A reader writes:
I started to comment on your blog, but I doubted you replied to every single message addressed to you. Further, in my experience with blogging, the com-boxes often degenerate into an unChristian war zone. So, I felt it best not to make my comment there, especially given the nature of what I’d be writing and my experience in dealing with other Christians on this topic.
I often read your blog posts, which usually appears in my Facebook feed. I greatly appreciate that there is a right-leaning Catholic voice that gives me a glimmer of hope that the future of conservatism need not be a diagnosable cognitive disorder.
Of course, I, myself am not conservative. I strongly lean to the left. Though, I am foremost a Catholic. I also happen to be gay and celibate.
You seem to have implicitly asserted there is a problem with the Boy Scouts changing their policy, and perhaps, repealing DADT. I, for the life of me, cannot understand these positions. I can appreciate there are drawbacks and unintended consequences of introducing matters that are not related to scouting or national defense. But these may give pause; they do not change my thinking.
Perhaps I am biased. But when a gay person, prior to the repeal of the DADT, could serve in the military and be discharged not for a sexual act, but the mere knowledge of their orientation being known, it seems unjust. It is my understanding that sexual activity by anyone, regardless of orientation, is (rightly) grounds for discharge, and that is the policy with DADT repealed. Whereas before, the policy even allowed knowledge of a homosexual orientation, even not acted upon, to be grounds for dismissal. Catholic dismay over the repeal of DADT, I have always found demoralizing, not simply because people opposed it, but no one was seriously trying to find a workable solution that dealt with their concerns, but was respectful to gays serving in uniform. No one wanted to upset “conservative” orthodoxy.
Similarly, it is my understanding that the knowledge that some young men are homosexual have prevented them from advancing in Boy Scouts. I see this is in a similar like. If homosexual acts are involved, my opinion is similar. But if someone happens to be a homosexual, I do not see why knowledge of this must be accompanied by negative consequences. And, similarly, I have not seen similar efforts to find a workable solution. Just a similar situation to DADT in that it was very politicized with the same battle lines drawn.
These two issues are often talked about in two ways. First, no one was a “right” to serve in the military. The primary goal is national defense and, it is said, it is the prerogative of military leaders to discriminate in anyway that keeps up safe. Secondly, Boy Scouts is a private organization, which is accorded the rights to make up rules as they see fit. If you don’t like those rules, it is said, don’t join or start another organization.
These are typical conservative arguments. But, to me, they miss the point. As a Catholic, and even more so, as someone who is gay, I see just another symptom of the pastoral failure toward homosexuals.
I see this is just another instance in which homosexuals are shut out, unless they are closeted and are lying about who they are. Sure, we are not reducible to our sexuality. We are living images of God. But, believe me, I speak from experience. It is very, very difficult when you are growing up as a gay teen and same-sex peers are always talking about the opposite sex, relationships, and such things, and it not to come out either by confession, or by inference from your silence or awkwardness in such situations, that you are gay. The only other way requires great acting skills or lying. And many, like me, decided that integrity and not lying was the high road.
So, I empathize deeply, when someone decides to join the military, or at the behest of their parents, ignorant of their child’s sexuality, they start scouting, and they feel they have to lie in order to excel. And what’s worse is that if that if their secret is ever discovered, it can mean punishment, and exclusion; and this is backed by Christians. I just don’t understand it. These are our brothers and sisters, many of whom are Christ’s lost sheep. We can’t make the truth less hard, but I feel that too many Catholics are making stumbling blocks that need not be.
I’m sorry for the rambling thoughts. But I thought I should share with you a different perspective because you seem, at least, in your writing to be a reasonable man, and sympathetic to the plight of homosexuals.
P.S. I wrote this years ago, conveying my thoughts on being gay and Catholic, and converting to the faith despite (in my opinion) great pastoral failures. I hope it gives it perspective.
I would particularly be interested in hearing from other celibate gay Catholics. Would you agree/disagree on his critique of the pastoral failure of the Church (meaning, mainly, the rest of us straight Catholics)? If so, what could be done better to support SSA Catholics trying to live the Life?