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Issue Date:  July 1, 2005

By Martin Moran
Beacon Press, 285 pages, $23.95
A different coming of age story


When a former counselor at a Catholic boys’ camp invited 12-year-old Martin Moran to work at his ranch in the Colorado Rockies, Martin was thrilled. How could he have known, after all, that the invitation signaled the end of his childhood and the beginning of a three-year sexual relationship with the man who was more than twice his age?

As a boy struggling to find words to describe his same-sex attraction, Martin fell prey to Bob C--’s affection and to the heavy weight of guilt after the relationship ended. Once after seeing a homosexual man on a TIME magazine cover, Martin’s mother said, “I can tell you one thing. I think I’d rather find out one of my children was dead than homosexual.” Martin, who was in high school at the time his mother said this, tried to kill himself twice.

The Tricky Part is Mr. Moran’s account of coming to terms with his homosexuality and early sexual abuse. Mr. Moran, in his early 40s, can now see -- and so writes -- that everything in his life was changed because of his premature initiation into the adult world of physical intimacy. Years later, as an adult in a committed relationship, he could not understand why he still engaged in secretive sexual encounters with other men. He was reluctant to attribute this to his three-year relationship with Bob, for which he felt partially responsible. Finally, at a men’s sexual abuse recovery group, one doctor told Mr. Moran, “You know, Marty, it’s the job of a kid to fall in love. And it’s the job of the adult to have boundaries.”

This is not a story about blame. It certainly is tricky and not at all pleasant. But Mr. Moran does not berate the Catholic church or the man who took advantage of him. This is a story about forgiveness and healthy recovery. Mr. Moran honestly depicts his life in all its pain and beauty, poignantly chronicling his journey from boy to man.

Mr. Moran, who discovered theater in high school, is an actor and writer in New York City. He has appeared on and off-Broadway. In 2004, he won an Obie Award for his one-man play also called “The Tricky Part.”

Rebecca Beyer is a journalism student at New York University and is a summer intern at NCR.

National Catholic Reporter, July 1, 2005

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