“If you weep not now, when will you ever weep?”― Dante Alighieri, Inferno

In 1993, I met a Mid-Western transplant who recently moved to the Castro from his conservative Bible-Belt small town. Resembling thousands of others like him, who made the trek to San Francisco in order to find some gay nirvana that The Village People and then The Pet Shops Boys sang about in the disco-anthem “Go West.” Some found it; most didn’t. Especially those who took part in the first mass migration during the 1970s. A decade later, the majority of them were dead from AIDS. Into the early-1990s, we still all feared this terrible plague.

My Mid-Western friend was among the more cautious. Although I was still trying to “play safe,” alcohol and drugs had made me increasingly reckless. In addition, I sometimes frequented the gay sex club and bathhouses. But this new guy had a plan. He wanted to establish his landscaping business, meet someone, and settle down in an old Victorian that he could renovate.

Rather quickly, he met someone. They both wanted the same things – mainly to be in a “monogamous” relationship. The trauma of the AIDS epidemic had pushed some men in this direction even though it was antithetical to the original objective of the gay right’s movement which was sexual liberation; developing out of the hippie free-love counterculture, the gay movement sought to unshackle itself from bourgeois heterosexual norms; primarily the unwritten social rule that sex could only take place within marriage. A reversion towards hetero-centric customs by some gay men was their reaction to the carnage and death. They sought safety in pairs.

For the most part, this more neo-conservative brand of homosexuality coalesced around upscale restaurants, art galleries, and gay-affirmative churches in San Francisco. One of them was Most Holy Redeemer Catholic Church located only a couple of blocks off Castro Street. I’d gone there a couple of times; once to hear the Gay Men’s Chorus sing Christmas carols. Since the concert took place into the night, towards the end of the show, I could barely hear the thumping beats emanating from the nearby discos. All in all, I avoided the place during my 10 or so years in the Castro. The priest-in-residence reminded me of the one who molested me when I was 11-years old. But sadly, my new friend got close to him. I guess he told him what he wanted to hear: That gay men are no different than anyone else; and they should get married. About 6 years later, another gay priest in San Francisco would tell me the say thing. I was just washing-out of the gay male community, and desperately looking for some sort of guidance. This priest said that he knew someone I should meet. I was almost dead. I couldn’t believe it.

For some reason, about a year went by and I hadn’t seen my Mid-Western friend. I heard he was living with his boyfriend over the hill in Noe Valley. Even though, things weren’t going that well in my own life – I was happy for them. Then, someone told me that he was HIV+. I scolded the person for lying. That couldn’t be true. Not him. But it was true. The following year, he was dead.

As I later found out, apparently his monogamous relationship wasn’t so monogamous. Unbeknownst to him, his boyfriend had occasionally strayed, become HIV+, and unintentionally passed it on to him.

Since at least the early-1970s, numerous priests within the Catholic Church (especially in the United States and Western Europe) publicly espoused a gay-affirmative philosophy. Probably the most well-known was the Jesuit John J. McNeill. Their efforts became increasingly influential following the emergence of AIDS in the gay male community during the 1980s. As one such priest would later say to me: “He’d rather marry them, than bury them.” Hence their sometimes-convincing effort to reinterpret Scripture through a gay lens; for example, Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed due to inhospitality, not homosexuality; St. Paul’s admonitions about same-sex relationships were hopelessly locked into a historical mindset like Biblical proclamations concerning slavery; and Jesus Christ Himself was so unconcerned with sodomy, that His supposed silence about it which signaled approbation. Even though, Pope John Paul II issued a series of documents that clearly defined the Catholic Church’s stance on homosexuality and same-sex marriage (and a few reprimands directed towards heterodox priests and religious) there was no substantive repercussions for those who repeatedly deceived the faithful. Hence, in the 1990s, my naive Mid-Western friend who was misled by a priest wearing a rainbow-stole. But he was dead. And these priests and nuns who annually marched in “pride” parades were still alive – and still marching.

As a broken and bloodied gay man, when I showed up in 1999 at a Catholic Church in San Francisco, nothing much had changed. In every major city within the United States, there are gay enclaves where large numbers of gay people either live or frequently congregate; examples include the aforementioned Castro in San Francisco, West Hollywood in Los Angeles, Montrose in Houston, “Boys Town” in Chicago, and Chelsea in New York City. Ineveitably, these neighborhoods are also home to large Catholic parishes with a significant number of gay parishioners. Predictably, these parishes leaned hard towards the “left” and the progressive side of the Catholic Church that quickly spread following the so-called “reforms” of Vatican II. I remember well that era during the 1970s and the 80s. In parochial schools for all of my childhood and teenage years, I grew-up around smiling lecherous priests and nuns in mini-skirts. For them, Jesus Christ became whomever you wanted Him to be: the clown-faced dude wearing a Superman t-shirt in the movie “Godspell;” a liberation theology warrior like Che Guevara; or a gay man who had an unusually close relationship with St. John the Disciple. Like many of us who came-out of that generation, we tended to disregard it all. And we went in search of our own truth.

I thought I found that in San Francisco. When things started to fall apart, sometimes you go back to the way you were raised; you recoil to childhood; in its worst manifestation – into the fetal position. For this reason, so many gay men, after barely surviving the carnage of AIDS, wanted to become like a 1950s sitcom family. I went back to the Catholic Church. Almost immediately, I berated myself for being so stupid. I should have known better. Then, I was introduced to the world of Traditional Latin Mass (TLM) Catholicism. Having no prior knowledge of this long since buried form of the Liturgy, I thought I found my safe-space. In hindsight, I had retreated, like the early gay marriage advocates, into some imagined realm where I’d be protected from deception, abuse, and the madness which seemed to be taking-over the rest of the Church. But, this sense of security was false. I ended-up like my dead Mid-Western friend. I had to learn the hard-way. I wasn’t dying from an incurable disease. But it felt like it. I’d been betrayed. By someone I trusted with my life.

Today, I wonder how many more will be misled? How many more will be abused? And how many more will die? While I would argue that the Catholic Church has either ignored the problem of homosexuality and the sexual abuse of boys – almost immediately after its founding in 1054 AD, prompting Peter Damian to issue a dead-serious warning about the situation, or tolerated its open promotion amongst the clergy, it’s become increasingly evident that the pedophiles and the predators and the gay Catholic advocates are now openly aligned. Because they are both targeting children.

Some 40 years ago, when I was a boy, a Catholic priest sexually abused me. But, before he did it, he told me that: “God made me gay.” Back then, such “born gay” beliefs were exclusively promulgated within gay activist circle. Now, they are in the Catholic Church; and even espoused by the pope. Thus, laying the ground work for the Church’s attempt to abuse and simultaneously brainwash its sex abuse victims. They identify a vulnerable child, gain their trust, then convince that child that they were born gay. After the grooming process is complete, they are molested or pushed into the gay community. Some are recruited to become priests or religious. After I heard such initiatives recommended at a large Catholic seminar for educators in the Church, I excused myself and went to vomit in the restroom. When they bless the relationship of same-sex couples, this pogrom has reached its ultimate goal – the sanctification of child sex abuse and sodomy.

(Detail from “The Fall of the Rebel Angels,” by Luca Giordano (1666).

For my original article on this topic.