Internal Conflict #1

Internal Conflict - gay catholcAs I sit here watching Goal 2 and talking to my friend Mikey online, I am struggling to get the words out that I would like to express in this blog posting. Expressing myself has never been an easy task for me. Nevertheless, here I sit, trying my hardest to put my feelings and express my thoughts into this blog post. Here is my attempt to share one of my internal conflicts. More will follow in the next few weeks.

If you have been reading my blog on a regular base for the last few months, you will have read that I attended an anxiety and depression group. This group has since been canceled, so I now meet with the psychologist that was suppose to run this group on a one-on-one base. During the last meeting, I came to realize that one of the biggest obstacles in living the life I want to live is dealing with the conflicts in my life. What I mean by this is it seems that there are two sides in my life to several important issues and I have not yet concluded on which side I want to be. Sometimes it is one side, other times the other side seems to be winning.

Let us take being gay and Catholic my first internal conflict to discuss here. This issue has been one I have struggled with for a while and one of the main reasons I started this blog. This topic seems to come up every time I meet with the psychologist. Lately I have been trying to figure out where the issue is with this. I first started to question whether the issue was that I have not fully accepted my sexuality. After examining this for a while, I have decided this really is not where the issue is. I accepted who I am sexually and am not ashamed of it.

Next I looked at whether the issue was with me being Catholic. I have a strong faith in God and I do believe the Catholic Church teaches the truest meanings on most topics. However, there are still some issues that I need to resolve when it comes to the Church’s teaching on homosexuality. I do understand what the Church teaches on living a life as a gay Catholic, but what the Church teaches and what my heart says do not seem to align very well. I am not saying that I am looking to have sex with another male, but I would like to be in a relationship with somebody. I know the Church teaches you can have one of these types of relationships, but the problem is meeting someone else with the same values and belief on this topic matter as the Church teaches.

After exampling the Church issue, I started looking at being gay again. If I am comfortable with my sexuality, why then do I start to shake when I go to the local gay bar, get very nervous and over the last year and a half avoided going there by myself. When I first started going, I was nervous, but I would go by myself. It seems like as my confidence and acceptance of myself grows, my ability to interact with other gay people would improve as well. This does not seem to be the case when it comes to going to the local gay bar.

I started to recall how things went for me when I first started going. Things did not go well. Honestly, the only reason I would go back on a weekly bases was to see one guy that I had a crush on. He and I spoke a few times and the day we meet, he came up and started talking to me. After a few months of more of less just saying hi to each other, he decided to date someone else.

What I endured during those few months of attending the bar was not much fun. I would hang out with this guy I when to elementary school with. He was a bully back then and on more than one occasion, he would bring up how he picked on me when we were young. He did hit on me several times, which really made me feel crept out. Why someone who in one breath spoke of how he made one’s life more difficult and in another breath ask someone if they were interested in engaging in sexual acts with him would think someone would say yes to having sex.

I also remember one of the first times I was there, a group of lesbians started to make fun of me because I was sitting there by myself. Another time, a cute guy come over and started talking to me. He was interested in dating me, but I was leery of this guy because he told me he was there with some other guy that he had been dating for a week or two. This guy told me he didn’t want to date that guy anymore because that guy didn’t even know his name. I think it was the next week; this guy came up and started talking to me again. After kind of talking for a bit, he told me he thought I was strange because I am such a quiet person. (He is not the only person that has expressed this opinion of me at this bar either.)

Do not get me wrong, I have met a few nice people at the bar. It just seems to me that more of the encounters I had with others there have been negative ones, resulting in not really wanting to go to the one place in these town to meet other gay people.

Therefore, what I need to resolve would be how to live my life with being true to God and to my heart. I do hold out hope that someday I will meet a guy that I can spend the rest of my life with. I do feel that there has to be some way for two guys that are attracted to each other to have some form of an intimate relationship that God would find accepting. How that relationship is structured or where to meet someone that would accept that type of a relationship are things I just cannot answer. All I know is I am not going to give up hope on this.

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10 Responses to Internal Conflict #1

  1. Andrew says:

    You stated –

    ” I am not saying that I am looking to have sex with another male, but I would like to be in a relationship with somebody. I know the Church teaches you can have one of these types of relationships, but the problem is meeting someone else with the same values and belief on this topic matter as the Church teaches….Therefore, what I need to resolve would be how to live my life with being true to God and to my heart. I do hold out hope that someday I will meet a guy that I can spend the rest of my life with. I do feel that there has to be some way for two guys that are attracted to each other to have some form of an intimate relationship that God would find accepting.”

    Does this “intimate relationship” include sex? Are you just interested in having a platonic relationship? I am just asking because, as a practicing Catholic and partnered homosexual, I feel that my relationship with my life partner, which includes sexual relations, is accepting to God: we are committed to each other and the Church, we allow our love for God and each other to spill over into the community through service work, and we are both lay associates of different religious communities. I do not feel that my sexual activity in any way impedes my development in my faith or my spiritual journey. In fact, my intimacy with my partner – not just an emotional and spiritual intimacy, but a total self-giving of one to the other, especially through sex – has actually helped my spiritual growth. Paul was right when he said that if someone cannot be celibate, rather than burn with temptation, he should have lawful sex (get married, is Paul’s suggestion). There are more than enough regular temptations for me in life than to deal with a temptation that, really and truly, a person does not have to endure. We have to endure the temptation to anger and possible violence, but we do not have to endure the temptation to promiscuity. Now, my partner and I cannot be lawfully married, but we are both committed to each other, and in this age when unions are not possible for homosexuals, it has to be enough.

    I am just not sure you will be able to find someone that is physically attracted to you to be committed to you in a platonic relationship. Maybe you will, I don’t know, but I would say that if you want a platonic relationship, stick to friendships, especially if you feel that God is calling you to celibacy. If you want a committed relationship, then you may need to accept the fact that sex is going to be a part of it. The Church is not dealing with reality by saying that you can have a platonic relationship with a man you are attracted to: you will be suffering from sexual temptations and feelings of guilt if you go that route. How is that life-giving?

    • Joe says:

      Thanks Andrew for commenting on my post. I think you nailed it right on the head. I really need to decided what type of relationship I want to have, rather it is one that involves all forms of intimacy or one that is more or less just a very close friendship. Without deciding which way I need to go, it does prevent me from growing closer in my relationship with God because in essence I am avoiding love. There is a quote by Father Andrew that I have mentioned in several prior postings that I think fits well here. He said “I feel the more I know God, that He would sooner we did wrong in loving than never love for fear we would do wrong.” It seems that I am living a life where I am fearful of love because I do not wish to offend God, but not showing any real love or experience it for myself could very well be an even bigger sin.

  2. Josiah says:

    First let me say, congratulations on having the courage to start this personal blog. I wish I was as brave at your age. Second, let me share a bit of my personal story. I hope it brings you some comfort to know that you are not alone in your spiritual struggle.

    I have always believed that the greatest struggle is to truly love, unconditionally, and to find that love in return. As a gay man, that created emotional and intellectual conflict between my spirituality and sexuality. Like many, I was taught that being gay was not normal. It was a sin. However, I now believe that this teaching came from man, not God. Unless I am mistaken, Christ mention gender-specific love or how to express that love. Also, what gender is the soul? The Church is the bride of Christ, so is The Church female? There are still so many spiritual mysteries.

    I made a decision to not to limit God with man-made answers for the sake of my own understanding. His mind is far above what I can comprehend. I am limited by my humanity, my environment, my senses, and my need for like-minded companionship. I was a consoled when I read that internal spiritual struggles, even when you truly seek God’s truth, may never fully subside while here on earth. Many saints talk about the dark night of the soul (read St. John of the Cross) and the doubts they face when seeking God. That is why we need faith.

    Like Andrew (good post, Andrew), I, too, live with a gay Catholic partner, but it has been a journey to get here. Because of an early lack of knowledge about God, I struggled to reconcile my faith with my sexuality. With mounting parental pressure of eternal damnation looming over my soul, I made a decision to try the traditional route: marry a woman and have children. I was told that I had to put away my “childish” desires and live a “normal” life. However, like Jonah, I wasn’t listening to God. I was listening to the people. I did what I thought God commanded, but it did not change my desires nor my social anxiety. I even had more anxiety trying to pass as straight, than I did living as a gay youth. I would not go near gay sections of town because I was afraid I would be discovered. I was afraid to go to Nineveh. I was in opposite-sex marriage number two when I decided that I could no longer live the lie. I had to journey to my Nineveh.

    I now have a supportive and loving Catholic partner: spiritually, emotionally, and…(Hold onto your socks!) sexually. He is also formerly opposite-sex married, so we have had similar journeys (although all journeys are truly unique). We go out to “the bars” (once in a blue moon), have weekly dinners with friends (many who have lost their faith, but never fail to ask for prayer, when needed.) attend Mass (sometimes more than once a week), pray together, and live as a married couple sans recognition from The Church or the government. He was a needle in a huge gay haystack of hurt and injured souls that had been chastised, ridiculed, and abandoned by various religious groups who cling to a hedonistic lifestyle sans spirituality.

    This time around, I knew what I wanted. I dated (my friends would say… a lot) and went steady a few times. Sometimes it progressed to sex; sometimes, not. Which was a new experience for me because when I was out at 17, I had sex first and then dated… if it lasted past that (Throw no stones, we had no role models). I kissed some frogs and had a few relationship failures, but I stuck to my belief that God would provide the right man for me. Yes, I prayed to God for a man. I found mine in the most unlikely of places. Let’s just say that he was not even searching for a life partner, but was just looking to scratch an itch. I made it clear that I was looking for love, not just sex. Sex is easy. I wanted what some gay men were unwilling to give..their hearts. Changing his story, he said that is what he ultimately wanted, too. The birds started singing…the bells started ringing…and we lived happily ever after. NOT! My faith and vow of unconditional love was tested on more than one occasion. We each battled our imperfect natures and had personal struggles, but he was a true man of faith and loved God above all else. So, now I have a true life partner. My point is that there are no fairy tales. I had to put myself out there in the midst of the haystack and sift through the grain.

    Integrating back into gay culture was not too difficult for me since I was first out at 17, but to those newly out or to those trying to navigate it as a Christian may prove to be more of a challenge. You wrote about your anxiety in the gay bars. You might be surprised how many others feel the same way. For me, being alone in a crowd always produced anxiety. I found that when the stakes were higher (i.e., looking for companionship) it was even greater for me. So, I learned not go to bars alone. It was..and is.. much easier with a group of friends. It gets easier with practice, like going to the gym.

    I want to encourage you to pray, to have courage, and to continue to seek God’s will for your life. If you truly seek Him and His will, He will not fail you. And, above all else, love Him. I pray that somewhere between the psalms and the sonnets, you will find your way.

    • Joe says:

      Thank you Josiah for leaving a very kind comment. One of the things I have found to be a great blessing of creating this blog has been the feedback I have received from so many sources. It isn’t easy going through life alone and having people share their opinions on topics and issues I deal with on a daily bases does help me out a great deal. I have been praying often on this topic and I just keep asking God to lead me with my heart. I do believe that someday soon I will have the answer to the path I need to take in my life, whether that be a life of chastity or of a life with a partner. Thank you again for sharing your story with me, it does help in more ways then I can express here on this blog.

  3. Frederick says:

    I want to tell you that i totally understand what you are going thru. I feel happy that I am not alone in this journey. I want to thank all the comments in this blog, because that has helped me to understand that it is possible to be happy, loved and love somebody. I am a spiritual guy, attracted to men, I dont know why. I am tired of feeling guilt and think that i must resist temptation. I dont want to sin i just want to love and be loved. Now i am giving me that oportunity. it is hard, sometimes i feel confused, anxious, and stressed out. I have found an awesome guy that loves me, he is a really a nice person with a lot of qualities. sometimes i am affraid. sometimes i doubt this is real and possible, but your comments have helped me to have faith and trust in God, myself and my boyfriend. It hurts that a lot of the people i know and i love dont want to understand and accept the fact that i am gay. It hurts so bad, but now it is time for me to give me the oportunity to love and be loved. I love my church and I am grateful of all the tachings i received when growing up. I am gay and I am of the LDS faith. I love my family, I love my friends, I love life and I just want to excersice the right i have to be happy and to be loved, even if that tuype of love comes from a man.

    • Joe says:

      Frederick, thank you for leaving a comment on my blog. It isn’t easy trying to balance one’s feeling with what the Church teaches. I am very thankful that there has been some very kind individuals, like yourself, you have shared their thoughts, experiences, and faith with myself and the readers of this blog. I do think that is great that you have found someone that cares for you as much as you care for him. Have you happened to seen one of the latest comments by Cardinal Schoenborn? What Cardinal Schoeborn said was “A stable relationship is certainly better than if someone simply indulges in promiscuity”. He was referring to homosexual relationship. Maybe the Church will change it’s teachings to what so many of us feel in our hearts, that having a stable relationship with another man is much better than living a life of promiscuity or loneliness.

  4. David says:

    Thank you so much, Joe. As a homosexual (I came out to my sister last night – the first person I have ever talked to about it) who loves the Church, I have tried to fight who I am for so many of my 38 years. I have felt alone and unloved for most of my life. Now I know that I am neither. Thank you.

    • Joe says:

      David,

      Thanks for the comment. I am glad you have found my website helpful to you. :) Mother Teresa once said “The most terrible poverty is loneliness and the feeling of being unloved.” She understood that these feeling were some of the worst feelings one can experience. I do want you to know that you are not the only gay Catholic out there. You are not alone nor are you unloved. When we hold things inside, especially something as big as our sexuality, we end up not sharing our full selves with those around us. This can result in a feeling of loneliness and not feeling loved. I personally have found that since people found out that I am gay and being true to myself, life does seem to be less lonely. I do hope that you find the same. :)

      I am sure it was very difficult to tell your sister and I hope she was understanding. I do hope that being honest with your sister will only strengthen your relationship with her.

      If you ever need to chat with someone, feel free to leave a comment on one of my postings or send me an email. Just know that you are not alone. :)

  5. damo says:

    hello joe homosexuality is not a sin god created us its man that teaches us that we are sinfull.not god.joe we only have one life to live you are not commiting any sin being gay or going to a gay bar and looking for love its a basic human need like food or shelter we all want to be loved and sex plays a large part of it..listen mr go and live.and im not suggesting you bed hope or whore it around ..just pack up and move to the city..go and grab life ..ditch those shackles of religion..your not a bad person ,your not a sinner ,we are tought that we are sinners by hetrosexual men..not god..keep your religien and practice it ..but you dont have to live your life in fear and shame if you mean no harm and just give out peace and loveing you wont be judged…go and live man

  6. Alejandro says:

    In the catholic religion it isn’t a sin to be gay. You can be gay. The sin is if you go out and make another “gay” Person have relationships with you. Then its a sin. My friends Preist is gay and he is a ok :) its not bad to be gay….but watch out fo rthe know it all catholics they are the ones that give us open minded ones a bad names.

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