My last post was focused on the topic of fear. I then shared with you some deep insights on my relationship with my family, more specifically my dad, as well as with God and others (please read the previous post. [Click here to read]). I also mentioned I’d continue on this topic in my next post. Well, here we are! To tell the truth, I’m afraid to publish this one … it’s a huge step for me, but aren’t we here for this reason?
Truth Is Said
So, let’s jump right into it! I’m gay! Obviously, this may sound boring and silly to many, but for me, to say this out loud publicly, marks the beginning of a new journey. Evidently, it’s not as if I were hiding all this time. Or maybe I was…
While growing up, a huge part of my fears had to do with me knowing I am gay. What I shared with you in my previous post remains true and pertinent, and I purposely qualify that content as the first layer of fears in my life because so it is. I only truly discovered I was gay in my early teenage years, so all that came before, still remains true.
As mentioned, growing up in an Italian conservative family and living in the ghetto of Montréal, still known as the Bronx of Montréal, I could not even think of coming out! I tried hiding, dating girls and having sex with them. Same with acting tough and hiding behind the goofiness of the cool guy. I drowned my fears in drugs and alcohol, sold my soul for fame … but deep down inside I knew I was different.
I still remember, when I was 16ish, I witnessed the brutal beating of a gay Italian guy from my neighbourhood. At first, I didn’t get it, until I confronted one of the aggressors, trying to find out why this guy deserved a beating. My friend looked at me while bringing his shoulders back to assert all the manliness he was capable of, he lit the cigarette he was holding and while blowing the first puff, he answered: “The guy is a fag! That’s it, he got what he deserved for sucking dicks!” Holy shit! I could never be gay!
Later that same year, two other events happened, both suggesting I was gay. One came from an uncle and the other from a friend. Both were referring to the possibility that I was gay. In both these circumstances, I denied it totally. I needed a way out of this … if only I could find that magic pill for me to heal.
Trying to Heal From Being Gay
Since I couldn’t find any solutions for my sexual attractions, I felt as if exile were my only option. While planning it, I was offered a plane ticket to Italy to visit a religious community and quickly became a monk. I felt it was an honourable way out! I couldn’t picture myself faking a wedding, having kids, hiding my attraction … and moreover, lie to my partner all my life. I had seen too many married men (yes, many Italians as well) having hidden gay sexual relations whilst married.
I naively believed that the Catholic Church is a community of walking saints, and that I’d maybe find the one deeply desired miracle: healing from my homosexuality.
Little after my entry in the monastery, I felt the need to confide in my superiors and tell them about my sexual attractions. I needed to be authentic! They convinced me I’d heal and so my journey became one of a conversion therapy that lasted almost ten years. I’ve heard it all, “Don’t talk like that,” “Don’t cross your legs,” “keep your legs apart while standing” “Don’t hold your hands on your chest,” “Don’t manifest any affection,” etc.
Gay Conversion Therapy: How About You Cannot Change Who You Truly Are!
Every year, I needed to go through an inquisition in front of my superiors. My desire for authenticity made me tell the truth each and every time. No matter my efforts, I did not feel any change in my sexual attractions. Each pilgrimage, each novena, each holy door crossed, each possible miraculous medal had found its way into my secret and only desire to heal.
My confessions weren’t an encounter with God; They simply brought me to sweeping the floor with my tears, begging for mercy, forgiveness and healing. Yet, they kept hammering that the reason I wasn’t healing was because of my lack of authenticity with God.
After one of those inquisitions, just to give you one example, I was sent home for a few months to visit my family. On my way back, I spent more than 12 hours flying around the globe and was totally jet lagged. When I arrived, the superior made me put my work clothes on and sent me outside with a hammer and pickaxe to destroy the huge root of a eucalyptus tree. The eucalyptus tree stores water so its wood is never dry, which means the roots are like car tires.
I was at it for hours under the summer heat of Rome. The superior came to see me after a while and asked, “Are you tired and hungry?” I replied yes … he then continued, “Well, keep going, that’s how you’ll become a real man.” I continued to the point of fainting.
I can recount so many similar events… I would have done anything to become a man!
Too Many Closeted Gay Priests!
But you know what takes the cake? The fact that ALL the men in whom I confided were hiding their homosexuality! Yet, being too naive, I always believed I was guilty. I can’t make this up! I’ve seen this with too many priests, bishops, cardinals, monks, etc.
Every honest confession of mine, suddenly became an open door for abuse. To top it all off, these “men of God” instilled guilt in me. They would blame “my need for affection” as the cause of their misbehaviour. In other words, it was all my fault!
According to those men, the reasons they tried on me, was to palliate the absence of a father figure, or because they were contaminated by the contagiousness of my homosexuality (quoting my superiors).
It’s Still Hard to Be Me
So, after going through all this, why am I still afraid to speak out? Well, because since coming out a few years back, many so-called Catholic friends pushed me aside. Furthermore, the only sign I received from my extended family was a nine-page letter from a cousin telling me that I should reconsider my life choices before facing the eternal consequences (hell). I then decided to step aside and keep silent not really knowing how other family members would welcome me. Only one other cousin reached out to show me support and understanding.
So please tell me … how can one be so popular, loved by his parishioners and friends, asked for prayers regularly, looked upon by many as an amazing preacher, etc. then become such evil person? Does being gay change the essence of my soul? Does being gay erase all my abilities and talents? I don’t think so … because I was gay all along. No wonder I’m still sometimes afraid!
OK… I can keep going for way too long. My blog’s focus is not on my being gay… But I wanted to get this off my chest so my new family and followers can know who I truly am.
My next post will be an open letter to the Catholic Church and to my family, as a way for me to follow up with this post … so enough with this topic for now! Let’s continue growing together on all levels. And hey! Make sure to subscribe to my blog not to miss out on my next posts.
Charles TakerMay 15, 2022 1:54 pm
What a “parcours”! I sense that there may be a memoir that remains to be written.
Thank you for sharing your story. I think the line that stood out for me was “I needed to be authentic”. I think for many of us the quest for authenticity takes us often down the path of self-discovery and self-acceptance which can sometimes be very painful yet lifegiving at the same time. But despite the suffering that you experienced, I am left with a profound sense of hope as well.
In some ways, your journey to the centre mirrors my own. My quest for authenticity came after spending the summer at a l’Arche community where I remember singing a song, “May you be real, be free, be worthy of me, be yourself for you are the person I love”. Mentally challenged people have this way of stripping you of your external layers that society has taught us to cover ourselves. It was so freeing to strip away the layers but also scary not knowing where it would lead.
I look forward to reading more of your blog.