Gay Celibacy, Step One

“Your kisses are worth more than that!” I could see a sort of desperation in her, a painful need to have these words break into my stony surface. She had put her hand on my arm as she said it, maybe hoping that through physical touch, she might also be able to reach something spiritually.

Her comment came in response to a joke I’d made about making out with strangers that weekend. I could’ve balked at her response. A part of me wanted to laugh coldly in her face, but I didn’t. She seemed so sincere. Continue reading “Gay Celibacy, Step One”

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Gay Catholic Ministry: Contact Your Diocese

Here’s the issue with LGBT ministry in the Church: people like to ignore it as much as possible. And they do this with some success, until…

  • a family member comes out after attempting suicide,
  • or they decide to fire a gay person working for the Church,
  • or they come to terms with their own (non-straight) sexuality.

But because they’ve ignored the issue, they’re totally unequipped to address it in their lives and churches. Continue reading “Gay Catholic Ministry: Contact Your Diocese”

Why Catholics Should See ‘Call Me by Your Name’

“A story, as Borges has shown, can be a series of clues but not a solution, an enfolding of a mystery instead of a revelation. It can contain the images without the attached discursive morality.” -Charles Baxter

Spoiler alert!

Overall, the film Call Me by Your Name has received immense praise. The film portrays a summer romance between a seventeen year old boy and a twenty-four year old graduate student studying under the boy’s father. It has been considered an “erotic triumph” and one of the best movies of the year.

But it has also been criticized. Critics have largely been religious conservatives characterizing the relationship as pedophilic or (more accurately) paederastic, though they are joined by at least one prominent secular reviewer who has concerns about power and manipulation related to age difference. I won’t here take up these age issues, other than to say that they exist and should be considered carefully. But I would like to point out one mistake made by critics. What many critics fail to grasp is that the film does not unilaterally praise the relationship, even if it depicts many beautiful and tender moments. Even cautionary tales can have moments of beauty. Like real-life young love, the film’s central relationship exists in tensions, and results in pain and the loss of bliss. Continue reading “Why Catholics Should See ‘Call Me by Your Name’”

Being Celibate, Christian and Gay…

Some bits of an online discussion.

Earlier this month, Patrick Gothman published a piece in Medium on “What It’s Like to be Celibate, Christian, and Gay.” He writes about his attempts to live up the Catholic Church’s teachings while not hating himself, trying to contribute to the life of the Church while hiding his sexuality from his community, and how he ultimately couldn’t reconcile his Church’s teachings and his sexuality. He concludes:

“We are not so incapable of humanity that if we fall in love we must commit some herculean act of charity to convince God not to abandon us forever. To know us is to realize this can’t be true. To read the Gospels is to know this isn’t true. Some may choose celibacy if they feel called. But to demand it of us, even if you believe it is the most compassionate, Scriptural thing you can do, is to ignore the reality of our lives played out before you. We are your sons and daughters, your friends and neighbors, your pew companions whose hands you shake and whose personal lives you discreetly avoid. But to ignore us is to lose us. One way or another.”

I was involved in a discussion with Catholic young adults about this piece. After some discussion, I shared: Continue reading “Being Celibate, Christian and Gay…”

Do we want gay Catholics to be chaste?

In my first post, I discussed two approaches to sexuality. The first approach, the “avoidant approach,” focuses on how to avoid concupiscence. It sets this avoidance as the grounding point for responding to human sexuality. The second approach, the “integrative approach,” focuses on bringing together one’s sexuality so that it can be lived out fully. While many Catholics promote the former, the catechism’s presentation of chastity adopts the latter. Continue reading “Do we want gay Catholics to be chaste?”

Is the catechism homophobic? Depends on who’s reading it

In a recent interview, Father James Martin voiced a common concern over the catechism’s language on homosexuality. He said:

“I’m no theologian, but I would say that some of the language used in the catechism on that topic needs to be updated, given what we know now about homosexuality. Earlier, for example, the catechism says that the homosexual orientation is itself ‘objectively disordered.’ But, as I say in the book, saying that one of the deepest parts of a person — the part that gives and receives love — is disordered is needlessly hurtful. A few weeks ago, I met an Italian theologian who suggested the phrase ‘differently ordered’ might convey that idea more pastorally.”

I would be open to changing (or “updating,” as Fr. Martin has put it) the catechism’s language on homosexuality. But, contrary to Fr. Martin’s commentary, not because I believe the language is incorrect or out of touch with reality, but because almost no one uses or understands this language in its proper context. The language is not wrong. It’s misunderstood. And this leads to some of the worst pastoral approaches to the issue, from both the right and the left. Continue reading “Is the catechism homophobic? Depends on who’s reading it”

Summary: The Friend chapter 4, The Body of the Friend (part two)

This chapter summary is part of my reading summaries series. Click here for more information on the series. Click here fore more chapter summaries from The Friend.

Letter

Sixteenth century humanists may appear to “put aside such bodily gestures with disdain,” but Bray argues that “one need only lift a corner of its rhetoric to see how much it still drew on them and their continuing vitality.” This is illustrated in the paired portraits of Peter Gilles and Erasmus, which the two sent to Thomas More in 1517. In them, Erasmus looks up while composing his Paraphrase of St. Paul’s Epistle to the Romans, towards the book to which Gilles is gesturing, More’s Utopia. “The book projects beyond the frame of the picture, and the gesture draws the unseen observer, More himself, into the intimacy of these two friends seated in Erasmus’s study.” Continue reading “Summary: The Friend chapter 4, The Body of the Friend (part two)”

Video: Gay and Catholic

In October, I gave a talk at the University of Notre Dame on being gay and Catholic. You can watch the video below:

What’s Next for Love and Marriage?

The following column was published in The Observer on Thursday, December 11, 2014.

The first dozen times I came out I cried. For many of my friends, it was the first time they had seen me cry. Ever. A high school friend once told me that I had two emotions: happy, and more happy. She was wrong. I felt a lot of things, but I had to hide them.  Continue reading “What’s Next for Love and Marriage?”