American Catholic has published an article by Melinda Selmys, who blogs at Sexual Authenticity: An Intimate Reflection on Homosexuality and Catholicism. In the article, she traces her twelve year journey from when “I decided to embrace the Church as my mother, I knew that meant giving up my lesbian partner” to today, “After ten years of marriage, I’m more in love with my spouse than when I started, we have six kids, and we live in a little piece of paradise in Eastern Ontario.” Against the backdrop of her own life, Melinda examines the two ends of the debate about whether or not the sexuality of those with same-sex attractions can be – and should be – changed.
So let’s come back to the land of reality and look at some of the “bad news.” I’m not attracted to men. Apart from my husband and Clint Eastwood, I still find the male sex pretty unattractive. I have not achieved complete freedom from the fell demon of homosexuality – in the past week alone, I’ve had three homoerotic dreams. I’m not comfortable with my sexuality; my femininity and I are only barely on speaking terms most of the time. I’m far from prepared to hold myself up as an ex-gay poster child.
Does that mean that I’m suppressing my true and fundamental self, or that I’ve entered into a neurotic relationship with my sexuality that is slowly gnawing away at the foundations of my identity? No. It means that I’ve made a decision: I will possess my sexuality; I will not be possessed by it.
I started pasting in more excerpts, but to get the full flavour of the article, you really need to read the whole thing. But here are her conclusions:
1. Sexual identity is not just about sexual desire. A lot of the time people embrace a gay or lesbian identity because of real, genuinely foundational elements of personality that seem “queer” to other people. The LGBTQ community becomes a safety zone, and a gay identity becomes a security blanket, that protects the elements of personality that are under attack from mainstream culture. Anyone who is leaving a gay identity behind needs to find other ways of protecting those elements of personality, otherwise we just end up retreating back into the village when we come under fire.
2. There is no universal solution. I’ve encountered a number of ex-ex-gays who sincerely believe that it is impossible to abandon a gay lifestyle because they were offered a one-size-fits-all “cure” for homosexuality, and it didn’t work. I understand their frustration. I think that we need to realistically acknowledge that what we’re trying to do is very difficult, that the solutions are not obvious, and that we need to search for new, personalized approaches when our efforts aren’t bearing any fruit.
3. There is no universal solution, because there is no universal cause. Honest self-examination and self- knowledge are essential if we’re going to make any headway in achieving chastity, in or out of marriage. Keep in mind that although there is no strict biological causation for homosexuality, there are neurological and physiological factors that may contribute: these must be taken as givens. There’s no point in driving yourself crazy trying to change the things that will not change.
4. Desires are just desires. Many people drive themselves nuts trying to eradicate all homoerotic thoughts, images and impulses from their psyche, presumably in the belief that any trace of homosexuality is an impediment to their spiritual development, or to finding and keeping a heterosexual spouse. If total, instinctual interior chastity were a precondition for sanctity (or marriage, or anything), heaven would be peopled by Christ, Thomas Aquinas and the Virgin Mary. Most of the angst associated with unwanted same-sex desires can be eradicated by acknowledging them, accepting them, and then teaching yourself not to take them seriously.