Please I beg– let this be shown
To the Synod Of Bishops,
I am a homosexual. I have known that I was gay since I was a child. I was not abused, molested, shown pornography, exposed to gay people or even aware of ‘gayness’ as a supposed lifestyle.
I knew as a child that I liked other boys and that I didn’t feel the same way about girls. I knew this about myself since I was about 7 years old. I was very aware of it and not in a sexualized way. I simply knew what my heart felt.
Other boys would fawn over females.
I did not.
Even at eight I’d see other boys talk about girls — innocently but with obvious infatuation- the way children do.
I felt no such attachment.
I did however know how I felt about other boys and because I was faithful, I soon found out that my attraction was supposedly evil.
I cannot tell you the exact moment when I realized this, at what event or where I heard it because that’s not necessary.
A child is not stupid- a child knows they don’t belong– a child sees the ridicule, the violence, the disdain — the exclusion.
There are no weddings in the church for us, there is no place in the sacrament, our identities are nowhere to be seen.
While same-sex marriage may not happen in the Catholic Church for a long time- I ask you to think why it matters.
For millions of gay children and adolescents, the exclusion from church sacraments that pertain to unions basically says – “There is no place for you in God’s plan.” The exclusion and rabid anger against same-sex marriage and the simple cultural prejudice against homosexuality simply dooms us to wander through life, creating identities, practices and communities that accept us and do not exclude us from full expression of our identity.
Today when I go to church and hear certain sermons on the sacredness of marriage and I hear Genesis 2:24 “Wherefore a man shall leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they shall be two in one flesh”, I am reminded that I do not belong- that there is no place for me in God’s plans according to the Church. And worse, as I hear this and other similar verses in our churches, being repeated with strong enunciation on the words “man” and “wife”, I know it is done to ward off the oncoming tide of same-sex marriage legislation. It is done, as if to remind us- no matter what the world legally sanctions, the church will not budge.
It is an example of how the Church denies the reality and importance of our sexuality. In doing so, the Church damages our identities, our spirituality, and our mental well being.
Think of what this does.
You affirm that our sexuality is disordered and that we should be pitied for it. What exactly does that mean?
You have affirmed a place for heterosexual sex in God’s plan for many theological reasons over the millennia. It is not my wish to trace those arguments and positions. It is only my wish for you to actually think of what the exclusion of homosexuality and ‘homosexual’ sexuality does to us.
You do not tell heterosexual children/adolescents that there is something wrong with them because of their sexual desires. You ask them to wait for marriage because sex is a gift from God, and that through that gift we all serve God’s plans.
Do you have any idea what that does to a gay child? Do you have any idea how many teens have gone to bed every night in agony about their wickedness– simply because they are different.
I spent countless nights as a child tossing and turning, terrified that if I was not part of God’s plan convinced that I must be demonic and only the devil would have my soul. The suffering and torment was horrific because I was faithful, because I believed in the glory of God and I wanted to be good.
I remember going to sleep every night with deep anxiety and waking up with dread. It grew worse and worse the older I got and the stronger my attraction to other boys became. I can’t count how many nights I wished for the Lord to change me or kill me in my sleep.
By the time I hit puberty and sexual thoughts entered into the picture, the pain was overwhelming.
But something happened, because I was an intelligent child, I sought out to find out if this was normal. The church, society and family had taught me that I was, at best, a punch line, at worse – corrupt.
As an intelligent and precocious child I found psychiatry books that said I was not sick, perverse or corrupt. There is no need to go into details but secular sources made me feel less evil, less damaged.
You did not.
And even as I had some comfort from the secular world, Catholicism was deep in my soul. My need for your approval was strong and I sought it out. I would scour through books and religious magazines throughout the 80s, looking for evidence that the Church did not condemn me to hell. I did this with the religious fervor of a faithful adolescent. I did it with the purity of a child wanting to please God.
There was no comfort.
Nothing I found affirmed any part of my sexual identity. There were meager offerings of pity- hate the sin not the sinner; Pope Benedict’s writing on the pastoral care of homosexuals etc. Everything I found took me back to the same conclusions-
There is something intrinsically wrong with you
You cannot ever express or enjoy your sexuality
You can not love another sexually the way heterosexuals do because they are a part of God’s plan and you are not.
Think of that for a moment.
The Church basically condemns millions of adolescents to an identity deprived of the full range of human emotions. Our love must be sexless ,which is fine for those that choose celibacy- a choice which is made willingly by many. For us the choice is supposed to be made because we are fundamentally deficient, because otherwise God does not want our damaged selves.
You view all of this as purely an issue for the fully formed sexual human who chooses to practice certain sexual acts. You see your role is to categorize the magnitude of sexual sins in that context. But in doing so, you condemn us for no reason other than being who we are.
What the Church’s position fails to consider is the role sexual identity plays in the development of a healthy human psyche. A fractured damaged, guilt ridden sexual identity prevents the full formation of a healthy human psyche. Do you not consider these things to matter? Does our mental health not matter to you? Do you understand that when you condemn our sexuality you are basically asking us to choose between mental health and God?
It is perverse and cruel to ask such a thing.
Those of us who need to reclaim some semblance of a healthy psyche must, at some level, reject your condemnations to accept ourselves. And for the millions of gay Catholics in the world, we remain faithful for the love of God, in spite of you.
How is any of this healthy for us or the Church?
You have the opportunity to honestly and forthrightly begin to heal many wounds.
I remain a Catholic, grudgingly so. I have not ran to other more accepting denominations because I believe that you have the power to change this situation for millions.
I understand that you do not go fully into the breach because to do so would be revolutionary and the Church prefers slow evolutionary change. Fine. I do not expect to see two men or two women married in a Catholic Church in my lifetime. I can hope but I know that this won’t happen.
But surely you can stand up to the tide of an irrational, fearful world that persecutes us from the moment we are aware of our identities, surely you can teach acceptance?
I know you fear causing turbulence and maybe even losing some people to other churches. Yes, if you were to be fully accepting, the Church would lose people- but only in the short term. In the long run, the Church will secure its place on the right side of history and ,in my estimation, you will lead the world in our ever evolving relationship with God.
A gay man who must remain anonymous for the time being.