By Richard Wagner
Dr. Dick, Were you really a Roman Catholic priest? I’m 38 and Catholic and trying to figure out where I stand sexually. I’d be gay in a second if I had confidence that was my authentic self. I’m definitely bi…somewhere in the middle. Anyway, have you discovered any insights in your experience how God fits into our sexuality? Or should ask, do you still believe in God? How did you find your way to producing porn? How does God figure in everything, in your opinion? Do you think a soul has a sexuality? Do I have too many questions?
Yes, you have way too many questions! But because you asked so nicely, I’ll do my best to answer each and every one.
“Were you really a Roman Catholic priest?” I were! For 20 years. Technically I still am. In fact, I am the only Catholic priest in the whole wide world with a doctorate in Clinical Sexology.
I completed my doctorate with the publication of my thesis concerning the sexual attitudes and behaviors of gay Catholic priests in the active ministry in 1981. This was unprecedented research back then. Hell, it still is. There was a firestorm of international publicity. I was soon labeled “The Gay Priest” in the media, as if I was the only one. This notoriety (some say infamy) effectively ended my public priesthood. I fought the Vatican for the next 13 years in an attempt to salvage my ministry, but they would have none of it.
So you’re a Catholic too; OK. But you’re still (at 38) trying to figure out where you stand sexually. I’m not sure I know what that means. You say you’d be gay in a minute if you thought that was your authentic self. You’re bi for sure…somewhere in the middle. In the middle of what, may I ask? Pardon me, darlin’, but you sound suspiciously like a mugwump. Do you know what that is? A mugwump is a fence-sitter, someone with his mug on one side and his wump on the other.
I mean, what in the world are you waiting for, a parting of the Red Sea? Since you don’t elaborate on the kind of sexual experience you’ve had in your 38 years that leads you to self-identify as a bisexual, I’m gonna guess that you are sure enough queer as a three dollar bill, but just can’t own up to it…maybe because of the whole Catholic thing. Am I right, or what?
“Have you discovered any insights in your experience how God fits into our sexuality?” You betcha I have! But I have a completely different take on this then you apparently do. Ya see I would have phrased the question in the reverse. How does our sexuality fit into god? The way you have it, suggests that the infinite can fit into the finite. And this is precisely where most religious people go very, very wrong. We do god a disservice by trying to stuff the divine into the mundane.
My sexuality fits into god when I am honest and authentic with myself about who I am and acknowledge my insignificance in the greatness of creation. I fit into god when I honor my sexuality, when I celebrate it, when I give it as a gift. I do not fit into god when I am dishonest with myself, or others, when I arrogantly claim my significance in the mind of god and when I belittle god with my pettiness and insecurity.
You’ll notice that I was careful not to mention anything about sexual orientation, even though I think that’s what you were ultimately asking me about. Mugwumps are so predictable. Sexual orientation, as we currently understand it, is a relatively new phenomenon in human history. And all of human history barely registers in cosmic history. Why do you suppose we’re so consumed about something so irrelevant to the big picture? And god is the ultimate “BIG PICTURE.” What concerns me is that you’ve come this far in your life and still haven’t been honest to god…or yourself.
Do you still believe in God? Yes, in a manner of speaking! I tend not to use the word “god” as much as I used to, because it comes with so much cultural baggage. I prefer the term, “divine. But whatever I call it, I’m positive my god is nothing like your god. Your god is made in your image. My god is not. In fact, my god so unlike me—a mere fallible, insignificant mortal—as to make my god incomprehensible to the likes of me. But that doesn’t mean there’s not an appreciation. There is!
“How did you find your way to producing porn?” God made me do it! Just kidding. It all started back in 1981. My career as a therapist in San Francisco coincided with the advent of HIV/AIDS. Not surprisingly, my practice evolved into working primarily with sick and dying people. In the mid-90’s I founded a nonprofit organization called, PARADIGM, Enhancing Life Near Death. It was an outreach and resource for terminally ill, chronically ill, elder and dying people. Despite the fact that this was brilliant cutting-edge work, I couldn’t find the funding I needed to keep the nonprofit alive. This precipitated a massive mid-life crisis and a rather sudden move to Seattle in 1999.
I continued to work with sick and dying people here. I developed programming for women newly diagnosed with ovarian cancer and men with prostate cancer. This lead me to develop videos for people experiencing life threatening and/or disfiguring illnesses; to help them deal with reintegrating sex and intimacy into their life post diagnosis. But I couldn’t find funding for this ambitious project. No mainline foundation would fund an overtly sexual project like this. I would have to fund this on my own. But how? Friends prevailed on me to start shooting porn. I’d make a load of money and then I could fund my heart’s desire. Thus Daddy Oohhh! Productions was born. Alas, the load of money part never materialized. I did some good stuff though; stuff I’m proud of.
“How does God figure in everything, in your opinion?” Again, the better question is: How does everything figure into god? And here my answer echoes my previous answer. Everything figures into god with ease and grace.
“Do you think a soul has a sexuality?” Nope, I don’t. Sexuality is part of the finite material world. It’s a bodily function that apparently goes away when our body dies, sometime even before we die. A soul, as it is popularly understood, is something other. What precisely? I can’t really say. Hey, maybe something else takes the place of sexuality in the spiritual world. I guess you and I will just have to wait to find out.
In the meantime, wouldn’t it be great if you freed yourself up to be exactly who you are? And not wait on someone, especially someone of a religious bent, to give you permission to do so, or tell you what you can and cannot be.