Thursday, September 6, 2012

My First Communication With Someone Who is Openly Gay

I made an anonymous email account when I decided to start blogging.  It is amazing how much more brave I became under the guise of anonymity.  I decided to write to the author of the first (I think it was the first) gay Mormon blog that I ever read using this new email account.  His blog is one of four blogs that I have felt a need to read in full.  I read his blog many months ago so I do not remember everything that I read but I do remember really wanting to ask him some questions.  It is evident from the content contained herein, but he is a former Mormon who has decided to live his life as an openly gay man.  This post is color-coded as follows (also probably self-explanatory):

My comments from today today
Content from my email to him
His responses to me

I am a little puzzled, looking back, about why I chose these questions and why they were worded this way.

1.   What doctrinal issues do you have with the church (besides their stance on homosexuality?  I know that the big ones are usually blacks not holding the priesthood and polygamy.  If these are the ones that really convinced you, why?  (I would really appreciate as much detail as you are willing to give)  I think I posed this question because it is my belief in the church that really keeps me from acting on my orientation.
I questioned many of those things before I even came to terms with my sexuality. Although it was hard to deal with, I feel like I would have been able to manage to survive all those issues and stay a member had I not also had to deal with the gay issue. The most convincing factors for me were these: 

First, I knew what my life was like in the church. I knew what it was like trying to do everything I had been taught to do. To repress my sexuality, to not act on it in any way, to do all the right things and hope that it would fade. I knew what the church and living by the church's teachings had to offer me as a gay guy. What that led me to was a life of deep sorrow and crippling depression (I have definitely been there) that engulfed my life to the point of no return. I also know what living an authentic life feels like. I know what it is like to be gay, to accept that, and to not present myself as anyone other than who I am. I know from experience that living my life this way has brought me undeniable joy and a whole array of new and amazing thoughts and feelings and emotions. I know that it has made me a better person and that it has enabled me to do MORE good than i was ever able to do before. This in itself is very convincing to me. Living my life according to the church = death, Living my life according to my own conscious= life.  I think the life and death comparison here is a little strong, but I can certainly relate to feeling depressed trying to live in the church knowing that I have a desperate need for male companionship.

Second, while each of the points you mentioned (blacks, polygamy, etc.) on their own weren't enough to convince me... looking at church history it is very easy to start seeing a pattern. If the leaders are inspired, why are they always so slow to change for good? Shouldn't they be on the forefront of social reform and change rather than being dragged kicking and screaming into a world of greater equality, respect, and dignity? This is an interesting point.  It does not really convince me that the church is not true in any way but why would God's church slower than "Babylon" in extending equality to people of all ethnicities?  And why is there never an apology? I guess you can get around apologizing if it really is God's will that things be a certain way for a period of time and then change later.  Even if a person believes in prophets, it is clear in the scriptures that prophets made grave errors. Why can't a prophet admit he was wrong?  I guess it could be argued that some prophets have apologized.  They are human and fallible.

Third, if the church was true (and therefore the leaders had nothing to fear because God is at the head), why does it spend so much time hiding the shady parts of it's past? Why does it employ a PR department of professionals whose job it is to make the church look good? Can't God handle that? If it was true, shouldn't it already look good and appealing? Why, for example, do most Mormons not know that not only was Joseph Smith a big practicer of Polygamy, but that he also married women in secret who were already married to living men... many of these women were teenagers. Why don't members know that the temple ceremony they hold so dear is pretty much replicated in fraternities and sororities in colleges throughout the US due to their same Masonic rituals? Why does the general membership not know about all the different accounts of the first vision- if something that miraculous happened to you, would you forget if there was one or two beings or if the being introduced himself as an angel rather than God? The list goes on and on and on and these are well-documented, well-known facts. If the church was true, why are leaders so keen on brushing these things under the carpet? The church would be far more credible if it was honest and upfront.  I honestly have not made any effort to verify the validity of these claims, but even if they are all true, I told him in my response that these arguments among others that I have come across do not really convince me that the church is untrue.  I just don't know.  I have been unable to convince myself that the church is true for certain so it somehow seems like it would be easier to try to prove that it is not true, but I am not swayed strongly enough in either direction to know for sure what kinds of decisions I should be making in my life.
2.   Do you ever wonder if the church might possibly be true?  If so, how often does that thought cross your mind?  Does it get less and less often with time?
At first, this was a huge fear. What if I am wrong? This would come to mind pretty much anytime I made a mistake or had a not so good day. It took awhile before I learned to reprogram my mind so that I wouldn't equate feeling down with sinning. People have bad days. Good people have bad days, bad people have bad days. Good and bad people make mistakes... but guess what, only good people feel remorse. When I made a mistake while I was navigating my new world, I knew to make a correction. One mistake didn't mean that the church was true all along and I shouldn't have accepted my sexuality as OK. When I realized this, it gave me confidence because I knew that I was making corrections in my life where I felt I had made an error. At the beginning, it was also hard because I had already had years of practice at being repulsed by anything gay. I had spent so many years trying desperately to NOT be gay that it was hard to then go out and feel comfortable around a bunch of gays. I used to think, "this is NOT me!" I had to get over my own self-induced homophobia. It definitely did get less often with time. It got less often the more I learned about the church, and about people and their stories. I met so many wonderful people who have been so horribly scared by the church. It isn't bad for everyone... but it sure is bad for some people.
3.   I do not doubt that two men in a committed relationship can be perfectly happy together, but do you absolutely believe that you are happier with a man than you ever could have been with a woman?
Yes, but not always. My initial fear was based on the fact that in our society and culture, happiness equals boy and girl who meet, get married and have babies. Think about all the stories you were told growing up. The movies you watched. The songs you heard. The pictures, the celebrations, the talks in church. The prince and princess meet, fall in love, and live happily ever after. This is the story of happiness. So, you see, we have been programmed to think that this is the only way happiness can look. Imagine a world where all those stories included all different people meeting and marrying and living happily ever after. There would be no bias. Happiness would be presented as love... not simply boy meets girl. In the end happiness comes down to this- having someone to love and someone to love you back. Having someone to be a witness to your life- to validate your human existence.  I really like the idea of this.  I love my wife but I must admit that it is not quite the same way and does not make me nearly as happy as when I had Greg as a close male friend.

Keep in mind that we are products of our upbringing. Our culture, our religion, our family. Because of our limited experience, we have biases that have been ingrained in us. If you want to one day find yourself and REALLY accept yourself and know yourself and love yourself for who you are, you have to be willing to accept that perhaps everything we have ever been taught about life, love, and existence may not be true. Wow. I can't think of anything scarier than that. Ask yourself, in a world where any two people who loved each other were celebrated and respected- where these two people were supported by all families and churches and communities- where every opportunity and experience was equal- where there was no shame, but only pure praise, would you choose to be with a man or woman? Man, no questions asked.  I had to accept that the only reason I considered being with a woman was for my own social comfort. I would blend in. My family would accept it. My religion would accept it. I would be supported and encouraged. Our union would be respected and upheld by religion, society, and government. I would be "normal." That is so tempting in a world where being gay is so full of shame and disgrace. But would I ever want my sister to marry someone like me? Someone who longs to be with a man. Someone who has little or no desire to be intimate with a woman? Someone who is naturally attracted to men and who longs for the companionship and love of another man? Someone who views her as the choice everyone else wants for him but for him, it is settling? :(  I am that man . . . he did not know that I was married when writing this . . .

I have been in a committed relationship for a year and 4 months. It has been an amazing experience. I am lucky enough to have a family who loves and supports me and to be accepted and loved by my boyfriends family. Our private life is normal. We go to dinner with our families. We go on family outings and vacations. My sister and her boyfriend are on one couch cuddling while watching a movie and my boyfriend and I are on the other couch. :)  This made me smile, partly because it seems so unbelievable to me that it makes me want to laugh it off and partly because I would love to experience that. There is NO difference. The only time I feel like I am different is in public when people point or laugh or stare or yell things at us. But that isn't a problem with me, it is a problem with them. All they can see is that we are two males. They don't consider that that is the ONLY difference between our relationship and theirs. It takes awhile to be comfortable when people are so rude. It makes you feel ashamed when you have no reason to be. I have no doubt that this happens and I am sad that people have to deal with such treatment. But once you gain that confidence, I guarantee that you will be a more confident person than most people out there. You will have a better sense of self worth than any of those people who mock you.

One day... maybe when we are old and we have grandchildren- this will all be a thing of the past. You know how I asked you to imagine a world where happily-ever-after stories were all-inclusive? Well that day is coming. We are the ones that are ensuring that our grandchildren will grow up in a world where gays don't feel any less of a person or any weirder than anyone else. 
4.   Do you think it is possible for gay, Mormon men to have their same-sex needs met through close, non-sexual male bonding (I should have ended this question here - I know as well as anyone that my attractions are not based on sex alone) or is sex a necessary ingredient in filling the hole that many MoHos carry inside?
No. I know people who have tried this. The fact that you need the emotional support from another man should be enough to convince you that being with a man is the only real option you have. (I have felt this support once in my life and it was the most exhilarating experience of my life) The most important part of any relationship is that emotional support. That trust and love. Relationships don't equal sex. This idea is so offensive because people sexualize gays to an extreme. Sure, sex can just be sex. But straight people have sex just for sex too. When you talk about relationships though, sex only one method of many to bond and share love. It isn't what MAKES the relationship. So if you are looking for a man to fulfill all your needs except sex... well, big deal. All those things that make a relationship are still there. You are just cutting off one significant way that helps two people in a relationship bond which is sad... but it is your choice.

I don't expect you to take my word for it. When I was coming to terms with all this I talked to many many people and tried to gather what I could from lots of different experiences and viewpoints.  I suspect that is what you are doing. I am. It isn't easy to go through this process. It is long and grueling. For some it is longer than others. Some people never fully heal- usually the ones who continue trying to play both sides of the coin. I feel sorry for these people. Some of them are dear friends. They might never have what I have. They go on from boy to boy trying to find love but always afraid they are doing something wrong. They hide a part of themselves from the people that mean most to them. All the while they put barriers between them and anyone willing to love them. They try to live two lives hoping to stay busy enough between the two so that they never have to stop and realize how empty they feel. 

I guess my advice would be- don't do what they do. Obviously I would say, embrace your sexuality... but it would be better for you to pick one side and fully commit even if the side you pick is a celibate LDS life than to try to be somewhere in the middle. So take that for what it is worth. I hope my responses are helpful. Sorry for taking so long to get back to you.

I really appreciate his response.  But in the end, I am more undecided than ever.  Can anyone else out there validate or discredit any of this from personal experience.  I am trying to get as much input as possible.


  1. I am in a similar boat as you except I'm not married and I am somewhat on the fence.

  2. I only started dating guys 6 months ago. It was a difficult process getting myself to that point and I started it sort of as an experiment. Sort of like was discussed in the e-mail, it was more the emotional connection that I was craving and not as much the sex. I had tried dating girls before, but I found it to be more frustrating than anything. It came as a big surprise to me that dating guys felt how everybody else described dating. Suddenly everything made sense, it felt real, and I wasn't just going through the motions. I've been able to feel like I am connection on an emotional level. I am still single, but the depression and despair that were a constant part of my life have completely disappeared because hope has replaced the hopelessness as a result of resigning myself to celibacy or a half relationship. Most of my family disagrees with me, but I am more at peace with myself. I feel like I still have a relationship with God, but I am still figuring out if and how Mormonism will play into my life. I don't know if my experience is of any help, but I wish you the best in your journey.

  3. First off, I completely endorse what this blogger told you, and the comments of Joe.

    My own personal experience, as a gay man in his early 30s:

    1. When I stopped going to church and decided to date and live my life as an out gay man, I had no other doctrinal issues with the church. I can accept that there are bad things in the church's past. What I cannot accept, is watching current church leaders outright lie and discriminate about proposition 8, or any other recent advance in LGBT equality. And I'm not just talking about bishops and stake presidents here. When I see Elder Bednar do a youtube video filled with lies and distortions, I wonder how someone like that can be speaking for God. To make matters worse, these beliefs have real consequences... failed marriages, hurt families, and the ugliest of all, suicide.

    2. This thought probably crosses my mind about once or twice a year. After all, I still have a healthy relationship with my family, so I hear about how important the church is to them all the time. There was a lot about the church that I loved, but that is not going to make it true.

    3. Yes, no questions asked.

    4. I think this is possible, but I would not recommend it. It also feels disingenuous to me. We are talking about your eternal companion here. The one person you are supposed to love more than anyone else, and whom you will be spending all of eternity with. "Close, non-sexual bonding" shouldn't be something you need to get from outside of this relationship.

  4. This is awesome. I can relate to a lot of this. I feel like a lot of the evidence laid against the truthfulness of the church (Joseph Smith and polygamy, etc.) was important, but in some ways secondary. But I think a common thread is that the number one issue is the treatment of LGBT people by the church, both in the past and present. That then leads to questioning the infallibility of the leaders (which in fairness, was never a central tenet of the faith, nor is now). But it leads to questioning. And this happens to many who are heterosexual as well, as they come to terms with prop 8, etc. I think you can say though that you want to be Mormon and also believe that not everything a prophet or apostle says or does is inspired (See Mormon Stories).

    As far as the rest of it, I'm in a relationship now with a guy, 7 months now, and it's going well. I can relate to what others have said about "getting it." The references to dating, the sex advertisement. I think the biggest difference for me is that it just feels so natural, and it didn't with my ex-wife. We were amazing friends, we were sexual partners (although that sounds so crude, it's accurate), but I always felt this longing for male emotional bonding. I'm sorry to say that it's hard to get that except with another gay male. And if your wife is ok with that, and you trust yourself, great. But emotional infidelity is real, and often a spouse resents that as well.