I am often asked about my conversion from the gay life back to the Catholic faith, about how exactly that took place. The question amuses me a bit because it is so often asked in the course of my first conversation with a new EnCourage parent. I frequently get the feeling that they are looking for the magic bullet, the secret formula, the-one-best-argument they can use with their own child to turn him or her away from the gay path.
For me, there was not a single moment of conversion but a long journey, long and twisting, with hairpin turns. I will attempt to describe it in ensuing posts, but for now, I will say that I believe that there many moments of God’s grace and revelation, but there were two critical spiritual factors: my Baptism sealing me as a child of God, and filling me with the Holy Spirit; and my mother’s unceasing prayer for me.
You see, I spent more than 25 years being a lesbian, and my mother could not and would not embrace my choice. Accept it? Well, she had to, really. Acceptance is dealing with what is, after all. But appreciate it, embrace it or celebrate it? No, never.
So, she prayed. As any faithful mother would. On her knees in the early years, and later, as her knees gave out, and were replaced, and the replacements even decayed, eventually on her back as she lay in bed. In the morning before she started her day, and at night, before she drifted off. Rosary in hand. She prayed for all three of her kids, we all had our issues. I don’t know where mine ranked among the others. But there she was, praying her rosaries and her novenas.
And so, when I had broken from my partner, and broken with being a lesbian, I could have made her immediately happy with my announcement. But I held off. I’m not sure why, except I needed to get used to the idea myself, first. There was certainly a period of adjustment, of discovery. Even now, I am still in that period of discovery, figuring out just who it is that I am. But I took my time, pondering, analyzing, making certain. I didn’t want to jump the gun, premature elaboration, as we say in the software bizz.
And then the fateful question from the most unexpected quarter: “Do you believe in God?” And searching carefully for the truth of an answer, never allowed by my training with Dr. Laura to say “I don’t know…,” I thought and considered and deliberated and concluded, “Yes, I believe there’s a God.” And with that simple admission, my fate was sealed. Believing in God, I knew, meant accepting his Church and his teachings. And within days I was back at Sunday Mass, and two weeks later, kneeling in confession. That was in July, 2009.
On my next trip to my hometown, in October for my mother’s birthday, I was finally able to tell her, “I am not gay, I am working on myself in therapy, and I am back to Church.” To which she responded, “Well, finally! One of my prayers answered!” At which, I am sure, Jesus chuckled.