Homosexuality not learned or unlearned, it simply is

Jan 22, 2014
Following Sandusky news from 2,000 miles away has its benefits. I can keep up with local news, turn off the computer when I’ve had my fill of snowstorms, and be grateful I relocated to Arizona.

One storm I have not been able to turn off, however, at least in my mind, is the one surrounding the resignation/firing of St. Mary Central Catholic High School band and choir director Brian Panetta.

I have read the stories and opinions regarding the legality, morality and outrage surrounding the issue. But, in sifting through the bluster of emotion and opinion, I realized something important was missing throughout this discussion: The impact on students, especially an often overlooked group of young people who hide their homosexuality or who silently struggle to make sense of their sexual orientation.

An ongoing debate in any community is whether or not homosexuality is a choice. If one asks gays or lesbians when they “became gay” most will explain they knew from an early age they felt different from others even before they understood why. That “feeling” was not a choice; it was as much a part of them in childhood as it is now. Only when they learned the terminology and heard about what is “normal” and “not normal” did they discover they failed to fit into the described norm, heterosexuality.

I understand the issue is not necessarily that Mr. Panetta is gay. The issue is that by announcing his plans to marry and, thus, become physically intimate with another man, he violated the terms of his employment agreement. This violation led to his resignation/firing, and it’s obvious the community feels the impact.

This is when I noticed that missing from this discussion was the potential impact this situation has had on those silently struggling students. As I thought about them, my attention drifted back to my own experiences.

In school, gay classmates were harassed and shunned. I saw their pain and tried to ignore the fact that I could relate so well to them. I feared someone might see what I was trying to suppress even from myself, and I hid behind schoolwork and tennis.

It wasn’t necessarily because I enjoyed those activities; they kept me safe. The more desperately I tried to change the “different” feeling I had known since childhood, the more I grew to detest myself. I fell into a long-lasting depression almost hoping that my selfhatred would destroy me.

My high school guidance counselor accepted me unconditionally, however, and that connection saved my life. She was not gay, but I saw kindness and traits that inspired me to keep going. Without her presence, I might have given up.

Life experience has taught me that homosexuality is not banished by fervent prayer. It is not something that can be turned on or off. It is not learned or unlearned. It simply is.

Reaching that understanding takes time and support.

I do not know Mr. Panetta but, from what I understand, he did an outstanding job and inspired excellence. He used his God-given talent to help students tap into their own gifts. And, yes, he violated his employment agreement in the interest of being true to himself. Whether or not you agree with how he chooses to live his life, it is his life.

When this story fades, SMCC will still have its employment policies and Mr. Panetta will have moved on. However, the young people silently struggling with their sexual orientation and their fears of the consequences of not fitting the norm will remain.

This is the most salient facet of the SMCC/ Panetta storm. I noticed that concern for them was absent from the inches of opinion published these last few weeks. Not because I was looking for it, but because I sensed the void.

I believe we must do what we can to reach these young people, support them, accept them, and help them to reach their potential as they walk their personal path. Each one is important and each one belongs to us. The storms of life will come and go, and all of us deserve to feel accepted both internally and among others.

Tiffany Gray, M.S., ACSM-CPT, is an adjunct faculty member in the Exercise Science department at Mesa Community College, Mesa, Arizona, where she teaches introductory courses in wellness. She also›owns and operates Gray Wellness Consulting LLC, and serves as the exercise specialist for the Family Wellness Program at St. Vincent de Paul, Phoenix. Gray formerly worked for The Sandusky Register as a news clerk


John Harville

GRUMPY. Important to note that - except priests - the great majority of pedophiles are not homosexual.
Also important to note: At least one-third of the plaintiffs/victims in the major case against the Diocese were FEMALES who were abused by priests as young girls.
Sexuality is inborn. Expression of that sexuality may have 'nurture' issues. Many pedophiles were victims... just as many other abusers were abused.
Remember the Duck Dynasty example... pedophilia in one part of the culture is appropriate marriage in another.


Re: "the great majority of pedophiles are not homosexual."

Care to cite your source? Most rapes are no sexual encounters, they are dominance plays. Most pedophiles don't have "regular" sexual encounters (gay or straight) with adults, they may time to time but their preference is children. All encounters with pedophiles and children are rapes. From what I have found in limited reading gender is a preference, but most will take what is easy at the time, it is not about sex, it is about power. Please look into it before spouting what you don't know. I can't get far into the subject as I am not "enlightened" enough to tolerate looking more into it.


Re: "GRUMPY. Important to note that - except priests - the great majority of pedophiles are not homosexual."

This proves to me you have no clue what you are talking about. I was going to leave it, because I don't like the topic, but couldn't let wrong info out there. It is not that simple. I will let the experts speak. it is not something I wish to get into. The rate of men going after boys is much higher rate than gay men who prefer other gay men, by between 4 and 20 times, as shown below. Your hatred of priests is noted, and dismissed.

To get to the original sources click on the footnotes.


Pedophiles are usually attracted to a particular age range and/or sex of child. Research categorizes male pedophiles by whether they are attracted to only male children (homosexual pedophilia), female children (heterosexual pedophilia), or children from both sexes (bisexual pedophilia) (3, 6, 10, 29). The percentage of homosexual pedophiles ranges from 9% to 40%, which is approximately 4 to 20 times higher than the rate of adult men attracted to other adult men (using a prevalence rate of adult homosexuality of 2%—4%) (5, 7, 10, 19, 29, 30). This finding does not imply that homosexuals are more likely to molest children, just that a larger percentage of pedophiles are homosexual or bisexual in orientation to children

I don't recomend looking too deeply into this unless you are extremely "enlightened." It tends to eat your soul.

John Harville

Oh GRUMPY I looked into it 10 years ago. I notice you and others focus on male pedophiles and ignore the large number of female pedophiles beyond the newsmakers like Mary Kay LaTournearu - and the one that is focus this week of a nighttime network in-depth.
You didn't address the issue completely ie: pedophiles who SAY they are homosexual vs pedophiles diagnosed as homosexual. Your 9%-40% figure supports my original thesis.
If you have the stomach you might want to look into the organizations like NAMBLA (North American Man-Boy Love Association) which explores and explains why such love is normal and not harmful... only if you have the stomach, though


(sarcasm) Thnk you for citing your sources to back your claims.

I made no claims about homosexual pedophiles. As I stated above I will let the experts state their findings.

If you had read even the rest of the paragraph that I quoted from the study I linked to you would have seen the female pedophiles that were studied. From just this statement I can see you read none of what experts in peer reviewed studies ( The article and study was for, and reprinted with permission by the Mayo Clinic). You seem prefer or at least cite a network tv show. You claim that I only mentioned male pedophiles, sorry you were the one who only mentioned priests, who from my knowledge are only males. I never mentioned the gender of the pedophiles I was writing about, only whether they were attracted to same sex children or opposite sex children. I suggest you work on your reading comprehension.

Your other source that you mention us NAMBLA, the very pedophiles (male pedophiles that you earlier claimed that I focused on and since proved I never mentioned gender of the pedophiles) who rape children. I am sorry but I prefer to accept the findings of those who study pedophiles, and write peer reviewed studies like the one I linked to that originated from the Mayo Clinic and articles like that, instead of believing what child rapists have to say on their websites. Actually I prefer to not read more on the subject.


You are very wise.

John Harville

grumpy... thank you for respecting me.


Re: "grumpy... thank you for respecting me."

You have deserved the respect I have shown you.




Well the one great thing I see here is that the bigots seem to be in the minority. Beautiful woman, beautiful piece. I guess the story of Mr. Panetta has made it to a lot of people and provoked thought. That I believe was his intention once he realized that there was no way to keep it under wraps.


To quote Ann Landers:

“The naked truth is always better than the best-dressed lie.”


I believe I have a gay cat. He is 10yrs. old & only likes male cats. He really likes them, eats, sleeps , follows only males. He's a great pet, I'm happy that he is happy. Being gay [ shows up all through history] has to be biological. GAY TOM CATS RULE

Stop It

That's just domination to say "i'm alpha, b&^#h". Dogs do it too.


I've had female dogs "mount" males. Those same female dogs have had several litters of puppies. It is both domenance and play. it isn't that simple an answer, especially with humans. Read some on the subject or just think you know what the reasons are. It won't change anything.

Don Lee

Proud to call you a friend, Tiffany.


The craziest thing is that MOST catholic priests ARE GAY! I knew one many years ago who was allowed by his bishop to live with his lover. I know one now who's not practicing but he and his lover just celebrated their 30th ANNIVERSARY! I DATED a seminarian! Once I went to a big wedding with 6 co-officiants, and I personally knew 4 of the 6 were gay! So next time your at Catholic Church, keep in mind its horrible hypocrisy. Odds are, the decision to fire the band director was made by a gay Bishop, or whatever!


The issue, as I see it, isn't whether a priest is heterosexual, homosexual, or even a pedophile. The ISSUE is whether or not they choose to ACT on it! Priests don't swear an oath to be straight. They vow to be CELIBATE. There's a difference, and it's a big one.

Now if you happen to question whether or not celibacy is natural, well, of COURSE it's not! It's the extraordinarily rare man (or woman) who is asexual! But the oath of celibacy is intended to serve a two-fold purpose: 1. A priest is to place the Church first, not his wife, not his children, but his CHURCH, and 2. It's a sacrifice on the part of the priest that is (theoretically, at least) offered up to God.

John Harville

They also take an oath to live in poverty. How's THAT one workin'?


The oath of poverty generally doesn't apply to parish priests but are required of those in order such as the Jesuits.

John Harville

The same for chastity? And obedience? For those who don't know, I think you mean Diocesan priests - ordained by the Diocese and not members of priestly orders.


I didn't say how many priests do (or do NOT) honor their vows. I'm just pointing out that there IS no vow made in a promise to be heterosexual. (Don't get me started on the whole "poverty" thing when it's connected to a Church that's just about the wealthiest entity on the planet...)


Excellent point, Sam. I've heard of priests who have affairs with adult women, and when it's discovered, they're defrocked in a New York minute, but because psychologists said pedophiles have a sickness, the heirarchy excused the molestors as having a "problem."

It seems to me, a vow of celibacy is a vow not to act on one's sexual urges, whether they run to men, women, kids, farm animals, whatever. Thus, there should have been no difference in the heirarchy's response.

John Harville

NEMESIS. 'defrocked in a New York minute' But not in a Toledo Minute? Remember the Sandusky priest who had an affair with a widow he was counseling? He's not defrocked. He just went to visit the Paraclete Rehab in the West. Last I heard he's still a priest - possibly with a parish.
But since celibacy interferes with creating life, is it not abnormal? God knows the Church had Popes who were married and had children. The Borgias and de Medicis are just a couple of examples.
Until the Middle Ages priests were married. In fact Mary Todd Lincoln's Todd branch traces its ancestry to an 8th Century monk.


I'm not addressing validity or history of the celibacy doctrine, only the consistency with which it is enforced. I've met former priests who had been defrocked for violating it with adult women.


Doesn't se to be working out on either direction Sam, from the comments I've seen here.


iif you think about it, Brian Panetta has been very Jesus-like throughout this modern day Catholic morality tale . And the school and diocese: well, the Romans come to mind. All the elements are there, think about it! Judas?

John Harville

DCFred checked your question about the Blade article then couldn't locate your post here.

But... yes... The Dennis Gray story is like so many others. Have you checked all the stories about the suits filed against the Diocese. Google SNAP...the group that pushes the diocese on pedophiola.


Well, since the anus is supposed to be "exit only" Is your anus exit only? I know mine is.


Why on earth do you care about anyone else's anus? The fact that you are so obsessed with that is what's scary.

John Harville

According to the most complete studies, only about 30% of gay men engage in anal intercourse - as Dan Savage reveals in his book "Savage Love: Straight Answers (though he claims to 'inseminate my husband regularly'). They are rearing a straight son DJ.
In all these comments and countercomments, commentators are putting their minds in the 'act' and not the 'feeling.
When you see a hetero couple, do you think about how they have sex - although I understand that physically there are many more options.
So why are you thinking about the sexual aspect of homosexuality between men or women?
Elevate your perspective to the attraction and love between two persons. Get your mind outa the crotch.