The "mythical homosexual person" revisited ... Catholic World Report

Hi all. Some of you may remember this thread, which garnered hundreds (yes hundreds) of replies by saying “the mythical homosexual person” and the like over and over. For example,



And you may also recall that at the time I suggested it would be better to simply ignore it rather than responding to it hundreds of times.

But I may have to rethink that approach after reading this:

The idea of there being “homosexuals” and “heterosexuals” had never before been conceived when these terms were made up in 1862. From those words, you had to make people to fit those words.

The thing of it is, that quote is not from CAF (or any internet discussion forum), Crisis Magazine, etc. It is from this article in Catholic World Report (a friend of mine brought it to my attention – apparently it is being talked about among members of Courage), which I have always regarded as a mainstream Catholic media outlet like National Catholic Register and EWTN.

Now I’m concerned.

I’ve read this line

he idea of there being “homosexuals” and “heterosexuals” had never before been conceived when these terms were made up in 1862. From those words, you had to make people to fit those words.

before. But it doesn’t hold up. If the word didn’t exist gay people wouldn’t exist? There wouldn’t be people who are SSA?

It’s difficult to discuss something if there isn’t a word or phrase to label it. Someone needed a word to describe it and even that wasn’t enough so now we have gay, queer, and a few more that would probably get ****** if I typed them out. LGBTQ+ people usually don’t lead with the label but will when they want to show support or when they want to find their tribe. I usually don’t lead with “Catholic” but if I want to find my tribe on social media or what have you then I do.

Just because no one has made up a word for a phenomenon, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. The term “child abuse” wasn’t created until the 1800s, either, does that mean child abuse didn’t exist before that? Or that “marital rape” didn’t exist as a legal concept until as late as the 1990s in some US states, that means no one was ever raped by their spouses before that?

I can probably come up with plenty of other examples, but those are the first two that came to mind.

I think the point people are trying to make when they say things like this is that there was a fundamental change in the way the West understood human sexuality and sexual orientation that emerged in the 19th century. We started to focus less on “sexual acts” and more on some kind of fixed and unchangeable sexual orientation.

I remember reading Foucault’s The History of Sexuality: An Introduction, Volume 1 in college. It makes the following observations (taken from Spark Notes). Note especially the sentences in bold:

*Second, Foucault sees the modern concept of homosexuality arising from a desire to see sexuality as a fundamental aspect of who we are. Before the 19th century, sodomy was simply regarded as a criminal act. Since the 19th century, sodomy has been regarded as just one manifestation of a person’s homosexuality. “Homosexuality” ceased to be associated with certain acts, and became associated with a person’s identity, with his soul. One’s sexuality became a key to interpreting one’s personality and one’s behavior. Rather than work to eliminate homosexual acts, the growing discourse around homosexuality saw these acts as constitutive of a person’s identity.

I find it odd that the focus is this rather worthless and trivial linguistic battle over a three letter word vs a three letter acronym. I don’t care if I use the word gay or ssa to describe my cross and personal experiences. It means the bloody say thing to me and to constantly have people show little to no charity depending on if I use their preapproved lingo rather than spend a slither of time to ask for clarification annoying. Crisis Magazine is also not on my list as many of their articles have nothing but condescension and lack of charity to people like Eve Tushnet, Joshuan nGonnerman, and others at the spiritual friendship crowd.

Mr. Mattson can have his thought and perspective but it’s not gospel. I find Ron Belgau much more helpful and appreciate his perspective. Both are in fidelity with the church on sexual ethics, morality and teaching. They just describe their situation using different lingo. Neither is wrong and neither is right. It is their own personal experiences and it’s about damn tIme we stopped policing people on which words they are allowed to say and actually support them and their cross.

The conditions existed previous to the terms; it’s just that the conditions had been described using words like “unnatural” and “abomination” or even “deviant” – words that are pretty loaded emotionally, wouldn’t you agree?

Likewise, the terms “moron” or “idiot” had specific legal meanings, grouped under the term “feeble-minded”. The insulting emotions associated with those terms lead to the creation of new terms that would allow people to discuss these conditions with greater precision and to examine the conditions scientifically.

Now, though, the craze for greater descriptive precision has led to the further fracturing of the language. We went from “LGB” to “LGBT” to “LGBTQ” and now “LGBTQ+” to cover all the “newly discovered” “orientations”.

You’re right, it doesn’t hold up. Indeed, from the thread I linked to earlier you can see that the idea that the “homosexual person” is a myth was a bit too extreme even for this forum. :hmmm:

Overthinking. The originator of this line of thinking seems to suffer from OCD as his misunderstanding has been explained to him numerous times. We have a college of cardinals to preserve and defend the deposit of faith.

It wasn’t thought of as an identity or some binary lifestyle.

Reading the entire article, I was actually very pleased with what the man in the interview was saying. It is people like him who will truly inspire those people who experience SSA to come back to the Church and live chastely.

I think that you might be looking at the quote that you refer to a little differently than he intended it. It seems to me that he is simply referring to the idea that society keeps coming up with all these identification terms (LGBTQIA+), causing people to use them as their main identifiers. I will quote the entire relevant passage here to really make it clear what he saying, with bolding mine:

The idea of there being “homosexuals” and “heterosexuals” had never before been conceived when these terms were made up in 1862. From those words, you had to make people to fit those words. New words continue to be invented, and it does reach a level of absurdity. We’re following the course of Descartes, I think therefore I am, and Nietzsche, I will myself to be this way.

We have to see things clearly as they are and give them their right names; we’re experiencing a new Tower of Babel: come, let us make a name for ourselves. You may consider yourself “gay” or “bisexual” or “pansexual” or something else; what you’re really doing is taking on the name of God and declaring “I am what I am.” This litany of sexual identities is a form of idolatry and a rebellion against God.

This is what I think he is trying to convey with that line - not that all of a sudden homosexuality began to be singled out as wrong in 1862 - but instead that it was around this time that the word “homosexual” began to be a distinct identifier of a person. Nowadays, society always makes us think about what someone’s sexual orientation is rather than just recognizing that it’s something some people deal with privately and that doesn’t have to be so publicized and normalized.

May God bless you all! :slight_smile:

The Catholic World Report article is an interview with Daniel Mattson, who has written rather extensively and eloquently on matters of homosexuality. The subject is a new book of his, entitled “Why I Don’t Call Myself Gay.”

From the interview: “This book is a memoir. The first part tells the story of my childhood, and leaving the Church behind. Part two is a reflection on my wrestling with reality. I came to see the importance of words. I think that the Church is wise in that it refuses to consider a person as “heterosexual” or “homosexual.” These terms are reductionist. They pressure people, particularly our young people, into believing that your feelings define who you are.
I argue against the view of those who say you should “come out.” Coming out is merely adopting the world’s view of sexuality, and leads to frustration and confusion.”

I think I should put in a good word for him, however, inasmuch as he had the good grace to acknowledge that he was going against the magisterium.

So would you say that “the mythical alcoholic person” is a thing, too?

As for all who think people who are “gay” or “have the cross of SSA” should just keep their struggles to themselves; so what are such people supposed to do when their parents ask why they’re still single, or if they are interested in religious life? Or their well-meaning friends try to set them up for a date with the opposite sex? Or when people with “gaydar” directly confront them? Or if they’re caught walking out of a Courage meeting?

Do you really expect them to somehow hide SSA indefinitely, and BTW do that without actually lying to people, which last I checked is also a sin?

How far does that principle go? Do you support people who are “bisexual” or have “weak SSA” getting heterosexually married despite SSA and keeping quiet about it even to their spouses, perhaps arguing “no straight married person would ever discuss their heterosexual temptations with their spouses, so same sex attraction is also none of the spouse’s business”?

And BTW I am not talking about marching in gay pride parades or wearing pink triangles or whatever. I’d like to think that people with SSA have more choices than just the binary ones of “100% out and proud and active” and “100% closeted and ashamed and isolated”.

FWIW, I don’t think very many Catholics believe that. (Talking about IRL. Internet forums are another matter … Heck I remember someone on “a certain forum” calling for it to be illegal – yes, seriously – for homosexual persons to come out of the closet.)

This doesn’t fit with the thread title, but it is about that same interview and I think it’s interesting:

I don’t consider what he’s saying “garbage” per se. Whether or not he’s “found peace” is not something I can comment on. If he has, then I’m happy for him. The problem I’m having with this is that he hasn’t shown how he has found peace simply by denying his every desire (that’s called Buddhism by the way). If he truly has denied himself his every desire, then he better stop “desiring” the peace he’s found (as any good self-immolating Buddhist does).

Now, there’s something to be said about “the truth shall set you free.” Knowing the truth about one’s sexual reality does free someone with SSA from the bondage of the secular mindset regarding sexuality (which, I must add, is NOT as licentious and libertine as most Catholics seem to believe), but it is nonetheless a form of bondage. That I have personal experience with, so he’s right about that.

The problem I have with the materials I’ve read on Chastity is not what the truth frees you FROM, which they continuously want to stress, but what pursuing chastity frees you FOR (that little part they always neglect to mention). So much emphasis is placed on freeing you from the shackles of addiction, for example, so you can then sit around doing nothing with yourself. Is that the good news? It doesn’t come off as “good news.” For why should I bother freeing myself from something if I’m not going to be living an objectively better life after being freed? Indeed: “Moses, did we not have enough graves in Egypt??”

For example, I can very easily sit around “not masturbating” or “not engaging in gay sex”… as if that’s the be-all, end-all of life. But is sitting around really to be living an objectively better life? No. And nobody’s going to be convinced to give up the porn if they’re looking at a life of lonliness and isolation and pleasure-less despair afterwards. Sexuality is something that covers way more than just the pleasure of intercourse. By telling people they’re supposed to find self-fulfillment by “denying themselves their desires,” youre basically stripping away from them something very vital to their humanity: their VIRILITY, their VITALITY, their MASCULINITY/FEMINITY, their FATHERHOOD/MOTHERHOOD (physical and spiritual). Basically, every aspect of what fires a person up, gives them strength to persevere, drives their ambitions, their “desire” to live a good, happy, godly, exciting, novel, and productive life.

By telling people to “Deny! Deny! Deny!” all the time, and linking the cross of SSA to “denial of this, denial of that, deny self, deny others, deny, reject, refrain, stop, don’t don’t dont…” ALL the time, how does anyone in the Church expect a person to avoid Slothe and despair?

How? Can anyone answer that for me? ‎It’s enough to know what I’m giving up. Can I please get some information about how this is supposed to be good news?

We are living in a world where if you say to a woman that she looks pretty you can be charged with sexual harassment. ‎That’s the SECULAR world we’re talking about. How much more puritanical do you want it? Should we just say, as I often have: “Curse beauty! Curse the faculty in me that percieves beauty! Damn beauty to hell!” Curse all that I percieve as beautiful!"?

How much should I go?

“How many desires should one deny oneself? Most gay catholics I know don’t have a problem with denying themselves pittance that is sexual intercourse. Wh
at they struggle with is being forced to deny themselves someone to come home to, to share their day with, to share their life with, to share their time, talent, and treasure with. Should that desire be denied too?”

This is a tool of Satan, either to make people so despaired and seperated from their VITALITY as to desire only death… or to keep people locked in the pleasure cage for lack of something better in life… and it’s time people who spread this “continence = chastity” NONSENCE to reckon with the fact of just what kind of spirit they are listening to. His name is Satan.

So here we go. If beauty is so bad, let’s just say it.: Cursed be physical beauty! Cursed be physical attraction! Let me live in ugliness. AMEN.

Happy now? Am I chaste yet?

Here’s another interesting article on this called “Against Heterosexuality.”

I haven’t read Daniel Mattson’s book, just the interview in Catholic World Report about the book. Now I see that Deacon Jim Russell has posted a review of the book, here.

(emphasis added)

Whoa, did I call that or what? :dancing:

(OK, I guess technically I didn’t but close enough. :cool:)

I can’t speak for all Catholics, but here is what I think: A person who is gay or who struggles with SSA (whichever term you want to use) is under no obligation to tell anyone about it except his confessor, his doctor, and his potential spouse. Otherwise, it is no one else’s business. Just because someone asks him, doesn’t mean he has to tell them: It is not lying to withhold information from people who have no right to the information.

On the other hand, although he has no obligation to make this highly personal fact generally known, he certainly has the right to tell people he trusts about his struggles.

As mentioned above, a spouse or future spouse certainly has the right to know if the man or woman they are marrying experiences same-sex attractions. That is important information which should be disclosed and discussed.

Absolutely. I would hope that they can feel and know that they have the support and compassion of their brothers and sisters in Christ, as we all are in this journey together. No one should be isolated in their struggles, whatever their struggles may be. We who are the Church need to be there for each other.

P.S. if anyone has a good way to respond to what I quoted, let me know.

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