It’s one of the most difficult topics for Catholics to tackle: the cultural rise of homosexual ideology. Joseph Sciambra knows the gay world first hand. As a young man, he left home and went straight to the infamous Castro District of San Francisco, where he did “everything gay that you could imagine.” At some point, though, it got “too dark” for him, and, as Joseph recounts: “Christ just said to me, ‘You can either live or you can die; you can go to hell, or you can have another chance.’ And I took another chance.”
Joseph left behind many years of an “extreme” homosexual lifestyle – broken, sick, wounded. He found healing through Our Lord in the sacraments of the Catholic Church — in particular through priests who modeled manhood and the nobility of the Traditional Latin Mass — and he no longer suffers from same-sex attraction.
Now Joseph goes back into the world he left behind in the 1990s and ministers to those still trapped there. He offers them hope: “I just give them a simple message, and it’s that you do not have to be gay.” This simple message, however, has earned Joseph animosity and hatred from many.
Perhaps the greatest obstacle he faces in his work is not the “gay” community itself, however, but the institutional Catholic Church, which has, in many of its attempts to embrace the sinner, also embraced the sin. He has not been welcomed to speak in parishes, his story is not told by Catholic media, his message is kept silent despite its incredible power of transformation.
If you’re concerned about this issue, if you’re worried about the acceptance of “gay” by the clergy, if you want to know the impact of “Who am I to judge?”, or if you know someone struggling with same sex attraction, this is an episode you can’t afford to miss.
- Joseph’s book: Swallowed by Satan: How Our Lord Jesus Christ Saved Me from Pornography, Homosexuality, and the Occult
1P5 Podcast Ep. 37: Joseph Sciambra on Being and Leaving “Gay”
June 15, 2016
Steve: My guest today is Joseph Sciambra, a Catholic writer, speaker and author of the book “Swallowed by Satan, How Our Lord Jesus Christ Saved Me from Pornography, Homosexuality, and the Occult”. He also has an active outreach ministry in the Castro District of San Francisco knows as “Jesus Loves Gay Men”, he also blogs at JosephSciambra.com. Joseph, thank you so much for being on the podcast.
Joseph: Thank you, Steve.
Steve: You have, I think, a very powerful and unconventional conversion story. Would you mind for those not familiar with you and your work just summarizing kind of your journey and how you’ve gotten to where you are?
Joseph: Sure, I can do it fairly quickly. I was the prodigal son, you know, I wanted everything now. I was raised marginally Catholic but made up my mind fairly early on, and I can get into that more if you want, I mean I grew up in the 1970’s…
Steve: Sure, let’s talk about it.
Joseph: It was the post-conciliar church and there was a lot of emotion, no doctrine, no theology, nothing substantial, no truth, everything was relative, a lot of indifference. You know, we made it up as we went along. And I did that, and decided I was gay and left home. My family was fairly, I wouldn’t say liberal but not Catholic. So they had a problem with me being gay but not a huge problem. I left, went to San Francisco, got into everything I could, I’ve done everything gay that you can imagine and I know that world. But you know like the prodigal son everything just went wrong and I ended up sleeping with pigs, literally, and it just shocked me out of it, and turned around and went home.
Steve: Would you say there was a moment where you just definitively see that as sort of, you know they call it your bottom, your turning point. Was there a moment where you said, “that’s enough, I’m done”?
Joseph: Yah…it is. It got too dark for me. I got into a lot of very…you know there is a lot of extremes in the gay world and not everybody goes to the extreme but if you want to it is readily available. Nobody is going to..at least publically nobody is going to say anything against you for going that way. I did, and it just got very sadistic and ugly, and death became a reality and Christ just said to me, “You can either live or you can die, you can go to Hell or you can have another chance”. I took another chance.
Steve: That’s fantastic. I don’t know…is that a very, it’s not a very common thing, is it?
Joseph: I would say, you know I’ve talked about this in the past because people want to know, not so much people who are in the gay life because when you are in it you don’t really think about getting out, you are just in it and it’s the way things are. But for people that have loved ones and family members in the gay life, they want to know how can my son or how can my brother get out of the life, and I try to tell them you can pray for that person but ultimately they are the ones that have to get out. And like you said, almost like an alcoholic you do have to sort of reach your limits and then you say “enough is enough”. It happens for different people in different way. I mean I had friends, especially during the AIDS era where they lost somebody or they lost several people and they finally said, “You know, I’ve had enough, I’m done with this”. For me it was different. My threshold was I think a lot higher because I had lost people to AIDS and I didn’t get out after that, I just kept going with it. So it is different for different people but ultimately they have to make the decision and I think it just has to get bad for them. This is on a tangent, but this is why I tell people that if you have someone in the gay life, don’t make it any easier for them.
Steve: Yah, I want to talk to you about that more later actually, it’s one of the topics I think you handle that very few people do, and I think it’s really important advice. So you leave San Francisco, I mean you literally get in your car and you leave.
Joseph: I did.
Steve: But then, I mean what then, would you say that you were healed of same-sex attraction? Is that even language you would use? How does that work?
Joseph: Yah. I went home to my parents. You know, my parents were willing to put up with my B.S. to a point. When I started coming home with freaky people, you know specifically my dad had said, “You’re not welcome”, which was the right thing to do. But when I called, well it happened a little bit more dramatically than that. I ended up in the hospital and my mother had um, you know come to see me. And when I got out of the hospital she took me home and I said, and I just told them “I’m done”. And of course, they took me in and said you know we’ll do whatever, I mean at the basic level they provided me with a room and a bed and a place to, I was pretty sick physically. The healing process took a while because the gay, I don’t want to say the gay demon, but the gay, it is a demon, but the gay spirit is a tough one to kick. And although God rescued me out of the place I was in, the physical place, the spirit lingered and that took a while to get rid of.
Steve: I want to talk to you about both of the components to this, the spiritual one that you just brought up. You title talks about being saved from the occult. You talk about the demonic and I think it is something that is unfortunately underplayed. But I also, before I get to that, I want to ask you about the big nature vs. nurture discussion. I think you take a different approach to it. Is it genetic, is it learned behavior, is it from you know malformed relationships in youth…what is it, where does it come from.
Joseph: You are definitely not born that gay, that’s one thing I do know. I would say there are three things that lead people to gay, that get people into gay, and they have changed over the years just because society and the family have changed. Number one, it is a traumatic event in childhood, abuse, primarily sexual abuse by somebody of the same sex. Number two, you will have a faulty relationship with the father, or an abusive relationship with the father, or a missing father, or combined with that there is a failure for the boy to bond with male peers. The third one is an early exposure to pornography. Initially, I would say that, and I’ve seen it change because I went into gay in the 80’s so at that time, although a lot of those guys that came out were the first guys to come out, post-Stonewall in the 70’s, they were still alive but they were dying off. They kind of had what I would say the classic gay-boy syndrome which is a distant unloving father and an overprotective mother. You know, to a degree we all…I’d say that has sort of changed where my generation that came out in the 80’s you had a lot of boys who came from broken homes but you still had, this is getting kind of complicated, but you still had variations on that classic gay-boy syndrome where there was something wrong with the father. You know, I’ve never met, I’ve never met a gay guy who had a really good relationship with his dad, never. A lot of time they will tell you, because they know that some people who come from my point of view are gonna say that, they’ll say “oh no, you’re wrong” but when you talk to them a little further and they start describing their childhood, I mean right away the bells and whistles are going off.
Steve: You start to pick up on it.
Joseph: Yah, but it’s all, and this is sort of a tangent too, there is sort of a shared delusion in the gay world because you all come from the same kind of background and you all kind of talk about it to each other and it’s not weird anymore because you’ve all kind of got the same clinging mothers and distant fathers so it doesn’t seem unusual to you. Where as…
Steve: In fact, it’s probably sort of a point of bonding because you are like, “oh, I went through the same thing”, right, I mean that’s what people do. We all look for our shared brokenness and we can commiserate.
Joseph: Yah, it is. Now what I see recently is a lot of boys getting into homosexuality, especially bisexuality, is because of pornography.
Steve: It’s insane. I want to get to the role of pornography but I, this is kind of a two-part thing so I do want to ask you, you know you talk about the gay demon. I mean, I have not had the opportunity yet to read your book so I don’t know the stories that you have told there, but I know that, I mean this is, look spiritual warfare is real for all of us and the demons are there for all of us. But you had an experience that I think that makes that, that drives that home more, right.
Joseph: Yah. Well I mean, it’s a literal experience and then some metaphorical experience. I mean, most gay people will tell you that they grew up rather alienated, lonely, I don’t care what family they grew up in. You know, a feeling of isolation, that sort of, that situation lends itself very well to outside influences coming into our lives where we just open ourselves up, literally to evil. It’s not that we do it consciously, it’s not like we’re saying you know I want to become possessed, but it’s just, there’s a desperation in homosexuality and a lot of times it comes from a good place where you are just desperate for love and desperate for acceptance, and desperate to be affirmed. Especially if you’ve come from a childhood of abuse. It just opens you up for this stuff and all of the sudden, especially when you get into the gay lifestyle or the gay community because sexuality and sex and perversity, and I know they’re gonna deny it, but all you have to do is go to any gay pride parade and you’ll see it. It’s so open and it’s so pervasive that you just buy into it. You don’t realize what you’re buying into. I mean, the devil is very deceptive, it can make it look really good but you don’t really realize what you’re getting into. I didn’t. When I walked into San Francisco in 1988, I mean AIDS was raging but I wasn’t really sure what I was getting into. I had no idea.
Steve: You just were looking for something you didn’t know how to fill.
Joseph: I thought I was, you know people say that I’m finding myself, I just thought I was going to look and find who I was, I found a lot more than that. I mean, you’re just gonna find all kinds of people in the gay world. The extremes are really, really, are really evident.
Steve: Spiritually what is the weapon that you have found is most effective in combating that demonic influence?
Joseph: I would say just staying close to our Lord, Jesus Christ, staying close to the sacraments, the Eucharist, confession, Our Lady, through the rosary, St. Joseph especially for men is just a strong devotion to St. Joseph, the terror of demons. If you have that, you’re gonna be okay. It sounds simple.
Steve: No, I mean, the things is that those are essentials, they are absolutely essentials, and I think the rosary in particular in terms of personal devotion, I mean the sacraments obviously provide a grace that nothing else can but in terms of the private devotions the rosary is the weapon that everybody needs.
Joseph: Yah, it’s just tradition, it’s just going back to tradition. It’s funny because I was raised in San Francisco in the 70’s, very liberal, whatever goes, you know. This was post-Vatican II and when I came back to the church in 1999 it’s strange, but, you know because I was raised a very liberal Catholic, but it’s like inherently it was just infused in me because it was like once you’ve been in the suburbs of hell you just kind of know like what the core is and you don’t want to go back to it. So when I came back to the Church, I just sort of, I didn’t want anything half-way, I didn’t want flaky Catholicism. I ended up going back to a very like sort of what some people would say is like a hard-line form of Catholicism but it’s the only thing that works.
Steve: You know something I saw you write about recently is your experiences coming out of that and trying to go to confession, and I think you said it was in the SSPX was the only place you actually found people who were willing to council you that, “yah, let’s”, not in a cruel way but hey, let’s reform your life and repent, and these are the things you can do.
Joseph: It wasn’t the only place but I had to go through so many priests that either told me that I had been born gay or that actually I should go back to the gay lifestyle, and this is the insanity of this.
Steve: That’s insane.
Joseph: And they knew I was sick, I mean I was literally dying. And, but they had just boughten into it so badly, and I just, I had gotten to the point where I was kind of like, maybe Catholicism is not the place for me, that I’m just gonna stay home and read the Bible and, which some people have done. But I did, and I ended up discovering the Tridentine Mass and I started going to a traditional priest, and I just, you know, I just found the truth there. That’s what I wanted.
Joseph: What’s that?
Steve: Is that still the mass that you primarily attend?
Joseph: No, I go to you know the Tridentine Mass, and I go to the Novus Ordo as well.
Steve: No, it’s just something I didn’t actually know about you, it’s interesting because the majority, not all of our audience is very attracted to that liturgy.
Joseph: I write about it in my book at length about the Tridentine Mass.
Steve: We are going to, just so you know, we are going to link to your website into the book and all that on the page for the podcast because I want people to be able to look into this stuff, and I need to read it too. I’ve been meaning to do it for a while. Let me ask you this…you mentioned this already. Why is pornography so significant in the role that it plays here, and I mean it’s, obviously this is not just a gay issue, pornography is affecting everybody—what is your take on that?
Joseph: That could take an hour, I’ll try and break it down, and I’ll try to break it down really quick. Um…you know pornography…because I’ve been involved with it as a viewer and also as a participant, I’ve kind of know both sides. As a viewer it preys, especially upon certain men, especially on boys again who are like feeling alienated or persecuted or lonely or whatever, it really becomes a refuge. Its become, you know I’ve seen it over and over again, it becomes a doorway into, literally into the demonic because, I mean what you are watching, especially with internet porn because—because I was involved with pornography but not internet pornography because I left the gay life selling porn in 1999, just as sort of the internet world was, it was really sort of gelling. So I don’t, and I don’t have experience with that whole sphere but from what I’ve learned is that pornography that is on the internet is extremely hard core, you know hard core S&M and bestiality and group sex, things that I never got exposed to.
Joseph: So that is gonna warp you seriously. I mean, you are just gonna think that that stuff is okay and this is why I’m seeing young men get into the gay lifestyle because—and I’m getting off of the pornography thing—but in the all-male world of the gay community you do not have the tempering influence of women. I mean there are things that I don’t care how kinky some girls can get, there are things that they are not going to do. Because I mean I used to frequent prostitutes, and I used to frequent, not frequent but I knew the girls that did you know straight porn. There were things that they just would not do.
Joseph: Literally, you can go into the gay world and you can find a number of men that are gonna do the most extreme acts, that you do see in pornography, and that’s a draw to some young men because, and it was to me, because I got into the gay world because I could live out this weird fantasy world that I had gotten into with pornography very quickly and very easily. I mean within ten minutes of walking into a gay bar, a gay club, or a gay bathhouse or whatever, it is just readily available because you do not have women there and…
Steve: And you’re saying that they just have an instinct that, okay there are boundaries?
Joseph: It’s just a hormonal difference between testosterone and estrogen. I mean I’m not a scientist but, I mean at one time…
Steve: That makes sense.
Joseph: I mean I was a bisexual at one time and I did date women, and I kind of gave up on bisexuality because it’s just women would not do the things that men would do, they just would not. I mean I don’t want to get into particulars.
Steve: Right, right.
Joseph: But they just wouldn’t do it.
Steve: No, I mean I’ve actually heard that elsewhere. I heard it recently, I don’t know if you are familiar with this gentleman who is becoming more and more well-know, Milo Yiannopoulos…
Joseph: Yes, I know who he is.
Steve: And he was saying, you know he’s a homosexual but he was saying that he wishes that he wasn’t. He’s a believing Catholic, although I don’t know how practicing he is because he advertises his promiscuity but in his vulnerable moments he will say things like, “I don’t want to be this way. If I could take a pill, I would, and I would rather have a family and a wife and children”, and he’s like, “actually, once a year I try it out with a women just to make sure I still don’t like it, and I don’t, I get bored.”
Steve: But I mean he’s very, very open about it but at the same time you can see that he can tell that this is not making him happy, in fact he says it.
Joseph: There is a pervasive restlessness in gay men, and you know I experienced it, and I’ve seen this particularly in studies recently. Because I saw this anecdotally when I was gay, where a lot of times you would have gay men, especially who are a little older you know maybe in their 30’s or 40’s, who would start to couple up and say, you know create a monogamous relationship. But within those relationships I saw some of these men contracting AIDS and actually dying because…and studies have been done recently that these so-called monogamous relationships are not really monogamous if they’re open relationships because there is always this restlessness within gay men, because it’s with two men it just doesn’t work. There’s not a cohesiveness there.
Steve: There’s something that doesn’t get satisfied, on a natural law level.
Joseph: Yah, it lacks. And um, tragically what you have now, and it’s complicated, but the majority of HIV cases in the gay community, over 60% are within steady relationships, yah, meaning the gay men are getting HIV more-so from their husband or boyfriend than from a stranger.
Steve: Do you think, um, you know this is, somebody mentioned to me recently, somebody who worked in the prolife movement for a long time that things like the Genocide Awareness Project that shows the reality of what happens in abortion is, while it’s jarring, it’s one of the few things that they have found is effective in changing the minds of people who otherwise wouldn’t consider just how bad abortion really is. And they said honestly, we need something similar to the extent that people could take it with the homosexual lifestyle. I mean you’ve talked of the physical damage that it does to bodies, the shortening of lifespan, the incidents of disease and all this stuff, but then I also wonder would it be affective? Is pornography sort of immunizing the straight population against the kinds of things that they might of otherwise found revolting, because they’re seeing it you know in straight porn?
Joseph: They have, there are studies that have shown that men who watch pornography regularly are you know more open to accepting of homosexuality on a social level, you know a cultural level. Because yah, it does have that affect. You know, as for your other point about maybe sort of shocking people or telling them, I would say that it would only work in terms of young people who haven’t entered the life. I think once you’ve made the decision that you’re gay and that your gonna go into the life, it’s very difficult to turn somebody around because like again. I went into gay in 1988, which was probably the worst time in history for gay men to go into the life, you couldn’t have picked a worse time, but I did it anyway because I just felt like it was the only place I belonged. I just felt like I had to go there. I mean part and parcel of that it was kind of a failure on the part of the church and it kind of takes me back to that massacre in Orlando because we had all these poor guys, I guess a few gals too, just congregating in a gay club. It’s just the only place they felt like they belonged and they just end up in these places. I mean I did too. It’s just, I don’t know, the church a lot of times has just failed us and we just end up going there because we don’t know anywhere else to go.
Steve: So let’s talk about that. I mean I’ve definitely seen you express frustration a number of times over the way the church is handling people who have same-sex attraction or actively living in that lifestyle. You know, what is the problem, in your opinion, with what’s going on with the church. Why and how is it failing these people?
Joseph: Hmm…I know, I don’t want to be politically correct but I don’t want to scandalize people.
Joseph: So, you know I think to a certain degree the child abuse sex scandal, which was mainly perpetrated by gay priests against boys, I think those priests have been pretty much weeded out.
Joseph: Just through court cases and um, just through the legal system. I think there are a number of priests who remain in the church who are if not gay actively homosexual are certainly sympathetic towards the gay cause, and I’m not just saying this because I believe it, I’m saying it because I know these men and I’ve talked to them and they’ve tried to counsel me. So oftentimes these priests, because they’re interested in the topic of homosexuality and they’re interested in “ministering” to the gay community, they are oftentimes given positions of power or given pastoral-ships at churches where there are large gay communities, and then you have this environment, this toxic environment…
Steve: That’s just feeding them…
Joseph: …in the parish where there is gay affirmation. Sometimes not going as far as like saying approving every sort of deviancy that you find in the gay community. But I mean, I was told by priests that okay, you know scale it back a little bit, you know go and look for someone and settle down with one guy. I mean that you see a lot of times, and I’m not saying it’s everywhere, I’m certainly not saying that every priest does that, but I’m saying that in certain parishes, usually in large cities, San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, where you have gay men in the parish and you have a gay-affirming priest it sets up an environment that is madness.
Steve: Oh yah, and I mean, I, from, listen from the priests that I know they have told me that it is still very much a problem. Some of them have been more or less driven out of the priesthood because they felt they were just surrounded by it.
Joseph: Oh no, oh that’s too bad.
Steve: Yah. I just had a conversation with somebody the other day about that.
Joseph: Oh, that’s too bad. Well, we need them. We don’t want them to leave.
Steve: I know, I know! But it can be very difficult for them because they feel trapped.
Joseph: Hey, hey, I know priests in the Bay Area who have really tried to take, really tried to take the church’s position on this issue and have found themselves persecuted.
Steve: Oh, I believe it.
Joseph: It’s just a world turned upside down.
Steve: I mean, it reaches every echelon of power within the church. One of the most well known situations that exist today, I don’t know if you are familiar with it, but the administrator of the papal household, Msgr. Battista Ricca has had a number of articles written about times he’s been caught with rent boys or…
Joseph: Oh dear.
Steve: …pornography in his suitcase, I mean, it’s to the point where this has been going on for decades and it’s not an unknown quantity and yet there he is overseeing the papal household at the Casa Santa Marta, so it’s, the acceptance goes all the way to the top, it seems.
Joseph: Yah, yah…I mean, on a personal level, it’s not that I don’t care what these people do, it’s between them and God. In what I do in a ministry, it makes things very difficult for me because when I have men that talk to me and you know are maybe actively thinking about the Catholic church, I have to be very cautious about what church and what priest I send them to.
Steve: Yes, absolutely.
Joseph: Because they, if they walk into their local parish, I have no idea because I did that. When I came back to the church, I just walked into a church. I didn’t know, you know, I just thought, well, and I got some crazy information.
Steve: This is common problem for everybody who is trying to evangelize right now. You don’t know what kind of failed catechesis that you’re sending people into. You don’t know what kind of liturgical abuse, and you know you add this layer to it as well, as something I hadn’t even thought about, but I, it’s crazy.
Joseph: It’s very dire too, because you, a priest could be sending somebody to their death in the gay world. It’s just not something to mess around with.
Steve: Yah. So let me ask you this. You know, what we’re talking about is becoming a bigger question with, with what happened in Orlando we’re seeing it, social media concentrates our ability to see sort of deviant opinions and bad opinions, and I was looking through Facebook last night for something and I came across a priest who had put the rainbow banner on his picture and was talking about how Hell probably doesn’t exist and all this kind of stuff, and of course he was expressing extreme solidarity with the community in Orlando and things like that, and it’s like people aren’t really hiding anymore. It’s made worse though because we have bishops—I don’t know if you’ve seen the bishop statements that have been coming out—but in particular…
Joseph: I read a few.
Steve: Yah, in particular one bishop you know basically saying that Catholics are persecuting gays, and you know that we are targeting gays and breeding contempt for them.
Joseph: Yes, I read that.
Steve: And someone pointed out to me today, could you imagine if a bishop expressed solidarity specifically toward any other group that’s exclusively defined by their moral behavior, thieves, murderers, whatever, I mean sodomy is obviously a sin, it’s not just a sin it’s a sin that cries out to heaven for vengeance, and it’s serious enough that like you said you are leading people to their deaths. But their active solidarity is not with people, human beings who are victims, it is with a community who identifies by their sin.
Joseph: This..hmmm, okay..yah, I understand what you are saying. I have a little different take.
Steve: Okay, I want to hear it.
Joseph: You know, I’m more critical of the hierarchy than I am of the poor sinner. This is why…because I’ve never been in the hierarchy, I was one of the poor sinners…you know when I went into gay, and there was a very good possibility that I could contract AIDS, and at that time forget it, you’re dead. But you know I didn’t want to die, I didn’t want to die, but I just felt like in gay that was the only place I belonged and those poor men, and I guess a few women, that walked into that gay club in Orlando, you know, they didn’t go in there wanting to die, and you know they don’t deserve to die, but in this culture it’s just that gay people believe that they have nowhere else to go, that they have to go into the gay community because this culture says, if you have same-sex attraction, automatically you are gay. So gay is where you belong. It’s unfortunate where the church should be, just an oasis of stability and peace and truth and honesty, and just understanding, it isn’t. It’s just conflicted and it’s confused. I just don’t blame those people because they just done, I don’t want to say that they just don’t know any better, but to a point they really don’t. Because I was one of them, because I think as a culture we have failed them and as a church we have failed them because we haven’t offered them anything. You know, when that priest told me, oh you’re gay, what was he offering me? He wasn’t offering me anything. You know, it’s the easy way out and for these bishops to blame the church, and I don’t like it when they start calling people gay and lesbian and LGBT and transgender, because this is just confirming the orientation, they shouldn’t try calling this that.
Joseph: Yah, they should be saying my brothers and sisters, you know, it’s just, it’s just…
Steve: And I think this makes the point I was trying to get at is, that it’s not just the, they should be making statements about you know, that these were victims of a crime and that this was a tragedy and all that, but they are making those statements of solidarity with the LGBT community, and that’s what I’m referring to, that language is exactly what you are talking about. It encourages that…
Joseph: Yah, that is a problem.
Steve: It’s like saying solidarity with the community of thieves, I mean, it’s, this is not something that you really want to express solidarity with, these people whether they are thieves or not don’t deserve to be gunned down. I mean that’s not the answer to that. So I guess…
Joseph: If I could, Steve, if I could run the church, you know what I would say, and this is what I say to these people, because when I go to the gay pride parade I will have gay-affirming Christians and Catholics come up to me and say, hey, you’re telling people that they can’t be gay or you’re telling this or you’re telling people they are sinners. I say, no, no, no…I say what I’m doing is I’m saying here, here are the facts. You make the choice. We are offering something different. That’s what the church needs to do to gay people, and say hey, you know we are offering something, you know, come and join us. Not, yah, not to get into this whole, because the whole LGBT thing is so politically fraught…
Steve: Right, right.
Joseph: Yah, the church really needs to stand apart from that, not, it needs to stand apart but also offering something different. And that’s what I don’t see, that’s what I don’t see.
Steve: So how do you, I mean how do you strike the balance, laity, clergy, bishops, whoever, you know when we mourn the tragedies of lost lives we still have to be careful not to give the appearance of condoning what they are doing and in fact expressing a concern for the good of their souls and for their conversion because as bad as it is to get shot, it’s a lot worse to go to Hell, right?! So, I mean there’s really not a nice way to say that and at the same time, that’s what love is, it’s saying I love you, and I don’t want to see you lose eternal happiness. How do you do that, how do you reach people in that way? I don’t know…without just coming across as a mean you know, jerk.
Joseph: I think you just have to present the truth and just say, you are not what you think you are. You know Pope Benedict XIV, when he was Cardinal Ratzinger made it very clear in a letter he wrote from the Congregation to the Doctrine of the Faith, that we shouldn’t reduce people to heterosexual and homosexual, you know that every person as he says, “problems and difficulties” but what the church provides is, you know an identity with God that you are a creature of God, and that you are His child, and that you are meant for eternal life. It sounds simple, doesn’t it.
Steve: Yah, it sounds wonderful.
Joseph: So I think when bishops just insert themselves into this whole LGBT milieu I think they’ve already made a mistake, just from the get-go.
Steve: Yah, they’re buying into this lie of this is who God made me to be.
Joseph: Yah, it’s just, it sounds basic, but it is. I’ve always said that the problem of homosexuality is a very basic problem. It’s not complicated, I think it’s been created into this sort of weird stuff that it just gets into all this stuff, transgenderism and identity and all these different things.
Steve: It just keeps bifurcating, it just keeps more and more and more, and there never seems to be enough classification.
Joseph: No, it never will, but it’s very, very simple, and it’s very basic because when you talk to these people that are involved, there is a wound from childhood that is just there and it never gets treated. It just lingers. It’s so simple.
Steve: Talk to me about your ministry. What is it you do and how is it received?
Joseph: Well, you know I started it, I initially and naively thought that you know sort of coming back to the church I would have something to add to sort of the discourse going on you know, to use the very liberal terms. You know I could enter into the dialogue about this issue within the church, but you know my voice has been rejected. So, I’m not in that dialogue. So no church, parish will have me as a speaker. So what I did is, I just literally walked from the parish church there in the Castro that said, no thank you, and I just walked literally two blocks to Castro Street, which is the center of the gay universe and I just started talking with the guys, and I just, that’s all I did. I just said, you know I brought my book and said, here if you’re interested, read my website, and check it out.
Steve: How do they take that? How do they receive it? Is it in ambivalence, hostility, is it a mix?
Joseph: It’s a mix. I mean most of them just sort of think I’m a kook, and that’s it, you know. There are a few who get really angry, not a lot. Some of them are just like sort of indifferent; well that’s what he is doing. But occasionally I do meet people who are genuinely interested and generally kind of at a loose end, like me like I used to be, and are just looking for a way out. And I have helped people get out of the life who just said…
Steve: So what do you tell them if they are looking for a way out?
Joseph: I just tell them, I just give them a simple message and it’s that you do not have to be gay. If you’re unhappy in the life, and I’m not dragging people off the floats at the gay pride parade that are dancing and saying “stop this”, you know, because that’s just pointless. But the people that are genuinely not happy in the life, and there’s a lot of them, there’s a lot of guys that just, but they don’t know what to do because again the church has just been reticent about offering anything. They just don’t know where to go so a lot of them just stay put and they just sort of try to, they just try to stick it out. But I just tell them that there is, and it’s kind of bizarre but it is kind of revelation for them, that somebody did get out of the life and there are a lot of other people that did because you know we’re not really given much of a platform. And it gives them hope that, yah, there’s something else for me other than gay.
Steve: Is it you who has observed, I’ve read this somewhere I think it’s you, who said that you found a lot of Catholic upbringings among these guys.
Joseph: Oh, oh, yes, I would say the majority of them were Catholic, yes. I would, gosh, I’m trying to think just going over my friends, yah most of them were raised Catholic, oh yah.
Steve: What do you think the connection is?
Joseph: (chuckles) Um, I just think after Vatican II things got so flaky and so strange in the church that it just, it sort of breed this relativism where, and I mean I was told this as a kid, where you know follow your conscience and just you know that will decide what is right and wrong for you, you know, so a lot of, I mean all of us did that and those of us who sort of had a gay inclination were kind of like, well, you know okay, let’s go this way. And, yah, I don’t know, that’s it. We were never given, I hate to beat a dead horse, but as kids we were never really given an alternative point of view, that perhaps gay wasn’t the way to go. I don’t know if that would have stopped a lot of us, but I mean it might have stopped a few of us.
Steve: So what do you think that a healthy and helpful pastoral care for people with same-sex attraction should look like?
Joseph: Well you know it’s different for different ages. For people that in the life, I mean, it does have to be more caring and more compassionate. I’m not saying hide the catechism like a lot of priests and prelates are saying, you know don’t talk about disordered, you know don’t talk about these things. You gotta talk about these things, it’s just what the church teaches. And you know, I really confronted those that they called “difficult passages” in the catechism right away, and I didn’t find them difficult.
Steve: Don’t they kind of, I mean they force you to confront them in a way, where as just this mealy mouth like “oh, whatever”, it’s not the same thing. You know, when you have somebody presenting an absolute truth to you, doesn’t that kind of force you to say, I need to figure out if this is right or wrong because one way or the other I’ve gotta deal with it.
Joseph: Yah, I mean usually gay guys that are leaving the life are usually not equivocating that much. Usually they want out. They want a good strong masculine manly priest to be a Father, you know even a bit to step in for the father they never had, you know to be forgiving but to be strong, and to be truthful. It’s unfortunate because you know I know these priests and I’ve talked to them, they just go the other direction and they just become too much like mommy, and it just becomes a lot about comforting and affirming and it just doesn’t work. That’s not what gay men need, you know, that is the opposite of what they need. It may be rocky at the beginning but eventually it’s gonna work out and I just stuck to those priests that were like that with me, that just, they just didn’t treat me like a gay guy, they just treated me like a man who just had been wounded and made all the wrong decisions, but just needed help.
Steve: And they challenged you, right? I mean…
Joseph: Oh gosh…
Steve: That’s what guys need.
Joseph: Are you kidding (laughter) yes. I mean the Father, the first time I went to confession, he just said, “Okay, Joe, this is what you gotta do”. You’re exactly right, Steve, men, we need to be given direction. You know, we don’t need a lot of handholding, we don’t need to necessarily talk things through a lot you know, because that, I hadn’t been to church or confession in 15 years. I had done everything under the sun in the gay world. And that confession, it probably took about 10-15 minutes because you know, I would not say 15 but 10, because the priest just said, “Hey, Joe, this is what you gotta do. This is what you gotta do”. And he gave me clear direction, and it was awesome. And he said where to be, you know come to this church, be at my Mass, be at the Latin Mass, you know be here, go to confession…and I just did it.
Steve: (chuckles) That’s awesome.
Joseph: (laughs a bit)
Steve: I mean seriously, thank God for that, because that’s grace in action right there.
Joseph: He did, he was just very, very clear about what I needed to do. He didn’t beat around the bush. God bless him.
Steve: Let me ask you this. So, on the flip side of this, we go back a couple of years and we have this statement from Pope Francis that has become infamous, the “who am I to judge” which was the shot heard around the world. I mean, and he landed on the cover of the Advocate, and he landed on the cover of who knows how many magazines as the gay-friendly pope with no hate written on his face, and all this stuff. But you know to the, it’s unclear how much he was willing to be co-opted by that but he didn’t do anything to correct it either. So what affect do you think that has had, since he hasn’t distanced himself from that statement, on people doing the work that you’re doing?
Joseph: I think to a certain group now…now I was offered a t-shirt at the last gay pride parade in San Francisco, and it had a picture of Pope Francis with you know “who am I to judge” on it, and I said thank you, no thank you. I mean, so I mean that certain message is in the gay community at large. Has it converted anybody over to Catholicism thinking that Catholicism’s become liberal? No, absolutely not. No, what it has is fed into a certain narrative, going back, Steve, where I was talking about these sort of toxic parishes, where you have gay affirmative…? It’s fed into that whole narrative. And I see it. Because I see the statements that they put out and I go to their meetings sometimes and their talks, and the narrative that they have is that the Church is changing. That the Church is just gonna reverse itself on all of these issues — gay marriage, all of it — this is what they honestly and earnestly believe. Because — and I’m not, again, I’m not blaming the guys in the pews — but this what they’ve been fed by…and you know what? When I came to the Church I could have moved into that direction, too, I don’t know. But just through the grace of God, and I met a good priest, I didn’t . But, um, you know that’s where it’s become a problem, is in these gay-friendly, gay-affirmative parishes, where all…where those sort of buzz words and things have…have caused a problem.
Steve: Do you think there’s more of that kind of thing happening maybe in more parishes now because people who were a little bit more hidden about it are now feeling empowered?
Joseph: Oh yes. Oh yes. Because I can tell you that when Cardinal Ratzinger was pope, uh, they hated him. Hate. Hate, Hate, Hate. …it was just…
Joseph: yes…it was very palpable. Because he…they’d hate him because he put that whole disorder thing into the, the Church lexicon. And, um, when Francis came in it was a different…you know, whether their new belief in him was founded on, you know, on fact or fiction…but, you know, they believe that the old mean, you know, bigoted pope was out, and, you know, a new, you know, fresh, forward one was in. So. But this is…this has wrought, and my point is this has wrought disunity in the Church.
Joseph: And it’s very sad, because you have gay men and women who don’t know what to do. And it’s very off-putting. I could tell you, I don’t know if I would have come back to the Church if I, when leaving gay, knew this bizarre, you know, miasma that was going on in the Church. Because it’s been very difficult to maneuver, and again, only through the grace of God have I been able to do it. But it’s very off-putting to people on the outside. It’s very difficult to overcome. Because I talk to these people in the gay community, and they don’t particularly like the Catholic Church for several reasons, and one of them is because it’s wildly inconsistent on this issue.
Steve: Yeah, and I mean it’s literally a case of, if you’re in one parish and you don’t like the homily or the counseling you’re getting, just go to the next one and you might get a completely different answer.
Joseph: Steve, let me tell you this. I will scandalize people. In San Francisco, you can literally walk from one parish where you have a dear and blessed priest who really is on-line with the Catholic teachings on homosexuality…you can walk over the hill to a parish where the priest will bless your same-sex marriage.
Joseph: That’s how insane it is, and that situation cannot continue.
Steve: Why is nothing done? I mean, I know, people think of Bishop Cordileone as a hero that I don’t think he has quite earned the badge of honor for yet, but I mean, there are bishops they have power, I assume that they have power. You know, maybe they’re hemmed in, I don’t know. Why does this not change?
Joseph: Again, I think it’s complicated. It goes back to what I was talking about where you have priests who are gay-affirmative for several reasons, end up in parishes where you have large gay communities and they just get settled into that ministry, and I think bishops are reticent, maybe fearful to step into that, to step into that politically…because it becomes politically charged…they’re reticent to step into that mess and it’s gonna take, ooph, it’s gonna take somebody with a lot of guts.
Steve: Yah, yah…and somebody who is not, not only not worried about the political implications but the financial ones, because frankly that’s really where a lot of that hold is.
Steve: I believe. Let me ask you this. So, with the Synods on the Family, we have had a number of theologians and clerics concerned about a sort of institutional Catholic deconstruction of marriage. And we also saw in the 2014 Synod that there was language in the midterm report about homosexuals having “unique gifts” to offer the church…
Joseph: …oh, I remember…
Steve: …and so on. Do you have thoughts on how these synods and Amoris Laetitsia afterwards are influencing the cultural and religious understanding of human sexuality? Because, frankly, I mean, the battle we are fighting right now for marriage, I see these things as all connected but I’d be curious to see what you think.
Joseph: Again, I would say in terms of the gay community…um because that’s the only thing I know…is within the gay community a large, I’d say the influence is negligible. Within those gay-friendly parishes, these you know confused men and women watch very keenly, they’re not stupid, very keenly what every pope-bishop-priest says, they latch onto it. If it’s gay-affirmative they throw it out there and it’s sad, it’s pathetic in a way because it affirms whatever delusions they have about their sexuality and their relationship with God and the Church, it affirms it. And then they use that as a way to…it sounds rather nefarious…but they use this as a way to recruit others into this movement which wants to, with it’s ultimate goal, is to change all of these teachings in the Church. They have done this in a meticulous way. I mean if you look at groups like New Ways Ministry, Dignity, um, I mean they have been able to co-opt to bishops and priests into this movement, that buy into this stuff. And consequently these men…you know for whatever reason…have been able to get into the hierarchy of the church, all the way up to the Vatican and influence this stuff…it’s just madness.
Steve: But I mean, you know we’ve seen indications from members of the gay community over the last few years that, that the whole push for gay marriage is at least in part an attempt to destroy opposite-sex, normal traditional marriage. Have you seen that sentiment? I mean we’ve seen some articles and things like that from leaders in that movement but I mean is that really even a thing, or…?
Steve: No, you don’t think so?
Joseph: No. You know what I think it is? I think the embrace…we don’t have enough time for this…I think the embrace of gay marriage by the gay community is a symptom of collapse. It’s a symptom of failure. Because when I got into gay, even in the 80’s, the last thing anybody wanted to talk about was gay marriage, it was all about sexual freedom, and you know throwing off these boudoir you know heterosexist, you know motions of marriage and monogamy, you know that’s now what we were about. We were coming out of the 60’s you know “flower power” generation where we wanted to sleep with who we wanted to, when we wanted to, you know nobody could tell us…you know we didn’t want to be like our parents…that’s why we went to gay. This bizarre sort of embracing abnormality and middle class values that you see in like Ellen Degeneres, Nate Berkus, and you know people like this is signaling that the gay experiment has failed. That essentially that they are retreating, you know to everything that they fought against and hated. I think it has to do with AIDS, which you know, no one has fully dealt with including the gay community. AIDS and just continuing ravages of HIV, gonorrhea and now syphilis and all these things in the gay community that nobody wants to talk about except the CDC…you know it’s just, it’s just wrecked havoc and trauma in gay men. They just at a certain age pull back and retreat from it. And the ultimate tragedy of it is that now you have the majority of the gay population being infected with HIV while in the committed relationship because these pseudo, you know “June and Ward Clever” relationships are, you know they’re not that, they’re open, they’re ambiguous, um, you know they’re susceptible to all these things about three-ways and all this stuff. And it’s just, it’s just collapsing, like I said.
Steve: That’s a fascinating take and the only, I’ve never heard that before.
Joseph: Is it?!
Steve: It makes sense, it actually does.
Joseph: I noticed it right away when I saw this stuff about gay marriage because like again, when I was gay it was not on the radar. I just thought, where is it coming from, um…
Steve: Interesting. So let me ask you this. Something that you eluded to earlier, and I wanted to come back to because I think it’s one of the more practical pieces of advice and honestly I kind of think you should write a guide (laughter) for priests and people who evangelize in this community so that they can have an idea of the approaches that work. But this is on that you and I have had personal conversations about, um which is that when someone that you love is living this life of toxic sexual disorientation, you have to let them go. And you talk about the parable of the prodigal son, but not in the way most people would think. You have an interesting take on that. Would you explain, you know the role of the father speaking to the son as he leaves?
Joseph: Yah, I just, yah, because I just get these tortured, tortured letters from parents of usually gay boys, and they just don’t know what to do. Because quickly, and I’ve seen this a thousand times, quickly a gay you know young man or woman will present an alternative, specifically to the parents, you know saying you accept me, all of it, you accept this or I’m gonna punish you. This goes back to the whole family dynamics, all this stuff goes on in the family, all of it’s all family-centered. Um…it doesn’t take place in society in some sort of vague, you know…it’s all family related. And most, and I would say tragically…and I get this from Catholic parents over and over and over again…most fold…I’m not a parent but I can understand that they don’t want to say goodbye to their kid because the kids will say, I’m not bothering with you. If I cannot come home with my boyfriend, or my girlfriend, or my husband, we are not…and I did that to my mom and dad…because when my dad said, “get out, don’t come with these freaky people”, I said, “you know, if my friends are not welcome here, neither am I”, and I said goodbye. So, um, you know, but my dad’s Italian and he could deal with that, he’s just tough, you know. So, parents just won’t do it, they just won’t do it. They just have to, because I said to make it easy…you know the prodigal father did not let his son carry on and bring the whores home. You know, he just said that if this is the life you want to get into, you need to go do it, here you go, I love you, bye-bye. And that’s, it sounds so harsh, but there’s just no other way because you enable, and I know families like this and I have experiences with them, and I try to counsel them but I have families where they just are enabling the children…it’s so sad. Because they have the kids home with the boyfriend and the girlfriend for Christmas and everybody puts on a smile, and…
Steve: And it’s passed as acceptance…
Joseph: And nobody says anything, and, it’s just like, you know…and somebody usually on the outside of that family, who everybody hates and is homophobic, you know comes to me and says I don’t know what to do. And I say it’s very tragic, and I hate to give you the bad news, but this boy or girl is never gonna leave the gay lifestyle because they don’t have any choice. Because everybody in the family is just on-board. So I mean they have nobody challenging them, why should they leave. I said the only reason they’ll leave is if they get AIDS, or something horrible happening, maybe not even then they’ll leave but they’re just not gonna walk out.
Steve: It’s, I mean, you’re right. This is why I wish people would talk about this. I wish we would hear this more often. People need to be equipped with an understanding that sometimes love doesn’t mean being someone who coddles another in their sin…actually it never means coddling someone in their sin.
Joseph: I don’t mean to beat up on mothers, but usually it’s the mothers that do that. The fathers…because I know a lot of these families and I talk with them…fathers a lot of times will just shut up. If they’re in the picture they just won’t say anything. They’ll sit in the chair and watch TV and you know, the son is there with the boyfriend and…but the mother will nurture and these are my two sons and all this ridiculousness. You know, so fathers need, and you know I talk about mothers and I’m gonna lay it on the father. Fathers can make a gay son and they can unmake a gay son, and they just gotta do it.
Steve: I mean, this goes to the crisis of manhood, I actually wrote an article about that today.
Joseph: Ooh yah, are kidding?
Steve: It’s a crisis of manhood in the family and in the church.
Joseph: Oh, are you kidding? That’s why I talked about the priests being manly and…you know that’s why I kind of, I initially kind of went to the SSPX because they were young priests, priests that were affirmed in their masculinity, and just you know, they were good guys, there were compassionate. But you know they just looked at me as another guy and they just said, you know shape up.
Steve: Yah, I mean I don’t see, you don’t have to have gone into the whole gay experience to be a guy who is in Gen-X. I mean I was looking at your bio, you’re eight years older than me. We’re all screwed up, we all don’t know how to be men. I mean, let’s just be honest, I don’t know how to be a man, I’ve got seven kids and I’m still trying to figure it out.
Joseph: Wow. Well, you know something.
Steve: I know something, but I mean I make more mistakes I think than I get things right, and I’m realizing it and I’m realizing I need to fix it but I often, I find myself, Joseph, looking at my boys going, I need to teach you how to be a man and I don’t know how to be one. I don’t know how to impart to you what it is that you need to know because here I am, I’ll be 40 next year and I haven’t figured it out.
Joseph: But you have humility and that’s a big part of being a man.
Steve: You think?
Joseph: Oh yah! You know, because the gay world worships this inflated fetishized caricature of masculinity and that’s what you see everywhere in the gay world but these sort of over-pumped steroid guys that they put on the floats and everything. You know, that’s not what manhood is like. Because then like the priest that brought me back into the church was a physically small guy, you know, he wasn’t a big guy and he wasn’t loud, and you know he wasn’t boastful but he just was affirmed and confirmed and secure in his masculinity. He could impart that to other people, not by so much what he did but I mean just by being. I kind of talked about that with the Latin Mass where there was just a beauty in that where men could just bring beauty into the world just through their actions. It wasn’t like a priest-centered Mass like you have in Novus Ordo, where it’s all about what the priest said and how he acted and how he smiled, and you know, his sermon or something. It was just the beauty of the Mass that this man could bring into the world, and it just got me thinking like totally different about what manhood was. And maybe it wasn’t so much about doing something but it was just about being…I don’t know if that makes sense.
Steve: No, it does, and actually it holds true everywhere I’ve been. I’ve been going to the Latin Mass for a dozen years now and I’ve been all over the place, and everywhere I go I notice the number of young men, attentive men, fathers, fathers with big families, fathers who know how to handle their children.
Joseph: Oh yeah.
Steve: It’s just a completely different experience than the old ladies in tennis shoes that you see at most parishes.
Joseph: That was my experience, because I came out of the Simon and Garfunkel Mass of the 1970’s, which just turned me off even as a kid. When I went back to the church in 1999, I just kind of found it was still there. There were no men there, there were just too many women on the altar with extraordinary ministers and lectors…it was just a church divorced of the masculinity. I mean even Jesus, I write about this too, was just so feminized. That’s not…
Steve: My friends and I would always joke that Jesus is a butterfly from the mountain, that’s what they would teach us, you know. (laughter)
Joseph: (laughter) But I mean, I went into gay you know looking for masculinity and didn’t find it. You find something you think is, masculinity. But when I went to the traditional Mass…and since we are on the whole Tridentine Mass…that’s what I found. I mean you talk about that in the pews, where you have like young guys with kids and all this stuff, and you have very masculine priests on the altar, again, not necessarily like they were butch and tough, but they were just grounded in the truth, and grounded in reality, and just embodied certainty in faith. You know, they weren’t equivocal, they weren’t wavering, they weren’t…it’s hard to explain. You know, they weren’t trying to make me feel good or whatever, or you know play into my insecurities or whatever. They could just see through stuff. I mean, you know like I said, gay is a simple thing. You know, they’ve got all these experts and LGBT stuff in the church right now. You don’t need it. It’s a simple thing. It’s somebody wounded and with a wounded man another man can just see it and point it out and just guide this guy back into the church, and into the faith, and into health. It’s just so easy, we don’t need all these experts. A lot of time they’re women and they’re religious sisters, they get into all this LGBT ministry, that’s what we don’t need. That’s not what gay men need.
Steve: That’s profound. It really is. It is.
Joseph: Thank you.
Steve: You know, it’s something we say a lot, is “save the liturgy, save the world”, these is something…and I just wrote about this this past week…I kind of think it was a grace that God gave to me to understand that there is something about the way we worship him gives us perspective on our place in the universe, our role, our duties, our obligations, you know where we stand before Him. And in any Mass that gives us a cause to worship ourselves or to focus unduly on how we feel about the Mass or the priests is looking at us or we’re looking at him and we’re having what appears psychologically to be a conversation, we lose sight of divine majesty and of our place, and of the nobility. And the nobility that is in the Old Mass is I think one of the things that really attracts men. There’s ceremony, there’s structure, you know it’s almost a military kind of a thing, there is just something about it that feels right…
Joseph: And you don’t hold hands.
Steve: No, you don’t hold hands. I don’t want to hold your hand.
Joseph: I don’t either.
Steve: I don’t want to hold anybody’s hand, don’t touch me I’m praying. Stop. I don’t want to hold my wife’s hand. I love her, I’ll hold her hand later but not now, we’re at Mass. Yah, people get so offended when you don’t want to do that. But it’s like, it’s not about you, it’s about God, I’m here for him.
Joseph: Yah, it was the church and the liturgy when I came back to the faith, and I knew nothing, it was just very inherently off-putting to me.
Steve: How did you find a Latin Mass in San Francisco in the 90’s, how did you do that?
Joseph: It was difficult. They weren’t around that much. I just walked out of a church and I just was kind of like, I’m not gonna do it anymore. I found out through the grapevine that there was a priest offering a Novus Ordo Mass in Latin, so I went to that. And I kind of thought this is cool. And then you know, back then…
Steve: I call that the gateway drug. That’s how I got started too.
Joseph: Yah, I mean, it was cool. And all of us Latin Mass people kind of hang out together. There was a lady there that you know, with the mantilla and the big Missal book…I had no idea what this stuff was even about…and she said that there is an FSSP, the Fraternity of St. Peter, in Sacramento. And I was like, ooph, ooph, I go that’s like an hour drive. But I just said, this is a matter of life and death for me, I don’t know what I’m gonna do, you know. So I just said I’m making the commitment and at that time the fraternity was in just a dumpy, excuse me, it just, a not nice neighborhood in kind of a rough area.
Steve: That’s usually where they end up sticking us. You basically need to go armed to Mass if you’re gonna survive the experience.
Joseph: It was close to that, it was rough. People clued me in and said, you know don’t leave stuff in the care, and blah, blah, blah. And I met the priest there and again he was a small short guy but I just knew he was a man and just a man of truth. He’s the priest who really helped me and I just hung around, I mean he knew my background through confession, he knew I was really struggling and he just let me hang around him a lot, you know, it’s sorrowful that priests are so bogged down with administration and they become like parish facilitators, you can’t get them for confession let alone spiritual direction. Because guys come to me and ask who can I get for spiritual…I just say, good luck, you’re just not gonna…the priest simply do not have the time.
Steve: Yah, I haven’t had spiritual direction in 20 years.
Joseph: But this priest, because all he was a priest, he just let me hang…it’s sort of bizarre if you think about it…but he just let me hang around him and he just, he just, he just you know, he was just like a father to me, and um, you could look at it like St. Joseph and the boy Jesus, he just, he just guided me and taught me and just took the time to sit with me. He had adoration and he just, he was with me, I was very blessed with that. He just modeled for me everything holy and manly and beautiful…he just did that for me when I needed somebody and, God bless him.
Steve: That is a fantastic man. I’m a little choked up at that one. That’s a…nothing breaks me down like seeing God’s grace in action, it’s just, it’s a very moving thing. So let me ask you this as we move to wrapping this up because I could talk to you all day but you probably have other things to do. So, you take a lot of heat for the positions that you hold, I know you do, I’ve seen it, I’ve seen you comment on it. You’re, especially this week where there is so much focus on this issue. And I’ve even seen some people make some very vicious comments to you about how, you know people who think the way you do and why this tragedy in Orlando happened.
Joseph: Oh, I get that all the time.
Steve: How do you handle these criticisms? Where do you find solace? Where do you draw your strength?
Joseph: Well first of all, I kind of don’t look at their comment as necessarily bad because I figure, I mean people who just think, like I said when I’m outreaching some people think I’m just kooky, you know, some people just sort of are indifferent and walk away, you know they don’t really care. I mean people who take the time to write something vicious down, it’s because I said something or I represent something that’s bothering them. So I always sort of look at it as an attack as a good sign, you know, because I just, the devil is at work here and he’s pulling and tugging at people, and they’re reacting viciously because that’s kind of the only way they know how to act back because they’re hurt, they’re wounded little boys…I don’t mean to be sarcastic or paternalistic or whatever, but they are just little boys that nobody loved and you know for whatever reason never felt love, and they just look at me and they are just attacking me because they think that I’m gonna take away the only semblance of peace and love that they have in their life. And you know, I don’t want to do that. I just want to offer them a different kind of love and peace, you know like the Holy Father said, something that’s eternal, that’s all I want to offer to you. So I don’t hate you and you know I’m not mad at you, or whatever, but just listen to me, you know, accept or reject it, that’s up to you. But don’t shut me down just because you don’t like it.
Steve: Are you safe? Do you get threats? People worry about you.
Joseph: Oh do they. Yah, I used to own my own business (laughter) you know because it’s kind of like what do you do after you were involved in porn and gay, you know so people ask…
Steve: The resume is a little dicey at that point.
Joseph: I opened a bible bookshop, so I did that for actually twelve years and really nobody knew who I was. And then you know I ended up on the Howard Stern Show and I wrote my book, and um, yah I mean for better or worse that made me known and people started coming in, because they could find me on the internet and they would come into my shop and it got dicey there, it wasn’t good, so I had to close and be secretive.
Steve: Well, thank God for the internet, that you can actually…
Joseph: Yah, people can call me or find me hopefully now because…yah it got weird.
Steve: I’m gonna encourage our listeners and readers to pray for you for the work that you’re doing.
Joseph: Oh, thank you.
Steve: Because, I mean this is you for the rest of your life, right? I mean this is as long as you can, this is your mission.
Joseph: Yah, I mean I’m gonna be at a gay pride, ah, this is the largest meeting of you know, LGBT whatever community in the world, in San Francisco they get over a million people which is larger than the population than the city.
Steve: I don’t know how you do it, you’re in the lion’s den all the time.
Joseph: I don’t know, it doesn’t bother me, I don’t know. I just go down there and I just see all the same stuff I used to do and, um, I mean I’m never fearful for my life, I mean what are they gonna do to me. But, I mean people get really nuts at me and mad. I’ve never had anybody hit me or…you know I’ve had people threaten me and stuff.
Joseph: But, I just, meah, I just don’t get into it with them, I don’t feed it. I say hey, God bless you.
Steve: You’re not confrontational, yah.
Joseph: Yah, I don’t do that. And I tell people to go with me if I get any brave souls. I have a hard time finding them. I just say hey, we’re not here to do apologetics and all this stuff. I don’t want to get into an argument with these people. I just say, hey, here’s an alternative, you know here’s my card, here’s some literature, dump it in the trash if you want, take it home. I usually say, hey, you know take it home, look it over, you know, read it at your leisure, e-mail me, contact me, tell me what you think…and that’s it.
Steve: Well, it’s I think an incredibly brave and much needed ministry that you’re involved in. Is there anything else that you want to share? How can people support your work?
Joseph: You know just pray for me, and pray for our brothers and sisters that are caught up in this lie. Pray for the church, that the church you know can just mirror those men that help me so much. We need brave, stout men of good hearts that just want to preach the truth to these people who are just so hungry for it. That’s what we need. I mean, if we don’t have that, what do we have? We have nothing? That’s what we need. The church just needs to raise up saintly men.
Steve: Joseph, thank you so much for your time.
Joseph: Oh you’re welcome.
Steve: I really appreciate it.
(Transcription by Martha Fiegen)