Fr. Gregory Greiten is a priest of the Milwaukee Archdiocese, ordained in 1992 and currently serving as pastor of St. Bernadette Parish in Milwaukee.
For years now, I have been carrying a heavy burden, a secret cloaked in silence that the leaders of my church have not wanted me to share publicly. Each time I had a great desire to speak out I was challenged by other priests and leaders.
"Shhhh … be quiet."
"Keep it to yourself."
"Don't say a word to anyone."
"If you don't keep quiet, you will be thrown out of here."
"If you make it known publicly, it will hurt your ministry."
Then I recall the personal struggles of the prophet Jeremiah who desperately wanted to keep the Word of God to himself because it provoked such a negative response from those who heard his preaching. No matter how much he did not want to speak in the name of the Lord anymore, he could not hold it in. "There is in my heart as it were a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I am weary with holding it in, and I cannot" (Jeremiah 20:9). Jeremiah understands the anguish of preaching; however, keeping silent and not speaking the truth comes with an even greater cost. What a trap!
Today, I break the silence and emerge free from the shackles of shame placed upon me at a young age. There is so much to speak about, to repair and to heal — much beyond the limits of these words in print.
I am gay.
Driven to silence, hiding, being straight
Since my days in high school seminary in the 1980s, I was taught that homosexuality was something disordered, unspeakable and something to be punished.