Hello. I’m gay. I’m Mormon. I’m married (to a woman).
I’m typing anonymously because I am not at the point in my life where I, my family, or my career are ready for me to be open about it, nor should I need to be. Feeling attracted to the same sex (or for others, the opposite sex) isn’t something I feel needs to define me. I have felt prompted many times that I would, in the future, be ‘called’ to share my voice with the world. My opinion, my views, my experience, my story. Tonight, reflecting on General Conference in prayer and thought (and talking to my wife), I felt prompted that now is the time. I do so anonymously because I do not yet feel it is time to share more openly.
I also do this for selfish reasons. In her book, The Gifts of Imperfection, Brené Brown says:
“Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy–the experiences that make us the most vulnerable. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.”
I need to work through my own emotion and pain, and I feel blogging is a way I can do that while also being productive, sharing my experience with others who may (hopefully) find my insights helpful, or who can share additional insight with me.
I’ve known I was ‘different’ since I was a child. In what way I was different I didn’t understand until I was a little older. I realized about age 13 that I thought other boys were attractive. About age 14 I was worried I was ‘gay,’ as the kids say these days. I then began praying for, hoping for, and wishing that I would be attracted to girls. That never came, even today. At age 17, I received my patriarchal blessing which promised I would have the joy of falling in love with a righteous woman whose desire, above all else, would be to be a mother in Zion. I thought that day would never arrive… until it did. I remember exactly where I was, what we were talking about, and almost what time it was when I felt something in my heart say “I’m in love with her.”
Our marriage is (obviously) a little unorthodox. I don’t have the same physical feelings towards my wife that other ‘normal’ men do. But I love her more than any person on the planet. I would do anything for her. She is my life, my world. It is a very real, powerful love. I feel extraordinarily blessed to have her in my life forever.
Back to the past for a moment though– we’ll get back to marriage a little later. After my ‘gay’ realization, I hardened my emotional self and walled everything up. I became busier and busier. I was as busy as you could possibly be throughout high school. I went on a few dates, but just never felt attracted to anyone (and I was so closed off emotionally, I couldn’t connect with anyone either). I really did have close friends during that time. It was easier to be busy than to deal with my emotion.
After my patriarchal blessing, high school graduation, some college, and then 15 months of therapy, my bishop thought I was ready to serve a mission, which I did. I loved serving the Lord. I felt a peace and purpose in my life beyond anything prior. Although I still felt that attraction to other men, I felt sort of insulated to it. I was able to handle it.
After coming home from my mission, I went back to school, started into my career, finally gave in and started attending a singles ward, etc. etc… Eventually, a certain young lady took an interest in me, and I sort of pretended we were ‘just friends’ the whole time. She found excuses to spend time with me, we went on long walks, just talking. Ultimately, she backed me into a corner by admitting she liked me, and that’s when I spilled it. I told her I was gay. She was a little surprised for a few seconds, but then asked if we could go for a walk, so we did. And we talked, and cried. And we hugged. I started feeling emotion again, in a very powerful way, and it made me uncomfortable. After a few weeks of continuing to talk to her, I checked myself into therapy. Not LDS family services, but a therapist who was LDS, recommended by a bishop I trusted (who at the time didn’t know I was gay), and I started back to therapy. Remember, I went to therapy for 15 months prior to my mission, but I just didn’t feel like I got anywhere.
After being in therapy for a few months, my female friend left on a mission , and I kept working through my emotions, my pain, my story.
Enter, my future wife:
She had just moved in and befriended others in the singles ward I was attending. We saw each other at church and occasionally at game nights and what not. One day, she decided she liked me, and started to subtly give me hints so that I’d ask her out. I pretended to not notice, but, well, the ignoring didn’t end well.
After being sorta backed into a corner and pressured into it (she probably thinks that’s a slight exaggeration…), I agreed to our first date. I told her on our first date that I wasn’t attracted to women… she went home and prayed about that, then asked me out on a second date (to my bewilderment).
On the second date, we talked about me, my feelings, my fears, etc. She proposed that we ‘test drive’ a dating relationship. Not ‘official’ or ‘exclusive,’ but that we go on a few dates and see where it goes. My therapist was thrilled. I was less than excited but agreed to try it.
After a bumpy first few weeks, we were on a walk looking up at the stars. I looked over at her in the moonlight, and it just hit me like a lightning strike (but much less painfully): I knew that I loved her. It was a very basic love. Not like our love today… but it was a good seed.
About 6 weeks later, I really felt like she was the one for me. I don’t know how to describe that other than as an overwhelming feeling of peace. It’s the peace I feel when I know what I’m feeling is right (like starting this blog tonight, right now). I didn’t tell her yet for fear of freaking her out, but eventually she came to the same conclusion and we became engaged.
Fast forward several months: we got married, consummated our marriage like everybody does (it felt awkward at first, doesn’t everybody? But it’s really a wonderful thing– I know some of you were wondering!), and are generally quite happy. Recently, I started realizing that I was probably burying some of these homosexual feelings, which is not good, as any good therapist will tell you. So after some prayer and thought, I felt impressed to start this blog to help me work through my emotions. I owe it to my wife not to bury my emotions and just ‘pretend’ I’m heterosexual like everybody, but to live as a whole-hearted, happy husband, who happens to also be attracted to men. I’m also blessed to have a wife who is supportive of me not suppressing feelings, but of talking about them together. It’s a very empowering experience to be able to talk about what I feel, rather than feel I need to shun my feelings. I don’t need to act on my feelings of course, but talking about it is wonderful, and so necessary!
I would like to acknowledge my therapist and his patience, many many hours of talking and listening (I didn’t even tell him I was gay until a couple months in– though he figured it out before I told him anyway). I would like to thank Ty Mansfield for his story and example, being one of the first to do publicly what I know many (such as myself) are doing (staying faithful, active, and open). I would like to thank Gay Mormon Guy (David Peterson) for his blog and tweets. They’ve helped me through some tough times prior to and during marriage. The North Star International organization, for their blog and resources. A thank you to the Church for launching Mormons and Gays… I watched all the videos and read the entire site in an evening the day it launched. A thank you to the various inspiring BYU students and other young adults who shared their stories in the ‘It Gets Better’ video they produced as well as through the blogs, panels, YouTube videos, etc. which you’ve shared. Your many stories help give me strength. I’d also like to thank Josh Weed and his wife for sharing their story on their blog, just before I started dating my wife. I had resigned myself to never getting married, thinking it was an impossible idea. Then your story showed up, and sparked something in me which prepared me for the beautiful eternal relationship my wife and I now have.
I would also like to thank the friend who poked me enough to get me to therapy so I could start working through my years of repressed emotion and start feeling again. I would like to thank my parents, who didn’t fall apart or shun me when I told them, but who always just loved me. I would also like to thank my in-laws for their love and support, even though I didn’t tell them until after we were married. They are really stellar people.
Finally, I’d like to thank my wife for the beautiful, tender, and supportive woman she is. She is perfect for me. I can’t imagine spending eternity with anyone else. I’m glad Heavenly Father knew what he was doing all along, even when I didn’t see this beautiful woman at the end of my then very dark tunnel.
I know there will be ‘haters.’ Haters gonna hate. I know there are members who struggle with their attraction to the same sex. I empathize with you, and in no way do I mean that this is the way all members of the Church who are attracted to the same gender should live. Marriage is an option, but not the answer for everyone. For some the answer is celibacy and activity. For others, they choose to leave the church and live a different lifestyle. I feel extremely blessed to have this opportunity (and I hope that people who take their marriage for granted will think twice after reading this! I know I pinch myself sometimes because I am SO HAPPY I am so blessed.).
I don’t know how often I will blog here, but feel free to subscribe via email, follow the account I’ve created on Twitter, or just check back here again.
This post bounces all over the place, I realize, but it’s the start. I’m sure I’ll focus in on topics and get better at this blogging thing after a while. It’s definitely a new experience, so wish me luck. :)
I’ll end with the quote Brené Brown uses to title her most recent book, Daring Greatly:
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.
The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again,
because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause;
who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly. …”
And so begins this journey of daring greatly…