Father John McNeil, S. J. saved my life in the early 1970s and, nearly four decades later, blessed it. He was unaware of our first encounter, but not of the second.
In the late 1960’s—1968 to be exact—my bride Georgia and I moved to New York with visions of Broadway dancing in our heads. Were it not for Georgia I would never have had the courage to leave home (Denver) and pursue my dreams—dreams that I assumed were our dreams. I am indebted to her forever.
In 1973, Georgia asked for a divorce (in our therapist’s office), which completely blindsided me, as I had spent months planning a celebration of our fifth wedding anniversary.
I was left alone in the room with the elephant of my thus far unexpressed homosexual desires. Good Catholic boy that I was, I had never acted on them. Georgia and I lived in the West Village blocks from the Stonewall Inn and adjacent to Greenwich Avenue, at the time, the biggest cruising street in Manhattan. With my hand on a bible I can swear that it never occurred to me that those men were looking at me.
Without the vows I had made to God and Georgia, I was defenseless against my desires and, in no time at all, I was behaving like a kid in a candy store—and Manhattan, in those days before AIDs, was some candy store!
I went to confession and told a priest that I had had intimate relations with another man and I didn’t know what to do.
“It’s too late to do anything,” was his less than compassionate reply, “You’ve already done it!”