Why I Don’t Call Anyone “Gay”


Jennifer Roback Morse writes:

"Some Catholic commentators refer to these cases as “gay” to distinguish them from “pedophilia.” Their intention is sound: the “pedophilia” label has frequently been a way to deflect attention away from abusive homosexual conduct. I, however, maintain that we should avoid the word “gay,” and even the word “homosexual.”"



A great article with excellent advice on the choice of language if we are to communicate clearly and effectively with others about the church scandals.


It certainly is a complex situation. But then what do we call two people of the same gender who have sexual desire for each other? There does not seem to be one word.


It is sexual perversion.


So you would have us call them “sexual perverts”?


The author of the article doesn’t disagree with you.

Her first point: in our culture and in our media, gay has too many positive connotations (cool, modern, hip, tolerant, free, harmless), while calling someone a homosexual (or a pervert) is sure to get you branded as a bully, a crank, a hater, a Nazi, or worse. If we want to communicate effectively and lead others toward truth, virtue, and holiness, our choice of words matters.

There’s more in the article. Take a look if you haven’t already.


I read it and dont see a better language.


I suppose one might say they are people who are subject to a particular temptation to illicit sex.


From the article: Instead of the word “gay,” use the most descriptively accurate phrase possible in the context of what you are trying to say. Instead of “gay sex scandal,” try this: “male on male sexual predation.” Sometimes, the most appropriate strategy is to use a long, clunky, but highly descriptive phrase like, “a powerful man with deep-seated attractions to males used his position of power to exploit younger men under his authority.”

Yes, she admits it is wordy, but I agree with what she is saying. I am using predator and predatory homosexual here at CAF, but I am mostly elaborating my thoughts, so I hope that my thinking is clear.

We have predators everywhere, as seen in the grooming scandals in England and tthe Me Too scandal in Hollywood. Predators come in varied and even mixed forms of sexual attraction: it is not a trait limited to homosexuals.


But they are not all predators. What am I to call my lesbian neighbors? “Two women who have sexual attraction to each other”?

Too clunky. And we are afraid of using words with too positive connotation? There still are people who have not come out of the close because of the predominant negative connotation.


No. I think the idea is to communicate truth and describe reality.

In the situation where you intend to tell someone about the living arrangements of the two women in your neighborhood, it is fine to say lesbian. That gets the point across. You are not approving or condoning. You’re just saying what it is.

On the other hand, if you wish to speak with someone about sexual abuse in the church, language like “gay priests” would be woefully inadequate. That’s a case where more specific wording would be useful.


Can you document that? The Church in no way uses that term in the current Catechism.


New member @FaithStronger, welcome to Catholic Answers Forums. :birthday: :tada::balloon:


Ok but what about the faithful celibate priests who are also… well, now what shall we call them nonpracticiting sodomites?


I would call them priest and address them as Father.


Of course we would not refer to them as, “May I introduce gay Father Smith.” But if for the sake of discussion we want to refer to such priests how would we do it?


The same as we should refer to any one of us: sinner.


Speaking of such priests collectively, I suppose we could say that they have, or experience, same-sex attraction (SSA) but are faithful and celibate.

Speaking of a particular priest, we must be careful to safeguard his reputation. Therefore we should not speculate on whatever sexual attractions he may have, whether toward the same or the opposite sex. If he reveals the nature of his temptation to us privately, we should not mention it to others unless we have his explicit permission. The Catechism seems to allow an exception in case of “objectively valid reason” CCC 2477, but if the priest is faithful and celibate, I believe that clause does not apply.


I agree, speaking only collectively. But the article even dismisses “SSA” as too positive.


But the terms SSA, faithful, and celibate, taken together, seem clear enough.

SSA sounds fairly clinical and factual to me, not particularly positive. I’ll take another look at the article when I have the time.

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