Colm Toibin at the LRB on The Pope is Not Gay, by Angelo Quattrocchi
Gay liberation made its way, strangely, into the seminaries. I have a letter from a friend, an Irish writer, sent in response to a piece I wrote for this paper about the Ferns Report, describing his visit to an Irish seminary in the 1980s.[*] Since the Church was liberalising at that time, it would not have been unusual for writers to be invited to seminaries to speak. My friend had no intention of being shocking, or amusing. He spoke about literature, choosing the dullest subject for the seminarians. What he noticed among them, however, was anything but dull; and it surprised him greatly. He saw an immense amount of male fluttering; he listened as young candidates for the priesthood, boys from rural Ireland, attempted Wildean witticisms; he noticed them wearing specially tailored soutanes, moving around each other, excitedly, like a flock of girls. Here it was, and he was not the only one to witness it: ‘the takeover of the seminaries by homosexuals’.
But this was merely what it looked like. What such a seminary would have looked like a generation or two earlier, or indeed a century or two earlier, was as much an illusion as what my friend witnessed. Before the creation of a post-Stonewall gay identity and the presence of gay role models on television and in the movies, most gay men worked out a strategy, in early adolescence, to do a perfect, lifelong imitation of a straight man, to move around in that gruff, rangy way straight men had invented for themselves. For many homosexuals, the stereotype of the mincing, high-pitched queen was the most frightening idea that ever walked towards them. They hated it and feared it and worked out ways not to look like that themselves, or to be invisible when they did so.