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“Through work and openness, my Option B returned to something that mirrored my Option A.”

By Joseph Primo

Sometimes Option B doesn't happen to you. Sometimes it is who you are. Sometimes we are in conflict with our deepest truths. I learned this lesson early on. Depending on the day, this lesson can still be a bit wobbly.

As a teenager, I knew two things: 1. I was called to be a priest. 2. I was gay.

The priest thing usually throws people off. It doesn’t always make sense to everyone. But it was a burning and unmistakable pull that I can’t explain and that I have come to accept will always tug at me. Being gay was the same inexplicable and strong tug that was just another truth. My truth.

Sometimes we are in conflict with our deepest truths

As a kid with an obsessive zeal for justice and equality, I wanted to be the Pope so that I could do, well, a lot of what Pope Francis is currently loved for doing. Maybe I was also a little power hungry, but I like to think I had a healthy imagination as a kid. My religious upbringing taught me that people are equal, poverty is unacceptable, and discrimination and hate are great evils. And yet, I was stifled as a result of my other truth. According to the church, these two truths of mine don’t fit together, so I had to choose.

When our truths become fault lines, the seismic chafing gives us new ground to consider

My choices were in deep conflict, of course. While I didn’t talk about this inner torment, I was picking up a lot of messages from society. The two communities I felt a part of were at odds with one another, and they were at odds with me. Neither alone was the right fit. In the end, love ultimately forced my hand. As I moved further down that road—the more I moved away from my other truth—I became angry. But from that came deeper learning.

I learned that when our truths become fault lines, the seismic chafing gives us new ground to consider, if we are open to it. I learned from these opposing parts of myself that my grit and resilience was in both my surrendering and in my determination to choose the truth between my truths.

As a result, I went to divinity school. I learned to care for those who are dying and grieving. Then I turned that learning into action, which became a deeply meaningful ministry itself. Through work and openness, my Option B returned to something that mirrored my Option A. Option B is not something I would have contemplated if my Option A had worked out. While my alternative was a loss, it gave me something more. I learned how to be a better companion to those who grieve and for those I love. 

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Joe Primo is the CEO of Good Grief and a member of the Option B Advisory Board, read more about him here.

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