Resources For Women with SSA

A reader recently pointed out that there are quite a few resources for men with SSA — there’s Courage, People Can Change, Exodus, Jonah, Regeneration…the list goes on. Not all of them are equal, but there’s bound to be something no matter where you are.

But what about for women? All I could think of were Eve Tushnet, who blogs at and not too long ago had a good article in the New York Times; and Melinda Selmys, who blogs at and has a book out by the same title.

Good stuff, but pretty slim pickin’s. Can anybody help?

16 Comments on “Resources For Women with SSA”

  1. John says:

    I enjoy your blog quite a bit, and I have a question I’m not sure you or anyone can really answer, but I thought I’d bring it up anyway. Is SSA a different struggle from straight lust? Leaving aside married people, there are plenty of heterosexual folks who are called to celibacy, and no doubt struggle with it. People frequently talk as if there is something different about “being gay,” and not being a mind reader, I don’t quite grasp that difference. Is that something you could shred some light on

  2. John says:

    (Sorry about the extra R and missing ?. Posting from my phone.)

  3. Matt says:

    Celibacy isn’t simply not having sex, but sharing in the virtue of Chastity as seeing sex as Holy, important, and coming from God for the creation of new life and a sharing in His infinite joy.

    1. Pardon the cavil, Matt, but I have a thing about words and definitions. “Celibacy” means abstaining from sex. “Chastity” means everything else you said. It’s true that people do often think chastity means mere celibacy.

      1. Matt says:

        Of course. I suppose I should have been more careful in what I right. I just wanted to say that Chastity and Celibacy do (or, in my humble opinion should) share some common similarities.

        1. Matt says:

          *write. Oh my, I can’t even take my own advice 😀

  4. A.D. says:

    God works in mysterious ways, and truly does answer prayer. Check out this post from the Good Woman Project. Their theme for November is pornography. Coincidence? I think not.

  5. Monica says:

    Here’s a resource for women with SSA that has helped me tremendously: Janelle Hallman’s book The Heart of Female Same-Sex Attraction. You can find more info at her website

  6. Joe says:


    I’ve often thought about your exact question. I have ssa/am gay, etc. so I may be able to provide some insight here. I am a man, though, so I don’t know if the same insights apply to lesbians, though I have a feeling that they do.

    While I don’t want to go into which one is “harder,” being straight and celibate or being gay and celibate, there are some differences I want to point out. Before that, though, you are right to note that celibacy is celibacy. Not having sex (or committing any sexual act) is not having sex. Celibacy, for any person, requires a Lot of fortitude, whether he likes women, men, plants, children, or anything else. All of that is very true, and I think many homosexuals can learn from heterosexuals who are able to remain celibate (or at least chaste). I actually find more heterosexual men attempting to become sexually pure than homosexual men. I have noticed that most homosexual men have given up entirely on sex as an ideal. This often, in my experience anyway, leads to their giving up on everything else.

    And that segues into my larger point: I think homosexuality is a bigger disorder than secular culture (and religious culture even) recognizes it as. A homosexual is not just a totally normal, healthy person who happens to want to have sex with people of the same sex. While that’s often his most identifying characteristic, there’s more to it, especially as it relates to notions of gender.

    First of all, a homosexual is pointed at/aimed at (and Steve hasn’t written a lot about this) a totally disordered end. That is, his insurmountable desires have no positive outlet. A heterosexual person is pointed at a healthy, ordered end that can bring him a divine type of fulfillment. These starting positions, I think, have enormous effects on various aspects of the heterosexual or homosexual person’s life.

    In my own life (and in every homosexual I’ve ever known), this is certainly the case. For example, I have trouble connecting with both females and males. With females, it feels fake or forced. I often don’t even like their company in a very deep way. I try hard to remedy this, but it’s very difficult. I see them as completely other. They don’t represent closeness to me, and I even find myself having trouble respecting them.

    With men, I always feel like I am falling in love with them whenever I get close to them emotionally. Yet men are the only people I seem to ever really be able to emotionally connect with. This is a serious problem. Men are supposed to have male friends with whom they share male experiences with in order to become better. (And I don’t mean “supposed to” in the moral way. I mean “supposed to” in the way that describes what will allow a person to be healthy and complete.) I am almost incapable of doing this. Even the most boring, everyday stuff (talking about work or class or whatever) I have trouble doing with men. I feel often entirely disconnected from the situation. I will sometimes even get aroused when I get especially emotionally close to men. This is both horribly embarrassing (though no one ever notices, I make sure) and horribly disheartening. It reminds me that I simply cannot have healthy relationships with men, and there is Nothing I can do about it.

    What you have, effectively (and I’m sure most pro-gay advocates would agree) is a swapping of roles. Despite the modern world’s insistence, though, these roles cannot be swapped. A homosexual man is still a man. And a man requires certain things to be a successful man. Among these things are close non-sexual relationships with other men. Women cannot fulfill this requirement, no matter how hard we try. It’s also interesting to note that even if the roles Could be swapped, the Roles Still Exist.

    Heterosexuals, from what I can tell, don’t deal with the various problems mentioned above. Not because of their sexuality anyway. It is a constant struggle just to be normal because of my sexuality. And, as I’ve said, this is true even for men who live the gay lifestyle everyday. I don’t want to say that these people aren’t or can’t be “happy,” because that’s a silly immeasurable standard, but I can say that they struggle with the same things everyday—whether they get their release or not. And it’s not just because the world is prejudiced against gays, etc. etc. That’s just something to hide behind. It’s because they cannot live up to the standard of what manhood actually is.

    Put simply, homosexual men have serious problems flourishing as men. As such, they have trouble dealing with most areas of their lives, especially as they relate to self identity and emotional connections. They are always trying to overcome either their effeminacy or their inability to appropriately connect with people around them. They simply lack the tools to build themselves up to be what men are supposed to be. Put overly philosophical, homosexual men are broken instances of the form of man.

    All of this, as Steve provides a perfect example of via this blog, leads to serious introspection, depression, and loneliness. So while the celibacy aspect is identical between the sexualities (and is perhaps the most important issue morally), the underlying sexual issues are not.

  7. Diane says:

    we can get caught up in the minutia of SSA but in the end, I don’t need support groups or endless talking about every aspect of it. It’s pretty clear that I am not to act upon sexual desires that are outside of God’s plan for humanity. It is also clear that this means that I have to come to terms with a life with no romantic partner for me…which is no different than the divorcee who lacks an annullement. Everyday, I ask God to comfort me in my loneliness and give me happiness in ways that please him…period.

  8. JoAnn in CO says:

    I appreciate your honesty in sharing so much here. I am a married mom of 6 children, and have had many friends with SSA. I grew up in So CA in the 80s, and our university library was known to employ mostly people openly living a gay lifestyle. My college roommate was gay. This was before I was Catholic, and I had to come to terms with loving my friends, but not condoning their lifestyle (once I came into the church). It was a struggle, and I did lose friends. They thought I was judging them, and interestingly, I never did really talk to them. It was their decision to drop me as a friend, simply because of my faith beliefs. I pray for all those struggling with this. I am sad that my friends could not remain friends, and I pray for them. God bless you in your quest for holiness.

  9. Barbara in N CA says:

    I am reallly glad to have stumbled upon your artice in OSV. I am active in my small church in northern California, and am also in a 26-year long term relationship. My partner and I are have been celibate for more than 15 years with each other, but we care deeply and love one another. I have absolutely no need to find a man to fullfill my life. Been there and done that. I have 2 children to prove it.
    What I struggle with is being in the “closet” with my Catholic group at church. I am very visible in my ministry and participation with the mass. I am in a very small church and everyone just thinks that I am single – I don’t say anything to rock the boat. It’s hard sometimes because I do consider myself quite “other” from them and wonder if I am walking my faith by the will of God or my own. The Church pretty much says that it’s okay to be SSA, but not in any kind of a relationship. I care to differ.

  10. John says:

    Thanks. That actually answers a lot of questions. God bless you, brother.

    If you and your friend are celibate, I don’t understand the difficulty. Is it just that you think your fellow parishioners wouldn’t believe you are celibate?

  11. viego pobre says:

    Joe, i agree that the roots of SSA are very deep. if someone thinks that just not engaging in sexual actions will cure them…….they are in for a big surprise.
    of course, no sex is just the first step because acting out will only make everything worse. but it has been my experience that too many men with SSA think that just not acting out will cure them. of course, they will keep acting out because they never get to a deeper acceptance and cure.

    a poor metaphor would be an alcoholic who knows that he just cannot drink.
    but if he is “clean” by “white knuckling’ it, he will always relaspe eventually. but if he sees that his alcoholism is a symptom of some deeper issues and uses the 12 steps to do some inner work, he has a chance at real healing and sobriety.
    this pattern explains, to me at least, why so few men with SSA find real healing. they cannot break their sexual addictions and just stay in and out of the same rut. unless someone has been clean and free from acting out on every level for at least 3 to 5 years, i dont think they really know what celibacy is and for sure no real healing has taken place. once one starts to act out to whatever level, he opens up a whole new can of worms that starts an addiction cycle that keeps repeating for years and years….and he may never get to a level of real healing.

    Barbara and Diane,
    as long as the relationship is not sexual, i see know reason it cannot be intimate and deep on other levels. and Barbara, just some unasked for feedback…….i am a total “don’ ask, don’t tell” person in situations like yours. as long as the relationship is not sexual, i see no reason and no real long term good coming out of telling others. IMHO!

  12. yvonne durnad says:

    I am a strong supporter of our Catholic brothers & sisters who struggle with same sex attraction. I help with the support groups Courage/Encourage which at this time is the only Catholic support that is true to the teaching of the Magisterium and Scripture. I would like to send you some info about them if you can give me an e-mail address. Many are lost for lack of knowledge. These support groups support with truth and grace. Education is key as well as caring support. Thanks you for hearing me. Blessings, Yvonne Durand

  13. Susan says:

    Some Courage groups have both men and women in attendance, and in some areas there are Courage women’s groups.

    Courage also has a women’s online listserv called “Ladies of Courage”. More information on the Courage Women’s Listserv can be found here:

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