Alan Yoshioka

Spiritual conversion leads away from gay lifestyle

By 
  • June 29, 2011

TORONTO - Alan Yoshioka chose God over his homosexual inclinations.

Before his conversion to the Catholic Church, Yoshioka says he lived an “out and proud gay lifestyle.” The 48-year-old Toronto-based freelance editor says after many years of rejecting the Church’s views on homosexuality, he experienced a spiritual conversion leading him to “interior freedom” when he embraced a life of chastity.

“(I am) so grateful for having discovered what it is like to live a life of chastity because there is an interior freedom that I never knew during all my years seeking liberation, seeking freedom in a worldly sense,” he told The Catholic Register.

His blog, “The Sheepcat,” is “a Catholic commentary by a former gay activist and his wife” where Yoshioka writes of his spiritual and personal conversion.

“It sometimes boggles my mind how radically my life has changed. I used to be so vehement in my insistence that I was gay by nature. I had a long-term lover, and a series of relationships and encounters,” Yoshioka said.

“I’ve concluded that the Church is right to call those homosexual appetites of mine disordered. My hunger for God is leading me to more and more abundant life, whereas my hunger for men’s bodies led to spiritual death.”

Most of the blog’s commenters have offered encouragement, calling Yoshioka’s postings “honest” and “courageous,” though a few have questioned his views and say he hasn’t come to terms with his homosexuality.

Yoshioka’s Catholic conversion came in 2005 after 15 years of being a gay rights activist. At 21, he was one of Canada’s first openly gay columnists for the Imprint, the University of Waterloo’s student newspaper.

For years, Yoshioka marched in Toronto’s Pride Parade. He also attended the Metropolitan Community Church which ministers to the gay and lesbian community.

But at 35 Yoshioka was exploring his Christian faith and made a vow to live a chaste life. He began professional counselling and reached out to support groups like Courage, a Connecticut-based Catholic apostolate that ministers to individuals with same-sex attractions. Courage was established by the late New York Cardinal Terence Cooke in 1980.

The late Fr. John Harvey has said Courage’s goal is to support individuals with same-sex attractions and encourage them to live chastely, but not to “convert” people to heterosexuality. However, if a person like Yoshioka wanted to explore the possibility of heterosexual relationships, they would receive support.

“It was kind of frightening but also exhilarating. I was 45 going on 17,” he said of his “second puberty.”

Yoshioka met his future wife Theresa  through a friend who blogged about his own experience of living a chaste life as a man with same-sex attractions. When they were preparing for marriage, the couple met Harvey who came to Toronto for a speaking tour in 2009. He offered support and advice.

Theresa acknowledges that her husband’s experience is rare.

“We cannot promise that someone’s same-sex attraction will dissipate, and we cannot promise that someone’s loved one will leave a gay identity or lifestyle,” she said. “We can say that there is a peace with God not available through a gay lifestyle, a peace that surpasses all understanding and lends itself to authentic happiness.”

For more on Yoshioka, visit www.thesheepfold.typepad.com.

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