Hi, I’m Zach (not actually). Forgive me if this post is long, but I have a lot to say. I am a sophomore in college, and I’m 19 years old. I’m a very devout Catholic, and I study philosophy at a Catholic university. My mom is Catholic, my dad is a non-practicing Jew, and my brother is an atheist. For as long as I can remember I’ve always been attracted to men. Nevertheless, I can distinctly remember a time when I was predominantly attracted to women. A series of traumatic events changed that for me.
When I was young, I was relentlessly bullied by almost everybody at my school. I was hit, teased, and shunned from most activities. My peers also spread around a rumor that I was a sexually desperate nerd who would rape anybody who tried to be nice to me. The adults in my life (with the exception of my parents) weren’t much better; they made fun of me for being gullible, laughed at the jokes my bullies made, and told me to “man up.” When I came home, I was physically abused by my brother. Because of this, I was seriously depressed for several years, lost the faith I was raised in, and started contemplating suicide. At the same time, I started getting stalked by a guy who essentially took advantage of my pain. At first he treated me like I mattered, but then he became obsessively attached to me and started making me feel guilty for not spending enough time with him. Long story short, he lured me in sexually and took advantage of me. Ever since then, I’ve been seriously addicted to gay pornography, and that addiction has usually manifested itself in BDSM, dominance/submission related things.
I recognize that I experience same-sex attractions, and I accept the fact that I probably always will. I also acknowledge the fact that I didn’t choose to have these attractions, and the vast majority of people don’t. Nevertheless, I also embrace the distinction made in the Catechism between a person, their inclinations, and their acts. I believe that we as human beings are made in the image and likeness of God, and that, by virtue of the fact that we are endowed with rational souls, each of us has a vocation to live a life of holiness. Additionally, I believe that because of original sin we are ALL forced to struggle with disordered desires (in other words, desires that lead us to vice rather than virtue) that can only be overcome through the help of God’s grace. In that sense, I don’t see same-sex attractions as something unique, and I believe that my struggle, while it might be different on a psychological level, is fundamental similar to the struggle that each person has with their own temptations.
Despite this belief, however, it has become increasingly difficult for me to view my attractions as extrinsic rather than intrinsic. There’s a part of me deep down that REALLY yearns to claim that my sexuality determines my identity. I feel like my sexuality affects more than just who I’m attracted to, and there’s a part of me that wants to embrace those other characteristics. This creates a moral dilemma for me, however. If my attractions are in fact extrinsic, as the Church suggest, then they don’t define me or make up my identity, and I’m morally obliged to stifle these yearnings that I have. If they are intrinsic, however, then would be forced to argue that these attractions are fundamentally good and should be acted upon, because for my intrinsic attractions to be disordered, I as a PERSON would have to be disordered, and therefore incapable of salvation. That can’t be right, and it also introduces the slippery slope of claiming that sex has no objective purpose, and that our bodies have no need of physical redemption.
My struggle has become so much more difficult late for two reasons. First, as I’ve continued to fight my pornography addiction, my romantic attraction for other people (both women and men) has increased. It was easy for me to view my lust as evil when it was objectifying people behind a screen, but when it’s shrouded with feelings of affection I can be very easily deceived. Secondly, I’ve seen many gay people who live actively homosexual lifestyles and appear to be happy. This is especially true in the Furry Fandom, which I have recently associated with. Being a furry isn’t objectively bad since it just means having an interest in art that depicts anthropomorphic animals, but much of the community is built around the dynamic of being open about your sexual attractions, yearnings, fantasies, and endeavors. There is also a disproportionately large number of LGBT individuals in the Furry Fandom. Part of me wants to leave the fandom because I believe it is leading me into sin, but the other part of me loves the art and, to be completely honest, like the idea of letting loose and showing my “gay” side, even if that doesn’t mean having sex.
I am willing to embrace a life of celibacy if that is my vocation, but I will need help to do so. Please share your thoughts with me, and thanks for listening.
P.S. I am still closeted. Only a few friends of mine, my spiritual director, and my confessors know that I have these attractions. Even my parents are unaware at this point.