In a world defined by labels, Hudson B. asked teenagers attending the Catholic Charities Summer Institute to label a photo of a red car. It is a red car, but looking deeper, it was also a 1975 Ford LTD, two-door, V8, 400. Both definitions are correct, but the second paints a deeper picture.
For his life, Hudson, who realized as a child he was experiencing same-sex attraction, said “the Church is calling us to see each other as persons first.”
“I’m not a gay Catholic or straight Catholic or anything like that, I’m person. I’m a person who experiences whatever attraction,” he said. “… I was able to see beyond red car. I was able to see beyond the idea that attractions were needed to define who I am as a person.”
Hudson, an international speaker for the past five years, was one of the speakers talking with about 80 youth at C2SI for the 10th anniversary of the week-long retreat, hosted annually by the Diocese of Little Rock Youth Ministry Office. It was held July 24-28 at the Arkansas 4-H Center in Little Rock.
“It’s been 10 years of watching young people care so much about other people … learning about being Christ to others and give service to others in 100-degree heat,” of summer, said Liz Tingquist, diocesan director of youth and campus ministry.
Though speakers address unique topics each year, Tingquist said they made it a point this year to discuss topics the teenagers have requested — the gender revolution, death penalty and peace in a world of nuclear armament. All discussions followed guidelines set forth by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.
“We don’t shy away from things that would be semi-controversial,” she said, including discussing LGBTQ+ topics.
LGBTQ+ is a common acronym for those who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer/questioning and others.
“The kids have been asking about this the last several years because they’ve been dealing with this in school and so we’re going to talk about how do you walk with someone but still speak the truth?”
The presentation, “Walking in Faith with our LGBTQA Brothers and Sisters” was led by Hudson B., who for safety reasons asked that his last name not be printed. He gave a three-part talk detailing his own story, which included both homosexuality and transgenderism, while journeying toward what it means to be a person of Christ. He provided information to prayerfully consider when discussing same-sex attraction and the ultimate pursuit of happiness and belonging. He also led a Q&A session with Bishop Anthony B. Taylor.
Hudson, who hails from Canada, began experiencing same-sex attractions while young and from an early age, identified more with the feminine. By age 11, he was addicted to pornography.
“I remember looking at that stuff and saying ‘I’m gay.’ I was 11,” he said, while recounting how the images of the women were no longer providing stimulation.
Porn addiction would consume him for almost 20 years, delving into escapism and binges that would last hours. At 13, he began partying and being promiscuous with girls.
“How does that respect the dignity and worth of a person? It’s doesn’t. That’s where I was at,” Hudson said.
Hudson moved from a city of one million to a town of 1,000, where he had to face the man he had become. He met people at a local parish and wanted “the peace that they have.”
At 27, he came out to himself as gay again one night after using porn.
“I was thinking I guess the only way I could be a good Catholic is to hold on to this roller coaster, just white knuckle it, ‘behave good.’ Like the Church is an authority saying ‘you can’t do this’ and I was growing in bitterness because I couldn’t be who I am,” Hudson said.
But, he embraced chastity, which he said is not “behavior management.”
“I realized that the wolf you feed, the interior wolf you feed is the wolf that wins the battle … and most importantly I realized because I’m made in the image and likeness of God, I realized that I am loved and made by him. I am enough; I am man enough because I am his,” Hudson said.
The world thrives on embracing identity, but often, that identity is anchored to self, not the Creator.
“You want to talk about breaking someone’s heart, tell them that their vocation that they hope and dream for you can’t do, ‘Well, why?’ ‘Because this is who you are,’” Hudson said of one day being a husband and father. “And the world tells you this is who you are, because you experience (same-sex) attraction, which you did not specifically choose … it confines you to this little narrative, a little story of what your life must unfold like.”
While society defines people by sexuality, Hudson said, “Am I a sexuality with a person or am I a person with a sexuality? We’re persons first.”
Just as people can often misinterpret lyrics to a song, every Catholic is challenged to sing the truth.
“It’s up to us to help people learn the proper lyrics so that we can help people make sense of the faith instead of believing that someone like me could never belong and doesn’t exist,” Hudson said. “… I get accused of not being honest with myself … I know I belong in the Church because of people like you who love me enough to invite me to pursue the mystery of Christ.”
Luke Haslauer, 16, a member of Christ the King Church in Little Rock, said, “I was really impressed and inspired that he came up and talked about his problems and was open and honest with everybody.”
Having the answers and understanding provided clarity said, Claire Hollenbeck, 17, a member of St. Boniface Church in Fort Smith.
“I feel like I’ve learned more about how the Catholic Church sees the LGBTQA community,” she said, adding before Hudson’s talk, “I wasn’t sure how I should feel about it.”
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