Saturday, April 16, 2011

Mixed-Orientation Underwear

Ok, so I admit that I don’t wear garments very often anymore.  Well, basically never.  I hope that doesn’t shock anyone.  (For those who may read this who are non-Mormon, garments are the underwear that those Mormons who have been to the Mormon temple wear.)  But there are still occasions when I do wear garments, at least a top.  (And for the record, before last fall, I was über-faithful in wearing G’s morning, noon and night.)

Yeah, I admit, it’s a bit hypocritical; but right now I’m in a sort of limbo in between the active, by-all-appearances-straight, married Mormon I used to be and the out-there divorced gay guy who is sort of ambivalent about the Church right now.  There are times when it is just easier to play along rather than rock the boat, particularly in this limbo-like state in which I now find myself. 

You see, if people from my “old world” see that I am not wearing garments – as all of you Mormon readers know – this can be undesirably problematic:  it can cause an active Mormon’s view of you to go from “acceptable” to “apostate” in less than a split second (as a friend of mine recently experienced):  all they have to do is notice that there is no undershirt sleeve visible underneath your shirt.  When one is trying to keep a low profile and not “rock the boat”, this can cause problems.

So the other day, I was invited to lunch by a former priesthood leader.  Because I was sure that he would go back to my old ward and make a report to the bishop, I planned to wear at least a garment top.  I saw no need to wear garment bottoms, however; instead, I put on one of my pair of new “gay-ish” underwear, then, on the spur of the moment, went out and modeled my “under outfit” for my roommate (also a former faithful garment wearer), referring to it as “mixed-orientation underwear.”  We both got a good laugh out of it.

As I thought about it later that day, however, it occurred to me what an appropriate metaphor this is for many gay Mormons who are active and/or believing in the Church to any degree:  there is always a mix between the sacred and the profane, between being true to who one is and putting up a good front, between wanting to be who one really is and wanting to be accepted in the Mormon community, between leaving and staying (to one degree or another).

And then again, since coming out and meeting more guys, I’ve come to realize that not everyone had or has the same degree of punctiliousness when it comes to wearing garments as I did in my über-Mormon days.  In an informal poll among some of my friends, I was told by one who has held several very responsible callings that he lost no sleep (literally) when he didn’t wear his garments to bed; in fact, he slept much better. 

Another friend commented that he wears the garment tops to work so that he doesn’t “rock the boat there,” as well as when he visits his parents.  Most Saturdays, he doesn’t wear any G’s at all.  “It's about allowing myself to feel attractive,” he said, “and to me garments don't do that.”  (If anyone does feel sexy and attractive wearing garments, raise your hand.)

Finally, another friend took home the prize when he described a book he had been reading that mentions a character's Catholic sister (they were in Ireland) who would wear her most scandalous and sexy underwear to church on Sunday as her own silent form of rebellion and independent nature.  She knew it, but no one else did.  “In honor of that book,” he said, “I wore a jock to church after that for several weeks.”

You gotta love it.

Ok.  I'm going to go duck now.  Bye.


  1. I understand the inbetween-ness that you describe. But what is wrong with feeling sexy and loving this sensual side of ourselves? Our bodies are part of the human experience through which we connect with sensations that would, could, otherwise be unknown to us.

    When I left the church, I left the garments behind. I finally felt like I could breathe again! Inhale and e x h a l e ... release ... you know the feeling.

    You know, if others react by judging you based on whether or not you are wearing your g's, they are the ones who rock the boat, aren't they? Why should a person be seen as rocking the boat by simply not doing what the majority does? They are the ones bothered by it and who then gossip about it. You shouldn't have to do something to keep up appearances for people who don't/won't accept you for who you are. In my opinion, of course.

    As with all symbolism, too much meaning attributed to an object can distract our vision from the essential and can become a facade behind which to hide.

    Are garments a symbol of faith or are they a symbol of "joe/molly mormonism"? Are these symbols necessary to be and become close/closer to our spiritual beliefs? Are they something to mask an identity that others find unacceptable? Should we let others' opinions influence our appearances and even our thoughts of ourselves - outside of a circle of chosen close ones? By keeping up appearances, are we projecting a good mirror from which to view ourselves and does the reflected image in the mirror correspond to who we are?

    On a lighter note... how about attending a service with none at all? :)

  2. Vic - loved the light, humorous, playfull post. I too wear a garment top to work. I submit that many of us former garment wearers have a sort of pent-up undie fettish.

    I say it is OK to guiltlessly enjoy that mostly-unseen-anyway aspect of our sexual nature!

    (Briefs or boxers?)


  3. @Libellule - Combat? I like that ...

    @Trey - I'm kind of in-between: I'm a trunk man, I think. 'Course, I'm still exploring my underwearality.

  4. I wear a colored shirt on those days when I attend church (which seems to be happening less frequently), so no one can tell whether or not there is anything underneath (there isn't)