Photo captured by Arianna Belle Photography

I’ll never forget hearing His Holiness Pope Francis saying, “If a person is gay and seeks God and has good will, who am I to judge?” It’s hard to believe that was nearly eight years ago.

That moment was monumental for me and led me back to the Church. It led me to launching The Gay Catholic. It led to an invitation to the White House from President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama to welcome Pope Francis to the United States. And to my delight, it led my then-boyfriend, now fiancé, returning to the Church with me.

How my Grandma helped me escape a toxic work environment and taught me to love myself again

Grandma holding her beloved Gus.

I was in my car, driving around Richmond, Virginia for over an hour as I spoke to my Grandma Sandy (aka Glam-ma) on the phone.

That’s what we would do. I would call her anytime I was on the road longer than 20 minutes, because that woman could talk my ear off and had the gift of being a great listener.

I had begun a new job that I was so hopeful and optimistic about. But it turned into just another toxic work…

January 18, 1943 — June 22, 2020

Sandy MacDougall (January 18, 1943 — June 22, 2020)

Lorraine “Sandy” MacDougall of Lynchburg, VA, passed away on Monday, June 22, 2020 at the age of 77 with the love of her family surrounding her.

Sandy MacDougall was born on January 18, 1943, in New York to Alexander and Lorraine MacDougall. She grew up as the eldest of two and attended Ladycliff Academy and Fordham University. In 1992, Sandy changed careers, earned her B.A. in Psychology at Corpus Christi State University and spent her career as a substance abuse counselor helping those battling addiction, most notably at the Betty Ford Center.



“… when the looting starts, the shooting starts…”
- The President

When Rosa Parks sat at the front of a Montgomery, Alabama bus, it was not an acceptable form of protest.

When Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. marched with his people, it was not an acceptable form of protest.

When young black college students began the Greensboro sit-ins, it was not an acceptable form of protest.

When people of color protested in response to the brutal beating of Rodney King, it was not an acceptable form of protest.

When Colin Kaepernick took a…

In February, I received the following message from a follower and, with his permission, I’d like to share with you how I responded.

From the Follower

Happy Sunday Aaron —

I was very happy to find your blog today. I’m a 45 y.o., cradle Catholic man in a same-sex marriage, and struggle with official Church teachings.

Doctrine, as I understand it, promotes chastity for all orientations, based upon their single or married state (e.g., genital sex is only permitted when it’s open to creating new life, no one can masturbate, heterosexuals can’t use contraception, etc.).

I’m trying my best not to become a…

This afternoon I went to one of my favorite flower shops in RVA to get flowers for Tim. As I was waiting for one of the florists to come back with a special request, this old man walked in.

He leans over the counter talking to a young florist. He tells her he was picking up a pre-order. As she is getting his order and payment setup, he goes, “What fun plans you have tonight? You going out? Gotta date?”

She responded, “No.”

He continues, “What?! No date tonight? It’s Saturday! You gotta go out with your boyfriend.”

She looks…

A birthday reflection after a year of love, support and growth.

Today is the best birthday I’ve ever had.

Looking back, this past year was my best year yet. That’s right, MY BEST YET! People sy things go downhill after college, and they weren’t lying. The struggles are a bit more serious and the celebrations are a bit less fun.

Despite the challenges adulthood has brought me, 27 was my best year yet because I:

• overcame a deep dark depression that held me hostage for nearly a year

• lost 40lbs of that depression and ate healthier

• rediscovered…

The man of my dreams said, “yes,” and God was there as He always has been.

Our booth.

It’s just before 5 a.m. on Thursday, June 13, 2019. My eyes are open and my heart is pounding. I can’t sleep any longer. The excitement is kicking in. This is the day I will propose to the man of my dreams.

While I sit quietly in my home office, I listen to our favorite songs, go through our photos and pray to God. The weeks leading up to this moment had been serendipitous. There were so many signs that God was guiding me through this next step in my relationship with Tim.

Tim had been insanely busy the weeks…

Happy Pride Month! As we all celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, I’ve spent time reflecting on some of the people who play an influential role in my own Pride experience.

My SigEp fraternity brothers Marquette University helped me come out.

SigEp found me.

Me and my big, Anthony Massino.

Joining a fraternity was not a real priority for me when I was a freshman at Marquette. The idea of being a “frat guy” seemed appealing, but it wasn’t important. That changed when the VP of Recruitment, Anthony Massino, found me at The Dogg Haus.

He quickly befriended me and told me about this fraternity he was…

JUNE 17, 2019 UPDATE: The Catholic Virginian published my letter to the editor! Thank you Catholic Diocese of Richmond for publishing my Letter to the Editor regarding the Equality Act. Blessed to be part of a diocese that is willing to open hearts + minds to ALL parishioners! We’re stronger together! 🙌🏽

A Letter to the Editor of the Catholic Virginian in response to Bishops voice concerns about the Equality Act.

My name is Aaron Jay Ledesma. I’m an openly gay Catholic.

My boyfriend and I are disheartened to read that Bishops are urging parishioners to voice concerns over the…

Aaron Jay Ledesma

Digital Creator: Inspiring communities + sparking action. #AnythingForSelenas

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