I Think I’m Gay
I’m in high school, and I think I’m gay. What do I do?
Step one: live chastity (we know we sound like a broken record on this one… but seriously, live chastity). Learn more about chastity, make a commitment to living it, stay away from all pornography and other sexually explicit materials, and go to Confession every time you mess up when it comes to living chastity. Chastity is a virtue for all of us, so do your best to live it and live it well (CCC 2339).
Next, find a trusted adult who is a faithful Catholic to speak with about the way you’re feeling. That might be a parent, a counselor at school, your parish priest, campus minister, youth minister, or someone else in your life. We emphasize trusted adult, because we know that not all adults are created equal, and that might be a different relationship in your life than it is in someone else’s. Let that trusted adult know where you’re at and how you’re feeling. We all need to know that we have people who love and support us, so tap into those resources in your own life.
The next step will be to work with those trusted adults in your life to determine where you go from there. The reality is, as a high school student, you aren’t fully developed yet. You may still be growing, physically; your brain keeps developing and maturing into your mid-20s; your hormones are all over the place. Those physical realities have a huge impact on your sexual development, too. If you’re experiencing same-sex attraction as a high school student, you might have those attractions your whole life – or you might not. It’s really too soon to say.
Although many people might label you as gay or lesbian, know that simply experiencing attractions does not determine your orientation. We just don’t know the origins of same-sex attraction, one way or another. There are psychologists who have great research to support their theories on both sides, nature (born this way) and nurture (something happened along the way).
Some people choose to define themselves as gay or lesbian and choose to either live that lifestyle or a life of celibacy. But we’ve also known others who can trace their attractions to some bigger hurt or addiction in their life and choose therapy to try and work through those issues. As a result, their same-sex attractions have diminished and they are now in happy, opposite-sex marriages. That path isn’t for everyone, but it has certainly worked for many – they’ve told us that it has brought them real freedom.
The main point here is that the Church won’t jump to labeling you based on your attractions, and She hopes that no one else will, either – including you.
You Are Not Alone
One of the greatest lies we all hear on a daily basis is that we are alone in our struggles. That kind of isolation makes us feel shameful, dirty, and abandoned, in whatever issue we are battling. But it’s a lie – we are never alone. And if same-sex attraction is your biggest question, there are faithful Catholics out there who know exactly how you feel. There are plenty of other resources out there. We all need community to support us as we seek God and holiness in our lives, and this struggle is no different.
Perhaps your attractions are temporary, or maybe they’ll be with you for the rest of your life. Either way, we desperately want you to know that there’s a place for you in the Church. You are loved, exactly as you are, because of who you are – a child of God. Sorry we’re not sorry if that sounds corny, because it’s true. And you are welcome in the Church. We want you in our family, because you have unique gifts and talents that we need to build up the Kingdom of Heaven on earth.
We care about your holiness and happiness because we want you in heaven. True love wills the good of the other, and the ultimate good for any of us is to know God on earth so we can be with Him in heaven.
And if anyone in the Church has ever made you feel unwelcome, or less than worthy, please know how terribly sorry we are about that. We can’t apologize enough. And even though our words may not mean as much as an apology from those who hurt you, we still want you to hear them.
Who you are is a gift to us, our Church, and our world. We are so very grateful for you, and we hope you know that we will always be here to love and support you as you walk this path and figure out what God is calling to you. We want you to live in the freedom that Christ is calling you to. You’re in our prayers, daily.