Something in the air…

…maybe it’s that document. I don’t have much to offer, but this morning, I did just happen to put on the one shirt I own from International Male, and I thought a few words of explanation might be in order.

I started receiving the International Male catalog when I was around 14, living at home in a small city in upstate New York. I do not know quite why I started receiving it – I was usually a Land’s End/J.Crew kind of catalog shopper, and then only rarely (i.e., back to school clothes shopping with Mom). But I leafed through it as I would any other self-conscious 14-year-old, hoping to find cool clothes to cover a deep-seated (ahem, document, ahem) lack of cool. I did think the banana hammocks a little odd, but I was something of a naif, and didn’t give it much thought.

I did, however, find a pair of jeans (Code Bleu!) and a button down shirt that I really liked. When I called to order, the gentleman on the other end of the line must have been surprised by the youthful timbre of my voice. “How old are you?” he asked.

“Fourteen.”

“Well, if you ever want to talk, just call me, anytime.” I think he said his name was Steven.

Now, I’m not about to ascribe predatory motives to Steven. I think he probably thought he had a young homosexual on the line, possibly a young homosexual who was confused and frightened. He probably wanted to help me. At the time, I just thought it was really, really weird for this sales dude to be letting me know that I could call him if I wanted to talk.

The jeans wore out – I got holes in the knees (having fun yet, Matthew?) But the shirt, which I purchased some 18 years ago, is still with me – the cotton is somehow both fabulously tough and fabulously soft.

Comments

  1. AnotherCoward says

    So … the whole document thing … doesn’t the whole “3 year” idea just seem … artificial and specious?

  2. Matthew Lickona says

    Artificial, yes. But if they’re treating it as sometihng that can be experienced as “just a phase,” then it makes sense to have some distance from the phase – to really be sure that it was a phase, that it’s all behind you now. Three years was the time period they came up with. Could’ve been either more or less, it seems to me. Why specious?

  3. AnotherCoward says

    Because I’m not convinced that there is enough evidence that says that one can cease being homosexual – which seems to be the whole idea in the waiting period of 3 years: if you can go 3 years without acting, feeling, thinking, approving gay … you’re not!

    And three years from when? From the last time a seminarian found another guy attractive or from the last time he engaged in homosexual activity or somewhere in between?

    All I see this is keeping gay priests and seminarians in the closet as long as they can stand it. Perhaps that’s a good thing – I don’t know. Perhaps that in itself is enough discouragement. But if it isn’t, then I’m not really seeing it making any kind of meaningful change.

    I’m not offering an alternative; I’m just doubtful that, below the surface of it all, this is a solution. But I also appreciate the surface for what it is: a firm message of disapproval to men who think it’s okay to be gay – celibate or otherwise.

  4. Matthew Lickona says

    AC,
    I can’t argue with you on this one, because I just don’t have enough data. Hopefully, the people who framed the document do.

  5. If those who framed the document had research to support the “three year” period, should there be a footnote somewhere?

    By the way, is the “Heterosexual” time frame also three years?

    I think if you have any sexual encounter as a priest you should be “fired”. Broke it – own it!

    Anon 1K

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