Feature | Fall 1997

Father Fig.

You're what? How can you be QV? Why didn't you tell me before? Why did you choose to be this way?"

These were the questions my mother, frantically, asked me when a causal talk we were having somehow led me into revealing that I was QV. She, nevertheless, kept reinforcing the idea that I was Catholic, and asked, "Where did I go wrong? What did I do?" I remained as calm as I could, but my mother was full of mixed emotions. Faced with her new awareness of my homosexuality, and not knowing how to react to it, she ended the conversation by saying, "I'm taking you to see a priest."

I was not about to argue with her and was willing to do anything to help the situation, but her words sounded like the priest would be the ultimate form of hope in her mind. It was as if the priest would somehow "cure" me, or at least, make me feel so guilty about myself that I would want to change my sexuality, if that was possible.

The next day, my mother and I went to talk to the priest. During the trip to the office, and the whole time we sat inside the office, I was completely silent and motionless. I just kept thinking how heterosexuals didn't have to go through any of this. It was as if the son my mother used to know had died, and in replacement, was a new son, a stranger, who was a homosexual.

As we waited for the priest, there was an eerie silence. Suddenly, the priest came into the room, said "Good morning," and asked if we were ready to begin the meeting. "Yes," my mother said. I nodded, not realizing this would be a meeting that would change my life forever. The priest then asked my mother to come into his office to speak to her alone.

My mother got up and walked inside the room. The priest followed her, then looked at me. Because of the frame of mind I was in, I interpreted his look as if he was saying to me, "You're such a disgrace to your family."

As the priest and my mother left the room, all I remembered was seeing the door shut in front of me. Somehow I just couldn't bear that I was going to be punished for being QV. A short time later, I heard the door open and I looked up to see my mother coming out of the room. She looked at me but kept her silence. I could tell she had been crying, and I could only imagine why. I envisioned her saying to the priest, "Why me? What did I do wrong?" It pained me to put her in this situation.

A few minutes later, the priest appeared and asked me to step inside. I slowly got up, walked toward the door of his office, and reiterated words of encouragement to myself. As I entered the room, I saw pictures of Jesus Christ, the Virgin Mary, and white angels on the walls, but the image I couldn't get out of my mind was the one of my mother walking out of the office with tears in her eyes.

The priest asked me to sit down as he pointed to a chair. He looked at me and calmly asked, "So you're QV?" Being lost in my thoughts and feeling uneasy with the opening question, I looked at the ground and nervously mumbled, "Yes, I am."

The priest stayed silent and looked at me as though he wanted to hear more about my QVness, but I couldn't say anything. After all, I was not used to admitting I was QV to anyone, much less to a priest. How else was I suppose to feel? I found myself feeling ashamed. At 19 years of age, the majority of my life I had been told that homosexuals were bad and evil. I had been knocked down so many times by prejudice remarks that I assumed I was about to be knocked down again, but I was proven wrong.

The priest turned out to be extremely supportive and understanding, which left me more confused than before. Here was a Catholic priest, and he was giving me a chance. He looked at me and declared, "I want you to know your mother thinks you're a good kid. And I want you to realize that." He continued, "I told your mother to love you as her son and to support you."

I was in such silent awe that I could actually feel and hear my heart pounding. I thought to myself, "He told my mother to support me? Am I hearing him correctly? What's going on?" As the priest continued talking, I sat wide-eyed and listened very attentively. "The world can be a cruel place, and I told your mother to support you because you won't find the support you need in the outside world," he said. I sat frozen, feeling a stronger sense of self-worth overcoming me as he continued, "I know you're a good kid, and I've seen too many QV kids get kicked out of their homes for nothing. I don't want that to happen to you." The priest paused and noticed a small smile on my face and complimented me as he said, "You're a good kid. And I just wanted to make sure you would have a home to turn to." I continued to listen, but still couldn't comprehend why he was so understanding and considerate, especially when the outside world, or even another priest wouldn't dare to be. I thought, "Was he truly inspired by God? Is this what a real priest is about?" Finally, he ended our meeting by stating, "Go on with your life. And always remember that God loves you."

Eight years later, and now looking back, I never expected to hear anything so accepting from a priest. He gave me a chance to be myself and Catholic. He gave me the inspiration and strength to move forward. And now I realize those tears in my mother's eyes weren't tears of failure or anger, but tears of uncertainly, yet hope, encouraged by the priest's words of wisdom.

I thank the priest for his understanding, which gave me the courage to be myself. I also thank him for helping my family, instead of hurting it. He certainly had the power of either destroying my family or creating a stronger one, and I'm thankful he chose the latter. Had the priest said, "Well, you know it's not right to be QV," I would have left still living an unhealthy, closeted life. My mother and my family would have had the priest's words to use against me. Worse yet, I wonder if I would still be talking to my family today.

Am I convinced this priest was inspired by God? At the very least, he was inspired to help me and my family. One thing I knew for certain was that I wouldn't have been able to convince my mother to accept my sexuality. I needed the support from someone else, and the priest was the someone else, the Guardian Angel that we all wish to have by our side. To have this priest by my side made all the difference in the world. My mother became a stronger person, my family is closer to me than ever before. I'm comfortable being a Catholic and a homosexual, and I owe the initial steps to the priest.

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