I grew up in the republic of Ireland in county Clare in a very simple family and community in the countryside. Gays did not exist in such places although there were many bachelors who had failed to find the right woman!
When I was 19 my mum told me that one of my school colleagues was…she paused like one does when someone dies and then as opposed to saying the forbidden word aloud, continued to spell it while whispering…..g….a …y!!
“Isn’t it awful” she proceeded with a “thank God none of mine are”.
You see I grew up in a very traditional catholic family and sex seemed like a necessary evil required for populating the world and anything gay was just abominable and was sinful to even mention or suggest for a catholic household!
I was a bit of a brain box at schools and 590 points in my leaving certificate secured me a place in Dublin where I studied actuarial maths.
Study was my golden excuse for not having a girlfriend and I flew through college and the professional exams and qualified as an actuary at 23!
My mum was delighted, I was miserable as deep in my heart I knew that I had no interest in finance and that I was gay.
Six months later after moving to Paris to get away I fell apart. I had my first of several major breakdowns. I couldn’t eat or sleep and the next 2 years were a downward spiral!
I tried psychologists and psychiatrists, I tried psychotherapists, hypnotherapists and reiki. Nothing worked! I got progressively worse and by 26 I could take no more. I didn’t want to commit suicide but I had nothing left!
I tried getting committed to a psychiatric hospital in Dublin, my health insurance had run out so they turned me away. I didn’t seem bad enough to them as I hadn’t actually attempted suicide!
I begged God to help me and besides believing that He existed I had no belief that He was the God of catholics or jews or muslims or whatever!
Growing up watching Father Ted and hearing of all the priests who had gone astray gave me no faith at all in the catholic church and while I’d heard of many stories of the saints like St Francis and Mary Magdalene, I’d never heard of a gay saint!
Why didn’t the catholic church talk about gays? What did they expect me and others like me to do? Repent and turn straight? Repress it and get married? Cover it up and become a priest?!
Surely none of these ideas could be godly! I knew very little about God but common sense told me he’d at least want me to tell the truth to both myself and to others.
And so about 2 weeks after a prayer that went something like this
“God help me, I don’t want to die but I don’t have the strength to live” I had a mystical experience of Jesus!
I was sitting beside Ravi and we decided to do some meditation together! I closed my eyes and there Jesus was looking at me with a warm loving smile.
Instantaneously I understood that I was loved and accepted and that Jesus had a plan for me. That day it’s like a manhole was removed from the bottom of my soul and the light began to shine in!
As mad as it sounds Jesus began to talk to me and He told me to follow my heart and His direction! He told me to leave Ireland and to go to a town in the south of France and just to trust!
I did it! My family went crazy as I had my “double coming out”.
“Mam, I’m gay and spiritual and I’m seeing Jesus and hearing voices and by the way I’ve left my big job and I’m on the ferry to France”
They went crazy!!!
They diagnosed me with every mental illness under the sun and made up more and yet they couldn’t figure out how I was ok!!
My uncle was a spiritual sort of man and when I told him he understood it immediately!
“That’s Jesus” he said. “Most people think He’s dead but He’s alive!”. He went onto tell me that he had a similar experience twenty years beforehand!
And so like that I began my new life and in prayer I began learning about the spiritual world and the area of inner healing.
In short; negative memories such as abuse and bullying can block the flow of love in our souls and eventually lead to terrible depression etc.
I began to see spiritual things and I came to realise that God had given poor little me a healing gift. I’d pray and a feeling of electricity would flow through me and I’d cry and so would the other person. It was (and still is) amazing.
But what I wasn’t expecting was the backlash. You see Jesus didn’t heal me of loving men, He healed me of being afraid and so many catholics could not accept this.
I was told to shutup and that I was following demons and the abuse was so bad that I cried myself to sleep most nights. I felt simultaneously blessed and cursed by God and couldn’t understand how church people could be so narrow-minded and judgemental.
After 3 years in France I fled to India where I stayed for 6 months but India wasn’t the easiest place either to talk about being gay.
From India I went to Australia where I spent 3 and a half years.
I first stayed with a religious community but again they didn’t want me to talk about being gay. I was sick of the hypocricy and knowing the pain in the gay community how there was no desire to reach out in love and acceptance in any way.
I later moved to Sydney and spent 3 years with a christian healing ministry where I received a lot of healing and acceptance and yet they believed that homosexual men could be made straight!
To be honest I didn’t know who was telling me the truth and when I told them that I’d met a ‘special friend’ (a gay Catholic man who was also living a chaste life), they judged me and said that our friendship wasn’t from God and this contributed to another major breakdown.
I didn’t understand as God had introduced me to this man and we were not in a sexual relationship and were both living by the teachings of the church.
Good Friday about 6 years ago I was put on a flight to Ireland. My things were given away to charity and the next 3 months I fought to stay alive. The irish mental health system was a joke and any support from the church even worse!
Suicide would have been the easy way out but deep within I wanted to be a testimony of hope and not despair to future young people struggling to reconcile sexuality with spirituality!
Needless to say I made it as otherwise you wouldn’t be reading this now and over the last few years a little family has formed!
Now there are 3 of us and we travel around talking about this issue and the need of the church to become an agent of hope and healing rather than despair and pain to gay people!
As I draw this to a conclusion what would I like you to remember?
Well that Gay people are loved by God as we are and are not called to being straight people or to hiding away in shame.
Instead we are invited into a personal and intimate relationship with Jesus and love for eachother and while God does call us to living lives of prayer and sexual purity as best we can, He is patient and merciful and understands just how difficult this is in today’s over-sexualised society and also with the lack of help and support from the church and catholic commumity in this area.
God is also sorry for all the people who have misrepresented Him in the church and somehow said that gay people don’t have a place unless they repent and become perfect overnight!
LGBT people are wonderful human being who are immensely loved by God who is counting on us to be voices of love, hope, reconciliation and understanding for today’s world and for future generations!
If you would like to know more about my ministry or contribute in any way you can check out my blog:
God bless and thank you for reading!