An Honest Luncheon Conversation with a Homosexual Activist
John C. Rankin
[excerpted from First the Gospel, Then Politics …, 1999, Vol. 2, not published]
In the mid-1990s, I was asked by a friend to consider addressing a forum at Hall High School in West Hartford, Connecticut, with a well-known local homosexual activist. So I called the man, and he was not interested. But too, he said he “knew all about me,” that I was a Catholic priest …” I had to interrupt him briefly and say otherwise. He continued by saying that I must still be a “homophobe” who is not interested in learning about homosexuality for “what it really is.” So I said, okay, “Let’s have lunch, and my only agenda is to listen to what you want to say, and learn from it.” He was surprised, intrigued and he agreed.
On his terms, I was free to meet him at a homosexual restaurant and bookstore in the west end of Hartford, called “The Reader’s Feast,” which closed several years later. It was an eye opener. First, it was apparent, just walking past, that the substantial bookstore was devoted to porn. Second, it was clear that I was an odd fit in the packed lunchroom (even as the food was high quality). And third, when I left, a young woman tried to flirt with her eyes and body language, until I thereafter realized he was a transvestite. A painful and broken world, those for whom Jesus has come to love and rescue.
In our conversation, we spoke in regular decibels, hiding nothing from others nearby. Our focus did not cover the question of whether homosexuality is predetermined from birth, but in later conversation he stated his belief that intrinsic homosexuality is genetic, and that bisexuality is a matter of choice.
He also told me that he had a sexual relationship with a woman when younger, but considers himself homosexual, not bisexual (interestingly, the homosexual-rights movement regards anyone as homosexual if they have had one homosexual encounter or thought, but not vice versa). That woman now considers herself a lesbian. But I must ask: If a homosexual can have heterosexual relations, how is homosexuality genetically predetermined, unless only as a malleable state of the mind or emotions? And is that not subjective, which by definition precludes something predetermined? And too, choices inevitably enter into the process of a homosexual “discovering” himself or herself to be homosexual, after having thought otherwise to begin with.
At the restaurant he spoke of a long time “best friend” (no sexual involvement), a different woman who had been married for six years, but childless despite three years of trying. About one year after her divorce, and after four months of conversation, she and this homosexual activist agreed to conceive a child together. She wanted a child, and so did he in his own way. She conceived and bore a daughter, and lives in the Netherlands, where he commuted frequently from the States during their daughter’s first two years. They agreed together on this arrangement of “family.”
In sharing this story with me, he said something telling. Namely, that when he had sexual relations with this woman, it was only “physical,” and there was no “emotional” connection with her in terms of being a “romantic lover.” The “best friend” category was different in his mind. In other words, a state of the mind and the emotions, not a physical state of being – as the various details of this story profile. As well, he spoke of how his own father divorced his mother when he was eight, left and only saw him twice over the ensuing seven years. And his “best friend” in Holland was abandoned by her father at a young age. “Broken” families is how he described this reality, and I observe how such brokenness, going back to the reversal itself, affects the state of mind (the “noetic” effects of sin) and emotions.
And this man gave me permission to share his story. Which is to say, I was able to be a sounding board for his own story, and who knows how much that honest conversation caused him to think in new ways as a result, so see a minister of the Gospel treat him accordingly.