Author explores sexuality, Catholic faith
Andrew Cameron | Tuesday, March 27, 2018
Catholic writer Dan Mattson spoke Monday on his struggle to reconcile his sexual identity with his faith. The talk was hosted by Students for Child-Oriented Policy and the “Irish Rover.” The first 30 attendees to the event received free copies of Mattson’s book, “Why I Don’t Call Myself Gay: How I Reclaimed My Sexual Reality and Found Peace.”
Mattson is a professional orchestral trombone player, currently performing as the assistant principal trombone at Grand Rapids Symphony. He began his speech by saying that Catholic doctrine on sexuality drew him to the Church.
“I am actually somebody, believe it or not, who came into the Catholic Church because of the Church’s teachings on sexuality and homosexuality,” he said. “People like me actually exist. We may be considered an anomaly, but I have come to realize that the Church loves me more than anyone else, and the gift that she gives to me is to constant remind me how beloved I am by God. Part of that is telling me how I’m going to live my life, and to guide me on the path of fulfillment.”
The talk was told in the context of Mattson’s own life and journey. He described his upbringing in a family that had left the Catholic Church to become Protestant, and his first discovery of his attraction to other men at the age of six. Despite this and his later addiction to pornography, Mattson said that he loved and trusted in God throughout his childhood and adolescence.
“I believed that He wanted me to be happy, in this life or the next, and that His plans to ‘prosper me and not to harm me’ were the plans that I wanted,” he said. “And what were the plans I wanted? I expected and hoped that I would be married and have a wife and family. That was my limited vision of human happiness.”
Mattson talked about struggling with the issue of God as a young adult and his investigation of “revisionist gay theology,” and finally his decision to meet and have sex with a man whom he had been talking to online.
“I thought I’m finally finding liberty,” he said. “This is true freedom. This is it. But it seemed empty and unfulfilling. I was plucking the forbidden fruit.”
After this said, Mattson said he sought out and began a relationship with “a very good man,” whom he dated for about a year.
“I’ll be honest, I was happy. No doubt I was happier than I’d been in a long time,” he said. “Many people have a strange notion that if you’re living outside of Church teachings, you’re not going to be happy. I was happy, on a certain level … but where we were wrong was when we were having sex together. We were using each other in that moment. It felt like love, it seemed like love, but it wasn’t. It was mutual use of each other, which is anything we do outside of God’s plan for human sexuality.”
He broke off this relationships on good terms with his partner to pursue a long-term relationship with a woman with whom he became “madly in love” with. However, this relationship also ended and left him “devastated.” His godparents, after learning about Mattson’s writings on his sexuality, introduced him the Courage Apostolate, an apostolate of the Catholic Church that counsels individuals with same-sex attractions in living faithfully and chastely. Soon after attending his first Courage Apostolate Mass, he rejoined the Catholic Church and has remained Catholic since.
“Society says that the Church is behind the times on human sexuality,” he said. “No, it is the Church that leads us to peace, true happiness, contentment and fulfillment. God never says ‘no’ to us, unless he loves us.”