Dogs with Gay Names | Opinion

Sebastian. Courtesy of Brian McNaught.

Sebastian, our Aussiedoodle puppy, arrives this week. He’s named after St. Sebastian, the unofficial patron saint, or icon, of gay men. Perpetua and Felicity are the unofficial patron saints of lesbians.

We name our dogs after famous gay people because we can. Lincoln, named after the speculated gay or bisexual U.S. President, was with us just six short years, and before him, Brit, the yellow Lab, was named for English composer Benjamin Britten.

Why St. Sebastian? Sebastian is the first saint you see in books and paintings who’s nearly naked. Covered only with a loin cloth, he is stretched up with his hands tied to a pole and is shot with arrows. For most ever little gay boy who saw that homoerotic photo in The Lives of the Saints, it was the first time their spirituality and their sexuality either merged or clashed. Was it okay for a little gay, religious boy to hope the loin cloth dropped?

It took me a long time to make peace between my spirituality and my sexuality. I never felt guilty for having gay sexual thoughts. My guilt came from having any sexual thoughts as a youngster and young man. My church didn’t make it easy for me to grow into my gay spiritual skin. But, I did, and that’s what my upcoming memoir, “A Prince of a Boy – How a Fallen Catholic Changed the World,” chronicles.

A couple of people took umbrage at the title feeling that it wasn’t sufficiently humble. It made me sad to see that. All of us change the world every day. Everything we do, loving or hateful, changes the world. A nun in eighth grade pulled my mom aside to say I was “a Prince of a Boy.” I’ve never figured out exactly what prompted her to say that, but I have, since childhood, wanted to change the world for good. My focus in doing so was in standing up for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people, not in your face, but by telling my story.

The world has changed dramatically since I was a youngster. The picture of St. Sebastian is still grabbing the attention of little gay boys, but that’s not their only source of enlightenment. Because of all of us, their world is different. From my perspective it’s better because each of us has made “the Hero’s Journey,” as Joseph Campbell called it, out of the shadows and into the light.

When strangers used to say, “I love the name ‘Lincoln’.” I’d say, “We name our dogs after famous gay people.” I wouldn’t have been able to say that when I was still in the closet.

Am I gay all day every day? Yes, but I don’t walk around with a bullhorn, nor do I fly under people’s radar. I live my gay spiritual life on my own terms, but also in harmony with all of the stories told by others.


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Wilton Manors, FL 33305



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