Dear Dave Armstrong RE: Celibacy

Dear Dave Armstrong RE: Celibacy June 17, 2020


***Important Update On This Conflict***

Dave Armstrong of Patheos Catholic read this response tonight and responded in the very last way that I expected.

It seems, and I hope it genuinely is, from a place of deep sincerity and self-awareness on his part. He deleted his original invasive, inappropriate comment (copied below), and apologized to me both in the comments of this post, the previous one, and on Facebook for asking it.

His apology on my coming out post is copied below:

My apologies. I deleted my question that was here before. May God bless you with all good things.

Dave Armstrong, Patheos Catholic Columnist


Hello Dave,

I must admit, I am shocked. Wow.

I am shocked because I have never before received a sincere apology from a Catholic man who had cause me direct harm. Thank you for being the first to alter that pattern.

I accept your apology and choose to believe, for your sake and my own, that it was meant in deep sincerity. I forgive you this transgression.

I assume my response struck you as overly harsh and intense. But I needed you to understand just how unacceptable it is for any member of the church to demand private, intimate information of that kind from anyone, and especially from your queer brothers and sisters, who are desperately trying to find a way to faithfully remain in the church. It is a struggle you cannot possibly understand, and I recognize that.

This was my attempt to help you grasp perhaps a small shadow of that pain and heartache we experience daily when strangers, professing themselves to be our loving brothers and sisters in Christ, intrude upon this deeply personal, sacred aspect of ourselves and our lives and root around for “our thoughts on it.”

I hope the severity of my response and the raw, vulnerable hurt I expressed (albeit through biting sarcasm and condescension) helped you understand the weight of this issue, and I hope you will continue to open your heart and mind to the intense pain and the lived reality of the most vulnerable and marginalized surrounding you.

From the deepest chasm of my heart, I wish you health, joy, freedom, and the radical peace of Christ.


Now, some brief reflections for those who have witnessed this interaction.

  • First, please extend grace and goodwill to Dave regarding this event.

As I have said, I choose to believe his apology was sincere, and from here onward I will behave accordingly, until any such time or behavior in which he exhibits signs that it was not meant the way I chose to take it. Should that happen, and I hope it does not, I will respond accordingly and appropriately. I will seek legal action, as it is my right and duty to do.

  • Next, to my straight, cisgender Catholic readers, please read this interaction thoroughly from beginning to end.

Note the deep pain expressed. Note the harm caused. And note that you will be called out for behaving in this deeply harmful, abusive, discriminatory way to your queer brothers and sisters, Catholic or otherwise. I have seen images going around this month proclaiming “Gay Pride month is cancelled. Let Gay Wrath month commence.” I strongly recommend you take this to heart. We are done being silent out of deference to your “discomfort.” We are finished sacrificing our wellbeing and our lives to your demands that we martyr ourselves for the sake of manners.

Consider yourself warned.

  • And to my beloved queer friends: please check in with yourself, with your heart, your abilities, your desires, and your “spoons” before you react to any encounter such as this of harassment or discrimination.

If you are interacting with a close friend, and you have the spoons to do it, perhaps your best response will be one of gentleness, patience, and radical love as you seek to share your hurt and your reality with that loved one. Or perhaps it will be a near perfect stranger, as it was for me. In which case, do not hesitate, should you feel the strength and the freedom to do so, to allow your justified rage at this abuse to move and direct you. But no matter what, prioritize your health, sanity, relationship with the divine if you have one, and entire well-being over responding in any way whatsoever. Not responding is a valid response. Sharing the encounter with a trusted friend and asking them to advocate for you is a valid response. And messaging me here or through any platform you prefer, sharing with me your pain, asking for suggestions from someone who is your equal in all ways, and asking me to advocate for you is always and forever an option. I send you, dear reader, my love.


Finally, a note on why I chose to use this image in this post:

Truth coming from the well armed with her whip to chastise mankind by the French artist Jean-Léon Gérôme

As I expressed to my friend Chris today, this is my favorite classical art piece I’ve yet found. I even purchased a print of it, and framed it and hung it in my living room, because every time I see it it empowers me more.

I love it because the incarnate Truth bears an expression utter betrayal, of rage and of her will for vengeance for the harm done to her. (The painting is based on a French myth, I believe, in which Truth is tricked and betrayed by “liars and actors.”) Her face burns with holy righteousness.

Most importantly of all, there is not a trace of shame on her face.

Truth does not cower or hide herself, because she is wholly secure in the knowledge that there is no evil in her nakedness, but rather only in the abuses done to her. Her betrayers merit her wrath. She herself merits none. She has nothing to be sorry for, and only feels the deepest thirst for holy justice.

Original Response is maintained below:

Dear Dave,

Thank you for the question you posted in the comments of my Coming Out post today.

Unfortunately, my comment was held up for “moderation by the shoeless banshee admin,” and somehow I have never obtained the necessary permissions to review comments on here.

So, with that option denied me, I have copied your question below and attached my answer beneath that, because I feel that your question is important and deserves a real, thoughtful answer.

I hope this clarifies things for you.


Hi Marie,

Just for clarification’s sake: does this self-understanding include celibacy? You didn’t specify (unless I missed it), so I was curious what your view on that was. Thanks.

Dave Armstrong, Patheos Catholic Columnist


Hi Dave,

I’m deeply intrigued to know what compelled you to presume that this was an appropriate question? I just publicly outed myself as a self-proclaimed unconventional Catholic queer (gay) person. Do you go around regularly asking your average straight Catholic person, “erm, hello,  need to clarify, do you masturbate? Do you watch porn? You appear unmarried. Oh, you’re not? Great! So, just for clarification’s sake: have you ever had premarital sex? Have you ever worn a condom. I was curious what your view on that was. It is just vitally important for me to know this deeply personal, intimate information regarding your self-understanding.”

If this is, in fact, not something you already do on a consistent basis, then you can very kindly suck my nonexistent gay d*** and get your nose the f*** out of my bedroom. 

And, for the record, not that it is your or anyone else’s business, but yes, I am celibate. 

I am celibate because of the scars I bear and the night terrors I suffer from white, straight, smug, upstanding, toxic cis Catholic males like yourself.

I am celibate because, at 25 years of age, I have never dated, never kissed, never been asked out, and find myself on the asexual spectrum (do us all a favor, Dave, and google the definitions of demiromantic and demisexual, would you please?). Because the horrific “good, holy, straight heteronormative Catholic marriages” I’ve witnessed intimately all my life have fully terrify me of even the possibility of entering any sort of romantic or non-platonic relationship.

But for clarification’s sake, Dave: no, I do not commit myself or intend to remain permanently celibate. As a matter of fact, as I continue in my healing and the process of full and radical self-acceptance, I hope to find the courage and trust necessary to date one day. And on the rare occasions I allow myself to envision any sort of future for myself (other than my favorite dream of living forever as a happily spiteful, perpetually 94-year-old witch spinster, preferably in a feminist anarchist commune), I imagine a lovely future involving a queer, monogamous spouse, and a partnership full of open communication, strong boundaries, cats, books, and lots of really hot (preferably lesbian) sex. And vibrators.

So, there you have it, and now you know, Dave! 



P.S. Just a final note, you may want to possibly consider taking a second next time and pausing to think before demanding to know details of a fellow columnist’s love and/or sex life, because Patheos’s HR department has already heard from me about this. May I also recommend googling some helpful definitions of things such as workplace sexual harassment? Oh! And lawsuit! For discrimination against an LGBTQ+ work colleague!


Hope this helps!!

Cheerio! Kisses!

Marie Elizabeth Avers, Patheos Catholic Columnist


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