Baron Corvo, aka Frederick Rolfe
Robert Hugh Benson was a devoted friend.
Frederick Rolfe was gay. R.H. Benson formed a chaste but passionate friendship, wrote many letters - which were destroyed after his death by his brother, E. F. Benson, who was also gay. I discovered all of this when writing about the the child martyrs associated with blood libel, yesterday. I was attempting to link the martyr's deaths to child sexual abuse rather than ritual murder by anti-Christian Jews. (I still think that's more likely.)
The connections among these English gentlemen is something I may have read about, long ago, and moved on, but now, with all the discussion of same sex friendship - or more to the point, spiritual friendship among gay-Catholics, stories involving men such as Benson and Rolfe take on a greater significance. In fact, to such an extent, I'm not sure what all the fuss is about these days regarding Eve Tushnet and the Spiritual Friendship movement. (The New Ways Ministry sympathizers seem to me to pose a more real, and ever-present threat to Catholic teaching.)
A chaste but passionate friendship.
I understand the arguments of the importance of how one identifies - 'don't say gay' - I also understand the error of seeking civil/ecclesial approval for any form of same sex union, and so on - it inevitably leads to legalizing gay marriage, for one. I get that and accept that - but aside from that, I'm not sure why these folks are regarded with so much suspicion since there is a sort of precedent for their ideas among the British Catholic intellectuals at the turn of the 20th century. It seems to me the English Catholics were pretty gay. "In England it comes when you are almost men." - Cara
Anyway - I find it interesting.
I've written about such things in the past as well, before I even heard of people like Ron Belgau or Wesley
"I know of these romantic friendships of the English and the Germans. They are not Latin. I think they are very good if they do not go on too long... It's the kind of love that comes to children before they know its meaning." - Cara, Brideshead Revisited.
The relationship of Charles and Sebastian in Waugh's novel Brideshead Revisited can be said to illustrate the concept of what I call a transitional homosexuality; Cara remarking, "In England it comes when you are almost men." In the book it is clear Charles moved on, while Sebastian seemed unable to, although in the end, as a sort of porter for the monastery, he was obviously converted and found peace. I expect fans of the novel will disagree with me.
Yet I believe it true that not all men who identify as same-sex attracted are 'fixed' in homosexuality, which happens to be a fact glossed over by homo-activists who see it as an irreversible sexual orientation. Indeed, activists seem to think 'once gay always gay', rejecting the idea that some men, given the motivation can change, although one must first be able to move on and out of the behavior. This is why homosexual molestation, or pederasty is so very evil, not to mention the indoctrination through sex education programs in primary school, middle school, and high school. (And yes, it is true, as the catechism states, the orientation is not sinful in itself, just the behavior, and by extension, advocating for normalizing or promoting the behavior.)
Now that I am older and witnessed close friends who renounced homosexual relations, married and fathered children, not unlike Evelyn Waugh, I can tell you change is possible and homosexual inclination can be transitory. Not a few of my friend's homosexual acquaintances were quite unhappy with their decision to leave the culture and get married, they felt betrayed. Yet after 30 years or more, their marriages turned out to be successful, their love sincere and lasting, and their lives quite happy and fulfilled. Thus, it seems entirely possible to me, that men with similar motivation, who renounce homosexual behavior and opt for a chaste, celibate life, could be admitted to Holy Orders and religious life, provided they are in agreement with Church teaching on the issue. Again, the ordinary superiors would have the final say in the matter and be responsible for making that decision. It's not my call.
Off topic, but when I was a kid I think it was Jack Parr, who in a conversation with Bea Lillie said something to the effect, "British men are notoriously bisexual." She seemed to agree, if I remember correctly.
Ordinary same sex friendship is a necessity for normal maturation.
Chaste and disinterested friendship of course. That is, normal friendship. It can't be ritualized or 'sacramentalized'. Ordinary same sex friendship need not be celebrated as some special spiritual vocation. Neither is it appropriate to eroticize friendship. I'm convinced that is a corruption of friendship, an exploitation of the other for personal gratification. Men with same sex attraction-homosexual inclination, need normal friendship with men - especially normal men. But that's just my opinion.
I came across a discussion on another site dealing with the issue of homosexual friendship, and was caught by the following quote from C.S. Lewis:
“Those who cannot conceive Friendship as a substantive love, but only as a disguise or elaboration of Eros, betray the fact that they have never had a Friend,” - C.S. LewisIt seems to me, since the 19th century invention of the term 'homosexuality' the traditional understanding of friendship has been confused, and become nearly incomprehensible to many in our day of overt sexuality. Perhaps authors such as E.M. Forster and Christopher Isherwood were still able to differentiate the platonic-philia love from the erotic - which they popularized in their writing - thus contributing in no small way to our contemporary acceptance of homosexual erotic relationships. For instance, in the Forster novel, Maurice the main character, enjoys a close platonic relationship with his friend Clive Durham while at school. Clive intended to marry and have a family and had no interest in a homoerotic relationship - though the friendship between the two was indeed exclusive and mildly intimate. Later, disappointed in that prospect with Durham, Maurice falls in love with a woodsman and (unrealistically) is supposed to live happily ever after, hidden away in the woods with the love of his life.
The friendship between Maurice and Clive is a bit reminiscent of Brideshead, and the friendship between Sebastian and Charles. Though their friendship may have had homosexual overtones, it isn't exactly clear that the two shared homoerotic interests or relations, despite this insightful comment from Lord Marchmain's mistress.
I mention these friendships in particular, since they may help to explain the deep platonic friendships men forged with one another, and given the context, with or without homoerotic interest. Albeit in the case of Maurice, he desired to have had such intimacies with Clive Durham; and as I say, the situation between Sebastian and Charles may have included at least a one sided homoerotic attraction. Be that as it may, a healthy sense of non-sexual close friendship was not unknown in the early 20th century. - People no longer know what friendship is.
There seems to be a rather duplicitous history when it comes to gay-Catholics.
As I always say, I think it much better just to be Catholic and faithful. Don't make yourself crazy.