Thursday, August 29, 2013

Some "Mackalicious" Moments

During the past couple of months I've been very much appreciating and enjoying comments left at Terry Nelson's Abbey Roads by an individual who goes by the name of "Mack Malone."

I should say that, like me, Terry focuses a lot on gay issues. His perspective as a Catholic on these issues, however, is very different than mine. (See, for example, this previous Wild Reed post.) Terry's posts often generate lively and entertaining discussion. I must admit I find many of the comments left by some of his regular followers and supporters to be morbidly fascinating – like a terrible car wreck you know you shouldn't look at but to which you're nevertheless drawn! And if we stay for a moment with this imagery, then Mack Malone's comments are, from my perspective, like the calm and welcomed presence of a first responder!

Mack's comments are informed, reasonable, often very entertaining, and firmly grounded in his lived experience as a gay Catholic man raising a family with the man he loves. I've decided to share some of Mack's comments in a post at The Wild Reed as I don't like thinking of them languishing in the comments section of Terry's blog. They need a wider audience. In fact, I'm secretly hoping that Mack starts his own blog. Now that would really be something!

Two quick things: First, I've taken the liberty of making some minor grammatical edits and spelling corrections as my inner writer/editor just couldn't help making me not do so! Second, about this post's title: In one exchange on Terry's blog, a regular commenter named "Jericho" declared in response to something Mack said: "I chose to fight on as a Catholic, and not as a mackolic." To which Mack responded, "'Mackolic'...hmmm, I like that . . . though I like 'Mackalicious' best!"

Here, then, are some Mackalicious moments! . . .


I start with a comment Mack wrote in response to Terry's June 20 post "'The Gay Men's Version of a Lifelong Commitment Doesn't Necessarily Include Forsaking All Others'."

Your argument is that gay marriage can't be marriage because those nasty pervs are all out there getting their groove on outside their relationship. Well, if that is your argument, that invalidates a great many heterosexual marriages. You're also doing what the writer you quoted accuses the gay marriage movement of doing: cherry picking. Only this time you are picking at the opposite end of the spectrum: promiscuous gays. But going back to my thought, there are a hell of a lot of cheating, open relationships and swinging going on in the straight married community, yet that does not invalidate marriage for straight people. Why should it for gay people? And really, San Francisco State University has a study cited to support this? Why not just ask the University of Sodom and Gomorrah for their take on it, I am sure it would be as skewed. There are a great many solid, gay relationships right out here in good old Middle-of-Americaville, just as there are in SF, New York, L.A. everywhere that don't get the press (cause we're boring). Is that to say that, realistically, monogamy isn't harder in gay then in straight? Absolutely not, for one thing you are dealing with two men (I don't think lesbians have the same issues, hence they are never referred to when citing 'the gays are all sex fiends' trope) who have male sex drives, that is a reality. Gay relationships also don't have the familial and community support that straight people have in keeping their marriage strong and, if one of the other cheats, keeping the marriage together. But that doesn't mean that monogamy isn't the goal for gays who want to be married just like straights.

Next is Mack's response to Terry's July 7 post "Mass Chat: So, Is the Church Guilty of a 'Pastoral Failure Toward Homosexuals'?"

Terry, I have to say you are confusing me with [your current] post about gays who seem to alienate themselves, when just a few days ago you posted about gays who appear to be "normal" and how strange that is. Which is it? It seems that your problem is with gays, period – [regardless of whether] they go hide in a corner and wear a hair shirt or walk down the street with their partner.

[You write:] "Part of the experience of gay culture is the desire, the image, that one is unique or special – set apart, different from other mere mortals or muggles." Wow, I really can't speak to that as I have never felt that way or seen that. While granted I have never been a part of "gay culture," did I grow up in a bubble? Anyway, I think we are all unique and special creations of God. I have never felt alienated or different or set apart and I still don't. If someone doesn't like me because of who I love that is their problem not mine, and I have always felt welcome at Church and the parish [I have attended] since I was a kid, I went to Catholic grade and high school, was an altar boy, played football in high school. I need to be more contemplative and thankful to God for the graces I had and be more open and patient with people who have had different experiences. I need to pray on that.

[You ask:] What do "gay Catholics want?" Well, first of all I only say I am a gay Catholic on a blog like this to let people know where I am coming from. In "real," life I am a Catholic who just happens to be gay, just like I just happen to have blue eyes and be right-handed. It's part of me but it's not the whole ME. So in that I totally agree with church teaching, and in that I would think that church should supply support and encouragement to all its parishioners based on their needs, not their sexuality. If someone is depressed, unhappy, dealing with an an addiction problem based on sexuality or not, the church should minster to them. I don't think there should be a special "gay" program as their should not be a special "straight" program. I have always felt welcomed and loved by the Church but that may be because they accept me as an individual, not with a label on my head.

Following is Mack's response to Terry's July 19 post, "I Just Found Out".

As a whole I think all of us want what is best for our friends and family, so that is why it is hard to imagine people being anti-"civil" gay marriage.

I could flip [Terry's] argument around and say that an anti-gay marriage person is being greedy by keeping the benefits to themselves. Actually, it is worse than that as no benefits are lost to them. Were women jealous of men when they wanted the right to vote? Is a woman who does the same job as me greedy when she wants to be paid the same as me?

Wanting to be treated fairly is not about envy. Wanting full access to benefits is not about greed.

[Terry's phrase] "playing marriage" is once again a fun little snarky phrase, but how does one "play at being married"? Not to be snarky myself but hit me back in 20 years after living with and loving someone else besides yourself; seeing their strengths and flaws but still loving them; dealing with their issues but still loving them; being the one to sometimes have to carry the person but still loving them and then come talk to me about "playing at marriage." Deal with kids, aging parents, families, finances, how to load the dishwasher and [then] talk to me about "playing at marriage."

Next is Mack's initial response to Terry's July 5 post, "Two Minneapolis Women Married One Another at St. Stephen's in 2001?"

I don't see condemnation from Terry, but I do see a lot of confusion. Church teaching tells us one thing, but with [his] own eyes [he] see[s] something else. No one has explained how intrinsically evil acts can be produced by a nice couple who love each other and their kid and who are, in fact, contributing to the community. ([Here's a] fact that same-sex marriage opponents never seem to acknowledge: stable marriages and relationships help a community stay stable.) Other people of good Catholic faith, such as the family [Terry mentions], know that [and] support gay marriage. They see it, and more and more people are seeing it by knowing people like the [gay] couple [Terry] see[s] walking their dog.

And that is the thing that scares people: we are no longer hiding in alleys or parks or dark bars (well, some of us do but so do straight people) or even marching in parades but living our lives, having homes in the suburbs, walking our dogs, taking care of our children and family, going to work, and, yes, helping to stabilize neighborhoods and communities just like committed couples everywhere. We have lived in our home for over eight years so our neighborhood kids have grown up seeing two guys being "normal," and now their perceptions have change and won't go back, despite what people might tell them, even the Church, as they have seen it with their own eyes. And this scares people and it scares the Church leaders. They aren't controlling this anymore or driving the narrative for people, even for a lot of Catholics. Funny that the world can be changed by two quiet women walking their dogs and no amount of hysterical name-calling of "evil" from old men can change that.

As for Fr. Giertych, I would respond to him much like he would respond to me, "with love by telling him the truth." With all due respect (and I mean that, the man is a good intelligent man) I would ask him to leave the confines of the Vatican, and a library, and go out in the world and see things. Close the books full of theo-babble. (Is it no wonder that so many Church leaders are lawyers, the way they bend things to fit their outcomes despite the reality of it.) I would also question him and ask him if it might be his "pride" that is keeping him from seeing something the Holy Spirit might be trying to say to him, to leave behind his cultural and psychological "baggage" and listen and see. (His argument lost me as soon as he pulled out the red herring of the "gay cabal," which is spreading evil through money and power.) He should go talk to [the gay-supportive] Catholic family [he mentions] and ask they why they believe [what they do]. He should talk to the two women in the article, your neighbors, and see if he can see any "evil," there.

And Terry, you . . . shouldn't be sad [by the changes you're seeing in society around the acceptance of gay people and relationships]. How can anyone be sad to see good, happy people living their lives?

Later Mack offers a second response to Terry:

I feel sad that your faith beliefs are preventing you from finding a great guy and living a full life. But that's MY life and I don't think that one size fits all. I also don't think you should live a life that is against your faith beliefs or your conscience. You seem such a wonderful, gentle soul that I feel sorrow for you not to have a partner in life (which you may have in a non-sexual way, though I could never understand how that works), but that is the Jewish mother in me who thinks everyone should be with someone nice. Once again, I don't presume to fit you into a box, just as I don't want to be. Far from being ridiculously overwrought, hyper-dramatic and strident "intrinsically evil," my relationship has made me a better person, more kind, more patient, more giving. And there I do feel the peace and joy of the Holy Spirit. (I do find it presumptive of you to say that I or someone else don't [experience this peace and joy].) I think that you could indeed make someone else's life better by bringing your gentleness and compassion to their life.

And while there are many people who are bigoted, fundies, zealots and/or insane, and who are anti-gay or anti-same-sex marriage, I don't label someone as such just because they have those beliefs – until they open their mouths and give me evidence that they are. There is a growing body of science that says that there is a biological reason for homosexuality (and no, I am not saying a "gay gene"), so I would mostly call those people ignorant.

Look at your neighbors walking down the street with their dog, and you truly can say you don't see the Holy Spirit in that?

Still later, Mack responds to two other commenters, "Doughboy" and "Thomas Tucker":

Doughboy: I have not communicated with you at all, but, since you address me, [let me say that] I am not being judgmental at all. I am telling Terry he seems to be a great guy and he can have it all – love with a living, breathing person and his faith. I am sorry if that doesn't jibe with your experience. [I'm sorry too] that it is not what Terry wants at this point in his life, but I am letting him know it is out there. Granted from the little I know [about you Doughboy], it seems you were a little party queen and you got burned by the lifestyle. It happens to a lot of people but not to me or to a lot of people I know . . . sorry. You could have been gay or straight with that. Time to say that it was not your sexuality but maybe YOU that made the mistakes. (God always wants us to, in the words of that realty show, "own it.") It's not all OUR story so don't conflate your experiences and mistakes with the rest of the "gay Catholics" out there or with gay people in general.

Thomas Tucker: I didn't say I was a better person for living in a same-sex relationship. I said I was a better person because of the person I am in a same-sex relationship with. Freaky that you would equate that with a extramarital affair and how that can make you a better person. . . . Honest relationships, gay or straight, make you pull your head out of your rear end and think of someone else. God wants us to be better persons and sometimes that means loving another person, protecting another person, shielding him or her and their kids and their family and taking care of the people that need taking care of. THAT is his plan. Sometimes God just asks you to be a MAN, step up to the plate, and deal with it.

Following is part of one of Mack's responses to Terry's July 30 post, "For Your Consideration: On the Effect of the Pope's Words ... and What Cardinal Dolan Said."

Thom just said that Pope Francis was using a compassionate, and I will add (and this is rare for a Church leader), realistic tone (which in a church steeped in centuries of being anything but commonsensical, is the true breakthrough for me). And it is driving some people CRAZY that he would spend a second being compassionate to one of the flock, which says more about them and their personal issues then it does Francis or the "homosexualists," as Father "Can You Give Me Money So I Can take a FABULOUS trip to Rome" Z would call us. That's it, and the fact that people would be so thrilled to hear a small thing like that, while other people are FREAKED the hell out, tells you a lot about the current state of the Church, and might tip you off to why "homosexualists" (I cant help it, it's so stupid I LOVE that word, what an idiot Father Z is) do become radicalized. If one kind word from the Pope sends their fellow pew sitters in a frenzy, they really know that they truly are NOT welcome and the "enemy" is a fellow Catholic.

It is sad, but I see so many Catholics on the blogs that use their faith as a way to vent their anger, frustration, and just plain rage. I thought last night I had to take a break from the blogs as it is making me think my fellow Catholics are all angry, self righteous, hypocritical prigs, some of whom need to step away from the computer and seek therapy for their very deep psychological problems . . . (no one here, but boy are they out there. One in particular is a SCARY woman). But I have to remember the compassion and love of our leader, and fellow Catholics in "real life," to renew my spirit.

Many of us who identify as "gay" (or "homosexualists", if you will, I like it, its sounds like a career and something you need an advanced degree for) do so not because we identify by our sexuality, but because society needs labels to help place us all. Simple as that. I like guys and I am a guy, so I am gay, same-sex attracted, whatever the hell you want to call it. And I think that was Francis' point, whatever you call it it is the same thing, and Francis doesn't play games. By using "gay," he takes away the entire political label and takes it back to what it is. He is not afraid of the word, nor is he giving it more power, it is what it is. Compassionate and commonsensical, refreshing from a Pope or any church leader, most of whom usually talk in circles so much they would make lawyers and politicians proud.

Following is Mack's response to "Jericho" in Terry's August 9 post, "Drink Vodka to Support the Russian Olympics."

Studies are studies and they can all be accused of being skewed no matter what. The "majority," of reputable research says:

• Pedophilia is defined as an adult having "recurrent, intense sexually arousing fantasies, sexual urges, or behaviors involving sexual activity with a prepubescent child or children."

• Pedophilia is almost exclusively found in men, and the great majority of these men identify as heterosexual.

• Even among people who sexually abuse children of their same gender, most are attracted to adults of the opposite gender .

• Sexual orientation, whether heterosexual or homosexual, describes attractions to and sexual behavior with consenting adults. Sexual behavior directed at children is a disorder or a crime, and does not constitute a sexual orientation.

We can go through a million studies and you can cherry pick the ones to suit your argument, but the bulk of the studies show the above. You can say they were politically influenced . . . and a million other things but there it is: the bulk of reputable research.

I know you have professed your background and interest in various sordid activities, and I am glad that you have hopefully found comfort and love and, most of all, restraint in the Church. However, like recovering alcoholics and smokers, you have no clue that healthy people can do certain things that you take to an unhealthy, obsessive compulsive extreme. Because you're gay and can't turn porn off, or have a drink, or have a respectful, healthy adult relationship with a man or a woman, you think that everyone else has the same problem with control or restraint. . . .

And finally, here is Mack's response to comments made by both "Jericho" and me to Terry's August 14, 2013 post.

Poor Terry . . . sweet, gentle guy celebrating his faith and trying to drop a teaching moment or two but his classroom is full of rowdy boys rolling around and hitting each other (with someone like Nan coming in and trying to make a polite point among the din). If only we all had the calm and grace of our host. I wish that I was a bit more like him.

I will impose on our host one more time to make one last point to Jericho and on the topic of what gay Catholics would like out of their Church.

Quotes [by Jericho]:

• "Your disordered desire for poop on your penis has warped your entire worldview."

• "[You] identify your entire existence by what you do with your genitals. "

• "[He wants to] ram his erect penis into the rectum of another man,"

• "If someone wants to place his scrotum on a belt sander, . . ." (OUCH!!)

Compare these to Michael's statement:

• "Well, [the bishops] could start [by listening to] gay people’s experiences of the loving and transforming presence of God in their lives and relationships."

I think this says it all about two different viewpoints on not just gay sexuality, but but anyone's healthy development of their sexuality. On one point you have Jericho's views of gay sexuality...It IS disordered, and immature, non developed. Jericho's viewpoint on gay sexuality and spirituality is limited by his OWN experience, which is stuck in an adolescent fog of body parts and sex acts (some of them seemingly not that pleasant.) His development was stopped and he desperately NEEDS a faith that tells him his sexuality is bad, close the door on it, lock it up and keep it there, be asexual and everything is fine. Which I for one am happy he found something to hold him back and contain himself. What he doesn't see is that perhaps,if he was raised in a society and a faith that said, "Your sexuality is fine, this is how you conduct yourself.." he may have developed a mature, healthy way to express himself sexually. I have noticed this on many different blogs and websites, gay people who were somehow damaged by their experiences, so much so there sexuality has been disordered and unhealthy, be it by promiscuity, drug or alcohol abuse, depression, disease, etc. . . finding solace in the Church . . . which is great (and extends to straight people too, a great deal of sex addicts of all types need to have an something control their behavior.

However, many of us don't have the same experiences (there but for the grace of God go I, so I am not trying to be sanctimonious) and don't need a faith to keep us locked away from our sexuality, or controlled – because we are in control. I totally agree that a person should not be reduced to their sexuality, as that is just one part of a whole. But it does make a whole. And it is our responsibility to control our sexuality, not let it control us. However, some of us who have developed past that and have families and lives long for a faith that is developed to include us and our partners and our families. Can you imagine gay kids being told, "Yes, you are gay, and this is how you can grow in God's love, be a whole healthy person, and find someone to love and raise a family in Gods' grace." I think there would be a lot less wounded people running to Courage or any of the other places and trying to figure out how to totally deny their own sexuality.

. . . The best thing that ever happened to me was indeed meeting someone to love and help me to mature and care more for others and create a family and extended family. That has little to do with genitals (though those are involved thank God!!!) and more to do with loving, trusting, and respecting that person and creating a safe stable environment for a family. I would love to have a Church that respects that and promotes that within the sexuality that God gave me. I find such resprct on the parish level, and that is fine with me. Like married couples who use birth control and don't post to Catholic websites to ask what appropriate foreplay would be (I read one like that if you can believe it), I don't choose to change the Church teachings created by old men (many of them closet cases, or not so closet cases) who will never change, I choose to ignore them and hope for the best someday.

And that is one viewpoint and one person's opinion. But the Church should be open to discussions of these things, doesn't mean it has to change, but as Michael said, it needs to listen.

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
The Many Manifestations of God's Loving Embrace
Hypocrisy, Ignorance, Promiscuity, and "the Love that is the Center of Catholic Christianity"
Thoughts on Archbishop Nichols' Support for Civil Unions
Responding to Some Very Misguided Comparisons
Liberated to Be Together


Thom said...

This is epic, Michael. EPIC. :)

Terry Nelson said...

Epic. Thanks for the link too.

Mack Malone said...


Thanks for the shout out and the post title.. "Mack" is my nickname and "Licious," was a variation..though not always for prurient reasons unfortunately.

Geez, I never knew what a loud mouth I was until I read all of that! Everyone should tell me to shut the hell up...(or as my partner says, "I WOULD but you WONT!")

But this post really is a tribute to our friend Terry, who while not agreeing with me is never anything less then a gentleman, and lets me bloviate away. I love the a totally non-SSA way. Plus the man knows how to garden like nobody's business!