This is the twelfth voice to speak out in Orthodoxy in Dialogue’s Fifty Years after Stonewall: A Virtual Listening Tour. We urge our readers to forward the articles in this series to their diocesan bishops and parish priests. We beg our hierarchy and clergy to listen, attentively, reflectively, and prayerfully.
Today is the deadline to write for this specific series. We ensure complete anonymity if you wish to add your voice.
I’m almost 64 years old and an Orthodox Christian. I’ve spent the last 59 or so years being mocked and called names for not being a sufficient boy or man.
By the time I was 5 or so, my dad was calling me sissy. This meant faggot in his generation.
By the time I was 7 or so, my paternal uncles were sneering at me and taunting me, What’s the matter? Don’t you like girls?
When I was 9 or so, one of my teachers thought it was his duty to come to my house and announce to my parents that I was a queer. Then I had to overhear their fights over what made me that way. Mom blamed Dad. He tried being nice to me, but that lasted only a couple of weeks.
By the time I was 10 or so, Dad switched to calling me goddamn Suzie reading her books again.
By the time I was 12 or so, all the boys at school were calling me queer and running off laughing. I went home all smiles every day and lied to Mom about what a nice day I had had at school. This went on until I was 15. Every. Single. Day.
The summer I turned 12 was also when my maternal uncle—in front of the whole family—staged an exaggerated impersonation of my apparently effeminate way of walking.
When I was 14 Dad stopped trying to beat masculinity into me when I pushed back and knocked him off his feet.
From 15 to 18 I wasn’t called names or overtly mocked anymore, but most of the boys at school avoided me like the plague.
When I was 18 I fell in love with a 19-year old guy who lived in my university dorm. The next year we rented an apartment together. After we were intimate one night, he spent the rest of the year beating my up—emotionally, verbally, and once, physically. That was the first time (but certainly not the last) that I seriously had to fight the impulse to kill myself.
My life as a husband, father, priest, suspended priest, and deposed priest is summarized in A Priest Forever? Reflections on a Bittersweet Anniversary.
Fast-forward to now.
When I was 60, I turned in my MA in Theology thesis, A Bed Undefiled: Foundations for an Orthodox Theology and Spirituality of Same-Sex Love. Although I had told my father confessor and the archbishop at least two years before what I was writing, six or seven months after I handed it in and forwarded it to them my father confessor excommunicated me in a screaming fit and the archbishop confirmed it. Father then began circulating the lie among the parish council and parishioners that I had requested a parish scholarship under false pretenses. Yet he and the archbishop knew fully well what I was working on when it was arranged for the parish to give me $1000.
When I was almost 62, I wrote Conjugal Friendship. Three months later, I started Orthodoxy in Dialogue. From then until today, priests—priests!—have plastered the internet and traveled the world to call me a sodomite, a pervert, a defrocked priest and practicing homosexual who abandoned wife, children, and priesthood to have sex with men, a danger to little boys in public bathrooms, better off drowned.
The priests who love and support my work (there are many of them) don’t dare speak out publicly. They saw how the knives came out for their brother and his deacon in Massachusetts.
Every time a priest vilifies me for the benefit of his audience and his sense of personal moral superiority, I hear Dad’s sissy and goddamn Suzie all over again.
Thanks to “the Church,” I live in a state of perpetual PTSD.