Richard Wagner, O.M.I., M.Div.
GAY CATHOLIC PRIESTS:
A STUDY OF COGNITIVE AND AFFECTIVE DISSONANCE
Dedicated to: Steven E. Webb
On January 15, 1976 the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith issued a document entitled: Declaration on Certain Questions Concerning. Sexual Ethics. This document, the most recent Vatican pronouncement concerning sexual morality, carried this paragraph as a preface to its discussion of homosexual behavior:
At the present there are those who, basing themselves on observations in the psychological order, have begun to judge indulgently, and even excuse completely, homosexual relations between certain people. This they do in opposition to the constant teaching of the Magisterium and to the moral sense of the Christian people.1
More will be said about this document later. For now, however, this paragraph serves as an appropriate departure for this study of gay Roman Catholic priests. The entire presentation will attempt to isolate areas of conflict in both thought and feeling that surface in the lives of gay priests. This will be accomplished by focusing on the personal struggles of the individual priests who comprise this sample. There are two issues of equal importance to these priests. This study will highlight the conflicts these men may be experiencing, not only because they are gay, but also because they have made a public commitment to celibacy by virtue of their ordination.
To date nothing has been published concerning the sexual attitudes or behaviors of Catholic priests serving in public ministry. The veil of secrecy surrounding this vocation as well as the popular presumption that all priests are sexually abstinent has provided a camouflage for the sexually active priest. But as this study will illustrate, this situation is not without its negative consequences. The sexually active priest is faced with a paradox. The same circumstances that guarantee secrecy also perpetuate the need for secrecy.
By way of introduction, we begin with a brief historical survey of the development of thought within the Roman tradition concerning homosexuality and clerical celibacy. The purpose is to show the confusion surrounding theological speculation on these issues. This survey will begin with the Bible, move through the early Christian Fathers to Thomas Aquinas, and conclude with contemporary opinions.
First, the issue of homosexuality. Six passages in the Bible have traditionally been understood as dealing with homosexual activity. The following biblical quotations are taken from the New American Bible.
Perhaps the single most important passage is the Sodom and Gomorrah story in Genesis 19:4-11.
Before they went to bed, all the townsmen of Sodom, both young and old - all the people to the last man - closed in on the house. They called to Lot and said to him, 'Where are the men who came to your house tonight? Bring them out to us that we might have intimacies with them.' Lot went out to meet them at the entrance. When he had shut the door behind him, he said, 'I beg you, my brothers, not to do this wicked thing. I have two daughters who have never had intercourse with men. Let me bring them out to you, and you may do with them as you please. But don't do anything to these men, for you know they have come under the shelter of my roof.' They replied, 'Stand back! This fellow,' they sneered, 'comes here as an immigrant, and now he dares to give orders! We'll treat you worse than them!' With that, they pressed hard against Lot, moving in closer to break down the door. But his guests put out their hands, pulled Lot inside with them, and closed the door; at the same time they struck the men at the entrance of the house, one and all, with such a blinding light that they were utterly unable to reach the doorway.
Another reference which is said to reflect a general condemnation of homosexual behavior is found in the Old Testament Holiness Code, Leviticus 18:22; 20:13.
You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; such a thing is an abomination.
If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them shall be put to death for their abominable deed; they have forfeited their lives.
In the New Testament, two Greek words - malaikoi and arsenokoitai — are usually translated as direct references to homosexual activity. These terms appear in 1 Corinthians 6:9 and 1 Timothy 1:10.
Can you not realize that the unholy will not fall heir to the Kingdom of God? Do not deceive yourselves: no fornicators, idolaters, or adulterers, no sodomites...
...fornicators, sexual perverts, kidnapers, liars, perjurers, and those who in other ways flout the sound teaching... .
Finally, what appears to be the strongest condemnation of homosexual activity is Romans 1:26-27.
God therefore delivered them up to disgraceful passions. Their women exchanged natural intercourse for unnatural, and the men gave up natural intercourse with women and burned with lust for one another. Men did shameful things with men, and thus received in their own persons the penalty for their perversity.
In the Patristic Period there was unanimity on the sinfulness of homosexuality among the leading Church Fathers. Their attacks were based on the general supposition that homosexual acts are unnatural because they are non-procreative in nature. John Chrysostom is particularly emphatic in denouncing homosexual practices as unnatural.
A certain new illicit love has entered our lives, an ugly and incurable disease has appeared, the most severe of all the plagues has been hurled down, a new and insufferable crime has been devised, not only are the laws established (by man) overthrown but even those of nature herself.2
Augustine contends that homosexual practices are transgressions of the command to love God and one's neighbor.
...those shameful acts against nature, such as were committed in Sodom, ought everywhere and always to be detested and punished.3
By the thirteenth century, social pressure against homosexuality through ecclesiastical decrees and national custom became codified in cannon law. Much of the credit for moving the Church in this direction belongs to Thomas Aquinas and his Summa Theoloqica. He states that homosexual acts are unnatural because they are against reason as well as the fact that such acts do not appear among animals.
It must be noted that the nature of man may be spoken of either as that which is peculiar to man, and according to this all sins, insofar as they are against reason, are against nature (as is stated by Damascene); or as that which is common to man and other animals, according to which certain particular sins are said to be against nature, as intercourse between males (which is specifically called the vice against nature) is contrary to the union of male and female which is natural to all animals.4
No serious challenge came from within the Church to this position until the latter part of this century. The publication of Fr. Charles Curran's Catholic Moral Theology in Dialogue in 1972 typified the contemporary movement for a cautious reassessment of moral theology regarding homosexuality.
The homosexual is generally not responsible for his condition. ...Therapy as an attempt to make the homosexual into a heterosexual, does not offer great promise for most homosexuals. Celibacy and sublimation are not always possible or even desirable for the homosexual. There are somewhat suitable homosexual unions, which afford their partners some human fulfillment and contentment. Obviously, such unions are better than homosexual promiscuity...the individual homosexual may morally come to the conclusion that a somewhat permanent homosexual union is the best, and sometimes the only, way for him to achieve some humanity. Homosexuality can never become an ideal. Attempts should be made to overcome this condition if possible; however, at times one may reluctantly accept homosexual unions as the only way in which some people can find a satisfying degree of humanity in their lives.5
In 1976 John McNeill S.J. published his work, The Church and the Homosexual, to date the first systematic attack on the scriptural and theological suppositions supporting the condemnation of homosexuality.
It can, however, be argued 1) that what is referred to, especially in the New Testament, under the rubric of homosexuality is not the same reality at all or 2) that the biblical authors do not manifest the same understanding of that reality as we have today. Further it can be seriously questioned whether what is understood today as the true homosexual and his or her activity is ever the object of explicit moral condemnation in Scripture.6
Throughout the Old Testament Sodom is referred to as a symbol of utter destruction occasioned by sins of such magnitude as to merit exemplary punishment. However, nowhere in the Old Testament is that sin identified explicitly with homosexual behavior.7
There is no reason to assume that Aquinas had any more awareness than the Church Fathers of the homosexual condition. Rather, it is almost certain that in his references to homosexual practices he is assuming that these are merely sexual indulgences undertaken from a motive of lust by otherwise heterosexual persons.8
The greater part of both moral and psychological thinking concerning homosexuality tends to be prejudiced at its source, because it begins with a questionable presupposition. That presupposition, frequently explicit, maintains that the heterosexual condition is somehow the very essence of the human and at the very center of the mature human personality.9
If the findings of this study are correct, then the Church's attitude toward homosexuals is another example of structured social injustice, equally based in questionable interpretation of Scripture, prejudice, and blind adherence to merely human traditions, which have been falsely interpreted as the law of nature and of God. In fact, as we have seen, it is the same age-old tradition of male control, domination and oppression of women, which underlies the oppression of the homosexual.10
Despite the attempt at opening a dialogue, the last official word remains the Vatican's Declaration on Certain Questions Concerning Sexual Ethics. What is noteworthy is that this is the first official statement on homosexuality, which admits the possibility of a homosexual orientation, even though it continues to view homosexuality as pathological in nature.
A distinction is drawn, and it seems with some reason, between homosexuals whose tendency comes from a false education, from a lack of normal sexual development, from habit, from bad example, or from other similar causes, and is transitory or at least not incurable; and homosexuals who are definitely such because of some kind of innate instinct or a pathological constitution judged to be incurable.
In regard to this second category of subjects, some people conclude that their tendency is so natural that it justifies in their case homosexual relations within a sincere communion of life and love analogous to marriage, insofar as such homosexuals feel incapable of enduring a solitary life.
In the pastoral field, these homosexuals must certainly be treated with understanding and sustained in hope of overcoming their personal difficulties and their inability to fit into society. Their culpability will be judged with prudence. But no pastoral method can be employed which would give moral justification to these acts on the grounds that they would be consonant with the condition of such people. For according to the objective moral order, homosexual relations are acts, which lack an essential and indispensable finality. In Sacred Scripture they are condemned as a serious depravity and even presented as the sad consequence of rejecting God. This judgment of Scripture does not of course permit us to conclude that all those who suffer from this anomaly are personally responsible for it, but it does attest to the fact that homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered and can in no case be approved of.11
The history of theological speculation and Church reform regarding clerical celibacy is an equally complex issue. Authors are often indiscriminate in their use of spiritual and ascetical notions such as chastity, virginity, and sexual abstinence when defining celibacy, even though the word itself simply denotes a renunciation of marriage. Because of this it is often impossible to determine the precise ecclesiastical expectations for the clerical celibate. Is one to assume that a public commitment to celibacy entails more than commitment to remain single? While this question remains unanswered the popular interpretation holds sway: celibacy means sexual abstinence.
There is a remarkable difference between the Old and New Testaments with regard to the celibate lifestyle. The Old Testament stresses the virtue of premarital virginity while it promotes the values of married life. Marriage is considered honorable and compulsory for all, and to be unmarried and childless is deemed shameful. The New Testament, on the other hand, emphasizes the value of permanent virginity as a means of worshiping God. This is apparent in the example and teaching of Jesus.
Some men are incapable of sexual activity from birth; some have been deliberately made so; and some there are who have freely renounced sex for the sake of God's reign. Let him accept this teaching who can.12
St. Paul praised celibacy and virginity as a more perfect state, since it is the condition for a more fervent consecration to God.
Are you bound to a wife? Then do not seek your freedom. Are you free of a wife? If so do not go in search of one. Should you marry, however, you will not be committing a sin. Neither does a virgin commit sin if she marries. But such people will have trials in this life, and these I should like to spare you.13
The Patristic Period, the first three or four Christian centuries, saw no laws promulgated against clerical marriage.
Clement of Alexandria commenting on the Pauline texts stated that marriage, if used properly, is a way of salvation for all: priests, deacons, and laymen.14
The earliest legislation comes from the fourth century. The Spanish Council of Elvira in 305 decreed that all clergy were to abstain from their wives. The decree did not forbid marriage; it simply required abstinence.
We decree that all bishops, priests, and deacons, and all clerics engaged in the ministry are forbidden entirely to live with their wives and to beget children: Whoever shall do so will be deposed from the clerical dignity.15
Emphasis on celibacy accompanied the rise of monasticism, which replaced martyrdom as the supreme form of witness to Jesus. The first ecumenical and universal council to require celibacy was the First Lateran Council in 1123. It forbade marriage for the clergy and required that marriages already contracted should be broken. The final formulation of the mandate for clerical celibacy came as a result of the Reformation at the Council of Trent in 1563.
While the celibacy controversy continues to be an issue in the Church, very little contemporary thought has been brought to the discussion. One exception is Donald Goergen's O.P. work The Sexual Celibate. The author combines a mixture of contemporary psychology and traditional theology in his discussion of the celibate lifestyle. Goergen maintains that although the clerical celibate forswears his right to marry he is free to develop affectional friendships. Goergen does not suggest that genital sexuality is proper to the celibate, but he does maintain that celibacy does not mean being asexual.
The sexual life of a celibate person is going to manifest itself primarily in the affective bonds of permanent and steadfast human friendships, which are exemplifications of God's way of loving.16
The primary concern of this section has been the history of clerical celibacy. But one must not overlook the church's demand for sexual abstinence for all its members not validly married. Of particular concern here is the implication for the homosexual. In 1973 the committee on pastoral research and practice of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops approved for distribution and published a paper entitled: Principles To Guide Confessors in Questions of Homosexuality. It serves as an accurate indication of official Catholic teaching and pastoral practice regarding homosexuality today.
Since all homosexual acts are assumed to be intrinsically evil by nature apart from any other consideration, confessors are advised to help homosexuals to work out an 'ascetical plan of life.' Each homosexual has the obligation to control his tendency by every means within his power, particularly by psychological and spiritual counsel. It is difficult for the homosexual to remain chaste in his environment, and he may slip into sin for a variety of reasons, including loneliness and compulsive tendencies and the pull of homosexual companions. But generally, he is responsible for his actions.17
The dilemma of the gay priest, the cognitive and affective dissonance present in his life, is due in great measure to the confusion surrounding the issues of homosexuality and celibacy and their moral and theological implications. Dubious interpretations of Scripture, ambiguous terminology, and diffuse prejudices and fears have all contributed to the confusion. Identifying the difficulties gay priests encounter in personally assessing the impact of theological speculation and pastoral directives in regard to homosexuality and celibacy is one of the intents of the study that follows.
The present investigation was undertaken with several purposes in mind. First, there was an effort to identify the various sexual dimensions present in the histories of a sample of fifty Roman Catholic priests who self-identify as gay. This encompassed more than a survey of the nature and frequency of each subject's sexual behavior. It was also an attempt to capture a feeling for each respondent's growth in his appreciation of himself as a sexual being. Second, there was an effort to examine areas of ambivalence or conflict in thought and feeling regarding the gay priest's "double" social and cultural identity. Third, all of this was undertaken as a step toward an appreciation of the unique position of the gay priest.
It must be pointed out from the beginning that any conclusion about the number of gay men in the Roman Catholic priesthood or the degree, if any, they are exhibiting a particular behavior or characteristic, is not the aim of this study. On the contrary, the fortuitous nature of this sample precludes such generalizations.
Also something should be said about the use of the term "gay." The choice of this term over the more pervasively used "homosexual" or "homophile" is more than a personal preference. It is used to indicate a higher degree of homoerotic self-awareness. Though an individual might experience homoerotic feelings, and even give them physical expression, the term "gay" would not be used to describe him unless his homoeroticism was part of his self-identification. In other words, the term "gay" is used to denote a person's conscious effort to integrate his homosexual orientation with the rest of his personality. This conscious effort presupposes a conceptual framework in terms of which the person tries to understand himself and interact with others. It is important to point out that this definition does not necessarily denote a sexually active lifestyle. It is possible for an individual to self-identify as gay without having had a single overt same-sex experience.
This study is divided into two large sections corresponding to the two instruments used to facilitate the inquiry. The first section deals with the respondents' sex histories, while the second is concerned with the respondents' attitudes with respect to their double identity as gay priests.
The sex history selected was an adaptation of the one developed by Kinsey. Its design enabled an in-depth assessment of each subject's current behaviors as well as the biographical context out of which he is now acting. The sex history was administered in a face-to-fade interview, which generally took about 90 minutes. The attitude inventory comprised thirty-four questions. These were divided among four areas of concern: a) conflicts of conviction; b) conflicts in lifestyle; c) conflicts of identity; and d) conflicts in sexual behavior, as well as introductory and summary sections. The respondent was given the questionnaire at the end of the sex history interview with the instruction to return it to the interviewer by mail when completed. Both the sex history and the attitude inventory bore identical code numbers to insure proper coordination of the data.
I was aware that the design and length of the attitude inventory would present problems in the analysis of the data gathered. However, the written responses to the questions would be potentially more enlightening to the unique sphere of this study. It would allow for a greater breadth of expression for the respondent than the statistically advantageous multiple-choice questionnaire.
The gathering of the sample of fifty gay Catholic priests was the most difficult part of the process. The circumstances which militate against the participation of gay lay people in studies of their sexual attitudes and behaviors were considerably compounded in this study of gay priests. The fear of disclosure, possible reprisals, ambivalent attitudes, and feelings of guilt were some of the concerns that stood in the way. In fact, only one thing made the process possible. The gay priest, like any marginal personality, needs a support system. There is an informal network of gay priests operative in just about every section of the country. It was this network that was utilized in the recruitment of respondents. A considerable amount of energy and time was exerted in having the sample of fifty represent the broadest geographical distribution possible. This began by contacting key priests in different parts of the country. These individuals acted as liaisons with priests in their vicinity. The liaisons were given copies of a brief description of the proposed study and were asked to distribute them to the contacts they had. If anyone showed an interest in participating in the study his name, address, and telephone number were forwarded to the interviewer. A personal contact was then made for the purpose of setting an interview date. In some cases travel plans dictated the amount of time available in a particular locale
The final sample of fifty gay priests reflects 68% of the seventy-three total contacts made. The remaining twenty-three individuals were not able to participate for a number of reasons. Five were not included because of scheduling difficulties. Twelve were not included because they reconsidered the risk involved and decided against granting the initial interview. Four possible subjects, while undergoing the sex history interview, excluded themselves from the study by not returning the attitude inventory questionnaire. And finally, the interviewer had to disqualify two other respondents: one because he had resigned the active ministry, the other because he was a priest imposter.
In an effort to aid the reader in understanding some distinctive terminology used throughout this presentation a brief list of terms are here defined. These definitions reflect the use intended by the author within the context of this particular study.
Catholic priest. A man properly ordained as a public minister in the Roman Catholic tradition, serving in the active ministry. The Catholic priesthood can be divided into two major groups: secular priests, and religious priests.
Secular priest. A priest ordained to serve in a particular diocese or archdiocese. His immediate superior being the local bishop, archbishop, or cardinal.
Religious priest. A priest ordained as a member of an established community or congregation such as the Jesuits or Franciscans. His immediate superior being a provincial or abbot. He is also distinctive in as much as he professes public vows of poverty, chastity and obedience and lives in accordance with specific rules of life as outlined by his community or congregation. The term "religious" may also refer to any individual associated by vow with a particular community or congregation but who is not an ordained priest - such as a lay brother, sister, nun, or monk.
Living in community. The living situation of both secular and religious priests who are living with other priests or religious in an established community house or rectory.
Celibacy. The public profession to remain unmarried made by every Catholic priest at the time of his ordination.
Chastity. One of the three vows professed by a religious man or woman upon being accepted into a community or congregation. It reflects a commitment to the virtue of purity.
BDSM. The mutual exchange of power within the context of a sexual situation. This may include forms of bondage, discipline, and/or humiliation.
Fist fucking. The insertion of a hand or fist into the rectum of a partner.
Analinctus. Anal-oral contact, "rimming."
This chapter is designed to provide an overview of basic demographic characteristics, aspects of sexual development, and current sexual behavior of the respondents in this study. For the sake of convenience, complete results of this part of the study are gathered in the tables, which appear at the end of this chapter (pages 42 - 53). When relevant the reader is referred to these tables. Frequent use is made, both in the text and in the tables, of Gebhard and Johnson's The Kinsey Data: Marginal Tabulations of the 1938 - 1963 Interviews Conducted the Institute for Sex Research (Philadelphia: W.B. Saunders, 1979). Use of the statistics contained in that volume permit ready comparison with the present sample of Roman Catholic priests.
Though the sample of respondents in this study was of necessity a fortuitous one, a major effort was made to recruit respondents from all over the United States. The majority, twenty-one (42%), reside in California, while seventeen (34%) live in the Northeast - seven in Massachusetts, five in Pennsylvania, three in New York, and two in New Jersey. An additional seven respondents (14%) live in the Midwest - one in Minnesota, one in Michigan, four in Illinois, and one in Iowa. The remaining five respondents (10%) reside in the Northwest - three in Idaho and two in Washington.
All but two of the respondents were Caucasian; one was black and one identified himself as brown.
The respondents ranged in age from 27 to 58 years. The mean age was 36.4 years, the median was 35 years, and the mode was 32 years. Since all of the respondents are by profession Roman Catholic priests all have achieved a high level of education. Thirty-one (62%) surpassed the theological Master's degree mandatory for ordination into the priesthood. Eighteen (36%) had two Master's degrees, while five (10%) had three Master's degrees. Eight respondents (16%) had attained doctoral degrees.
The sex history interview began with an evaluation of the personal recreational habits of the respondents. A list of eleven activities was presented to the subject. He was then asked to give the frequency with which he engaged in each activity. (See Table 1, pg. 42)
Four of the respondents (8%) reported that they were recovered alcoholics. It was impossible to determine the percentage of others who might currently be experiencing problems with alcohol. The sample as a whole, however, displayed a high level of awareness about the dangers of alcohol addiction both within the gay community and among their vocational peers. An even greater awareness was expressed about the dangers of using other drugs, although the use of marijuana was considered the least dangerous. It is interesting to note that the respondents in California reported a greater familiarity with and personal use of all the drugs listed. Of recreational activities, the most popular outlet reported was reading. This was followed by cooking, even among respondents who have little opportunity to cook.
The next part of the sex history concerned family background. The results of these questions appear in Tables 2-4 (pg. 43). Only seven of the respondents (14%) reported having lived on an operating farm for longer than one year. The balance of the respondents were urban, suburban, or small town dwellers all their lives. Thirty respondents (60%) reported that their fathers were still living. Thirty-eight (76%) reported that their mothers were still living. Two respondents reported that their mothers had died prior to the respondents' adolescence; one other reported that his father deserted his family prior to the respondent reaching adolescence. The remaining forty-seven respondents were able to answer questions about the quality of their relationships with their parents, as well as the quality of the relationship their parents shared. Tables 2-4 reflect answers given to these questions concerning relationships, both intra-parental and between the respondents and each of his parents. The rating is based on each respondent's recollection from adolescence.
Generally the respondents recalled that the quality of their parents' relationship during the period of the respondent's adolescence to be average or above average. As for the relationship between parent and son, the affectional ties were reported to be healthier and stronger between mother and son than between father and son. Of the forty-seven respondents able to make the comparison, 51.1% rated the maternal relationship higher, while only 4.2% rated the paternal relationship higher. 44.7% gave an equal rating for both parents.
Five respondents (10%) were an only child. The forty-five respondents who indicated having siblings reported a range of between 1 and 13 other children in their families. The mean number of siblings was 2.9. Eight respondents (16%) were aware that they were not the only gay sibling in their immediate family. Five had a gay brother, three had a lesbian sister.
After ascertaining aspects of family background, questions were asked about the nature of each of the respondent's early sex education. The procedure was to record the age at which each respondent had his first fairly accurate notion of suggested sexual topics. Following this the respondent was asked what the source of information was for each of the topics. (See Table 5 pg. 44).
Predominantly, same-sex peer groups were responsible for the greatest amount of early sex information for this sample. The only significant exception was the source of information about menstruation, which was more often the home. When the respondents were asked the extent of more formal sex education in school, only sixteen (32%) remembered receiving formal education of any kind. Of these, the types of education most often mentioned were "family life" courses in high school or "morality" courses in graduate level college. Only seventeen of the respondents (34%) considered one or both of his parents to be influential in their sex education. Mothers were slightly favored over fathers.
Next the respondents were asked to estimate their approximate age at the onset of a number of variables signaling the advent of puberty. Each was asked to recall his age when pubic hair began to grow, when his voice began to change, when his first ejaculation occurred, and when his rapid growth spurt ended. Using this information, a further calculation was made to establish the approximate onset of puberty for each respondent. The mean age of the onset of puberty for this sample was 13.9 years; the median age was 13 years. These figures compare with the mean age of 13.7 years established by Kinsey). In addition to these questions, each respondent was asked to recall his feelings about going through all the pubertal changes. The majority, thirty (60%) recalled negative feelings. These feelings ranged from a general discomfort on the part of some to a real dread and fear on the part of others. The positive feelings reported by the remaining twenty respondents (40%) were also on a continuum. There were those who recalled feeling "okay," and those who were overjoyed at the prospect of imminent manhood.
Inquiry into the extent of each respondent's preadolescent sex play was also made. Twenty respondents (40%) reported engaging in heterosexual sex play before reaching puberty. The mean age at the onset of this activity was 6.9 years. All of the reported partners of the respondents were the same age to within one year. The techniques employed were limited to showing genitalia or a combination of showing and touching. The frequency ranged from 1 to 15 occurrences, although the majority reported no more than one or two occurrences total. There was a slightly higher occurrence of preadolescent homosexual sex play by this sample. Twenty-seven respondents (54%) reported such behavior. The mean age at onset was 7.8 years, and once again all the reported partners were within one year of age of the respondent; and the techniques employed generally included no more than showing and touching of each other's genitalia. However, four respondents reported mouth-to-genital contact and/or anal intercourse. The frequency ranged from one occurrence total to one occurrence a week for three years. Most respondents, however, reported less than five occurrences total. These figures compare with 54.4% found in the Kinsey sample.2 This population reflected a 9.21 years mean age at onset.3
In addition to preadolescent sex play, respondents were asked about preadolescent sexual contact with adults. Five respondents (10%) reported having had such contact, and all were same-sex in nature. Three of these respondents reported one occurrence each. These consisted of a stranger approaching them in a public place, such as a movie theater or a park. There was mutual touching and showing of genitalia involved and masturbation on the part of the adult. These encounters provoked similar reactions in all three respondents. There was a mixture of fear and excitement.
The other two respondents reporting preadolescent sexual contact with an adult had their contact with an older brother. The frequency of contact for both of these was at least twice a month for over a year. One of the two reported being coerced into the activity and finding it dissatisfying. The other respondent, however, reported very positive feelings because the sexual interest expressed was mutual.
The respondents were asked about the age of onset and current frequency of masturbation. Table 6 (p. 45) charts the onset of masturbation. The mean age of first masturbation for this sample was 13.1 years. The first incident of masturbation occurred through self-discovery on the part of thirty-three (66%) of the respondents. Seventeen (34%) learned of masturbation through the instruction of another. Only seven respondents recalled fearing physical harm as a result of masturbation, and all seven resolved their fears within two years of onset. When questioned about guilt associated with masturbation, only seven recalled being free of guilt from the beginning. Of the forty-three others who initially experienced guilt over masturbation all but six have currently resolved their guilt. It is interesting to note that the thirty-seven who initially experienced guilt and then resolved it were unable to do so until the average age of 23.7 years.
Current frequency of masturbation varies greatly among this sample. One respondent reported his current rate at three times a day, while two others reported their rate at no more than once a month. Only one respondent reported that he was currently abstaining. Of the respondents currently engaging in masturbation, the mean frequency is 3.45 times a week, the median frequency is three times a week, and the mode once a week. By way of comparison, Kinsey found a mean frequency of 1.42 times a week, and a median frequency of .73 times a week for college educated males between the ages of 26 and 30.4
A minority of the total sample, fourteen (28%), had engaged in heterosexual intercourse. Of these, none has had heterosexual intercourse within the past year. The mean age of first coitus for this group was 26.7 years. Six of these respondents reported having just one other-sex partner, while the most other-sex partners reported was four. When these fourteen respondents were questioned about their attitudes concerning coitus, all but one expressed neutral to negative attitudes. The one respondent who expressed a positive attitude believed that he might initiate further heterosexual contacts in the future. Most of those who expressed neutral to negative attitudes saw their coital experiences as motivated by a desire to prove their masculinity or to overcome fears about being gay. Others reported that the reason for their not continuing to seek heterosexual partners was that such outlet was less satisfying than their same-sex outlets.
During the interview attention also was given to determining the source and extent of sexual arousability for each respondent. Table 7 (p 46) represents the responses made by this sample to a selection of erotic stimuli. Not surprisingly, this sample's psychosexual response was predominantly homoerotic. And it is interesting to note that even when a given stimulus involved no distinction between other or same-sex, the respondents made clear their preference. That is, the vast majority of respondents who reported being aroused by sexually explicit photos and movies, live sex shows and reading love stories, volunteered that such stimuli were arousing only if they were homoerotic in nature.
The interviewer also inquired about the presence and extent of the respondent's participation in more exotic sexual outlets, such as sex accompanied by physical force, exhibitionism, voyeurism, bestiality, and fetishes. The only areas that received positive responses beyond curiosity were sex with animals and fetishes. Eleven respondents (22%) reported having had at least one post-pubertal sexual contact with an animal. None, however, reported more than three such contacts. Kinsey found that 22.4% of his sample had had sexual contact with animals.5 The source of contact for this sample was exclusively domestic animals, primarily dogs. And the type of contact most often reported was allowing the animal to lick the respondent's genitalia.
Twelve of the respondents (24%) reported having a fetish. Of these, seven had clothing fetishes. Items most often mentioned were jockstraps, swimwear, and leather articles. Four others reported fetishes for parts of the body, specifically hands and feet. Finally one reported a fetish for bondage and discipline.
The next phase of the interview dealt directly with the respondents' homosexual activity from first post-pubertal same-sex contact to current same-sex behavior. Questioning began by focusing on the onset, nature, and frequency of the respondents' same-sex contacts. Table 8 (p. 47) gives the ages at which the respondents had their first post-pubertal experience. The mean age of first contact for this group was 19.9 years, the median age 16 years, and the mode 12 years. Eight respondents (16%) reported that their first same-sex contact was with a stranger: a bar pickup, hustler, or the like. This compares with 12% in the Kinsey sample.6 The remaining forty-two (84%) reported that their first same-sex contact occurred with a friend.
Concerning sexual techniques involved in this first experience, thirty-three (66%) reported that it involved mutual masturbation, ten (20%) reported oral-genital contact, and six (12%) frictation. This compares with 59.7% mutual masturbation, 6.2% oral-genital, and 5.8% frictation in the Kinsey sample.7 Only one person in this group reported that his first same-sex contact occurred within a sadomasochistic scenario.
Forty-eight of the respondents (96%) recalled enjoying their first same- sex experience. The two who did not indicated as the reason the unsatisfactory nature of their partners. Nevertheless, despite the overwhelming majority reporting enjoyment, this first encounter was also a source of much guilt. Only eleven (22%) indicated experiencing no guilt over their first same-sex experience.
Next the interviewer asked each respondent to recall his age the first time he engaged in a selection of suggested sexual techniques. (See Table 9, p. 48) It is noteworthy that when the technique suggested requires more of a physical involvement, there is a progressive increase in the median age and a gradual decrease in the number of respondents who have engaged in it. Thus, while nearly all the respondents, forty-nine, have been active in the masturbation of a partner, only thirty-five have been passive in anal intercourse, and at a considerably older age. Interestingly enough, when those who had not participated in given techniques were asked why, the majority suggested that some of the techniques (particularly anal intercourse) demanded more of a personal commitment. As one respondent put it: "It is like coming-out. The more you become comfortable with your sexuality the more you are willing to explore new avenues of expression."
After determining the age at which each respondent had his first same-sex contact involving selected techniques, he was asked the frequency with which he engages in those techniques. The results of this question are reflected in Table 10 (p. 49). Kissing was the activity most often engaged in by the respondents. Active oral-genital contact on the part of the respondent was the next most frequent. Sadomasochistic techniques of bondage and discipline were the least frequently used.
This line of questioning continued by asking the respondent about his current favorite technique, the one he would most like to use in every sexual encounter. The results were: oral-genital twenty-four (48%), masturbation five (10%), anal intercourse nine (18%), kissing three (6%), frictation six (12%), bondage one (2%), analinctus one (2%), and "fist fucking" one (2%).
The interview continued with an investigation of the frequency of same-sex contact in high school, in college, and currently. The results are reflected in Table 11 (p. 50). At present, the mean frequency of same-sex contact is two times per week. Only two respondents indicated that they are currently abstaining. After determining the frequency of same-sex contacts, the respondents were asked to give the total number of same-sex contacts made in the course of their lives. In many cases the number had to be approximated, especially when the total number exceeded 100 partners. The fifty respondents averaged 226.8 partners. Of some note is the fact that nine respondents (18%) in this sample had no more than ten partners total, while eleven (22%) reported 500 or more. Kinsey found that 39.2% of his sample had no more than ten partners, while 8.4% reported having had more than 500.8
Thirty respondents (60%) reported that .the majority of their partners were approximately the same age as themselves. Only three respondents (6%) reported that the majority of their partners were distinctly older than themselves, but seventeen (34%) said that the majority of their partners were distinctly younger than themselves. Following this, the respondents were asked the extent of their partnering with men living with heterosexual spouses. Twenty-five respondents (50%) were aware of having had such partners. These respondents averaged 6.4 such partners. Each respondent was asked the extent of his sexual partnering with homosexual "virgins," that is, with individuals for whom that contact would have been their first same-sex experience. Twenty-two respondents (44%) recalled such contact. These respondents averaged 4.6 such partners. It is important to note that the majority of the respondents who express their sexuality in more anonymous situations, such as bathhouses or cruising areas, found it difficult to respond accurately to these questions.
Each respondent was questioned about the duration of his longest continuous sexual relationship (affair). Forty respondents (80%) reported having had at least one relationship lasting longer than one month. The mean duration of the reported relationships was just over two years, 24.3 months. (See Table 12, p. 51). For comparison, Table 13 (p. 51) represents the percentage of total partners with whom the respondent had but one contact. When asked about the number of partners the respondents could recall being in love with, forty-three respondents reported being in love with an average of 5.2 partners. Seven respondents indicated that they had never been in love with any of their partners.
Thirty-one respondents (62%) reported a familiarity with group sex. Of these, seventeen currently engaged in such activity on a regular basis. When inquiry was made into the nature of the group sex contact, most of the respondents indicated that their experiences had been in bathhouses and/or with two other friends. As to the level of enjoyment of group sex experiences, twenty-three (72.2%) reported that they enjoyed their encounters and circumstances. most probably would repeat such behavior under the right The remaining eight (34.6%) found their experiences with group sex dissatisfactory and indicated that they would most probably not pursue such contact in the future.
Each respondent was asked about his contact with male prostitutes. Twelve respondents (24%) indicated having used the services of a hustler. Five of these reported that their total number of contacts did not exceed two or three, while four others reported that this type of outlet comprised the bulk of their same-sex contacts. The most contacts with male prostitutes reported by an individual were twice a month for two years. Respondents were also asked if they engaged in sex in particularly vulnerable places such as bookstores public toilets, parks, and the like. Twenty-three (46%) reported doing so, though only seven of these indicated that they enjoyed this type of outlet and were currently engaging in it. The respondents were asked if they had ever encountered any difficulty or harassment from the police for being gay. Six (12%) said that they had. All reported that harassments were associated with cruising in public places. Two individuals reported having been arrested in a sex-related situation. However, no charges were brought to bear and both were released.
Investigation was made as to the percentage of the respondents' friends who are gay. The mean percentage reported was 53.8%. (See Table 14, p. 52) Each respondent was also asked the percentage of his non-gay friends who knew that he was gay. The mean percentage reported was 36.6%. (See Table 15, p. 53)
The interviewer then familiarized the respondent with the seven-point (0-6) heterosexual-homosexual rating scale developed by Kinsey. Each respondent was then asked to rate himself on that scale, taking into account his behaviors as well as his fantasies. At the same time, the interviewer rated the individual on the basis of information gained through the interview. It is significant that the interviewer disagreed with 40% of the respondents' self-evaluations, and in each case believed that the respondent should have rated himself closer to the homosexual end of the continuum. For example, the individual who exhibits little or no heterosexual contact and who is exclusively homoerotic in his fantasies could not be a Kinsey "4", even though he might consider himself as such. The interviewer would more likely rate this individual as a Kinsey "5" or "6". (See Table 16, p. 53)
The sex history concluded with a few general questions regarding the respondents' attitudes about being gay. Each respondent was asked if he had ever regretted being gay. Sixteen (32%) reported never experiencing any regrets. Nineteen (38%) reported that they had regretted being gay in the past, but no longer do so. The remaining fifteen (30%) are currently experiencing such regret. The reasons given were loneliness and society's disapproval, but the most frequent reason was that their gay lifestyle was in conflict with generally held religious beliefs.
Concerning the respondents' gay identity, a series of questions were asked. Each respondent was first asked if he thought he would continue in a gay lifestyle in the future. Forty-nine respondents (98%) said that they intended to do so. Each respondent was then asked if he would want to change his gay orientation if he were able. Once again forty-nine (98%) showed no desire to change even if they were able. Finally the question was raised as to the ability of the respondent to change his gay orientation if he wanted to. A somewhat smaller majority, forty-five (90%), believed they could not change even if they wanted to. It is interesting to note that Kinsey found a much smaller percentage, 58.2% of his sample, had no desire to change their orientation; 53.3% of his sample believed they could not change even if they wanted to.9
Finally, each respondent was asked what he believed accounted for his being gay. Twenty (40%) had no opinion on the origin of their gayness. Ten (20%) thought that their being gay was biologically caused, that is, that they were born homosexual or that it "just came naturally." Fifteen other respondents (30%) believed that their being gay was psychologically caused, that is, the result of a distant father, or a dominant mother, or an arrested psychosexual development. Seven respondents (14%) felt that the fact most contributive to their being gay was living in an all-male environment. Finally, four others (8%) believed that they had learned their sexual orientation, as well as its expression, as if by chance.
Once the sex history interview was completed, the interviewer presented each respondent with a copy of the attitude inventory questionnaire. He was given instructions for its completion and was asked to return it to the interviewer by mail. Both the sex history and the attitude inventory questionnaire bore identical code numbers to insure proper coordination of the data as it was received. When all the questionnaires were gathered each was read for the purpose of statistically analyzing the replies. Later each was read again in order to gather from the whole group some sample responses to be included in this presentation.
It is important to point out at the beginning that since the attitude inventory questionnaire was designed to elicit the respondents' thoughts and feelings on certain issues, and since the format used was highly subjective, the analysis of the replies was made more difficult. Determination of the number of possible categories into which the responses to each question fell was, at times, arbitrary. However, the main consideration in such calculations was to insure a faithful representation of the respondents' attitudes.
The attitude inventory comprised thirty-four questions. Twelve of the questions were divided between introductory and summary sections. The remaining twenty-two questions were divided among the four areas of possible dissonance to be studied. These areas are defined as follows:
a) Conflicts Of Conviction. An investigation of the potential areas of dissonance involved for the respondent as he evaluates his own thoughts and feelings in light of traditional church teachings. The respondents were asked to categorize their thoughts and feelings concerning the church's official positions regarding homosexuality and mandatory celibacy for priests. Each was asked to evaluate his own commitment to celibacy, that is, what he envisioned the celibate lifestyle to mean in his own life. Further questioning focused upon the possible guilt involved for the respondent should his personal views on these topics conflict with traditional church teachings.
b) Conflicts In Lifestyle. An inquiry into the possible dissonance present for the respondent when faced with traditional expectations of the priestly life. The respondents were asked if they are living within the confines of established communities or rectories, and if they have a preference for living alone. Each was questioned regarding the extent his priestly life has fulfilled his needs for intimacy. Further questioning focused upon the freedom afforded the respondent by virtue of his priestly life as it compares to the freedom enjoyed by his gay lay peers.
c) Conflicts Of Identity. An examination of the conceivable dissonance the respondent may experience as he considers his dual identity as a priest and as a gay man. The respondents were asked if they would be concerned if their fellow priests might come to know that they are gay; or if their gay peers might come to know that they are priests. Each was asked to categorize the type of involvement he has with the gay community,' and if he feared blackmail or any other kind of retaliation in light of this involvement.
d) Conflicts In Sexual Behavior. An investigation of the potential dissonance present for the respondent as he ponders his sexual needs and expectations in light of his realized outlets. The respondents were asked if being a priest enhanced or detracted from their sexuality. Inquiry was made into the number of respondents who have lovers, and to what extent those without sought to develop such a relationship. Particular attention was paid to the viability of monogamy in these relationships.
For the sake of convenience, a complete statistical breakdown of the replies to all the questions follows at the end of this chapter.
The attitude inventory questionnaire began with a series of eight preliminary questions designed to gather information about the respondents' backgrounds, both religious and sexual. The first six such questions were demographic in character, deserving only brief attention at this time. The statistical breakdown at the end of the chapter will provide an analysis of the responses to each of these questions.
The fifty respondents reside in four broad geographical areas: the Northeast, Midwest, Northwest, and West. Sixteen respondents (32%) entered seminary during their high school years; twenty-four (48%) during college; and ten (20%) as graduate students. The median age of the respondents at the time of their ordination was 26 years. The ages ranged from 24 to 42 years. The median age at which the respondents began to self-identify as gay was 23.1 years. The ages ranged from 11 to 45 years. The median age, at which the respondents started to "come out," that is, identify themselves as gay to others, was 27.3 years. For most, coming out was a slow and cautious process. Only six (12%) reported that their coming out was simultaneous with self-identification. The longest reported interval between an individual's self-identification and his coming out to others was 26 years. This respondent's gay identity remained a secret from age 13 to age 39. The majority of the respondents had not discussed their gay identity with either their parents or their ecclesiastical superiors. Only fourteen (28%) had come out to their parents. (Four respondents' parents had died before they could share this information). And only eighteen (36%) had come out to their bishops or provincials.
Beginning with question 7 a format of presenting the questions along with analysis and selected replies will be followed.
IF YOU WERE AWARE OF YOUR GAY ORIENTATION IN SEMINARY, DID YOU EVER LEAVE OR CONSIDER LEAVING BECAUSE OF THAT?
Thirty-one respondents (62%) reported being aware of their gay orientation in seminary. The remaining nineteen (38%) had not clearly identified themselves at that time.
Of the respondents who were aware of their gay orientation during seminary, twenty-four seriously considered leaving, or actually did leave for a period, because of their gayness. Some who considered leaving or who did leave for a time believed they were unfit to continue.
I considered leaving out of a sense of 'responsibility' to the church, and fidelity to existing morality. A noble sacrifice.
I often considered leaving because I was gay. I never did because no one I told could believe it, they thought I would outgrow it.
I not only considered leaving, but in fact did leave after three years in seminary. After I worked a few things out I was able to return and feel good about my decision to continue.
Others considered leaving seminary or did leave because they fell in love or were sexually active at the time.
I became infatuated with a seminarian one class above me. I left for two years.
I did not leave the seminary, but did leave the active ministry for two years because of sexual activity.
I chose to leave the active ministry for a while because I fell in love with another priest.
Of the respondents who were aware of their gay orientation during seminary, only seven never considered leaving.
I was aware of tendencies but dismissed them to environment and the system and stayed.
I never seriously considered leaving because it seemed that celibacy was the only way open to a gay person, whether in the seminary or out.
On the contrary, I felt more honest in my decision-making regarding priesthood.
There were too many like me there to feel I had to leave, so I didn't.
A few of the nineteen respondents who were not aware of their gay orientation during seminary offered that they would have left had they known of their gayness.
They told us that if you were gay it was a sign from God that you should quit. I honestly would have quit if I believed I was gay at the time. This attitude in the seminary was responsible for the incredible repression operative in my life until recently.
DID YOU EVER HAVE ANY SAME-SEX EXPERIENCES IN SEMINARY? HOW DID YOU FEEL ABOUT THEM THEN? NOW?
Twenty-eight respondents (56%) reported having had at least one same-sex contact while in seminary. The remaining twenty-two (44%) reported no same-sex contact.
The majority of the respondents who reported same-sex contact in seminary recalled negative feelings surrounding the events when they occurred, but now view them as growth or learning experiences.
I was guilty at first. Now I see it was an expression of genuine affection. It was a growing experience that I needed.
At first I felt very bad about them. Gradually, I grew to accept these experiences. Now I see them as the experiences through which I learned how to entrust myself to others in love relationships.
I was frightened that it would be found out. I thought it meant I didn't have a vocation. Now I just laugh.
Other respondents recalled experiencing ambivalent feelings as a result of their same-sex experiences in seminary, but now consider those experiences in a positive light.
I had sex a couple of times. Then I felt guilt, but joyous as well that someone could love me that much. Now I feel grateful for them. They put me in touch with my ability to be gentle and affectionate.
I had sex with two classmates. I felt some growing freedom and a great deal of confusion back then. Now I look back on them as 'graced' events. I feel good about them now.
Two respondents recalled negative feelings surrounding their seminary same-sex contacts and continue to see those experiences negatively.
I was afraid that I was going to be dismissed because we were caught in the act. As I look back now I wish it could have been more fulfilling.
There was some embracing in the dark, allowing myself to be kissed and asking a friend to let me get into bed with him. The latter wrecked our friendship. I still have pain thinking about this.
Some of the respondents who reported no same-sex contacts while in seminary offered comments on the subject.
I had no sex while in seminary. I am glad I didn't have to deal with my sexuality until after ordination.
I didn't have sex in seminary -- only during vacation with non-seminarians. When I later learned how much was going on in the seminary, I was somewhat chagrined.
Section 1 — CONFLICTS OF CONVICITON
WHAT IS YOUR ATTITUDE TOWARD THE CHURCH'S OFFICIAL POSITION REGARDING HOMOSEXUALITY?
The responses to this question indicate an almost unanimous disapproval of the church's official position on homosexuality. Forty-six respondents (92%) strongly disagreed with the current position of the church. The remaining four (8%) voiced mixed reactions.
The majority of the respondents rejected the church's position on homosexuality because of its narrowness, especially in the context of its rigid attitude toward sexuality in general.
I find it very narrow and rigid, a view not unlike the church's fixation with respect to all of sexuality. It is, in fact, the church's evident unwillingness to take a fresh look at sexuality that makes me feel more free to do so myself.
We are, in effect, being held hostage for the sake of the church's primary concern for marital (heterosexual) sexuality. Any 'give' in regard to us would crack the criterion for marriage, so...
For the church to accept homosexuality as a given condition of someone's life means a rethinking and revision of attitudes toward all of sexuality.
I believe the church's position must broaden to include the legitimacy and holiness of non-procreative sexuality.
Other respondents based their rejection of the church's position either on the church's lack of compassion or on its lack of knowledge about the subject, while some offered that the church's position is politically and economically rather than morally motivated.
It is sad and a scandal that the church's love and compassion is so rarely extended to sexual minorities in a public manner.
I remember how I rationalized and taught the official position to parishioners and penitents before I came to accept my own sexuality. In the vacuum of no experience, the arguments made sense. Now I see the official teachings to be thoroughly misdirected.
It is completely out of line with the information that we now have through the natural sciences as well as scriptural exegesis. It continues to be extremely oppressive in light of all this.
I think of the church's present attitude toward homosexuality as a political/economic issue rather than a moral one.
Four respondents offered mixed reactions.
It is the beginning in a direction of compassion, but far from hitting the mark in accepting people for who they are.
My attitude is ambiguous. It is unrealistic for the church to accept homosexuals for persons and condemn the emotional and psychological and physical expression of that condition. I also feel that there are positive Christian values about life and sexuality that the church could proclaim to the gay community that is at best neurotic. Unfortunately, the church has no credibility when it speaks about sexuality.
WHAT IS YOUR ATTITUDE TOWARD THE CHURCH'S OFFICIAL POSITION REGARDING MANDATORY CELIBACY FOR PRIESTS?
Forty-five respondents (90%) strongly rejected the church's requirement of mandatory celibacy for priests, while four (8%) disagreed with the requirement in a qualified way. Only one respondent whole-heartedly supported mandatory celibacy.
Those rejecting the requirement of mandatory celibacy for priests did so for a number of reasons, the most common being that a virtue cannot or ought not be mandated.
I believe rather strongly that celibacy is a valid and much needed witness in our culture. It should not, however, be mandatory. Optional may have value; mandatory has none.
Mandatory celibacy is a contradiction in terms. How can a gift or charism be mandated?
This is part of the idiocy that abounds in the church. I see no scriptural or sound theological basis for the practice. I think there should be an option.
Others disagreed with the tradition of celibacy because of its current application to all priests. These respondents believed that celibacy should be required of religious priests by virtue of their special commitment to the church but that secular priests should be allowed an option.
I believe that celibacy is a gift from God and can be embraced freely within religious life. It should not, however, be mandatory for diocesan clergy.
I think that a mandate for celibacy on the part of either heterosexual or homosexual persons in the context of a religious order or congregation is legitimate. Diocesan priesthood should have optional 'celibacy.
Some respondents indicated that the requirement of celibacy was futile because it was not adhered to.
I think the rule should be changed as soon as possible. We don't follow the rule anyway. I bumped into an auxiliary bishop at a gay hotel and saw the ordinary of a diocese at a gay bar across country.
One respondent felt that the celibate lifestyle is in total accord with priestly ministry.
I support mandatory celibacy for the priesthood, more so now that ministry is finally being seen as not merely confined to priesthood. I find no objection to reserving the sacrificial and sacramental aspects of ministry to a clergy totally dedicated by lifestyle to Christ and the church.
HOW DO YOU UNDERSTAND YOUR COMMITMENT TO CELIBACY?
Responses to this question fall into five fairly distinct categories. It is important to note that some respondents equate "celibacy" and "chastity" while others do not.
Eleven respondents (22%) equate celibacy with total sexual abstinence. Some of these indicated that, though this was their understanding of celibacy, they either do not conform to it or oppose it as a binding rule.
Celibacy means no genital contact with anyone of any kind. This is my requirement. Hopefully, it will lead me to become more gentle and loving.
As it is generally understood; in the physical sense. That is, absence of genital activity with others and oneself.
In the traditional sense, meaning no sexual activity. I am beginning to question this understanding. If warm loving sexual relationships help a priest to be a better minister to his community, then why not enter into them, for his own sake as well.
The way that all the laity does -- priests don't screw. This presents an immediate conflict in my life because my lifestyle does not reflect that. However, I would rather live in conflict than play theological 'mind-fuck' games with myself and others.
Eleven other respondents (22%) understood celibacy as a commitment to forego traditional heterosexual marriage or the homosexual equivalent, that is, a permanent exclusive relationship.
I took the promise of celibacy, which means, as the church understands it, not to marry. So I'm keeping that promise.
Celibacy for me means no heterosexual marriage -that's all I ever envisioned it to be.
To me, my promise of celibacy means that I have promised my bishop that I will not get married.
It means that I will not get married to a woman. A ridiculous rule imposed on me, a gay man.
It means the lack of a physical-psychological commitment to another person.
I understand celibacy to mean 'un-marriable' (in the gay context - no covenant with a life-long lover).
I understand celibacy to be for priests a commitment to remain unmarried which for me as a gay man means not to have a lover in the genital, sexual sense.
Thirteen respondents (26%) understood celibacy as a commitment to regulate their sexuality in terms of general Christian moral values, without believing that this precludes sexual expression.
I understand my clerical promise to celibacy as a commitment to put my sexuality in line with the person-oriented and love-oriented directives of the gospel.
Both celibacy and chastity in my understanding have little or nothing to do with my genitals. To see it as a genital issue is to blur the value of these virtues. It is like trying to define a pacifist as one who doesn't carry a gun. Obviously it is more than that. Pacifism, like celibacy and chastity, is a total demeanor, a way one looks at the world.
Chastity means learning how to love people properly. To my mind there are numerous occasions when the proper way to love an individual is non-genital; my mother for example. At the same time there are clearly numerous occasions when genital expression would be proper and appropriate.
I understand my promise to be celibate to be primarily that I am free emotionally and psychologically to be a witness and a minister of God's love in the world. My understanding of these virtues does not preclude genital sex.
Eight respondents (16%) understood celibacy in terms of a commitment to God, gospel values, or a more than usual openness to the needs of others, without explicitly indicating the role, if any, sexuality might have in such a commitment.
I understand it most clearly in terms of availability to many people. I see it also as a mystery of faith: it is a contradiction of so much that is human.
I see it as a sign of the breadth of God's love. Just as I see marriage as a sign of the depth of his love. When I am most genuinely celibate I should then be most open and available to the needs of all with whom I come in contact.
The call to enter life deeply, calling me to participation, involvement and vulnerability.
Saying to the Lord, 'Be my all my everything.'
Finally, seven respondents (14%) expressed confusion on the subject of celibacy, or expressed a feeling of being torn between conflicting interpretations of its meaning. Some offered no definite opinion on the subject.
I have never come to understand it. All I know is that I have been ordained to serve the Lord's people.
With a great deal of confusion! The ideal might be good or was good at a point in history but now it has tremendous political and manipulative overtones. I understand it in the best way I know how — as a process in which I am 'becoming' but in no way means 'fixed'.
In all honesty I am not able to answer right now. I see chastity as an ideal; and I am working toward that. I am sexually active now and I see this as an essential phase in my growth and development. I know with moral certainty that I am so much better off now spiritually and humanly than when I was repressing and suppressing all sexual desire and fantasy.
This one area is causing me personal anguish now. I know that traditionally chastity, as a public profession, has been equated with celibacy. I know in fact that chastity and celibacy are not the same. I guess I just don't have the guts at present to make the distinction.
ARE YOU EXPERIENCING ANY GUILT IN RECONCILING THE CHURCH'S POSITION ON HOMOSEXUALITY AND CELIBACY AND YOUR OWN LIFESTYLE? IF NOT, HOW ARE YOU PUTTING THESE THINGS TOGETHER?
The majority of the respondents, thirty (60%), remarked that they are currently experiencing no guilt in reconciling the church's positions on homosexuality and celibacy and their own lifestyles.
There is no guilt. The church is wrong. The God I believe in is a God who speaks of love, acceptance and especially relationships. The two times I became seriously suicidal over being gay were sinful, the love relationships that I try to develop with others is not sinful. I now leave a relationship feeling more human, more alive, more spiritual.
Now I am not experiencing any guilt. I have put a lot of work into knowing and accepting myself. I take responsibility for my life and I follow my conscience, having given due consideration to the church's teachings.
With the help of two years of therapy and much personal reflection, I am no longer experiencing guilt.
I am not; but I'm also not trying to reconcile the irreconcilable. I try to keep my professional and personal life separate but in tandem.
Only two specified that they are experiencing no guilt, since they are currently sexually abstemious.
At present I am a homosexual in orientation only, not in lifestyle. As long as I remain celibate, there is no guilt, regardless of my opinions on the official church teaching.
A number of individuals reported experiencing no guilt but went on to specify a variety of other qualms and concerns.
Guilt, no! Regret that I cannot be more open and honest, yes. I sincerely regret the necessary dishonesty that makes me appear publicly to be committed to a celibate lifestyle, whereas I am not. But few gays in our society have the luxury of complete honesty. 'Dissent in and for the church' is not simply a matter of theological speculation; it has always been a matter of praxis as well. Like all human beings I need affirmation and support, but approval is not so urgent a need.
No guilt. However, fear of discovery in regards to my sexual activity. Putting it together — I'd say the church has her view and I mine. I consider my view to be healthy and in line with the more intelligent view of scripture and psychology.
I don't feel guilty, but I feel selfish and outside the mainstream. The tension will have to resolve itself soon.
I think that the church is wrong on homosexuality so I don't feel guilty in that regard. I would be more apt to feel it with regard to my choice of celibacy. I feel dissatisfaction, resentment, anger, confusion and fear.
Seven respondents (14%) indicated that they are experiencing a little guilt.
There is little to no guilt since I am more or less celibate in the traditional understanding of the term.
Very little. I am relatively celibate at present. I have done three and a half years of therapy, and have read widely on the issue.
Very little guilt. I see the traditional 'wisdom' as not relating at all to my experience of life and of God. Yet after dealing with some of the unsatisfactory aspects of gay life I feel tempted to return to traditional celibacy. I am also uncomfortable about having a deep commitment to another person as endangering my commitment to God and the church. Yet since my gay lifestyle has helped me very much to be a loving person it has also enriched my priesthood and I have to weigh that factor.
Thirteen respondents (26%) indicated that they are experiencing a good deal of guilt as they try to reconcile the church's position on celibacy and/or homosexuality and their own lifestyles.
The only time that I feel guilty is when I compare my lifestyle with what a 'typical' Catholic would expect a priest to be. I feel no guilt when I compare myself and my lifestyle to my own expectations or those of the gospel.
There is some guilt, yes. Yet I feel psychologically compelled to do what I am doing. I wish I could reconcile it with my public commitment and witness to chastity and celibacy.
Initially there was a lot of guilt, but as I live my life Pm getting tired of feeling guilty. I realize that guilt is my way of holding back and not exploring my sexuality.
I have no guilt in reconciling the church's position and my orientation. I do have guilt in reconciling the church's position and my activity; especially as regards possible scandal.
My only guilt is that my celibacy may be a cop-out.
HOW WOULD YOU CHARACTERIZE THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE CHURCH'S ATTITUDE TOWARD SEXUALITY AND THAT OF THE GAY COMMUNITY?
All but four of the respondents made value judgments in their characterizations of the church's and gay community's attitudes toward sexuality. The four who made no value judgments stated what they perceived to be the difference in attitudes but offered no opinion on their relative merits.
The forty-six responses reflecting value judgments fall into four categories of general emphasis. The first category is characterized by a negative appraisal of the church's attitude and a positive appraisal of the gay community's. Eighteen respondents (36%) characterized the difference in this way.
Church leaders stress that the only way sexuality can be valuable and responsible is if it is open to procreation. The gay community sees sexuality in broader terms; that is, the value of sexuality is in the loving.
I see the gay community accepting itself as persons whom God loves and made and who are trying to integrate their sexuality within their whale life. Sexuality is a big plus for gays; for the church it is a minus, limited and negative.
The church still sees sexuality as the source of so much evil; the gay community, despite its many weaknesses, sees sexuality as a liberating force.
The church is not altogether happy about sex. In fact we seem to have more hang-ups about sex than we do about war and racism. In this regard the gay community presents a challenge to the church and society.
The church is 'sure' without being responsibly in-formed. The gay community is an emerging liberated minority, with all the eventually un-fortunate excesses, events and feelings that characterize an enthusiastic, newly liberated group.
The second category indicated a positive appraisal of the church's attitudes and a negative appraisal of the gay community's attitudes. Only one respondent stated the difference this way.
The church seems rightly to emphasize that love and sexuality is much more than genitality. The gay community seems very sophomoric in this regard.
The third category indicated an emphasis on the negative aspects of both the church's and gay community's attitudes toward sexuality. Twenty-six of the respondents (52%) offered such characterizations.
The gay community as I have experienced it admits that it screws around more than the church is willing to admit that her members do. Other than that I am surprised how much alike the two are. There is an amazing amount of guilt, sexual negativity, and 'hang-ups' between the two.
The church deals with ideals to the exclusion of the real; the gay community is the opposite.
The attitudes of both the church and the gay community are very unrealistic. The church's attitude is that it idealizes sex as the highest expression of mutual love between a man and a woman in marriage while ignoring the other emotional and psychological expressions of sexuality that are legitimately human. On the other hand, it seems the gay community tolerates and defends all forms of sexuality; even when they are neurotic, inhuman and even psychotic.
I do not think there is much difference. Both seem to view sexuality in terms of isolated acts of genital expression.
While the church may be overly concerned to draw lines, the gay community seems unwilling to draw any.
The gay community has a wide range of experience though little reflection upon that experience is being done. The church, on the other hand, has lots of reflection on precious little experience.
The fourth category indicates an emphasis on the positive aspects of both the church's and gay community's attitudes. Only one respondent offered such a characterization.
The church's attitude toward sexuality is understood in a biological/natural law context. The gay community understands sexuality in a personalistic context. Both are valid to my way of thinking.
The four respondents (8%) who refrained from making a value judgment outlined the particular attitudes, as they understood them.
The official church's teaching certainly proscribes any genital sex outside the context of marriage. The gay community generally would allow any sort of sexual activity, with some stressing faithfulness and others being tolerant or even encouraging sexual activity with someone regardless of any possible primary commitment.
IF YOU HAVE READ ANY OF THE FOLLOWING BOOKS, PLEASE RATE THEM ACCORDING TO THEIR HELPFULNESS TO YOU.
1) VERY HELPFUL, 2) HELPFUL, 3) NOT VERY HELPFUL, 4) NOT AT ALL HELPFUL
1) The Church and the Homosexual; John McNeill, SJ. Sheed Andrews & McMeel, Kansas City, 1976
2) Another Kind of Love; Richard Woods, OP. The Thomas. Moore Press, Chicago, 1977
3) Jonathan Loved David, Homosexuality in Biblical Times; Tom Horner, The Westminister Press, Philadelphia, 1978
4) Is the Homosexual My Neighbor, Another Christian View; Famey-Mollenkott, Scanzoni; Harper & Roe, New York, 1978
5) The Sexual Celibate; Donald Goergen, OP. Seabury Press, New York, 1974
During the past decade a number of books have been published which have dealt with the subject of homosexuality and Christianity. However, like the ones mentioned above, these books call into question the "traditional wisdom." From all reports they have enjoyed a large readership. Question 14 was formulated to establish the connection, if any this suggested list of books might have had on the attitude development of the respondents.
The respondents reported a remarkable familiarity with the suggested publications, and for the most part found them helpful in supporting and solidifying their attitudes. A majority reported reading three of the five titles. The most widely read was McNeill's The Church and the Homosexual. Forty-four respondents (88%) read the book, and 95.5% of them reported it to be helpful or very helpful. The Sexual Celibate and Another Kind of Love were the next most widely read, forty (80%) and thirty (60%) respondents reporting respectively. Once again the majority of these readers found the books helpful. The least read title was also the least helpful, proportionately, to its readers. Jonathan Loved David had but ten readers (20%), four of them reporting it to be not very helpful or not helpful at all. (The reader is reminded that a complete statistical breakdown of the responses to this and all the questions can be found at the end of this chapter).
Section 2 — CONFLICTS IN LIFESTYLE
DO YOU LIVE IN COMMUNITY? IF YOU DO, ARE ANY OTHER MEMBERS OF YOUR COMMUNITY GAY?
At present, thirty-one respondents (62%) are living in formally established community houses or rectories. The remaining nineteen (38%) have other living arrangements, such as student housing or private apartments.
Just over half of the respondents (sixteen) who are living in community report that there are other gay priests or religious living with them. The remaining fifteen respondents were not aware of living with other gays.
WOULD YOU PREFER TO LIVE ALONE? WHAT WOULD BE THE ADVANTAGES AND DISADVANTAGES?
Both those living alone and those not currently living alone identified similar advantages and disadvantages. The most commonly cited advantage was privacy and freedom of movement, and the most commonly cited disadvantage was loneliness.
Twenty-five respondents (50%) reported a preference for living alone.
I prefer to live alone for the freedom of personal lifestyle. Yet I realize the cost; support of others.
I have lived alone for two of the past ten years. I prefer this arrangement. Advantages - solitude, this helps me with my work and prayer and reflection. Disadvantages - I like to have people to live with, with whom I can share.
Five respondents (10%) indicated a preference for living alone but qualified their preference by stipulating a desire to live with a lover or close companion.
I would prefer to live alone with a lover. Living alone would give me the advantage of coming and going more freely. I would also feel less restricted about who comes to see me.
I would truly relish living alone but would prefer to live with a friend and companion for the joy of being close to someone r deeply loved.
Twenty respondents (40%) rejected the idea of living alone.
I would not prefer to live alone. The only advantage would be privacy. Disadvantages - possible loneliness, more intense than occurs now at times in community, and non-support on levels of communal prayer.
I would not prefer to live alone. For me the disadvantage of an empty house, not even someone to bitch about, is stronger than the advantage of the freedom (license) involved.
Living alone would only intensify my loneliness.
ARE THERE ANY INTIMACY NEEDS THAT YOU EXPERIENCE THAT ARE NOT BEING MET BY YOUR PRIESTLY OR RELIGIOUS LIFESTYLE?
Forty-four respondents (88%) reported being unfulfilled in terms of intimacy by their priestly or religious lifestyle. The remaining six respondents (12%) reported being generally content.
The frustration apparent in the responses of those who reported being unfulfilled was deafening. The areas most frequently identified as the cause of frustration were:
a) The inadequacy of the respondents' living condition.
I really don't have a home. I live in a rectory. I am unable to bring friends to my house for entertainment or just to be with them. I can't even be myself at home.
b) The desire for a lover.
I don't know how my need for intimacy and personal fulfillment, a sense of loving deeply and being loved, could be met in the traditional (celibate) lifestyle. The traditional expectations allow for me only the sterile, rational, efficient, feelingless lifestyle that I now see as inhuman.
I feel a need and desire for a very close and affectionate relationship with a man. I'm not sure that I would need this permanently, but I do need to experience it right now at the stage I'm presently in.
I feel a need to be wanted. I want to mean something special to someone. This need is not met by my priestly lifestyle. If anything, my priestly experience has told me that I'm expendable.
c) The need for an intimate, non-sexual relationship.
I need to be held and touched. I need overt affection both from men and women. This would not necessarily include genital activity.
d) The need for the company of women and children.
I have the need to be with women and children.
e) The need to be self-directed.
The basic intimacy need that I have that is not being met in religious life is the need to be taken seriously. Superiors and peers fail to understand that I might have a say in what is best for me.
General comments of dissatisfaction were also voiced.
All my intimacy needs are met by others, outside religious life. If I would have waited for those in community to minister to my needs I would have died waiting.
Religious life does not meet any of my needs for intimacy.
The remaining six respondents (12%) reported being generally satisfied in their priestly and religious lifestyles.
Presently there is a growing attempt with moderate success to integrate the ideals of community and religious intimacy with my own emotional needs, desires and demands.
DO YOU ENVY THE FREEDOM OF GAY LAYMEN? HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE THIS FREEDOM — POLITICAL, PSYCHOLOGICAL, SEXUAL, ETC.?
Replies to this question fall into three major categories. The first category includes respondents who reported being envious of at least some of the freedoms of their gay lay peers; the second category comprises those who reported not being envious of any freedoms; and the third category consists of those who expressed mixed feelings.
Eighteen respondents (36%) indicated being envious of at least some of the freedoms of their gay lay peers. Many of these emphasized sexual freedom.
Gays have a greater sexual freedom (to find a lover).
I feel a layperson has the space to grow in sexual maturity, while I have to struggle for this same space. I sometimes envy the sexual freedom of lay gay persons. It would involve for me the freedom from other people's expectations and freedom from being such a public figure.
I believe gay laymen have greater sexual freedom. Political and spiritual and psychological freedom depends on the individual. I believe I have each of these.
Others in this group cited political freedom as enviable, either the freedom to openly associate with gays and act politically on their behalf or the freedom from the political limitations of life in the Church.
If I were not a priest in my current position, I would like to get politically involved with gay issues.
Gay laymen are freer to be associated with gay groups that are public. In this diocese I would be suspended if I were seen in public doing anything pro-gay.
I envy them to the extent that they don't have to experience the oppressive structures of the church on a personal and professional level. In this diocese we are told where to live and paid a very inadequate salary. There is little if any real concern for the individual priest.
Twenty-two respondents (44%) reported not being envious of any of the supposed freedoms of their gay lay peers.
I used to envy gay laymen until I took a leave of absence. I found that I had much the same freedom or lack of it.
I have all the freedoms they do.
I envy nothing of the freedom that a gay layperson might have because I have fought for the same freedoms for myself.
The only freedom that gay laymen have that I see is an inner freedom, which I feel already. My limitations are self-imposed, and freely chosen.
What freedom? To be gay in our society is to be enslaved.
The remaining ten respondents (20%) reported mixed reactions. Often these replies express envy but are qualified by statements indicating that the envy is unfounded.
I envy freedom of lay gay men but often believe I am making a judgment about their freedom, which is too simplistic.
I often envy younger gay men because I wish that I had dealt with the gay issue when I was their age. I also see an illusion in this because I tend to romanticize the life of young gays today. They have their crises too.
I feel envy only when my gayness gets the best of me, like when I'm drunk, horny, or going into the Village.
DO YOU CONSIDER YOUR CELIBATE LIFESTYLE TO BE A FREEING EXPERIENCE — POLITICALLY, PSYCHOLOGICALLY, SEXUALLY, SPIRITUALLY, ETC.?
Replies to this question also fall into three general groups. The first consists of respondents who indicated that their celibate lifestyle is a freeing experience in one sense or another; the second comprises those who did not see celibacy as at all freeing; and the third includes those who gave mixed or qualified answers.
Twenty respondents (40%) reported their celibate lifestyle to be a freeing experience in one way or another. The most frequent characterization of this freedom was exemption from traditional heterosexual marriage.
I feel celibacy is a freeing experience in that I never felt I had to marry a woman to avoid society's suspicion. I feel free being with other men in public as it is expected that a priest's companions will be other males.
I would be imprisoned if I were married.
Roughly corresponding to these responses were those stressing freedom from complex relationships.
I have experienced the limitations of being in relationships. Prophecy must come from the totally free person; and relationships do limit that freedom.
I feel free now. At age thirty-three I feel especially relieved in terms of not having to deal with complex relationships.
Other respondents indicated more generally that celibacy allowed a greater availability to ministry.
Yes, I find it to be freeing. It allows me to be more available to be of service.
I experience celibacy as freeing, to be available to minister to others. It also frees me to decide how to use my time, energy and resources for a greater good.
Eighteen respondents (36%) did not consider their celibate lifestyle to be a freeing experience. In responding to this question the majority simply answered "no." Most of those who elaborated focused on the sexual and/or political restrictions of celibacy.
I feel I am restricted both sexually and politically.
I don't feel free politically, in the sense of being able to engage actively in the gay liberation movement.
I don't consider such a lifestyle freeing in any way.
Twelve respondents (24%) indicated that celibacy was in some respect freeing but qualified their answer in a specific way.
Celibacy is the freedom from not having to marry. Yet as a lifestyle I would want a partner to live and share my life with.
Section 3 — CONFLICTS OF IDENTITY
DOES IT CONCERN YOU THAT YOUR FELLOW PRIESTS OR RELIGIOUS MIGHT COME TO KNOW THAT YOU ARE GAY?
All respondents reported being concerned to some degree about having their gay identity become known to fellow priests and religious. Twenty-six respondents (52%) expressed unequivocal concern ranging from fear of possible reprisals to worry about being stereotyped and/or discredited.
I feel called to ministry in a high school. If I was known to be gay I am sure that I no longer would be welcome in that ministry.
I am sure I would lose my current position if they knew.
They might become suspicious about the men who visit me in the rectory.
I do not want most of my fellow priests to know that I am gay. I feel they will look down on me, discredit my work and read into the positions I take on many issues. I simply do not trust most priests.
I fear being categorized and labeled by all the gay myths. I would not want to be seen only as 'gay', as if that is all there is to me.
The remaining twenty-four respondents (48%) offered mixed responses.
These respondents tend to be more open about their sexual orientation, but they too express concern about having their sexual identity known. These concerns range from eliciting hostility and mistrust from their religious peers to being subjected to unusual demands or expectations from them.
I am as 'out' as can be. Yet I continue to pay a dear price for this posture. Many of my fellow priests are uncomfortable with me, others are outright hostile. The ones who associate with me do so at their own expense; guilt by association.
I am rather open about being gay and am generally not concerned, although there are a sizeable number of my fellow priests that I wouldn't trust with anything, let alone this information.
I don't so much mind other priests knowing I am gay. I do mind being propositioned by closeted priests who have found this out. It is most uncomfortable because some are real powerful people and when I don't return the interest I jeopardize my position in the diocese.
My being as open as I am has brought me many other priests who struggle with their own gayness. One problem is that they tend to live vicariously through me rather than living for themselves.
HAVE YOU EVER EXPERIENCED ANY HOSTILITY OR OPPRESSION FROM YOUR RELIGIOUS PEERS OR SUPERIORS WHO HAVE COME TO KNOW THAT YOU ARE GAY?
Thirty respondents (60%) reported never experiencing hostility or oppression from religious superiors or peers because of their gay identity. It should be noted that the majority of those who elaborated on their answers offered that the absence of hostility or oppression was the result of keeping their sexual identity hidden or of being discriminating about those they disclosed their identity to.
I have never experienced open hostility or oppression. Most, of course, don't know about me.
I haven't experienced any hostility; but I have been very discriminating in revealing my gayness.
I make sure that the people I share this information with can handle it. If I have the least bit of information that they won't be able to, I choose not to disclose myself. This really cuts down on the possibility of any hostility or oppression.
Fifteen respondents (30%) indicated experiencing some measure of hostility or oppression. Some were quite specific.
I am very open about my orientation. I have experienced a lot of hostility from both superiors and peers. It is worth it all to be out there for those more timid than myself who need to see that putting all this together is possible.
After one of my community members alerted our superior that I had gone to a gay bar with some other community members, I have been put under obedience to stay away from such places. Since then I have experienced coldness from some of the men I live with.
I don't have a position in a diocese at the present time because I am gay and hold the convictions I do.
I have experienced hostility from only one peer who is himself gay but closeted.
The remaining five respondents (10%) gave ambiguous replies.
I have experienced some hostility but generally I have found people accepting. Being black in the church short circuits any other marginality.
DOES IT CONCERN YOU THAT A GAY LAY PERSON MIGHT COME TO KNOW THAT YOU ARE A PRIEST?
A large majority of the respondents reported being concerned to some degree about having their identity, as a priest, become known to gay lay peers. Twenty-eight respondents (56%) expressed an unequivocal concern. These concerns ranged from uneasiness about possible scandal to lay persons to difficulties forming relationships.
I feel uneasy when a gay layman finds out I'm a priest when I am out in a cruising situation. I don't want to make the church or my religion appear bad to others who do no understand the complex situation I'm trying to negotiate.
In some respects it has been more difficult for me to 'come out' as a priest in the gay community than it was to come out as gay. I still have some concern about this with sexual partners on first meeting, but primarily in terms of whether or not they will be able to deal with it.
I found that most gay laypersons tend to maintain a certain distance as regards a gay relationship with a priest.
Twenty respondents (40%) indicated more openness about their priestly identity but nonetheless specified caution depending on a certain degree of supportiveness and confidentiality.
I have had some good experiences as well as bad. The risk is always there. However, the need for companionship outweighs the risk most of the time.
I don't mind; if they keep their mouth shut.
Only two respondents (4%) gave answers suggesting either no problem in revealing their priestly identity or a substantial degree of comfort doing so.
I am becoming more and more comfortable with gay lay people knowing I am a priest.
HAVE YOU EVER EXPERIENCED HOSTILITY OR
OPPRESSION FROM YOUR GAY LAY PEERS WHO HAVE COME TO KNOW THAT YOU ARE A PRIEST?
Thirty respondents (60%) reported never experiencing hostility or oppression from gay lay peers because of their priestly identity. As with question 21, many were quick to add that the absence of negativity was the result of keeping their vocational identity hidden or exercising caution about those to whom they disclose their identity.
I have never experienced any hostility, but then again I'm 'out' as a priest to very few.
Just three others know about my priesthood. All have been supportive. The risk has to be minimal before I even consider disclosure.
Seventeen respondents (34%) indicated some measure of hostility or oppression from gay lay peers. The most frequently cited reasons for this negativity were the gay laypersons' own sexual ambivalence or their adoption of a double standard in relation to the respondents.
Yes I have. I can safely say, however, that the majority of those who would want to control my sexuality are those who are afraid of their own.
The hostility that I have experienced from gay peers has generally to do with their lack of appreciation of the gift of sexuality. If they saw their sexuality as a healthy and wholesome thing they surely wouldn't be alarmed to learn that their priests and ministers celebrate their gift with them.
When it comes to sexuality, I have experienced a double standard; one for them and one for me.
Some, whether out of fear or occasionally envy, want Father to be 'good' for them, and not 'bad' like them.
Finally, three respondents (6%) gave ambiguous or tangential replies.
I have experienced no more than the stereotypical expectations laid on any cleric.
DO YOU FEAR OPEN ASSOCIATION WITH THE GAY COMMUNITY?
Thirty-two respondents (64%) indicated having no fear of open association with the gay community. Some of these suggested that the gay community was the only real community they have.
I know that I would just wither and die if I didn't have the 'free-flow' association I have with the gay community. The fellowship I feel through my sexuality is much stronger than the fellowship I feel through my religious ties.
I don't fear association with the gay community because that is the only real community I have. The church is the oppressor; the gay community is often my only support.
Eighteen respondents (36%) reported some degree of fear or caution. Confidentiality was a frequently cited reason.
If I could be sure the gay people I associate with could respect the confidentiality I need, the fear I have would be diminished.
I just don't trust the gay community.
I am cautious but I do not hide.
Others in this same group indicated a variety of reasons, such as fear of disappointing straight friends or fear of the sexual temptation present in the gay community.
I am certainly not ashamed of my involvement with the gay community as a minister. I do not see any danger in this type of involvement. However, I fear the temptation that I experience when I am around attractive gay men. I fear being unfaithful to my vows.
I don't want to hurt my straight friends, particularly the women who fantasize about me.
DO YOU FEAR BLACKMAIL?
Forty-three respondents (86%) reported no fear of blackmail. The remaining seven (14%) felt that there was reason for fear. Although most respondents replied to this question with a simple "yes" or "no", a few elaborated.
My family has a great deal of money and I would use every cent of it to sue to the hilt anyone who tried to blackmail me. This is America not Medieval Europe or Nazi Germany. As a citizen I have rights and should never have to live fear.
I used to fear blackmail but no longer. Yet I do not know how I would react if the occasion ever arose.
ARE YOU ACTIVE IN THE GAY COMMUNITY POLITICALLY? MINISTERIALLY? SOCIALLY?
All respondents reported being active in one or more of the suggested areas of possible activity. The majority of the respondents indicated being active in all three areas. Thirty-one respondents (62%) reported being active politically, forty (80%) ministerially, and thirty-nine (78%) socially. Few elaborated on their simple "yes" or "no" responses to the three suggested areas, but those who did focused on personal and communal needs for such activity.
I always vote for gay causes. Likewise, I would always be willing to counsel a gay priest or layperson to help him adjust as a human and as a Christian.
I am active in Dignity — as a member, minister and counselor. I socialize with individuals beyond Dignity events. I am beginning to become active politically. There is a tremendous need being fulfilled here.
It pains me greatly that I cannot be more active politically even though I see a great need for such activity. I would risk confrontation with my bishop who has absolutely forbidden such activism.
One respondent indicated only marginal social activity.
I do my socializing with other gays in cities other than the one that I work in.
Section 4 — CONFLICTS IN SEXUAL BEHAVIOR
DOES YOUR BEING A PRIEST ENHANCE OR DETRACT FROM YOUR SEXUALITY?
Eighteen respondents (36%) felt that their priesthood enhanced their sexuality, fifteen (30%) felt that it detracted from their sexuality, and seventeen (34%) felt that it enhanced in some ways and detracted in others. It should be borne in mind that sexuality, in many of these responses, does not necessarily refer to overt genitality though in many cases it clearly does.
The eighteen who felt that priesthood enhanced their sexuality gave similar reasons. In most cases the emphasis is on the ways in which priesthood and sexuality complement and enrich one another in the whole personality.
My sexuality is me. My priesthood is me. They need not be separated. I used to think of my gay sexuality as if it were a stereo component that could be plugged in or taken out; but I have learned to integrate my priesthood and my sexuality into my personhood.
Being a priest does not restrict my sexuality. My priesthood enriches my life and my whole self. That is what I share with another. It is a gift.
Being a priest has enabled me to discover and use my personal gifts and talents that have enriched me as a person, and thereby enhanced my sexuality.
I think it enhances it by making it possible for me to integrate sexuality and spirituality.
My sexuality is enhanced because I am more ready to put sexuality into the context of prayer and worship for myself and for those who see me as a teacher and leader.
One respondent in this group offered that his priesthood was enhanced because it enabled him to escape the stereotypes of heterosexual masculinity.
It enhances my sexuality by separating my masculinity from the heterosexual stereotypes of genital sexuality.
The fifteen respondents who indicated that their priesthood detracted from their sexuality gave as the most common reason the unrealistic expectations surrounding the profession.
Priesthood detracts from my sexuality. It involves a lot of baggage guilt, repression, suppression, fear, social pressure, and just unreal expectations.
In my experience thus far, it is only rarely that someone can relate to me just as another person without having the fact of my priesthood overshadow the relationship. As a result, I resent the expectations that have been attached to priesthood; I feel like a marked man and I wish I could be freed.
Other respondents in this group indicated that their priesthood in various ways diminished their ability to accept or enjoy their sexuality.
I have allowed my priesthood to be a denial of my sexuality.
It doesn't enhance it in any way that I can see. It detracts from acting sexually in a relaxed way, the way I would like to.
Priestly celibacy in general seems to detract from my sexuality because of the loneliness that comes from having so little outlet for my sexual energies.
The seventeen respondents who indicated that priesthood both enhanced and detracted from their sexuality often paired the ability to care and love which their vocation engenders with the lack of opportunity to explore sexual expression.
Being a priest forces me to look for the meaning of sexuality beyond pure genital expression. On the other hand, I have little opportunity for sexual expression.
My priesthood enhances my sexuality in terms of the depth of caring; detracts in terms of freedom to act.
Some among this group assessed the situation in a more practical way.
My being a priest is a definite 'turn-on' for some, for others it is a sure 'turn-off'.
DO YOU EVER PRETEND TO BE STRAIGHT? WHEN? WHY? HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT IT?
Twenty-nine respondents (58%) reported that they do not pretend to be straight. However, a significant proportion of those who elaborated on their answers specified that when it is presumed they are straight they do nothing that would alter the presumption.
I have never been asked whether I am gay or straight. The presumption is that I am straight. I have never found it necessary to make my sexual orientation public. I simply am, or try to be myself.
I sometimes do not deny the presumption that I am straight, but I do not pretend to be.
I am conscious of no pretense at all, as the subject of my sexual orientation has never come up.
Since I am able to 'pass' without difficulty, I have not recently felt the need to pretend. Obviously I do not yet feel able to share fully the truth of my situation. This I do regret.
Twelve respondents (24%) indicated that they pretend to be straight in most situations or in all professional situations.
At times I pretend to be straight. I pretend whenever my position would appear to be in jeopardy, or when I feel that people would reject me.
I pretend when I am acting in my professional capacity. I usually feel exhausted afterwards because it takes so much energy.
I pretend when I am with parishioners, but I don't feel that I have to imitate a rough, crude 'macho-man'.
So much of the gay life, the tackiness and bitchiness, is negative and destructive that I prefer to act 'straight' even in the gay scene.
Seven (14%) remarked that they pretend to be straight sometimes or in relation to specific people.
I pretend mostly with women. They interpret my interest and comments as heterosexual.
I always pretend when I am with straight people. I feel phony about it.
I pretend with my married friends. I feel somewhat dishonest.
Two respondents (4%) did not fall into any of the previous categories because of their ambiguous replies.
I do not pretend to be straight, but often I pretend to be naive about sexual experiences in professional settings. I believe it is necessary to play this game at times.
In general I am thought to be straight by my peers. However, in a few instances I have even flaunted my relationship with women so that my straight image would be secure. I am less inclined to act this way now. I am no longer afraid to be seen in the company of gays. This seems to be in direct proportion to my comfortableness with myself as a gay person.
DO YOU HAVE A LOVER?
DO YOU EXPECT THIS RELATIONSHIP TO BE MONOGAMOUS?
Thirteen respondents (26%) reported currently having a lover. Of these, six specified that they expected the relationship to be monogamous.
The remaining seven respondents specified a preference for an "open" relationship.
Yes, I have a lover. We met in a local gay bar over three and a half years ago. We have lived together for two and a half. Both my lover and I have agreed to an open relationship, with an expectation of honest communication between us.
I have a lover of two years. Our arrangement works out beautifully for both of us. The monogamy that we experience is of the heart and mind not of the genitals.
Yes, we met in June. Our understanding of the relationship is such that we are free to determine how sexual expression fits into other friendships in our lives. If either of us chooses to sexualize a friendship outside our primary relationship with each other, I don't think that it would unbalance our relationship.
IF YOU DON'T HAVE A LOVER, WOULD YOU WANT ONE? WHY? WOULD YOU EXPECT THIS RELATIONSHP TO BE MONOGAMOUS?
Thirty-seven respondents (74%) reported currently not having a lover. Twenty-five of these remarked that they would like to have a lover. Twelve indicated no interest in pursuing such a relationship.
Of the twenty-five respondents who would like to have a lover, thirteen indicated that they would expect the relationship to be monogamous.
Right now, more than anything else, I would like to have a lover. I feel a deep need for this. I am very much alone and unfulfilled without one. I would expect, even demand, the relationship to be monogamous.
The support and closeness and on-going presence appear very attractive. I would hope the relationship would be sexually exclusive while it lasted.
I think that my own capability to love and be loved would be best realized in a loving relationship with another man. I would want to live in this relationship monogamously.
Yes, it is a bit awkward for me to admit, I would like to have a lover. I have paid money for anonymous sex and I have close friends who exclude sex from the relationship. The one thing that I have a strong need for is a close friend who includes sex as an expression of the relationship. I am sure that I would want it to be monogamous.
Twelve respondents who remarked that they would like a lover indicated that monogamy would not be imperative.
Yes, I am actively looking for a lover. I need a significant other in my life. This is a deep psychological need for me. I would never expect a lover to be monogamous.
There is something very enlivening in having a person I can share my life with. There is a deep desire in me for such a person. I would not expect our relationship to be automatically monogamous.
I think I would like a friend where there is a certain sexual aura (perhaps even genital expression). Monogamy for me, but not necessarily for my partner.
The twelve respondents who indicated no interest in having a lover gave as reasons: traditional celibacy, commitment to ministry, or fear of the consequences of such a relationship.
I no longer seek a lover because it is incompatible with my understanding of celibacy.
Since my work comes first and that alone consumes all of my time, I don't see how I could have a lover at this time and do justice to the relationship.
I don't know about a lover. I would fear what it might do to both of us; my priesthood and his relationship to God.
As a summary, the Attitude Inventory concluded with a series of four questions. These were designed to complete the picture of attitudes established by the previous thirty questions.
DO YOU THINK IT IS EASY BEING GAY TODAY?
The majority of the respondents, forty (80%), felt that being gay today was not easy. The reasons given were nearly as diverse as the replies themselves.
It is harder now than ever. Because the achievements made by the gay community have lulled most of us into a sense of complacency. We can't stop now.
Being gay is five times as difficult as being straight; if you are a Catholic multiply that by five more; if you are a priest multiply by five more times.
It is hard to live two lives — one with gay friends, another with everyone else.
Are you kidding? Even in a place like San Francisco, it is very hard. There are too many expectations, prejudicial stereotypes, not to mention the societal oppression.
I think it is a great burden that will be lifted from me only at death.
The remaining ten respondents (20%) felt it was easy or easier being gay today.
It is easier to make sexual contacts today. It is easier to be accepted as being gay today.
I am so envious of gays today. At least they have an evident option. In my youth I didn't even know there was an option.
DO YOU THINK IT IS EASY BEING A PRIEST TODAY?
The resounding majority of the respondents, forty-seven (94%), felt that being a priest, today is not at all easy. Most of the comments echoed sentiments expressed elsewhere in this survey.
In many ways the church is an oppressive institution. Other institutions are too, but at least they allow their members to have a personal life where one can find self-expression and support. It seems that the priesthood demands everything from a man and at the same time offers little in the way of support.
Definitely not! It is much more acceptable to leave the priesthood and it is much less commendable to enter. A priest today needs more personal conviction and strong personal values. The 'system' doesn't carry him like before.
My ministry is challenging, but the priestly lifestyle is underdeveloped and not very humanly growthful.
Three respondents felt it was relatively easy being a priest today.
Yes; too easy. There are no concrete challenges or rewards.
Only if you don't take yourself too seriously. I enjoy the, ministry in its ups and downs.
It is easier to be a priest today than in the past. I am very grateful that I am living now in a time with much more theological and social openness within the church. The narrow stereotypical expectations of society in general toward the priesthood are declining.
WHAT DO YOU THINK ARE THE MOST IMPORTANT CHANGES THAT HAVE TO BE MADE, BY GAYS OR STRAIGHT SOCIETY OR BOTH, TO IMPROVE
To facilitate the respondent in his reply to this question, seven general categories of concern were listed. The respondent was asked to affirm those statements that he felt would bring about the desired effect —the improvement of gay life.
The two categories most often affirmed by the respondents dealt with the need for education. Forty-seven respondents (94%) affirmed the statement: "Educate the people about the true nature of homosexuality." And thirty-seven respondents (74%) affirmed the statement: "Break down religious taboos."
On the other hand, the categories least frequently affirmed by the respondents were those dealing with upholding traditional mores. Only eight respondents (16%) affirmed this statement:' "Gays should behave better in public." And just four respondents (8%) affirmed the statement: "Place less emphasis on sex / adhere to traditional mores." (The reader is reminded that a complete statistical breakdown of the replies to this and all the questions follows at the end of this chapter.)
ARE YOU HAPPY?
The Attitude Inventory concluded with this question. The respondents had one final opportunity to voice their feelings in a general way. The majority of the respondents, thirty-seven (74%), reported that they were "happy" with their lives.
Now that I have accepted my gayness and have integrated that with my priesthood and my own psychological state, I would definitely answer yes. The only thing that could improve is that I would like to discover a lover.
As I continue to see myself totally and accept myself for who I am, I work through the pain. I am emerging as a much happier person.
Very happy! I went through hell to get here. I ain't perfect yet, but I am willing to keep working at it.
Yes, I have a network of warm and supportive friends. I enjoy my work enormously. I find life interesting and rewarding. I think that I am deeply blessed (and blessed in being gay).
Six of the respondents (12%) were categorized as "somewhat happy."
Yes basically. However, I am surprised at how much anger and hostility toward the Church I still have in me. I resent the years that I have spent in a kind of 'foster childhood', a lifestyle that encouraged a total lack of responsibility for myself.
The remaining seven respondents (14%) reported they were less than content with their lives. Four respondents were categorized as "somewhat unhappy."
I am a romantic turned realist (or cynic). I am satisfied with myself and my life. Happy — what does that mean?
I could be much happier with a lover.
I don't know. I am not miserable, but there are a few things that keep me from being happy such as celibacy, ignorance of others about my gayness, misunderstandings I have with people in my community. I guess my faith keeps me going through it all.
Three respondents reported being "unhappy."
I am not at all happy. I think this is because of many personal problems, not necessarily because I am gay.
No, I don't. I’m tired of all life's hassles, tired of my private bar life, tired of my closeted existence.
1) IN WHAT STATE DO YOU RESIDE?
California 21 Michigan 1
Idaho 3 Minnesota 1
Illinois 4 New Jersey 2
Iowa 1 New York 3
Massachusetts 7 Pennsylvania 5
2) AT WHAT GRADE LEVEL DID YOU ENTER SEMINARY?
High School 16
3) HOW OLD WERE YOU WHEN YOU WERE ORDAINED?
24 — 2 25 — 9 26 — 15
27 — 6 28 — 3 29 — 3
30 — 4 31 — 5 32 — 1
41 — 1 42 — 1
4) AT WHAT AGE DID YOU BEGIN TO ADMIT TO YOURSELF YOUR GAY ORIENTATION?
10-15 — 10 16-20 — 11 21-25 — 4
26-30 — 17 31-35 — 6 36-40 — 1
41-45 — 1
5) AT WHAT AGE DID YOU BEGIN TO COME OUT TO OTHERS?
10-15 — 3 16-20 — 9 21-25 — 8
26-30 — 18 31-35 — 4 36-40 — 5
41-45 — 1 46-50— 2
6) ARE YOU OUT TO YOUR PARENTS? PROVINCIAL? BISHOP?
Parents? Provincial, Bishop?
Yes — 14 Yes — 18
No — 32 No — 32
7) IF YOU WERE AWARE OF YOUR GAY ORIENTATION IN SEMINARY DID YOU EVER LEAVE OR CONSIDER LEAVING BECAUSE OF THAT?
Left or thought of leaving 24
Never thought of leaving 7
Were not aware of being gay 19
8) DID YOU EVER HAVE ANY SAME-SEX EXPERIENCES IN SEMINARY?
HOW DID YOU FEEL ABOUT THEM THEN? AND NOW?
Had same-sex experiences in seminary 28
Positive feelings about them then 2
Negative feelings about them then 26
Positive feelings about them now - 27
Negative feelings about them now 1
No same-sex experiences 22
9) WHAT IS YOUR ATTITUDE TOWARD THE CHURCH'S OFFICIAL POSITION REGARDING HOMOSEXUALITY?
Strongly disagree 46
10) WHAT IS YOUR ATTITUDE TOWARD THE CHURCH'S OFFICIAL POSITION REGARDING MANDATORY CELIBACY FOR PRIESTS?
Strongly disagree 45
11) HOW DO YOU UNDERSTAND YOUR COMMITMENT TO CELIBACY?
Total sexual abstinence 11
Forego traditional marriage or gay equivalent 11
Regulate sexuality in terms of general Christian values without precluding sexual expression 13
A relationship to God, gospel values, availability 8
Do not know 7
12) ARE YOU EXPERIENCING ANY GUILT IN RECONCILING THE CHURCH'S POSITION ON HOMOSEXUALITY AND CELIBACY AND YOUR OWN LIFESTYLE? IF NOT HOW ARE YOU PUTTING THESE THINGS TOGETHER?
Guilt free 30
Somewhat guilty 7
13) HOW WOULD YOU CATEGORIZE THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE CHURCH'S ATTITUDE TOWARD SEXUALITY AND THAT OF THE GAY COMMUNITY?
Church's attitude positive / gay community's negative 1
Church's attitude negative / gay community's positive 18
Both church's attitude and gay community's positive 1
Both church's attitude and gay community's negative 26
No judgment 4
14) HAVE YOU READ ANY OF THE FOLLOWING? IF SO PLEASE RATE THEM ACCORDING TO THEIR HELPFULNESS TO YOU.
(1) = Very helpful
(2) = Helpful
(3) = Not very helpful
(4) = Not at all helpful
(1) (2) (3) (4)
The Church and the Homosexual 25 17 2
Another Kind of Love 7 13 9 1
Jonathan Loved David 3 3 3 1
Is the Homosexual My Neighbor 8 6
The Sexual Celibate 15 14 9 2
15) DO YOU LIVE IN COMMUNITY? ARE THERE ANY OTHER MEMBERS OF YOUR COMMUNITY WHO ARE GAY?
Not living in community 19
Living in community 31
With other gay members 16
16) WOULD YOU PREFER TO LIVE ALONE? WHAT WOULD BE THE ADVANTAGES? DISADVANTAGES?
Would want to live alone 30
Would not want to live alone 20
17) ARE THERE ANY INTIMACY NEEDS THAT YOU EXPERIENCE THAT ARE NOT BEING MET BY YOUR PRIESTLY OR RELIGIOUS LIFESTYLE?
Needs not being met 44
Needs generally being met 6
18) DO YOU ENVY THE FREEDOM OF GAY LAYMEN? HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE THIS FREEDOM - POLITICAL, PSYCHOLOGICAL, SEXUAL?
Envious of the freedom 18
Not envious of the freedom 22
Mixed reactions 10
19) DO YOU CONSIDER YOUR CELIBATE LIFESTYLE TO BE A FREE-ING EXPERIENCE - POLITICALLY, PSYCHOLOGICALLY, SEXUALLY, SPIRITUALLY, ETC.?
Celibacy a freeing experience 20
Celibacy not a freeing experience - 18
Mixed reactions 12
20) DOES IT CONCERN YOU THAT YOUR FELLOW PRIESTS OR RELI-GIOUS MIGHT COME TO KNOW THAT YOU ARE GAY?
Unequivocal concern 26
Mixed reactions 24
21) HAVE YOU EVER EXPERIENCED HOSTILITY OR OPPRESSION FROM YOUR RELIGIOUS PEERS OR SUPERIORS WHO HAVE COME TO KNOW THAT YOU ARE GAY?
No hostility or oppression 30
Some measure of hostility or oppression 15
22) DOES IT CONCERN YOU THAT A GAY LAY PERSON MIGHT COME TO KNOW THAT YOU ARE A PRIEST?
Unequivocal concern 28
Somewhat concerned 20
Little to no concern 2
23) HAVE YOU EVER EXPERIENCED HOSTILITY OR OPPRESSION FROM YOUR GAY LAY PEERS WHO HAVE COME TO KNOW THAT YOU ARE A PRIEST?
No hostility or oppression 30
Some measure of hostility or oppression 17
24) DO YOU FEAR OPEN ASSOCIATION WITH THE GAY COMMUNITY?
No fear 32
Some degree of fear 18
25) DO YOU FEAR BLACKMAIL?
No 43 Yes 7
26) ARE YOU ACTIVE IN THE GAY COMMUNITY, POLITICALLY, MINISTERIALLY, SOCIALLY?
Politically 31 19
Ministerially 40 10
Socially 39 11
27) DOES YOUR BEING A PRIEST ENHANCE OR DETRACT FROM YOUR SEXUALITY? IN WHAT WAY?
28) DO YOU EVER. PRETEND TO BE STRAIGHT? WHEN? WHY? HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT IT?
Do not pretend 29
Pretend in most situations 12
Pretend sometimes 7
29) DO YOU HAVE A LOVER? DO YOU EXPECT THIS RELATIONSHIP TO BE MONOGAMOUS?
Do have a lover 13
30) IF YOU DON'T HAVE A LOVER WOULD YOU WANT ONE? WHY? WOULD YOU EXPECT THIS RELATIONSHIP TO BE MONOGAMOUS?
Not interested in a lover 12
Interested in a lover 25
31) DO YOU THINK IT IS EASY BEING .GAY TODAY?
No 40 Yes 10
32) DO YOU THINK IT IS EASY BEING A PRIEST TODAY?
No - 47 Yes 3
33) WHAT DO YOU THINK ARE THE MOST IMPORTANT CHANGES THAT HAVE TO BE MADE, BY GAYS OR THE STRAIGHT COM-MUNITY OR BOTH, TO IMPROVE GAY LIFE?
a) Educate people about the true nature of homosexuality 47
b) Basic changes would have to take place in the social climate 33
c) Political action should be taken 31
d) Place less emphasis on sex / adhere to traditional mores 4
e) Gays should endeavor to improve themselves 12
f) Gays should behave better in public 8
g) Break down religious taboos 37
34) ARE YOU HAPPY?
Somewhat happy 6
Somewhat unhappy 4
The composite picture of the sexual behaviors of this sample of fifty gay priests reveals them to be sexually active. Forty-nine respondents are masturbating at a mean frequency nearly three times that reported by Kinsey in Sexual Behavior in The Human Male.1
Fourteen respondents report a history of heterosexual coitus. Eight respondents report that this contact occurred after ordination; no one reports an occurrence within the past year.
Forty-eight respondents report a twice-a-week mean frequency of same-sex contact. The remaining two respondents are currently abstaining from same-sex contact. Interestingly enough, this sample has nearly five times the number of respondents reporting 500 or more total partners than Kinsey's sample.
Overall, the respondents report enjoying their sexual activity while experiencing a minimum of sex-related guilt.
It was learned that 50% of the respondents had their first post-pubertal same-sex contact before entering the seminary; another 26% had their first experience during their seminary years.
The majority of the respondents, 62%, self-identified as gay before they were ordained, but only 46% had shared that identity with another person by that same time.
The respondents were almost unanimous in their rejection of official church positions regarding homosexuality and mandatory celibacy for priests. At the same time, nearly half of the respondents still experience some guilt because their lives do not reflect ecclesiastical expectations.
All but six report being unfulfilled in terms of intimacy needs by their priestly or religious lifestyle. Coupled with this is the recurring theme, appearing throughout the responses, of a desire for a lover by the majority of those who are currently without one. Only thirteen respondents report having a lover at this time.
The questions dealing with aspects of the priests' dual identity were particularly revealing of the dissonance in their lives. The amount of discrimination experienced by the respondents for being gay in the church or for being a priest in the gay community is in direct proportion to the degree the priests are "out" to either group. Thus, when the majority of respondents report that they have not experienced hostility or oppression from either the gay community or the church, it is usually because they are still "closeted." The path most frequently taken by the respondents in this regard is not to identify as gay in the church or as a priest in the gay community. This conflict is the source of much personal anguish and disappointment for the respondents.
This study reveals a group of highly motivated men, both professionally and sexually. The respondents seek integration and fulfillment in their personal lives as well as in their work, but they are often frustrated by what they report to be stifling role expectations put upon them by both the church and the gay community. While they are quick to criticize the shortcomings of both the church and the gay community, they report a sense of loyalty to and affection for both. It is as if both communities demand an exclusive commitment, one that would have them disown an integral part of their identity. This dissonance is reinforced by the respondents' refusal to abdicate to either demand.
They are engaged in a process of questioning moral theology as well as reinterpreting traditional expectations of the celibate lifestyle in an effort to minimize the dissonance. Unfortunately, this process has been going on in secret. The fear of disclosure and possible reprisals has made this struggle a lonely one.
Further research in this area could follow any number of paths. Two possible modalities are suggested here.
1) A Longitudinal Study: Such a study would reveal patterns that develop in the life and sexuality of a gay priest. One major area of interest would be an assessment, over a period of time; of the relationship the gay priest has vis-à-vis the Church and vis-à-vis the gay community.
Would the conflict of identity inevitably resolve itself by his withdrawing from one or the other community? What affect would the continuing development of theology and the emergence of the gay liberation movement have upon the gay priest?
What effect does time have on the gay priest's pattern of sexual partnering? If the movement were toward a lover, would the intimacy of that relationship obviate for him the need for priesthood or religious life?
A Comparative Study: Comparing a group of sexually active gay priests with a group of sexually active heterosexual priests would reveal the unique problems faced by both. One major area of interest would be the difference between patterns of sexual partnering for the heterosexual priest compared to the gay priest.
Does the social stigma attached to homosexuality produce a more tension-filled environment for the gay priest than his heterosexual counterpart? Is there more pressure to leave the active ministry when the possibility of children is involved? What would be the difference in attitudes voiced by each group in light of their dual loyalties?
1 Kosnik, et al., 1977, p. 304
2 Boswell, 1980, p. 362
3 Bailey, 1975, p. 83
4 Boswell, 1980, p. 328
5 Curran, 1972, p. 217
6 McNeill, 1976, p. 39
7 Ibid., p. 46
8 Ibid., p. 96
9 Ibid., p. 129
10 Ibid., p. 189
11 Kosnik, 1977, pp. 304-305
12 Mt. 19:12
13 1 Cor. 7:27-28
14 Dehaye, 1967, pp. 369-370
15 Ibid., p. 371
16 Goergen, 1974, p. 225
17 Kosnik, 1977, p. 210
1 Kinsey, 1948, p. 187.,
2 Gebhard, 1979, p. 188
3 Kinsey, 1948, p. 169
4 Ibid., p. 340
5 Gebhard, 1979, p. 440
6 Ibid., p. 496
7 Ibid., p. 497
8 Ibid., p. 511
9 Ibid., pp. 614-615
10 Ibid., pp. 88-96
11 Ibid., p. 70
12 Ibid., p. 71
13 Ibid., p. 72
14 Ibid., pp. 157-169
15 Ibid., p. 201
16 Ibid., pp. 455-460
17 Ibid., p. 493
18 Ibid., pp. 527-544
19 Ibid., p. 520
20 Ibid., p. 518
21 Ibid., p. 610
22 Ibid., p. 611
1 Kinsey, 1948, p. 340
Baily, D.S. Homosexuality and the Western Christian Tradition. London: Archon Books, 1975.
Boswell, J. Christianity, Social Tolerance, and Homosexuality. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1980.
Curran, C. Catholic Moral Theology in Dialogue. Notre Dame, IN.: Fides Press, 1972.
Delhaye, P. "History of Celibacy," The Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol. 3. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1967.
Gebhard, P.; Johnson, A. The Kinsey Data: Marginal Tabulations of the 1938 - 1963 Interviews Conducted la the Institute for Sex Research. Philadelphia: W.B. Saunders Co., 1979.
Goergen O.P., D. The Sexual Celibate. New York: Seabury Press, 1974.
Horner, T. Jonathan Loved David, Homosexuality in Biblical Times. Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1978.
Kinsey, A.; Pomeroy, W.; Martin, C. Sexual Behavior in the Human Male. Philadelphia: W.B. Saunders Co., 1948.
Kosnik, A.; Carroll, W.; Cunningham, A.; Modras, R.; Schulte, J. Human Sexuality New Directions in American Catholic Thought. New York: Paulist Press, 1977.
McNeill S.J., J. The Church and the Homosexual. Kansas City: Sheed Andrews & McMeel, 1976.
The New American Bible. New York: Benziger, 1970.
Scanzoni, L., Ramey-Mollenkott, V. Is the Homosexual My Neighbor? Another Christian View. San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1978.
Woods O.P., R. Another Kind of Love, Homosexuality and Spirituality. Chicago: Thomas Moore Press, 1977.