Everyone knows that nuns are secret sexy lesbians, right? (It frightens me to see how many hits on this blog are from people Googling “hot sexy nuns.”) I was raised a good Southern Baptist, taught from an early age that Catholics become priests or monks or nuns because they are secretly gay and are hiding their sexuality.
So why don’t my stories set at St. Marlene’s, the monastery and convent in my fictional hometown of Quacker Holler, Tennessee, have gay priests? And why no gay monks or nuns? Who am I kidding?
Because that’s what everyone expects me to do
It’s a cliché, and behind any cliché, one rarely finds the truth.
Sure, I have known some gay priests. Like the one who always went outside to smoke during the breaks at RCIA class. “I’ve given up sex,” he used to say. “Surely God will allow me one vice.” More than likely, I have known some gay monks and nuns, although I am not aware of who they might be. It’s just that the odds are against me not having known any gay monks and nuns.
I have also known many straight priests, monks, and nuns who have chosen to devote their lives to their mission, serving people and serving the Lord. Why should we assume that they are gay, just because they have chosen service before sex? For that matter, why should we assume they are straight? Why would it matter?
Please don’t feed the stereotype
That myth that everyone who takes a vow of celibacy does so because they’re gay and can’t admit it? It belittles their true commitment to their mission. It minimizes them as people by reducing them to nothing more than a pop psychology truism. Even most of the gay clergy took their vows for the right reasons, and not just to hide from their sexuality.
That being said, who says there aren’t gay clergy at St. Marlene’s? Just because I don’t have any stories where the nuns climb into each other’s beds when the lights are out, that doesn’t mean they’re all straight. All it means is that they are true to their vows.
The truth is, some of the monks and some of the nuns likely are gay. But since they’re celibate, nothing in their actions tells us which monks and nuns are gay, and it doesn’t matter anyway.
Some clergy are gay, and some are straight. Fair enough. Let’s judge them by what they do, not by who they love.