Neither has the church. As the taboo deepened in the succeeding centuries, there is little reason to believe that gay priests disappeared, but most went more fully underground. Still, same-sex love remained a profound part of Catholic Christianity. Ignatius sent Francis to evangelize Asia, and their long separation was a source of suffering for both. God knows the profound impression that those words of great love made on my soul. The greatest Catholic theologian of the 19th century, Cardinal John Henry Newman, devoted his personal life to another man, Ambrose St.
This does not mean the two had a sexual relationship although they might have , but it does suggest that deep same-sex love was still alive in the highest echelons of the Catholic priesthood, even at the apex of Victorian repression and even in someone about to be celebrated as a saint. When St. Newman famously converted from Anglicanism to Catholicism and was part of the reformist and aesthetic Oxford Movement, which was strongly influenced by homosexual men. The greatest Catholic poet of the 19th century, the Jesuit priest Gerard Manley Hopkins, was gay; one of the deepest theologian-priests of the last century, Henri Nouwen, was as well.
Both suffered bouts of deep depression. But why is the priesthood so gay? It is worth noting that the connection between homosexuality and spirituality is by no means restricted to Catholicism. Some evolutionary psychologists have found an ancient link between gay men and tribal shamanism.
Among gay priests themselves, I heard a variety of explanations. Others explained that they were drawn to the ritual of the church.
Catholicism is a faith centered on the Mass, where the body and the soul and the senses are as important as the mind. The Mass is, in some ways, a performance. These types — also found in the arts and scholarship — are sticklers for detail, ruthless about rules, and attuned to tradition and beauty. In many ways, the old, elaborate High Mass, with its incense and processions, color-coded vestments, liturgical complexity, musical precision, choirs, organs, and sheer drama, is obviously , in part, a creation of the gay priesthood. Their sexuality was sublimated in a way that became integral and essential to Catholic worship.
Then there is the common experience of a gay boy or teen, brought up in the church, who turns to God in struggling with the question of his difference and displacement from the normal. He is forced to ponder deeper questions than most of his peers, acquires powerful skills of observation, and develops a precocious spirituality that never fully leaves him. This resonates for myself as a Catholic boy and teen.
The first person I ever came out to was God, in a silent prayer on my way to Communion. Like many solitary gay Catholic boys, I saw in Jesus a model — single, sensitive, outside a family, marginalized and persecuted but ultimately vindicated and forever alive. But there are other reasons for gay men to seek the priesthood that are far from healthy.
The first is celibacy. If you were a young gay Catholic in centuries past, one way to avoid social ostracism, or constant questions about why you lacked an interest in girls or women, was to become a priest. This pattern, though much less severe than in the past, endures. I will become a magisterial personality. Often, this unconscious struggle breaks down. It is simply too difficult not to be oneself. Some cope through absurd flamboyance and high camp; others sink into depression.
Alcoholism and addiction take over. They had been such athletes when they were young. And then I had a meltdown. It was one of those moments of wanting something to happen with a friend.
One evening, when I left his place, I realized I really wanted to have a relationship with this guy. Then it came flowing out of me. Other gay priests, more self-aware and cynical, find there is a career to be made in all of this falseness. Everything was suppressed, no questions were asked in seminaries, and psychological counseling was absent and even now is rare. Scarred, scared men became priests, and certain distinct patterns emerged.
One, as we have come to learn, was sexual acting out and abuse. To conflate sexual abuse with the gay priesthood, as many now reflexively do, is a grotesque libel on the vast majority who have never contemplated such crimes and are indeed appalled by them. It is classic scapegoating. At the same time, to decouple the sexual-abuse crisis entirely from the question of gay priests is a willful avoidance of an ugly truth.
Pedophilia is a separate category outside the question of sexual orientation. But some abuse of male teens and young adults, as well as abuse of other priests, is clearly related to homosexuality gone horribly astray — and around a quarter of the reported cases involve to year-old victims.
The scale of it in the late 20th century was extraordinary — but, in retrospect, predictable. If you do not deal honestly with your sexuality, it will deal with you. If you construct an institution staffed by repressed and self-hating men and build it on secrecy and complete obedience to superiors, you have practically created a machine for dysfunction and predation.
And the hideous truth is we will never know the extent of the abuse in centuries past or what is still going on, especially throughout places in the world like Africa and Latin America where robust scrutiny of the church is still sometimes taboo. Another pattern was externalized homophobia: What you hate in yourself but cannot face, you police and punish in others.
It remains a fact that many of the most homophobic bishops and cardinals have been — and are — gay.
Take the most powerful American cardinal of the 20th century, Cardinal Francis Spellman of New York, who died in He had an active gay sex life for years while being one of the most rigid upholders of orthodoxy. Monsignor Tony Anatrella, an advocate for conversion therapy consulted by the Vatican, was recently suspended for sexual abuse of other men. Anti-gay archconservative Cardinal George Pell was recently found guilty of sexual abuse of boys in Australia.
The founder of the once hugely influential hard-right, anti-gay cult the Legion of Christ, Marcial Maciel, was found to have sexually abused countless men, women, and children. Benedict XVI has described himself as a bookish boy, averse to sports. But this is because so many in the hierarchy still cannot see homosexuality as being about love and identity rather than acts and lust. As we uncover layer upon layer of dysfunction at the very top of the church, it may be time to point out how naked these bejeweled emperors can appear. And this, of course, has added another layer of complexity to the story of gay priests: Generations matter.
Those in their 70s and 80s grew up in a different universe, where the closet was automatic and the notion of even discussing gay priests was scandalous. But their reaction to the modern reexamination of homosexual love, and the consideration of sex as distinct from procreation, was panicked retrenchment.
Those in their 50s or 60s or younger, by contrast, are generally much more self-aware, and their Catholic peers and families much more accepting. Suddenly the entire system of secrecy, clerical self-protection, cover-ups, and scandal was brutally exposed. For most gay priests, this was a huge relief. They were as appalled as anyone. But they knew, too, that the system now being dismantled had concealed not only the crimes and abuses of bad priests but also the sins and consensual adult sex of good ones. They had secrets too. Remember: Celibacy is not an easy task. It is impossible for most human beings to avoid falling in love or physically expressing their sexual being at some point in their lives.
In practice, these failures have often been confronted and confessed; as long as the priests are honest and recommit to celibacy, they are allowed to go forward. Some of the gay priests I spoke with acknowledged lapses but insisted that, in consultation with their spiritual directors and superiors, they chose celibacy when the choice became impossible to ignore or avoid.
The goal, they explained, was to be free of any particular attachment so they could devote their entire selves to the church as a whole. But most had some kind of past incident or failing that could be used against them if made public, even if it were only their identity as a gay man. Mundane failings — like a brief affair — can become easily blurred with profound evils like child abuse. If you expose a child molester to his superior, for example, he might expose your own homosexuality and destroy your career.
This dynamic has made the clerical closet — not the fact of gay priests but the way that fact has been hidden — a core mechanism for tolerating and enabling abuse. On top of all this, the vow of obedience to superiors gives gay bishops and cardinals huge sway over their priestly flock.
Despite his disclaimer, Portmann delivers an illuminating and accessible reflection on intimacies and solidarities throughout the mid-to-late 20th century. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. Welcome back. Evening out dancing and going home, regrettably sans-female companionship. By Taffy Brodesser-Akner.
Some, of course, realized this power could be leveraged for sex and abused it. New procedures for the protection of minors were put in place after But so much damage from the past has yet to be confronted. The McCarrick case in particular revealed that the pattern of concealment and toleration of abuse went to the very top of the church. That some of the sex criminals were also responsible for directing vast sums of money to the Vatican — Maciel and McCarrick were legendary for their fund-raising — makes the toleration seem particularly cynical.
We still do not know why, exactly, the traditionalist Benedict XVI decided to be the first pope to resign the office, but some were quick to note that he had compiled an extensive dossier on sexual abuse in the church … and yet somehow felt unable to act.
Was he simply overwhelmed by the task, taken aback by the scale of it, and fearful that the entire church could collapse? Francis, in one of his first press conferences as pope, struck out on a different course. He reiterated the distinction between sins and crimes and, while denouncing abuse, did not insist on sexual perfection in the priesthood, as long as failures were confessed, sins absolved, and the priest was committed to a future of celibacy.
It also, perhaps, worried some powerful sex abusers, who recognized the role of the clerical closet in keeping everything quiet. The lull may be temporary. In September, Francis appeared to lose his equanimity. He tries to uncover the sins, so they are visible in order to scandalize the people. It may well become a moment of reckoning for his papacy — and those of his two predecessors. It may force some kind of decision about the role of gay priests, clerical celibacy, and homosexuality across the church. But how? O ne possible option is the preference of the Catholic right: for all those implicated in the McCarrick cover-up to resign, including, one presumes, Francis and Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI?
Countless lay Catholics would watch their priests be outed and fired by the church. How would they react? The mass firings would brand the church as baldly homophobic and easily lead to mass resignations and a further decline in vocations. So be it, the traditionalists say. They want a much smaller, purer church.
But few potential popes would want to be the one who precipitated the implosion. More to the point: It could make the problem worse. The church would lose all those priests who are adjusted enough to be honest about their orientation and keep all of those who are the most deeply damaged, closeted, and self-loathing. The potential for sexual abuse could increase.
A second option would be a fudge, a rerun of , when the church said all gay priests should be fired and no gay men be admitted to the seminary … and then did nothing much about it. This would be, in some ways, the worst choice. It was precisely the simultaneous retention and anathematization of closeted gay priests that, over the decades, helped fuel the abuse and its cover-up. A third option would simply encourage an end to the clerical closet, which is to say, ask all priests to obey one of the Ten Commandments: not to lie about themselves.
It would require gay priests to identify as such to their superiors and parishioners and, in clearing the air, make a renewed public vow of celibacy. Encouraging an end to the closet would underline the distinction the church formally makes between homosexual identity and homosexual acts. It would deter disturbed closet cases from entering the priesthood and provide priestly role models for gay Catholics who find themselves called to celibacy. Those gay priests who refused to be fully transparent could leave. Cardinals and bishops and directors of seminaries could insist on frank discourse on the matter.
Double lives would become far less common. If a priest is committed to celibacy and doing a good job, why is his public gayness a problem? The only obstacle standing in the way of this path is the homophobia formally embedded into church doctrine in by the future Benedict XVI.
A better analogy would perhaps be the infertile, who also, simply because of the way they are, cannot have procreative sex. In fact, the church embraces every other minority, person with a disability, and individual persecuted or marginalized by society because of some involuntary characteristic. At some point you realize that this is, in the end, the bottom line.
The task, it seems to me, is not to rid the church of homosexuality, which is an integral part of the human mystery, but of hypocrisy, dishonesty, and dysfunction. I admit to, at times, a crushing fatalism. But I also believe, as a Catholic, that nothing is impossible with God. O n a Sunday morning in late , at the conservative parish of St.
Bernadette in Milwaukee, Father Gregory Greiten was extremely nervous. The next day, the National Catholic Reporter would be publishing an article he wrote in which he would come out as gay. No one in his congregation knew in advance, and now he was about to say Mass. He wanted to tell his own parish first. He found his way in to a retreat for gay priests run by New Ways Ministry, a gay-friendly Catholic group.
I drank that poison most of the years of my life. If you need me to lie about who I am, then the priesthood is a sham. As we spoke, there was no anger in his voice, just a midwestern folksiness. He told me that the toll of the closet was immense on many around him, including suicides that had been hushed up. He was aware that it was relatively easy for him to come out; he knew his own record of celibacy was unblemished since he was Others were more compromised and could be more easily targeted. That Sunday morning, when he stood up to deliver his homily, he felt his mouth dry up.
The church was packed, and as he started to tell his story, the silence was close to unbearable. He soldiered on. The play touches on a host of hot-button topics in contemporary gay life including relationships, infidelity, separation and living alone, narcissism, growing old, AIDS, drugs, May-December relationships, the sugar daddy syndrome, and of course the love of pets.
Maybe the prof had the hots for me and was frustrated — who knows?
“Confessions of a Str8 Gay Man: Second Edition” is an updated and much expanded edition of RP Andrews' no holds barred, unvarnished, introspective social. Confessions of a Str8 Gay Man: Second Edition is an updated and much expanded edition of RP Andrews no holds barred, unvarnished.
Think about it: our collective fascination with old Hollywood lauded and energized by media outlets like TCM is based largely on people who are long dead. I did well in my playwriting course —seems I have a natural talent for dialogue — even had one of my one act plays mounted as a class production. But I realized quickly that writing for actors is a collaborative effort involving many people.
I wanted to stay in L. So instead of being interviewed in a spacious Louis B Mayor kind of office, the HR guy met me in a small shack just inside the security gates. Two months later I was back home living with my folks in suburban North Jersey, and working at my very first professional job as an assistant to the editorial supervisor in the public relations department at Blue Cross of New York on Lexington and 26th.
This was before Blue Cross and Blue Shield emerged. In the era before Monster. Group sex? That job was a stepping stone to the assistant to the community relations director at a hospital on Staten Island, the forgotten borough of NYC, where I moved to cut my commute to twenty minutes by car. Unlike many people who go through three or four employers in their work years, I pretty much stayed put, and moved up the ladder to eventually become the marketing and communications VP for had evolved into a multi-facility healthcare network.
The one problem was, after working a hectic sixty hour work week where I was on the computer writing reports, media releases, advertising copy, you name it, fifty percent of the time, the last thing I wanted to do was write in my precious spare time. Not a cop-out — a reality. That would have to wait until decades later when I semi-retired to sunny, sexy Fort Lauderdale, which not only gave me the time to write but also a hell of a lot of experiences to write about. Compared to my staggering workload back in New York, teaching was a cake walk. Hell, I had all my lesson plans on Power Point, which meant I could walk in drunk and still teach the class.
Either become a writer or stop wet dreaming about it. I came up with my pen name, RP Andrews, by scrambling my initials, RP, for my first and last name, and Andrews, a play on my middle name. But in this BTW era — Before The Web — the only way one could navigate the world of publishing was to secure a literary agent, in my case, one who handled gay manuscripts, which narrowed the field of possibilities.
So, I trotted over to Barnes and Noble, bought a guide to literary agents, canvassed which were gay-friendly, and started hustling my book which, depending on their specs, meant sending them often by snail mail anywhere from a synopsis to some sample chapters to the full manuscript. Well, the response I got from the twenty or so agents I narrowed my search down to was underwhelming.
That is, until a friend of a friend at MacMillan came over for a visit and asked to see her creation. BTW, the original name for her protagonist was Patsy. Publishing folklore says J. To say it was demoralizing would be like comparing the explosion that obliterated the Hindenburg to deflating a balloon.
Meanwhile, I was having a gay old time in sex drenched Lauderdale, and with it came a whole new set of experiences, perfect for molding into prose. Yea, he was interested in publishing my work. If I paid him. Eight hundred bucks for two hundred fifty copies what I realized later was vanity publishing , which he promised to distribute in gay book stores in key markets.
For the cover, I got a local photographer who lined up a couple of humpy bartenders for the shoot. Guys over the years have asked why I called it what I did; a few even thought it pretentious. But as I said in my inaugural blog, to my intended audience:. Guys like me. Str8 gay guys, guys who are guys who want guys who are guys. Some bullshit at times — can two guys ever avoid it? Some of you still have one foot in the closet for whatever professional or personal reasons.
Besides giving me a soapbox for my often unorthodox views, blogging has taught me to write faster. From a larger perspective, the web ushered a new era for us authors. No longer did we have to kiss the asses of literary agents or sublimate ourselves to publishers. Keep track of everything you watch; tell your friends. Full Cast and Crew. Release Dates. Official Sites. Company Credits. Technical Specs. Plot Summary. Plot Keywords. Parents Guide. External Sites.
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