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.


  1. Alex,

    I endured/held out since my youth and only started my new life a relatively short time ago; I am 58! We late bloomers naturally feel the regret of lost time and opportunity. Perhaps there is optimum timing in the grand scheme for each of us; we may never know. But I have overcome the regrets (mostly), feel gratitude for my new, blossoming life, and now cherish the days and years ahead. The secret – the way to make up for lost time and which I willingly share with you – is not to live fast and furious, but to live fully, feel deeply, and love wisely.

    Best wishes,

  2. I appreciate that. That helps me gain some perspective, and that’s a message that I need to hear. I’m young. I have my whole life ahead of me.
    But what do I do with that life?
    I’m caught between the proverbial rock and a hard place. I realize that, I am where I am because I’ve been lied to, misinformed. That my decisions are based on that. I realize my mistakes, my regrets. And I can learn from them, but that doesn’t mean I can undo where they’ve lead me. On the other hand, I am married to a woman who loves me, who is my best friend. Though I struggle with understanding my romantic feelings for her, I do love her all the same. I’d be giving up a lot to leave that.
    So do I continue this relationship, fully aware of the wrong reasons that got me into it, becoming more and more aware of what I could have had, and what I’m missing out on?
    I do know that I can’t go back to “blissful ignorance.” I mean I guess I could try. But I remember what it’s like to be with someone. Someone who cared for me, put their arms around me, made me feel safe. I don’t know how to undo that longing. I don’t think I can.
    I guess what it comes down to is right now I’m unable to act. There’s too much I don’t know. That frustrates me, but I realize I need to be patient. I realize I’ve come a long way even in these few months. Even still, Sometimes though I worry I’m not doing enough. I worry that “Inaction is its own form of action.” But I’m just trying to deal with the hand I’ve been dealt. I don’t have kids to worry about, but even still there are some really negative consequences to leaving my wife. And there are a lot of negative consequences to staying. No matter which way I choose, it isn’t easy.
    Anyways I appreciate the post IP, and your comments Trey. I’m sure some people who read these posts, or read my blog (it’s at btw) think “Make up your mind already!” I think that myself sometimes.I wish I could. But for now I’ll go forward, luckily now with a group of people to support me (and challenge me, that’s fine too). I’m sure most of you can understand the relief, the joy that comes from finding a group of people to relate to.

  3. Alex, I can assure you that no one who has the least experience with what you are coping with would think, "Make up your mind, already." You are on a journey. There are things you need to learn, discoveries you need to make about yourself. These will help you to know what your next step or series of steps should be. I think you are on the right path, because it is impossible to put the genie back in the bottle; once it is out, it has to be dealt with one way or another. Blissful ignorance is impossible at this point.

  4. Alex,

    I don’t know if you will see this late-date comment but I wanted to throw in with Invictus, for what it’s worth, to assure you that this journey requires a lot of patience. Sometimes the pace seems to quicken but more often it is slow, deliberate, and painstaking. It is as if the fruit has to mature naturally over time.

    My situation is slightly different in that I knew I shouldn’t marry, was not “in love” when I did, but wanted to follow the plan of happiness. I endured a troubled marriage for 33 years. When my wife and I told our second son (he was 28 at the time) that we were going to separate, he broke down sobbing. This boy is tough, rugged, loves life, and though sensitive, seldom cries. When later I asked him about his emotional reaction, he explained that he wasn’t crying because we were separating, he was crying because he knew that I had lived for so long without joy.

    I resisted the emotional/psychological abuse of my marriage for as long as I could; then I collapsed one difficult afternoon. Leaving my wife and the last of my six children was literally a matter of survival. Be aware (I’m sure you are already) that the “genie” will likely be pressuring you every day, nudging you inevitably forward to redress your natural longings and your need for love and fulfillment.

    A fellow pilgrim,

  5. @IP Thank you. I think I still beat myself up over things, even if it's not about the same things.
    And you're right. I sort of always knew I'd have to deal with the consequences of letting the genie out of the bottle, which is why I kept it in there so long. But it's worth it.

    @Trey I think I needed to hear that. I need to be patient with the journey. Your story helps me gain some perspective.
    I wanted to tell you that the more I think about your advice, "Live fully, feel deeply, love wisely" the better and better it gets.