Same-Sex Attraction, Chastity, and Porn Attachments

duncangrant (4)

As a lonely and rejected little boy, my first discovery of gay pornography was like a miracle. In a sense, after years of being either ignored or mercilessly teased by other boys, and thus adoring and hating them from afar, when I saw the all-accepting men in pornography, I thought I had finally found God. Although I could never admit it, those mean boys hurt me and I thought in gay porn, I could be healed.

As a boy, I owned a fairly prodigious porn collection that I had acquired from stealing magazines at the local liquor stores, pilfering them from my older brother, or taking the used discarded copies out of the men’s lavatory at my father’s business. I quickly disliked Playboy; too many women. However, once I discovered Penthouse and Hustler they became my favorites as the pictorials often included men. And, my eyes were immediately drawn towards them.

Looking back, overall, the women and girls in my life were accepting and loving. For instance, some of my female classmates at school felt instinctively protective of the scared sissy; they saw how the other boys treated me so they sometimes befriended the odd and shy loner. Consequently, I was often accepted into their circles and they treated me as if I were another girl: we sat around at recess and lunch, shared confidences, and watched boys.

In pornography, the female form was less than fascinating – it represented the element I knew and understood. As for the male, he symbolized the other; that which openly disregarded me, but I longed for acknowledgment from. And, in pornography, the men, self-contained and aloof in their physical magnificence seemed ever distant, but also somehow graspable for I was alone with them; and we were naked together. Yet, these were supposedly straight men, and they loved women. But I loved them. Like the superheroes I worshiped on TV, epitomized by the supremely masculine Lee Majors in the Six Million Dollar Man, they lived in a separate world that I could only hope to occasionally look into.

As a teenager, when I started purchasing gay porn, the reality of pictures depicting that which I had only ever imagined in my mind, confirmed in me the idea that somewhere out in the universe there existed people who felt as I do. That I was not alone.

Soon after irrefutably accepting that I was “gay,” I attended my first San Francisco “Pride” Parade; there, amongst the throngs of fellow rejects, I saw a couple of men whose swelling bodies were encrusted in chrome and leather. In the sunlight, they dazzled and I was dumbfounded. Years earlier, the first all-male porn film I ever watched was something titled Centurions of Rome. Now, right before me, the stuff of my daydreams had magically come to life.

As a sexually active young “gay” man, I only rarely watched porn. For the most part, those desolate days of fingering through sticky magazines, or pressed up against the television screen, seemed distant and desperate. Later, when I tried to couple-up with another man, we frequently watched porn as monogamous sex became increasingly boring. When I grew older and gradually more cynical, porn was a big part of my life again. And, the real and the unreal merged almost into one frustration. Because the intimacy promised in pornography, the image come to life, never materialized. All-male sex, like pornography itself, proved insufferably depersonalizing and dehumanizing. There was a lot of sex, and a lot of opportunity to partake, but the experiences were essentially empty. It was lifeless.

Look at it this way – all the straight men out there: envision a world where every woman has the same sex drive as you; where women have an often pathological need for sex; are willing to partake in an extreme variety of situations – including anonymous intercourse through a hole in a bathroom stall. If that were the case – what could stop it?

Finally, sex became as artificial as my boyhood porn-induced masturbatory fantasies. One night, I became a flicker of shadowy light passing through the darkened hallways and corridors of a San Francisco bathhouse. I had sex with someone, or something, but all I could make out was a thin outline of an individual form. Porn was sometimes realer than this. In those days, I was disinterested in computers and the internet, but a friend introduced me to the burgeoning world of on-line gay chat-rooms where the personality was reduced to headless torso and crotch shots of the penis.

As I delved deeper into promiscuity, I curiously sensed an encroaching and paralyzing numbness. In an attempt to feel something – anything – I actively pursued the sexual extreme. As a result, my body became thrashed and torn while I persistently felt nothing. But I continued to push until finally everything broke. At that point, never reaching manhood, I was going to die as an adult male in a bloody diaper. Only, I didn’t.

Almost the next day, I was throwing out every piece of pornography I had ever owned. I can’t explain adequately what had happened to me, but I was sick of it and I was sick. I was scared and I was tired; I wanted to die, but I wanted to live. I didn’t believe in anything anymore, but I wanted to believe in something.

There was so much in gay that had gone wrong. Besides my own rather trivial disappointment in the whole experiment, and my beaten behind – friends had died. I was alone again. Since the days of that battered boy who wanted anyone to like him, I hadn’t moved a single inch. I was standing motionless in the same dark spot.

At first, chastity was rather easy. It was like the anticipation before the holidays, when you can’t wait to get your fill of pumpkin pie and Christmas cookies. Afterwards, you never want to see them again. I was in that January state-of-mind. But by the time I hit March or April, I was craving those same treats which had before made me nauseous. But it was more than hunger. I was yearning for something else: companionship, intimacy, and yes love. These were the same desires which as a young boy I thought I initially satisfied in gay porn – then sought out in homosexuality. After all these years, I was still that neglected kid.

One day, feeling especially lonely and drowning in self-pity, I looked at porn on the internet. Afterwards, I sat there cold and soiled. And I was alone. I felt like a little boy. I was still looking at men, staring at them from afar, hoping that they would like me.

That boy was an embarrassment. He was needy and weak. When I was an active homosexual, he was always there. Only, the copious amounts of an exaggerated pulsating pornographic masculinity that was constantly on display everywhere in the gay male community, infused all of us with a shared illusion that the manly affirmation we always lacked but desperately needed had finally been collectively attained. In reality, that which we ached for, as evidenced in the gay male proclivity to numerous sexual partners, was completely unrealized. And, even I, now distant from my old life, was looking.

But that is what I could not reveal, not even to God. I was still attached to something. And, although I could not understand it at the time, I wasn’t so much attached to sex, to homosexuality, or even to pornography, I was attached to that wounded kid; he was my secret; and I wanted to keep him hidden. But as long as I did so, I could never truly be chaste. Dietrich von Hildebrand, in his extraordinary book “In Defense of Purity,” wrote: “the pure man walks with God. He never departs from the divine presence. He does not hide himself from God, like Adam after the fall.”

But I was prideful; I had been deceived. I wanted to cover-up what I felt, placing the fig leaf of half-hearted chastity over my shame. I acted before God as if I were fulfilled, when there was so much more that I needed. The Spanish mystical genius St. John of the Cross described the necessity of reaching “nakedness” before God. Yet, I was covered in armor.

St. John of the Cross once prayed: “God deliver us from ourselves.”

Hundreds of years later, another Spanish holy man, St. Josemaria Escriva, said this about our relationship with Jesus Christ:

We have to be totally sincere with him. We have to tell the whole truth, and then we have to say: “Lord, if you will” — and you are always willing — “you can make me clean.” You know my weaknesses; I feel these symptoms; I suffer from these failings. We show him the wound, with simplicity, and if the wound is festering, we show the pus too. Lord, you have cured so many souls; help me to recognize you as the divine physician…

In our stubborn pride, we will eventually die not from the original wound, but because of our unwillingness to seek out treatment. Instead, we conceal what is slowly killing us; applying all sorts of quack medicines sold by traveling peddlers. These false cures include: accepting our gayness as “a gift from God,” seeking solace in same-sex monogamy, or with the numerous “daddies” inhabiting gay pornography. We unwittingly fashion God and salvation into our image. With some claiming that Christ Himself was “gay.” From the scurrilous Jesuit John J. McNeill, who once wrote about “the special nature of the relationship of love that reunites Jesus and John,” to a successor, another Jesuit, Donald Godfrey who advises homosexuals “to imagine Jesus as gay,” many “gay” men have subconsciously sought out the transcendence of God, only to get mired in the material. In this sick world of illusions, the bodies of men are the incarnation of our deepest longing. Nowhere was this confusion more explicitly realized than in the queerly rendered mural (pictured above) of a homoerotic Christ by the “gay” artist Duncan Grant. The model for the painting was a young and handsome Jesuit priest, the future poet Paul Roche; Grant and his obsession would have an intense affair with Roche eventually leaving the priesthood. Duncan Grant aspired towards the infinite, but once entranced by the available distraction that was close at hand his depiction of God quickly slides towards decadence.

However, these illusions leave the wound open and prone to infection. Many will die. For others, the pain becomes so unbearable that they panic, and look for any doctor to help. With a mustard seed of Faith – they may look towards Christ – the Divine Physician. Others end up getting dumped on the side of the road, their sole hope for assistance residing in the charity of others. I was one of those that Christ took pity upon. He placed my near-dead body over his shoulder and carried me away.

When I awoke, I was in a humble dwelling; the only occupants being a powerful and robust looking man, his wife, and their young son. Keeping to myself, I watched them for what seemed like years. The man was strong, but always gentle with his son. He picked the boy up, kissed his forehead, and pressed him against his chest. I saw the father teach the boy: instructing him on how to work with his muscles and his arms; patiently guiding his son’s hands over the wood and showing him how to hold the nails. At other times, they sat quietly, talking about God. The explanations and instructions of the father were simple, but profound. They were like a story; like a parable. As I watched, I longed to be with them – to join the father and to be his son. But I couldn’t. I couldn’t admit that I needed someone. For being gay, and being with men, had already made me into a complete man.

As the family went about their daily routine, I kept to myself. Occasionally, carrying a basin of clean clear water, a jar of ointment, and a small cloth, the mother approached me – she noticed that my wounds hadn’t healed, but I refused her help. Slowly, I got sicker.

Sometimes in church, usually when I attended Sunday services at a parish which offered the Traditional Latin Mass, I saw young fathers with their families. Usually a few pews back, I sat pensively as I watched the men hold the little ones, grab a toddler before he ran out into the aisle, while an older boy sat next to his dad – occasionally tipping his head to the side so it rested against his dad’s body. With some of these men, I became lifelong friends – and through their example I understood the true meaning of masculinity.

Back in the little house, when the pain became almost intolerable, one day I just decided I didn’t want to suffer alone anymore. Feeling emotionally timid and physically drained, I approached the father, for I was too embarrassed to reveal my wounds to the woman, so I showed him my sores. He embraced me, pulled me close, and wrapped his arms around me. At last, I could think about a man touching me without getting aroused. He put his hands on my shoulders and I sat down. Before, me stood his son. I covered my face in shame. I wept, but as I did, I felt warm water wash away the blood and filth that for years had dried onto my body.

After the boy cleansed my raw flesh, He anointed me and placed bandages over the painful and swollen areas. I stayed with them, and I healed. For I finally touched God.

6 Comments

  1. John Glenn Celis January 18, 2017 at 7:20 pm

    Its never too late….Thanks Joseph for sharing your life story. God is good he will forgive you. Ask forgiveness through sacrament of reconciliation while there’s still time….May God grant you the sorrows of your sins…

  2. Patrick January 19, 2017 at 12:45 am

    Joseph, thank you. You’ve pretty much told my story.

  3. Dave Cattapan January 19, 2017 at 3:46 am

    Thanks for posting this. It’s always good to hear the perspective of some one who has lived through this.

  4. Lisa January 25, 2017 at 1:01 am

    Dear Joseph,

    Your story is sad and beautiful at once. You have a gift for telling your story and I’m sure it will help many.

    Fiat Lux,

    Lisa

  5. Julie February 2, 2017 at 3:48 am

    Joseph, What advice can you offer me as I watch my lesbian sister live her life, alongside her lesbian wife, outside of the Church? She has made it obvious that without “respecting her bride” and their union; there will be no relationship. I have been praying for 20 years against the unholy relationship that started shortly after she aborted her baby. I am so afraid for her soul. Thanks, Julie

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