A SERIOUS CHANGE OF HEART
I interviewed Tony Alberti several years ago I was impressed with
how hard he had worked to reconcile conflicting emotions and life
issues. Recently I got back in touch. I wanted to know if I could
use our interview in Queer Crips, an anthology of writing
by disabled gay men. Tony replied that his outlook had changed
so much he felt the interview no longer represented his thinking.
What resulted from our conversation is a rare opportunity to follow
the course of change in the life of one disabled gay man. We agreed
to publish our original interview, "Damaged Goods,"
followed by "What I Know Now," Tony's reflections on
where he finds himself today. You may be surprised by the juxtaposition.
I was -Bob Guter
we first discussed doing this interview you were reluctant. Can
you tell me why?
if I'd have anything worthwhile to say, but the more I thought about
it the more I realized how much my own attitudes about being gay
and disabled have changed in the last few years, and I figured there
was stuff I've been through that I want to share with other men.
you talked much about these things?
to do that last year by starting a gay amputee support group, but
only two people responded. I know there must be quite a few of us
in the Bay Area, but where are we? After living here for eight years,
I've seen so few of us in the Castro. I wonder why. Are we all married
off, or are we home at night feeling sorry for ourselves? One of
my neighbors, who is visually impaired, started a support group
for gays and lesbians with disabilities, but they only met a few
times before dissolving. I remember his remark: Nobody can bear
to talk about disability issues and gay issues in the same breath.
My own frustration finally prompted me to run personals ads in a
couple of mainstream papersgay ones, of coursewith negative
me about the negative results.
a couple of friendships, but nothing that was relationship material.
Nothing that promised love. Basically, I felt as if I'd struck out.
Then I decided to run an ad in a magazine that promised to connect
disabled and nondisabled men.
that a tough decision?
no. It was a question of getting ready emotionally. I went into
psychotherapy a couple of years ago to address a lot of self-image
problems, and I thought it was time to get out there and see if
I could make some things happen.
mention of psychotherapy interests me because so many of us have
had to deal with the same issuea kind of head-on grappling
with self-imageand not all of us have done it successfully.
Can you talk more about that?
Once I became
an amputee I felt really . . . out-of-sorts. [Laughter]
OK, worse than that! I thought that I'd immediately become
ugly. Later on, whenever somebody rejected my advances, I blamed
it on being disabled. In my mind, that was always the reason. I
was so hung-up on my poor self-image that I thought it was going
to exile me from intimacy forever. It seemed like people didn't
expect me to be sexual, and that made it easy for me to stay in
made you conclude that people thought you were asexual?
no one ever asked the standard questions, like, Why aren't you dating?
or Are you planning to get married? It was a non-issue. If you're
stuck in the closet, disability is a great camouflage.
You told me you lost your leg in a car accident when you were sixteen.
Had you had any sexual experience before that?
No, no .
. . I was a late-bloomer.
was it like as you grew out of your teens and into your twenties?
Did you make any efforts to connect with men during those years?
And what about coming out?
I had been
out to a few friends, but to me, coming out is when you tell your
parents, and I didn't do that until I was thirty-seven years old!
Their reactions turned out to be the opposite of what I expected.
I thought my dad would have a tough time with it and my mom would
be OK. It was just the reverse. You have to understand there's a
heavy bent of Catholicism in my family, a tough streak. So the issue
was really, Are you damned to Hell now? My mother was concerned
about my salvation.
that been resolved?
of those things where, OK, now we know, but we don't want to talk
about it. It's simply not discussed. I continued to go through terrible
guilt because of my Catholicism. I was constantly trying to repress
the gay thing. In my mind it was simply not acceptable, so I didn't
act on it for a long time. I did have one experienceI must
have been twenty-oneand that was it. Then, at twenty-five
I discovered the baths, but that was a painful experience, because
there the rejections were more direct.
In St. Louis.
Louis had baths? I'm shocked and amazed!
must have been tough for you, wandering around the baths with .
prosthesis off, hopping around on crutches with everything visible.
It reinforced my feeling that I was damaged goods, because hardly
anything ever happened at the baths.
back on it now, do you wonder if men might have been interested,
but maybe something about your inexperience or the way you presented
yourself discouraged them?
possible, because I know now that when I walk down Castro Street,
there are men who cruise me. The self-image thing is greatly improved,
although I expect I'll always have doubts. I moonlight as a massage
therapist, and that's really reinforced my positive self-image,
because I'm in better shape than most of the people I work on. [Laughter]
of that seems like a welcome shift in your experience. I'm curious
about how it happened, but I want to make sure we don't lose any
of the threads of your story. You mentioned having a fling at the
age of twenty-one. How did that happen?
Can we just
scratch that whole incident? It's nothing I'm pleased about, because
it was not a reciprocal thing.
I was desperate to have a sexual experience, any sexual experience,
so I got it. But it was just a one-way thing. I sucked cock, end
of story. It still bothers me that that's how it was the first time.
move on to when you were twenty-five, when you discovered the baths.
Another unsatisfactory experience.
when you're a relationship-oriented person, and you're in a tricking
environment, well, there I was, hoping to meet the love of my life.
The crazy thinking we go through in our younger years. We just don't
see clearly, do we?
sounds like your twenties were a very stuck place. How did your
feelings about yourself and your relationship to men begin to change?
Let me flesh
things out a bit with some career information and other things that
might provide context. First of all, I came from a small-town atmosphere.
I grew up in a Midwestern town of 150 people.
more like a large family than a town!
town in the entire county was 2,500 people. We're talking rural
America, real farm country. I'd say the county was 98% Catholic,
so there was lots of rigidity in the social structure. It felt so
oppressive I went to away college in Minnesota just to escape. Then
I went to St. Louis, to law school. I had political aspirations
at the time. I'll tell you how that came about. Right after my senior
year in high school I applied for a job, and I'll never forget it,
the man who was interviewing me looked me straight in the eye and
said, We don't hire handicapped people here. That was before the
ADA, of course, when you could get away with something like that.
It made me furious. I thought, I've got to do something about this,
so I got politically motivated and decided to go to law school.
Watergate blew up not long afterwards and, frankly, it soured me
on the political process.
same time I was beginning to suspect that my gayness was not going
away, that I was not going to be able to repress it forever. And
when I thought "gay politician" I thought "blackmail." Ultimately
I went back home to that rural county and practiced law for a few
years, a really stupid decision, because what I needed was to live
in an urban environment.
know, it almost makes sense to me as I listen to you: handicapped
is not hired and gay is blackmailedwhy wouldn't you conclude
it's safer to isolate yourself as much as possible?
Catholic factor started bothering me again. I kept thinking about
becoming a priest. Finally I said. OK, you either have to explore
this or give it up. So after practicing law for about six years
I entered a Benedictine monastery. And that, ironically enough,
is where I really started coming out. I spent my first six months
reading everything available in English on homosexuality and Catholic
theology, trying to work through the whole issue for myself. After
three years I was able to conclude that God loves me for who I am
and that I'm entitled to a relationship. When I decided I wanted
that option, my only choice was to leave the monastery.
impressed by the effort you made, by the soul-searching combined
with the intellectual exercise. There you were, researching your
own character and life options, while subjecting your inner turmoil
to the discipline of monastic life. Was there anyone you could confide
My community was unique in the Catholic Church. It's an openly gay
monastery. I'm sure 90% of the monks there are gay, and that's a
conservative estimate. There was no problem talking to anyone. But
in any other monasteryI found this out by visitingyou
so much as utter the word gay and it's like dropping a match in
whole experience must have been a genuine epiphany for youdeciding
that you were OK after all.
That's a good word, too, and it reminds me of an epiphany of a different
kind. Can I go off on a brief tangent? I'm thinking of the first
time I went to Key West. I'd been touring Florida with my only gay
friend. We had never heard it was a gay resort! We were in a restaurant
for breakfast after we'd watched the sun rise over the keys. After
about thirty seconds, I looked over at my friend and whispered,
Jerry, everyone in here is . . . gay!
[Delighted Laughter] It was the
most liberating feeling I'd ever had
a great story. How old were you then?
Long before the monastery, still in the looking-for-love-in-the-baths
period. The other point I wanted to make was that my years in the
monastery derailed my legal career. I was thirty-three when I left
the monastery, the age when Christ was crucified! But seriously,
that's probably a big transition age for a lot of people. It had
been a major decision to leave the practice of law, and then later
it was just as difficult to leave the monastery, because I had invested
so much in it. Most lawyers couldn't understand why you would ever
leave the law, but to leave it for the monastery! That made you
a very strange bird. It was a period of great turmoil for me, devastating
to my ego, too, because with such an odd work history I had a terrible
time finding anyone willing to employ me. I was struggling with
money, with self-esteem. At that point, gayness was on the back
burner. Listen, I was just trying to survive. It took nine months
to find a job, and I was scraping the bottom of the barrel. I ended
up parlaying my law degree into a job in human resources management.
kind of work was it?
up working for an international food service companyand, no,
I was not washing dishes. I was assistant to the executive vice
president. And guess what? I was fired for being gay. I'd worked
there for about a year and a half when my boss came up to me one
day and with no preliminaries asked, Have you ever been known to
have gone out with persons of the opposite sex? I can remember I
just felt the blood rushing to my face. I must have turned beet
red. Of course I lied. I thought, if I admit I'm gay I'll get fired
right now. But I was gone within a week anyway. "Restructuring"
was the reason they gave. Yeah, right!
you make any sense of the incident now? Why after more than a year,
suddenly, bam!? You didn't start doing something . . . outrageous?
no. I was deeply closeted. Afterwards. I thought, my God, you can't
win for losing. You try to play the game and you still get zapped.
There were two things that could have caused the incident. Around
that time there was a lot of homophobic talk about screening out
gay franchisees and managers. Maybe the tip-off was the fact that
I wouldn't participate in the put-downs. Also, a woman employee
was putting the moves on me, and I kept declining.
A sexual harassment case. You know, we sit here joking about it
now, but it must have been horrible at the time.
Oh, it was.
career evolution is important, but can I pull us back to a critical
issue? Can I ask you about love?
had any! [Self-deprecating laughter]
What I mean is I haven't had a relationship.
you left the monastery you decided it was OK, in God's eyes, to
be gay, but I haven't heard you say how you felt about men's eyes,
your assumption that you were "damaged goods."
changed. There I was at about age thirty-five with very limited
experience. Most of the experience I had was casual and non-reciprocal.
I'd get so horny that I just wanted something, anything. So I'd
basically be a cocksucker, OK? Don't put that in the transcript.
have editing privileges, Tony, but I think it belongs in the interview.
I was so ugly for being an amputee that nobody would want anything
to do with me, so I'd just have to take sex on whatever terms I
could get it. The few experiences I had, well, I went back to the
you have some success as the aggressor?
You see, I believe there are two kinds of gay men, men that thrive
on tricking and men that aren't happy with sex unless its part of
a relationship. I'm one of the latter. I've made a kind of peace
with myself lately, though, figuring well, if you can't get it in
a relationship and you don't like tricking, then just let it go
and see what happens. My ventures now are mostly personals ads,
an attempt to reach out for something lasting.
I wish I
had done it ten years ago. My psychotherapist helped me see that
my disability is not necessarily the reason for rejectionthere
can be lots of reasons. People have their own agendas, their likes
and dislikes, what they want both physically and emotionally. That's
made it easier for me. And my therapist also helped me to realize
that some men do look at me with admiration.
you are, in the center of the world's premier gay neighborhood,
where you say you can, at last, walk down the street and appreciate
that men sometimes cruise you. Do you cruise back?
So far it's
been guys cruising me whom I'm not interested in. [Appreciative
laughter from both sides of the table] Isn't that always
the way? I've visited a few bars now and then, but I'm always looking
for that something more. The problem is that here in the Castro
it's a tricking environment. For
years, because of the "You're not one of the pretty things
in here" attitude I despaired and gave up. I've given it a
try again just in the last year.
it seem like a different experience these days?
cruised in bars, and I've had several sexual encounters. I tell
people I trick once every six months, whether I need it or not!
Just having the self-confidence to try it at all is due entirely
to the work I did with a marvelous psychotherapist, Dr. Alan Sable.
I want you to print his name, because he deserves my public thanks.
He helped me realize I'd been throwing self-pity parties for myself
for twenty-six years, ever since my car accident. It took that long
for me to get myself into therapy, to decide I could not go on living
with daily bouts of depression and tears.
bouts of depression and tears: that sounds a lot bigger than I'd
realized. How, exactly, did therapy help?
of the answer, an example that relates to your question about bars
and self-image, something Dr. Sable called a "rejection exercise."
I was to go into a bar, pick the ten men I thought were "hottest,"
and approach each one for sex. The idea was to get used to rejection
so that I could go on to the next man without feeling bad.
like the scenario for a porn flick! You were actually able to do
that? It strikes me as the most difficult environment for positive
the point. I don't want you to think I walked out of Dr. Sable's
office and headed straight for a bar the first time he suggested
it. It took several months to get up the courage. The one thing
I had trouble taking seriously was his "warning." He predicted I'd
rarely get through all ten men without someone taking me up on my
proposition. You know what? He was right.
the successes make you feel better about the rejections?
you never feel good about rejection. I mean, even getting turned
down for a job is pretty bad.
with a job you can convince yourself it's not really you that's
you can learn to take dating rejection less personally, too. Sure,
somebody may turn you down, but you're doing the same thing all
the time. Every time you walk into a bar you probably reject 90%
of the men there. They're not your "type." So that's where I'm coming
from these days. I'm not saying rejection is easy, but it doesn't
tear me up as much. I figure the guy who's given me the brush-off,
he's looking for something else. And then, I've got my spec sheet,
a useful realization, but don't you think that people like you and
me have this overlay, this overlay that says to us, It's not because
he likes blue eyes and mine are brown, it's not because he likes
'em six feet and over and I'm 5'7", it's because there's something
to think that, but now I see there's more on the plate. It's OK
to have less than two legs. Relationships are about how you make
each other feel, heart-to-heart. That's the zone where disability
can fade so far into the background that you get whole chunks of
time when you can both lose sight of it completely. I couldn't have
believed that earlier, but it's how I see things now.
kind of brings us full-circle. What about that last personals ad
of yours? What happened?
I got about
eight letters, but only one was what I'd call relationship material.
The others, pretty clearly, just wanted to mess around. With one
guy it was like phone sexexcept he didn't talk about sex.
He kept asking me about my prosthesis, my amputation. I could tell
he was getting off on it. And I thought, No, I don't want to put
up with this bullshit!
wasn't interested in you.
don't want someone making love to my stump. I have never let anyone
do that. I want someone to make love to me, in my entirety. Otherwise
the nature of the interest makes me feel like an object, not a whole
person. It's like I become a sex object, which is pretty funny when
you stop to think about it. No. It's not even that: it's like my
disability becomes the sex object.
is ironic. When
we were younger,we blamed the fact that we weren't
sex objects on our disability. Now it's like we're still trying
to reclaim our sexuality from our
the objectification comes from an inability to see the heart, to
feel the heart. I don't want to criticize gay men exclusively because
I think it's a cultural inabilitydisability if you willin
a culture that assaults us with superficial images. Disability aside,
not many of us look like a Calvin Klein underwear hunk, but thanks
to the media blitz that's directed more and more at gay men, most
of us would like to make it with the underwear hunk.
any of the responses to your ad lead to a meeting?
as it turned out, because the letters were from all over the country.
One man came down for a weekend, and he was a whole-person man.
He was clearly very keen to meet meafter all, he hopped on
airplaneand no doubt his keenness can only be explained by
his attraction to my disability. Nevertheless, it was not only my
disability. I felt very comfortable with him.
feeling of comfort with yourself has seemed evident throughout this
interview. You've laughed a lot, for one thing. Maybe some of it
was defensive laughter, but most of it seems to reflect genuine
satisfaction at where you find yourselfas if you've reached
a point of equilibrium that's new in your life.
that nearly everybody who knew me before I started psychotherapy
has noticed. After struggling with the body image thing for so many
years, I'm finally beginning to discard some of the false belief
systems that convinced me I was a troll. I got hung up on my appearance
because I believed everybody around me was, too, but I've proved
to myself that's just not the case. Being able to look at myself
as a promising lover instead of a failed porn star has been an enormous
turnaround. Let me tell you a story. Last month I was eating in
a Castro restaurant with a friend. We were sitting right at the
window. A guy passed by and flashed a smile and I said, Hey, that
was some smile I got! And my friend said, He wasn't 't cruising
you, he was cruising me. There we sat, arguing. Can you believe
it? Hilarious! The point is not which one of us was right, but that
a year or two ago there would have been no argument, because I would
have assumed, automatically, without thinking about it, that it
was my friend who was getting the smile. Oh, and, by the way, the
guy was looking at me!
does your newfound confidence say about how and where you "market"
yourself? Will the bar scene become more important in your life?
think so. I'm no more enthusiastic about bar-scene tricking than
I am about body-part tricking. My last word is: Love me, love my
stumpbut love me first! And bars don't seem like the place
to find true love. But maybe I've learned something from those men
who were more turned on by my disability than they were by me. What
so many people see as ugly, they
see as beautiful, and they see it in a very forceful way, so I guess
that it was that forcefulness that helped me to expand the limits
of what I believe can be desirable.
where do you find true love? Where do you go from here? You, personally.
know. All I know is that I'm never going back to that miserable
prison where I did time for so many years. Nobody belongs there.
© 2001 Tony Alberti and BENT
I Know Now
by Tony Alberti
Whether or not you
have a disability, if you are a gay man looking for love, the
last place you should move to is San Francisco!
Each of us is a reflection
of his individual experiences. This account is based on mine and
written solely from my perspective as a gay man and about gay
men. I do not attempt to convey universal truths. Each of us has
different values. Whether or not you agree with me, you will soon
understand that one of my top priorities has been a monogamous
Because so much of
what I have to say here focuses on negative experiences and impressions,
I want to acknowledge that my life has been overwhelmingly blessed:
with a supportive family and friends, and with financial, career
and healthcare advantages that most people in the rest of the
world are deprived of.
I am gay and disabled.
My physical attraction to men has always been unquestionable and
it is part of the basic programming of my personality. However,
as a "good Catholic boy" I was raised to believe that the physical
expression of such love was wrong. I became disabled when I was
sixteen years old. A car accident resulted in the above-knee amputation
of my left leg (two surgeries). I became more disabled when, at
twenty-nine, I fell and fractured my hip and required a total joint
replacement (three surgeries). I was clueless at the time about
how much these disabilities would eventually shape my self-image
as a gay man. They would also have a bearing on my attempts to find
By the age of thirty,
recognizing that I would be unhappy continuing to live alone, I
decided to join a religious community, where I could find support.
For three years, I was fortunate to find myself in an environment
where I could be openly gay, respected and befriended. I was halfway
through my priesthood studies and close to taking the requisite
vow of celibacy. Ironically, during a research project for my Moral
Theology class, the professor helped me to realize that it was possible
to pursue a gay relationship and still be loved by God (quite contrary
to my church's official position). That realization empowered me
to leave my community. My new goal became the pursuit of a lifelong,
Seventeen years have
passed (the last thirteen in San Francisco) and my search for love
has been thwarted. It is never a problem to find sex here; it has
been impossible for me to find monogamous love. Based on what I
have observed and participated in, here is my unscientific demographic
report on the gay male population of San Francisco:
· 80% of gay men here lead lives characterized by casual, anonymous
· 18% are engaged in serial relationships (living with someone for
a few months to a couple years, breaking up, and repeating that
· 1% are either in "open" relationships (which have always seemed
pointless to me) or are former lovers who have become just friends
who share a mortgage or apartment; and
· 1% of the population have found successful, monogamous relationships.
This kind of profile
may make gay activists defensive, but again, I am speaking solely
from my observations. With odds like these, and with what I have
learned from my last four years of experience in the mental health
field (unusually high incidences among gay men of substance abuse
and codependency, and behaviors like power tripping), I've come
to perceive the gay "community" as mostly an illusion, a deception
that has been sapping my energy.
Do BENT's readers
perceive, as I do, that most able-bodied gay men are interested
only in the external, physical "package?" For all the talk of intimacy
in this town, it stays just that (talk) and hardly anyone connects.
With the high turnover in population, the majority of friendships
lack depth and don't seem to endure. Few gay men are cruising hearts
or personalities (and we disabled men are generally superior in
both respects, because of our struggles and the challenges we've
had to overcome). Many local gay men find "vanilla sex" by itself
insufficient and supplement it with behaviors I find repulsive (fisting,
golden showers, cock-and-ball torture, scat, etc.). Many of the
specs in local personals ads impress me as degrading and unhealthy.
I can't help thinking that you wouldn't find them in the Midwest.
My outlook, reflected
in the interview that precedes this account, was once optimistic,
but that was nearly five years ago, and since then the culture has
shifted. My last four years in San Francisco coincided with the
rise and fall of Internet companies. Now more than ever, people
seem self-centered, arrogant, greedy and rude. Anyone who launches
a project in the gay "community" and takes a leadership role is
apt to become a target in the Letters to the Editor section of the
Bay Area Reporter (a weekly gay
newspaper), where legitimate criticism is layered with vicious,
personal attacks. On the streets, gay men who appear insecure about
their masculinity out-vie each other to look the meanest (an observation
confirmed by visitors who tell me that hardly anybody here smiles).
Walk down Castro Street and you'll find that people look away, or
act like they don't know you, orwhat drives me wildestyou
say "Hello" to someone you recognize, they look at you and continue
on their way without a word of acknowledgment. I can't bear these
Still, many gay men
realize something is lacking in their lives. They claim they want
spirituality, but they want it at their convenience and on their
own terms. They overlook the fact that all Western and Eastern spiritualities
require discipline. Few consider the possibility that life is a
gift, or that we are called on to share with others and to stretch
beyond our own comfort levels. Instead, the majority believe their
lives are their own to do with as they please, and anybody who thinks
otherwise is ignorant or a sex Nazi.
Four months ago,
I found myself in the crucible. My wonderful mom died on the morning
of my fiftieth birthday. As I prepared to leave with my family for
the funeral home, I fell and fractured my shoulder in two places
(mostly because of sleep deprivation from staying with my mom during
her six-day coma). The combination of events hurled me into a mid-life
crisis that generated a profound reassessment of my life and its
For thirty years,
I have nurtured a love that has wanted to burst into an expression
of intimacy with another mana real communion with a soul mate.
I didn't move to San Francisco for one-night stands or short-term
relationships. I've attempted to find a mate every way I can conceive
of. I cannot bring myself to compromise my values and settle for
less, as most others here have, though I'm probably guilty of over-romanticizing
the possibilities of what I haven't found (psychologists warn us
about looking for the perfect lover who will solve all our problems
and bring us total fulfillment). In the absence of a relationship,
I've allowed pornography and masturbation to be my consolation prizes.
In retrospect, I
am now convinced that remaining single is not just an accident of
fate. I have concluded that my life experiences as a gay and disabled
man are being called to a larger purpose than I could accomplish
by living with one person or continuing to live alone.
The past seventeen
years have been a long and winding road. I have experienced good
things and more than my fair share of physical and emotional pain.
Realizing that we generally grow only through sorrows and disappointments,
not triumphs, I've come to see that my own pain (struggling to make
a living, grief from loss of friends and family, additional physical
injuries that left me temporarily bedridden and totally dependent
on others) has developed my capacity to be a great support and resource
I know that many
of BENT's readers live with more serious mobility impairments than
I do, but when I finally realized that the cumulative effect of
my disabilities and injuries could be career-ending, I was terrified.
I recognized it was time to take action so I could make some contribution
to this worldnot to business, not to working with things,
but directly with our brothers and sisters who are difficult to
care for or about. For example, the thought of visiting hospitals
and helping patients and families deal with life-altering trauma
and death, visiting nursing homes, even dealing with the personal
problems of heterosexuals no longer bothers me. These are opportunities
to show love. Seventeen years ago, I felt inadequate to meet those
challenges. I thought I had to have the magic words that would make
people forget their problems and give them instant happiness. Now
I know it's really about being there and sharing with people in
their adversity, providing whatever support they need and being
a good listener. These are all skills I have.
After seventeen years,
and at age fifty, I have reached what I am convinced is my life's
crossroads. Do I continue to cling to the increasingly remote 1%
hope that I will succeed in love with one man, or do I turn full
circle and return to a ministry where I know I will be exceptionally
effective and will be reasonably happy? I'm tired of chasing the
dream and am now ready to embrace celibacy: not just for the peace
of mind and heart I will enjoy by letting go of the quest for a
lover, but because it will finally give me an outlet to share my
love with othersjust not sexually. I am convinced it would
be wrong for me to continue living in the Castro, where my love
is ignored and unappreciated. I will not be true to my own best
self if I continue struggling in a neighborhood and "community"
I feel so alienated from, one that has overwhelmingly rejected "our
kind," the disabled. So next year I intend to resume my priesthood
studies and work toward ordination.
Reactions to my decision
have been mixed. I have found firm support from my family and from
those in religious life. My gay friends, on the contrary, overwhelmingly
say, "Don't do it!" They seem to feel sorry for me and think it's
a shame nobody has discovered me. But their expressions of dismay
are unnecessary. Sure, I'm disappointed I didn't achieve my goal,
but my spirit is not broken: I am resilient and have rediscovered
a way to share my love. Knock me down, I get back up, and like the
Energizer Bunny, I keep going and going and going. While some may
think that I'm running away from my issues, I'm fully cognizant
that I'm choosing what I consider my second-best option. However,
I'm certain the companionship and fulfillment I will find in the
priesthood will more than compensate for the absence of sexual satisfaction.
Besides, it's not all about me. What I now think is my second-best
choice is probably, in fact, the very best choice from the perspective
of my Higher Power.
To those of you who
are blessed with the kind of loving, monogamous relationship I could
not find, I wish you continued growth in your love. To those of
you who have settled for less, I hope you will search your hearts
again and determine what is important for you. To those of you who,
like me, find yourselves in a state of celibacy you never really
wanted, I hope you too will realize that, as the old saying goes,
"we never get the cross we want" and that you will find opportunities
for expressing your love in other intimate and satisfying ways.
© 2001 Tony Alberti
Alberti received his Juris Doctor from St. Louis University.
After six years of practicing law, he entered
the field of human resources management where he accumulated sixteen
years of experience. Tony has worked in the high-tech and healthcare
industries and is now the marketing director for a national employee
assistance program in Silicon Valley, California.
BENT: A Journal of CripGay