Anonymous No More: Gay Catholic Priest Comes Out

The author of a book about life as a gay Catholic priest has officially come out about his true identity.

Father Gary Meier (pictured above), a priest for the Archdiocese of Saint Louis, wrote a book in 2011 called Hidden Voices: Reflections of a Gay, Catholic Priest, but published it anonymously.

Earlier this month, he released a statement announcing the book would be released a second time under his own name and explaining the decision:

I am not sure where exactly any of this will lead. It is a huge leap of faith and to be perfectly honest with you, very frightening. I know that while many will celebrate and be grateful for this publication, others will be angry and upset and feel as if I am betraying the church. I have no such intention. I am just a man trying to live a life of integrity and speak the truth that God has given me to speak. I do not mean the church any harm and in fact I still love the church very much. I see my speaking out as an act of love toward a community which was born of God’s radical inclusivity. Somehow we have lost that in our church, I would like us to get that back.

While his original statement isn’t so tough on the Catholic Church for its long history of anti-gay teachings, Meier’s May 21st column for the Huffington Post spells out more explicitly why he felt so compelled to come out now:

I have tried over the years to reconcile my silence as a gay priest with that of the Church’s increasingly anti-gay stance, but I have been unsuccessful. At the heart of every authentic call to ministry is the desire to live a life of integrity. It was my desire to live a life of integrity that led me to the priesthood and it is that same desire that has led me to where I am today. In the end it became clear that I could no longer be anonymous — that is, I could not live as a gay priest, which means living in silence while publicly pretending to support the hierarchy’s teachings on homosexuality.

Notably, he mentions a consequence of anti-gay religious influence that is often overlooked: its effect on LGBT young people.

[Catholic] teaching has caused and continues to cause harm to many gay men and women, young and old, who are looking for acceptance and love but instead find silence and shame. I am especially concerned for our LGBT youth. It’s hard enough to be a “straight” teenager dealing with the standard ups and downs of hormones and emotions, but to be a teenager with same-sex attractions in a community where your spiritual leaders, the people you look to for guidance and affirmation, are telling you that you have a disease like alcoholism and that you’re a threat to life. Can anyone survive it intact? Yet that’s precisely the message our Church is sharing. LGBT youth are hearing that they are disordered, diseased, defective, damaged goods, wrong when they should be right.

From the back cover of Gary Meier’s book.

On top of that, Meier recorded a video empathizing with other LGBT Catholics and reassuring them that “there are other voices coming from our church” who love and support them equally. He also stood up against naysayers who criticized him on Facebook, among other outlets, and flat-out said why elements of the church’s teachings are so problematic:

Since his public declaration of his sexual orientation, Meier said, he has received a lot of support on his Facebook page. One woman, though, scolded him for accusing the church of a “lack of love.”

“That’s not at all what I’m saying,” Meier told his audience. “But I am accusing the church of a lack of tolerance and acceptance.”

I have immense respect for anyone who can come out about being LGBT in a sphere as hostile to difference as the Catholic Church. My utmost congratulations to Meier for his bravery. If you’re so inclined, check out his book.

About Camille Beredjick

Camille is a twentysomething working in the LGBT nonprofit industry. She runs an LGBT news blog at gaywrites.org.

  • ShoeUnited

    I’m a bit confused. Is he keeping the Fr. title due to use of having it or is he still a Priest that is gay? I thought the RCC was pretty clear on excommunicating openly gay priests.

    • http://parkandbark.wordpress.com/ Houndentenor

      Yes, only hypocrites like Benedict get to stay in the church.

    • Michael W Busch

      According to his biography (http://www.fathergary.com/id24.html ), Meier’s still a member of the priesthood. Although he’s currently not assigned to a parish – he’s been enrolled in a counseling master’s program since last year.

      And the Church is inconsistent in that policy, as with many others. For example: Rembert Weakland was not excommunicated for being gay. He was compelled to resign as archbishop in part because it was made public that he had paid a former sexual partner $450,000 of Church funds to keep things secret (http://www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rembert_Weakland ) – but he wasn’t charged for embezzlement, wasn’t excommunicated or defrocked, and has kept his retirement allowances.

      • ShoeUnited

        Interesting, I appreciate the data. Thank you.

  • TheG

    I’m torn between thinking he is not very courageous because he still insists on wearing the blinders of religion and saying good for him by trying to stay within the RCC to change it from within. Hmmm…

    • Andy

      You can’t have blinders and be courageous at the same time?

      • Tobias2772

        Andy,
        I would say that hiding from the truth counterbalances alot of other courage.

        • Beet LeRace

          One step at a time! I don’t think he is consciously hiding from ‘truth’… it’s hard to overcome the mind state that dedicated religiosity cultivates.

          When Malala chose to attend school in the face of threats – we didn’t say “Well she hasn’t left islam, so her courage is therefore reduced!” We must applaud whatever positive steps people take, and hope they keep on in the right direction.

          • Tobias2772

            The Malala example holds some water, although I would point out that the dangers she faces are much more substantial than any that this guy is facing. And she is following Islam, while this guy is actively promoting his ignorance to others – he’s leading others into this lunacy.

            • Beet LeRace

              I agree – it was an extreme example. And although this guy is still leading others in Catholic delusion, at least he’s leading them in a more progressive direction — sometimes measured changes are the most successful long-term, as they don’t inspire the knee-jerk response that full-blown God-rejection does (but I can’t say for sure).

              That being said, I’m totally with you. I have a hard time understanding why people cling so tightly to the label of a specific religion when they’ve rejected most of the central tenets… I suppose it’s moreso their ties to the ‘culture’ of the religion that keeps the label firmly stuck. Half of my family is catholic, all very liberal in their attitudes, and at least one of them was being molested by a priest in the 60′s, yet the identity persists…

              • Tobias2772

                I would like to go one step further, even though I could easily be misunderstood by doing so. If I had to choose between freeing people from their religious addictions or seeing to it that all homosexuals were treated fairly, I would quickly choose the former. Far more damge is being done to us all by the weight of mythological superstition dragging us down and backwards.

                • Beet LeRace

                  I see exactly what you’re saying; without the mythological superstition, a large portion of the social injustice would presumably fall away as a direct result.

                • Tobias2772

                  That’s a big part of it, but there is something else that seems to be overlooked by many. As a teacher, I see students (and adults) that refuse to follow logic or rational thought to its best conclusions. There is a huge amount of potential that goes unfulfilled every year by people who accept tradition or the common view of things without enough critical examination. I think religious indoctrination retards our intellectual growth and exploration in very fundamental ways during the child’s formative years. These artificial limits are significantly slowing our progress in any number of fields. How can we promote rational thought in such an atmosphere ?

        • Pseudonym

          I’d say that’s pretty ignorant of history. Some of the most effective agents of social change were crackpots.

          • C.L. Honeycutt

            Were *considered* crackpots. A crackpot is by definition not effective.

            • Pseudonym

              I disagree with that. I can think of many people who have made a real difference but are still undeniably crackpots. Brian Josephson is the first example that comes to mind, but there are others.

  • C Peterson

    A gay priest who chooses to remain Catholic. Well… the Catholics pretty much invented self-flagellation, didn’t they? I guess the practice is still alive, even if this is psychological, not physical.

    • jondrake

      Whats the suprise that the Priest is gay?

      They fuck little boys don’t they? (Oh and save the shit about it not being about being gay that they fuck little boys…they hardly ever go after little girls. They’re gay allright. )

      • Beet LeRace

        There aren’t many alter girls last time I checked, they prey on what’s available. Being gay doesn’t make you a pedo any more than being a man does.

        • Erp

          Also 19% of the victims of Catholic clergy are girls according to the John Jay report.

      • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

        Actually, there has been and still is huge sex abuse of girls and women by priests as well. It’s just not nearly as big in the news, because we almost expect women to be the victims. It’s extra-special shocking when it’s men or boys who are the victims, because their societal role is to be the aggressors, not the victims.

        And, as Beet LeRace said, altar girls aren’t available. Haven’t you ever heard the soldiers’ saying “when whores are few, a boy will do”? Apparently pedophilic priests live by a similar creed.

      • Matt D

        I’m suprised someone like you hasn’t been caught for screwing little girls …..after all, your straight, aren’t you?

      • C Peterson

        I’d be curious to know the actual statistics for gay priests. It wouldn’t surprise me if the numbers are higher than in the general population. After all, the priestly lifestyle might offer certain attractions to a gay man (especially if we go back a few decades). Depending on the person, it might either be seen as a place with lots of men around (many probably gay), or it might be seen as a societally acceptable way to stay out of the sex game completely.

        In any case, there’s no apparent connection between pedophilia and sexual orientation, and nothing to suggest that any of the priests caught up in molestation scandals were gay. Boys are most often the victims simply because boys are much more available in the odd environment of the Catholic church. Certainly, many girls have been molested, as well. In the broader society, it is clear that almost all pedophiles are straight, given that most have a history of relationships with adults of the opposite sex. That history is generally missing for priests, so it makes evaluating sexual orientation difficult given the scanty details usually available.

      • Pseudonym

        You do know just how offensively homophobic that statement is, right?

      • Michael W Busch

        For the N+1-th time, homosexuality is not the same as pedophilia. If you don’t understand that, then please go and actually learn something about psychiatry (basic result: homosexuality = part of the normal range of human sexuality; pedophilia = psychiatric disorder). And if you still disagree, go and take it up with the APA and WHO.

        It also happens that the rate of pedophilia in the population of priests is only slightly higher than in the general problem. The problem is that the Church hierarchy covers up and enables assault, so abusers are very rarely stopped and there is an incredibly horrific number of cases.

      • C.L. Honeycutt

        No. Pedophilia has the same prevalance among homosexuals as among heterosexuals. You’re just full of vile, UnChristian bile and lies as regards people you find icky.

        Pedophiles are predatorial. Priests are alone with boys much more often than they are with girls. There’s also “Man Bites Dog” syndrome at work. Logic am hard, rite?

    • Michael W Busch

      There is a quite significant excess of homosexual priests as compared to the fraction of the general population that is homosexual. There are a number of possible explanations for this. Wikipedia has a short discussion: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homosexuality_and_Roman_Catholic_priests

  • baal

    John Waters is actually a Catholic priest!?

  • http://parkandbark.wordpress.com/ Houndentenor

    A gay priest? That’s as unusual as a fish that can swim.

  • indorri

    That last bit is an indication of what’s wrong with religious rhetoric. I do not care whether those of the RCC feel they are being loving. They are harming and degrading others based on immoral teachings.

  • http://absurdlypointless.blogspot.com/ Tanner B James

    If there hadn’t been any gay priests the pope would be dressed in a drab gray suit.

  • calesuar

    Still Catholic, no one is perfect. But it’s a great start and in the right direction; a person with Integrity dealing with one truth at a time.

  • jondrake

    What a SHOCK! Priests are gay!

    Dawkins was right, they should have arrested the Pope.

    Next stop, Catholics to the Gulags!!!

    • NoMore

      You have better ways to spend your limited time on earth than bashing gays. I suggest you use it.

  • blah

    I wonder how many children he’s abused? But no worries, there isn’t a connection between homosexual and pedophilia. No, not at all


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