Seven Quick Takes, Vol. 5: Polarities

1: Lovers Gonna Love

I’m still recovering from the overflowing love and support I got in the comboxes, and on facebook, and by text message, and via twitter. I’m delighted, but not surprised, to find out that all the people in my life who I suspected of being kind and compassionate and generous really are that way. Thank you all so much. More than one of your messages brought tears to my eyes,1 and one in particular actually reduced me to a human puddle for a short while.

It’s really weird to have hidden something for so long because people might think it’s creepy or ugly or bad or sad or gross, only to have everyone in the world congratulate you when you let it out. Whaa? I think I just had my native simile jarred.

2: Haters Gonna Hate

Of course, it was also weird to have my celibacy treated as a personal affront, and to be called brainwashed and “douchey”, and to be told that I’m only celibate because nobody would want to have sex with me anyway, and to be warned that celibacy is impossible and I’m bound to start raping people left and right at any moment. Okey doke.

These things didn’t bother me, partly because the support FAR outweighed the insults — like, a hundred to one — and partly because these people weren’t even yelling at me, but at some bizarre brain-monster that their own prejudices had conjured up.

They reminded me of the crazy homeless people who walk back and forth down the street all day, screaming at the air. You wish you could do something for them, but they can’t hear or see you, and if you get too close, they’ll just fart at you.

3: I’m Different From You

That’s what I want to tell people who don’t know why I felt it necessary to come out publicly. Being gay doesn’t just mean having a particular bizarre sporadic arbitrary desire to sleep with other men. It means dealing, day in and day out, with what Melinda Selmys calls involuntary currents of homoeroticism. It means, for better or worse, the whole way you relate to other human beings, both men and women, is a little bit different from what people expect.

So it’s not only about what happens in the bedroom, but also in the office, on the street, at the movies, and at the dinner table. It’s a big deal. I don’t mean that every human interaction is secretly, unconsciously, about sex, or even that sex is the most important human interaction. I just mean that if your sexual preferences are different from other people’s, it’s a good indicator that a lot of other things about you are different, too.

4: I’m the Same As You

…And that’s what I want to tell everyone else. When I make some personal revelation to Ryan G.2 about my jealousy, or envy, or loneliness, and he looks at me and says, “Yeah, that’s perfectly normal, I’ve totally been there” — even though he’s straight and I’m gay — this means the WORLD to me. Growing up secretly gay, unable to share the things you feel most deeply with almost anybody — this has the effect of reinforcing, ever more deeply, the idea that you are fundamentally different from everybody around you.

That takes a long time to unlearn. But unlearning it, piece by piece, is where most of my healing has come from. The things I deal with are ordinary human things. Most men have, at one time or another, experienced the discomfort of liking something that Guys Don’t Like, or being more sensitive than is supposed to be appropriate for men, or being jealous or envious of their male friends. All that stuff might be a bigger deal for me than it is for them, but it’s just normal guy stuff.

5: Talking About It

I had a delightful, somewhat beery conversation with a Kung Fu buddy last night, all about religion in general and Catholicism and Buddhism and atheism and agnosticism in particular, and why on earth someone would want to be celibate, and what tolerance actually means.

This is part of why I came out: because I care deeply about these things, and I want to lay all my cards on the table when I talk about them, or at least to have the option. And I want other people to ask the things they have been wondering, without feeling like I’m going to bite their heads off for it.

6: Not Talking About It

On the other hand, when I went to pub trivia with some friends last Tuesday, the subject didn’t come up once. At first I was silently all But doesn’t everyone want to talk about how gay I am?, but that soon gave way to gratitude: for them, it was and would remain a total non-issue, unless it happened to be relevant to the situation, which it wasn’t. That’s exactly the way it should be.

7: What’s Next?

I have no idea. There’s a documentary coming out about the Church’s teaching on homosexuality, and I’m in it, so there’s that. I’m not sure when it’ll hit the youtubes, but I’ll keep you posted. If you’ve emailed or facebooked or anythingelsed me in the last week, I probably haven’t responded yet, unless you clearly weren’t looking for a response. But I will, and if I don’t, I absolutely GUARANTEE that it’s an accident, because of overactive spam filters or accidental deletion or who knows what. If this is you, I’m sorry! Please feel free to be persistent.

Meanwhile, here’s a video of a hillbilly and his raccoon dancing to Aretha Franklin.

1 Or anyway, they would have, except that would be SUPER GAY, so I probably just cleared my throat or something.
2 The G., of course, stands for “Gooseling”.

18 Comments on “Seven Quick Takes, Vol. 5: Polarities”

  1. Haley says:

    I am dying of silent laughter at this video (because I am at work on break and not silent laughter would make people stare). Hilarious…

    I love your #5 and wish more of this happened. No immediate assumptions or closing off; instead, actually discussing the topic at hand. To many more of these conversations!

    PS. I take kickboxing classes which I know isn’t the same as Kung Fu but class reminds me of it and you, and it would be awesome if we had class together. Martial arts is a great (and exhausting) hobby.

  2. Joe says:

    Joey. You are the ‘sons’ I want. That I currently pray for. Both of my sons recently admitted to SSA. 18 and 19 years old. We can’t talk. When I or my wife try I find them to be immature and arrogant about discussing the subject. We to are catholic but I see my kids wanting to come up with their own definition of what being catholic means. This led me to read your Yoiks post to them. I thank God for that and for you. I have been reading your blog for a year now. Your blog is one of the very few things on this earth that gives this dad peace and hope that my boys might fight for a similar understanding of their purpose in this very temporary state called life.

  3. Here’s comment number two from me. Wonders never cease. 🙂

    I have a Post-It on the walk over my desk on which I have written, “Don’t listen to people who aren’t saying anything.” Sounds like you’re doing a bang-up job with that so far. I also “get” the being different part, but not in the same way. I’m a straight and married (only once, thankyouverymuch) mother of two, but … both of my two have special needs. We’re mostly like every other ordinary family, except that we aren’t. It’s like the Bizarro Jerry episode of Seinfeld all the time.

  4. Jason says:

    Sometimes you just feel like dancing with a raccoon.

  5. JM says:

    Thank you again for another very insightful post. I sent you a VERY LONG email last week, and am hoping I will hear from you at some point (but maybe my email is sitting in your Spam box). At any rate, since you insisted, I sent another email tonight with a follow-up to my own story.

    I am moved by your journey through your faith, and hope I hear from you at some point. Your blog was my first stop when I searched online for help with my own SSA, and I can’t think of a better or more courageous introduction to living a virtuous life — regardless of our particular circumstances.

    If, for whatever reason, we never touch base, God bless you — and THANK YOU for leading me to the right path.


  6. Caitlyn S. says:

    Dear Joey,
    Point #6 struck me because that’s the way it was when I saw you earlier today. It wasn’t relevant to the situation and it was so good to see you!
    When I read your blog for the first time just earlier this week I prayed for you and was struck by effectiveness of the root system that is the communion of saints! “There LIVES the dearest freshness deep down things.” I also wanted to tell you that I really enjoyed all your posts relating to Gerard Manley Hopkins.

    1. Thanks, Caitlyn! So good to see you too, and to meet your little one.


  7. Lisa says:

    Joseph, I have followed your blog for about a year now, and have absolutely loved you. I love your thoughtfulness, gentleness and honestly. Your writings about your struggle with same sex attraction touch me. I have so often wished that I knew you so that I could give you a hug and invite you over for coffee. We all struggle with something, but few of us are so honest. You need all the support you can get. I have also followed your sister’s blog for about a year or two. There are not that many blogs that I follow, so it is amazing to me that I have been following both of you without realizing that you are siblings!! I would have never connected the two of you in my mind, however I remember that Simcha interviewed you, so there was that one small connection. As I think about it, you are both very down to earth and refreshing, and of course you are both from New Hampshire, so I probably shouldn’t have been surprised. Anyway, I just want to express my love & support. I am a stay-at-home mother of two (I wish I had more, but I married a bit later than most), NFP teacher, and a huge fan of Blessed Pope JPII; I actually love all of our recent Popes, but JPII moved me to tears so many times, so he has a special place in my heart. Joseph, God bless you!! I hope that I can meet you in person at some point. Thank you for your beautiful testimony! I hope that you continue to be as unguarded and honest as always. We need to hear what you have to say.

  8. Christine says:

    I second Lisa’s point about wanting to meet you in person and hug you and have coffee with you. I doubt we will ever meet because I live in the Midwest, but it would be awesome to be your friend in real life. I am glad that you don’t seem to lack for friends who actually do know you in real life!

  9. amy b says:

    “But doesn’t everyone want to talk about how gay I am?” I don’t know if you meant that to be humorous or not, but I will be chuckling about that all day. Gosh, I wish we could hang out and go shopping or something:)

    Amy B.

    ps- Can we be friends on facebook? Is it appropriate to even ask??

  10. ARM says:

    I’m just posting to say how nice it is that things are back to normal here. You’ve always had the most intelligent and courteous (while still interesting) combox I’ve ever seen. I was afraid that after the massive traffic to your last post the place would be all cluttered up with ranting crazies! I guess the visitors who stuck around are the polite ones.

  11. Maureen M says:

    I have the same question as Amy B. I was wondering if it was appropriate also, then she asked so I figured I might as well too.

  12. Mar says:

    Joseph, I am so happy to have found your blog. My sister just admitted to being gay after 15 years of marriage to a faithful man. They have decided to end their marriage (on friendly terms) and even though they still share a home with their 2 children, she has already started dating a woman. It is killing me and my mother to watch all this happen. I am so glad that living a celibate life is possible through reading your blog entries. Thank you for your courage and your faith. Your story gives me hope.

    1. Mar says:

      And yes, what Amy said. Can I be your FB friend too? 🙂

  13. Matt Jones says:

    Crap! I thought I posted that video under strict “privacy settings!” Now everyone knows what I look like and is going to think I’m weird. Thanks, Joey, for nothing.

    Now if you’ll excuse me, Mr. Sebastian and I have some Gloria Gaynor to jive to, IN PRIVATE.


  14. Alex says:

    Dude no homo but I would also love to have coffee with you. And be your facebook friend. You’re the bomb.

  15. Alex says:

    AND we have mutual fb friends. Man, Catholics know each other. Just sayin.

  16. IJelly says:

    Joey, I gotta admit, you’ve done this with a lot class. You’ve said you’re peace without shaming anyone and in our current cultural climate that’s no small feat.

    Of course, I still don’t understand how the rules work in this area. Let me ask you this, what if a couple of old gay guys in a nursing home fell in love. They might hold hands, sleep in the same bed and call each other boyfriends, but they don’t have sex. Surely God doesn’t look down on what these two old codgers share and call it evil? It’s the sex the Church is against, not the love, right?

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