The Sacred and the Profane
“One cannot have the Sacred without the Profane”
I alluded to the “place” that kept me sane during those first two years after my diagnosis and I’ve mentioned it several times in the narration. So let’s go there and let me show you just how I got around the issue of “Diagnosis.” This is the most important and sacred part of my personal story treat it with thought, respect and understanding, because I will now take you on a journey into another world wholly separate and other from the world that you live in today.
The Stud was a bar I frequented in the days when James and I were on the outs. I went there one night and got put in my place by a very big imposing man who would later become the man who would save my life. The stud was a little hole in the wall Leather Bar with a crew of notorious big men in leather. This was exciting and new to me. I have an issue with the world of S&M and the leather bar would be my introduction into all things “Profane.” I am telling this story because it related directly to how I coped with disease.
The night that I met Todd I was sitting in the corner of the bar with my rum and coke and I was drinking it in, all in the music, the men and the sweaty scent of leather, little did I know that in the office my every move was being watched by a very daunting leather man. He approached from the shadows and walked up behind me and tapped me on the shoulder, the he swung his hand and slapped me clear off my stool across the floor. It was love at first contact.
I went to the bar every weekend to dance, and to see the men who would later become my family. I learned a great deal from each and every one of those men, most of them are dead now. And I miss them, so this in their tribute to just how much they all meant to me.
I hung out at closing and picked up glasses and bottles with the bar back, this was my form of “working my way into the fellowship.” A few months later I learned that the bar was closing and the new space had been purchased, the new Stud would be better, rougher and bigger in scale.
I volunteered to work on the “wrecking crew.” Over 14 days and nights, around the clock we moved, built, painted and stocked a brand new “STUD.” Opening night was April 15th 1993. I was in my element. I had been hired on staff because of my devotion and loyalty. Todd was watching me.
The weekend went without a hitch. I remember that night like it was yesterday. It was so exciting and new. The song they used to tune the sound system was Whitney Houston’s “I’m Every Woman” that song must have played a hundred times that night. It was the most amazing time of my life.
Sunday morning the 17th, my life would change when we found out that James was dead. He had committed suicide in an apartment in Western Ft. Lauderdale. I was a wreck; I was on my way out. Todd was there to hold me and console me and give me fatherly guidance and kept me in line, until at one point the men of the bar took me to get counselling for survivors of suicide that met every week. I did that for 32 weeks. During that time I learned that James had AIDS and that was never disclosed to me.
All this time I was working at the bar, I was safe inside the walls. My greatest leather fantasies were being realized. Todd was more than my boss; he was my Master, my Mentor, my boss and my guide. He kept me on a very short leash, literally.
You see, I found myself in a place that I wanted to be for many years, and Todd gave me the freedom to explore as far as I wanted as long as I did not act out. None of the men who came to the bar had direct access to me unless they went through Todd first. There is an entire other “subculture” here that not many people know about and for the most part they have no clue what it means to those who are within it. And for most of you, you will find this chapter repulsive and unnecessary to speak of, but I will disagree so let me enlighten you.
When I met Todd, he tapped the most inner desires of my soul from the moment we met. He knew that I was a submissive male and he could tell at 50 paces just what was going on in my little head. Todd got so good at reading me that all he had to do was look across the crowded bar and give me one particular “look” and I would know exactly what he was saying and with that “look” I would be totally satiated. It was divine.
Remember this thought as you read on. I was given certain responsibilities at the bar when we opened. I had a place at the “table” so to speak, and nothing I thought, felt or desired was “out of bounds.” Todd had seen me through James’s suicide and I survived my own personal hell as well.
The Dominant/submissive role is very important in this narrative. You see, up until I got my diagnosis I had been given free reign to dress and express myself in any way I chose as long as that choice did not impede my ability to work. Not to mention I was a hot little leather boy in leather as well I belonged to a group of young leather men who were cared for and educated in all things profane inside these walls. It was heaven. And I was a hot commodity.
Now this does not in any way speak to the affect that I had countless sexual encounters with nameless, faceless minions of men in those years, because for the record I was not having sex on a regular basis. But it does mean that anything was possible and looking and touching was not discouraged. My sex life is not important at this point of the story.
I do know that Todd lost a lover to AIDS a few years prior to the bar moving to where it now was. In fact Bob was buried in the cemetery that was across the street from the bar itself. So it had to have been a constant reminder of where he had come from. Not to mention that almost all of the employees at the bar were positive and or had AIDS. And that was fine by me. I learned the nitty gritty of AIDS education. It was in front of me around the clock. I served these men who worked behind the bars and I served my boss and I served my Master. And for me that was sacred. Besides my faith, my leather life was the closest approach to the sacred and profane as I had ever gotten.
In my service to the bar and to my fellows I learned what respect, duty and anonymity meant. The men in the Dominant roles kept me at the level that Todd has instituted for me. I answered directly to Todd, but I was also at the beck and call of anyone who needed my help at any time of the night on shift. I was in charge of guest relations as the Stud hosted several leather events in those first years. It was great being a gopher because I was the director behind the scenes. And just the endorphin rush I received knowing that I was serving another was enough for me, because if they were pleased with good hospitality, then Todd would be pleased as well. You see there is reciprocity here.
Men are pigs; they are dirty, nasty and have no manners or scruples in a profane way. I cleaned up after them; I unstopped toilets, cleaned vomit and assorted other bodily secretions. I was also the house cook along with Dennis and Roy. I wore many hats at the bar and my list of nightly chores was impressive.
When James died, I was shaken to the core of my being and that started to impact my ability to work. I was drinking heavily, and I was mindless and scattered. Todd cut me off from alcohol while in the building. The rule of the house was this, whatever happened outside the building during the day stayed OUTSIDE the building when I came to work.
I was the first man in and the last man out after closing. So my daily ritual went as follows. I would bring my “gear” for the night in my duffle bag and upon arrival at the bar; I would dress to whatever end I chose, then I reported to Todd for my nightly orders. There was nothing like the rush of kneeling before one’s Master alone in the office and hearing his voice and looking into his eyes. He was divine. Sorry, but I am there at the moment.
I had things to do and responsibilities to take are of and I knew that. So began my nightly ritual of finishing each task assigned to the best of my ability, so that I would get that immediate gratification in the phrase “good job, little one.” That was the “Holy Grail” sentence for me.
Over the year before my diagnosis I did a lot of work as my range of tasks and level of responsibility grew, then came that fateful day that I made the call to Todd and Roy while they were on vacation, to tell them what I was told. Here is the turning point of this story. Todd loved me and I knew that. His depth of emotion when I got sick was palpable. He was visibly shaken. I was 26, living alone, no family to speak of and no one to take care of me.
That responsibility, in hindsight was something I think he felt that he had to do. He came back and I cried in his arms he held me as a father would hold his son, he touched me and told me that I would be all right. The rest of the bar was notified and our family got a lot tighter after that. Farkle and Billy and the bar tenders and staff all tried to help me acclimate to where I was going as quickly and as completely as they could. Farkle is the last vestige of men with aids that still survive today out of the entire group I knew. I was heading for the breakdown and my eventual bottom. I spent a few weeks trying to drink myself dead on many occasions until I collapsed one night at the Copa, and I woke up on the pavement being held by my friend Danny and an ambulance. I got sober on August 23rd 1994.
Throughout this time, Todd started to get tough in a Dominant way. My submission to him totally and completely was his demand. I came to work
“to work” and nothing more. What happened outside stayed outside as long as I was inside the building. And I have to tell you that was my saving grace. I had something that maybe none of you will ever have or ever experience to the depth that I had.
Every night there were shitty toilets to unstop, and garbage to be cleaned and bottles to pick up and stocking to be done around the shift. I used to whine about these shitty jobs and cleaning up after pigs.
Until one night Todd dragged my ass into the office and screamed at me.
“DO YOU KNOW WHY YOU HAVE TO DO ALL THIS SHIT, BECAUSE IF YOU CAN DO IT FOR OTHERS, THEN YOU WILL BE ABLE TO DO THIS FOR YOURSELF, IF AND WHEN THE TIME COMES.”
Everything that Todd told me to do was for a reason, to teach me something about taking care of myself. I cooked food for hundreds every night. I knew everything that there was to know about keeping a club up and running and fully stocked. I cleaned enough trash and crap to last me a lifetime. I learned how to be responsible for others along with myself. That was the beginning I now know, in hindsight of placing the needs of others before my own. (This is very crucial when you get married and you experience “for better or for worse.”)
Most of all, I was taught the tough lesson about being alone and having to cope with that “place.” I would always do my work to end up receiving the Holy Grail sentence, until Todd thought it was time for me to learn a very valuable lesson, so it started. One night went by; I was given my list and sent off by Todd, with not a word, shift ended, and still not a word. That went on for days, and let me tell you how difficult it was I think, for Todd to keep his counsel and to see me squirm and beg for something from him but he stuck to his guns. And I cried night after night going home alone, without one word from my Master.
Each night I would do the dance and then at the end of the night I would kneel in submission and wait for those sacred words to fall from his lips, yet no answer. This went on for 12 days. You can imagine what it could be like for me to live in my submissive brain for all those hours waiting to get my Master’s look and hear his voice.
On the 12th night he called me to the office, I knelt as usual as he sat behind his desk, and he watched me crack in front of him. I raised my eyes to his and fell apart into tears. I knelt there and sobbed. He rose from his chair and came over to me and knelt down with me and grabbed my face in his huge hand and looked into my eyes and said “Good Job Little One!” That was it, I was lost, he hugged me to him and I cried.
He went on to explain that the reason I had to learn this lesson was because, as he stated, sooner or later you will encounter someone or work for someone or be in relations with someone who might take advantage of you, and your work may go unnoticed and unappreciated, so you need to know how to deal with silence. It was one of the greatest lessons he ever taught me.
I will tell you truthfully that if it were not for Todd and my profane leather experience, I would have died years ago. Within the profane world of Dominance and submission, I learned a lot about myself personally and emotionally. Within the submissive ability, is that to completely give oneself over to another and trust that he will take care of you and protect you from the outside world.
When I walked into work and presented myself to him, in my submissive way, whatever he had in store for me was done for a reason, and I had to trust that he knew that, and he did. I could shut off whatever was going on inside my head regarding dealing with HIV and focus on what had to be done nightly. That does not mean that we did not deal with my status, because we talked for hours and weeks and months.
On the outside Todd ministered to my needs. He hooked me up with everything that I needed to have. Marie took care of my medical until I got hooked up into the system in Ft. Lauderdale. The focus of this story is to show you how I survived the worst period of my life “within” the sacred devotion to the profane world of Leather and the Dominant and submissive roles that each of us lived.
That submissive boy learned a lot in those years and it was the best of times amid the worst of times. Todd had seen me through two of the strongest defining moments in my life. And I lived! I have read some pretty scathing views of the BDSM world in as many years, but until you come and experience the world of the sacred within the profane you will never know what it is like to totally love and totally trust with abandon.
It is very close to faith in God. A good Christian will totally love and totally trust. So I ask you how many totally loving and totally trusting Christians do you know? I have seen the face of God in my Master’s eyes, and they are blue and sometimes they were grey.
Todd was the closest I have come to the “Divine Presence” in my totally human existence. Because he loved me so unconditionally, he forgave me without question and he cared for me when lesser men and women walked away. I think that Todd knew exactly what God wanted from him, because all those lessons he taught me and the love he gave me is now yours to have.
Not many people will ever know a “great person,” in the sense of unconditional care and love like Todd’s, the world is cruel and in the “real world” there are no systems like this to help you cope. And unless you are gay and understand the ways of the sacred and profane, in the form of fetish, this chapter may go in one ear and out the other, but I had the courage to share with you the most sacred part of myself, so that you will see how deeply I feel when writing about this subject of coping and dealing with serious situations.
I know what you will go through and I know in my heart that every word that I have written here will bring you closer to the sacred by sharing with you my journey through the sacred and profane leather world. This is my strength and my experience; you can take it or leave it. This is the rock of my survival.
The day Todd and Roy left for California was one of the hardest days of my life, choosing to walk away from that life because I felt it my duty to stay in Florida hoping to heal the rift in my family (that never happened), and take care of myself on my own, I had to re-learn how to live in the real world without that “Structure” of the Dom/Sub world to fall into daily. But all that experience helped me heal, and prosper and survive for now going on 12 years.
– Naked and Sacred –
As a young child I have fond memories of old churches and polished pews and candles flickering in dark corners of the building, statues of saintly persons who looked out over the congregational spaces and the dark corner grottos making sure we knew that they were watching over us and praying in tandem with the many who came to find peace, solace and faith within those walls.
I remember that day that my Memere took me to that grand church all alone, just her and I and God. It was an afternoon event; she brought me here for mass on a regular basis. These were the days of the old missal books and rosaries, women wearing lace over their faces, it was an ethnic parish church attended by many from ethnic communities all around.
On that day she took me to the church, she had a purpose. I remember this as if it was yesterday because, in my minds eye, this was very important to her. We went to light some candles and leave our offering in that little tin box attached to the candle display, we sat in quiet supplication and adoration before the Blessed Sacrament, and we lingered to hear the voice of God speak to us. I am sure that Memere and God had brokered an agreement over me.
After a while she got up from her place and she gathered me to herself and we walked to the edge of the banister that protected the main altar from people walking up on the dais. The banister was open, as if to welcome us to step up there – so with great pride Memere walked me ahead of her until I was standing on the dais before God. I must admit there were no words that were spoken to me; this is where the agreement must have been made. Memere looked up that the altar, then at her favourite statue and then beckoned God to look down upon us and take us into His arms and protect us. In that moment I believe I had been “consecrated” to Christ and to God and the Blessed Mother, not to mention Marguerite D’ Youville. (This will be explained later in the timeline)
Memere had a “tight” relationship with God. Her homes were shrines to the family that had gone before us, to the saints who protected us, and the God who gave us life. I always felt naked before God in her house. As if God sat with us daily and saw us for whom we really were simple God fearing folk. I never for one moment feared God. There was nothing I could not say to Him nor ask of Him, but I also knew that there were things one just did not ask of God, because greed and excess were not part of Memere’s lexicon.
I learned to pray the rosary as a young boy, we went to mass frequently. I don’t know if my mother and father were aware that I had so much “sacred time” in my early life. I am sure she knew that if I was with Memere that I would go where she went and I would love her for taking me and I would love the adventure of going to see God all the time.
The church of old is not the church of now, unless of course you live in Montreal and have living “great” relatives who live in a convent not far from home.
Being the first of two children in a family firmly grounded in the late 1960’s brought a lot of opportunities to me as that first child. I had three years on my brother. Three years are a big deal. I had the adoration of the matriarch’s of the family; I had three years of unadulterated wisdom taught to me over time. My time was my own; there was no one to deflect that attention away from me, which endeared me to the hearts of the women of the family. But secrets existed, secrets that would one day turn my life upside down.
My father was an abusive man; he came back from Viet Nam with major issues. I was born out of the man who came back from war, damaged and lost. He took a wife of Canadian blood, gave her an ultimatum and got her pregnant. I was there at the wedding, my mother carrying me in her womb, walked down the aisle that day and agreed to bear his children and live by his rules and regulations. My father, the racist, bigot that he was wanted to force a continental divide to rise from the ground to separate that which made my mother who she was and force her to become the woman he required.
That divide never rose, and my father’s resentment of the maternal “nursery” that I entered as a child began. I guess this is why I am so maternal, because all the men in the family were war shaken and damaged. They worked all the time in business, in the fields and in factories. It was up to the women to rear the children into the people we were to become. My father’s resentment of my presence was well known. Later in my life I would be told of the fact that my father wanted to kill me, that I was a mistake and should never have been born. He tried many times to snuff my light out as quick as he could. The one thing that he did not expect was the backlash that came in the form of vociferous rebukes by the matriarch’s of the family, hence my “consecration to God.” If I was consecrated to the Almighty, then my father’s plan for ending my life would never come to fruition.
I remember being chased through houses by drunk men in my life, I remember my grandmothers standing in doorways between me huddling beneath a bed, hiding for my life, and my drunk and angry father fighting with them to let him “do it already!” He wanted nothing more than to wipe me off the face of the earth. The women of my family tell me that he fought often with them to abuse me and to hurt me and eventually to kill me.
They were not going to let that happen, my mother was powerless to try and stop him, why, they had an agreement, and she was his bitch, and she did what he said without argument! That was his way unto this very day.
When I was born he gave me my name. I was given to the earth as the man he loved from the war, who died in the war, so every time he looked at me or said my name or heard my name called, the memory of “one dead soldier” would rise to the fore. What kind of man places that kind of sadistic torture on himself? Was he hoping to exorcise that memory from his brain by personal reprogramming? I think there was more to this story than met the eye. Yes, there was, it took me decades to divine the truth from those who knew, and in hindsight I was able to complete the puzzle.
At age 30 I changed that name and exorcised it from my life, it was the final conflict that separated me from my parents. Being gay – HIV Positive and changing my name was three strikes, I was now damned to live without parents. He made damn sure of that.
Needless to say, faith was a priority; God would protect and save me. My grandmothers agreement with God was non negotiable with any one else. Not that my father knew she had this deal on the table. Women are tricky characters you know! When Memere beckoned upon those she regarded as spiritually powerful, hell hath no fury like the wrath of an angry saint and my grandmother generating the turbine of retribution with her dedicated prayers.
Who was God? And why should I care? Because it was beaten into me that I was a mistake and should never have been born, for 18 years my father made it his life’s work to destroy me mentally and emotionally. Later on in my 30’s the revelation of my sexual abuse at my father’s hands would rise from my sobering mind. And you think HE had issues? I went to church, as a young boy. I would complete all my sacraments in the order of succession. I would be in communion with the church I would pray my rosary and my novenas. God was present in my daily life. I was always naked when I was sacred. There was nothing I held back from God, because my relationship with God was between him and me. To stand before God is to be naked in his sight. How much more sacred could it be?
My parent’s went to church off and on. After my brother was born in 1970, my mother found out she was RH positive and a tubiligation was ordered by her OB because she might not live through another pregnancy, and so it was done. This act of “birth control” forced an issue that divides the church and her people to this day. A woman’s right to decide proper birth control and the church’s position that if one impedes the ability of a woman to conceive then you are outside the rule of mother church.
My parents were dealt a swift blow by the parish priest where they were married. That priest, by order of Holy Mother Church, was bound to defend the party line of those times; he excommunicated them both from the church – which meant that they could no longer receive the sacraments. I have to assume my mother was crushed and my father couldn’t give a damn.
Years would pass, life would go on, God still existed in my life, and we, as a family went to church, I remember that much. It came to pass in my years as a pre-teen that we moved to the third home of transition, when I was in grade six. This afforded my parents entry into suburbia. It was a very big step up from where we had been socially and economically. We had made it into the “big time.” My father was proud of this accomplishment. I remember the day we saw the house, we all loved it, and it was sacred. It was in the right place, for the right money and had just the right charm to allow my parents to afford it.
St. Richard’s parish was less than a mile away; schools were “in the neighbourhood” and all was well. My father’s drinking began in earnest so did his abuse, not only of me, but my brother and mother. My mother sought out the parish priest whom would play a large part in my later seminary formation at a later date. They began the process of becoming redeemed in the church; this process took almost 4 years, after decades of living in sin.
My father’s parents were cursed in the years when I was in grade seven and eight. The curse first took my grandmother with a stroke; I was taken from school at age thirteen and flown 1500 miles to her bedside where my father expected that I would be the one to bring her back across the divide. Since I was his first born son, and had the connection I did with her that seeing me would ignite the fire that went out in her brain. I failed to re-ignite the flame. I don’t think my father ever forgave me for my failure to heal his mother. A year later my grandfather was hit with a stroke one year to the day of my grandmother, but he was no favourite of mine, and I did nothing to help him. He abused us all, and for that abuse, death was right punishment.
At age 15, I entered High School. This was a very important period for me. I met a circle of friends that would impact the rest of my life. St. Louis Parish was one block from the High School which I was attending. The youth minister on duty at that time used to open his office at lunch and that is where people would gather to pray, to meet and talk and to learn about God. Who knew it would lead me where it did.
It was in my grade ten year that I would make my confirmation. In order to make that confirmation, my parent’s needed to step up their game in attaining absolution from the church for their “faux pas” with the church over birth control. The Pastor of the parish spoke to them, and gave them counsel and I remember that day he told those, in his Irish Brogue, “the hell with that priest and his excommunication.” I remember my mother doing the happy dance the day that God re-entered our home. He never left, I mean he was in my room, I wasn’t quite sure of any other room in the house up until that point, but for my parents that was the biggest coup of their lives.
When I was home alone on many an occasion, I prayed and I listened to music and in my sacred space within my room I would become naked and sacred. I believed that God was with me, and he protected me, because I really needed it. My father had once again stepped up his attacks, and they were getting even more brutal. My friends all came from broken homes, parent’s divorced, splitting up or on the way there… I was a misfit like all of them. These were the years I spent more time out of my own house than in it. I just could not cope with the ritual mental, emotional and physical abuse.
Where was God when it hurt?
High school was hit and misses, God was here and he was not. I followed him and I cursed him through both sides of my mouth. I was becoming addicted to alcohol; I was starting to slip in school. My relationship with my parents was strained and the priests and ministers of the church had to do something lest they loose me to the statistics of teen tragedy.
I was given chores at church. Any free time was spent working on cleaning the church and keeping the sacristy in tip top shape. I had access to areas of “church” that not many had. In those years the rectory was on site and I spent a lot of time in that rectory doing chores and loving every moment of that time.
Those priests kept me from self destruction. My consecration to God had begun once again. I guess once you are given to God, you don’t have to ask again. Hindsight shows me that I was being groomed for greater things. What my father “beat” out of me, the church replaced in me. What my father on earth took – my heavenly father gave back ten fold. I was in the right place at the right time, when the priests of the parish began to entertain me with seminary speak, serving the church and the greater good. Was I good enough to wear a robe to preach to the masses, to herd a flock?
From the age of ten through out my later life, I was aware of my sexuality. In that I mean I knew how it worked. I knew the finer details of sex and sexual variations. My parents lived a double life, which I was privy to. Knowing the secret sex lives of my parents was an addiction. I couldn’t get enough. Why was I like this? Where did this all begin? I can’t say, and I really don’t want to know when it all began.
I had had relationships in my teen years with others, WHAT I was – was not an issue at any time during my formative years, although I heard the word queer and faggot come out of my parent’s mouths frequently. Our family had been introduced to “homosexuals” when we made that third and final move by friends my parent had and we blessed to have.
I did not identify myself in any “other” term than heterosexual well through my high school years. I dated girls, I had relationships, and I went to prom. I never questioned who I was openly, but between God and myself there was a lot of discussion and praying. Masturbation became a sacred activity, because it happened when God and I were alone. I wanted that sacred experience – to feel that divine communion with the God of my understanding, I wanted to feel sublime love in sacred terms. I’ve never had sex with a woman; I never had sexual inclinations towards the girls I dated in school. I was chaste in that way, but I was profane when left to my own devices.
After completing high school I attended one year of junior college and I failed miserably. I had no tools; I had no knowledge about the “world at large.” My parents never taught me about “transition.” This is the KEY moment in a young person’s life. I know that now, and I teach that to my boys and my fellows. That was when the priests of our parish suggested that I consider the seminary. It was a possible and real option. I got the necessary letters of recommendation and filed my application with the diocese. I was put through my paces and psychological testing, and I passed the boards with a clean sweep.
At this point of my life, my grandparents were getting old. My father’s parents did not know who they were cursed by strokes, Memere was living in a retirement home 1500 miles away, but she saw me enter seminary. When Memere consecrated me to God on that day many years ago in that church came full circle the day I moved into my room at the seminary. All her prayers and novenas were now fulfilled. I was safe for eternity.
I loved God with all my heart and all my soul and all my being. It was unlike any feeling I had every felt before. I remember moving in that day and walking with my parents around the grounds. My mother was so proud, my father had no choice, and he was hell bent on my destruction, my mother on my survival. The battle of the wills was raging on in front of my very eyes. God would win that days cavalry charge. We said goodbye and my mother cried as I walked them to their car and they drove off.
It took a few days to get used to being in the seminary. I sought quiet spaces to commune with God. I went to the chapel whenever I could. There were chapels located on the upper floors of the residence hall where we could pray and have mass said for us. It was the closest to the sacred nakedness I longed for, that I would get that year. God was all powerful and loving. I was there to do one thing, find the way to Him, to serve him to love him in the most sublime way.
The Eucharist became the ritual that would bring me closer to God. I sang my heart out; I prayed until the beads ripped through my hands, I walked in circles until there were ruts in my gardens. (I was a seminary gardener) during that years. It was in this year that things became clear to me. I started to hear God’s voice. I was just a boy in a big world. I was unprepared for the drama of living with others in such tight quarters. My every decision was scrutinized. My every prayer was spell checked. My intentions and motives were questioned. My classmates became my judges but I observed them as well.
My quest to find God was not the same quest that my fellows were on. It had seemed that “identity” was the issue on the table. Many of my peers had figured out their identity and were comfortable in their own skins to “practice their ways.” I had not come to this stage in my life yet. What did I know about identity? I was just this boy in a seminary trying to find my way in a world that was not kind to me. Sex was the first topic of discussion at each and every spiritual direction session I attended that year. It was one of the only lies I told to the man who was interested in my sexual proclivities. What did my masturbation have to do with the attainment of holiness? What I did alone with my God was my business and no one else’s.
I saw injustice in the church; I witnessed people being removed from service because of judgement. I witnessed the church move gay priests and some with illness to our grounds to live and work with us; they were taken from their parishes as a punishment for an unholy lifestyle. Homosexuality was right there in front of me. Grown gay men of the cloth living in community with me, and from my mouth to God’s ears, these men had more sacred reverence for God than any heterosexual holy man in residence with us at that time. I highly respected some of these men. They showed me real faith and real love for God. They gave me more in that year than others. They did not judge me nor force me to be anything but myself. It was the institution that forced choices of identity and allegiance. I was not ready to “identify” nor was I going to pledge “allegiance” to the rector of the seminary or to mother church.
What I do know is this, that I knew then who God was for the age that I was and I was ready to sacrifice my life for that God, but I was hell bent on denying the pressures of the institution to turn a blind eye to blatant abuses of power and human dignity and respect. I had no desire of entering or pledging for the “boys club” it was beneath me. I was better than that and I wasn’t going to compromise my walk with Christ to be like them.
After a year in seminary I was told that my invitation to return the following year had been rescinded. That maybe seminary was not “the place for me.” That maybe becoming a priest was not my “calling.” Who were they to judge with blinder on their eyes? What did they really know about my relationship to God, not that any of them really wanted to know? I walked away from the church and from God.
I moved back home for a short time. That did not last very long. I got a job and traveled the world. I met His Holiness John Paul II twice in the space of 2 years. Once in the states the second time at the Vatican. He was a sainted man; he was a star in my eyes. What I did not know then would not hurt me until decades later.
In my 19th year of life I took a trip to visit family that summer, this was the first time I gave into my sexual desires for another man. It was a one night event under the influence of alcohol, but it made its mark and stuck for good. I knew what sacred felt like when I felt penetration for the first time.
It was a moment I can still recall in vivid detail. It was then I realized what sacred penetration felt like. I buried that secret deep in my heart and never shared that intimate “detail” with anyone for almost two years. I was forced out of my house by my father once again. He was still hell bent on my total annihilation.
I was “Outed” by my best friend on a cruise when I was twenty one. We never spoke again after that. I moved away to be gay, to have my coming out experience. God was no where to be found in my lexicon. He was there; I just refused to allow him into my life, because the church had shit on my spiritual journey. That I took as a clear affront by God so I retaliated.
I got drunk. I stayed inebriated for years after that.
Until that day in 1994 when the news of my impending death made me re-evaluate my relationship with God. The rest they say is history