"Coming Out" Literature
Much has been written on this topic. The pro-gay movement in fact prepares young people very thoroughly for this step of coming out, for this is a key moment. It’s a rite of passage into a large, enthusiastic, and seemingly attractive movement, and this is how one joins that community and that movement.
A visitor to Boston’s biggest "gay and lesbian" bookstore will see that the most prominent section is devoted to books on "coming out." There are books of testimony, instruction, history, and even a dissident form of theology, all coaching and encouraging people (especially young people) with homosexual feelings. The message is: believe in the goodness and, especially the permanence, of those feelings and, also, declare oneself "gay" or "lesbian" to people who count in one’s life.
Two Polarized and Negative Options
All the writers coach the person coming out to hear only two possible responses:
Total rejection or total endorsement The mindset is passionately black and white, highly charged, and very difficult to respond to. Here are two true stories about the immediate and long-term impact of a "coming out encounter" on two non-homosexual young adults who later became active in Church ministry.
Encounters that Alter Values
+++ A recent graduate from an excellent Catholic college who worked with teens in her parish was unwilling to present them with the Church’s teaching on homosexuality and the call to be chaste. She was otherwise a very good and caring youth worker, but she was held back by her feeling of loyalty to a "gay" college friend with whom she had been close during the time when he had "come out" in their campus community.
+++ A well-established youth ministry administrator was quite interested in the testimony of people who had formerly been actively homosexual, but had completed a journey of finding their heterosexuality. He believed in the authenticity of those testimonies, but would not pass along that information to other youth ministers. He feared he might offend a good friend who had "come out" to him some years before.
Both of these youth ministers withheld a vital message of truth and goodness from those to whom they were responsible because of their fear of offending their friends.
"Coming Out" -- A Double Purpose
The "coming out" step is more than a step into full membership ln the homosexual movement. A second purpose, which was accomplished quite effectively with the two youth ministers just mentioned, is to seek 'converts' among 'straight' friends and family members to the cause of "pro-gay" values. The price of refusing those values is often the break-up of the friendship or the family relationship -- a steep price indeed, which has sometimes been termed by those who have been offered those two dark options: "emotional blackmail."
"Coming out" serves a double purpose for the person who decides to take that step:
1. Psychological and social identification with the homosexual life by going public, an act of self-labeling which effectively blocks other possibilities for growth.
2. The delivery of a challenge to those who might question that life. The person delivering the challenge adopts a victim posture, when actually he or she is very much on the offensive. "Coming out" is at the same time an act of vulnerability and an act of aggressiveness.
What Then Is a Wise Response?
Always and everywhere, our wisdom is to love, but loving often takes great courage.
For starters, we might say something like:
"Thank you for your honesty. I’m sure it took courage to tell me this. I’m glad you feel you can trust me. I’m not going to reject you, because I care about you."
The vulnerable part of your friend’s "coming out" is real, and you must respond with a strong and heartfelt reaffirmation of your care for your friend.
Or if you are being challenged to come out, you may respond with something like:
"Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this. I'd rather not go public with my personal life. My intent is to live chastely and I don't think outing myself at this point would help in this effort."
Yes. You must come out too...as a Roman Catholic! And yes, in most colleges and high schools, you will surely feel a vulnerability of your own if you admit you are convinced of the truth of the Church’s teaching about homosexuality. This quote from an article on marketing the gay agenda explains why the risk is so real:
"We can undermine the moral authority of homophobic churches by portraying them as antiquated backwaters badly out of step with the times and with the latest findings of psychology."
"The Overhauling of Straight America"
Erastes Pill & Marshall Kirk, Guide Magazine, 1987
Over twenty-six years later, that article proves itself to have been prophetic. Now, if you stand openly with your Church, you will find yourself labeled "antiquated," "out of step," and "homophobic." Who needs to risk those kinds of insults?
It is a risk, but your friend has just gone out on a limb and revealed something very personal. Rather than just standing back and watching, you can and should take the same risk. You’ll do both of you a lot more good that way, even if things do get a bit controversial. Pray a lot. Pick your time and place carefully, and maybe say:
"Will we still be friends if I’m honest with you too? Will you reject me if we disagree? I want you to know that I love and trust the wisdom of my Church. Can we listen together? I want to be very open with you because I do care.
You’ll be asking your friend to question one of society's big myths: that the Catholic Church is "homophobic." To that, you can say:
"My Church was the first to open hospices for AIDS victims at the beginning of the epidemic. Is that homophobia?"
Your friend may say. "The Church can only prove its love for us by saying homosexuality is good and healthy." But you can ask:
"Is it love if I encourage behavior that could lead to physical, emotional, and spiritual illness? Isn’t it more loving to tell you about persons with homosexual feelings who have chosen to lead chaste lives? Some have even experienced a measure of healing from the emotional causes of their homosexuality. By being aware of this, at least you won’t feel you have no choice."
(* Statistics from the American Psychiatric Association Press, as quoted by Dr. Jeffrey Satinover in Homosexuality and the Politics of Truth, Baker Books, 1996)
The Pros & Cons of Your Own "Coming Out" as a Catholic
If you don’t come out with your own honest thoughts and feelings, your values could well be swept away and your thinking changed, like the two youth ministers mentioned above. You may end up hiding the truth not only from your friend, but also from yourself.
If you do speak up, you’ll be providing your friend with some very valuable information not available in most "pro-gay" circles. You may want to give your friend one of the Courage pamphlets in this series. He or she may be open to what you offer, or maybe he or she won’t be. Either way, this expression of your love will introduce a healthy tension, and the relationship has a chance of becoming much more real and strong. If there’s an angry breaking-off, keep the door open on your end, and keep praying. With God, anything is possible.
Facing Society: Unlocking the "Coming Out" Trap
"Let there be no pretense in your love" Romans 12:9.
Spiritual and Emotional Growth
A Challenging Moment
What do you say when a friend or family member, someone close, "comes out" to you and declares his or her homosexuality? Or maybe it’s someone not so close, a co-worker or a fellow student. Still, what do you say?
And what if you tell another person in confidence that you have same-sex desires and he or she encourages you or insists you "come out of the closet?" What do you say to that person? Should you come out?
When the TV talk show host, Ellen, "came out" on the ABC network in 1997, America was taught how to respond: "relax, celebrate, and above all accept." But people of faith may have a very different reaction when someone they care about "comes out": Relax?!... when 2011 research from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) reports that in young men ages 13 to 24 who are diagnosed with HIV, 94.9% of them acquired HIV through same-sex acts? The CDC also reports that in the United States, another person becomes infected with HIV every nine-and-a-half minutes. This means there are 56,300 New HIV infections each year. Celebrate?!... when the joys of procreation are being set aside? Accept?!... when the Catholic tradition says homogenital activity is morally wrong?
The act of "coming out" is not the simple moment of openness which the "gay community" advertises it to be. It is a dangerous trap which puts both persons in the conversation and their relationship at risk, because:
1) The person coming out is sealing himself or herself into a life which is sometimes addictive, often lethal, and always very difficult, and
2) The people on the receiving end of this news are usually being asked to choose between their friend and their own values.
The purpose of this article is to help you refuse that terrible "either/or" and to offer instead a response that is both loving and faithful, both loyal and wise. The premise of this pamphlet is that most people in today's growing anti-Christian and secular society can expect, sooner or later, to be on the receiving end of a "coming out" encounter with a person in their life. The approach of this pamphlet is to equip you to practice love in response to the person who is coming out or demanding your coming out and in so doing candidly present the wisdom of the Christian tradition.
Courage International, Inc.
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