I’ve never posted about it on this blog, but it is fairly common knowledge among people who know me well and have read my other blogs that I deal with same-sex attraction. Some people called it “gay”. Others call it “homosexual”. I guess I call it all of the above depending on the context.
If you are reading this, then I have decided to post it. I am writing this with a great deal of anxiety. It’s not that I am unaccustomed to talking about it. It’s that I’ve kept it mainly quiet when it comes to professional venues. My intention witht his blog that actually bears my name was to keep my private life mostly out of it.
I write about my journey as a gay married Mormon man on other blogs: ldslights.org, ldsr.org, and springsofwater.com. There, I mostly write inspirational material, personal essays that I hope will provide some spiritual insight into what is like to struggle to remain faithful to a Church and belief system that is contrary to some of the more basic instincts and inclinations I deal with.
Let me spell out just what that belief system is to me. I wrote a little about it in My Faith. I am a believing member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the Church). A thorough treatment of what that means is not within the scope of this entry, but you can get a fairly good idea about it here.
Specifically, regarding homosexuality, the Church teaches that marriage is ordained of God only when between a man and a woman, that there is to be no sex outside of marriage. The Church professes its love and welcome of people who are attracted to the same sex and requires for membership that such people abstain from sexual behavior with one another.
Of significance to me is the teaching and belief I grew up with that the highest of God’s blessings in the eternities is reserved for those who are married in the new and everlasting covenant of marriage. This is different than the usual “until death do us part” clause of traditional Christian marriage. We believe that a marriage solemnized in our temple by one with authority to do so lasts beyond this life and into eternity.
So important was it to me to attain to this blessing that I put aside my natural inclinations and made it my goal to marry a woman in the temple. When I really put my mind to a thing, I do it right. Such is the case with my marriage. I could not have picked a better spouse than Barbara, my truly eternal companion. She’s the best woman on the planet, even though I think my daughters come in at a close second.
Anyone who knows anything about homosexual feelings will know that if, as I claim, I experience these feelings deeply and almost exclusively, that it could not possibly be easy. It is true that it is not. I think I make it look easy because I don’t express any dissatisfaction in the life I have chosen. It is true that I am not dissatisfied. I have a good life.
I have five wonderful children, three in-laws, and six grandchildren with two on the way. My wife and I get along as well as most couples I know. We have our disagreements of course, but they rarely approach what feels like an endangerment of the happy life we’ve built together.
Any person with complex reasoning capabilities will appreciate that one can be satisfied and happy, yet still struggle with impulses contrary to the life we have chosen. Those impulses can be strong enough to create a paradox that a lot of people can’t reconcile.
I must find some reconciliation. The stress of living the life I have chosen in light of feelings I have is sometimes almost more than I can bear. However, bear the stress I do. It isn’t easy. It is sometimes nothing but hard.
I am not new to making this kind of revelation. As I’ve pointed out, I’ve been writing on-line about this for almost fifteen years now. Thirteen years ago, I moved to Ohio. Some of the things I wrote preceded me there. The reception I got at church by some of the leaders was mixed. To spell out those reactions here would be counterproductive to what I want you to understand by reading what I write here. Suffice it to say that there is a lot of fear among members of the Church that a man with homosexul tendencies is to be avoided and/or fixed.
Once the church leadership in Ohio came to realize that I was faithful to my covenants and intended to remain so, they changed their attitude towards me. The stake president asked that I participate in a fireside in my ward about same-sex attraction. I “outed” myself to two different wards, mine and the one with which my ward shared a church building.
The response from my ward was good. I never felt unwelcome or mistrusted in general. I do remember one woman who was never friendly to me again, but I could not specifically pin it on my open admission at that fireside. I saw another woman gather her children to one side as I walked past. For the most part, I got a lot of respect from them.
Then, due to the news that my mother had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, I moved my family back to Oregon so we could be near her in her last months. I immediately began to feel uneasy about the prospect of being as open in Oregon as I had been in Ohio. This was sad to me. As a youth, my parents didn’t move to Oregon until I was 15 years old, yet I think of Oregon as home. Portland is my home town in my heart, even though I was actually born in Safford, Arizona.
Not that I’m a prophet by any means, but the saying goes that a prophet is not without honor except in his own country. I can’t put my finger on it. I haven’t been given any directives, but I feel like I’m supposed to shut up about this.
A few years ago, when Helen Whitney was making her PBS documentary called, “The Mormons”, I was invited down to Salt lake to be interviewed by her. The interview went well. I was cut from the final release. When it became known by some local people that I had done the interview, I got the impression they were uneasy about it. When I was informed that I had been cut, I think they were relieved. I feel more and more like an outsider because I bear something that for which, if known, I would be surely ostracized, or at least if feels like I would.
Over the years since I had been so open before, I have complicated the process in my mind of “coming out”. I am anxious about too many things. I worry about how my family feels about my openness. I wonder if they think that because I don’t talk about it much anymore that it’s not really something I deal with anymore. Will they be disappointed to know that I still do, as much as ever? Will they feel how powerfully I must love them if I continue to keep my commitments despite such difficulty?
With the advent of facebook, I’m in contact with a lot of people from my past whom I have never told about this struggle. Part of me wants to just keep it that way. There are hazards to being open, not the least of which is how people suddenly start to re-interpret your relationship with them when they learn you deal with homosexual feelings.
I’ve had more than one man tell me that it didn’t matter, that I was still the Rex they always knew, and then find out they told people that I was attracted to them. The conceit of such an idea! I want to tell them that I’ve only ever been attracted to attractive men, so they have nothing to worry about.
I am anxious professionally. Many people I work with will not understand. They won’t get my desire to be faithful to my wife and my faith. I might even lose some business over it.
So, I’ve said a lot here. Even in the closing paragraph, I’m not sure I’m going to publish it. I’m exhausted having written it.