Editor’s note: This article comes to 1P5 via an anonymous Catholic, whose identity we are protecting at the author’s request.
In these confusing times, when so many voices are vying for attention and claiming to give answers to important questions, it can be difficult to hear the authentic voice of Catholic teaching on certain moral issues. This is especially true when it comes to the subject of homosexuality or same-sex attraction (SSA).
As a Catholic man living with SSA, I’d like to share both my experiences and my perspective on this divisive issue.
I grew up in a small community in Great Britain, born into a family of immigrants. Both of my parents were lapsed Catholics, and I would not start practicing the Faith until I was in my teens.
My childhood was marked by a number of painful events that I personally believe seriously contributed to the development of my SSA. My home life was often fraught with tension. There were frequent arguments over money, and on a number of occasions, it turned violent.
My father was a hardworking man, holding down two jobs for many years. Sadly, he was too busy or tired to spend time with me. I don’t remember my father ever hugging me as a child. It was left to my mother to give affection or deal out discipline. My father was simply unavailable, and I never formed any kind of bond with him.
On top of all of this, going to school was torturous for me due to unrelenting bullying, chiefly at the hands of other boys. I was punched, kicked, tripped up, called names, and spat upon. I had needles stuck into me and even had my nose smashed on the side of a sink in the boys’ toilets. At 12 years old, I was sexually assaulted by a man in his early 20s. He worked as a waiter in a restaurant that I used to frequent with my parents.
The bullying finally stopped when I went to university aged 18. Suffice to say, by that time, I was a very damaged young man. I had been experiencing SSA since the age of 14 and had developed OCD and depression by the age of 17. I also had a serious problem with masturbation.
In all of this, my faith had become my safe haven. I never got into the gay scene precisely because the teachings of the Church on homosexuality made sense to me, despite my personal struggles. Whilst at university, I found myself attracted to a guy who lived in the same student halls of residence. But he was heterosexual. It was then that I had my first realisation about my SSA: I was never personally attracted to men who had SSA. My attraction gravitated toward men in whom I sensed a healthy masculine identity. I have experienced the same thing over and over again throughout the years. Deep inside, I was drawn to men because I lacked a genuine connection with them. I had never experienced friendship with men. I had never felt welcomed or affirmed by them as one of them. I always felt that I was on the outside looking into a world from which I was excluded.
After university, I decided to enter seminary. I can honestly say that I really wanted to serve God as a priest. I know that might seem surprising to many, given the serious sexual scandals that have plagued the Church at the hands of homosexual predator priests. I, however, really wanted to be a good person and serve God as His priest.
While in the seminary, I became aware that there were other men who also had SSA. I approached the seminary staff asking for therapy for my SSA, but I was told that it was not a good idea and would not be beneficial in any meaningful way.
I left seminary. I was never ordained, and now I can honestly thank God for that. In my opinion, men with deep-seated SSA have no place in the seminary or the priesthood. Such SSA brings too many issues that complicate life as a priest.
After seminary, God led me to an inspiring man called James Parker. He had his own amazing story of how God had freed him from the gay lifestyle. We became good friends, and he helped me see more deeply into the root causes and wounds that had brought about my SSA. He has supported me in so many ways that I can’t explain here. It was the first time that a man had shown me genuine brotherly affection, love, concern, and affirmation. James has helped many other people and still continues his outreach to people afflicted by homosexuality and gender confusion today.
In 2015, I began attending the SSPX for Mass and Confession. I cannot put into words the transformation that this has brought into my life. Until that point, I had had a severe problem with internet gay porn and masturbation. I had tried everything (or so I thought) to rid myself of it all, and I often fell into despair over my issues. In addition to frequenting the SSPX chapel, I also took up praying the whole rosary (15 decades) every day. From then on, the porn and the masturbation stopped. I felt that my life had become anchored like the ship in St. John Bosco’s vision. I had become anchored to the pillar of the Sacrifice of the Mass and to the pillar of the Immaculate (in her rosary).
The priests of the SSPX have been the most supportive priests I have ever come across. For a group of priests so maligned, I can only say, with my hand on my heart, that they have shown me nothing but compassion and concern. They have supported me in my pursuit of freedom and chastity, all the while never condemning, judging, or rejecting me for the attractions I have. They teach the doctrine of the Church with a profound charity, and I am deeply grateful that Our Lord led me to them.
Four years of graces have brought me to the point where I am today. I see so much confusion in the Church and the world. I see bishops and priests who were ordained to teach the doctrine of the Church, and to be shepherds to people like myself, now leading people into error.
Trying to build bridges that do not lead people out of their slavery to sin is not compassion. It is the cruelest thing a shepherd can do. We need our shepherds to teach the truth — yes, with kindness and compassion, but also with complete clarity. Encouraging people within the so-called “LGBT community” to repent is truly an act of Christian charity. It offers them a way out of the suffering that the homosexual, gender-confused lifestyle so often brings.
People with SSA carry a heavy cross. I would like to urge all bishops and priests to reach out to them in truth and love. I ask them, as well as the laity, to welcome those with SSA and encourage us to become saints. Extend to us the hand of mercy by lifting us out of loneliness and sin. Be true shepherds, and protect the sheep from all forms of error. Feed and nourish us with the teachings of the Church. I know from personal experience, as well as from friends, that the traditional teachings of the Catholic Church on sex and sexuality have saved many people from suffering and even death. Our Lord was right when He said, “The truth shall make you free” (Jn. 8:32).
I also appeal to other men. Please don’t be afraid of reaching out to us in friendship and brotherhood. Many of us have experienced suffering at the hands of other men. Your genuine friendship can bring much needed healing into our lives.
I ask all Catholics to speak out against the cruel bans being imposed on therapy for those with unwanted SSA. Many of us, myself included, have suffered severe and horrific abuse. Why would anyone wish to deny a person access to healing and wholesomeness? I believe that many who embrace the LGBTQ ideology feel threatened by the idea of therapy. Yet this is not a call for mandatory therapy for everyone who is same sex–attracted. It is a plea for freedom. Let those who personally desire therapy have that choice. Such a compassionate stance will allow those people to resolve a number of painful issues. Surely, a society where people can freely seek healing is better for everybody.
Some people with SSA manage to settle down in holy matrimony and establish a family, but others will carry their cross until death. I have met a number of inspiring Catholic witnesses to God’s mercy and grace in marriage, but many remain single for the rest of their lives. Many feel incapable of entering into marriage. I believe that God is calling them (and me) to belong completely to Him while remaining in the world. I think it would be beneficial to the Church if this path were explored more. A single chaste life of prayer and service in the midst of the world is a great source of grace for the whole Church.
Celibacy is, in my opinion, not as appreciated in today’s Church as in the past. It is portrayed as something cold, hard, unfeeling, detached — even as a cause of abuse. My experiences tell me a completely different story. For me, chaste celibacy is like a fireplace on a cold winter’s night. It gives light, warmth, comfort, and protection. Undoubtedly, this is a treasure that we need in the darkness of our times, and we shouldn’t be so hasty to dismiss it. It has served the Church well throughout her history, and it has been the path to holiness for many saints. People with SSA are called to that same holiness.
Finally, in the midst of the spiritual war that rages around us, Jesus is calling us to His Sacred Heart. The bridge that many are seeking has already been paid for with His Precious Blood. That bridge is made out of the sacraments, and it leads souls from sin to grace, from pain to joy, from slavery to freedom, and from death to life. It is that bridge, given to us by Christ 2,000 years ago, that we must cross. No other bridge will do.