Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Sonja Corbitt

11/9/2011 (2 years ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

What is same sex attraction and how should it be approached?

The persecution and bigotry from both sides of the issue proceed, partly, from misunderstanding. Steve Gershom's simultaneous Catholicity and SSA are what is so compelling about his message. Ultimately he beautifully illustrates the tension between the beauty of faith and honest acknowledgment of the frail, wounded humanity in which we all live without pretending it does not exist or giving it sway over him.

Article Highlights

By Sonja Corbitt

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

11/9/2011 (2 years ago)

Published in Marriage & Family

Keywords: gay, Catholic, same-sex attraction, gender identity, celibacy, purity, gay activism, persecution, bigotry, Steve Gershom, Sonja Corbitt


NASHVILLE, TN (Catholic Online) - What does it really mean to be "gay"? I read a science article this week that proposed two African penguins were gay because they had formed a close male-to-male bond, but I have several questions about what some call "gay" animals.

Have the animals actually attempted to have sex? Do they habitually attempt to have same-gender sex? Are these penguins "attracted" to one another sexually, is theirs simply a particularly close filial bond, or are they routinely attracted to other male penguins?

Such questions about same-sex attraction and its implications for human life are at the heart of a wonderful new-ish blog by Steve Gershom, "Catholic, Gay, and Feeling Fine, Thanks." He blogs under a pseudonym about his personal conviction and experience as a deeply Catholic man who struggles with same sex attraction (SSA). A twenty-something from New England, "Steve" graduated from a Catholic liberal arts college an intellectual with a literature degree, but now works in internet technology.

A Holy Contradiction

He uses the terms "gay" and "Catholic" in the title of his blog to quickly communicate the main issue without wholly identifying with the "gay" moniker. Instead, Steve says he prefers "same sex attraction" as the more useful term.

He details the choice of designation in the Q&A section of his blog where he shares the difficulties of living out his Catholicity in a modern world, but it all comes down to the controversy dividing the openly gay and the Church - that of identity. More on that in a moment, but Steve prefers to say "he has SSA" rather than "he is SSA."

This is because Steve is celibate, and has always chosen to be so. I know because he was kind enough to grant me an interview recently. Although a young male with a virile baritone, he was never in the gay lifestyle and has never had a boyfriend or relationship with a man, a fact even he finds "almost literally incredible."

"I feel as if God has kept me protected," he says with a thankful wonder that I share, though this protection is not particularly surprising. Purity seems to be the priceless, fertile foundation from which God prefers to launch his message of love into a longing world.

The Human Struggle

"I used to think being gay meant being a different kind of person altogether -- like a third gender. These days I think that it's something I have, not something I am," he says, but it would be a mistake to think he says this out of a belief in the superficiality of "having" same sex attraction. It is a profound, ongoing, personal conflict he no doubt shares with those within the gay lifestyle who know no other way to articulate the absolute depth of "being gay" than by equating it with "who they are."

But this is part of what makes Steve's struggle so poignant, because although with the Church he refuses to take on the identity of "being gay" as though it could completely define him (and his   freedom to choose celibacy proves it does not), he does so while maintaining that his SSA is so deeply rooted as to be an integral part of his personality.

"Obviously from the inside it's something very strong. I don't know if it's possible to change it, because in most cases it's extremely deeply rooted. I don't think it's any easier for a straight guy to imagine being attracted to men than it is for me to be attracted to women."

Steve believes part of the reason gay activists talk and behave so militantly, sometimes violently, and most often flamboyantly toward Christians is because most Christians fail to understand that "it goes down into the core of you. To speak of SSA as though it were not deeply rooted is almost comical."

Reaching Beyond Bigotry

The persecution and bigotry from both sides of the issue proceed, partly, from this misunderstanding. "Gay people who make it their whole identity do so because of the actual persecution they experience. They're gay and proud of it; they're being flamboyant to show all the bigots. Frankly, I even respect that. It's incredibly wrongheaded, but starting from the axioms that they start from, it seems the appropriate thing to do. On the one hand discrimination [against gays] is not the same as [racial] discrimination against blacks, but I can see why gay people feel that way." Indeed.

But the militancy and bigotry inherent on both sides also stems from the reluctance of Christians with SSA to talk freely and honestly about it, and Christians without SSA to acknowledge the prevalence of SSA in both Christian and secular society. It is a prevalence Steve calls an epidemic:

"In a sense the knowledge is improving tremendously, but religious people still talk about people with SSA as though they don't know anyone or that there aren't people around them or in their families with it. It shatters people who want to open up and find support but realize they don't really have the support of others."

Steve's simultaneous Catholicity and SSA are what is so compelling about his message. Speaking transparently and intuitively to both sides of the issue, he offers a window through which to safely "see" the other side while preserving one's own position. Ultimately he beautifully illustrates the tension between the beauty of faith and honest acknowledgment of the frail, wounded humanity in which we all live without pretending it does not exist or giving it sway over him.

Anyone who has identified within himself what the saints call the "predominant fault" and the source of it, and has begun to allow God to uproot it, will understand exactly what Steve means. The difficulty of refusing one's flesh any deeply rooted and/or habitual action or reaction to painful stimuli is the lifelong struggle every serious Christian undergoes.

One of the most poignant things Steve said to me when speaking of himself as a younger man with SSA was, "I would have loved it if I had felt people wouldn't be disgusted with me." I will leave you, noble reader, with the implications of that raw statement, while mentioning that it led to a compelling discussion about how best to effectively reach out and relate to the numbers of those around us with SSA.

Due to the length of that recount, however, the stunning point we finally came to while wrestling with that question will have to be addressed in another article. Until then, you should visit his blog.

-----

Sonja Corbitt is a Catholic speaker, Scripture study author, and a contributing writer for Catholic Online. Visit pursuingthesummit.com to view a personal message from Sonja or to order her 10-week, DVD-driven Bible study Soul of the World, The Heart as God's Dwelling Place.

---


Pope Francis calls for your 'Prayer and Action'


© 2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for March 2014
Respect for Women:
That all cultures may respect the rights and dignity of women.
Vocations: That many young people may accept the Lordís invitation to consecrate their lives to proclaiming the Gospel.



Comments


More Marriage & Family

From Living Large to Putting God in Charge

Image of

By Catholic Match

The year was 1990 and Bob was, in his own words, living large. The then 29-year-old had graduated from Marquette University in Milwaukee several years earlier and spent over a year on the pro golf tour. He went to build a thriving CPA firm and thought himself to be in ... continue reading


Devil at work! Infidelity experts says adultery is good for marriage - if you don't get caught Watch

Image of Since launching in Canada on Valentine's Day in 2002, the adultery Web site has attracted more than 24 million members in 37 countries. South Korea joined last week.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Ashley Madison is a controversial Web site that enables married men and women to have xtramarital affair. Based in Canada, Noel Biderman is forthright about the right of the married to have affairs -- providing they don't get caught. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic ... continue reading


The Path to Happiness for a Young Widow

Image of Bruce and Lauren are now happily married!

By Catholic Match

It's been said the hand of God works by way of coincidences, keeping Him invisible as He illuminates our path. That's how it worked for Bruce and Lauren, and how they get their first sense that something special was afoot. Lauren, 54-years-old, was recently widowed ... continue reading


A Marriage Built on a Firm Rock

Image of Ed and Francis both had great success thanks to CatholicMatch!

By Catholic Match

Frances already had an immensely positive experience with marriage when she came to CatholicMatch. A widow, she had great memories of her years with her late husband and if another marriage was to happen it would have to be on a firm foundation. I had a wonderful ... continue reading


Easy homemade play dough recipes, for the whole family to enjoy.

Image of Home made Play Doh is so much fun.

By Wendy C. R.N., BA

Every child loves to play with play dough and making your own play dough with your child can be fun. Here are three easy recipes for great homemade play dough. Kids are amazed when they learn how easy it is to make play dough wit this activity. The dough can be ... continue reading


Have a Great Family Easter Egg Hunt. Instead of just candy, why not fill your eggs with clues or puzzle pieces, or all sorts of things!

Image of Children love Easter Egg Hunts. Lets make it special this year.

By Wendy C. R.N., BA

Have an Family Easter Egg Hunts this year and fill the eggs with more than just candy. Here are 31 ideas to fill them with, and have fun! LOS ANGELES, CA - Need a fun idea to spruce up your Easter Egg Hunt? Instead of just candy, why not fill your eggs with clues or ... continue reading


Former 'house of horrors' abortion clinic to become emergency food, support center for poor families Watch

Image of The Philadelphia clinic was described as a chaotic

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

There is such a thing as a second chance. The notorious Delaware clinic in which abortionist Kermit Gosnell performed late-term abortions and executed children after birth will see a second life as an emergency food and support center for poor families. Lutheran ... continue reading


Hey dads! Pope Francis has an awesome message for you! Watch

Image of Pope Francis follows the example of St. Joseph, and blesses a child. Our clergy are father figures too.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

On the feast day of St. Joseph, Pope Francis spoke directly to dads, encouraging them to follow the example of St. Joseph and remain close to their children. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Yesterday was the feast day of St. Joseph and Pope Francis used the ... continue reading


Church must reconcile divorce and remarriage, German cardinal says Watch

Image of

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The Church needs to find a middle ground that does not destroy or abandon doctrine in regards to divorce and civil remarriages, Cardinal Walter Kasper says. The church must offer a "renewed" interpretation of Church teaching in order to help those whose ... continue reading


How Republicans won the fight over abortion in Texas Watch

Image of

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Just twenty abortion clinics remain open in Texas following an antiabortion bills that was passed into law in July of 2013. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - House Bill 2, which was passed in November, requires that all abortion clinics close by Sept. 1, 2014, unless ... continue reading


All Marriage & Family News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Isaiah 52:13--53:12
13 Look, my servant will prosper, will grow great, ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 31:2, 6, 12-13, 15-16, 17, 25
2 turn your ear to me, make haste. Be for me a ... Read More

Gospel, John 18:1--19:42
1 After he had said all this, Jesus left with his ... Read More

Reading 2, Hebrews 4:14-16; 5:7-9
14 Since in Jesus, the Son of God, we have the ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for April 18th, 2014 Image

St. Apollonius the Apologist
April 18: Martyr whose Apologia, or defense of the faith, is considered ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter