Doug Nava was born and raised in Santa Fe to a family of Catholics who can trace their Spanish lineage back farther than most. He’s traditional in many senses of the word: He has a respectable job in state government, goes to mass on Sundays, loves his family, has participated in the annual Fiestas de Santa Fe and even ran, in 2010, for Santa Fe City Council. That he’s gay is where Nava may be different--or, as he contends, not so different at all.
I give thanks every single day that, when I was being created, I was chosen not only to be Hispanic; I was also placed in the oldest traditions in the United States--and, of course, I was given an extra chromosome. Being gay and being Catholic, to me, doesn’t make a difference. I don’t think it’s conflicting. Being Catholic, we’ve always been taught we are part of the creation. Well, if I’m part of the creation, then this is what he did.
People know that I love Santa Fe--the traditions, the cultures, from the artwork to the music to the dancing. I’ve made a lot of great, wonderful friends. And then one day, I just said, that’s it. I’ve got to go to the next phase. It’s time to say who I am.
When I came out, it wasn’t like people were shocked. That’s the best part about it: It didn’t make a difference.
I’ve gone on dates with guys and stuff like that, and they’ve said, ‘How can you be Catholic? The Catholic Church persecutes you.’ I say, ‘You know what? That’s man that persecutes me.’ I was raised in this, and nobody’s going to take it away from me.
If people were to pay attention at mass, they’d realize how many gays are up there.
I think about how I was raised, the traditions I carry, the blood I carry. If La Conquistadora and the Spaniards could do this, then I can be that same--contemporary conquistador. Or, in the gay world, a ‘couture conquistador.’
I’m a native Santa Fe boy. I love this place. I say I’m going to move, and people are like, ‘Whatever, Doug.’ I’m just lucky to be an openly gay man in a family that doesn’t care.
Everybody in this town has gay members of their family. They’re teachers; they’re firefighters; they might be policemen; they’re at the store; they own the restaurants you love. Who cares?
I’ve attended my sisters’ weddings, walking down the aisle and being in the church and stuff--yeah, I would love that. But it’s not going to happen. I’ll never see that. Where two gay men can get married on the steps of a Catholic church? That is never gonna happen. I’m sorry; that is just realism.
To Archbishop Michael J Sheehan, who knows me, who saw me at the procession, who saw me in church, who knew I loved it: Because I’m gay, does he think I’m a horrible person? Does he?
When I first came out, I told my only brother. And this is the best: I said, ‘Mario, there’s something I’ve got to tell you.’ He’s like, ‘You’re an alcoholic!’ I was like, ‘What the hell does that mean?’
I came out at my mother’s 50th birthday party. I used a celebration to come out. I killed all the birds with one stone.
I told my mother last and, when I told my mom, she started crying. I thought, ‘Oh my God, she’s mad.’ And she said, ‘I just want you to be happy, Doug. I don’t care.’
The one family member that I was more terrified about than anything was my brother-in-law, Richard--such a masculine [man], and I never really said anything to him. One day, my brother-in-law was at the house, and I think my niece had asked him [about my being gay]. My brother-in-law came into that kitchen and he said, ‘Doug, I need to tell you something.’ And I said, ‘Uh-oh. Here it is.’ He said, ‘My kids are not going to be bigots, and they’re going to learn to love whoever you love. You’re their uncle.’ I had tears.
I’ve met a lot of guys in this town that are not open, and I’m like, ‘You’re kidding me. Your family does not know? Do they not see you walk and talk?’ But it’s a struggle, and it’s not easy.
Being gay, to me, is a major lesson. I’ve learned a lot. But the guys that I hang around with now have made me a better gay man than I think I could’ve been. All my buddies have been together 8 years, 10 years, 19 years. I am the spinster; I’m the single one. But when I have two buddies who have been together 19 years--yeah, they fight, I’m sure. But they have a great time together, and they take care of each other, and they’re stable, and they do nothing any different than their neighbors across the street. And if people can’t see that, then what the hell do you see?
I live in the city of St Francis, la Villa Real de Santa Fe de San Francisco de Asís, and St Francis being the patron of peace, anytime anybody has ever semi-attacked me for being gay and Catholic, I always quote: ‘Make me a channel of your peace. Where there is hatred, let me bring you love. Where there is injury, pardon, Lord, you know.’ Can’t get any better than that, you know? Especially when they’re Catholicism people. I’ve always said until the day he comes down and points His finger at me and tells me he’s disappointed in me, then I guess I don’t have anything to worry about.
I’ve never been angry with my Lord and my God for not ever getting what I want. I just had open-heart surgery, and I wasn’t angry. I ran for DeVargas and I didn’t win. I wasn’t angry with Jesus, and I wasn’t angry. Those are man-made, human decisions when people do that stuff. I was raised in this, and nobody’s going to take it away from me. Nobody is going to take it away from me.
If me and my partner live together until death do us part and never once did we hate our God or hate our Jesus and never once--how can I say this?--just lived a good life and took care of people and did what we have to do, if it meant me being condemned to hell just because I was gay, then I guess that’s just the card I was dealt.