Constipation Theory

Constipation Theory

When Father T used to discourage me from coming out, he used to say that he didn’t want me to be “pigeonholed” — by which I think he meant that, once people knew I was attracted to men, they’d just think of me as That Gay Guy, and the Gay part would get in the way of them knowing me.

But of course what really got in the way of people knowing me was the fact that I had to hide this enormous thing about myself. I was constantly being put into situations where I had to lie, or at least mislead, even the people I was closest to.

When I finally came out to my best friend, I found that he had always wondered why, when he shared with me about his romantic life, I never reciprocated. When I came out, he finally understood, and asked me for the first time, “So…have you ever been in love?”


Knowing someone means having some insight into their daily experience. And there’s no day that goes by without gayness being part of my experience. That’s true now, but it was even more true when my gayness was a secret; its secrecy increased the sense of urgency, pressure, toxicity.

When Father T worried about my being pigeonholed, he was pointing to something real. Some people are so disturbed by homosexuality that, once they know that that a person is gay, the gayness eclipses everything else about that person for them.

But Father T wouldn’t have encouraged me to hide the fact that I’m Catholic, or Jewish! I don’t go around hiding that light under a bushel because I’m scared that anti-Catholics and anti-Semites might pigeonhole me! So fuck ’em.


Father T also sometimes pointed out that my coming out might confuse people. Let’s say one day I decided to date women, but I had already come out as gay. People would be looking around, going “But I thought he was gay!”

This now seems to me, to put it mildly, an unlikely situation. But it didn’t seem unlikely to me or to Father T then, because we were both operating under the standard assumptions of ex-gay thought: that homosexuality was essentially just a kind of blockage in a psychic pipeline somewhere, and once the blockage was removed, the clean, fresh water of heterosexuality would come rushing in. Kind of a Constipation Theory of sexual development.

So because heterosexuality was always just around the corner, it didn’t make sense to come out as gay, since it was probably just temporary anyway!

But I was thirty when I came out. And I had known I was gay since I was fourteen. And in the intervening time I’d been working more or less nonstop on “healing”.

So if it was a phase, that was one long-ass phase.



7 Comments on “Constipation Theory”

  1. Doug says:

    I wonder if being gay is just a trial…. Seemingly my friends that know I am gay can only help me so much. It seems to be either join the gay lifestyle or be alone. I am constantly reminded about my difference; it’s very discouraging.

    1. That does sound discouraging. Please feel free to email me if you feel like I can help. I find it is helpful to have understanding gay Christian friends, but I know that people like that are not always easy to find.

      1. Doug says:

        Thanks for your response, I feel a bit better today. Thanks for writing about your experiences… as a gay Catholic I seem to relate. Blessings to you

        1. I’m glad you’re feeling a bit better. I know some days are very hard.

  2. Bruce says:

    Notice, Joey, that your best friend did not query about your “sexual experiences”; he simply asked you if you had ever been in love. That question, from our best-loved straight friends is only made possible when we are “out” to them, and honest about our feelings. They need to know that their gay buds are as potentially as capable as they are of chaste, self-sacrificial and idealistic romances as they.
    The Catholic Church would go a long way toward facilitating this honesty in relationship if she would re-institute her ancient medieval sacramental of “sworn brotherhood,” as it is described in Alan Bray’s great book “The Friend.” If you haven’t read that book, I suggest you get it and read it. Its principal theme is that the institution that Bray documents was public, and that it was intended to be an aid to the “sworn brothers'” acceptance of each other’s striving for chastity. It is NOT “gay marriage,” and it poses far less of a threat to traditional Catholic marriage than does the Protestant theology of divorce and “companionate marriage,” which does not mirror Christ’s self-sacrifice and which has contributed to the serial monogamy practised by most in America and Britain. However, it DOES affirm the Old Testament dictum that “it is not good for man to be alone.”
    I should like to ask permission of you to share your blog with certain of my close straight friends. One cannot read what you write without loving you, in at least a “virtual” way, and I think reading it would help some of my pals to better understand me, because I sense that I am like you in a number of ways.

    1. You certainly don’t need my permission to share my blog with whoever you’d like!

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