Reflections on Language, 2

In my previous post, I discussed language, creativity, vocation, and control. This post will focus on who speaks and why it matters.

“He meant to impugn my father for being rich and living far away and having nothing to do with me, but all these qualities, even the last, perhaps especially the last, made my father fascinating. He had the advantage always enjoyed by the inconstant parent, of not being there to be found imperfect. I could see him as I wanted to see him. I could give him sterling qualities and imagine good reasons, even romantic reasons, why he had taken no interest, why he had never written to me, why he seemed to have forgotten I existed. I made excuses for him long after I should have known better. Then, when I did know better, I resolved to put the fact of his desertion from my mind.” -Tobias Wolff

Speaking involves breath, the principle of life. We spend much of life trying to kill off the things within and around us which we fear, by denying them breath. What actually happens is that we bury them more and more deeply within us, so that they don’t actually die. And they never leave us either. Continue reading “Reflections on Language, 2”

Why I Call Myself a “Gay Catholic”

“Gay” is a silly term. That narrow category misses the complexity of the human experience. And given the way that language grows and develops over time, I don’t think it will last the century. Just as “gay identity” has usurped “homosexual identity” in the culture at large, I now see “queer identity” coming into prominence. In a tumultuous rise and fall of “acceptable” language, the constant change of words demonstrates the fragility of identity politics. But I insist on calling myself a “gay Christian,” a “gay Catholic.” Continue reading “Why I Call Myself a “Gay Catholic””

Coming Out to Your Father

Last week in Crisis Magazine, Anthony Esolen wrote that a son coming out to his father as gay “would be the worst day of the father’s life.” This, because “he would know that he and his son had failed as a tandem to negotiate the rough rapids of the boy’s puberty, and he would also be quite sure that his son had already acted upon his confused feelings.”

One could easily misconstrue Dr. Esolen’s words. I don’t believe Dr. Esolen means that simply coming out is a tragedy, but that coming out too late is. The tragedy for the father is not that he’s learned his son‘s sexuality, but that he didn’t learn it sooner, that he didn’t know this in time to help his son navigate the difficulties and confusions of budding attractions, that his son may have been hurt or made mistakes because he had to figure this out on his own. Continue reading “Coming Out to Your Father”

Mindy Kaling and National Coming Out Day

Mindy Kaling has written and spoken about how she’s never gotten any parts that she’s auditioned for: “When I was younger I would audition for plays in junior high and high school, and I would always get cast as, like, the homeless woman or vagrant.” It turns out that TV and plays and films don’t provide many leading roles for for “chubby Indian women,” as she has often called herself. Continue reading “Mindy Kaling and National Coming Out Day”

Coming Out and Being Open

This piece was originally published at Spiritual Friendship on August 13, 2014.


I “came out” just about a year ago. It’s odd looking back on the days when no one knew and comparing those days to my life today, partly because my life looks so different and partly because my life looks so similar. I’m still here. I’m still Catholic. And I’m still the kind of Catholic who affirms everything in that little book we call the Catechism.

But I’m also so different. It’s as if my life were an iceberg and coming out was the decision to let others finally see what was beneath the surface. They had always seen me, but they had also missed out on so much of what puts me together, what lies hidden and holds me up, what gives my life the unique shape and color that it has always had. And coming out has let me look beneath the surface of myself as well. Continue reading “Coming Out and Being Open”

On Coming Out and Being Known

This piece was originally published at Spiritual Friendship on January 27, 2014. 


I attended a lecture about disabilities recently. At the end of the lecture, a steady stream of students and professors walked up to a microphone in front of the audience and offered questions to the speakers. The questioners mostly came up one-by-one, asking abstract questions about abstract people. Silence fell when the final questioner stepped before the microphone. It was a woman, her left arm clinging to her friend beside her, and her right arm holding a long white stick extending out in front of her—she was blind. And when the conversation changed from an abstraction discussion about disabled people, to actually talking with a disabled person, there was a subtle but obvious shift in tone. Continue reading “On Coming Out and Being Known”