I HAVE not followed the intricacies of the debate over the
church's teaching on homosexuality reported over the last few weeks, although I have read a number of the related letters published and feel that I cannot stay silent any longer.
I am a devout Catholic. I am also gay. I became fully aware of my sexual orientation about three years ago when I was 15. I can't say that I gloried in the discovery, yet neither was particularly distressed; it was just me — another one of the facets, the qualities, that makes me the person I am.
Paradoxically perhaps, given the anti-homosexual teaching of the church, I retained, and still retain, the implicit faith and trust in God and Catholicism that I had had up to that point.
However, with the passing of puberty and the first true feelings of sexual awakening encountered by everyone, I realised what a burden had been placed on me. While friends were talking of girlfriends and expressing interest in the female sex, I had to keep quiet and try not to appear conspicuous.
Children are notoriously bad at keeping secrets and it's not an easy job for adults, be it a surprise party, bad news or whatever. A basic human characteristic is to share and communicate, yet for the first time here was something 1 couldn't speak about, or even hint at. I could say nothing, which is hard enough with more routine "secrets", yet when it is something so inherent to the self, it is pure hell.
Loneliness must be one of the prime characteristics of homosexuality as, while life goes on as normal, it runs parallel with an isolated hole whenever sexual matters are mentioned. As you are the only person who knows the dreadful secret, you can do little else but retreat into yourself — an intensely depressing state of affairs.
Luckily, I could place complete trust in a girl I knew at college and was able to talk about my feelings to her — an incredibly valuable "release valve" which ended, albeit temporarily, months of isolated . misery.
However, not everyone is so understanding and it is terribly irritating and upsetting when people continue the blinkered fallacy of assuming homosexuality and promiscuity to be synonomous. Of course there are people who bask in their active homosexual lifestyle, just as there are those who wholeheartedly advocate a promiscuous heterosexual lifestyle. Yet this is not a general rule.
I know in myself that 1 will never indulge in any act of gay sex. Yet, at the same time, I am human and, try as I might, 1 cannot fulfil a life of chastity. I have had a relationship with a male friend, yet it was understanding and loving there was nothing dirty and sordid about it. There doesn't have to be.
I've tried to steer this letter away from becoming over indulgent in self-pity and melancholy and while I don't expect it to alter anyone's viewpoint I hope it may just give the people continuing this debate a little of an insight into what it's actually like to be gay, and hope it may make people think twice before falling back into cheap, stereotyped views.
I haven't published my name and address for obvious reasons. My defences are still up. I'm still on my own.
Name and addressed supplied I WONDER whether you would be prepared to allow equal space as that allowed to Anthony Redmond (August 23) to one who does not share his views?
Anthony quotes Fr Goffredo Crema as stating that "sometimes it frightens me the way the church's teaching is continually cited while the gospel message is not". But he makes no effort to demonstrate where the two differ. Indeed, how could they? Is not the church's teaching the continuation of the gospel message, authorised by Christ's words "whosoever hears you, hears me".
The quote goes on "a gay must be able to live within the church without having guilt and destructive guilt complexes". But if the word "gay" here is intended to refer to sexually active homosexuals, is it not relevant to ask whether Fr Crema (and Anthony) would extend the same "compassion, concern and sensitivity" to those who offend the teaching of the church in other directions — to the adulterer, the abortionist, the thief or the liar?
"We are all creatures of God", he tells us, "and he loves us as we are". Certainly we are all the children of God, but he loves us despite of what we are, not "as we are". Does he not give us the sacrament of reconciliation so that by his grace we might improve on what we are? By what right do we claim to exclude ourselves from those to whom he has told us that he will say "depart from me cursed"?
The church teaching as it does that sexuality has its proper — and only expression in marriage, Cardinal Ratzinger cannot be faulted for writing of homosexual sexual activity as "behaviour to which no one has any conceivable right". But I challenge Anthony to tell us where the cardinal "goes as far as attacking the homosexual orientation or the conection itself" and which theologians have suggested that the condition is in fact "good, positive and wholesome".
One does not doubt for a moment Fr Sean Fagan's statement that many homosexuals "see celibacy as an impossible ideal". That same claim is made by heterosexuals. One recalls Chesterton's statement that "Christianity has not been tried and found wanting: it has not been tried". And when surveys have shown that, on average, sexually active homosexuals have 15 partners per year, it is, I would suggest, most unlikely that they could confine themselves to "responsible, loving and committed" relationships.
They are not, they should remember, the only ones "condemned" to an unwanted celibacy, and their lifestyle is to say the least — physically injurious, which in itself is surely an indication that it does not accord with the will of God.
There are, I must admit, several rather enjoyable sins that it would suit myself for the church to cancel (the cancellation to be backdated, of course). But she can't do it; she won't do it; I cannot expect it; and neither can you, Anthony. We are stuck with President Truman's dictum: "If you can't stand the heat, get out the kitchen".
Chessington Noel Benson Surrey