Against All Odds
I’d like to tell you about an unborn baby whose mother thought about having him aborted and about a young child who was sexually molested by his mother’s adult brother, by his own older brother and by an older neighbor, all by the time he was only 10 years old.
He’s a boy who, from the time he was 5 years old until he went away to college, lived in almost constant fear of being beaten or shot to death by his violent father or his brother. You probably guessed that I am describing my early life.
Before I was a senior in college, I found myself loitering in the streets of Montreal, Miami, New York City, Paris, Florence and Rome, always searching for men to love me. I did find all sorts of men to love me, but it wasn’t the type of love that I needed.
Seeking validation from others, especially from handsome men, I chose to become an international fashion model. My life was about finding my knight in shining armor, my perfect “Prince Charming,” who would love me forever. Although I never found that perfect Prince Charming, I was intimate with a famous real-life prince and with an embarrassingly huge number of other charmers. I became a sex addict before I had ever heard the word.
Like most homosexuals, I hated the Catholic Church because Catholicism stood between me and what I most worshipped: Sex was my god. “Gay” wasn’t just what I was — it was who I was.
And that would have been the end of my story, if grace hadn’t saved my life.
Over time, a number of “spiritual coincidences” in my life came into focus, and it became crystal clear to me that I was a child of God and that I belonged back in the Catholic Church.
So I returned after a 40-year absence, and it was wonderful. I confessed, promised to sin no more and joyfully received Communion.
I then hit a gigantic brick wall. I began to see the truth about the real purpose of sexual intimacy and how such intimacy belongs only within the sacred bond of marriage between one man and one woman.
My eyes were finally opened to the beauty of the sacredness of the human body.
But no matter how desperately I tried, I couldn’t resist those lustful temptations that had so much power over me.
I’d go to confession and to Communion, commit sins of the flesh, and repeat the same pattern over and over again. I felt I was living a shameful secret, caught between my attraction and my faith.
Thinking that chastity was unattainable for me, I was distressed and truly lost.
Then I heard about Courage, the Catholic apostolate that ministers to men and women with same-sex attraction who desire to move beyond the confines of an incomplete homosexual identity to a more complete identity in Christ.
I became familiar with Father John Harvey, one of the founders of Courage, and listened to him gently explain the reasons why we need to be courageous in our battle against same-sex attraction.
Courage gave me the hope of being able to break free from the chains of my lustful desires. It gave me the confidence to distance myself from the lifestyle I’d been living and to be unafraid of any backlash from advocates of that lifestyle. I started praying the Rosary and visiting the adoration chapel.
I gradually began to feel some control over my lustful desires. Then, after months of defeat, a grace-filled moment enabled me not to give in to those inclinations. Experiencing something that I once thought impossible, I was instantly and effortlessly able to begin living a completely chaste life, and I have continued to do so ever since that blessed moment several years ago.
By exchanging my incomplete homosexual identity for a more complete one, I received a joy, a freedom and a spiritual fulfillment that I had never known existed.
We all need courage in order to swim against those humongous cultural waves that are smashing against the sacredness of the body.
But with God’s grace and with Courage, I have fallen in love with his light.
Having been immersed in, and addicted to, the homosexual identity for about 40 years, I am living proof that we do always have the chance not to give into our inclinations and those destructive cultural forces.
Some of the most euphoric moments in my glamorous life were when I was with beautiful, famous and wealthy people at magnificent penthouse parties, enjoying the finest champagne and party favors while gazing out over the spectacular Manhattan skyline.
But those moments pale in comparison to the indescribable euphoria that comes over me when, with a pure, clean heart, I receive the body and blood of Our Lord during Mass.
Paul Darrow, a Courage International member, lives in coastal South Carolina.
- May 31-June 13, 2015