Tuesday, 18 June 2013

On Being Same Sex Attracted and Catholic

I remember, years ago, sitting, minding my own business, but able to overhear a conversation between two fellow Catholic, one male and one female. The female mentioned a guy who regularly attended the same Sunday mass as her to whom she was attracted and from whom she she had thought she was picking up a “vibe” indicating that the attraction was mutual. Over time, however, she thought she had dropped some pretty clear hints which he didn't seem to pick up on or at least he wasn't showing any interest. The one she was talking to replied “maybe he's a fag.” Her response was “he can't be a fag, he's Catholic.”

I'm a practising Catholic. I accept, to the extent I understand them, all the teachings of the Magisterium of the Church, including the currently very unpopular ones on human sexuality. I'm also attracted to people of both genders.
My intention here is not to debate the merits of the Church's teaching on these matters, I've done that in other forums and I'm sure I'll do so again. What I want to talk about here, however, is something different.

The other day, Catholic Apologist, Mark Shea, had a post at the National Catholic Register dealing with certain issues relating to same sex attracted Catholics. I think Shea's article is a good one and I'd recommend everyone read it. I also recommend that you read the discussion underneath in the comment thread. One question that a few people raised could be phrased like this: “Ok, being same sex attracted is not a sin, but why do same sex attracted Catholics need to make a point of identifying themselves.”
A number of good reasons were raised in answer to this question, I'd like to raise one more reason, we need, to a certain extent, to identify ourselves and make ourselves visible because of the people I mentioned in the first paragraph. Those people weren't of ill-will, when I made clear to them how offensive I found what they had to say, they were apologetic, sincerely as far as I could tell. But what they said stung, sending the message that same sex attracted people aren't practising Catholics, aren't part of the Church. I've heard this, and worse, from a lot of well meaning Catholics. Other same sex attracted people have even worse stories to tell.
I dislike the term “homophobia”, which, as has been pointed out by many before me, literally means fear of the same. I dislike even more the way in which the label “homophobic” is frequently applied to any person who defends the traditional Christian teaching on the immorality of homosexual acts. Having said all that, homophobia is real. Acts of bullying towards people who actually are or are perceived to be same sex attracted are real. Uncharitable speech and behaviour by people, including by Christians, towards same sex attracted people are real. These things are real and they do a lot of damage to our fellow human beings. They also bring disgrace upon the cause of Christ and get in the way of the preaching of the gospel.

I don't advocate same sex attracted Christians announcing our attractions on our t-shirts, but we do need to be willing to talk about it and to identify ourselves when appropriate because we need to bear witness to fellow Christians.

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