"Al, you're not gay. Go to sleep." And with that rebuff, not unkind in its tone, my best friend dismissed my greatest worry in the world.
Earlier that evening as we had watched a Bond movie at the student centre, my mind kept jumping back to Topic H. I was on spring break from my final year of high school back in 1981 and visiting my friend, a freshman at one of the universities I was checking out for the fall. When we returned to his residence, I wanted desperately to talk but couldn't bring myself to raise the subject without the aid of lots of rum and Coke. At last I confessed that I thought I was ... might be ... gay--only to be told I wasn't, and that was that!
In the morning, both of us now sobered up, he assured me, "Just wait, and some little lady will come along and sweep you off your feet." I didn't believe him.
I continued to struggle with my sexuality, eventually deciding during the first work term of my co-op program at university that, like or not, I did have these feelings I would have to deal with. I had little sense of any other options, so I came to deal with the feelings by taking on a gay identity.
I came out to my friends and family. The column on gay and lesbian issues I wrote in the mid-80s was one of the first of its kind in a student newspaper in Canada. I represented the Waterloo student group on Toronto's Gay Community Dance Committee, which organized fundraising dances at the (Lord, have mercy!) Masonic Temple. I joined in countless marches and demonstrations for gay rights. You've heard of disco bunnies, who spent all their time on the dance floor; my lover's roommate aptly pegged me as a "Movement bunny."
Over the years, I would take a certain wry satisfaction in the ongoing failure of the well-meaning but naive prophecy by my friend from high school. If I was, as he'd said, "just going through a phase," this was one helluva long phase.
Well, the lady has arrived.
I was horrified to discover in 1988 that my parents were praying for my deliverance from homosexuality. The first major step in that deliverance came ten years later in the form of my return to Christianity. After that, I realized I needed to examine whether gay sex was compatible with living a life wholly devoted to Christ. I finally concluded that it wasn't, at which time the break I'd been taking from sex with guys turned permanent.
I came to think of myself as a celibate gay man and later to renounce altogether the gay identity that had once been fundamental to my self-image. To have called myself "ex-gay" then, though, would have misleadingly implied, I thought, that I was no longer sexually interested in other men. Without regular stoking of the passions through fantasy or acting out, my homosexual desires had become less inflamed, but they hadn't disappeared completely.
heterosexual attraction, marriage has been a theoretical
prospect ever since that spiritual reawakening in 1998, at which point
I came to appreciate the great wonder of God's plan for human
fruitfulness. I occasionally found myself attracted to particular
women. But only once had I gotten so far as to actually ask a woman for
a date, and she wasn't interested.
Meanwhile, starting around 2004, I used to visit the blog Sed Contra, which dealt largely with discipleship and same-sex attraction from a Catholic perspective. David Morrison, the author, cultivated a community of readers, dubbed "Sed Contrarians," who would debate the issues of the day, usually with remarkable civility. (Though David has taken the blog down, I've made almost all of its content accessible through the Sed Contra Archive.)
Among the Sed Contrarians was a woman writing under the pen name of "Blanche the Davidian," who impressed me with her intelligence and forthrightness. She was a devoted reader of the blog, though her comments made it clear she herself did not struggle with same-sex attraction.
I dropped an e-mail to "Blanche" in January 2007 after seeing from a comment of hers that she, like me, currently lived in Toronto. She wrote back a few days later, noting that we had friends in common and saying she sometimes went to Vespers at Holy Family, my parish. I later learned that "Blanche" had become friends with David when he spoke to a pro-life club while she was living in Washington, DC.
On Valentine's Day that year, "Blanche" revealed to me her real name, Theresa.