Dear Finn (if I may), you have been surrounded by accolades since news broke of your coming out publicly at St Ignatius College. You are indeed a courageous man. I am proud of you for speaking publicly as you have.
Like you, I came out at 17 in one of the UK’s only two Jesuit schools. Both were elite settings of sporting prowess and heightened testosterone.
My schooldays were also dominated by anxiety and fighting depression and the knife-turning question, “what if others find out I’m sexually attracted to other guys?” I feared rejection.
After coming out to my parents, and receiving loving acceptance as you have, I then shared with my peers. The first students I told were alumni from St Ignatius College, who were attending my school in the North of England on international scholarships after having finished their HSC in Sydney. They embraced me and remain my close friends today.
The difference in our journeys is this. There was no LGBTQI mindset when I came out in the eighties. People like me fought and paved the way for young men like you to have the freedom to speak out today.
Even though I was a scholar in a Jesuit school, I was raised Protestant and questioned Catholic teachings at every juncture. I fought wherever possible to change what I saw as the Church’s antiquated and harmful attitude towards homosexuals. I honestly believed I was fighting for justice.
Yes, I was proud. I perceived my feelings as being more insightful than centuries of Judeo-Christian teaching, wisdom and testimonies.
Precisely because I was at the coal face forging gay rights, I questioned every step I took and everyone around me along the journey.
This characteristic has remained with me, and has served me well. It called me to dare not only to look at “what” I felt and had always felt, therefore assuming myself to have been “born gay”, but taught me, often in fear and trembling, to ask the question of “why” I felt how I did. This only came about because of my decision, similar to your own, Finn, to see a counsellor. My family, peers and teachers had all affirmed me in my gay identity. A new freedom had filled my entire life.
But later some of my own anxiety returned, only this time it was not related to coming out.
The Christian counsellor I saw taught me to face fears and challenged me to examine every thought, murmur of my heart and my overall mindset.
He loved me with complete acceptance and called me to invite God’s presence into my life. My Jesuit education had failed to draw me into any meaningful relationship with God and yet here lay the very reason for my existence.
Entering into a relationship with Christ became way more rewarding than originally coming out to family and school. And so began the important step that so few people take: my second coming out.
I had supported gay pride. I had helped establish an LGBT group at university. I had preached about my committed gay Christian relationship, and yet God had a purer love for me to know, and way more joy.
I faced my erotic same-sex attraction at a whole new depth, becoming surrounded by other same-sex attracted people who refused to bow to the mindset of a fallen rainbow and LGBT beliefs, which personify a fundamentalist religious cult.
The new community I joined rejected pride. They humbly placed their lives and attractions in surrender to God’s eternal design, and courageously embraced years of Judeo-Christian wisdom.
Jesus brings us an internal and external freedom which cannot be found within the gay community. Many forget that he is the reason why St Ignatius College was founded.
Finn, you said that “announcing yourself to the world is pretty terrifying because what if the world doesn’t like you?” An expensive Jesuit education should form us to ask: “what does heaven believe about me?” Yes, your school has honoured you by letting you speak out your truth. But if it failed to share God’s truths about human sexuality, then it has also failed you.
Finn, you are courageous. I invite you to be ever more courageous. Step towards Christ, who loves you more than anyone ever can. His love for you is perfect and remains constant. You have a place in His eternal family if you choose to take it up.
I am content to have paved the way for people like you to have the freedom to come out today. I am also happy to have walked ahead of you as proof that the Catholic Church loves you, believes in you, and has life-giving wisdom to pour into you. This ‘second coming out’ will keep knocking at the door of your heart until you are ready to answer.
Do not be afraid to be a trailblazer, Finn, only now consider trailblazing with eternity in mind, mate. The rewards are greater, on earth and beyond.
Your brother on the journey, James (Parker)
James was an LGBT activist who, having rejected the gay lifestyle, has offered spiritual support to hundreds of people who experience same-sex attraction worldwide.