The Gentile Gallery filled Monday evening with students when a social work major gave his testimony about living as a faithful Catholic disciple who experiences same-sex attractions.
Senior Manny Gonzalez, whose theme for the night was “What a Wonderful Cross,” was vulnerable with his audience about his struggles with identity.
Gonzalez said that he does not call himself “gay” because he feels the word is “limited.” He said that he prefers to call himself a son of the king who strives for chastity despite struggling with same-sex attraction.
Gonzalez said he turned this struggle into a ministry, where he talks about his own cross that kept him at the foot of the Lord’s cross.
Gonzalez said that, out of the 14% of Generation Z that identifies themselves as part of the secular LGBTQ+ agenda, 91% of them perceive the Church as “homophobic,” and 31% of LGBTQ+ youth have left the Church because of that.
Gonzalez said many religious youths like himself struggle in silence with their same-sex attraction. Instead of shutting these brothers and sisters out, he said they should be welcomed, affirmed and loved by all in the Church.
Gonzalez quoted Pope Francis, who said, “A Church that realizes why people leave also contains the reasons why they can return.”
Gonzalez shared the story of his journey.
He said he was born into a faithfully Catholic family of nine in Dallas, Texas, and realized he was attracted to men while attending an all-boys Catholic boarding school in middle school.
At that time, Gonzalez said he entered into a cycle of hate for the Lord, the Church and himself.
By junior year of high school, Gonzalez was honest about his experience and “came out” to everyone he knew, including his parents. He said his parents did not shame him nor did they celebrate him but met him where he was.
This was Gonzalez’s first true experience of the God the father’s love, he said.
In the next three years, Gonzalez said he lived a life that he understood as true to his identity. Stricken with promiscuity and drunkenness, he said he felt empty.
In the summer of 2018, he had an interesting dream where he saw the image of a heart sinking into a dark body of water. For the first time, Gonzalez experienced the weight of his sin, he said.
He said he felt like he was on the dangerous path to hell not for his same-sex attraction but because of the lifestyle that his pride, lust and hatred for the Church had absorbed him into.
Despite the persistence of his anger toward the Lord, Gonzalez said God still made something beautiful out of his frustrations.
One month later, Gonzalez said the Lord called on him in a dream and said, “Son, I need you. Your time is running out.”
Those words were the start of his radical conversion, he said.
Gonzalez took questions from his audience following his talk.
Those who experience struggles with sexual identity can get involved in Integratis Ministry on campus, a group that seeks to help individuals live in purity and chastity. For more information, email [email protected].
The talk was sponsored by the Office of Evangelization.