Up until last year, I was pretty sure I was straight. I mean, sure, I’d been thinking I might not have been for a few years, but after careful consideration, I decided I could not be gay and that was that. Then I met my now ex-girlfriend, and all of that went straight (heh) to hell. Along with my soul, according to several religions.
So I came out to my friends and family as bisexual, and that was that. Then I thought some more and talked about it with my straight friends, and realized that no, not everyone counts down the seconds until they can stop kissing their boyfriends. And no, not everyone wants to vomit after doing so.
“Maybe you’re a lesbian.”
Now, a lot of people have told me, “Oh, but labels don’t matter,” and “Don’t let people label you!”
But honestly? I’m okay with it. I love labeling myself. Don’t we all? Isn’t that, like, the entire reason Buzzfeed quizzes exist? So after my friends said that to me, I was like, “Yeah, I guess I am. I totally am a lesbian.” We talked a lot about some very personal things that don’t need to be shared here, but the gist of it all is that the thought of having sex with men nauseates me and that realization was pretty much my final red flag.
Alright. So, I’m a lesbian. Now, we get to the Catholic bit.
I was born and raised Catholic, and when the time came for me to decide to go or stay, I was all in for life. I was considering entering a convent; I dreamed of becoming a saint after I died; and I do stick to all of the Catholic things you do — going to church every Sunday and praying every night and going to confession twice a month (oops it’s been a while, don’t let me forget this weekend). So when I started questioning my sexuality in my sophomore year of high school, I shut that stuff down immediately.
No way am I gay.
Can’t be, I’m Catholic.
Besides, even if I was, I don’t think I could ever even think of kissing a girl.
Cue the montage of my five-month relationship with my ex. The longest relationship I’ve had up to this point.
How’d I get from Point A to Point B? How did I go from straight to lesbian in a span of, I don’t know, eight or ten months? It’s a long story, but basically, I just did. After a lot of careful thinking and praying and talking and praying some more, I just came to this conclusion.
And that’s the end of the exposition. Now to the good stuff.
People have been asking me to speak at clubs, to write a blog, to get interviewed, etc. about being a Catholic lesbian. For some reason, I seem to be the only lesbian those people know or else they’d be asking a lesbian more suited to those tasks to do them.
But here I am to shut them up.
“How can you be Catholic and gay?”
Not easily. I wish I could just say “Easy! Just chant a few rosaries in between watching The L Word.” But it isn’t, or else this article would be a heck of a lot shorter.
The first little hard part came in reconciling lesbianism to Catholicism.
It started out a lot more difficult than it is now. There was a lot of calling priests and crying. I just could not reconcile this part of myself to my faith. I’d spent my entire life building my relationship with God, and here came something to topple it all. I couldn’t let it happen, and I wasn’t about to give up my religion just to do something so trivial as accepting myself for who I was. But I really loved that girl. I knew this wasn’t something that would just go away, even if I wanted it to.
So I talked to a few priests, including one who was just entering the seminary. And they all said the same thing: as long as there’s no sex involved, there’s nothing wrong with being gay. So, for me, that just kind of solved it. For me, hearing that was, like, a free ride. No sexual innuendo intended. I didn’t really have strong feelings about sex in the first place. Only that I knew I couldn’t do it with a man.
For a lot of people, the hard part is in telling their family. Luckily, I am the exception.
My family is easily the most supportive family to ever grace this earth, and I thank God every single night that I have them because I couldn’t have survived this without them. When I came out, I basically just told a roomful of family that I had a girlfriend, and then I left. My parents called me when I got back to college, and we had a long conversation wherein their message to me was that they were supportive but blindsided, which I could understand. A year later, my dad would tell me I could talk to him about “life stuff,” and my mom suggested I get better at accepting who I was. My big sister called me the next day, making sure that I didn’t fall under the “Bisexual and Depressed,” demographic. I did, but I told her I didn’t. My brother had already known before I came out, and he and my little sister both had the opinion that I handled coming out poorly. My brother-in-law and one-year-old niece had little to say on the subject.
The hard part wasn’t really in coming out.
It was afterward when I was alone with my thoughts, which said anything along the lines of how-could-you-do-this-to-your-loving-parents, and what-if-this-is-a-phase, and this-is-the-kind-of-thing-that-ruins-families, and oh-my-God-I’m-going-to-hell. And, the Big Kicker: How Long Have I Been Lying to Myself?
The answer to that question, at the time of the Coming Out, was two years. Sophomore year, I knew I had a crush on my best friend, but I pushed that right out of my mind as hard as I could. I couldn’t quite succeed, and there were a bunch of nights I spent lying awake, wondering if I was gay. When my brother asked me if I was gay in the car one day after school, I said no.
Oh, Past Me. If only you knew.
The hardest part was knowing I’d kept it from myself for two years. The hardest part was answering to myself after realizing who I was––how much had I missed out on, how many moments could I have had? And the hardest part was accepting myself in the context of my religion.
“But clearly you’re now very comfortable with being a lesbian. How did you come to accept yourself within the context of being Catholic?”
I’m glad you asked.
I had a very wonderful friend to help me through it. She taught me an extremely important lesson in rectifying my sexuality with my religion: love is love is love. God is Love, and if God is Love, and we have Love, then we have God, and really by then, we don’t need to worry about who’s got Love for whom. Just as long as it’s there.
So to all those Catholic lesbians, bisexuals, gays, asexuals, pansexuals, and so on and so forth—to all inhabitants of the middle circle of the Catholic and queer Venn diagram—please know that love is love is love.
Love your neighbor, or love your partner, or both.
Adhere to the hetero-only sex rule, or don’t.
But don’t let your religion hinder your ability to love yourself. Don’t let your faith keep you from letting yourself love who you want to love.
God is Love. Love is love is love.
And it’s enough.