Today’s post contains the words of “Dave.” yet another gay Mormon in a mixed-orientation marriage (MoM). From time to time, I receive e-mails or messages from men such as Dave who have read something on my blog that resonates with them. The thing that stands out about Dave’s story that he has shared with me is that it is so similar to the many other stories I have read or heard.
I believe it is very important that stories such as Dave’s be shared, both to give him and men like him a voice, and also to continue to educate others as to the types of emotions and conflicts that men like Dave experience as they agonize over making sense of who they are and what that means in terms of their marriage and the life they have lived as they have struggled to “do the right thing.”
It is also important anecdotal evidence that there are many, many men in the Church who are in a similar situation.
“I've been reading your blog with great interest, but to be honest, it scares the hell out of me. One reason for my fear is related to the progression that many MOHO blogs take. I began reading your blog and Joe Conflict's blog by starting at the beginning. Reading about other MOHOs' journeys is scary because I'm at the first stages of this journey, and I see where many others end up (a place I've denied as a possibility because my life is spent in denial in order not to hurt my spouse and young children).
“Like many other men who grew up in religious households, I didn't come to terms with my attraction to men until well after I was married. I've spent years in the cycle of self-hatred caused by the mistaken belief that these attractions could be overcome with faith, diligence, obedience, etc. But several events caused me to say enough is enough. Nothing has changed my attraction to men and I'm no longer going to deny it or feel bad for having these feelings. I choose to accept my sexuality as it is.
“But I don't know what that means for the future. And although my initial decision to accept my sexuality was a relief, I now fear what comes next. But I know I can't live with this pain and sadness any longer. The emptiness I feel is often overwhelming and I can't imagine that my sadness is not affecting all the people I hope to protect by living in denial ...
“Several months ago, my wife was out of town and I watched the Prop 8 documentary. I knew it would be biased, but what struck me more than anything was seeing two Mormon men who love each other, but whose love is repudiated by the Church and its teachings. I spent several days thereafter looking at blogs about gay Mormons, including listening to the three-hour interview on Mormon Stories that details one man's therapy journey, as interviewed by his former therapist. For the first time, I heard someone else describe the feelings I feel, and which you described today on your blog - a longing to fill the emptiness inside me that is far beyond a sexual attraction or a visual attraction to men.
“As a result, I chose to stop spending my free time surfing porn, but rather to address these feelings head-on. I also re-read conference talks about homosexuality and listened to the church leaders state that they don't ask anything of gay members that isn't expected of single members. ‘That’s not true!’, my soul cried out. ‘The Church asks its gay members to accept a hopeless future. No hope of dating someone they're attracted to, no hope of marrying someone they have a natural attraction to, not even the notion of seeking such a relationship or the basic things non-married hetero members are encouraged to do.’
“With these feelings and reactions raging, my wife returned from her trip, and although I'm sure she could tell I was deeply depressed, she didn't ask any questions. (By now we're both good at denial). You see, I told my wife about five years ago about my attraction to men. I talked to my bishop and sought counseling thru LDS social services - but I didn't continue therapy long before deciding that it was a waste of time to listen to a social worker push the church and Evergreen's theories about causes of homosexuality and cures. I also told myself that I could ignore these feelings, and if able to control my desire to view porn, the feelings would go away. Of course they didn't.
“Last month, I decided that I needed to seek professional help from a therapist with experience in this area, and chose a non-Mormon therapist. So far, it's going ok, but slowly. I haven't told my wife that I'm meeting with a therapist - mostly because I'm avoiding all the issues this will raise. My commitment to her for the last 14 years has been chaste - I have never cheated in any way, with the exception of consistent pornography issues. (Oddly enough when I decided to face this situation head-on, my desire to view porn vanished). At the same time, I'm worried that exploring my sexuality raises so many questions. I don't want to hurt her and I do love her and our children. I don't want her to doubt my love. I don't want her to worry that I will leave. I don't want our children to grow up with divorced parents. But based on the blogs I've read, I can't guarantee that our separation isn't a possibility.
“So, a couple of questions - I told my therapist that I want to know if there is a way to be happy but stay married. He suggested that being honest about my sexuality with myself and others is a first step. But will that lead to happiness? Right now, I'm on the edge of crying very often. I'm just trying to keep it together. Do you think it's possible to live in a heterosexual marriage if one is gay or bisexual and be happy?
“My marriage is fairly good; we are good friends, we don't fight much, we love each other, but the emotional love isn't there. We have a decent sex life, but it often feels like we're roommates. We rarely hug or kiss; I’m told that I give off a vibe that I don't want to be approached. I know this is different for everyone, but if you were in this situation, do you think you would choose to stay? One big question in my mind is whether I'll be any happier if I leave and seek a male mate? Will the possibility of finding happiness be worth leaving my wife and kids behind? Will accepting my sexuality and being honest with myself and others be enough to fill the gaping hole in my chest?”
So, dear readers, please support Dave by responding to his questions and giving him some food for thought:
- Will be honest about his sexuality with himself and others lead to happiness?
- Is it possible to live in a heterosexual marriage if one is gay or bisexual and be happy?
- If you were in his situation, what would you do (keeping in mind that there are obviously dozens of factors of which we are unaware and that each and every mixed-orientation marriage has its own unique dynamics)?