The Catholic Church destroyed the lives of so many young men I knew.
The childhood friend, repeatedly told that being gay was sinful, who overdosed.
The boy at college who married a woman he didn't love because that's what his religious family wanted and he was desperate to fit in.
The lad around the corner who became a priest because that was the only acceptable way he thought he could meet other men.
Pope Francis isn't quite ready to march in a Pride parade, but he is pushing the door towards greater LGBTQ inclusion by giving his blessing to same-sex civil unions.
Some say it's too little, too late, but every small step towards equality and inclusion must be welcomed.
And when you consider the position of his two predecessors, the current pontiff seems revolutionary. Pope Benedict XVI associated gay marriage with "the Antichrist"; John Paul II spoke of the "intrinsic evil of the homosexual condition".
A quick glance of papal history shows that it's not just Free Presbyterian leaders who degraded and demonised gay people.
"Filthy", "an execrable vice", "obscene", "abominable persons despised by the world, more unclean than animals", are just a smattering of the utterances of pontiffs down through the centuries.
It's many decades since I was a practising Catholic, so I pay no heed to what any pope preaches. But that's not the point. Some people still do even in our increasingly secular society.
Particularly in the developing world, papal words carry clout. They have a ripple effect on communities, families and individuals.
In a documentary, Francesco, which premiered at the Rome Film Festival last week, the pope says that gay people are "children of God and have a right to a family. Nobody should be thrown out or made miserable because of (their sexuality)". Those words are paired with the story of Andrea Rubera, a gay man who adopted three children with his partner.
He told Francis that he wanted to raise his children in the church but was worried their family would be rejected for having two fathers. The pope told him not to be afraid to go to Mass.
That's a powerful statement in support of those who have been ostracised because of what they are and who they love.
This pope is different, although his position on women's rights remains disappointing. But in terms of genuine Christian compassion, he is head and shoulders above all those who gone before him.
After undergoing a sex change operation in 2007, Diego Neria Lejerraga was ostracised by clerics and parishioners in the Spanish city of Plasencia. He was called "hija del diablo", daughter of the devil, by a priest in broad daylight. He stopped attending Mass and wrote to Rome. In December 2014, he answered an anonymous phone call. "I am Pope Francis," the caller said. The pontiff later met and embraced him.
The Catholic Church's teachings on homosexuality - "intrinsically disordered" - remain unchanged. Many are frustrated that the pope has not brought policy changes, but there are powerful forces ranged against him. He is battling a huge bureaucracy.
His unscripted remarks in the documentary caused shockwaves among many in the hierarchy. His fierce commitment to social justice has also unsettled some. He has branded unbridled capitalism "the dung of the devil" and spoken of the "sacred rites" of labour.
On his election, he shunned the grand papal apartment on the top floor of the Vatican's Apostolic Palace in favour of a modest two-room residence. The papal limousine was swapped for a Fiat.
Francis's pro-civil union remarks have swelled the ranks of his enemies within the church establishment.
There have been fictional accounts about the assassination of revolutionary popes. Far-fetched, no doubt, but there are surely reactionary forces on their knees fervently praying for the demise of an 83-year-old pontiff with one lung.