It’s Time To Get Writing

I’m a bit over halfway through Eve Tushnet’s new book, called “Gay and Catholic.”

This about sums up how I feel:


I should have an official review published soon, and I suspect I’ll add more reflections here. More than anything, however, reading it has convinced me that I need to finish my book and get the thing out there. There’s just such strange thinking out there in the whole “gay but chaste” world that needs to be countered with some good old fashioned Catholic anthropology.

Here’s a good way to get me all excited to write: labeling the 1986 Letter On The Pastoral Care Of The Homosexual Person in the way Eve does:

This statement is not a jewel in the Church’s crown, I’m sorry to say.

Contra Tushnet, I can’t think of a more gleaming gem than this one, since it’s the one document of the Vatican that impacts my life most personally. In fact, I’ve written that this document makes me wish I could head on over to Rome and give a big bear hug to Papa Benedetto before he leaves this earth for his eternal reward. And I suspect he’ll be getting a jewel in HIS crown for having written such a remarkable document as the 1986 Letter.


I’m always suspicious when people read a Church document that intersects their lives more intimately than most other documents, and they then find a lot that they disagree with. If you contracept, and you say, for example, that Humanae Vitae isn’t a jewel in the Church’s crown, well, I don’t think the problem is with the document.

Nearly on every page, I find myself saying, “Eve! You just need to go further into the church you’ve fallen in love with. You’re still on the periphery! Go further up and further in!”

More on the book later–there is good stuff there, and I’ll be sure to write about that, but goodness gracious, how differently do I view the world than does Eve Tushnet!

All that to say, I need to finish my book.



8 thoughts on “It’s Time To Get Writing

  1. I look forward to reading your review, because I certainly have no intention of reading her book. What really gets me about “those people” (my people?) is basically summed up in her subtitle “accepting my sexuality…” So much of what I have read from the “gay but chaste” crowd implies that those of us who refuse the label are somehow not living authentically or unaccepting of our (disordered) sexuality. While probably not intended, there is a smugness there. I feel that if they want to call themselves gay, then they should be gay – with all that goes with it. I would probably have more respect for them in the long run. But that’s just me….

    • I agree with you on this. There is indeed a smugness there that is irksome to me too. On a certain level, there’s more honesty with people who embrace living out a life of active homosexuality. If “gay is good,” then why not act upon it?

  2. When I was 13 years old and realized I had a same sex attraction. I became emotionally devastated and withdrawn. I didn’t want to go on with life. I was so self conscious and I felt everyone knew what was going on inside of me.

    I began to develop patterns of self destructive behavior. My father never encouraged me in anything, although he would encourage my brothers. I became ashamed of what I was and started to doubt the existence of God.

    Just by chance my Father and Uncle asked me to travel with them to visit another uncle that lived in another city about 90 minutes away. I had never met him before but this encounter changed my life forever.

    He worked at an airport and was blinded when a propeller accidentally hit him in the head. He didn’t have vision with his eyes but his eyes were filled with light. There was a joy about him that few people with the gift of sight have.

    When I was introduced to him, I went to shake his hand and he shook my hand with both of his hands. He immediately said “You have such big hands! What a beautiful blessing!” In that one moment, with that one statement, I felt like all the chemicals in my brain shifted to an uplifting attitude and my depression vanished.

    We spent the rest of the afternoon talking, he wanted to know all about this nephew of his he hadn’t met before. This was my first encounter with what I call an “Everyday Saint”, he’ll never be canonized, but the saintly aura surrounding him was impossible to go unnoticed.

    His encouragement changed me forever. I’m in my 50’s now and my uncle Sidney passed away 23 years ago but I think about him everyday. He was a devout Roman Catholic and I can credit this blind man for seeing something good in me (where people with perfect optical vision couldn’t or wouldn’t) that lead me to become a very devout practicing Roman Catholic that holds tight to living a chaste life.

    What a difference encouragement can make in the life of a broken soul !

  3. I’ll be really curious to read both your review and your book. (and I should probably also read Tushnet’s book…) I am a 21-year-old (celibate) Catholic who struggles with SSA, and I found the Letter to Homosexual Persons very off-putting. It struck me as a little harsh and not very geared toward those who actually struggle in this manner. If I wasn’t a committed Catholic before reading it, it certainly wouldn’t have encouraged me to turn towards the Church.

    • Thanks for the comment. I’d be curious to know what areas were off-putting and harsh to you. I suspect the phrase “objective disorder,” but other than that, which portions resonated with you, and which portions made you uncomfortable?

      God bless you in your commitment to chastity!

      • Well, I don’t currently have the notes from my initial reading of the document with me here at school, but form re-reading it, I’ll try to gather some of the things I found a bit disconcerting.
        -Objective Disorder: I do understand (finally!) why this is true. I still don’t like the term, but I don’t have a problem with the teaching itself.

        -“[w]hen they engage in homosexual activity they confirm within themselves a disordered sexual inclination which is essentially self-indulgent.” (7): I’ve never engaged in homosexual activity, so I don’t say this out of defense of myself. But I think that this sentence may not recognize the fact that those who act out their homosexual inclinations are not capable of loving the other person. I agree that it’s wrong to act it out, but saying that it’s “essentially self-indulgent” negates the fact that it is possible that the two people do legitimately love each other.

        -“They are called to enact the will of God in their life by joining whatever sufferings and difficulties they experience in virtue of their condition to the sacrifice of the Lord’s Cross.” (12): This sounds extraordinarily simplistic. As I said, I have never engaged in homosexual activity. But I can’t ‘just’ hand over these attractions to the Lord and expect that to fix everything. I’ve tried that, when I was young(er) and dumb(er). I was surprised when my attractions weren’t prayed away. I am sure that the bishops aren’t thinking that prayer alone with solve all sexual confusion, but this section doesn’t give any practicals of something else to do.

        -13 and 14 are just overall frustrating for me. I have never heard a homily where homosexuality was spoken of correctly – with Love, but still as something wrong. The few times I have heard a homily which spoke of SSA, it was in passing and was dismissed quickly as “obviously wrong”. If it is the role of bishops and priests to speak on this issue, then they should, especially during homilies. There *are* ways to speak of it discretely and in a family-friendly manner. (I should note here that I don’t blame our pastors… it’s a hard topic to talk about. I love our priests. But I do think more could be done regarding this particular topic.)

        -“The human person, made in the image and likeness of God, can hardly be adequately described by a reductionist reference to his or her sexual orientation.” (16): I agree. However, sexual orientation does influence many of our beliefs. Perhaps it shouldn’t, but it does (at least for me. I’ve never actually spoken to another person who struggles with this, so I’m jumping to conclusions). My SSA changes the way I see the world sometimes. So while I can’t be reduced to my “orientation”, it also cannot be ignored.

        -“This catechesis would also assist those families of homosexual persons to deal with this problem which affects them so deeply.” (17) This assumes that the person dealing with SSA has told his or her family about their struggle. I, for one, have not. So my family cannot help me deal with this problem. Again, its just a really small assumption that isn’t quite universally applicable. I have a hard enough time talking my counselor and spiritual directors about this particular issue without involving my family!

        I know these aren’t all the same issues I found during my first read-through of the document last year, but they still implicate somewhat of a misunderstanding of the issue at hand. I wonder if the bishops consulted any people who actually struggle with SSA before publishing this. As I wrote to a friend after reading it, “I would never recommend this for reading for any person who struggles with any sort of homosexual tendencies. I had to read it for class and it made me mad, and I’m not even close to ‘coming out’ (nor will I ever…)”. Maybe it hit too close to home? But I think, more accurately, it just didn’t seem as pastoral as it needed to be.
        Thank YOU for your writings and witness- it’s encouraging to see those older and wiser than myself dealing with SSA in a mature and holy way.

      • Hi there, and thanks for the comments–I’ll be sure to get back to this in the next few days. And your comment reminded me of a homily that recently took place that I think is a good model for how priests can talk about homosexuality in the Church. I’ll dig that up too!

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