Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Voices: Falling Away

James is yet another gay Mormon man in a mixed-orientation marriage who wrote to me after reading the post last week about Dave ("Voices: Am Overwhelming Emptiness").  What follows is part of James’ story.  You will see that I have asked for input from readers.  Please reach out to James through your comments.  He could use our support.
“I am in my early 40’s, and my story is typical of others I have read about.  As you blogged this week in behalf of "Dave", I found myself reading the responses with great anticipation to finding the answer to my identical questions.  I must say that I found quite a bit of clarity within the responses; however, I'm still longing for someone to tell me that it will all be ok and that I will find favor with God pursuing a gay lifestyle.”

Question to Readers:  I would like to invite readers to share comments and their own experiences of how (a) they came to a point where they received assurance that God is “ok” with their gayness or (b) they came to a point where they decided they neither wanted or needed divine “approval” of their gay identity.

“I, like many of your readers, grew up knowing that I was different.  I wanted to be like the other guys who were so masculine and athletic but I always fell short.  I wanted to be attracted to women but it just didn't happen.  I, too, went on a mission after bargaining with the Lord that I would give him my very best for two years in order to be freed from the clutches of my gayness.  I worked my ass off and the day I left my mission, I knew it would never go away.  What a ginormous letdown.”

Question to Readers:  Did anyone else go on a mission with similar feelings, hoping that the mission experience would get ride of same-sex attraction?  What was your experience?

“I continued to keep my dark little secret, no one knew, but plenty of people speculated.  I attended BYU under the assumption that living in that controlled environment would help my situation.  It didn't, it made it worse.  I dated woman after woman, hoping to find someone who, if she found out my deep dark secret, would have some level of compassion and understanding.

“I never told my soon-to-be wife about my attraction to men.  I had the misguided belief that for this marriage to work I had to jump in, feet first and NEVER look back. 

Question to Readers:  I certainly had the same approach to marriage, believing that I had to give it my all, including my Self, in order for me to experience “success”, i.e., in spite of my gayness.  Can anyone else relate/share their experience?

“The woman I married was intellectual, stunningly beautiful, full of optimism and a very faithful Mormon.  Her father taught her to be loving and non-judgmental.  At the time I thought it was a perfect fit, especially if I ended up coming out of the closet: I figured that if she ever did find out about the real me, there would be some level of understanding and she would be successful at finding someone else.  I never told her about my attraction to me.  I deceived her and everyone else, including myself, all under the premise that if I followed the prophet, I wouldn't be led astray.  What a crock!

“About three years ago, a perfect storm formed and I just couldn't resist my natural urges anymore. I indulged in an unforgettable affair with an unforgettable man.  We fell in love.  He, too, was married but gay.  We sought opportunities to spend time together, fell in love and shared intimacy in a way neither of us had ever experienced. 

“Eventually, my wife discovered the affair and the identity of my lover.  She threatened to expose him to his wife if he ever contacted me again, and that was the end.  She then went to our bishop and our stake president and, not content to stop there, told her parents and her siblings and, for good measure, not one but two general authorities.  The closet door was flung wide open.  There I stood, naked, vulnerable, exposed and very, very frightened while feeling the enormous loss of losing the precious love I had discovered! 

“For her part, my wife was crushed, disappointed and heartbroken.  She thought that the “problem” was with her and that she had driven me to have a gay affair.  She begged me to stay for various reasons, none of them particularly healthy.  We seriously considered divorce; however, primarily for the sake of our children, for financial reasons and, particularly in the case of my wife, for the sake of appearances in our conservative, close-knit Mormon community, we decided to stay together.
“Two years later, I continue to live a double life filled with inauthenticity and deceit - knowing that I am gay but pretending to be something I’m not - in order to protect those around me from the pain, shame and disappointment that would come from me leaving the marriage.  As a result, I have dealt with extreme emotional despair including depression, raging anger, fear, hopelessness, more anger, injustice, betrayal by God, betrayal by the church, anxiety. . . . and so on.  I even considered driving my car under a semi truck on the freeway in order to escape the bone crushing pressure and pain.  But, as I thought of my children, I reconsidered and decided to stick around.

“Then there is the letting go of a testimony and tradition of the LDS church.  As a result of my wife's anger and her uncovering my secret, I was disfellowshipped from the church and remain soI have worked a life time to understand and embrace even when it flies in the face of all conscious reasoning and logic.  I was dedicated to the church in every way, one of its finest members by way of loyalty and service.  My testimony of the “church” is completely destroyed.  I have a testimony in the Gospel of Jesus Christ as it relates to . . . well, Jesus Christ; however, anything institutional I just don’t buy into anymore.  How can something that is supposed to be so right be so corrupting and wrong? 

“I feel like this situation is impossible and that there is no good resolution.  There are other problems in our marriage that have contributed to an almost hopeless situation.  On some days I feel like giving up.  Honestly, I am not living my life day by day anymore; I am now hour by hour.  I have lost everything - career, homes, businesses, self confidence, self actualization.  The only thing I have going for me right now is my family.  On the one hand, I cannot bear to change my circumstances any more than they already are or are about to become.  On the other hand, both my wife and I are miserable. 

Question to Readers:  Have any of you come to the point where you knew you couldn’t go on “the way you weren’t” and, though seemingly insane and impossible, stepped or fallen through the looking glass into a world where your sexuality was finally accepted as a reality?

“During a recent, sleepless night, I lied in my bed, staring into the dark, contemplating how my life has fallen apart.  Then the thought came to my mind. . . ‘your life isn't falling apart, it's falling away.’  Since that time, I have pondered over these words that came to me, and I have thought of the quote by Anais Nin:

“And the time came when the risk to remain tight in a bud
was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”

“So … here's to new beginnings … to taking that step off the edge into the abyss.  To finding meaning among all the devastation …”

James, this song is for you ...


  1. This is stunningly beautiful, haunting, searing in pain, deeply honest. I can only declare to you that I now know (after almost 10 years of being outed, 7 years of separation) that Father LOVES me. He allowed me to come out gay. He gave me a huge dose of giftedness (verbal, mathematical, musical, interpersonal intelligences, emotional depth, spiritual awareness) which have been fantastic to live with.

    Yes, I hurt my ex-wife deeply. I am really sad about this, but she also bares some of the burden in that she shut me down emotionally to the point that I actually broke down physically (2004). Yes, I hurt my church widely. I am really angry about this, for the church bares some of the burden in that it tortured me cognitively to the point that I actually cracked mentally. (2005)

    Members of the church are way behind the curve of understanding my sexual AND my emotional orientation. I can only begin to fathom what blacks felt pre 1978. Using a biblical verse to shame them. We get the same dose now. And it is appalling. How does David stand up against Goliath? Easy. When one is utterly convinced to our very core that we are a BEAUTIFUL part of the Creation. All we have to do is not abuse the privilege of being born gay.

    The Proclamation of the Family is 95% complete. It needs amending. One day, I believe, that will come. Just as the US Constitution (divinely inspired) was allowed to have Amendments. I chose to be honest - and lost the marriage, my job at UVU, my testimony and my physical health - all in one year! I am alive to tell the story that it is absolutely worth standing up for one's very BEING. Not just one's identity. But for the fact that I deserve to live.

    Being a Jewish convert, I can feel the parallels with standing up to the Nazis and declaring that you can kill my body, but you cannot touch my soul. This is my stance now with the church. "You can believe all you want about my status that you have invented in your head - that I am a cockroach and deserve nothing less than to be exterminated (or for the liberal ones, that I deserve sympathy and conversion)".

    Well I am here to tell you that I am honored to be one of God's creations. And that I get to fulfill the measure of my UNIQUE creation. Put your shame down. Deal with any guilt in committing adultery. Come to Jesus Christ. Let HIM show you the way. I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that He is the Christ. And that I am who I am. And that it was right to let go of all that didn't work. For the sake of ALL parties involved. And that the best is yet to come.

    And so that you know, 7 years after the separation, 5 years after having to leave Utah and leave my children (because I had to find new work), 2 years after my father passed, 1 year after the divorce finally concluded, the best is starting to happen. It has been worth waiting for.

  2. I think the most important thing to realize is that this is not uncommon, unusual or strange. It is happening to others all around you on a daily basis. People just hide from each other. It does get better. There are lots of guys who have been exactly where you are and they made it through and so will you. Check out dave's story or Wyatt's story on the youtube channel "MorMenLIkeMe".

  3. When I was coming out, it was a book that helped me to reconcile my feelings about God with my emerging knowledge of myself. It was called Embracing the Exile: Healing Journeys of Gay Christians by John Fortunato (ISBN: 0-8164-2637-6). It's the story of a gay Christian man who ends up becoming a psychotherapist. The book is about a lot of things, his own story, his experience with religion, his experience with gay people who come to him for counseling, his thoughts on how therapy works. I think it's a very relevant book for gay Mormons. It's about 30 years old and now out of print, but you can get it on any used book web store (including Amazon and Abe Books) for under $5. I really can't recommend this book too highly.

    Your story is very poignant. I wish you the best on your journey. You can't change the past, but what you do in the future is up to you.

  4. Oh wow, I sat here reading this story and nodding over and over from each and every point thinking: Yes, it happened to me; yep I did that; etc...

    I always go through a little bit of stress and anxiety reliving what I read and watching someone else going through the motions again...must be part of the packaged deal I suppose. One of the things I want to point out is that I didn't get the confirmation from God about being OK with who I was, probably because I never asked for it. One day I simply woke up and decided that I needed to accept me for who I was, learn to live with myself and just deal with the consequences for better or worst. I was my own worst critic and I felt that if I didn't accept myself there was no way that God or anyone else had a say in the matter, that's just how I saw it.

    Two years into this process, a separation, divorce, dating a fantastic guy and living a different life in many ways, I can say that not everything has been pretty, there's been some pretty harrowing times when I questioned what I did but overall the journey has been worth it and at least I was finally able to stop the angst and pain that I was inflicting on myself, the X and the kids--sure that turned into other kinds of pain, but at least time is/will heal us all (well that's the hope anyway). Hang in there James--and anyone else dealing with this--,IT REALLY DOES GET BETTER!!

  5. I'm on the other side of the pass, not really saying to myself, 'I am gay,' until well into marriage, kids, career. I decided to stay in the closet not as a conscious decision, but as inertia. Coward? Dishonest? Yep. But also a caring husband and father, a successful professional, a contributor to the world community as I volunteer overseas. No, I wouldn't do it over again, nor would I recommend this path to anyone, but having reached this point, I think it would be selfish to come out. It may have been inertia but now it's a positive decision

  6. James - I hesitate to give advice here or provide an opinion because I don't want to advocate divorce. I haven't experienced everything you describe, but nearly everything. I haven't stepped outside the bounds of marriage, so part of my insecurity, as I figure out and accept my sexuality, is that I fear that a loving relationship with a man may not happen. Because you've had this and realized what is absent in your life, it probably makes continuing your current path extremely hard. It's also made more difficult because you didn't have the opportunity to come out to others before you were outed by your wife. I'm not sure that I understand how she plans to live the model Mormon life when you've been outed to everyone...My guess is, she's living and responding to fear, rather than simply trying to maintain the appearance of normalcy. Few of us living in MOMs imagined we'd be living anything other than the Mormon life, and it's hard to imagine a different life. We are/were following the path of the plan of happiness. But what happens when it isn't?
    Like you, I've also wished I could just disappear. And like you, I decided I couldn't do that to my kids. They are better off with you in their lives, but that doesn't mean you and your wife need to sacrifice your own happiness by remaining married. You'll still be their father.
    - Best wishes

  7. Thank you, everyone, so much for the words of advice and encouragement. I appreciate your honesty and sharing those vulnerable places in your hearts. I have gained so much perspective here as well as having some of my feelings validated. For some strange reason, I thought I was the only one going through this.