“Mom, can a Catholic be gay?”
My 9-year-old asks weird questions all the time, but this one was a career best for her.
Lucy said that a friend from her Catholic school claimed Catholic people simply couldn’t BE gay. She wanted to know if that was true. I told her I wasn’t sure, but I thought that might not be the case.
“Why,” she asked. “Do YOU know any gay Catholics?”
As a matter of fact, I DO.
I met Frank when I lived in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He was one of my favorite friends because he was sweet and buoyant and he threw the most fabulous parties at his ranch-style home. The first thing you noticed about Frank’s house were the crucifixes, which were EVERYWHERE. He also had pictures of Jesus, framed poems about Faith, AND a shrine to the Virgin Mary in his backyard. See, Frank was a devout Catholic but he was also gay. I asked him what he thought of this conundrum and Frank said, “I love God so much, I can’t imagine He wouldn’t love me back. In my heart, I know He does.”
Knowing Frank’s kindness and generosity the way I do, I’d have to agree with him.
Frank asked me to look after his home and dog once while he went on vacation. He left the keys with me and our mutual friend Stephanie, who agreed to stay at the house with me. Steph and I went out for beers our first night of housesitting, and were joined by Frank’s sister, Mercedes. I was playing pool with Mercedes’ boyfriend when he said, “Man, I can’t BELIEVE you’re staying in Frank’s house tonight!” Mercedes shushed him furiously and I had an awful sinking feeling. You know, the one you have when you realize everyone BUT YOU knows something and they’re trying to keep it from you? That feeling.
Apparently even Stephanie knew because she rolled her eyes and said, “Great. Thanks Mike.”
There was much begging and pleading on my part, and another round of beers before I got the truth. MAN, was it a doozy.
Frank had gotten his house for a lower-than-expected price because it had been empty for a long time. The people who lived there beforehand were apparently murdered in their sleep, by their own son. He then buried them in the backyard. I can’t remember what happened to the son after that. I’m pretty sure Mercedes told me, but I was so blindsided by the news, I failed to catch the second half. I called BS, of course, and insisted they were messing with me, but they all just looked at their shoes and sipped their beers.
“Wait a minute…WHERE did he shoot them?”
“In their bedroom, while they were sleeping.”
Yes, the murders had taken place in the same room I’d be sleeping that night. Or NOT SLEEPING is more like it.
Stephanie fell straight to sleep while I stared at the ceiling all night long. The horrible scenario, which I still insisted was a joke, played out in my head over and over again. I informed Stephanie the next morning that she’d have to find someone else to stay with her the next night. She wasn’t happy about it, but Steph stayed in that house alone the following night which is still incredible to me.
Frank found out about the disclosure and called me while he was still on vacation. He apologized and said that he never really wanted anyone to know about his home’s history. Yes, it was ALL true.
I asked Frank how he could comfortably live in a place where something horrible had taken place and he said this:
“Julie, I loved that house the second I walked into it. There had been so much sadness there, but that little house deserved to be happy. I wanted to fill it with all the joy and love I possibly could to erase those horrible things, so I did. That’s why I built the shrine in the backyard.”
Yes, Frank built the Virgin Mary shrine in the exact spot the parents had been buried.
I shit you not.
Frank’s plan worked. His home was filled with laughter and love and there wasn’t a single sad corner in the whole place. There were no traces of the horrors that had lived there before, and the little house had Frank to thank for that.
So no Lucy, I don’t know for sure what the rules are about being Gay and being Catholic. I do, however KNOW that there’s one corner of this world that’s a far better place, all thanks to one Gay Catholic.