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 so. I 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 ...