Lessons Learned from a Catholic with Same Sex Attraction

The following is a guest post from my friend Liam. 

Hindsight is 20/20. Let me explain. Growing up, I pictured I would one day live a perfect life: white man, beautiful wife, great kids, and a big house. Like many of our childhood dreams, I realized that’s not exactly going to happen. It doesn’t really help that I’m tan-skinned, gay, and my desired career as a high school history teacher wouldn’t quite pay the bills. Like I said, hindsight is 20/20. Getting to the point I made that probably stood out to you: yes, I’m an 18 year old gay dude writing on my friend’s Catholic blog. I guess you’re wondering how I got here; it’s okay, I sometimes question my sanity, too. Going back to that idea again: hindsight is 20/20. When I was a kid, I never knew what gay was. Besides “don we now our gay apparel”, I had never heard the word in my life. When I did come to the realization that I was gay (OHHH that explains the unnamed attraction I felt towards Jesse McCartney and that guy from Phil of the Future—there’s that darned hindsight), I was totally lost. I had allowed society to shape my mind as a child into not knowing about and then not accepting what it is to be gay. I had no guidance, and so I turned to society again…big mistake.

This time I turned to a different sector of society—one that said, rightfully, that it’s okay to be gay. Great. It is okay to be gay, because it’s not a choice. It’s a cross to bear, just like there are any number of other crosses that people must bear. (It’s also a blessing, but that comes later.) But it didn’t stop there. I fell into the trap that said it is okay to be gay and to make that one small part of me define my entire life. I’m blessed because I had an amazing support base in the form of my loving family and friends. But they really didn’t understand how being gay differs from being straight, especially when it comes to dating. This is where things got ugly. Considering such a small percentage of the population actually is gay, finding a significant other is more like selling yourself than anything else. Grindr, Jack’d, 321, chatzone, I had them all. I always had good intentions when using these tools: I wanted a boyfriend. I wasn’t looking for sex. I was going to save myself for the one I loved! I wanted what everyone else had around me. I wanted to be happy like them. What I didn’t realize at that point is that I was looking for love in all the wrong places. (Again, hindsight is 20/20.)

The more I thought this way, the less I relied on my relationship with God to make me happy. I felt empty. When I realized I couldn’t reach people on these social media outlets with talks of love and romance, I allowed the conversations to be turned into sexual ones. That got their attention. I began making promises, and then I began to fulfill those promises. Albert Einstein (he was a pretty smart guy) said the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. With every different guy, I believed that things would be different. If I gave him what he wanted, he would magically fall in love with me. Our relationship would be founded in lust but it would magically become something holy. But you can’t expect sin to beget virtue; whether gay, straight, or bi. Sin begets sin. And with sin comes loneliness, feelings of worthlessness, depression, and even thoughts of suicide. (Now, doesn’t this sound like the side effects for a medication commercial?)

I started fulfilling these promises when I was 17. A year has passed. In one year, I destroyed my relationship with God, family members, and friends—all because I was empty and angry that everyone else wasn’t suffering along with me. I lost so much faith in myself that I didn’t even realize just how low I had sunk until I was awakened. <Enter Chris.> This happened at a retreat about the Holy Spirit. To keep a long story short, it saved my life. I thank God that Chris told me to sign up. Over this retreat I realized that God sees more of my own worth than I do. God trusts me. He loves and adores me and even filled me with His Holy Spirit. I felt my heart on fire, I cried, I even laughed for joy. I was so amazed that God would grace me, a sinner, with such an incredible experience.

When we came back from the retreat, I came out to Chris. And what he did in response amazed me: he prayed for me. He didn’t “pray the gay away” or ask God that in the future I would like women and get married. He prayed for me because he knew I was hurting and because he knew I needed a change in my life. He didn’t pray because I was gay and committing sins, but simply because I was committing sins. He was the first friend that I had come across that removed the gay label and didn’t support me simply because I was gay and confused but because I was human and confused. I don’t think he will really ever understand the impact that he is having on my life, even as he reads this over before he posts it to his blog.

So what’s the point of all this? Why do people (ESPECIALLY young gay people) need to hear my testimony? (Yes—it is because I’m very interesting BUT besides that…) I want people to read this because I want them to know an alternative to what society tells them that they have to do. Gay or straight—you don’t have to advertise yourselves on social media outlets to gain recognition. Especially in the “gay world”, you see that people-shopping is a common thing. Don’t make the same mistakes that I did. Believe me when I tell you that hindsight IS, you guessed it, 20/20. Hear it from someone who went through hell and came out (no pun intended) on the other side scarred but not broken. The path to self-destruction is lined with glittery promises of love and commitment that simply will not come true on places like Grindr. You may be curious—I get it! I really do. But trust me when I tell you that acting on that curiosity killed the metaphorical cat, along with its self-esteem, moral compass, and its friendships.

But then what?? Am I supposed to live a life of chastity? No sex? It’s not fair! Straight people can get married and have sex! Woah… hold up there. We are all called to chastity, even married people. Sorry to break it to you straight folk, but you’re not going to have it easy, either. There are going to be times when you will be tempted, even in a married state. We are called to chastity because God knows how we humans work. When we live a life of promiscuity, we become addicted whether we like it or not. This is because we feed off of these destructive relationships for our happiness. But it simply is not true happiness. Every time we give into desires of the flesh we get our momentary fix, but end up craving more and more like a heroin addict. It’s not the sex we crave—but the illusion of happiness and the false sense of security.

Still, I understand the arguments made for two gay people who are in love. It confuses me sometimes, too. It just doesn’t seem fair that two straight people have the option to live their lives in comfort when we gays don’t. To counter that, however, is the fact that, like I said, straight people don’t have it easy and don’t live in perpetual comfort, either! Marriage is difficult, as is any other state it life. Also, I was recently told by my friend (another missionary at my school), in a totally unrelated conversation, that we are not made for comfort. That one short phrase put so many things into perspective for me. Life is messy. We are dealt cards that seem unfair and burdens that we can barely carry. But we can carry them. And we will carry them. God would never give us a cross that we cannot bear. This becomes clear when we humble ourselves and simply realize that as our Creator, God knows us better than we do. When I came to this realization over the retreat, I surrendered: not to the wounds on my heart from people who left when they said they wouldn’t, not to the doubts in my head that said I could never become anything beautiful, but to the Will of God. My heart gets light as a feather even thinking about this. I feel so free now that I have removed the burden of virtually selling myself to people who just don’t care and never will. God has worked in me in so many incredible ways in the time since the retreat. It’s not because I’m now miraculously healed of “the gay” or because I am no longer tempted, but because I placed my trust 120 bajillion percent in God. God’s Door is always open; it’s up to us to keep ours open as well.

So what am I to do now, then? Should I pursue a life with another man or one dedicated God and chastity? The answer is that I shouldn’t be pursuing anything alone. Each one of us is called to discern what God wants us to do. God would not put us in a place where He knows we would not be happy. It’s simply a matter of trusting God. For now, I am taking things one day at a time. I am focusing on prayer and giving control to God, Who knows me better than I know myself. By living a chaste life at this moment (as all people are called to, not just gays) and opening my heart to whatever God has to offer, I know I will end up happy—even if God puts me on a very unexpected path. So please trust me when I tell you from experience, gay or straight, now is the time to surrender and trust. Everything else has a way of falling into place.

Let me leave you with this: you are beautiful and you deserve so much better than a life of aimless promiscuity and heartbreak. If you are gay, God made you that way because you have a specific role to fulfill in the Divine Plan—a role that God Himself trusts you with. He trusts you. It is when I realized this that I was able to overcome my past and become chaste (as we are ALL called to be—gay or straight, for the reasons explained above). It was at that moment that I realized that I could turn the shame of what I did into knowledge so others could learn from my mistakes. It was at that moment that I realized that informing people, especially my fellow young gay people, was the path I was to take next. It was at that moment that I realized that being gay is not my entire identity, but just a fraction of the person God made me to me. It was at that moment that I realized that being gay is not only a cross, but a blessing.

Growing up, I pictured I would one day live a perfect life—that life may not exist, but by God, I’m sure as heck going to make the best of the beautiful one that I do have.

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29 thoughts on “Lessons Learned from a Catholic with Same Sex Attraction

  1. “straight people don’t have it easy and don’t live in perpetual comfort, either!”

    This is not a legal justification for keeping Gays inferior under the law.

    • How in the world could you read such a heartfelt, sincere story and take away such a shallow conclusion? Please reread the story and really try to understand the point this young man is trying to make.

      • I can take away such a conclusion because it’s true. And I do understand the “point.” The “point” is not where my issue lies.

    • Gays have the same rights as straight people. A gay man can marry a woman if he chooses, just like me (a straight man) can also marry a woman. That’s by definition, equal rights.

      • Hello there Liam. I am glad you are seeking truth and trying to show God in how you live. I have many questions but just will ask one at this moment. Do you believe that there is no intimate relationship between two people of the same gender that can demonstrate principles of God, christianity, catholicism and be a light to the world?

      • Thank you so much for your question:) I understand the struggle that arises here. It is true that two homosexual persons can live and love together while leading a good life HOWEVER they are not living a Christian life due to the simple fact that they would be living apart from God’s commands. Granted, they could go to Mass all the time and teach their hypothetical children Christian values but being Christian does not only involve going to Mass, it involves living a life in accordance to God’s will. Furthermore, two gay people can love each other, but not with the love of God. In an ideal relationship, Christ is at the center. This cannot be the case in gay relationships because it is against the Lord’s will that these two people are together. The best piece of advice I can give is to trust in God’s plan, He knows us better than we know ourselves. Pray about your future frequently and ask for Mary’s intercession but trust that God made you the way you are for a reason and that you’re destined for greatness. It is far better to place your trust in God than in your own plans and He promised us that by letting Him lead the way, our lives will be fulfilling and happy despite the struggles we will all (gay or straight) undoubtedly face. God bless!:) – Liam

    • If you want to talk secular law, explain to me why the government should subsidize infertile unions of any variety.

      That being said, your comment has no place here. Please leave your drama at the door.

  2. Thanks for your testimony Liam. I have just posted a quote by Pope Benedict which states, ” The world offers you comfort, but you were not made for comfort, you were made for greatness.” I think this ties in really well with what you’ve heard on your your journey thus far?
    I think the point you make regarding chastity is a very important one. Chastity in any state in life. Everything our society offers is accommodating, laws are inclusive (which is a really good thing) relative to everyone’s state in life, all consuming and so accepting. However, it so does not make for an easier life either.
    I also appreciate that we are NOT defined by our sexuality alone. We are more than our sexuality. And yes, there is a difference between love and lust.

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  4. Thank you for your amazing witness! It is powerful to read how God is working in your life. You are indeed beautifully maded!

  5. Just wanted to thank you for your message. I too am SSA and Catholic.I run a blog over at beatushomo.blogspot.com. It is dedicated to this issue (with a bit of a larger emphasis on Catholic philosophy). Come to join the conversation if it interests you. And all the best to you, friend.

  6. You have discovered the beauty of the cross. Blessed are you! Pray for me, that I may bear my crosses with as much faith and trust as you do.

  7. I’m confused, since I am gay should I abstain from sexual relations? This question has haunted me for a few years now. I’m 23 and hope to find someone to settle down with. Should I just accept the fact that that isn’t God,s plan???

    • I’m not gay, but I know of a group in the Church that ministers to gays called “Courage.” You might find answers and information of interest from them, and they’ve got a website that might help you with that along with info about where to find a local chapter.

      I know I’ve not addressed your question directly, nor am I someone you were asking, but I hope I’ve helped anyway.

      God Bless you, Steven, and thank you for reading this.
      Take care.
      -Derrick
      “All will be well in the end. If it’s not well, it’s not the end.” – A quote I like that I came across elsewhere

    • Steven this is a response from Liam (who doesn’t have a wordpress account.. yet):
      Hey Steven, thanks for commenting! I understand what you are feeling. Even now, the thought of settling down with someone and starting a long and happy life together is very attractive to me. It was something that I would be looking for too had I not realized something. That something is that we should not be looking for anyone or anything except for God. All TRUE happiness and satisfaction comes from Him and Him alone. This goes for straight people, too. We cannot expect to be truly happy by seeking happiness in the things of this world, even in other people. Only relationships/friendships/acquaintances—anything! that are built through God will be lasting and holy ones. Furthermore, you seem to be a religious person and that is wonderful; bridges are always needed between Catholics and gays, since much of the LGBTQ community tends to distance itself from the Church. You were blessed with this cross you carry because through it, you are capable of offering your time and energy to instruct young gay Catholics such as ourselves with the Truth. You can use your experiences to help those who need to hear your story and, trust me, writing down your own testimony will help you as well. Of course, the final decision of what you are to do with your life is between you and God. For now, I suggest you let Jesus take control. Pray about your struggle and pray about it often. Let God know that you are willing to do whatever He asks of you with your life. And just know that wherever He puts you, you will be happy because He put you there and He would never not take care of those who offer their lives to Him. Discernment is not an easy process for anyone. So, I also suggest you surround yourself with support in the form of a friendly priest who will meet with you once every one or two weeks. Joining a Bible study and getting involved with your parish in any number of other ways is also beneficial. (After all, “sometimes, the best way to solve your own problems is to help someone else”)Frequently receiving Communion and going to Confession are great ways to build up your spiritual strength against temptation while you take this time to discern. Many men and women who are discerning also go on a dating fast where they take time to focus on what God wants them to do and not on dating. This is also a very good option for you and I. Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, build up your relationship with Mary. Her entire mission right now is to get Her children to Heaven. Her focus is you. Pray the Hail Mary often throughout the day and at times of temptation but also just hold conversations with Her—after all, it’s important to call your Mother. God bless you Steven and anyone else who reads this seeking answers. I’ll leave you all with this powerful prayer I learned at my retreat. Pray it and put your trust in God and you will see just how amazingly God can work in your lives: “Jesus, I can’t, You can, and You promised”.

  8. Thank you for sharing this.

    What this post picks up on is what straight people do need to hear (because I suspect the fact that they don’t hear it often is part of where “praying the gay away” and whatnot comes from): chastity applies to everyone, regardless of their state in life, but in a way that is appropriate to their state in life. You can have “saved yourself for marriage.” But disrespecting the dignity of your spouse with pornography and contraception in marriage is gravely sinful, and having a wedding ring on your finger and having a “church wedding” does not make it okay (lust in marriage is also deceitful, because it essentially pulls a lot of crap from under the “respectable” cover of marriage, as if marriage were primarily about suburban bourgeois respectability, anyway). John Paul II taught that lust in marriage is still lust, and it’s still sinful. Chastity is required in marriage so that eros is ordered to and by agape: Catholics speak about Caritas– love is not an emotion, but willing the good of the other as other. Sexual desire is a good thing. But disordered sexual desire– in anyone at all– is not. Therefore, it has to be more fully integrated into one’s person. Benedict XVI writes so beautifully about this in (I think?) “Deus Caritas Est.” A real problem is that our larger culture has is that it doesn’t see sexuality as something that needs to be better integrated; we keep talking about sexual repression (and sexuality as a form of personal expression– and often without thinking about what we’re expressing, and what it means– and no, we don’t get to make it mean whatever we want it to mean if we’re serious about truly loving others and not using, manipulating, abusing, or hurting them as a means to our own “needs”).

    We all know that marriage isn’t easy, and we also know that we don’t talk about chastity– as well as grace– in marriage nearly as much as we need to: we all get a sense of how badly we need to talk about this every time we encounter a discussion about NFP that gets reduced exclusively to talking about family size, which is almost always the case. Almost never have I heard anyone mention grace in those often heated discussions of “responsibility” and “heroic parenthood,” wherein the understanding of both those things is almost entirely materialistic (which, by the way, does not mean “buying more stuff,” though that’s a part of it, but operating on the assumption that human beings are just matter, and not matter and spirit– whereby what we mean by “spirituality” is more often the emotionalism of “feel-good therapeutic Deism” than belief in the Incarnation, as per the larger culture). Love is also not something we “get” from somebody else; it’s what we’re commanded to do. And whenever we think that “nobody loves us,” God does. He loved us first.

    In the Catholic Church, marriage is not the “default” position, anyway: the Church would not have reverence and respect for virginity and celibacy otherwise. Every single Sacrament is ultimately about the divine life– through, with, and in Jesus Christ. This is why celibacy and virginity are very important, because they point beyond themselves to the ultimate in Love: God. It’s easy to think that marriage is almost exclusively about warm fuzzies and the emotions and sexual activity between two people, but it’s not. That may seem a banal point, but it’s still a crucial one, and one that’s often ignored, if Sean Cardinal O’Malley had to point this out again after World Youth Day (also, anyone who has experienced wedding planning, or has encountered Bridezilla behavior and the “perfect” wedding that can’t see beyond itself to actual marriage knows how easily this gets forgotten). The celibate and the virgin remind us that Love– and certainly marriage– is about Jesus Christ, and is about what is above, especially when we’d just as easily forget; they remind us that God is Love when the culture would like us to think that we are unloved because we don’t have the “perfect” life qua romanticized advertising.

    This would seem like pie in the sky were it not for the Eucharist: God– Being Itself– is right here, right now in the Real Presence. In fact, without Him, we can do nothing. That the rite of marriage in a Nuptial Mass takes place within the Liturgy of the Eucharist is no accident. Moreover, straight people who are married are not entitled to think that they and their spouses will “grow old together.” Granted, that may indeed be true in the majority of cases. But in some cases, this will not be so. Is the spouse who is still alive somehow “lonely” or “unloved” when they are alone? No. But this is a little easier to see, even through a ton of pain, when we put God first. And that decision has to made right now, and made daily for the rest of one’s life, if it hasn’t been made already. And crucial when it comes to the Eucharist, of course, is what makes us receptive to receiving it: Confession is a must, and crucial in an age where people think that being good is all about being “nice” and that they therefore have “nothing to confess.” Prayer is also crucial, because it teaches us what we believe and how to talk to God.

    With the Eucharist, and the witness of its celibates and virgins, the Church is essentially showing gay Catholics that the ultimate in Love is Truly Present for them. It’s well and truly here for them, as it is for absolutely everyone. It is also a love that will be there for them when the chips are truly down, and when they think they have nothing. And if they take Him up on His invitation, they can have that love, and have it right now. Conversion is ongoing, will not come all at once, and is the journey of a lifetime. And what it will require of them, as with us all, is to remain receptive to Him, and to remain in Him– through regular prayer and regular receiving of the Sacraments.

  9. I am ecstatic at finding someone who so clearly expresses that there is no dividing line between heterosexuals and homosexuals when it comes to what God wants for us! I am a divorced heterosexual and, as you expressed so well, God lovingly calls me to the same “chaste” state that He calls you! And though we tend to apply “chastity” to our sexual lives, it really applies to all of our senses. It is in the proper “ordering” of them that we begin to know what “freedom” is; freedom to love more fully. May God continue to protect you and lead you deeper in the Faith.

  10. Thank you for your story. What I don’t understand, however, is, if everyone is called to chastity (and I get that), WHY identify yourself as a ‘gay Catholic’? I don’t identify myself (nor does anyone I know) as a ‘straight Catholic.’ It seems to me that you are still identifying with the ‘gay’ part of yourself. If one cannot be a PRACTICING gay and be authentically Catholic, then why identify yourself by the moniker ‘gay Catholic’? (I’m not trying to be mean, I just don’t get this!)

    • Oh that’s easy, I’ll take this one. We did this because the culture seems to differentiate between ‘straight Catholics’ and ‘gay Catholics’. Our culture tells us that it is impossible for a ‘gay Catholic’ to possibly live up to Church teaching. Liam is courageous enough to give us an example that it is possible, just as it is possible for the rest of us who aren’t married, to be chaste.

  11. I appreciated your candor and your openness to God’s will in your life. I just wanted to add that love and long term relationships can be a part of God’s plan. I have been happily partnered for 26 years with a wonderful man who I am still very much in live with. Ours is a monogamous relationship rooted, as most relationships are, in love, honesty and trust. We were married in 2012 with over 150 family and friends present — it was part of our silver anniversary celebration. I hope that, as you grow older you will remain open to the possibility that our loving God may be calling you to a life shared with another man in marriage.

  12. your courage to turn your experience into knowledge to benefit others is quite admirable!
    You have become wise while still young and that has it’s benefits,you wouldn’t have to go through another scourge to learn that the world indeed never has anyone’s best interests at heart.Only God and those who choose to do his will really care about your well-being in a whole.

    Chastity is the way to go,it’s the way of love and as you have rightly pointed out,it takes a realization that God deeply loves each one of us as though we were the only ones in the world,so that our choice to love him and walk with him in chastity is only a reciprocation.
    It really is a cross for the brave and the couragious,that’s how God has made every person with same sex attractions and coz you’ve removed the blindfold of world,you now see it too!

  13. Pingback: Begin Again: Conversion from Same-Sex Attraction | The Man Is Here

  14. Pingback: Homosexuality: A Call To Conversion | Letters to Henri

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