980s, that torturous reality was fulfilled with the horror of AIDS.
Somehow, I survived. Since then, I have often been haunted by the seemingly cruel and random quality of salvation. Why are others rescued when some are not? I still don’t know. Maybe prayers. I know that someone always prayed for me – specifically my father. Could that have made a difference? Again, I am not sure. But I would like to think so.
Throughout his life, my father remained steadfastly devoted to St. Joseph. Although he wasn’t my ideal father, and while he struggled, I believe he always tried his best. From what I have learned, he himself had a lousy father. Yet, because of my dad, someone did see me falling behind and eventually crashing into a pigsty. He stopped and saved my life. St. Joseph.