Monday, February 28, 2011

Where I’m At: Disorientation and Drama

I was talking to friends at a party Friday night, standing in the kitchen, leaning against a counter.  Suddenly, I started to feel dizzy.  I shook my head a little, but the feeling didn’t go away; rather, it intensified.  Images of people around me started to blur a little, then their voices start to sound as though they were far away.  It was weird.  One of my friends looked at me, asked if I was alright, to which I shook my head.  I didn’t know what was going on, and it scared me a little. 

Those around me later said they had seen the color literally drain from my face.  A friend took me into another room to lie down, and after awhile, I felt better.  I guess that, for some reason, I was about to feint.

I’ve thought about this incident over the weekend and realized a couple of things.  First, it was very symbolic of what has been going on in my life within the past few days; and second, I am so glad that my friends were there to keep me from collapsing – both literally and figuratively.

Anyone who read my posts last week could probably see that things were coming to a head at home.  The eruption occurred on Friday.  It started with a discussion with my wife that quickly turned south.  That was quickly followed by an emotional conversation with my oldest son.  Though my wife and I managed to get the proverbial car out of the ditch and back on the road, it was clear that it wouldn’t make it much further. 

Later that day, I counseled with the man I affectionately call my “Gay Priesthood Leader” – a man of keen insight and experience who has been there for me since I first took my first tentative steps out of the closet. My conversation with him steadied my nerves and gave me perspective and a degree of encouragement.  (One of the things I like about my GPL is that he doesn’t tend to sugar-coat stuff; he gives me the straight (oops – well, you know what I mean) goods.)

I then talked at length with another good friend, who mainly listened and didn’t judge, but merely offered support and acceptance – two things which I sorely needed at that point.

When I got home from work, my wife was out. My oldest daughter at home was in the kitchen, so as I finished preparations for the dish I was taking to that evening’s potluck get-together, I tried to talk to her about what was going on.  She proceeded to – without putting too fine a point on it – dump all over me, unloading feelings of anger, misunderstanding and incomprehension, climaxed by this statement:  “I love you, but I cannot accept you.”  I guess it was a good thing that I had already sort of accepted as inevitable that I was going to go through a period where some or all of my kids hated my guts. 

Beyond that, however, it became apparent in listening to my daughter that there had been some discussions going on between my wife and several of the children. Coming away from these encounters, I knew that I had to make plans – immediately – to move out of the house before further damage was done to the framework of our family.

These events and the prospect of moving out much sooner than I had anticipated created an intense feeling of disorientation over the weekend, much like the physical sensations I experienced on Friday evening at my friend’s house.  As I contemplated the reality of moving out, of being in new surroundings, of leaving what I was familiar with, of the expected heartache of telling our younger children, of all the uncertainties of my new life as an out gay man – all of these thoughts and emotions sent me into a bit of a tailspin.  Once again, however, I was blessed by supportive friends. 

Saturday was better, and I had the opportunity that evening to attend my first MoHo party hosted by Scott and Sarah Nicholson.  This was a choice experience, not only because I was able to meet several people with whom I had previously corresponded, but also because I was able to meet Scott and Sarah’s kids and see them interact with the guys who were there.  It was truly heart-warming, and I thought several times that a GA could learn a lot from attending a gathering like that and witnessing the love and caring that was clearly visible.

On Sunday, my wife and I met with our bishop and told him that we are separating and that I am planning to move out sometime this week.  We had decided to wait and tell him because we knew it wouldn’t do any good to tell him sooner:  he had become aware of the severity of our marital problems over two years ago and had worked closely with us since then; there was nothing else he could do.

The meeting went as well as I could possibly have hoped.  I truly think we must have the best bishop in the world.  He was very accepting, supportive and non-judgmental.  He expressed his love for both of us and reiterated that he is there to support our family in whatever way possible.

But, no, in case you’re wondering, I did not come out to him.  My wife and I have decided that it is in the best interests of our family to keep that confidential.  It will eventually come out, but my family has enough to deal with right now without the additional drama that disclosure would cause.

I was invited to an Oscar party last night.  I shouldn’t have gone; I was sleep-deprived and emotionally exhausted, and by the time the evening had come around, the tides of disorientation and despair had again rolled in.  I’m afraid I wasn’t very good company as a result.  But, once again, I’m grateful for friends who understand that, right now, my moods ebb and flow, and who express sincere concern for me and for the challenges I face. 

So, yeah, it was an interesting weekend, and it promises to be an interesting week.  By Saturday, I will have moved in with a friend and started a new chapter in my life. Not only will it represent a new chapter in my family’s life, but it will also be a new chapter in my coming-out process.  Stay tuned for further disorientation (which will absolutely not involve any doubt or questioning about my sexual orientation, for which I’m grateful).

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Gay Gospel Doctrine Class: A More Excellent Way

When Invictus asked me to prepare the Gay Gospel Doctrine lesson for this week, I was excited.*  I used to teach Gospel Doctrine for about 4 years and I loved doing it.  However in all that time, I obviously never had the chance to present the material with this perspective.

Lesson 8 deals with the Sermon on the Mount and Jesus presenting the higher law.

The Salt of the Earth

In Matt 5:13, Jesus presents the following, “Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.”

Whenever I hear people make derogatory comments about gay people, one of the thoughts that come into my mind is, “If it weren’t for gays, this world would be a far less beautiful place.”  And I’m not saying that it’s the gay guys who are the most beautiful to look at (though some of you certainly are), it’s just that there is so much creativity and imagination that comes from the way that gay people often think.

How much music, art, design and theater would we not have were it not for gay people?  Society would certainly lose it savor without the unique perspective that gay people bring to it. 

Hiding our Light:  Be Your Best Self

This chapter continues:

14 Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.
15 Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.
16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

I don’t know if it’s just specific to me, but sometimes I’m afraid of letting people see the things that I enjoy doing and am good at because I don’t want them to look at me and think, “Dang, that guy must be gay.”  I sometimes want to hide my light under a bushel.

There’s a lady in my ward who serves with my wife.  She has said in the past something to the effect of, “If I didn’t know better, I’d say that your husband’s gay.  He cooks, cleans, does laundry, paints.  He’s gay.”  I’m not sure if this is more of an outing of me, or a slam on the traditional, stereotypical straight guy.  But the encouragement that I receive from this scripture is that I should not be afraid to be my best self.  It really doesn't matter what others think.  If I'm good at something, why shouldn't I do it?  Whether it's burying talents or hiding our light, neither is good for our souls.

Here’s a great song that illustrates this principle:  Proud, sung by Heather Small (lyrics below):

Pray for Them Which Despitefully Use You

Matthew, chapter 5 verse 44 offers an incredible challenge:

“But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;”

When I was in high school, I hated gym class.  There was this kid in there who was such a bully; he made the class miserable.  It's not that I was a femmy gay boy; I was just average and not really athletic.  One day, the thought struck me; I should pray for him.  I had been taught this in seminary and church for years, but I had never really had anyone who I considered my “enemy”, but I suppose if anyone fit that requirement, he did.

So I went home, and that night as I was saying my prayers, I asked my Heavenly Father to bless this kid at school who tried to make my life miserable everyday, that maybe he would be nicer tomorrow.

The next day, I got up, went to school and again to gym class with the bully.  And do you know what happened?  Nothing.  He was the same jerk he was the day before.  But something else changed.  I saw him differently.  I realized that he probably had a more miserable home life than I could ever understand, and I felt bad for him.  I had asked God to make him different, and instead He changed my heart.  It was a strong lesson for me.

When Elder Packer gave his now famous October speech about our loving Heavenly Father not ever making gay people, my initial reaction was one of annoyance and anger.  I called him all kinds of bad names in texts to friends.  As time went on, the thought occurred to me; in the larger national religious dialogue, the religious “leaders” who frequently speak out against gays are often the ones who end up getting caught traveling with rent-boys.  And I realized, “I think he doth protest too much.” 

Perhaps Boyd “struggles” with this as well and is a victim of the hatred and lies he heard as a child.  Maybe not.  But I do know that the walls he has built up around himself have made it so he has missed out on knowing some awfully incredible people.  His life lacks a good deal of salt.

I’ll be honest; I have a difficult time maintaining this charitable outlook towards Elder Packer.  As a result of his talk, I have far less faith in my life and see myself moving further away from the church (for good or bad).  And I'll admit that I enjoy occasionally reading some article or blog which takes another verbal potshot at him.  But in my more noble moments, I see him as I think he truly is; miserable, without many friends and completely owned by the church organization.  And I pity him.

If I only love those who love me, what reward have I?  It is a challenge I constantly have to work towards.  May God bless all of us.  Even those whom I judge as being difficult to love.

* This lesson was prepared by UtahHiker801.


I look into the window of my mind
Reflections of the fears I know I've left behind
I step out of the ordinary
I can feel my soul ascending
I am on my way
Can't stop me now
And you can do the same

What have you done today to make you feel proud?
It's never too late to try
What have you done today to make you feel proud?
You could be so many people
If you make that break for freedom
What have you done today to make you feel proud?

Still so many answers I don't know
Realise that to question is how we grow
So I step out of the ordinary
I can feel my soul ascending
I am on my way
Can't stop me now
And you can do the same

What have you done today to make you feel proud?
It's never too late to try
What have you done today to make you feel proud?
You could be so many people
If you make that break for freedom
What have you done today to make you feel proud?

We need a change
Do it today
I can feel my spirit rising
We need a change
So do it today
'Cause I can see a clear horizon

What have you done today to make you feel proud?
So what have you done today to make you feel proud?
'Cause you could be so many people
If you make that break for freedom
So what have you done today to make you feel proud?
What have you done today to make you feel proud?
What have you done today
You could be so many people?
Just make that break for freedom
So what have you done today to make you feel proud?

Saturday, February 26, 2011

What a Week!

I am a newcomer to the gay scene.  I’m ashamed to say that, like Saul (Paul), it wasn’t too, too long ago that I was, controlled by my closeted conservative false persona, casting verbal stones at gay rights activists.  Then, I had my “Road to Damascus” experience: my coming out, which (along with a political awakening that I’ll describe in a later post) altered my entire world view.  I have since repented of the sins of my false persona. 

Because of my Saul-like past, and because I am so new to the gay scene, I have not heretofore commented on my blog about gay rights initiatives and issues.  Rather, I have sought to learn and have kept a respectful distance (and silence) from those who have been out for a long time and have done much to advance the cause of gay rights.  

I felt, however, that I couldn’t let this week end without, in some small way, commenting on what has transpired this past week in Hawaii, in Washington, in Maryland and even here in Utah. I also wanted to share some quotations that I have gleaned from various sources that I thought deserved be shared. 

 After careful consideration, including review of a recommendation from me, the President of the United States has made the determination that Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (“DOMA”), 1 U.S.C. § 7, as applied to same-sex couples who are legally married under state law, violates the equal protection component of the Fifth Amendment.”

~ Eric H. Holder, Jr., U.S. Attorney General

"This bill represents equal rights
for everyone in Hawaii,
everyone who comes here.
This is to me the essence
of the aloha spirit.”

~ Hawaii Governor Neil Abercrombie,
Signing legislation permitting same-sex civil unions in Hawaii

"We agree that there are more pressing issues to be addressed this legislative session than narrowly defining the family, restricting the right to contract and stripping non-discrimination protections passed by 11 municipalities.”

~ Brandie Balken
Executive Director, Equality Utah,
Commenting on the decision of  Utah Rep. LaVar Christensen
to abandon three pieces of controversial legislation

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

“ … I’ve come to a deeper understanding of the wisdom of referencing God as the ultimate source individual rights, but I also see now that that’s not the source of this passage’s power.  What this passage does, in a heroically aspirational way, is elevate basic rights—the right to Life, Liberty, and pursuit of Happiness—above all else.  The existence of these rights is not open for debate.  They cannot be put up for vote.  The majority, even in a democracy, cannot take them away from the minority.  All men are created equal, and they have certain rights, full stop.  Notice that not only are these rights set safely beyond the reach of government—they are put beyond the reach of everyone, and that includes those who think God has informed them otherwise.

“This is an incredibly important concept.  We are not so much a “Christian” nation as we are a nation where certain unalienable rights have been put out of the reach of religion, Christianity included.  We are not a great nation because we believe in the right God, we are a great nation because everyone is free to believe in whatever God they choose, as long as—and this is critical—as long as everyone understands that their right to impose their understanding of God ends where others’ rights begin [emphasis added].”

- Brent D. Beal

"The most distinctive mark of a cultured mind is the ability to take another’s point of view; to put one’s self in another’s place, and see life and its problems from a point of view different from one’s own. To be willing to test a new idea; to be able to live on the edge of difference in all matters intellectually; to examine without heat the burning question of the day; to have imaginative sympathy, openness and flexibility of mind, steadiness and poise of feeling, cool calmness of judgment, is to have culture."

- A. H. R. Fairchild

"Neither your past nor your present experiences dictate your thoughts. Your thoughts about your experiences become habituated in your brain’s neural pathways. It’s not just your experiences that are important; it’s your thinking about those experiences that makes all the difference. The quality of your thoughts ultimately dictates the quality of your life."

— David G. Arenson

Staring Down Divorce

For years, the concept of divorce was one that I simply could not face. 

My parents separated when I was 12 and divorced two years later.  Those years were extremely dark and painful, and it took several more years before anything approaching “normalcy” was reached in our family.  But the scars remained for many, many years afterward, and some were and still are visible if one knows where to look.

My mother’s parents had also divorced, when she was a little girl.  She experienced an extremely painful childhood, one which she never talked about and the secrets of which she carried to her grave.  She became estranged from her father – my grandfather – and I never even met him until I was 16 years old, and that was because I initiated the contact and was old enough to drive myself to see him.

Thus, I was no stranger to divorce and its lasting effects on families back in a time when it was still seen as taboo.  Even more divorce was added to the family mix as I watched each one of my older siblings marry, only to divorce within 5-8 years. 

When I was introduced to the LDS Church shortly after graduating from college, I came to it with the above-described background, as well as a history of childhood abuse and family dysfunctions and, of course, my well-hidden homosexuality.  When I looked at what I had come out of and compared it to what the LDS Church seemed to offer/promise in terms of happy, loving families that could last forever, I saw what appeared to be an opportunity to leave my painful past behind and start building a healthy future.

It was therefore with high hopes, but a great deal of “gun-shy” trepidation that I approached the marriage altar.  I desperately wanted my marriage to last forever.  I didn’t want me, my wife or my children to EVER have to go through what I went through as an adolescent.  The desperation with which I desired this was one of the main reasons why I was willing to try my very, very best to turn my back on my true gay nature and embrace, heart and soul, my heterosexual marriage.

I have written elsewhere of the differences between my wife and me.  We struggled from day one.  After ten years, we almost called it quits.  This had nothing to do with me being gay – at least not anywhere close to the surface (I have only recently come to realize the extent to which my inner conflicts caused deep-seated unhappiness); just incompatibility and “irreconcilable differences.”  But because of our commitment to our children and to the Church and our faith that we were meant to be together, we pulled our marriage out of the ditch and traveled down the road another 11-12 years or so, trying very, very hard to make things work.

About three years ago, however, the wheels started to come off.  We were having very serious problems.  We talked to our bishop. We went to counseling.  Things would be better for a short time, then revert to “normal.” 

During this time, the thought of divorce scared me to death.  By now, I had invested over 20 years of my adult life in my marriage.  I had given it my all, such as it was.  My faith in my marriage was inextricably intertwined with my faith in God, my faith in the Church and my faith in myself.  If my marriage failed, I told myself, then my entire life was a failure.  Everything I had worked toward, devoted myself to, and believed in would be washed down the drain; and the eventuality that I had feared since adolescence would become reality.

Thus, though the prospect of divorce seemed perfectly palatable to my wife during this period, it provoked a deep existential crisis in me.  I was willing to go to great lengths to preserve our marriage.  But all of this changed one day last summer while I was out for a run.  In what I have since described as an epiphany of sorts, I suddenly realized that there could and would be life after a divorce; that perhaps life would even be better than it then was.

I wrote about this experience, shortly after it happened, in a letter to my wife:  “The conclusion I have come to - somewhat surprisingly - is that I believe you are right: our marriage is likely not going to survive.  I have concluded that we will likely at some point separate, and I came to accept this after realizing that it would probably be a lot healthier for me emotionally and psychologically if we did this.  I also realized it would probably result in me having healthier relationships with my children, as much as a paradox as that sounds. This realization filled with me with tremendous sadness, because I well know what lies in the future, particularly for our children.  I know what this - if it proceeds all the way to divorce - will mean to them and the tremendous upheaval it will bring to our family … However, I have realized that - like you - I cannot go on the way things have been for quite some time.”

But for this experience, and a couple of other “enlightening” experiences I had around the same time, I would not have been able to face what was coming down the pike.  Having finally “stared down divorce,” however, I was psychologically and emotionally prepared when I was forced out of the closet by Boyd K. Packer’s conference address.  I was prepared to accept a vision of an “alternative” future – not one that I had anticipated or even wanted, but one that nevertheless offered prospects of a degree of happiness and personal fulfillment.

I was also finally able to let go of the fear of failure, a fear which had compelled me to all sorts of unhealthy behaviors and beliefs, each of which, paradoxically, contributed to that which I feared the most – divorce.  Having let go of this fear, I was then able to accept the alternative that life was offering me; and, having abandoned this fear, find courage to accept not only what life is offering me, but also the challenges that accompany or result from that acceptance.

Fear is a question: What are you afraid of, and why?
Just as the seed of health is in illness,
because illness contains information,
your fears are a treasure house of self-knowledge
if you explore them.”

~ Marilyn Ferguson

Friday, February 25, 2011

Mixed Orientation Marriages Revisited: To Just Accept Me

This post continues Wednesday’s post about Alex, a young gay Mormon in a mixed-orientation marriage.  He has recently come out to himself and to his wife.  In this post, he talks about what happened when he first came out when he was 17 and how his parents and counselors tried to account for his “attraction” to men.  He spent years trying to “figure things out,” until finally coming to the conclusion that he didn’t need to find a reason for being gay; he just is.

I’m sure Alex would appreciate any supportive comments that any of you would like to leave.


When I was 17, I figured out I was gay. I was recently reading over some journals, and I realize I had some idea before that, but this was when it dawned on me “Oh, you feel sexually attracted to guys.”

I was devastated. How would I go to BYU? How would I be the son my parents wanted me to be? I talked to some teachers, trying to work out something to get into another school. But by then it was too late. Admission deadlines had passed.

I was in the musical, and I started spending a lot of time with one boy in particular who I knew was gay. Eventually, we started dating. (I’ve blocked out talking or thinking about this for a long time, kind of incredible).

Finally, for some reason I decided it was time to tell my parents. I told them about all the things I’d read in the church, how I didn’t agree with all of them when it came to homosexuality. Somehow it came out I was spending a time with a particular boy.  Telling my parents didn’t go very well. I argued, and wrote all kinds of letters. Reading them now, I think, “Wow, I figured some pretty amazing things out.”

My parents told me that I was entering a hedonistic society if I acted on my feelings, that I would get aids and die, and all kinds of things. I responded back that I thought I should be able to live a basically chaste life for now, just taking things slow with someone I felt safe with.

I don’t know why I was so stupid, but I held back in “acting” on my feelings.  He held my hand, which was great. But I was scared, and my parents were really getting after me.  And I wasn’t sure if I was going to BYU or not.

Well I started seeing a therapist.  Books that both he and my parents gave me I convinced me that I was gay because of problems in relationships with my Dad, problems in my relationship with my Mom, and because I felt different from other boys.

But the worst part is they told me I was gay because I’d been sexually abused. I can’t say whether or not it happened. I don’t remember. I know that repressed memories are a real thing, I also know (now) to be wary. I know I had real feelings and real pain but other than that, I don’t know.

But I know that’s not why I’m gay. And I’m appalled that these people I trusted (including my parents) made me think this. The LDS therapists I met with fully explored this, thinking if we could just solve that, I’d have “normal” feelings. So I spent years trying to remember, trying to find answers. And there were none to be had. Not along that road at least.

So you might ask. “Well why? You seemed to start to be figuring things out; why did you go away from that.” One of my friends came back from college. I told him everything. He asked me to give the church another chance. For a lot of reasons, I did. That led me to break up with my boyfriend, to start seeing a therapist that was also a stake president.  I went to the Evergreen Conference.  I did all these things and in the process just felt guilty that I’d ever doubted the Church, that I’d ever let myself think it was ok to be gay. And basically I just suppressed this part of myself.

It’s so interesting to look back and think about what I missed out on and could have had.  I feel saddened that I had to cut off part of myself for so long because of being ashamed.

To be fair, obviously I let myself believe people. It was easier from them and me to accept that I was gay because of a reason. But I can’t tell you how good it feels to just accept it.  To not go digging around in the why of this or that, but to just accept me.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Where I’m At – The Next Stage of Separation

I’ve been thinking a lot about my dad recently.  He died a few years ago, and I have mixed feelings about that in light of my current situation.  On the one hand, I’m glad he’s not around to witness the breakdown of my marriage and I’m glad I don’t have to even think about coming out to him.  On the other hand, I would have liked to have had the benefit of his experience and also to tell him that finally, after over 30 years, I understand a bit better what he went through when he and my mother separated when I was 12 years old.

A week or so ago, I wrote about us finding out that we were the subject of gossip in our ward.  We had hoped to forestall that eventuality as long as possible so as to give us time to work out the logistics and finances of when I will move out and when we will tell our younger children that their parents are going to separate and eventually, divorce.  Seeing that the control of the story line had been taken somewhat from us and knowing what this would mean, my wife and I were suddenly faced with the prospect of moving up our timetable.  What had previously seemed “out there” and fuzzy and not quite real was suddenly very real.  This development affected both me and my wife.

I’ve already written about “hitting the wall” late last week.  What I didn’t realize until Sunday was that my wife had also kind of hit the wall.  She initiated a pretty intense discussion Sunday afternoon in which it became obvious that the reality of everything had suddenly hit her as well: even though she had been talking about the prospect of divorce for over two years, this prospect had unexpectedly and without warning come into sharp relief.  I think it scared her, much as it had caused anxiety and disorientation in me.

What became clear with the passage of time is that we had passed, without at first realizing it, into another, more advanced stage of separation – even though I continue for now to live in the family home.  With each passing day, I increasingly fade out of the day-to-day routine of our family.  This isn’t something I planned or she planned; it’s just happening.  With each passing day, I find it more uncomfortable to be “in” the family home but not be “of” the family.  Similarly, my wife finds it uncomfortable to see me withdrawing and going out. 

Meanwhile, our kids are sort of in various stages of understanding what is going on – and even those who know I’m gay and/or know that we are separating and divorcing don’t really understand everything that is going on; they can’t, at least not right now.  This is one of the things that has reminded me of my dad.  There were things I didn’t understand back then; things which I understand now, or at least I think I do.  Of course, the situations between his family and my family are very different in some significant ways.  But, nevertheless, there are similarities.

Both my wife and I know that the time must soon come when I must actually leave the family, and one of the things that I have suggested we do to prepare for that is that she go out one night every week, both so that she can have some time out and so that I can have some time alone with the kids at home.  I can well understand, now, my Dad’s need to have his own time with me and my siblings all those years ago, away from my Mom, on his own turf and his own terms.  In some ways, I felt like I never had a relationship with my Dad, never knew him, until after the separation.  Though, again, his situation and my situation are very different in some significant ways, I do hope and believe that my relationship with my kids will improve, in the ways that really matter, after we separate.

Meanwhile, we both continue to feel out our separate ways.  As for me, I have had occasion this past week to once again reflect upon how grateful I am that I came out:  the prospect of continuing to come out and to live life as a gay man has made the impending challenges of separation and divorce easier to contemplate and face.  Without those prospects, life would be incalculably more difficult.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Mixed-Orientation Marriages Revisited: Peace in Being Real

Alex is a young married man who has recently started the process of coming to terms with being gay.  After reading the series of posts on mixed-orientation marriages that ran on this blog in December, Alex wrote to say that these posts and their comments echoed “a lot of things I’ve being thinking the last few weeks and helped to clarify a lot of my reasons for thinking and feeling the way I do.”

I have received Alex’s permission to share part of his story, below.  As he received assistance and food for thought from other men’s experiences, we share his now that it might perhaps help others as well.  (At Alex’s suggestion, I have created a page containing links to all of the posts of mixed-orientation marriages, a link to which can be found at the top of the right sidebar.)

I recently came to terms with being gay. It's taken me a long time. I came out to myself about 2 months ago now. Then I came out to my wife. I had told her I struggled with SSA while we were dating, but I think it's taken years for me (and her) to actually know what that means.  Even though we talked about my “SSA” before getting engaged, it’s not the same as saying, “I’m gay. I can’t change that. Can you accept that?”  She said she didn’t know.

At first everything seemed to be alright. I then spent the following month just wondering how she really felt; finally, it all came out. It was rough, but I thought things were looking better.

But on Valentine’s Day, the illusions were finally shattered.   Like many of your commenters have said, I saw what was happening not only to me but to her in our marriage. My wife told me she felt like she was living in half a marriage, that she deserved to be in a marriage where she felt loved and that she deserved to be in a marriage where she felt respected.

These declarations weren’t a result of me telling her I was gay. They were a result of living for years pretending that nothing was wrong.  I can’t blame being gay for everything wrong in my marriage. But what I realized is that I had thought for a long time that I was the only one unhappy in my marriage, that if I were to divorce my wife I’d be the bad guy; I realized that she was unhappy, too. 

Well you’d think I’d be so enlightened. But I was miserable. I was contemplating giving up all of the new confidence I found in accepting me for me (including being gay) to make my marriage “work.”  I know I can’t “push” this [gay] me away, but could I, you know, make him a little less vocal, a little less present? Did I really have to bring it up to my wife?

I think I do. I can’t live in my marriage not being who I am. I need for her to love me and “accept” (I’ll work on defining that later) me on those terms.

In regards to other comments, I don’t disagree we need to be less selfish. But I echo your words that being selfless in our situation is mutual suicide. If I just bury myself again, I’m not doing me or my wife any favors.

So what do I do?  It’s possible that I’m just trying to force it too quickly, like many men in successful MOM’s that this time will fade and things will get better. I have my doubts. I’m willing to put some work into this marriage. But I will never be able to fully give up my desire to be with a man, and not just for sexual reasons.

I know that one way to deal with this is to create other ways to meet those needs. I don’t disagree, and I don’t want to be too harsh, but I think that we have to be careful and not kid ourselves into thinking that we aren’t being emotionally unfaithful to our wives. On the other hand, this seems to be, and may be the only way to make our marriages work.

I look forward to hearing more about your journey. Mine has been extremely painful. But I can honestly say that my depression is gone. I can also say that I’m dealing with a lot of pain, frustration and sadness as I watch the relationship with a woman I love but have hurt deeply go through some difficult times. But that there’s a peace that comes from God in being real to myself and really acknowledging my emotional, physical, and spiritual needs.

Alex added a postscript:  “I love Chopin. I learned to play Prelude Opus 28 No. 15 when I was 17. At this same time, I realized I was gay, but went through years of trying to “change” (including reparative therapy). Ten years later, I’m finally figuring out that this was mostly a lie.”

As a tribute to Alex and others struggling in mixed-orientation marriages, here is Russian pianist Valentina Igoshina playing Chopin’s beautiful Prelude Op. 28, No. 15:

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Where I'm At: Heavy Weather

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole …
In the fell clutch of circumstance … 
Under the bludgeonings of chance,
My head is bloodied -
but unbowed …

For those who have received the impression that I am always confident, courageous, calm, and reasonable, read on.  Ten days ago, I wrote that I was happy, the most blessed of creatures in that I was happy and, what’s more, recognized that I was happy.  I was alive in the present of my happiness.  How quickly things can change.

Any who have been reading my blog for a while may recall a couple of early posts I did about Icarus.  In this Greek myth, Icarus tried to escape from Crete with a pair of wings made out of wax and feathers by his father, Daedalus, who warned his son not to fly too close to the sun, which would cause the wax to melt.  But overcome by the giddiness that flying lent him, Icarus soared too close to the sun, which melted the wax, causing him to plunge into the sea (thus giving the name to the Icarian Sea).

Like Icarus, I had been warned that I must not fly too close to the sun.  But in the giddiness, the wonderful feelings created by the sublime experience of flight, I chose to ignore the warnings.  I flew higher and higher until, too late, I realized that my wings were falling apart and I plummeted into the metaphorical sea of disorientation, confusion and depression.  Fortunately, I was blessed with friends who heard my cries for help, and they reached out to pull me out of the water.  And once the danger was passed, they did not condemn or reproach me for my lapse in judgment; they understood the giddiness of flight.  They simply encouraged me to remember what I had learned.  I will.

What was the “giddiness of flight”?  The coming-out process.  I had rushed certain aspects of it, failing to exercise good judgment, letting things get out of balance, being selfish perhaps.  But I have learned from this experience, not only about the process of coming out, but also things about myself.  The metaphor of Icarus is in many ways apt to describe what I have just gone through, but another way of describing it, less critical of myself, is that I engaged with life, made some mistakes which I have learned from, and, as a result, am better able to engage from this point forward. 

What was particularly unfortunate – or fortuitous, depending upon one’s point of view – is that these experiences I’ve just described coincided with several other developments which created a “perfect storm” last week.  The result was that I felt a bit like a ship being tossed to and fro in the middle of a huge ocean in the middle of a fierce storm.  Any sense of certainty about my future that I had cobbled together was blown apart, and I was left without shelter to face fierce winds of concerns about finances, my professional situation, gossip in the ward, challenges in my family, and the delicate situation between my wife and me.  Thus, the quotation at the commencement of this post to the lines from William Henley’s poem Invictus.

But, again, loved ones and friends came to my assistance, and to them I offer my heartfelt thanks.  Merci, ma chère soeur.  Thanks, GPL. Ευχαριστώ, my friend. I am particularly grateful to one man who offered his unconditional support.  Domo arigato.

So, I am bloody, but unbowed.  The game is not over.  To paraphrase Winston Churchill, this is not the end, nor is it the beginning of the end; but it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.

Yesterday, while I was out running, thinking about all of this, I came to a song on my Ipod that caused me to have another one of those moments that make me glad I run in the dark. The song was “You’ll Never Walk Alone,” from Carousel, sung by Lee Greenwood, and I’ll admit it:  I cried.  I listened to it over and over again during the remainder of my run. 

So in closing, I want to say that I know that many who read this blog experience challenges every bit as great, if not greater, than mine.  I believe many do so in varying degrees of alone-ness.  To them, and in tribute to those who helped me to not walk alone through this latest crisis in my life, I offer this song, performed here by Judy Garland.  I highly recommend watching the video to the end; it’s worth it.