Pomfret, author of “Since My Last Confession: A Gay Catholic
My boyfriend’s full of talk. He mutters dire condemnations at the
diminutive occupants of a double-wide stroller blocking the
entrance to the gay sports bar where his bloody Mary is waiting for
him. He’s the first to complain when the traffic cop outside the
Cathedral holds up our Honda to let the churchgoers pass. “Two
things I have no patience for,” he growls, “Catholics and
But before you take him at his word, understand first that the
truth is always a bit more complicated. Take the Catholic thing:
although the Boyfriend’s a confirmed atheist, he’s been dating
me for seven years. I go to Mass. A Bible and Butler’s Lives of
the Saints weigh down my bookshelves. There’s a crucifix on my
bedroom wall and a crèche on my mantle during Advent.
When he first came over to my apartment, he cheerfully (and
profanely) agreed to disagree with me.
“You know, I don’t believe in that [stuff],” he said. “But
if it makes you happier and a better person, I’m all for
I should have known better than to take him at his word. Cheerful
acquiescence and smoothing over of differences is the stuff of
first dates. Sooner or later, difference becomes a test. The best
relationships grow richer from it; the others fall apart.
The Scandal involving pedophile priests was the first sign that the
Boyfriend’s cheerful acquiescence might not last — especially
when I admitted that when I was young, there had always been
whispers about which priests to avoid being alone with.
“Why didn’t you turn the creeps in?”
Mea culpa. I didn’t know. It seemed like we Catholics
had decided to accept a certain number of diddling priests as the
price of salvation.
Shortly afterward, the Vatican issued statements linking the
Scandal with the “problem” of homosexuals in the priesthood.
Clearly, the hierarchy had decided that the best defense to the
Scandal was a good offense — against gays.
At that point, the Boyfriend asked, “Why do you go to a Church
that hates you?”
I pulled the Mother Theresa card. I assured him the good outweighed
the bad. I explained that I attended a church run by a religious
order that prided itself on not giving a dime to the Archdiocesan
The following year, my local archbishop condemned adoption by gay
parents and refused to back away from the Vatican’s declaration
that gay adoption did “violence” to children. It was impossible
to reconcile these statements with what I had personally observed
about the happy children of my lesbian friends.
“If their proclamations are so at odds with reality about gay
parents,” the Boyfriend asked, “what makes you think they know
$%&*# about God?”
I set my jaw and continued to go to Mass, to volunteer in various
church ministries, to put my dollars in the collection basket.
A year later, my archbishop announced that civil marriage between
gay people was a “national tragedy” and “an attack on the
common good” that “risk[ed] diminishing … humanity” and
that arose solely from an “exaggerated sense of entitlement”
motivated merely by “personal wants.”
At that point, a group of my friends held an intervention of the
kind you might hold for an alcoholic. They asked, Scott, why on
earth are you still Catholic?
I repeated the now-empty mantra that redemption was possible and
that grace would cause the Church to change, but it put a huge
strain on my relationship that I was not yet ready to give up my
church to the bastards in Rome.
Around this time, the Boyfriend’s brother added fuel to the fire.
He announced his conversion to Catholicism in order to marry a
Catholic woman. The happy couple talked endlessly of the
prospective children they would soon be bringing to the family lake
house in Maine where the Boyfriend and I spend summer weekends.
The Boyfriend’s brother made matters worse by embracing a very
bold and rule-bound form of Catholicism. He became all-Catholic all
the time. He presented his mother with an array of photos of
statues of saints. He wore a crucifix and foisted unwanted graces
on his family’s table. He and his wife mentored Catholic youth
groups and chattered incessantly about their parish priest and how
religious people in America were brutally oppressed. Actual votes
for George Bush were rumored to have been cast.
The Boyfriend took the conversion (and the talk of children) as a
personal betrayal. One night, after a family dinner, the Boyfriend
and his brother argued all night about religion. Not without
reason, Scott could see only the Church’s bad works, its
condemnations, all the loud, public pronouncements by the
institution’s prelates that put such a strain on our
The dispute raged on into the night through paper-thin walls. The
Boyfriend’s mother butted into the argument to forestall
fisticuffs. She insisted her son would be happier and less angry if
he found God.
The Boyfriend said that he was happy and normally not angry. But it
was apparent both statements were lies. Correcting himself, he
said, “It’s not godlessness that makes me unhappy. It’s the
way you people who say you believe in God act and talk.”
Lines were drawn in the sand. Tension infused every family
gathering. It seemed as if nothing could bridge the rift.
Oddly, it was Scott’s brother’s orthodoxy itself coupled with
some bad genetic luck that broke the logjam. A routine medical test
proved the newly married couple had as much chance of making a baby
from sex as the Boyfriend and I did. The Catholic couple was
crushed by the news, their bambini-filled future stolen by biology.
At Thanksgiving dinner, a few weeks later, my boyfriend offhandedly
suggested that the couple try all the modern technologies,
including in vitro fertilization. An advertising copywriter by
trade, he had recently been doing some marketing for a fertility
clinic and knew all the latest developments.
The Catholic couple refused his suggestions point blank. In
accordance with Church teaching, they believe that the IVF
guaranteed violence to the lives in the eggs.
“I’m tired of hearing what the Church says about
‘violence,’” my boyfriend snapped. “What about those kids
they let get violated for years?”
Yet again, a yawning resentful silence fell over the table.
I quietly murmured that maybe it would be better if we agreed not
to talk about the topics that divided the family. It seemed better
to keep silent than risk a fevered exchange of views.
“Let’s talk about what’s possible,” the Boyfriend’s
sister-in-law suggested instead, “rather than what we can’t
do.” Finding no opposition to her suggestion, she mentioned that
they hoped to obtain donated embryos from others who had succeeded
with IVF and had leftover unused eggs, but they had no idea how
they were going to go about it.
I watched the Boyfriend closely read his brother’s face. It was
like watching a silent film, the end of which I could not guess.
When the Boyfriend finally opened his mouth to speak, I cringed,
anticipating further conflict.
In an even voice, empty of irritation, the Boyfriend said, “You
need a marketing concept. A way to get out the word.”
“A marketplace, maybe,” I added enthusiastically, jumping on
the bandwagon of non-aggression. “An EBay for embryos.”
The happy couple exchanged wary looks, as if this were one more
ploy by the gays to mock their childlessness or undermine their
The Boyfriend broke out paper and a pen, and poured a round of
Soon, skepticism cast aside, everyone in the room shouted out
suggestions. We became our own little focus group. Riffing on his
original concept and the fresh ideas, the Boyfriend drafted a
complete set of marketing materials right on the kitchen table — a
logo, a website, everything short of venture capital.
“We need a tag line,” the Boyfriend announced. Like a maestro
at work, he held up his hand for silence and furrowed his brow. A
pregnant (if you will) moment passed.
Leftover miracles, he jotted on the page. Give us your leftover
His orthodox Catholic sister-in-law stared at the words and began
“That was generous,” I said to my boyfriend as we got ready for
bed. His inexplicable and selfless love for his brother said
something far more profound about the selfless love of God than any
pronouncement by a Pope. It was obvious that in part he had seen in
his brother and sister-in-law’s childlessness something familiar:
the common predicament of our gay and lesbian friends who want
children. Nothing happens by accident. He had given the Catholic
couple the gift of hope.
“You know,” I said, “I think God put us together.” He
squirmed with discomfort at the religious terminology. “And,
having told you that, I want to hug you.”
“So hug me.”
“I’m not sure if I would be hugging you from affection, or a
bribe, or an effort just to stop you looking at me the way you are
My boyfriend flinched as if scalded. Then he took a deep breath,
and I gathered him in, his head to my shoulder and our arms wrapped
tight. We all have our own private rituals of reconciliation, and
everyone knows make-up sex is the best kind. Talk about a leftover
miracle. Thanks be to God: I’d be lying if I told you that I
–by Scott D. Pomfret
Adapted from “Since My Last Confession: A Gay Catholic
Memoir” (Arcade Publishing 2008), a funny tale of stalking
Cardinals, motorcycle dykes, Hale Marys, surefire ways to recognize
a gay Catholic, Father McSlutty, and the Ten Commandments of
Reading Gay Porn. More info at www.sincemylastconfession.com.
P.S. Two years later, that Catholic sister-in-law has her first
child, and I’ll venture to say, he’ll grow up in the (sometimes
grumpy) presence of his gay uncles and no Catholic orthodoxy is
going to overwhelm the sister-in-law’s gratitude or the child’s