Monday, November 26, 2012

So THAT Explains Everything...

Did you ever have one of those moments when you see or hear or read something that just seems to suck all the air out of the room and leave you feeling like you cannot take a breath? Or maybe the reaction comes in the form of feeling like you have been punched in the gut? I experienced both feelings tonight.

It started when I was trying to find a Facebook profile that was mentioned in an email that I had received. I hate Facebook, so I do not have a profile under my own name. I did create a fake profile a few years ago just because so many transactions require it these days. My husband and one of my 5 sisters are my only "friends." So when I logged on tonight, I was taken to my sister's profile page. There, on her homepage, my eye was caught by a picture in her "Friends" list of 500-some-odd people, and it took me aback. It was an old boyfriend of mine from way back in the late 1980s.

Now, this was a guy I met at summer camp where we were both counselors, dated for about 2 years, and then saw on occasion for about 3 more, until I went off to law school. I have not heard from him in years. Indeed, the last time I heard from him I ended up blocking him from my email. I will not go into details, but I will say that I called him on a lot of lies that he was telling in his widely-disseminated emails. I knew they were lies, and I did not want to read any more of his BS, which lies I knew he was telling in order to garner sympathy, so I washed my hands of him. That was the end of the story until tonight.

After seeing his photo in my sister's friends list, I went to his Facebook page to see what he was up to. As I was browsing through his picture gallery, I began to notice something odd. He had become a priest in the late 1990s, long after we were not an item. But the last I heard was that he was leaving the priesthood. He told people at the time that it was because he was an alcoholic and the bishop was dismissing him. I knew that to be a lie because that is not how canon law works. But he would not admit there was more to the story. Little did I know that there was a lot more to the untold story.

As I scrolled through his Facebook pictures, one particular face kept popping up. Then, it hit me like a ton of bricks. He is gay. A few more clicks confirmed it when he gushed over his "husband," his "esposo," his true-love, and then made rather crude comments about how handsome his man is. I would have felt the same way about the crude comments if it was someone of the opposite sex.

Stunned, I texted my sister to ask her why she had not told me this "development." She said she thought she had told me a couple of years ago. She had been relatively young when he was youth director at our home parish, which job he took right out of college, purportedly to be near me since we were dating at the time. When our relationship ended, he stayed on for several more years as youth director in my home parish. Then he left and went to the seminary. After ordination in 1997, he served as a priest for about 11 years before meeting the man of his dreams, falling in love at first sight, getting engaged 2 months later, and (last year) "marrying" his partner in Oregon.

My decision to post on this happening and what I experienced is because I have known other men who have come out of the closet. This is the first time it was someone I once dated. I debated how much to say about this man, for fear that I might reveal this man's identity. However, a simple Google search led me to see that he is not at all shy about his sexuality or his life story -- which is true to form from the man I first met 24 years ago. So, here is Jim's story in his own words.


Jim and Darold's story has also been told publicly on a number of other occasions:

"The Rite Stuff: Here’s a Catholic priest-to-gay groom story that same-sex marriage advocates ought to tell."

"Same sex couples who find marriage sacred aren't satisfied with civil unions."

All in all, learning Jim's story explained a lot of things about him--and me--that had never made sense. I am over my shock now. Jim deserves to be happy. From these stories and his Facebook page, it looks like he is -- at least he  was in 2011. And it looks like he has finally learned that keeping secrets can be one of the most burdensome things in life and telling the truth can be cathartic. I just wish he had not lied to himself -- and to me.

**************************