"If you want to be seen as credible in your advocacy for gay and lesbian Catholics, you need to walk the walk first." He explained further that my marriage--SGO with OGO-- is commonly thought "to be set up for misery and dissatisfaction for both spouses and crazy-making for the children." "Why stay in such a marriage?"
To me this challenge raises some very fundamental questions that we need to deal with in this campaign if we are going to be effective within the Catholic church. The same person who challenged whether I can "walk the walk" also said my introduction of a new term/acronym, "SGO-Same Gender Oriented, would be met with opposition from the very people I'm trying to help. First I want to say I respect and support the right of people to identify with any of the terms, LGBTQ. Secondly I want to be given the room to clearly identify what I understand by SGO. I have learned early on that to simply say I'm "gay" opens up more confusion than clarity. This issue about my marriage is a good place to start. The automatic assumptions when I have said I am "gay" simply are often not true in my case. In my experience thinking back to my years as a language teacher as well as to my lifetime of experience in theology, psychology and my own sexual experience, I am convinced that we have to be careful about which definitions we are using. So because of this I want to keep the acronym, SGO as well as it's opposite, "OGO" and get on with what it is (and isn't) that I'm asking us to support publicly in our dissent with the current teaching of the Roman Catholic Church regarding homosexuality.
The notions undergirding the opinions of my challengers need to be examined in my view. More importantly the challenge to leave my marriage if I insist that I'm SGO seems to me to be a rigid prescription that goes counter to all the values we hold, just as rigidly prescriptive as so many that are applied to us by those opposed to us homosexuals in our tradition. I cannot accept such a stereotypical label and remedy in my opinion. So I'm calling on people in this campaign to work together to build our reputation carefully. "Why stay in such a marriage?" Is this what being an SGO requires me to do? Having lived as long as I have, having been a priest, a marriage counselor, and a teacher, I know that life doesn't work this way. I mean, I must end my loving relationship, my family, who I've been for 74 years, because of my Same Gender Orientation? Leaving my wife for some unknown adventure with a completely untested way of life certainly is not something I could justify just because someone has stereotyped my life as one of "misery and dissatisfaction...crazy-making for the children." There are other options. Heterosexual couples have disastrous relationships in spite of their supposed compatibility.
It should be clear from what I have written so far, at least it is to me, that I'm sure that I am SGO Same Gender Oriented. I've purposely refrained from using common parlance --in this case, the "G" word--because conclusions/stereotypes have already been built up and it doesn't seem right to me to be put into boxes like this. Do I recommend entering into a SGO-OGO marriage? Not without reservations. I believe that such a mix carries serious challenges for both partners in a marriage relationship. Nor would I say that it is impossible. There are many other important ingredients to a marriage and I am here to extol my married life, its tribulations as well as companionship, creating and raising children, and participating in community life. What we're doing in this campaign is to give absolute freedom, blessing, and encouragement to SGO people to create a marriage just like OGO people.
Some would have us believe that orientation is a just a matter of plumbing, that it functions or doesn't based on orientation alone. Does this definition mean an SGO simply can't "get it on", let alone enjoy sex, is impotent, with an OGO Opposite Sex Oriented? As a youngster I was very much conditioned by the religious ideals of the Catholic church and I didn't experiment because of this. Sex is a beautiful gift to be enjoyed with someone-- an OGO-- after a serious relationship would be developed. Respect for women included refraining from sexual involvement. Sex would be the confirmation of, as well as the inspiration for, building those close relationships I understood to be married and family life until death do us part. But I knew early on that any combination of visual, imaginative, or physical activity could enable my plumbing just fine. When I started out my married life any question about this basic functioning was put to rest. We were able to conceive our first child on our honeymoon. And yet --although it took some 60 years--it is clear to me now that my orientation is unequivocally, unambiguously, SGO. What I am championing now is the right for all SGO's to be united with the SGO of their choice, as a totally natural way of being physically intimate. I've walked the walk many times over. See Mother Jones for my first walk in 2000 in Vermont.
Hopefully this posting will be helpful to the main purpose of this blog and this campaign about learning and implementing a 21st century style of dissent, loving, open, finding "the least harm" within the church. It does raise the important issue about definitions, rules of conduct. But the tougher challenge is to create the peaceful, open dissent that we need to achieve "the least harm." We are in need of saving lives right now, the lives of those who are still told they are intrinsically disordered, condemned to struggling all their lives with sinful temptations because they are SGO. We will deal with the sub-topics of sexual orientation later with proper, non-stereotypical definitions. Now we come together and form a united voice within our church, with our opponents, , each "walking the walk" as best we can. Let's get on with it!