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Christian Consultation on Boylove
Boys Are From Saturn
Who is our Brother, Mother, Sister?
Paraklesis is a quarterly publication of the Christian Boylove Forum (CBF). Its purpose is to provide mutual support and encouragement for Christian boylovers, to discuss ethical, spiritual, and emotional issues surrounding boylove, to encourage responsible behavior, and to promote dialog and understanding.
Paraklesis is available in print form. Subscriptions can be obtained free of charge by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Letters to the editor and other items may be submitted for publication at the same address. Please see the "Welcome" article in Issue 1 for submission guidelines.
Permission is granted to freely copy and distribute this publication for non-commercial purposes as long as the copyright notice below is included.
Editor: Mark Distefano
© 2000 Paraklesis
by Ford Prefect
Over the years, I've had several close relationships, virtually all ending with the one I loved fleeing from me. After studying the stories of other boylovers and with counseling from a wonderful priest, and with confirmation from reading Fr. Henri Nouwen, I'm now able to see what went wrong.
All people need acceptance. Ultimately, we need the full acceptance that only God can give, but in this life much of that comes through other people acting as instruments of God's love. Yet each of these people can only give a part of what we need.
I, as a boylover, have always felt severely limited in whom I could turn to for acceptance. When people would offer me genuine praise, I'd dismiss it thinking, "Yeah, but if you really knew me." And so, I'd search for at least one person who could actually accept me as I really was. Inevitably, the persons I'd find acceptance from were the very boys I loved.
I wanted each to know me, to accept me, to give me what I was starved for, and each would try valiantly to do just this. But somehow I never could really believe their acceptance for more than a little while. As soon as we were apart, and sometimes even when we were together, the doubts would arise again, and I'd need re-confirmation again, and again, and again. I wanted something from them they could never fully give, and eventually they would realize this. For their own sakes, they'd pull back and I'd feel rejection and reach out like a drowning person grabbing onto a rescuer. And, like the rescuer, they would have to retreat for their own safety.
Ultimately the friendship would end when my beloved would be forced to pull completely away, and I'd feel more worthless than ever and begin again to search for that someone who could finally bring me what I needed. It never occurred to me that there was no such person (other than God), thinking instead that, if only I'd done certain things differently, it could have worked.
I strongly recommend reading The Inner Voice of Love, by Henri Nouwen. He too had been overwhelmed by the same problem of acceptance and, in this book, chronicles his journey to freedom.
The main thing I've learned is how to receive acceptance through many people, a community, rather than imposing this as an impossible burden on one person. A necessary step was to realize that the friendships I'd had that had become unlivable because of my demands beyond any person's capacity were still real and authentic friendships--that the love that did come to me through them was true and should not be denied.
But now, rather than trying to find that one person outside of God, I seek to befriend many people and share with them the love I'm now finding within myself, where God dwells. To this end, I've gradually expanded the range of people I share myself with. This used to be just boys I was attracted to, but now it encompasses boys beyond my "age of attraction" in both directions, those whose physical appearance I don't find immediately appealing, adults (both men and women) and even girls (whom I've never found fascinating).
A practice I've found to have benefits far beyond what I'd imagined is to remember these people, by name, in a morning prayer. Since it was getting progressively more difficult for me to recall each of these people, I typed out a list of the names. I was astonished to find almost 200 names on the list. Yet, each of these persons is a part of my life--and I of theirs. Somehow this daily remembrance makes us closer. I'd have never believed a couple of years ago that there would be nearly a hundred boys I'd be exchanging hugs with on a regular basis, but it's true.
Probably the most important realization I've come to is that I can receive true love and true acceptance from people who don't know my "secret." They can see and experience the love I have for them without knowing the details which they would likely find incompatible with their beliefs. True, I'm ignoring the possibility of disabusing them of their misconceptions of who boylovers are, but I don't currently see that as a personal mission. My hat is off to those boylovers who genuinely do. Still, I can't help but wonder if some of that may be like a black person feeling he can only be authentic if accepted by whites.
It was Nouwen who led me to see the true significance of our suffering. It links us to The Suffering of Jesus which was the suffering of all humanity. Instead of comparing our suffering to those of others, he taught we should use it to join ourselves to The Suffering of Jesus and thus to the suffering of all. Recognizing this enables us to go beyond our private agonies to become compassionate with all people who share theirs with us.
I've been "lucky" enough to learn that celibacy by itself was no answer to the problems I was having with relationships. Indeed, since the one relationship (now over 25 years ago) that did have sexual expression, I've seen two other relationships suffer the same fate without such assistance. Unfortunately, the "lesson" I learned from this was that I must be truly unlovable. It was the wonderful priest I mentioned earlier who disabused me of this idea.
And yet, celibacy still seems to be a route I will continue to take. For many reasons, I remain unconvinced that sex itself is an evil to be shunned. Because of what sex communicates to me, it would be extremely dangerous for me to consider it in any circumstance outside of a permanent, committed relationship. Considering my age, and to whom I'm attracted, the chances of such a relationship are virtually nil, and I'm not going to waste time and effort seeking one.
So, what is there that's attractive about celibacy? Isn't it something other than mere avoidance? Platitudes about becoming more holy, more spiritual, less worldly are wasted on me. Breast-beating spiritualities work for some people, but I'm not one of them.
The same priest I've mentioned before was the first to tell me of his own struggles with celibacy. He expected it would all be explained in the seminary, but the explanation never came. No wonder we had so many priests who went to the priesthood to escape having to deal with their sexuality. He told me that by being celibate, he, like Paul, could be many things to many people. He encouraged me to develop many friendships, many relationships, and thus be able to draw from and contribute to each without becoming dependent on any one. This was contrary to the way I'd lived my entire life -- I'd always wanted that one, special relationship -- but this man clearly knew what he was talking about and had already shown me things about myself I'd never seen.
Based on what the good priest had told me and, quite frankly, feeling trapped into it as the only way to go, I set out to follow the recommendations he'd made for following a celibate life. Still, I regarded it as simply the best substitute for what I imagined I would find and give with that one special person.
Then, one evening I finally made the connection that had taken so long to make. I was already getting and giving the acceptance and love I, and those I came in contact with, needed. My lover was the Mystical Body of Christ. I realized I'd come to depend on it. In fact, I was becoming married to it. This was no substitute after all--it was the real thing! All these people I'd come to love and who loved me in return, showed me, as I showed them, the love of God--in my view, God himself within us.
I'd heard for years that celibacy was a gift, rather than a sacrifice, but until this point, I never saw how that was true. Well, come to think of it, as long as I harbored that "If you only knew" thought, how could I? I can now accept love from those who had been trying, some for a long time, to share it with me. I'm more at peace, and I feel more useful, more valuable, and more loved.
Ford Prefect is a retired college professor and is quite active in his church.