Once upon a time I went for a walk with a classmate who told me of her conundrum. She had received a proposal of marriage from a male friend who was both a lawyer at a top firm and a practicing homosexual. His idea was that their marriage should provide him with extra leverage at work, a classy hostess for his dinner parties and the children he very much wanted. Meanwhile, the marriage would provide my classmate with enough money to pay for her PhD studies. Being flat broke, my classmate was seriously considering his proposition. Neither of them was religious. I forget why my classmate picked me to tell about this; she was a bit worried I'd be shocked.
I wasn't shocked. For millennia, men and women have married without love, without overwhelming sexual desire and, indeed, without much hope of sexual fidelity. They did so for the benefits that the male-female bond brings: a public, social, economic partnership, complementarity, joined families, children. And throughout history men with same-sex desires have married women for those reasons, and to mask their same-sex desires, usually without being as honest about it as this lawyer.
But, as I pointed out to my classmate, as part of the deal was that she was to have this man's children, she was putting her health and the health of these children at risk by having sex with a man who had been sexually active with men and was planning on being sexually active with other men in future. I forget if I mentioned that she would also be cheating herself of the real love of a deeply heterosexual man for a woman to whom he is determined to be faithful.
Fifteen years later I got an email from a Catholic twenty-something very much involved in the arts community. Unsurprisingly, she had met there many men with same-sex attractions--the men themselves would have described themselves as "gay"--and was glad that she had managed to both witness to her Catholic faith in this community and still be accepted by it. She had made good friends in this community, particularly with one man who was handsome, kindly, talented, charismatic, intelligent, sensitive and all those other things, plus gay. (Imagine the self-styled gay man you know best and admire most, and you'll get the picture.)
To make a long story short, to her surprise, this great openly gay guy turned out not to be quite as gay as he had seemed. Indeed, he was THAT into her. Although my reader's spiritual director and parents were not happy about the situation, she and her gay friend became a couple. Then he told her that he was still not over his ex-boyfriend, and he wanted to be with him. And that was the end of that.
My reader's letter was more confused than sad. Indeed, it was the least sad break-up letter I have received in six years. I wondered if she was giving him a pass because he was gay, but she said it was more because he was such a great guy. Without knowing him, of course, I wondered if he was so great as all that, as he had allowed my reader to believe he could never be romantically attracted to her, revealed at last that he was romantically attracted to her, and then ditched her for his ex-boyfriend. I'd love to ask him what the heck he thought he was doing.
My reader wondered if sexuality were not just entirely fluid and changeable and that there was hope for men like her now ex-boyfriend to make great husbands-to-women and fathers-to-their-mutual-children one day. And because she asked what I thought, I told her. I think it possible, but rare. Very rare. Rarissimus. I have spoken to no less a personage than Father John Harvey on the topic, and he said it is very, very unusual for an adult homosexual man to become completely free of same-sex sexual desires and to go on to have a happy, sexual, faithful, married relationship with a woman. Can it happen? Yes. Is it likely? No.
The subject of homosexuality is so fraught and political and difficult to talk about without hurting someone's feelings that single Catholic women are often terribly surprised to discover that whatever pious or politically correct platitudes they have been told are wrong.
First of all, men lie about their sexual desires all the time. Men who advertise themselves as openly "gay" sometimes turn around and hit on women. I have been propositioned by at least two self-styled gay men in my time. You could have knocked me over with a feather on both occasions. Oscar Wilde, by the way, sired two children and was terribly upset that his wife divorced him. An old pal of mine frequently slept with a guy who came out of the closet a few years later, and when I said, "Ahem. Explain", she said, "Sex is sex."
Second, Catholics use the expression "men with SSA" instead of "gay men" to avoid identifying people primarily with their sexual orientation or preferences. However, many men do identify themselves with their sexual preferences. You know how I talk about couples ideally sharing their primary values? Well, with some men, even if they are sometimes attracted to women, their primary value is being gay. A man who identifies so strongly with being gay is simply not husband material.
Third, self-styled gay men are often very attractive. It's not just that they are sometimes very good-looking, graceful and well-dressed. (Sometimes, of course, they are none of those things.) And it's not just that they are often very intelligent, witty, cultured, compassionate and kindly. It's not just that they are often as quick with the right compliment at the right time as a good female friend. It's also that they seem so safe. You can hug and be hugged by your gay male friend and be open with your emotions and hopes and dreams and fears with him in a way you might not be with a heterosexual man. So it comes as a shock when something unexpected happens and you realize that your gay friend is actually still a man.
Gay men are men. Men, men, men. And I love men. Some gay men are also the caffeine in the cappuccino of life. But not all men have women's best interests at heart, and that includes some gay men. The second soi-disant gay guy who hit on me told me that he understood women better than other men because he was gay. GARBAGE. You know what man is most likely to understand women? A old married man with grown-up daughters. A man who thinks about women, loves women, lives with women, sires women, works for women, suffers for women.
Gay men are not an exciting new kind of woman. They are men. Men who court men. Tattoo this to your brain.
And, as Camille Paglia points out, men are really into having sex. She blames the AIDS epidemic of the 1980s on the completely unfettered sexual behaviour of men unchecked by the relative sexual prudence of women. As Paglia thinks there is something noble in this and gay male sexuality in general, we can't chalk up her ideas to homophobia.
An adult man who identifies as gay, unless he has handed his life over fully to God and is absolutely committed to chastity in continence, is very likely to have been sexually active with other men and is very likely to be so again.
As red flags go, that's rather vivid. Gay men can make great friends, but they almost never make great boyfriends and husbands.
Combox moderation for this one, of course.