Sunday, March 14, 2010

What if All the Gay Catholic Priests Came out of the Closet?

     When I was a priest, I fantasized about composing a manifesto and emailing it to every priest in the world.  Together, all of us gay priests would come out of the closet from the pulpit on Transfiguration Sunday.  I knew the numbers were on our side.  All we had to do was overcome the paralyzing power of fear and shame.  If we did, then we would have the power of the truth on our sides, and there would be no more manipulation by the ecclesial powers that be, who controlled us with our shame.

     I composed the email, but I never pushed the send button.

     Scraping through the memories of my seminary and priesthood years, it's obvious that the vast majority of priests and wannabes were gay.  The percentage of gay priests is impossible to calculate because nearly all were/are in the closet. 
     When I left the priesthood I was clinically depressed.  I checked myself into a care facility for priests, nuns, and ministers who'd been broken by their churches.  The best six months of my life, in terms of my personal growth, followed.  At the Southdown Institute, gay clerics were encouraged to be out of the closet, and something we couldn't foresee occurred.   For the first time in our lives, we started to develop and mature honestly, in the light.  Our gay adolescence bloomed, exhilarating, excruciating, and ex-foliating.
     Some would say that allowing seminarians and priests to be out of the closet is too dangerous, for they will have sex and fall in love.  But in the current system of sacred silence, priests already have sex.  They fall in love.  They also torture and harm themselves and others because they are developmentally stunted from being the closetSome also abuse, even the most venerated.

     Even if we could prove that all these things would continue were priests out of the closet and even if priests still did these things, at least they would be living honest lives and witnessing to the truth of their experience rather than cowering in the clerical closet, shamefully vulnerable to the clerics in power who know of their gay secret.

     Nearly all of the gay clerics with whom I did my six months of intensive group therapy returned to ministry, and they were healthier, more honest, and, for the first time in their lives, free of shame.  They were no longer suicidal, clinically depressed, and/or eating, drinking, sexing, or snorting their ways into silent submission. They were whole and at peace. 

     Isn't bringing peace what Christians preach their gospel is supposed to do?  Then why does the church continue to force its leaders into a closet of deceit and shame?

     As long as the church preaches a closet of shame and fear to LGBT persons, those faithful will never find the truth that is supposed to set them free.


truthspew said...

I wish you had sent that letter. Hopefully you would have seen a mass transformation of the church if that were the case.

Heretic Tom said...

I wish I'd have given it a shot, too. Of course, I was so depressed at the time that I didn't have the hope or energy.

I doubt it would have made any difference. Guys are so afraid and it controls them. It's easier for them to live a double life than to come out.

For me, the double life wasn't an option after ordination. I considered it (but was rejected by the man with whom I was in love--a topic for another post, someday).

After I was in the parish and preaching/teaching, I knew that I couldn't live a double life. The fact that I was gay (albeit celibate) and not being honest about it added to my depression. Having sex on top of that would have torn me apart even more.

FrankK said...

Is the problem that gay priests are banned by the Catholic Church or that they are required to be celibate?

Apologies for my ignorance on the subject.

Heretic Tom said...

Hi Frank. See this post for my experience of the anwer to your question: