My Struggle with the Church's teaching on same-sex attraction

Richard Evans

I am a struggler. In saying that, I would hasten to add that I am at least a devout struggler. And while that may sound like a contradiction in terms, I think that I am a long way from alone in this. Though your particular challenge may not be mine, or mine yours, I think we all have in common that a battle sometimes rages within us. We hear about the Church’s scandals, and about priests and even bishops who have literally driven others from the Church by their actions or inaction, and we wonder if the Church or even Christianity can still be true or valid.

But if the truth be told, we are each responsible for our own inward battles and how we react to them. We are responsible for ourselves, not for those who we see fall by the wayside when least expected. Then again, sometimes we are responsible for them as well, because perhaps we did not pray hard enough or, on rare occasions, confront―hopefully in a loving manner, of course―the situations or people who were busy pulling the rug out from under our Catholic Christian Faith―and whom we allowed to do so.

That is what happened to me, I think. I returned to the Church in the fall of 2004, after 35 years of evangelical Protestantism. For 20 of those years I was very active in the Christian communities I was part of, including serving as a licensed Assemblies of God minister for 12 years. If you have ever read my story, you may be one of those who were deeply “inspired,” and then later just as deeply dismayed after learning that I had begun questioning my return to the Faith. And question I did.

I questioned what seemed to be contradictions within the Councils over the years. I questioned what can sometimes seem like Catholic “obsession” (as Pope Francis has called it) with the very real battles the Church today faces over such issues as abortion and same-sex marriage. And in short, I derailed. Not once, not twice, but four times, all told, within a three-year period―and this after being back in the Church for around five years and never dreaming that the honeymoon would ever end.

You might wonder why. Well, so do I, even still. But I recall a certain first Pope who told Jesus, very sincerely, that he would “never” deny Him, and then did so three times that very night. I do not say that to excuse myself—not at all. But it does offer at least some explanation or context for the mystery of how weak we actually are.

My particular struggle happens to be in the area of same-sex attraction. I know the stronghold that sexuality can be in my life, and in some of yours too, whether heterosexual or otherwise. And though I never walked away from my commitment to celibacy during those ups and downs, I did walk away from what seemed to me to be almost a persecution of Christians who struggle as I do. It is such a delicate balance between loving others and hating their sinful behavior. And we all miss that balance sometimes. I did when (like St Peter when he stepped out of the boat and onto the water) I allowed my eyes to leave our Lord Jesus Christ and to look instead at the raging sea below me, a sea that included deep anger and not-so-hidden malice toward “people like me,” even though I was politely excluded from most of that anger because I was toeing the Church line, for the most part. People are much nicer to us when we agree with them. But I have come to appreciate why people do not always accept or remain on board with Church teaching about sexuality, which is not, by the way, just a simple matter of genital activity. The waters of our sexual natures run much deeper than body parts.

Far from being soft on sin, I do truly “get” why a modern 20- to 25-year-old who has always been and most likely always will be more attracted to someone of his own gender walks away from a Church that simply tells him “no” and gives him very little support on that journey of celibacy she asks of him. I was 49 when I returned to Rome. I’m 58 now, but I still feel the pain of being called such names as “sissy” and “Suzy” when I was growing up because I did not happen to be good at athletics and preferred to read or cook rather than throw a ball—something, incidentally, that I still cannot do with any precision! And most of that teasing and tormenting came from fellow Christians, in particular (in my case) fellow Catholics. That was my experience and it still stings half a century later. Childhood wounds run deep.

No, I am not whining. When I returned to the Church I knew there would be a price to pay for doing so, and I chose to accept that price, because I believed then and still believe now that it was the right thing to do. But knowing that something is right and yet having to hear over and over how evil my past was, or having people tell me they are “inspired” by my story but then not be particularly willing to walk with me on the journey toward wholeness we are all on, takes its toll after a while, and it did so with me shortly after five years of mostly blissful peace after my initial 2004 return. It was suggested to me on a few occasions that I might join the Knights of Columbus, attend Courage meetings, be part of various men’s groups, and a few other well-meaning but sometimes impractical ideas―and that is not to say that any or all of those options are not good and positive ones. But for various reasons, at least thus far, they have not been the best options for me, and I have found myself in these past few years feeling far more alone than I ever dreamed possible. On the one hand, I have often felt the ire and distrust of the actively LGBT community and my friends from that world. On the other hand, I have not particularly fit in with the beautiful Catholic families with two parents and five or six wonderful children and grandkids. At this stage, I will most likely never be an integral part of either group, at least not in this life, and that realization breeds fresh wounds as well as opening old ones.

So I have learned to be alone—and alone—and alone. And that is a particular struggle for one who is naturally more on the gregarious side, as I have been most of my life. But it has been in that aloneness that I have learned some of my greatest lessons, I think. For one thing, I have learned that I am far weaker than I would like to admit, even to myself—weak in faith, weak in devotion, and weak in a host of other ways. I have also learned that I am capable of being very angry, and I have never thought of myself as a particularly irate person. To the outside world I am cheerful, patient, devout, and on down the list. But inside myself I sometimes seethe and spit and just wish it was all over. No, I am not suicidal; I just mean I wish the struggles would end and that I could get back to simply enjoying life, whatever that ever elusive dream happens to mean or be, and which to each of us is different in detail yet similar in kind. But the biggest thing I have learned is that my aloneness is not unique to my struggle. My hunch is that in that sense we―you, the reader, and me―are more alike than not.

Some of you too have become angry at the Church, or at God Himself, as I have on many more than one occasion. Some of you with the “perfect Catholic family,” the ones that people such as me envy so often, wish you were out of what is, in reality, a hellish situation involving verbal or even physical abuse at times. And some of you truly do wish it was completely over—and perhaps are indeed even suicidal—all while going to Mass, praying the Rosary daily, and writing articles like this in the blogosphere. Again, we are not alone or unique in that. Ask Blessed Mother Teresa, who spent many years serving and few enjoying the sense of the presence of the God she served. Ask St John of the Cross, who literally wrote the book on the “Dark Night of the Soul.” Finally, ask yourself if you are in reality much different than I am at times. I am guessing not so much.

Last summer, after my last virtual kicking and screaming fit, which once again derailed me (that time for just a few weeks, thankfully), I came back. The difference this time is that I came all the way back—no questions asked. Note I did not say I have no more questions—I just mean I am finally, I believe, once again allowing God to give me the answers in His time and way—at least more and more. I made a solemn vow this time to remain on this beautiful and sometimes treacherous path of Catholic Christianity until I die. Period. No matter what. And I plan to do so. I know that within that plan, detours will abound, and the enemy of my soul and yours could indeed derail me once again if I allow it. But for the first time ever I can say I would rather die than let that happen. And perhaps that is the lesson I finally had to learn.

To anyone I have hurt or confused by my very public struggles, I deeply and truly apologize. I am fully and finally on board with official Catholic teaching and see no other path to the fullness of the Christian faith. I love my actively LGBT sisters and brothers and wish peace and joy for each of them, but I do not and cannot support what the Church does not, which is what some call “marriage equality” but in reality is the redefinition of the world’s oldest societal institution. That does not make me a bigot or a self-hater. It means I want basic rights for every human, both those in traditional and those in nontraditional relationships, but I do not want those affiliations to undermine that which God has given and that which, as Jesus said, “no man [should] put asunder.”

To those who read my story on this very site a few years ago and who may have trouble trusting me again, at least for a while, I will just say I frankly do not blame you. But I do ask you to pray for me, and to realize that God, in the Confessional, has forgiven me of my utter idiocy and wasted time, of which there has been more than enough of both. Like St Thomas, doubter that he was, I kneel before Jesus with my hand in His side and proclaim, “My Lord and My God.”

So, may we please struggle together?

Edited by Alice Rowan

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59 comments

  • Comment Link Cathy Zeliff Tuesday, 28 January 2014 17:34 posted by Cathy Zeliff

    Dear Richard, thank you for sharing your struggles, and for your courage in sticking with the Church which presents such a high standard of virtue. The debate about same-sex marriage is a difficult one to address, especially in writing online. As you requested, I will pray for you this week! God bless, Cathy Zeliff

  • Comment Link David Monday, 03 February 2014 22:47 posted by David

    Dear Richard,
    Welcome back to this "hospital for sinners" where we are all in-patients receiving the life-saving remedy of Jesus Christ. May God bless you always. I will pray for you, please pray for me.

  • Comment Link LorenT Tuesday, 04 February 2014 03:04 posted by LorenT

    I believe in what you said and you are on the right track to holiness. The scars of childhood wounds and your past will be there to test your faith in God. You have a vocation now to proclaim your Good News to everyone or choose to feel sad and lonely in your sins. Thank you for stepping out of closet of sins and slavery into the Light of Truth, Beauty and Goodness. Blessings!

  • Comment Link Nick Tuesday, 04 February 2014 03:49 posted by Nick

    Thank you for this beautiful post. Much kudos to you for being willing to speak for the rest of us dealing with the same struggles.

  • Comment Link Richard G Evans Saturday, 08 February 2014 15:32 posted by Richard G Evans

    For each of you who shared comments I just wish to say I appreciate them greatly. Be assured of my prayers for you as well. Every day is a temptation and a blessing, but that is true for each and every one of us, whatever our struggles.

  • Comment Link Richard G Evans Tuesday, 11 February 2014 00:21 posted by Richard G Evans

    And I would add one thing...the struggle never ends until this life is over. Not just "my" struggle but "our" struggle. I have often wondered why God allowed me to battle my way through this issue so much and so deeply, and thought it was due to my own lack of Faith. Partly I still believe that. But partly, as my sister pointed out to me (she is an evangelical and polar opposite to me on LGBT issues) the real struggle within me has been BECAUSE of the Faith God has graciously given me. We cannot fight against what we do not possess. Remember that next time you feel like giving up. God bless you all!

  • Comment Link Stephanie Friday, 14 February 2014 03:56 posted by Stephanie

    Wow, Richard, what a cross you have to bear. Eventhough I don't struggle with this, it's everywhere in our society. I admire your courage and strength. Other people would take the easy way out & go to another religion who accepts same sex marriage etc but you are staying true to your faith. I will pray for you and know that somehow God has an important job for you to help your fellow brothers & sisters who struggle with this.

  • Comment Link Richard G Evans Saturday, 15 February 2014 15:26 posted by Richard G Evans

    Stephanie my humble thanks. Truly.

  • Comment Link Greta Atkinson Sunday, 16 February 2014 03:42 posted by Greta Atkinson

    I am curious about something. When you say that the church gives very little support to those with SSA on their journey to celibacy, what, from your perspective, would be helpful? I have always wondered how best to speak about these things to my gay friends and I have had some colossal misses. Help shed some light, please.

  • Comment Link Richard G Evans Friday, 21 February 2014 00:36 posted by Richard G Evans

    Greta I wish I had a nice, concise answer to your question, for it is a valid one. I will say for me though, probably people focusing a bit less on "that one area" of my life would help. And yet, in order to share my journey I have to focus on it myself. But I am more than my story. And so are your friends who you mentioned. That would be one simple thing. Another is to not push them to celibacy (and yes, now I sound like a heretic) but to let them come to that decision in their own time and way. They still belong to our Lord, and He to them. Yes, share your view of course. But then, go out and have a beer with them and forget the whole discussion for awhile. Or, if you have a family let them be a part of it. We who are called to the single life for whatever reason eat a lot of times alone. So there are a couple quick things that come to mind. God bless your heart in caring. It means so much.

  • Comment Link beba Friday, 21 February 2014 04:26 posted by beba

    Hi Richard, I sympathaze with you although I never came close to go through anything you did (I'm hetero and never had any problems with bullying). I too left the church, but simply because I saw all those dogmas and revelations as nonsensical, I never nurtured any hatred for the church after that, I was just indifferent to it and saw it as just another supersticious inheritance from primitive humans that would eventually die out. And I'm still an agnostic (and probably will stay like that for the rest of my life), but one event made me see these catholic teachings on sex, marriage and sexuality differently: I found out that there was a big chance that I was going to become sterile (and I did), I had the option to save some sperm in a bank before it happened, but this got me thinking on the whole thing of human reprodution, technology and how it affects our society: the whole idea of using technology (something artificial) and my money just to satisfy my wish to have children (and I do love children) made me nauseated; actually, I felt ill for a few days thinking on where humanity is going with all this transhumanism, artificial reproduction and such things. Resuming, what made me value these sex teachings of the church was bioethics, something very important in this technological world of today, the church's insistence on natural reproduction to the point of forbiding even condoms made a lot of sense to me, catholic philosophers are amongst the few groups today battling against this "artificialization" of human nature, and they're amongst the only ones who realize that sex and sexuality are invariably linked to it, not from the perspective of law, but from the perspective of morality, something that this secular world of today doesn't believe in anymore. This is probably a lost battle, but at least we're doing our part.

    Of course someone could argue that if God allowed us to develop such technologies that help people achieve what they want then why not allow it? But if you think about it, how far this idea of manipulation of the human nature and reproduction through technology can go as we proceed on expanding out technological frontier, specially in the genetic field, it's not hard to see that human nature itself would quickly become irrecognizable, the only things delimiting what is human and what is not would be how far the technology develops and how much money you have to do whatever you want. It's not hard to see that we already have problems enough dealing with human differences such as gender and race, willingly widening this spectrum of differences is not a good idea, we're basically submiting our human nature as we received it from Nature when we first became conscious to our hedonistic individualist will. So I started to see the whole thing of "my body is my temple", "life is a gift" etc differently; trully, for someone who sees life (and human nature as it is today) as a gift from God, he'll take care of this gift as best as he can, even if there are some aspects that he doesn't like about it, that's how we handle gifts, they're not always entirelly pleasant, but for the sake of being thankfull to the gifter, we keep them.

    Same goes for porn, it frightens me how far people are going with this porn thing, these Occulus Rift technology and other such things are only a glimpse of how far technology can be used to commoditize human sex thirst in the market, sky is the limit.
    Again someone could ask: but why did God gave you a sexual inclination that he disapproves of? Well, I can't answer that, but if not for the sake of obeying God, then at least for the sake of keeping his creation (us) united under a same universal understanding of sex and sexuality that protects our very nature, we should do it.

    I could just go on having sex, specially now that I'm sterile, but it was thinking on people like you that I decided to make a celibacy vow too, it didn't seem fair to me to make use of this situation in my favor while people like you can't. So there you have it, a fellow heterosexual atheist who made a celibacy vow too, for the sake of keeping sex as natural as possible, and aimed at it's main purpose which is reproduction and raising children inside a family. It's been less than two years only, I sure do miss sex, and I miss a female companion, and it's still hard to me to accept a life without children (single men can't adopt children in my country), and it's also hard to deal with repeated social situations where people (specially women) wonder "why is a 30 YO heterosexual man rejecting women?" But these are vicissitudes of our super-sexualized era. Reading stuff from the middle ages makes me realize how much we lost in this regard, people valued chastity and celibacy both individually and socially, nowadays everybody gives you weird lookings to it. At least the Church is composed by men and women, independently of their sexual inclination, who make celibacy vows, It's probably the only big group in the west where celibacy is still well regarded by its members.

    I don't know whether the church allows non-heterosexuals to adopt and raise children, I don't see any problem in it as long as you don't raise them to be just another "I'll do what I want with my sexuality because the world is free and I don't care about the consequences!" type. I see many catholic bloggers arguing against it presenting arguments such as "children raised by homosexuals develop less intellectually", I find such arguments abhorrent, if the objective of raising children is to make perfect human beings (whatever that is) then we better just give them to the State and let it raise them with the best of science as possible, à la Brave New World. The catholic church keeps many orphanages seeking to raise abandoned children independently of the quality of this care, the objective is not to raise them to become sharks in Wall Street, but to try to go on with God's creation as best as we can, so I don't see why a non-heterosexual can't do the same.

    Regards, your fellow celibate.

  • Comment Link Richard G Evans Saturday, 22 February 2014 23:51 posted by Richard G Evans

    Beba if there is not one other reason I wrote this it is for dear people such as you. I appreciate your thoughtful comments and, frankly, you are far closer to Catholic than atheist, no matter what your conscious mind is telling you at this point. I would just suggest to stay open to the possibility of a God who is indeed loving and leading you, and my guess is one day you will find Him too. Thanks for the beautiful and insightful words. And, for the record, the reasons that the Church frowns upon adoption of same-gender couples has nothing whatsoever to do with the quality of the parent, nor the idea that somehow that child will be less intelligent and the like. It is, in fact, for the same reason you and I are celibate. Nature, or God, however He is termed to you, has given us the pattern and ideal of each child having a same-gender and opposite-gender parent--in fact, even for same-sex couples there is no other way to co-create such little beings. And God knows we need the insights and energies that each give us as we grow up. The Church is looking out for the well-being of children in that way. It is not that there are not tremendous same-sex couples who are great parents--there are. But the Church views it as a bigger picture, and sees us, just as you and I do in the area of contraception and celibacy, as needing to hang on to the ideals we were given by natural law. Thank you so much for writing once again! Blessings to you.

  • Comment Link sybarite123 Sunday, 02 March 2014 04:45 posted by sybarite123

    Richard, have you ever read the story of Max Jacob, a homosexual Jew who knew Picasso and was a part of the artistic crowd in France at the time. Max had a vision of Christ and was baptized Catholic. However he was very weak and relapsed into sin every night. But every morning he could be seen walking to church for Confession. You might say, "He sought love in the night, but found it in the morning." Finally he was arrested by the Gestapo as a Jew. Before he could be taken out of France he died, a year or so before the end of the war. What kept Max returning to the Sacrament. Something in that original 'Vision of Christ' always reassured him. Something like ST. Paul's vision of Christ on the Road to Damascus, a Vision that sustained him to the end. A retired Catholic priest in Canada.

  • Comment Link Richard G Evans Wednesday, 05 March 2014 06:14 posted by Richard G Evans

    Sybarite--thanks first of all for your service to the Church in the Sacraments over the years. I had not heard of Max Jacob, but it is wonderful to have real hope that we will meet him one day in heaven. And it gives me hope too. I too can say that it is the Sacraments, and in particular Reconciliation and the Eucharist, which sustain me. Last week I went to Reconciliation twice in fact. And I did so, not because I am "so holy," but precisely because I am not at times, even after my re-conversion. The second was more of a general Confession but covered some particulars and details of sin which I had never, at least in detail, said out loud to anyone, ever, in or out of the Confessional before. My penance was a simple 5 Hail Mary's. I was half expecting to need to appeal to Rome, as some of it was pretty ugly indeed--and that is not said as an exaggeration, believe me. But I absolutely love that statement you made "he sought love in the night, but found it in the morning." May we all do so. It is there for us. And it happened to me last week. Again many thanks, Father. And blessed Lent to each of us.

  • Comment Link Jennie Fraser Tuesday, 01 April 2014 21:37 posted by Jennie Fraser

    Richard, I only know what you've shared about yourself in this post, but I'll tell you something. From this short read, I don't firstly identify you as someone struggling with "that" sin. I see you as a man of courage, a man of faith, a man of integrity, a man of devotion, a man of honesty, a man of thanksgiving, a gracious man, a talented man, a literate man, a wise man. In short, dear one, there is SO much more to you than this struggle. There is so much in you by which I am encouraged and uplifted. God's richest blessings upon you, brother!

  • Comment Link Richard G Evans Sunday, 06 April 2014 19:00 posted by Richard G Evans

    Jennie I am honored with what you said, not sure I am totally deserving of it but honored! Thanks for realizing however that all of us are beyond our worst or most obvious sinful sides, and are in the image of the very God who made us and gave us dignity. Thanks again.

  • Comment Link Pat Thursday, 10 April 2014 03:43 posted by Pat

    Dearest Richard,
    I agree to struggle together with you. Please pray for me and I will pray for you. Life is a constant battle of the mind and I rebuke each bad thought with a Hail Mary. I pray that the saints and angels comfort you and that you realize how needed you are to support others in this "hospital for sinners" as David above said. Peace to you my brother in Christ:)

  • Comment Link Richard G Evans Sunday, 13 April 2014 07:20 posted by Richard G Evans

    INCREDIBLY kind of you Pat, and others too, who are struggling with me. And you know what, it also is not just struggling but sharing our joys and victories in Christ. They too are to be shared. Good Friday always leads to Easter. Thanks again.

  • Comment Link Peter Tuesday, 15 April 2014 10:53 posted by Peter

    Amazing story Richard - I too am in your position and after years of struggle will be received into the Catholic church this Easter vigil. Thank you for sharing your story - it gives me and others I'm sure much needed courage. I am convinced I'm doing the right thing even though it means a life of chastity, harder I think than for a Religious who makes these vows in community because we have to live this way alone in the modern secular world with all it's temptations and opposition to our beliefs, day in day out. I know God has brought me to this point in my life and I look forward to my new life as a Catholic with joy.

  • Comment Link Richard G Evans Saturday, 19 April 2014 06:46 posted by Richard G Evans

    Peter that is truly wonderful...and if you wish to contact me privately let me know as I would be very honored to chat or be of any help I can. God bless you tonight at the Easter Vigil, and you will be in my prayers.

  • Comment Link Teresa Casely Monday, 28 April 2014 16:15 posted by Teresa Casely

    Jennie Fraser's comment spoke to me because I too see you as fighting your specific struggle bravely. You are so much more than your sexual preference. It is part of you like your eye colour is part of you and like your eye colour, is neither right nor wrong - it just IS.

    My struggle is in a different area and your candid story has given me renewed courage to carry on striving to walk God's ways.

    I salute you, Sir.

  • Comment Link Richard G Evans Thursday, 01 May 2014 06:23 posted by Richard G Evans

    WOW Teresa and thank you so much for your kind words. We must pray for one another, whatever our struggles! Thank you again.

  • Comment Link Cecilia Sunday, 11 May 2014 09:55 posted by Cecilia

    Dearest Richard, on reading your story, I feel deeply moved and thankful for you writing it. Letting us know about your struggles , doubts and dark moments, is seeing myseld reflected there. I don't feel same-sex attraction, but am a divorced woman, childless, in my mid forties and as a catholic I also have to deal with celibacy and aloneness, to accept them as the perfect way to live and love. God nd our Holy Mother bless you, you're not alone... We're not alone!

  • Comment Link Richard G Evans Saturday, 17 May 2014 04:16 posted by Richard G Evans

    Cecilia the message is universal, as is the Church. Everyone from Jesus to the Apostles to the Blessed Mother struggled with lonely moments, painful memories, and the like. Our stories definitely connect. Thanks for sharing!

  • Comment Link Marcus Wednesday, 18 June 2014 12:44 posted by Marcus

    You might think this comment stupid but have you heard of Neal Lozano and deliverance?

    I was reading you comment about finding that you are angry and all other stuff and I thought of the personal stories in the book Unbound.

    Just a thought that that might help you in your struggles.

  • Comment Link Donna Wednesday, 18 June 2014 13:17 posted by Donna

    God bless you. It's not easy being Catholic and finding out we must pray for and love all of our brothers and sisters. There is a lot of built in and built up prejudice in many of us. Thank you for seeing through this and loving through the pain.

    Jesus came not for a few but for all. We are all sinners. And we need to be aware of our own "planks" instead of the splinters in others. That is what I try to do and pray for guidance.

    Once you turn that corner of knowing that Jesus means for us all to be one, the loving comes much easier.

    God bless you again for sharing your struggles. I really liked what you said that they don't end until we die. SOOOO True!!!

  • Comment Link Mary Wednesday, 18 June 2014 13:23 posted by Mary

    A most gracious thank you to not only Richard Evans but to all those responding to his post. What an up-lifting morning I am having knowing all of you are out there. I know that God is more fully with me through the likes of you. Ever grateful and united in prayer I am sincerely yours.

  • Comment Link Lisa Wednesday, 18 June 2014 14:09 posted by Lisa

    Dear Richard, You described my life... although I do not have your struggle, I have my own struggles as well. I struggle with intense loneliness. When I read what you wrote, I felt like I was reading my own words and thoughts. BUT I am not attracted to the same sex as myself. I am a single, middle-aged convert of 15 years with no prospect of marriage and children and "a past." I am also an artist which is a certain label in itself. I too look at the families and feel very left out. I have left the Church many times, sometimes for a year, for various reasons, but in the end it was always me coming back to what made me come to the Church the first time -- the Eucharist. I have decided to try to be obedient to the Church's teachings, to not be envious of others (especially when you realize that families have their own dramas and struggles -- some of which are much more intense than mine), to go to confession at least once a week, to read the great Saints (thank you for your writing about St. Teresa of Avila and St. John of the Cross), to not talk too much to others at Church and even away from Church (I too am gregarious and friendly! Talking too much just seems to lead to a sort of "wilted" happiness), to accept myself as I am and to know my pitfalls and try to avoid them. Does this mean that I avoid people in general? I love this I saw on a billboard "Love God, Love People." Also I try to embrace St. Francis's Prayer of Peace, make me an instrument of your Peace! Perhaps some of your sadness comes from a feeling that you always have to "rehash" your conversion and your past. Live this moment now -- it is the one we have. You are learning to love yourself and others; you are finding your way with God's help. Charity begins with in our own "homes." I think Pope Francis was trying to say, yes, those are things to be aware of, but love each other. Sorry, I have kind of gone on and on... but your writing is very inspiring. I hope and pray that you are given the gift of the Peace of God, that surpasses all understanding. There is a feeling that we all have to "choose a side" and be a certain way. I can only be who I am and pray to grow in virtue every day. God Bless you! Thanks again for your writing!

  • Comment Link Shar Wednesday, 18 June 2014 14:28 posted by Shar

    This is heartbreaking and touching, (stop making me cry-haha)... I wish us all peace. You are so courageous to tell your story, I really marvel at that; life is difficult and everyone is on a journey of struggles.. God Bless you and everyone else... :)

  • Comment Link Fr. Chris Fontanini Wednesday, 18 June 2014 14:31 posted by Fr. Chris Fontanini

    Thanks for your courage, Richard. Thanks for defending the Church's teaching even though I am sure it has been a struggle and a cross. I will pray for you! Blessings and Peace to you! Fr. Chris

  • Comment Link K Wednesday, 18 June 2014 15:17 posted by K

    Thank you for sharing Richard your insights and struggles. As a former seminarian, and gay man, I too "struggle" and had many conversations with priest/bishop friends and no one seems to have an answer to my questions. As I was reading your writings above there was a part of me that knew you were going to mention celibacy. This is where I've struggled with and even spoke with the Apostolate for Courage in New York, with no answer. Celibacy is a beautiful calling. I know, I thought that was my calling in life as a potential priest. Then something came over me and I realized God wasn't calling me to celibacy or misery. Celibacy is a gift that is upheld for the sake of the kingdom and not all non-married people are bound to such as described in the Gospel of Matthew. The CCC encourages all, including married folks, to live a life of chastity. This is very much different than celibacy, which is a calling for those who live their lives as ordained ministers or religiously professed. So why does Courage and others cling to this notion of celibacy when it should be chastity? Because, as a gay man, or SSA as known by others, I feel called to the family life. This is an innate desire, feeling, calling and in prayers feels that is right and just. Aquinas and Aristotle are 2 men whose writings are inserted for apologetic purposes against "homosexual 'deviant' behavior" such as a family structure for gay couples. There is not scientific evidence that "SSA" exists in the animal kingdom. Though we are not "animals", they too are apart of God's creation and I think we shouldn't be quick to ignore this truth/fact. Which there are many truths and facts found outside of scripture. Too many people commit exegesis to fit their personal or political belief. Many of our "kind" struggle as you have clearly explained, but I think it's time to approach this "truth" differently than before. Again, I will repeat what a priest friend of mine who left said: "God calls no one to misery!" Thank you.

  • Comment Link Momof9 Wednesday, 18 June 2014 16:27 posted by Momof9

    Thank you for a very well-written and insightful article.

    I am one of those women with a perfect Catholic family. It sure is different to hear that someone envies me. Other than a few old people in the pews that after Mass will sigh and tell me what a beautiful family I have, most people either pity me, or have some sort of admiration for my work ethic. But never envy.

    I, too, often wish the test of life would just end- I'm so weary of the constant battle. I, too, feel alone in the all-consuming identity of being 'Mom" to everybody all the time.

    Keep the faith and don't get discouraged about the prospect of permanent loneliness. I tell my kids that life is a test. Sometimes it ends after page 2 and other times it ends on page 100. On whatever page the test ends for you, the goal is to have lived life well enough to merit heaven. I pray for you that you are given just enough pages for your test to secure an A, and a fast ticket to permanent bliss. You can get the fast ticket by offering up sufferings: I, by my endless dying to self, and you, by your loneliness and temptations.

    I'll look you up when I get there, okay?

  • Comment Link Elaine Wednesday, 18 June 2014 18:50 posted by Elaine

    Richard: Your post moved me as I followed a similar path to Catholicism from evangelical christianity. Also, I share your views about the holiness of our Church, and yet frustration at the way its leaders have often publicly sinned. As a therapist, I want to be the best I can be for people struggling with this. Right now, my professional view is that God loves you no matter what, and strive for healthy relationships, not lopsided ones where people are simply acting out prior traumas (as many hetero folks do as well.) Any thoughts? Also, one thing that has helped me make peace with parts of myself which are frustrating, is Internal Family Systems and there is a great piece online which describes it.. Google "sounds true" "self acceptance project," sign up and then watch session 5 with Jay Early called "embracing all our parts." Its free and I believe describes the way God made us to withstand trauma, and how integrating can bring peace and wholeness. God bless-

  • Comment Link Mario Perez Wednesday, 18 June 2014 18:54 posted by Mario Perez

    See you in Heaven brother! And remember you are never truly alone. God bless you.

  • Comment Link Sr Marianne Wednesday, 18 June 2014 19:53 posted by Sr Marianne

    What a beautiful story of grace! I thank and praise God for your return to the Church and the sacraments. Thank you too for your witness here. God bless you!

  • Comment Link Dwight Wednesday, 18 June 2014 20:17 posted by Dwight

    Since the state already allows marriages that the holy Catholic Church would rule invalid, I fail to see why the Church is in the fight over secular marriage. The church does not recognize many marriages already. Why could not all people go through a secular marriage and then go to the church to have a true marriage. People have been doing that in France for quite a long time.

  • Comment Link Kirry Wednesday, 18 June 2014 20:30 posted by Kirry

    Richard,
    Your story is truly inspiring. Have you ever tried "Unbound" or "Healing of the Family"? I am working on this myself for relief from habitual sins that I struggle with daily. It was suggested to me by someone in my parish and there are many who have done it with much effectiveness. I didn't put much stock in it at first but now that I have read the materials, it makes perfect sense. Can hurt. God bless you on your journey of sanctity.

  • Comment Link Michael Thursday, 19 June 2014 00:39 posted by Michael

    Richard, I can relate so much to what youu have written, my story is very similar. While I would hesitate to join the Knights of Columbus, I have found good Catholic friends all over the country by attending the annual Courage Conference. I understand why people may not want to attend weekly Courage meetings or may not have a local meeting nearby. Please do not write off this organization. The annual Conference is such a blessed event!

  • Comment Link Marc Thursday, 19 June 2014 01:13 posted by Marc

    Richard,
    There is a little gem of a book that is of tremendous value to anyone serious about becoming holy, no matter what their life situation, struggle, or "daily cross". Little, because it is very small and very short; a gem because it's worth 1000x its weight in gold (that is, 'grace'.) It's called "Trustful Surrender To Divine Providence", and is published by TAN. I hope you (and your readers) will find it invaluable, as I have. I will say a Rosary for you and your followers tonight. God Bless!

  • Comment Link Ted Seeber Thursday, 19 June 2014 01:21 posted by Ted Seeber

    "I’m 58 now, but I still feel the pain of being called such names as “sissy” and “Suzy” when I was growing up because I did not happen to be good at athletics and preferred to read or cook rather than throw a ball—something, incidentally, that I still cannot do with any precision!"

    I'm 43, I had exactly the same experience, but I'm married now, and a Grand Knight in the KofC. This is the one part of the LGBT experience I do understand- the only part.

    But I just wanted you to know that while my council is very pro-life and pro-marriage; I would welcome you or any other person struggling with SSA to join the council. Just as I've welcomed those injured by divorce- an our most pro-life member was injured by divorce, contraception and abortion! Do not be afraid to approach your local GK; he's often more understanding than most would give him credit for.

    And my own struggle? Humility. I have asperger's, and that gets in the way of relationships, and sports is right out the window- but I find when I can be humble and generous, that's when I'm more accepted and acceptable to neurotypicals.

  • Comment Link Maria Thursday, 19 June 2014 04:42 posted by Maria

    Richard, thank you so much for giving us an inside view of what it is like to to be a Catholic who experiences same-sex attraction living chastely, and for your suggestions about how we might be better brothers and sisters to you and those like you.

    Have you ever seen the blog, "Letter to Christopher"? This blogger, a man with same-sex attractions who actually became Catholic because of the Church's teaching on homosexuality, does a fantastic job of writing about how he has grown in understanding the fruit of suffering, for example, this extraordinary post. He has also written several posts on loneliness.

    Even though I don't experience same-sex attraction, I find that virtually everything this guy writes applies to my own life, in my own temptations, my own loneliness, and my own suffering. There is much to be gained by eliminating the hyper-emphasis on a person's same-sex attraction, and emphasizing instead that we sojourn together, a band of brothers and sisters marching side by side in our love for God and our quest for holiness out of love for Him.

    Also of exceptional value is the work of Christopher Yuan. He's evangelical, and has an incredible testimony about his coming to Christ after living a promiscuous gay life. He just completed his doctoral thesis on ministry to persons with same-sex attraction and he has some compelling talks that all Christians should listen to, like A Christian Response to Homosexuality and Redeeming Biblical Singleness. There is much the church can learn from this bright and engaging evangelical man.

  • Comment Link Sharon Holmes Thursday, 19 June 2014 07:30 posted by Sharon Holmes

    God bless you Richard! You do indeed carry a cross. However, I believe that you are serving God in a way that many of us may not be able to do so, which is to help those who suffer from same sex attraction, and to bring them back into God's loving arms and into His church. I am praying for you. Peace of Christ be with you always.

  • Comment Link Michelle Thursday, 19 June 2014 09:33 posted by Michelle

    Thank you so much for your vulnerable, candid sharing. Lots of folks surely struggle, as you suggested, but believe they must mask the struggle with a smile. After their divorce, both my parents entered into homosexual relationships, and from the start I believed in my bones that was wrong. Though I've never doubted the Church, I can relate very much to your sense of isolation, loneliness, and having no community to embrace me, no matter which youth and young adult groups I tried. The convents I wanted to enter turned me away because, honestly, I was an emotional wreck, so I'm single but finally enjoying it. I think that we in the Church need to forge loving communities with deep friendships. At the very least, my heart longs for true friends who share this great faith of ours. It would be great to call each other brother or sister and mean it. That's a basic hunger, Richard, and one I believe God wants for us and all who struggle. Thanks again for being a witness to perseverance.

  • Comment Link Gerardo Thursday, 19 June 2014 14:48 posted by Gerardo

    Hi Richard, your topic has attracted me because I too go through the same thing that you are going through. The mistakes that I have done during my childhood, teens and eventually adulthood still haunt me up to this present time in my life. Remember, you are not alone, my brother. I suffer the same insults and ridicule that you suffer. I am 58 years old too like you. I know that God's law is right. Having this conflict from within my very being is really a difficult struggle. Being a gay man and also a devout Catholic who upholds Christian moral values by following Jesus Christ despite my struggles with same sex attraction, it is very hard to overcome specially when the enemy of our soul keeps on pulling me away from my focus on being His servant. How true it is when I experience being mocked and insulted by a sibling brother of mine. it hurts when you are doing your best to focus on Jesus, living a celibate life of service to Him daily, praying the Rosary daily and then the insults come. It stings and it deeply hurts me most. Its true that people never forget the mistakes that I've done in the past and always keeps on haunting you for the rest of your life. Please pray for me too, dear brother, that I will remain steadfast in my faith in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, as I will pray for you also as well.

  • Comment Link Jonah Thursday, 19 June 2014 18:51 posted by Jonah

    God Bless you and your journey! The Church teaches chastity, which is a very beautiful teaching. She also has a support group called Courage for those who are struggling with same sex attractions and wish to remain true to the teachings of the Church. They meet locally, regionally, and nationally for various events. I would encourage you to investigate. http://couragerc.net/

  • Comment Link Jane Friday, 20 June 2014 01:28 posted by Jane

    Thank you so much Richard for your honest sharing of your struggles. I recently became a widow and so am struggling with loneliness and the realization that suddenly I am called to be celibate until God, if it is his wish for me, brings me another life partner. Your statement that we all have our individual spiritual struggles is so very true - nobody escapes the tests and we can grow so much through them. Hopefully I am growing through mine. I wish you much enjoyment of your life and many unexpected gifts of beauty and of community with other believers!

  • Comment Link Gil Friday, 20 June 2014 02:34 posted by Gil

    Thanks for sharing a real testimony of faith rather than a white-washed one. This is the struggle of life. I have learnt to just focus on our Eucharistic Jesus and not on my weaknesses and sins. Not to beat myself up with guilt for the past but to look to Him and to share with Him my darkness, torments, misery and sorrows. He doesn't always take it away but he lays with me on this cross of sufferings and struggles offering up this agony in and with and through me for the glory of God and the salvation of souls.

  • Comment Link Judi Wednesday, 23 July 2014 19:06 posted by Judi

    Love, Love, Love. . .this article. THANK YOU for writing it. THANK YOU for struggling. I'm sharing this and saving it, too.

  • Comment Link Peter Thursday, 24 July 2014 06:01 posted by Peter

    Hello Richard,

    I posted a comment back on April 15th and wanted to thank you for your response. Since my conversion at the Easter vigil I've slowly come to realise that we have to see our struggles in a positive light, not negative which is our instinctive reaction based on conditioning from a wrong thinking world which leads us down a road of self pity. The very word 'chastity' is full of negative connotations yet in reality, if it is embraced in a true light of devotion it is a beautiful and joyful thing - we are surrendering ourselves to the love of Christ and by offering our suffering to Christ our burden is lightened. This is where I'm at now and I pray you are there too and that we stay there, united in the peace and love of Jesus.

    I know though that this is just a first step, I need to be doing more positive things with my life - I now play the organ at Mass, but I need to get out there, but I'm not sure what I'm being called to do as yet! This is the way to overcome our struggles, surrendering ourselves and helping others, then we will be true disciples of Christ - I'm glad I have SSA and that it is my cross to bear which I do willingly and since my conversion, with joy. God bless you.

  • Comment Link Greg Saturday, 13 September 2014 19:12 posted by Greg

    Richard,

    Thank you so much for your honest and candid sharing of your personal life journey and struggles. I too struggle with SSA, though I am protestant and not catholic. I feel that the teachings of Christ are paramount, as do you, and seeking christ-like-ness is the objective of the righteous Christian.

    I was drawn to this site because of a google search of a question which I feel I must need answered. I am currently on a spiritual journey to become closer to God and to become more like Christ, and my SSA has been the major struggle of my life. I am 26 years old, and for the last 8 years, I have been an openly gay man and I have been participating in that lifestyle. Not to the full extent that others have: I have never had a desire to go to clubs or be involved in the "community" per se, because I often see how viciously and unfairly even members of that community treat one another. Because I saw the obsession with sin and with the flesh, I have been called back to God. But I am still struggling and seeking answers.

    Currently, I am reading "The Purpose Driven Life" as my daily devotional. Today's devotional, "Growing through temptation" brought up a very interesting point which raised many questions for me.

    It said: "Attraction and arousal are the natural, spontaneous, God-given responses to physical beauty, while lust is a deliberate act of the will."

    Clearly, Rick Warren is talking about "natural, opposite-sex attraction" and how the Christian should not allow this to become lust by dwelling or acting on that attraction when it is not Biblical (ie, within the bounds of traditional marriage).

    However, he completely ignores my current predicament and the fact that I have deep-seated same-sex attractions. If attraction is the natural, God-given reaction to beauty, then how am I to explain my attraction to other men and my complete lack of attraction to women? It is baffling and truly disheartening.

    I have been reading my Bible and praying daily that God deliver me from temptation and sin. The devil works day and night to undermine my efforts, and I just do not know where to turn. I understand that a call to Celibacy can be truly fulfilling and that God can often lead people in that direction to fulfill his will. But is that the answer? Did God burden me with these particular feelings simply because he wants me to overcome them and lead a life of chastity or celibacy?

    Please help another struggling Christian with SSA. I do not know where to turn, and I realize that not many people have the "right" answer. Ultimately, I want to follow God's will. But even reading the Bible confuses me daily.

    Thank you again for providing your struggle and your insight. I am sorry to say that it was less than helpful for me with my current struggles. I will follow your example and lead a life of chastity for God and vow to seek his counsel through prayer and meditation on His word. But I still struggle with doubts and feelings and questions and I need help.

    Thank you so much!

  • Comment Link Esco Escobar Wednesday, 08 October 2014 03:57 posted by Esco Escobar

    I want to thank you for sharing your struggles Richard.
    It has been an extremely hard journey for me. I am also a 26 year old man. Who is openly gay and participating in the LGBT lifestyle. I was in a relationship that had lasted almost 5 years. Things started to feel wrong, I had an urge to go to church. And since then my life has been a constant struggle.


    God has removed my love for my ex. But not my attraction to men. I have ran away from my hometown.
    Moved to a new city, but my struggle has followed me.
    I have become active once again. After two years of celibacy. I have gone to the bar's made friends with people who are just like me. But it's as if there is this little whisper Convicting me.

    I pray that one day I have the same strength as both of
    You. I know thus is going to be a hard journey. All I feel is pain and hate. And just like you Richard I wish at times that I was no longer Here. Thank you for sharing your story. I'll pray that you will continue to keep strong.


    God bless you

  • Comment Link Angela Thursday, 20 November 2014 07:13 posted by Angela

    If anyone is seeking healing for childhood trauma in a gentle but deep way I encourage you to google St. Therese Healing and Growth Centre in Saskatchewan, Canada. Look for : triumph: results God gives
    I highly recommend it, especially when everything you've tried doesn't work anymore (or ever did).

  • Comment Link Frank Linder Friday, 21 November 2014 13:20 posted by Frank Linder

    Thank you Creator Father for who,what,when,and how you created me, and the rest of your Creation including animals etc. You made no mistakes but so many seem to pick apart your purposes. So just plain Thank You.

  • Comment Link Chris Tuesday, 25 November 2014 15:12 posted by Chris

    http://reformersrecovery.com/ A wonderful ministry that has helped thousands, even in your area of struggle.

  • Comment Link Richard G Evans Sunday, 14 December 2014 15:26 posted by Richard G Evans

    SO many have posted since I originally shared this, and I have missed many of the later comments. I am sorry for that, it was not intentional believe me. They all mean a lot to me! And if you continue to struggle keep pressing on. Even if you fall 10000 times and feel it is impossible. It is, with you. Not with God. And His goal is not always a "cure" but sometimes a way to live with and in His Cross and Resurrection. I have never done this, but I feel compelled to do so now, if you wish to contact me my email is rgevans415@comcast.net and I will indeed be glad to discuss (not argue about it but share and dialogue) with any who wish to do so.

  • Comment Link Dave Tuesday, 30 December 2014 08:14 posted by Dave

    Response to Greg's post of 13 Sept. 2014:

    You wrote:

    "Rick Warren is talking about "natural, opposite-sex attraction" and how the Christian should not allow this to become lust by dwelling or acting on that attraction when it is not Biblical (i.e., within the bounds of traditional marriage). However, he completely ignores my current predicament and the fact that I have deep-seated same-sex attractions. If attraction is the natural, God-given reaction to beauty, then how am I to explain my attraction to other men and my complete lack of attraction to women? It is baffling and truly disheartening."

    You find it baffling, and indeed it is disheartening, but it can be explained, at least in a general way. First, there is objective beauty in both masculinity and femininity, each in its own way. Great works of art proclaim this fact, and anyone who is honest can intellectually and even affectively affirm this realist basis of attraction. Secondly, however, the presence or absence of a strong emotional "tug" toward one or the other gender is probably conditioned by childhood experiences, which, if somehow traumatic, can result in abnormal spontaneous reactions that are involuntary compensatory drives to repair psychic deficits. In other words, your feelings are not your fault, but are rather one possible (rather widespread) unfortunate result of living in this fallen world with its potentially damaging environment: e.g., imperfect parents, abusive elders, uncharitable peers, and perhaps hormonal interferences from an eco-system polluted by toxic chemicals (such as estrogen mimics). But to explain the (rather widespread) phenomenon of SSA it is not necessary to have recourse to a "gay gene" hypothesis nor to attribute the affliction to God's positive Will (certainly He permits it, though, just as He allows whatever evils occur in this miserable world).

  • Comment Link Carol Hungerford Friday, 24 April 2015 20:15 posted by Carol Hungerford

    Hi Richard,
    I was wondering if you have heard of Andy Komiskey. He was the pastor of my church years ago where he was always very open about his youth when he was an active homosexual and how God brought him out of that lifestyle. He has always shared the struggle he had even after that, even after marrying and becoming a father. A struggle he carries today 30 plus years later. He dedicated his life to helping other people in this journey and has written a number of books that might help you. A few years back he converted to Catholicism. (I myself converted in 1995). I was overjoyed because the Church needs Andy and Andy needs the Church. We are lacking in good resource or community to deal with issues of modern sexuality that's a sad fact. He has a great blog you might enjoy as well as a large international community of support. I hate to think of you alone in this journey and pray God bless you and provide a home within our home The Catholic Church.

  • Comment Link Richard G Evans Tuesday, 28 April 2015 04:36 posted by Richard G Evans

    Carol I have heard of Andy, I had no idea he was now Catholic! I will certainly check out his blog and thank you for sharing, God bless!

  • Comment Link Richard G Evans Wednesday, 12 April 2017 05:55 posted by Richard G Evans

    Thanks again for all of the kind comments, I read them all even if I do not have the opportunity to respond as quickly as I ought to! God bless you each, and let us pray for one another on this journey. Thank you again.

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