In today’s society any discussions regarding homosexuality usually descend into an “us vs. them” argument. This however is contrary to Church teaching. Eve Tushnet takes a unique approach to the debate living her life as a celibate gay. In her book Gay and Catholic: Accepting My Sexuality, Finding Community, Living My Faith she puts a face to the debate and in turn makes us all stop and consider our own viewpoints.
The book is part memoir and part lesson on friendship and what that word truly means. Eve discusses her journey as a self-identified gay. She reveals the struggles she has had throughout her journey leading up to her conversion to Catholicism and beyond. Alcoholism played a prominent role in her life and impeded her ability to accept numerous things including religion. Perhaps the most compelling part of the book is just how open and honest Eve is about off of this. She hides nothing and you can sense the raw emotion in some of the stories she relates.
The real meat and potatoes of this book so to speak, comes in Part 2. Eve embarks on a quest to define how gays can live in communion with the teachings of the Catholic faith. Having been self-identified gay since the age of 13 Eve came to the realization in adulthood that a) she was not going to be married and b) she was not cut out to be a nun. This required her to develop a path that would than conform to church teaching upon her conversion. The resulting pages of the book lead us on a journey of discovery. The result of which is a true understanding of love and friendship. This love is an agape or self-giving love, not a romantic or sexual one. This love for Eve translated into a celibate lifestyle. Early in the book she admits attraction to the same sex. Her path shows how it is possible to carry on friendships without them developing into an erotic relationship. This in turn allows her and others identifying as gay to live within the norms of Church teaching.
I will admit that I approached this book with some apprehension not knowing what to expect. However, after reading it I came away with a new perspective on some things. Firstly you have to realize that in this book at no time does Eve condone gay sexual actions. Far from it. She endeavors to layout a road map that shows how gays can live and fulfill what the Catechism specifically states in paragraph 2358 “These persons are called to fulfill God’s will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord’s Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition. “ Also from the same paragraph “They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided.” Secondly not all gays are out beating the drums in social demonstrations. Some, like Eve, are quietly living their lives in conformity with Mother Church one day at timeand contributing to the body of the Church as a whole.
Eve Tushnet has done a wonderful thing by providing all Catholics with a guide on friendship. True agape, self-giving friendship. Gay or straight we can all learn from this. Eve meant the book to be a helpful guide to assisting fellow gays find a way to answer the question of how they can live in conformity with Church teaching. In addition, she presents us with a lesson we all could read and follow.
Read my interview with author Eve Tushnet here.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.