Lisa: Hudson, you’ve done wonderful work promoting the need for all people to grow in virtue, rather than falling for the culture’s increasingly bizarre and limiting sexuality labels. Your new Lighthouse CD, titled, In Pursuit of My Identity: Homosexuality, Transgenderism, and My Life, is terrific!
What would you say are the most important facts for people to ponder about human sexuality—specifically regarding same-sex-attractions and gender identity —at this stage in our history as Catholics?
Hudson: All glory be to God. Aside from learning how to be present with a person in a pastoral moment, there is also the aspect of educating the people within our church overall. This is important because we all contribute to the overall environment that people grow into. Education on any topic typically includes an enhanced understanding of language, and on this topic, that is no exception. Needless to say, there is a lot of work to be done. After all, we could never expect to fully understand the meaning of a song if we didn’t know the lyrics, so it would only make sense that we at least try to understand the lyrics to the “song of the Church” in a more profound way as well.
First, I think it would help if we examined linguistic nuances pertaining to attractions/inclinations. For example, if we speak about attractions/inclinations as something people experience instead of something people have, we introduce the nuance of non-permanence. For many people, becoming aware of that nuance can be life-changing. It helps them understand that they are not necessarily destined to experience those attractions/inclinations forever. Though the attractions/inclinations a person experiences might not transform over time, a sense of impermanence can definitely shift their expectations of themselves, and that shift matters because it impacts how a person chooses to live. Note that none of what I said has anything to do with the objective of “changing from gay to straight” (or any type of therapy that has that as an objective). It does, however, have to do with opening our hearts and minds to other possibilities beyond the narrative of this day.
Second, I think it is more important than ever to clarify attractions/inclinations experienced from sexual/romantic attractions/inclinations experienced. This is because not all attractions/inclinations are sexual or romantic in nature. However, our society imposes that expectation by romanticizing/sexualizing nearly all relationships, and so many people absorb that expectation and integrate their responses to attractions/inclinations through that lens. Truthfully, I think the world would change overnight if people came to realize that not all attractions/inclinations are sexual/romantic in nature. I can see it reducing the probability that people would feel the need to “explore” to find out. People could again experience true friendship and closeness without wondering if that meant they were gay (or the second “Q” in LGBTQQ, which stands for “Questioning”). Further, sexual/romantic exploration tends to feel good (it feels good to be held, cared for, and chosen), so the consequence of romantic/sexual exploration may very well be a flood of “good feelings” that may influence how a person comes to view themselves. I would imagine this to be especially true if that exploration was with a person of the same sex because our culture seems to be overtly supportive of exploration in that way at this time.
Third, it would be valuable if people began to talk about attractions/inclinations in terms of appetites—and particular attractions/inclinations as particular appetites. Consider the following: We all have an appetite for pleasing sounds, but only some have particular appetites for certain types of music. We all have an appetite for food, but only some have particular appetites for certain types of food. We all have an appetite for relationships (of some sort), but only some have particular appetites for certain types of relationships—perhaps involving certain types of people. The particulars of any appetite are influenced by the environment we are soaking in – an idea first presented to me by an LGBTQ activist of all people!
Appetites are transformed by our experiences and the world knows this. When we experience something we don’t like, our appetite to continue experiencing it decreases. This could be with particular foods, or particular relationships. I know this first-hand for after I was sexually abused by a male while in my teens, I also experienced this; my particular appetite to be around men in a close way was pretty much annihilated (even though I still desired to belong within the fold of men). Because appetites transform based on the whole of our experiences (and the whole of our environment, according to what that LGBTQ activist told me), it seems sensible that transitioning to speaking about attractions/inclinations as appetites is something that the world does not want. If this shift did begin to occur, and if it caught on to the point where that type of language was embraced by a critical mass of people, then society would be made even further aware of how particular appetites are not static. The result is that people would more easily see that statements claiming people are “created that way” (with particular appetites) are false. This is in line with that that LGBTQ activist shared with me when he told me that “environment plays a factor in the development of our attractions.”
Of course, revealing the falsehood of static particular appetites is not for the purpose of calling out a person who says that being gay is “who they are,” but rather so that we can provide a hope for those who are ready (or near ready) to walk away from those types of identities and their associated narratives even if their particular appetites still persist. It’s merely about being able to see oneself in a different light, which matters because how we see ourselves influences what we perceive we ought to do to pursue fulfillment. And many people are burnt out from a pursuit of fulfillment that has simply never given them the satisfaction they thought they would experience. Many of these people have spoken to me about their newfound freedom after departing from their prior way of seeing themselves as LGBTQ+. All of them had felt trapped where they were, and it was through clarified language (introduced lovingly and appropriately) that they were able to see a way out of it. For many, it has allowed them to re-center their identity on Christ, who they have come to know loves them more than they ever could have imagined. When I think of joy, I think of what radiates from the hearts of these people.
Now, if we strive to elevate the language to include these types of nuances, perhaps we could in some small way help bring that experience to others. Given the joy they now experience, I hope and pray that everyone might open their hearts to growing in their understanding of this topic. I know that I have a lot of room to grow as well. Again, real people with real hearts are who await us in the world. Let us never forget that.
Lisa: Thank you, Hudson! You always present ideas that are both sound and refreshing, and I’m so glad you’re out there speaking and teaching!
Folks, order a few copies of Hudson’s Lighthouse CD to share around!