He’s only gay when he’s drunk

He’s only gay when he’s drunk

I’ve been to a party or two in my time and I’ve encountered friends who I know never light up a cigarette puffing away on a stick in one hand while holding a drink in the other. When questioned they would reply, “I only smoke when I drink.” Apparently the rector of Pittsburgh’s undergraduate seminary thinks that excuse applies to a wide-range of behaviors.

Discussing recent comments by Archbishop Edward O’Brien on the apostolic visitation of seminaries and on homosexuality among seminarians in particular, Fr. James Wehner says:

“He is being very general. I would not challenge what he said, but I think we need to be more specific. You can have an orientation and never engage in homosexual acts. And you can have some young man who has too much to drink and engages in perversions he never would otherwise. That doesn’t mean he’s gay,” Wehner said.

A friend emails: “So if you keep an open can of Budweiser— no, make that a bottle of an impudent young chardonnay—in your room, it acts as a get-out-of-jail-free card. You can take on the entire cast of Angels in America, and if anybody asks questions, you say you must have been a bit tipsy.”

Never mind that someone with a propensity for drunkness that leads to illicit sexual acts would have a whole other reason to be seriously re-considered for the seminary, what can the rector possibly be thinking? What normal heterosexual male suddenly finds himself a homosexual after having a few drinks? I’m sorry, but drunkenness doesn’t change your personality, it lowers barriers and impairs judgment so that you’re more likely to do things that are already in your mind.

This is the kind of thinking that looks for loopholes and excuses, not elevated standards of behavior.

  • What the newspaper article doesn’t tell you is that one of the seminarians was a sheriff’s deputy before entering the seminary and most likely remained a reserve deputy afterward. No need to find something nefarious in it.

    I’m sure that once he’s able to speak and hire a lawyer, the charge will be dropped.

  • What a bizarre statement! He seems not to realize that sodomy is – objectively speaking – one of the gravest of sins.

    There are certain things a suitable candidate for the priesthood would not do no matter how drunk.

    Then again, how much should a suitable candidate for the priesthood be drinking.

  • Further details—I just spoke to my parishioner-friend, and it is the same John O’Brien.  Apparently he was volunteering in an “Outward-Bound” type of camping situation when a group of nine boys decided to run away.  While John was sleeping, these boys got up and bludgeoned him 5 times about the head with a metal shovel, stole the program’s van and made a run for it.  Praise God, one of the nine had a change of heart and refused to go with them, instead returning to the program’s main office and alerting them to the situation and John’s condition.

    According to my friend, there was a manhunt for the boys, who were caught yesterday and are being held on the charge of attempted murder.

    John is being kept in a coma so that his wounds might heal; according to some he has a very good chance of making a full recovery.  Please keep him—and these boys—in your prayers.

  • “What the newspaper article doesninary and have driven its grounds many times—sometimes at night.  The roads are narrow, curving and slightly rolling and have (at least) two bridges over a man-made lake.  It’s an area in which deer roam, but one that a driver would traverse slowly thus not be likely to get in a fatal crash avoiding a deer.

  • Do any diocese offer the Novos Ordo in Latin?  I attended the Tridentine Mass last week and, as someone who has no memory of this Mass, I found it hard to follow.

  • Yes, Fr. Wehnerwas in the seminary a priest friend told me that alcohol and celibacy do not mix.

    Alcohol is never an excuse for any behavior but celibacy is an important reason to just not drink. Does not St. Paul say to run so as to win and that athletes deny themselves things so as to win the prize.

    I do not buy the rector’s excuse at all as the reality is that alcohol can be used in moderation, but it does not have to be used at all. Therefore, the seminary should endorse a dry policy. They are after all training priests in how to live as priests aren’t they?

    People do stupid things when they have to much to drink. Getting behind the wheel of a car by the way is just one of many of them.

    Just because someone kills someone drunk driving does not make him a hit man, but it does not excuse his behavior or take away the hurt.

  • I’m not saying you can’t do stupid things when drunk. What I’m disputing is that you can accidentally engage in gay sex while drunk, but not be gay or not have high-level same-sex attraction when sober.

  • Speaking of occasions of sin, is not immoderate drinking, i.e. drinking to get drunk, the sin of gluttony?

  • Dom, same-sex attraction is a spectrum.  How much does it take for you to label someone as gay?  However much that is, it might hardly ever impinge on someone’s consciousness under normal circumstances, but then under the influence of drugs or alcohol and in the right circumstances, they might find themselves doing something they wouldn’t otherwise.  I think it can happen with all manner of things when people are drunk.  And I don’t say that as an excuse, just an explanation. Again, there are many degrees of same sex attraction, just as there are degrees of other temptations.
    And, Dom, having seen your pictures, i don’t think you have to worry about anyone trying to advantage of you while drunk.

  • Furthermore, I’ll leave it to your imagination as to whether or not that’s meant as a compliment. smile

  • And, as far as “in vino veritas est,” I think that it is only partly correct- there can also be a lot of lying, dishonesty, and simple mis-perception related to alcohol’s effect on the brain (“No really, I can drive just fine- I’m sure of it.”)  Overall, I think alcohol causes much more misery than it alleviates in our society.

  •   I think because the respondants are self-selected the resultant sample is not a probability sample and one cannot infer anything from the results.

    One difficulty that attends research like this, even if the sampling frames be validly constructed, is that responses (affirmative or negative) are abstracted from people’s actual investments of time and bother.  Talk is cheap.  The number of people who would ‘like’ to hear a Latin Mass at their preferred hour in their proximate parish is one thing.  The number who will put some miles on their car and attend three hours earlier or later than they have been accustomed to is quite another.

    There’s quite a bit of empty space in the pews at the Byzantine-rite parish I attend, reverence and fine preaching notwithstanding.  Attendance at the proximate Indult Masses is likewise modest.

  • Fr. Carr perhaps remembers the days when priests were required to bring a priest-companion to all social events, including home visits; were required to be in the rectory by 10PM; were required to live in the rectory/community; were carefully instructed to remain distant (and cold, if necessary) to women…

    Of course, common sense is no longer common, and these prudential rules have been abandoned.

  • “The number of people who would hen and where they worship. Heaven forbid.

    I’m not Catholic, but I’ve attended several Masses at St. Michael’s as I explore whether or not I should cross the Tiber, as some say, and I can tell you that every Sunday I’ve been there the pews are full and people are standing against the back wall. Futhermore this is in the middle of summer in a Sanctuary that doesn’t have air conditioning.

  • “How do you know one traditionalist hasnne to do the difficult thing and by the witness of a kind of martyrdom (although I hope it’s not a witness that requires the full measure, God’s will be done.) I’m praying for him and his family.


    2005-09-20 08:18:40
    2005-09-20 12:18:40


    2005-09-20 10:48:47
    2005-09-20 14:48:47
    I do know a John O’Brien, class of ‘04, who is a very good friend of a parishioner (and former LifeTeen CORE member here).  If this is the same man, he is a wonderful guy and I will assuredly pray for him.  Even if it’s another, let’s all pray for him.

  • There is an old saying: A little wine goes in, a little truth comes out. Fr. James Wehner’s excuse reminds me of the women who say that their husbands only beat them when their drunk.

  • “I don’t know about anyone else but when I get drunk, I head straight to the gay bath house.  I don’t know what it is.  I know I’m TOTALLY straight, and yet, after four Cosmopolitans I can’t live without being dragged around by a RuPaul clone in a studded dog collar.”

    Give us a break, Father Wehner (and, uh, how is that name pronounced…?) 

    It seems there is one more dot to connect: Pittsburgh has a bishop.  Think he doesn’t know all about Father’s views?

  • Wow.  Talk about uncharitable.  If you actually read what Fr. Wehner said in the article, you would be ashamed of yourself for writing in such a vein.  He also noted that he generally supported the views of the priest in charge of the apostolic visitation.  Taking one bit of what someone has said, misrepresenting it, and making judgments based on that is exactly why so many people are turned off by those who call themselves Christians.

  • You know, Thomas, for someone terribly exercised over “hypermoralism” that’s an amusing jab.  I read the whole article by Ann Rodgers.  I read all of Father Wehner’s words.  Based on them, and on the overall context here, substituting “McBrien” for “Wehner” and you get the exact same gist.
    If my tone is tart, it’s because I’m fed up with the “it’s not a black and white issue/I wouldn’t read too much into Archbishop O’Brien’s words/drinking is a legit excuse for just about anything” kabuki dance that rectors like this do all the time.

    By their subtle objections to common-sense Vatican directives ye shall know them.

    Then again, I merely call myself a Christian.

  • The biggest problems are not the current seminaries or seminarians. It’s the gay priests who were ordained in the 70s and 80s who became ordinaries. These are the guys that created the “Lavendar Mafia.” They’re alive and well and in-charge.

  • In other words, nowhere did this priest say drinking was a legitimate excuse for anything.  He simply offered a scenario that could plausibly happen and pointed out that things are indeed not always black-and-white.  I’m objecting to your mischaracterization of what he said, and your implication that he is a homosexual sympathizer.  As Christians, shouldn’t we err on the side of charity in interpreting what people say, and not be so judgmental about their motives?

  • “Some aren’t getting it at home,” the man added. “Some say, ‘I’m not even gay. I’m just bored.’ “

    a quote from an NYT article today about anonymous gay sex.

    So if boredom can cause a straight guy to have homosexual sex, then why shouldn’t alcohol be able to ?

    Couldn’t Fr.Wehner’s words be interpreted in a different way, namely about the issue of how should a seminary decide whether an applicant is homosexual ? So is one incident in the past, made possible by excessive alcohol consumption, sufficient to disqualify him ?

  • Once again, a guy who has gay sex because he’s bored is gay in the first place, not straight. If what you say is true then the guys who weren’t able to pick up a woman at the bar would be taking other guys home instead all the time.

    It’s like the other argument that priests abused boys not because they were gay but because boys were handy. No, they preferred males.

    It belies the very idea of there being something objectively called heterosexual or homosexual. Not buying it.

    Oh and the New York Times has a vested interest in normalizing homosexuality. I take what they say with a very large grain of salt.

  • By your logic, is a man with homosexuel attractions, who has sex with a woman, straight ?

    The issue is that the act is not always in accordance with the underlying attraction. There are numbers of homosexual persons out there, who are married and have children. What are they ?

    How do you know about abusers that they preferred males ? The inference you draw is from the outcome and the claim that the act has to be done according to underlying attraction.
    Since there are sufficient cases out there, where is this not true (Marriages, Prisons), how can you keep up your argument ?

    I am not disputing the fact that there are homosexual and heterosexual attractions, I am disputing that you can deduce the underlying attraction from the actual act.
    Sexual acting out is a choice, so sexual attraction might be a constraint on what is enjoyed but not on what can be done. 

  • By your logic, is a man with homosexuel attractions, who has sex with a woman, straight ?

    No, you are displaying faulty logic. Homosexuality and heterosexuality are not two sides of the same coin. Homosexuality is a disorder, a perversion of the normalcy that is heterosexuality. It goes right along with the fallacy of bisexuality. You can’t be a “little” gay. You either are gay or you’re not, just like you’re either chaste or not. You can’t be a “little” chaste either.

    How do you know about abusers that they preferred males ?

    Because most of these guys were not in exclusively all-male environments. Because most of them went after adolescent teen males (which is defined a ephebophilia, a form of homosexuality, not pedophilia). Prisons are a whole other special case based on the perversions present and the unique mental health problems of guys likely to end up there.

    I’m no psychologist but I’ve read enough material by doctors who’ve worked in prisons to know that you can’t extrapolate from prison to the rest of the world.

  • The question is not whether homosexuality is an disorder (a notion I have no problem with), the issue is how to determine whether somebody is homosexual.

    You argue, that a single act, a single choice, even made under circumstances which inhibit clear judgement (like being drunk), is sufficient evidence to determine the underlying attraction.

    So if I understand you right, you are saying that somebody with this disorder can make the choice to have sex with either gender, whereas somebody without this disorder cannot make this choice (or at least will never make this choice)?

    I don’t believe that sexual attraction is the sole determinant for the type of sexual action humans choose, there seem to be other factors influencing this decision, like excercising of power, the excitement of the new or the forbidden and others.


  • I’m telling you that a normal heterosexual male is not going to have sex with another man willingly under any circumstances. If a man has sex with another man, even with impaired judgment, it means there’s an underlying problem. He may not be full-on Queer Eye for the Straight Guy homosexual, but he’s got issues he needs to deal with and the seminary isn’t the place for him.

  • Flo is right.  You’re just wrong on this one, Dom.  Read what Kevin Miller and Greg Popcak have written on their blog, if you haven’t already.  Sexuality isn’t always as rigidly black-and-white as you would have it; the normality and morality of it are separate issues.

  • Sexuality may not be rigidly black-and-white in the world, but it should be in the seminary.  Hopefully it will be soon.

    I went to Mizzou in my younger days, been to many a beer bust, and I *never* heard of a heterosexual male that got amorous with guys due to inebriation, not ever. 

    If a guy has sexuality that’s too far down on one end of the “spectrum”, maybe that guy will have a disordered moment.  But then that guy prolly shouldn’t be a priest. 

  • Speaking of putting words in mouths, i don’t think anyone said that “all men” are homosexuals under the right circumstances.
    I agree with Jeff and must add that, particularly today when homoseuality is glorified in the media, some teenage and college age kids will experiment now when in times past they were taught better, and followed norms of behavior better. Don’t underestimate what is being presented by the media (and being taught in schools) and the hold it has on kids If such a kid does experiment at some time and later becomes a moral and upright Christian I don’t think we should hold it against him.
    Zita- so the fact that you never heard about it means that it doesn’t occur?  I can assure you it does. I suspect that some of your guy friends may have experimented and simply never told you or anyone else about it.  And yet they are probably normal heterosexually-functioning men today.

  • The plain implication of the assertion that “hey, sailors did it” and “hey, prisoners do it,” is that “hey, it can happen to anyone,” otherwise why bring those cases up?

    If such a kid does experiment at some time and later becomes a moral and upright Christian I don
    2005-09-22 11:07:38
    2005-09-22 15:07:38
    And we see where allowing rectors and vocation directors to set up their own standards has gotten us: a priesthood with a significant percentage of practicing homosexuals.

    This is why a bright line must be drawn. Is it an arbitrary line? Perhaps, but no one can say that they don’t know what the rule is.

    In essence the prudential judgment has been abused, so the Pope has reserved that judgment to himself. Although in reality, this is not a new policy. It was defined by John XXIII back in the 1960s. The only difference is that now it’s going to be enforced.

  • Yes, I agree- prudential judgment has been abused. As freedom always is. We’ll see how the instruction reads after it is released.  I doubt if it will really clear the matter up since there probably won’t be a definition of what is meant by homosexual.  But now we are arguing in circles so I will leave the last word to you.

  • Oh- but before I go, let me add that the abuse of prudential judgment is a problem that lies at the feet of the bishops.  whenever they saw their rectors abusing it, they should have stopped it.  But many didn’t.  We’ll see what happens now.

  • Zita- so the fact that you never heard about it means that it doesnt_author_url>
    2005-09-20 13:45:33
    2005-09-20 17:45:33
    John, I think that’s why Dom said, “If this is legit…”

    BTW, if the folks in San Bernardino want a Latin Mass they can come to (St. Michael’s Abbey in Orange County.