Gender/God's Plan for Sex/Holy Friendship/Homosexuality/My Relationships/Sex and Chastity This is How to Talk to Your Friend Who is Gay by AJ Santiago I’ll never forget the night I told one of my closest catholic friends that I was attracted to guys. I was having a rough time going to sleep that night so I asked if I could go over to talk (he lived up the street from me). It was a serene, cool night and I remember I sat there with my hands clammy and I couldn’t even look him in the eyes. I was so embarrassed… But I needed a brother to lean on, a guy to support me on my journey. I found it so difficult to be alone in this journey… and I remember thinking, “I wish I could lean on my Catholic brothers the way straight guys do… just be open about my struggles, sexual failings, and what I’m feeling.” I was so worried that I could not find a catholic guy to be vulnerable with out of fear of being rejected. After contemplating all this, (for about 20 minutes) I finally told him. And you know what he said to me? He said, “Nothing you can do will change the fact that you’re my friend, you’re my brother. And God loves you as His son no matter what the situation is.” Yeah he’s a great friend of mine. So I know how difficult it is to tell a friend that you’re attracted to the same gender, and I know how difficult it is for a person with same-sex attraction to tell somebody of the same gender about their struggle. My advice to all you who are friends of guys or girls who have same-sex attraction is to simply love them. They need good same-gender friendship more than anything. I found what I lacked a lot of was good male friendships when I was younger and that led to much distress. As I’ve grown older I’ve realized that everybody was made for community. We need each other. We cannot get through this walk of faith alone. I also would advise that anybody who is a friend of one who struggles with same sex attraction to encourage them to live the teachings of the Catholic Church, just the way you would encourage any person who is trying to live a holy life. Encourage with love and understanding. Be kind and not overbearing, and offer your assistance in being their crutch when they need somebody to talk to and when they feel lonely. Good words of encouragement I’ve received are, “Do not worry man, God will make something beautiful out of you! Just trust in Him. Fight the good fight.” As a Catholic guy with homosexual attractions, I am called to single life right now, and the best way that I have been able to maintain that is because of supportive friends. You may hear your friend fall, and if they do, be there to lift them up. Even when times get tough, I have had a friend tell me, “If you don’t follow Him, you’ll never be the great man whom God made you to be. Don’t give up!” The are words that any person striving for holiness would need to hear. So I encourage all of you brothers and sisters to be available for your beloved friends who are facing their attractions and are trying to live a chaste single life. It is not easy at times, but it is doable. “I have the strength for everything through Him who empowers me.” -Philippians 4:13. Now as for how and what you should say, I would like to offer these suggestions: Don’t Abandon Them Many times when a friend who has these attractions is about to let you know about them, they fear your rejection as a friend, especially if you are the same gender as them. I know that is what I was afraid of when I first told my guy friends about my attractions. As for what you should say, it all boils down to saying things with love. One of my closest straight friends told me, “I know you on a personal level and that’s the real you. You’re a child of God and most importantly my brother.” -Larry D. We need that affirmation that our friendship won’t be awkwardly different because of this. Here are my straight guy friends advice for those who are friends of people who end up coming out to them: “My best advice would be to love! Love is incredibly powerful in any and every situation! A loving friendship is a friendship of God, and even though sometimes there may be headaches and struggles in the friendship, love always is the victor. Because when love is at the center then prayer is pretty close by, and when prayer is close by then God’s love is able to work in both parties!” -Nick F. “A true friend will be there for another friend no matter what. Gay or straight, it does not matter, you should stand by and care for those who care for you.” – Jacob R. Support and Uplift Sometimes I felt like I was such a sinner because of my attractions. There were days I have felt that I wasn’t worthy of God’s love because I was such a “terrible person.” The reality is that we’re all sinners, we all mess up and fall and we all have our own temptations we are battling. Experiencing an attraction is not a sin, but acting upon that attraction sexually, or lusting over someone in your head, or having a same-sex partner is a sin. Here are some words from one of my friends who helped me learn to love myself. “When your friend is gay, only two things matter. First, that you love them unconditionally. Second, that you always encourage them to love themselves.” -Samantha F. “The church teaches us to love each other, even with all our sins weighing us down. ‘Hate the sin, not the sinner’. Jesus tells us that he who is sin-free shall cast the first stone, therefor do not judge them, rather help them. This might be a difficult time for your friend, he probably just wants someone to hear him out and help him understand it all, and that’s where you (his friend) comes in.” -Alyssa C. “Who are we to judge? Just because our sins are different than theirs doesn’t mean they are any less of a person. As a friend we’re supposed to love someone no matter the circumstance. Love him/her the way God to loves you.” -Stephanie D. As you can see, God has blessed me with amazing friends. Good Catholic friends. I highly encourage you guys to love your friends who are struggling with same-sex attraction. Offer them an ear to hear, and simply be a normal friend. Encourage them to follow the teachings of the Church with sincere love, and if they fall; love them past their mistakes. Let them know God is there for them. Be present to them, and journey with them as we all strive to get to heaven. God bless y’all! Want to read more about this topic? Gay, Catholic, and Doing Fine Out of the Closet, Into the Confessional The Catholic Church Cares about Gays Love Thy Bro Editor’s Note: Although the terms “gay,” “lesbian,” and/or “homosexual” are used freely in popular culture, the Catholic Church encourages us to use the phrase “person who experiences homosexual inclination” in order to acknowledge the dignity of the human person, whose identity isn’t found in their sexual orientation but rather in their Creator (CCC 2357-2358). We, at Life Teen, wholeheartedly accept this distinction and emphatically agree with the Church that our humanity is not to be solely defined by one’s sexuality, inclinations, or desires. Bearing this in mind, when you occasionally notice that we use a phrase like “gay” or “lesbian” in a blog or other piece, understand that it is in an effort to engage popular culture where it is, in order to engage souls and walk them into the transformative light of Christ’s truth. The soil of the mind and heart must be tilled if the seed of God’s truth is to find fertile soil to take root. It is never our intention to reduce a person to their sexual orientation, even as we seek to call all people to lives of joy-filled chastity.