Archbishop Blase Cupich of Chicago said: “In Chicago I visit regularly with people who feel marginalized: the elderly, the divorced and remarried, gay and lesbian individuals and also couples. I think that we really need to get to know what their life is like if we’re going to accompany them…”
The word that intensely bothered me here is: “accompany.” According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, the definition of accompany: 1.) to go with as an associate or companion; 2.) to perform an accompaniment to or for. In my head, this accompaniment jargon brings to mind the image of Virgil as guide and companion to Dante into the depths of hell. During my earliest days in the “gay” lifestyle, I had such an accomplice who stood back and watched as he introduced me to the various masochistic and sadistically violent homosexual subcultures (see: https://josephsciambra.com/2015/07/surviving-aids-massacre-and-warning-to.html.) In fact, I had many friends who accompanied me daily: to the bathhouses, the sex-clubs, and the porn shops. And, vice versa, as I did the same thing for them; and, in the years that followed, I would accompany many of them to their graves. My point? As “out” and proud “gay” men, we have many friends, associates, companions, who will accompany us on just about any journey, no matter how self-destructive or perverse. For example, although it happened over 20 years ago, I will never forget an incident that occurred when a dear friend of mine invited his mother to San Francisco for a visit; a completely endearing woman from the South, incredibly over-the-top and at the same time charming, though I thought of her as a bit of a “fag hag,” one night, during her stay, she insisted on going out with us to a club – to my astonishment, my friend wholeheartedly agreed. That night, I watched in amazement while her son got drunker, louder, and more naked as the evening wore on; in response, his mother totally enjoyed the spectacle and continually laughed out loud. Although far from a prude, I was rather horrified. Because, as for myself, I was a more classic “prodigal son” – running off with my inheritance: my parents at home, somewhat oblivious to how low I had sunk, but still wringing their hands in endless worry. Now, fast forward to 2015, during my annual outreach at the Dore Alley Fair, the most intense and bodily fluid drenched sex street side-show in San Francisco, I met a woman and her son; she was from the Mid-West, checking up on her newly transported child in the big gay-opolis; he was wearing only a jock-strap and she was smiling and proud. All these years later, I was still horrified and I still didn’t get it. Therefore, within the specific context of homosexuality, the use of the word “accompany” by Cupich sounds overly passive and even grossly complicit; as if the Archbishop is just going along for the ride; hanging out at the Gay Pride Parade as some incredibly misguided Catholic priests in San Francisco will do – in a false show of “support” for the “marginalized.” Archbishop Cupich – what gay people need is not another body to accompany them on their daily descent into hell – what we need is someone to Save us from this nightmare that we don’t even realize we are in the middle of.
Archbishop Cupich, this is my recommendation to you: After over a decade in the “gay” lifestyle; after well over a decade of healing; and, after 5 years of reaching out to the “gay” community, I have finally come to the conclusion, using the words of St. John Paul, that every “gay” man and woman must eventually make a “pilgrimage to the house of the Father,” or, as tragic as it sounds, die in ignorance. For the most part, this “journey” must be made alone. In my own life, the pain of childhood, and my complete inability to deal with it on any level, made the swerve in homosexuality inevitable. It was something I had to do, and, no one could have said anything that would have dissuaded me from what I thought was my destiny. Therefore, any idea of accompaniment is ridiculous, because “gay” was not just my sexual orientation – it was me; it was my identity; it was entire life; take that away – and take away my reason for living. Consequently, back then: anyone around me, anyone who accompanied me in that realization, had better agree with that or get out of the way. So, in the lives of these “gay” men and women, in order to “accompany” them, you will have to agree with what they are doing, having sexual relations with persons of the same sex, or you will be disregarded and ignored; a few, might just stick around and “accompany” you – in the hope that their mere presence will change your beliefs, and, hence those of the Church. But, in fact, most gay men and women have already exiled all of those who refuse to go along with their decisions; though, in present contemporary society, these brave souls are becoming increasingly rare. Therefore, once they have made the choice, at that point, you have to simply let them go. For, the father of the “prodigal son” did not accompany his disordered and headstrong child when he embarked on his trip into decadence and sin. That was not his job. His mission was to stay put, to pray, fast, sacrifice and to preserve the home; again, in the words of John Paul – to remain “faithful to his fatherhood.” Only, this should not be confused with or quickly passed off as something inconsequential or inert; no more so than when Martha wrongly, as pointed out by Jesus Himself, scolded her sister for not being more active in serving their guests. But, in the Church’s current preoccupation with all things “pastoral,” with doing, I think some have lost the art of being – of simply being stout and upright men of Faith and holiness. Because, from that example, the lost, in this case – the homosexual, when things become their darkest, when we are reduced to sleeping with pigs, each one of us will have a lighted route home to follow. Speaking from experience, almost everyone, usually when the flower of youth has at least partially withered, and we are no longer the center of “gay” gravity and desire, we become increasingly reckless and we lose what is left of our dignity; John Paul wrote: “…at the center of the prodigal son’s consciousness, the sense of the lost dignity is emerging, the sense of that dignity that springs from the relationship of the son with the father. And it is with this decision that he sets out.” For me, it happened rather painfully: at 18 years of age, I literally had men waiting in line to take me home, to give me expensive gifts, and to take me away with them on their extravagant holidays; years later, nearing 29, sick, emaciated, and looking much older than I was – alone and abandoned, I sometimes sat for hours, almost throughout the night, in a San Francisco park known for “gay cruising;” I would watch as men paired up and then darted into the woods for quick anonymous sex; often, someone would walk over to me, I looked up with a desperate smile – and they would walk away. I didn’t want to live anymore; so, when Jesus offered me a second chance – I crawled back home. And, in the redemption of the son “…he becomes a particular good for his father: the father sees so clearly the good which has been achieved thanks to a mysterious radiation of truth and love.” Out of my near-destruction, and in my salvation, arose the Glory of God and His Church. Thanks be to God, I found a Church that remained Faithful. It is not for the Church to “accompany” any homosexual, but to set a place for them when they do return.
Thank you Joseph: this is simply powerful. And anchored in the truth.
Wow! It must be difficult to share some of this. May you continue on your courageous fight. My prayers for your journey, friend.
God bless you, Joseph, and your efforts to speak the truth. I can only imagine the pain felt at the bottom of this pit that many have entered, and will pray for these lost souls to find their way back to our Heavenly Father. You are right as you speak to preparing a place of love and comfort for each Prodigal son (daughter) along life's path. There but for the grace and redemption of out Lord God go any of us…
As a faithful catholic and mom of a son exploring this lifestyle I am challenged to ask “what is love?”. You are helping me stay strong in the truth and love. I can't say the same for many of my priests. I know this will be difficult for me, but I know it is the way. Thank you for your witness.
Joseph – very well stated. I also love the painting you used to illustrate the post. Thanks.
Bravo! Very well articulated Joe! As I've said before you should be in Rome testifying at that Synod. God bless you and your work.
God bless you in your witness. Let's pray for each other in these dark times
Thank you Joseph – I felt dark today as my 21 year old daughter is transgendering into a man using testosterone, dressing like a man, wanting to be called a he, wanting my wife and I to call her a new name. This is all so difficult, my wife and I stand firm, but so many wither and give in, we do have a great support group, but still days like this are so painful…we raised her in a loving christian home not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, and put her in private christian schools. This is all such a slap in our face and a deliberate affront to God. It is so hard to love her and to stand firm, she is largely un-love able and ugly to us…Our hope is in the Lord we will not condone her choices but we love her and we pray many times a day for her. Today was a day when sadly I was saying to myself “I long for the day when you are old enough to be mostly out of my life.” Not needing me to help with her car, pay for college, pay for her housing, pay for her healthcare. I even helped get her a job at a store a couple years ago before this transition and she has had run ins with employees who are questioning this she that now wants to be a he….Every day is depression for us and we have to be patient and wait on the Lord while we try to live our lives, go to work etc…
Thank You Joseph for being so brave to escape that slavery, I hope many, many more do…
When I was suffering in the frantic heterosexual version of sex addiction, it was holy mother church into whose arms I ran, eventually. And I will never forget a dear friend who said simply “…you know you don't have to do this anymore…”. Honestly, I didn't know I had a choice. Such is addiction. Thank God for God, thank God for 12 step sexual addiction recovery programs and thank God for good men and women who reach out when we reach the end of this painful road. Thank God for you, Joseph for being a good friend to the sick.
I love reading you, Joseph. Yesterday, before 6 pm here in the East, on my way to the next town over for 6:15 pm Mass, I was tuned to NPR for news: at the end of which is “Fresh Air”, an often ironic title. It was the author of Becoming Nicole, and the father of this girl, being interviewed….so I only caught the beginning and the end. What struck me….The celebratory tone: the warm, lovely voices: the lure. And it made me think about you and all of your posts, about the reality of it all, Especially the ones where you have addressed parents. Anyway; I wished that you, too, could have the audience of millions on the radio to Speak and be Heard in a more accessible medium.
Not that this is not heard/read by millions: but you combat against those warm, “rational, sane, accepting” voices that go directly to the brain: as do the tv media: good looking gay family members on sit-com tv, totally integrated. All of this does reach deeply into people & steers them to where they think they want to go, must go.
anyway: thanks. if I had a million, I'd set up a radio station for you.
I LOVE your reference to the parents of the prodigal son not “accompanying him on his journey”. Great point.
I hope you can take comfort in that you are not alone. Be patient with yourself too. May God be with you and your loved ones.
Kudos, Joseph. Amazing courage. No one can be a better teacher than an experienced, repentant, courageous person like you are. I will start praying for you.