Interview: Homosexuality, Suffering, and Coming Out

John Paul Shimek of Catholic World Report interviewed me after the recent Courage conference. An excerpt:

CWR: Some people seem to want the issue of homosexuality to go away. A good gay Catholic is a closeted gay Catholic, according to them. How can we welcome and accompany those people? What have you learned about how to deal with those people?

Prever: With questions like this, I always try to start from my own experience, because that’s more convincing than abstract arguments, and it’s also more difficult to refute. My own experience is that my life changed radically once I started letting people in on the secret of my homosexuality. For me, letting people in on this part of myself was a way to relinquish control over the image that other people had of me. It was a way to learn to be vulnerable, which is a prerequisite for any kind of intimate human relationship, and I think a prerequisite for holiness, too. It was a way to start to engage life in a different way, and to engage other people more deeply.

I have some sympathy for the idea that people should not make their sexual orientation public on the grounds that it will cause unnecessary pigeonholing, or simply because one’s sexual orientation isn’t everyone’s business. I do think the decision to come out, or when to come out, or to whom, is extremely personal, and I do think some people rush into it and then regret it later. I think it might not be advisable to come out young, since there’s a lot of sexual confusion among young people, and you want to be sure before you label yourself one thing or another.

But there’s no one-size-fits-all approach—it’s a matter between the individual and his or her spiritual director. To say that nobody should ever come out publicly—I can’t imagine what kind of knowledge or expertise would give anyone the right to make such a broad statement. And at the very least, I think the life of a gay person who wants to practice continence is totally impossible, not to mention incredibly painful, if he doesn’t make his orientation known to at least a select few.

Read the whole thing at Catholic World Report.



6 Comments on “Interview: Homosexuality, Suffering, and Coming Out”

  1. Debbie says:

    Mr. Prever,

    I watched the documentary yesterday and want to thank you for being willing to be a part of it. It could not have been easy. It was wonderful. Thank you for being a light in the darkness.
    May God bless you. I’ll begging praying for you.

    Debbie Leal

  2. j--- i----- says:

    Dear Mr. Prever,

    I have watched “The Third Way” and it proved very cathartic. I agree with you that being a practicing Catholic and being gay does put you in a weird position. I joined Courage here in Manila years ago. But in my family, my siblings kinda know but I will never ever forget the day I told my Mom and Dad. I just came from daily Mass, and suddenly I felt compelled to tell them.
    So I went to their bedroom and said Mom, Dad, I have something to share with you. I handed them Courage’s handbook and told them of my truth. I told them that I know that they love me no matter what, but I was doing this”reveal” for me. I told them to pray for me because it can get very lonely at times. Needless to say they said, You are our son, we love you no matter what. Of course I cannot see them clearly as I was crying and was not conscious of the tears. If you are open in your own skin, it is easier to relate with other gay and straight people.

    Sorry for rambling on, I just want to say Thank you, young man. I am now 51, and my Mom and Dad has passed on to their eternal home. I have never felt so peaceful somehow…

    Keep on blogging and bringing souls back to the fold.

    1. Thank you for sharing your story, J—.

      Since you mentioned that your siblings only “kinda know”, I have modified your comment so that it does not include your full name.

  3. Valerie says:

    Hi Joseph,
    I’ve been following you for a while (back then, you were not revealing your name) and from time to time visit your website, just to see what you’re up to. 😉 I don’t know why, but you’re often on my mind.
    I really appreciate your writing and think that you’re awesome! I, myself, am not gay but have other issues. :) (Don’t we all??)
    Please keep on writing and be a light for Our Lord by your life. Don’t give up. Am praying for you. Please pray for me. :)
    Looking forward to see and be with you in Heaven where real joy awaits!!
    God bless you!

  4. David Roberts says:

    Well done, Joseph Prever. You are a hero, and a true follower of our Lord Jesus, my brother in Christ.

    The way that you are approaching your sexual temptations is exactly as Jesus instructed us. These are his instructions;

    “You have heard that it was said, ‘YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT ADULTERY’; but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”

    Now this only addresses heterosexual lust, but it applies to homosexual desires in just the same way with the exception that homosexuality is a total non-starter, as you indicate. As a straight male, I struggled to deal with an addiction to pornography for most of my life, starting as soon as I hit puberty. I have been married for 40 years now, and I didn’t find the Lord Jesus as my Saviour until I was 30. Although in the first 6-9 months after I was born again, I found it relatively easy to abstain from lusting after women, the addiction returned after that period.

    Try as I might, I couldn’t control it, despite brief periods of success, I found no lasting solution for many years, decades in fact. Finally, the Lord led me to the answer – I realized that I was utterly incapable from my own strength to deal with this sin. And that was my problem, I was always trying in one way or another to use my own resources, instead of recognizing that I was helpless, and that I needed to tell that to the Lord, and ask Him to do it for me. I asked Him to do what I was incapable of doing.

    Fill me with your Spirit, Lord Jesus. I can’t resist this temptation. Please do it for me.

    I can’t say that I am totally sin-free and victorious, but Jesus wins the great majority of my temptations today.

    God bless you, Joseph. … Dave

  5. Marc Massery says:

    Thanks for your insights. I agree there is no one size fits all solution. As a twenty something Catholic who also experiences SSA, I agree that letting other people in on it can be a huge help to living a more peaceful life. It is such a strange dynamic being Catholic and having SSA because we try our best not to act out the gay lifestyle anyway, so it can feel like you’re “hiding” it even when you’re not. You’re still experiencing life from a slightly different view.

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