G, L, B, T, Q, S . . . What’s your identity?

While it is true that same-sex attractions are a part of my life story, today I share of myself to defend the Catholic Church.  Yes, you read that correctly—defend. I pray that you will open your heart to hearing my voice.

Who Do You Say I Am?

Countless people (yes, even Catholics) try to impose the “gay” identity onto me. They feel that if I want to be honest with myself, I should describe and define myself in that way. Many are quite frank in expressing that if I don’t embrace that identity label, then I must be self-hating, delusional, in denial, mired in shame, and so forth (and really, it’s gettin’ kinda old).

This way of thinking reflects the deeply entrenched (and false) idea that “being gay” or “being straight” is “who we are.” Perhaps this is why people think I must embrace the “gay” identity label in order to live a joyful and fulfilling life. They cannot comprehend that there is another way—a way that I joyfully embrace.

Today I see myself first as a beloved son of the Most High; a brother in Christ. Instead of defining myself according to the attractions I experience (which are merely a facet of myself), I base my identity first and foremost on my relationship with God—while still being honest with myself about the attractions I experience.  In choosing to embrace this identity, I have found more joy than I knew was possible!

I got to where I am today by realizing a few key objective truths:

1. Though I don’t choose my attractions, I do choose how I self-identify and define myself. 
In realizing that, I knew I had to see my attractions and my identity as distinct, if I really wanted to be honest with myself.

2. To be open to growing in virtue is to be open to Christ, while to be closed to growing in virtue is to be closed to Christ. 
Out of my love for Christ, I knew I needed to fully open my heart to virtue.

3. To seek fulfillment in Christ while refusing to grow in virtue is a contradiction. To seek fulfillment first and foremost in Christ while at the same time embracing an incomplete identity like “gay” or “straight” (identities that are not anchored first and foremost in Christ), will tear our soul in opposing directions. I lived this. Everything boiled down to my own openness to grow in the virtue of chastity. That brought me to realize:

4. The Church doesn’t reject people. Rather, some people reject the Church. Only I can decide whether or not I will be open to growing in virtue, and my decision will reveal the state of my heart. And that brought me to realize this:

5. If we truly love Christ, we will disengage from whatever undermines virtue (such as unchaste activity and incomplete labels that reduce us to our sexual and or romantic desires).

At this realization, I knew I could no longer self-identify as “gay” and still be fully honest with myself. That identity label led me to not see myself first and foremost according to my relationship with Christ. I knew I had to make the choice to open my heart to virtue—and drop that identity label.

If you think about it, self-identifying as “gay and Catholic” is similar to self-‎identifying as “straight and Catholic.” Both are woefully inadequate labels for the sons and daughters of God—we are so much more! 

Identity Matters

The identity labels we give ourselves influence what we perceive to be fulfilling, and thus influence how we live. For that reason, we need to focus on the formation of identityit’s what separates those of us who defend the Catholic Church, from those who aim to destroy it.

What Should We Do?

The Church invites all of us to become the living reasons why someone might desire to see themselves first and foremost through the lens of Christ. However, God’s love will shine brighter through us as the “living reasons” if we strive to exemplify the fullness of virtue ourselvesThis is how hearts will be won over for the Lord… I am living proof.

That is why today, I joyfully offer my life to defend the Catholic Church.

Will you help by sharing my voice?

(For more articles on this topic by Andrew and others, click here).

____________________

Andrew is a Courage member and contributor to the Pursuit Of Truth Ministries website. He is a speaker and writer, most recently co-authoring the pamphlet resource Sexuality and the Catholic Church, which has been made available for free download. He can be reached at info@pursuitoftruth.ca.

 

32 Comments

  1. I just read this and it really reassured me cause I’m going through the same thing now for six years. I thought I was the only one who had same sex attractions but also wanted to live out the faith. I’m glad that I finally found someone that has a similar story.

    By Daniel R | 3 years ago Reply
    • Daniel, you are not alone! Have you found Courage? Through this group you can find others like you. There isn’t a local group near where I live, but I recently went to their sports camp, which you also might check out.

      By Chad K | 3 years ago Reply
  2. Great article! Our world is so about labels…it limits us. Thanks for sharing your life and Christ’s wisdom and limitless love

    By Kiley | 3 years ago Reply
  3. This is such a great article. We all have inclinations toward sin, and once we’ve come through it, we can help so many more people in similar situations. Thank God for his love and mercy. I thought for today was, do you know my brother is “THE KING OF KINGS”. He does want us to be so much more than only our sexuality. And God is so much more than any kind of orgasm.

    By Monika Rosengarten | 3 years ago Reply
  4. Wow! I am impressed! I admire you..well, the work that Grace is making in your soul.
    Go ahead! !

    By cristina moreno | 3 years ago Reply
  5. I admire your love for Christ and the fact that they are not only words, they are words in action…God bless you! May you continue to inspire others.

    By luz infante | 3 years ago Reply
  6. Praise God for testimonials like yours. I have always prayed for Courage to be in every parish all over the world and for the Holy Spirit’s empowerment upon all of you! Many others are lost in this darkness and many more children even in future generations will surely need disciples like you to give hope,wisdom and strength for them to live according to God’s perfect plan. God bless all of you mightily, be ablazed in the Holy Spirit to the ends of the earth! My ardent prayers with you brethren!

    By Frances Pimentel | 3 years ago Reply
  7. Many many people choose to live virtuously instead of letting their sexual attractions rule over them, its called Christianity.

    By kathleen | 3 years ago Reply
  8. Hi folks..I believe.we are all children of God…Our gods may be different. I try to respect that. For many Iy followed the church teaching but as I met more folks who were gay..I realized their information was incomplete. I feel they are putting unfair burdens on folks which oftentimes is the last thing they need. I have become a good friend of Sr Jeannine Gramick who helped start New Ways ministry. She also was instrumental in starting Dignity which now has chapters around the world. I am a member of that as well as New Ways. For many years I held on to stereotypes that were not true. I finally came to realize that I deeply loved a woman. Closets are dark places. She came to realize the feeling was mutual. We were good friends for close to 38 years..lived together 28 years. I lost her to ovarian cancer almost two years ago this November. Our pastor and parish knew and loved her. Daylesford abbey knew us too. We were not celibate .. nor should we have to be…we were made by God too you know… actually it’s no one’s business but the couple involved. Sexuality is not just about procreation. When Mary Pat died her large loving family (took a hike…not very Christian although it is probably Catholic. ….interesting conundrum. I know this is not what you expected here but it is true. My gal could not have more courageous than any soldier. We danced and laughed every day…even her last. ..she did not eat from July to Nov because of tumors that had attached to her stomach. There’s not a doubt in my mind I handed her off to God. She was well loved. I had over a 1000 at the viewing…same at church next day….thousands of letters and messages. Father forgive them…they know not what they do I think is Jesus..message to love everyone and stop the crap (some church dogmas).. get over yourselves guys. I would be more than happy to talk to/meet. …whatever. …I know kids….and adults. ..can get suicidal over this stuff. I’ve seen it all. I was a nun for 17 years. ..left to take care of my mom…God took my hand after that. Life has been a real adventure. I will pray for all of us…

    By Kristine Higgins | 3 years ago Reply
    • Amazing story, you should not be ashamed of being the way you are, do not let the overly zealous ever get you down, I’m happy to have read your testimony.
      -Richard, an Ex-Catholic

      By Richard Cypher | 3 years ago Reply
  9. Fantastic! Great article and well stated. Keep up the good work. @Daniel R – you should also check out the Letters to Christopher blog. Really good stuff there. Peace to all in the struggle.

    By jd | 3 years ago Reply
  10. I’m totally confused by your post. So you’re gay and clearly attracted to men, but you refuse to act on your attractions because your Church does not accept it? Or you’re just refusing to call yourself gay but accept the fact that you are? Are you just planning on living your life alone (intimately at least) in fear of being struck down by God for liking other men? Sure it’s all about how you think of yourself and if you don’t want to call yourself gay that’s fine, but if you refuse to accept the fact that you are, you’re in for a long, tough life. How will anyone in the Church ever be able to help you with this daily struggle, because it’s surely never going to go away?

    I’m just not sure how this is going to help you with your homosexuality. It really sounds like you should see a psychiatrist to figure yourself out. How can someone just live their life ignoring what they are attracted to? I feel pretty bad for you…

    By Andrwe | 3 years ago Reply
    • Andrwe,
      You should read all the article again. You’ve massed up everything!
      I believe that people who sacrifices yourselves for God are just searching the holiness! He’s such an amazing person, with an amazing heart. His blog is inspiring lots of young people to live for Christ.
      I feel pretty bad for you…

      By Vanessa | 3 years ago Reply
    • Hi Andrwe, I just wanted to clarify a few things.

      Andrew (the author) does in fact realize his attractions. He is not hiding them because the Church does not accept them. (What is Andrew doing if he isn’t hiding them? And what is the Church doing?)

      He does not want to give himself the label gay because he believes “the identity labels we give ourselves influence what we perceive to be fulfilling, and thus influence how we live.”

      He does not plan on living a life alone. He lives with the Church, the Body of Christ. The Church as the Body of Christ is “the unity of all her members with each other as a result of their union with Christ (Catechism of the Catholic Church paragraph 521). He does not do this out of fear of being struck down by God but because He loves God and wants to love him more. In his love for God he seeks to be in communion, in intimacy, with Him.

      (Identity is not rooted in who we think we are, but in who God made us to be.) We can never fully know ourselves in this life but we hope and pray that God may reveal to us who we are. In refusing to identify as gay, Andrew is accepting that there will be a struggle. He is accepting that life will be hard. He is accepting that he might suffer. But the Father did not send the Son to die for us to take away our immediate sufferings. Out of love Jesus suffered, and because He is calling us to love, He is also calling us to suffer. But is Jesus asking us to suffer alone? No, He is not. Out of unity with the Church, He gives us the gift of other people, who are suffering the same problems, who have advice because of past experiences and because He gives gifts of council, and who are loving. But most importantly He gives the gift of Himself so that we may suffer with Him. “For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:30). Jesus never said that suffering was going to be taken away, but with Him it would be easier. His attractions may never go away but with Christ the burden is lightened.

      Again, Andrew is not ignoring his attractions, he realizes them and in realizing them can come to rely more on Jesus

      By Dylan | 3 years ago Reply
    • Andrewe, it’s understandable you’re confused by this post. This is a point of view not presented often. But truthfully, why would he be in for a “long, tough” life? And if he is, maybe it’s worth it. Think of all the saints who chose celibacy from their sexual activity. Some had same-sex attraction, some not. But their lives were satisfying and deeply meaningful. Acting on sexual feelings does not necessarily make life satisfying or meaningful. And why just because he feels same-sex attraction is his identity “gay.” I am attracted to chocolate ice cream, so should my identity be, “chocolate?” There’s so much more to a person.

      By Laura Paxton | 3 years ago Reply
  11. One thing I really love about the Catholic Church with regard to the gift of human sexuality is the fullness and clarity they offer on this gift. We live in a culture that does not have a clear understanding of this gift. One commenter mentions that to not be able to act on the same-sex attraction leaves a person to live a life of loneliness (intimately). Many heterosexuals share this same mindset but with regard to the opposite sex, that is to live a life without sexual activity would be lonely. That sex is a must in life, a given for self-satisfaction, and “love.” I do know many celibate people of both sexes who live very happy, fulfilling lives.
    However, a person of opposite sex attraction or one who identifies with same-sex attraction does not mean a person must have sex to be fulfilled or to have intimacy. Sexual intercourse is not a necessity for happiness, fulfillment, or for community. The gift of human sexuality is created by God for a specific purpose between a married male and female for life to consummate the covenant of marriage, to express mutual love and for the procreation of children and for the permanent bonding of the husband and wife for the benefit, and life long care of the offspring should there be any offspring. Many heterosexuals do not understand this most beautiful gift. It’s the misuse of this gift, which has caused quite a bit of chaos in our society, predominated due to the lack of proper understanding of the heterosexual crowd. Just the opposite of what one might think is happening regarding sex and loneliness. With all the sexual activity outside of marriage that is happening, you would think that there would be no loneliness, yet we seem to have more loneliness, more sadness, more suicide, more despair. Sexual attractions to either the opposite or same-sex do not have to be acted upon ever. Just like an alcoholic has an attraction to alcohol, they do not have to act on drinking it. Or someone who is quick tempered, does not have to act on it. Or someone who is attracted to chocolate cake does not have to eat the cake. I think we as thinking beings must consider the manufacturers guidelines. We all look at our owners manuals for our vehicles if we want them to run properly, or when we have a problem, all the more perhaps we should consider who made us and what works and what doesn’t and why that might be.
    Thank you Andrew for the Blog. Keep up the writing!!! You can write from a unique perspective and your perspective is really valuable to reach those who share your struggles.

    By Corinne | 3 years ago Reply
  12. U can’t be a homosexual and be Catholic. It doesnt work that way.

    By Alyssa | 3 years ago Reply
    • Alyssa, the whole point of Andrew’s story is that you can have same-sex attraction and be Catholic. It is in our Church that Jesus resides and with Him we can do anything, without Him we can do nothing. “I can do all things in Him who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13) We need Jesus to live holy lives. That is what it is to be Catholic.

      By Diana | 3 years ago Reply
    • Alyssa its the understanding that the “sin” (the physical practice of homosexuality) is separate from the human being committing it one can technically be “homosexual” and still be Catholic so long as they “choose” to control their emotions and primal instincts. We as humans also have a higher calling then following our instincts. That’s due to us having free will. its the same as anything else which may be considered an instinct. WE decide when we eat, sleep, and even go to the bathroom; “homosexuality is no different. Besides the church asks nothing different from “homosexuals” as “heterosexuals” both are called to live a chaste life till marriage. A good book to read up more on this is Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis though he was not Catholic he gives an excellent explanation as to how sexual morals are suppose to be. a side note he was originally atheist and converted to Christianity after he realized he could no longer deny it as the truth it the same book he gives many arguments that can still be used today when arguing over many Christan beliefs.

      By Tim | 3 years ago Reply
    • Alyssa – The world has taught an entire generation what you said – and it is both a misnomer and false.
      The Church does love all people, and if you experience particular attractions, that does not separate you from God’s Love, or make you have to leave the Church. If your heart is closed to virtue on the other hand… that is a choice that we make. As is the choice to remain chaste, that is also a choice we make… a choice in which all Christians are called to make.

      By Andrew | 3 years ago Reply
    • I’m catholic and gay.

      By Theresa | 3 years ago Reply
  13. We are defined first and foremost as children of God. This universal truth chucks out the confusion of ‘labels’ created by the secular mentality and media. The struggles our siblings with same sex attractions go through are no different than those of us attracted to the opposite sex, specially when fighting for chastity is involved.

    I have seen it as a problem where i come from, where people define themselves as “gay Catholics”, clearly having no knowledge and wisdom as to what Christ’s church teaches and still say get into relationships even with older men.

    When the world keeps up with this labelling – and that’s all they ever talk about without any liberty to reason – even kids as young as 12 will start believing that that kind of labelling gives them identity, (dangerous to believe such a lie). Specially in most cases where the root of the problem (carried later in life) is a bad relationship with their father or mother, in which case involves refreshing one’s mind from the garbage, the courage to a full confrontation & space and silence to reflect so as to be allowed to be guided by the Holy Spirit.
    Andrew, i admire the actions you’re taking in writing your experiences and thoughts. You’re truly God’s instrument of light in a world splattered, lost and blinded by muck. Pray for us and be assured of my prayers.

    By D.Anne | 3 years ago Reply
  14. Great article, Andrew! Thanks for clearly articulating the differences between attraction and identity. It is a distinction that has been muddied by confusion, fear, bigotry, and outright agendas. I love how you speak the truth in such a positive, forthright, and charitable way. Please continue to share your wisdom and your journey. Let your light shine! It is so needed in a dark and confused world. God bless you!

    By Mary Ann Jepsen | 3 years ago Reply
  15. I understand your pure love for God and Christ. Although it’s all fine and well to not take on a label of any sort (I really don’t appreciate labels either) you have still confused me by your denial of you own biological experiences. If God hasn’t specifically defined that it’s wrong to be attracted to the same sex then it makes no sense to me that as a homosexual you should deny your attraction to men physically. No ‘straight’ person has to deny their physical attraction. They are able to consummate their marriage with no condemnation. The inequality that still exists shouts to me that God does not accept equality because the people that follow him in love do not accept equality. The people decide what is sin, not God. It is not immoral or unethical to love the same sex. It is not immoral or unethical to want to share that love physically. It is not fair to ask a homosexual person to become celibate because they would sin if they seeked to physically and emotionally fulfill their destiny as an equal person. Labels aren’t important but living a life without physical love is definitely not a fair and equal expectation. I don’t believe is it a sin to love another person and to want to show your love physically. God would not condemn that love because it would be equal love. The fact that you even write this states to me that you remain unequal to your fellow ‘straight’ believers. Until it’s not an issue, it’ll always be an issue about equality. Every human should have the opportunity to live in equality, woman and men. If you’re suppressing an emotional and physical attraction toward another consenting adult because of the fear that God will see you as a sinner, then things are not equal. Until there is equality between humans, my faith for the Devine will remain without predjudice from people that follow their faith without accepting there are beautiful differences, and that those differences are not all sinful.

    By Anonymous | 3 years ago Reply
    • Anonymous,
      Your confusion is is one that often happens. First off, God gives use many biological instincts including sexual drive, hunger, thirst,sleeping, even using the bathroom is an instinct; and yet we have learned to control them as needed ( you don’t get out of your car and go poop in the middle of a busy highway as soon as that feeling hits you; you wait till you get to the nearest building or porta potty then you do your business). Our sex drive is no different. Also, it depends on how you use the term instinct. If you mean a Biological condition which is required for the species and the organism to survive then No, same sex attraction is not a instinct, rather its an impulse. something which one can feel but doesn’t necessarily need to act upon ( say someone drops a hammer on your hand you may want to kill because of the pain they caused you them but you don’t act on it simply because it happened). Also, we did not decide what these sins, Jesus himself comments on it in his teachings (Mt 5;28) and he makes it abundantly clear that no one is to have sex unless they are married (Mt19;5) it doesn’t matter who they are attracted to they are equally held responsible for their actions. because Sex is the physical and spiritual unity between a man and a woman(Mt19;5) he meant this literally (and lets face it the parts don’t work like that.) Finally, your coming at it from the perspective that equality and sameness are the same thing. they aren’t Equality means each person or thing has a role to play in how the world operates. Sameness would be everything and everyone doing the same thing if that was how it worked nothing would happen. A side note a good book to look at to give you a better understanding on these issues would be Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis he goes over these arguments in better detail and if you look past the superficial shell of what we call modern life you will see that his arguments hold up just as well today as they did in the 1940’s

      By Tim | 3 years ago Reply
  16. Your reflections and writing have certainly made an impact. The comments I have read suggest others should take your contribution to “identity” seriously. It deserves more than a speed-read.

    By Bryan | 3 years ago Reply
  17. First of all, as a pragmatist, I value actions above philosophy, and so while I strongly disagree with the bible’s sexual ethic, anyone who follows it deserves respect. (I should also say that I am gay myself, believe in God and a system of Karma, and do not follow any religion in particular, but take ideas from many.) That said however, there are a few problems with the biblical opinion on homosexuality. I’d say it is an axiom of moral philosophy that morality’s purpose – the holy spirit’s purpose – is to regulate how we treat one another. That’s why the bible says “do unto others.” Anytime the bible speaks of an offense against God, like idolatry, this is a metaphor for something a whole lot deeper. Idolatry is problematic because it externalizes and cheapens spirituality, which has historically led to corruption via the belief that spiritual power is attained not thru self-control, but other means. Idolatry isn’t problematic because it literally “makes God jealous.” That said, it also doesn’t always lead to corruption.
    The point I’m making is that accusing someone of immorality is very serious, (though the bible does it so often most fundamentalists may not think so), and requires a clear demonstration of malice, or bad intent or attitude. This is why Christ removed the no shellfish law – because it was arbitrary. Ultimately, that homosexuality is unusual, not what God intended, or slightly deviant doesn’t matter. What matters is how it is used between the (hopefully two) people involved. In fact, what makes homosexuality different from other sexual deviance is precisely that any two adult, consenting humans can have a meaningful, mutually beneficial relationship, both spiritually and emotionally, if their personalities mesh. Many have tried to argue that men and women were designed for compatibility, but simply put, if a man can deviate in whom he’s physically attracted to, then it’s just as likely that his compatibility is unorthodox too.
    We can also recognize, as most Christians, Muslims, and Jews do, that spiritual death is an organic process. God doesn’t decide to take a happy, functional human being and ruin them. That human being loses soul power by doing things that are bad for their soul. The fact that the two sets of genitals involved in a particular sexual act are the same have absolutely nothing to do with how that intercourse impacts their spiritual health, and for God to pass judgment despite this acknowledgement just doesn’t make sense.
    And lastly, as a corollary to the gay rights movement, I feel I need to address the discrepancy between muslims and christians. Most muslims/christians who discourage homosexual behavior also believe, as they have the right to, that their religion is the correct one. However, when looking at religious arguments rooted in the Abrahamic texts, you need to be sure that the debater understands the depth of the text. For example, some muslims accuse Christianity of being idolatrous. Perhaps it is – but the point is mute. If Christ isn’t fully God, and therefore is an idol to Christians, I have no doubt God rejoices in their mistake! What harm could come of idolizing a man who lived without sin? In the reverse, failing to recognize Christ as equal to God means nothing if a muslim, for instance, lives in the footsteps of Christ, Muhammed, and other like prophets, and embodies and emulates Christ – this is more important. So I conclude with this: It is only my opinion that homosexuality is perfectly fine; But, it is a fact that many of the condemnatory arguments I’ve read from fundamentalists toward those outside their religion are pretty bad, even though they might come from a good heart.

    By Jacob | 3 years ago Reply
  18. Thank you for clarifying it!
    I was so confused on this subject!

    THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!

    And God bless you! ^^

    By -_-Sleepy | 3 years ago Reply
  19. I’m queer, you’re queer, we’re all queer. Don’t feel shamed about who you are because of your religion.

    – a genderqueer, bisexual high school student of a (pretty prestigious tbh) Catholic college prep.

    By Stonewall | 3 years ago Reply
  20. Don’t live for Christ. He’s dead. Live for yourself and for others you love. Do that and there will be no contradiction. If you have to waste time on a mythical, invisible superhero, try a cool one like an invisible pink unicorn.

    By George | 3 years ago Reply

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