In March I received a sobering letter taking issue with the attitude of some Catholics to gays

Over at Fr Z’s blog there is an interesting debate about whether homosexuals are born that way or become gay as a result of background and upbringing. Is it nature or nurture? Many of those who contribute to the debate, among them homosexuals, believe that it is nurture. Take a look.

My own view is that most homosexuals are born that way. I believe it instinctively. I also believe it because many gay people say it is the case, and I see no reason for disbelieving them. I do not, however, believe that being born that way makes gay sex right. Nor do homosexuals necessarily believe that. Last March I received a letter from a homosexual traditionalist who did not believe it. But he did not like the attitude of some Catholics to gays, and rebuked me for having written in my Charterhouse column that homosexuals formed a “rich and privileged minority”. I reproduced a couple of lines from the letter at the time, but here, with a couple of small deletions, is the whole thing:

“… I can’t for the life of me understand why you think that some homosexuals are ‘a rich and privileged minority’. Often the opposite is true. I, for example, am not rich. I live a rather empty and lonely life, never fully able to be who I am, for, yes, I encounter prejudice often (especially at church). I will never have the privilege of fathering children, or of having a loving relationship…


“Many ‘gays’ such as myself go to church and try to lead a good (and chaste) life. I try to live by the precepts of the Church I love.

“It is quite hurtful when our priests talk of ‘the evil of homosexuality’ in the same breath as abortion, prostitution, etc, as if there are no ‘gays’ in the congregation at all! As I am sure you are aware, finding oneself homosexual is not a choice, whereas these other situations are avoidable…

“Some time ago, one of your articles made mention of an outrageously dressed individual in a post office queue. You assumed he was ‘gay’. But in my experience, gay men usually dress quite conservatively, and often with a more pronounced masculinity than is usual. I am sure, for instance, you may have passed me at the 9am Mass [traditional Latin] at the Oratory, as I’m there every week, but I suspect that I blend in with the other traditional Catholics in my sombre jacket and tie…

“But to finish, please take care what you say – there are more people of ‘homosexual orientation’ in the Church than I think you realise. Meanwhile enjoy your privilege of children and grandchildren, and the privilege of acceptance by all.”

“Acceptance by all” is pushing it a bit, but what my friend says is sobering. Life is infinitely sad. Good and bad alike, we mourn and weep in this vale of tears. But self-denying homosexuals – homosexuals who try to live by the Church’s teaching – often have a lot more to mourn and weep about than the rest of us.