Review by Christina Nair
Beyond Gay, by David Morrison (Huntington: Our Sunday Visitor Publishing Division, 1999)
The best person to witness to God’s power to save and rescue in a given situation is a person who has been in that very situation and who has experienced God’s saving power first-hand.
David Morrison, author of Beyond Gay, was a gay activist for several years. He had a steady same-sex partner with whom he was in an actively homosexual relationship. David’s journey from a life of active homosexuality to his gradual embracing of Christianity, his subsequent commitment to a life of chastity and his eventual conversion to Catholicism, puts him in an ideal position to speak about the Church’s teachings on homosexuality, and how these teachings can be lived on a day-to-day basis.
Beyond Gay brings together not only the autobiographical elements of David’s life: his childhood, his faith life, his psycho-sexual development, his relationships with family members and friends, etc., but also the various controversial issues surrounding the topic of homosexuality: its causes, the question of therapy, the sure and certain teachings of the Church on chastity, societal acceptance of active homosexuality, promotion of the same through schools, the media, and even sometimes by those whoclaim to represent the Church. David uses these latter topics as startingpoints from which to explain the Church’s sometimes difficult but always sound moral teachings.
What is refreshingly absent from this book is an “us-them” mentality. While David pulls no punches in his assessment of literature written by gay advocacy groups like PFLAG (Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) and GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network), he writes as someone who well understands the motives and mindset of the authors of such literature, having once shared their worldview himself. Neither is there any air of self-righteousness in David’s writing, in spite of the fact that he believes he’s found the right way, through living as a faithful Catholic. A true convert, David attributes all his peace to the grace of God.
One of the most important issues that David addresses in this book is indicated by the book’s title: Beyond Gay. David points out how limiting it is for a person with same-sex attractions to label himself or herself “gay” or “lesbian,” especially since there is so much more to a person than one’s sexual attractions, and because such labels can draw a person away from his or her true identity as a child of God called to live a faithful, moral and chaste life. David himself has tried on the whole gamut of labels in the course of his life, having once referred to himself as “gay,” then as a “gay Christian,” then a “Christian gay,” then simply a Christian, and finally a Catholic.
Beyond Gay is the story of one individual’s difficulties leading to an authentic spiritual conversion and a commitment to ongoing discipleship. In this aspect, Beyond Gay is not just for those who are struggling with same-sex attractions, or those who have loved ones who struggle, but for anyone interested in the challenges of spiritual growth.
Christina Nair is project co-ordinator for Courage, a Catholic ministry which provides spiritual support to persons with same-sex attractions who are striving to live chastely. For more information on Courage, please call the Toronto Courage group at (416) 928-5094, or send an e-mail NYCourage@aol.com, or visit http://world .std.com/~courage.