As I write this I am locked in my bedroom awaiting my damsel to set me free… She is trying on her wedding dress and new shoes, in following tradition I am to avoid her at all costs until the dress is back in its cubby and hidden from my prying eyes.
While waiting I thought I would announce my next posting series. This series will be covering Mixed Orientation Marriages and relationships and will be discussing why some are successful and why some are not.
This is the first post in this series, this post is very much about me and parts of my life journey that have led to today’s reality. I felt that it is necessary to show the beginnings of my journey into a Mixed Orientation Marriage (M.O.M.) so that you know who I am and so you can see what Anna and I see, which is something different and honest.
Here is a little bit of my story, how I got involved in the LDS LGBT movement and the very beginnings of Anna’s and my relationship:
My journey down my life’s road was not an easy one. It, as I now refer to it as, was long, both uphill and down, windy, hot and made of gravel. Some people asked me, “Why are you doing this to yourself?” I always answered, “Because of my faith.” My faith is not defined as a religion, instead I define it as knowing that everything has a purpose and a meaning that effects the future. My faith is my story, and is the causality of what I call my life today.
I grew up in the majestic rain forest wonders of Western Oregon and Washington, where the giant fir trees, huge lakes fed by aquifers and runoff from glaciers hidden in mountains that I hope to one day climb and cities neighbored by small towns that mostly respected personal choice and diversity. All of this made me into the reality I am today. It was here that seeing two men kiss in public was part of my normal day. While at church it was common to see gay men sit in sacrament, partaking of sacrament, and passing the sacrament. Then I moved to South West Idaho, where the barren desert landscape mimics that of the conservative insanity which seems to harbor homophobia and racism. I moved from a culture that did not care, but loved, and into a culture where not caring was no longer an option. I became immersed in the opposite of tolerance, intolerance. I soon learned that I was required by my peers to be either a
farm raised gay bashing hick, or an all-loving assumed to be “you-are-obviously-a-sinner” liberal who was socially ostracized and constantly judged by those who make up his very religion and social group. I took the second path, and began a God guided journey that ended after four long hard college years and then renewed itself in messages of action, with an inspired group called Mormons Building Bridges.
Through my experiences as an exploring college student I learned that not caring is one of the most important lessons a person can understand. By not caring about another person’s life I was able to rid the judgmental attitude that I gained from those who made me think it was a requirement of being Mormon. Along with this I was able to be honest with myself about who I am!
As a teenager I was too busy to date, but I kind of knew that I liked guys over girls. In college I learned more about the Gospel and as I progressed through my religious studies program at the wonderful College of Idaho I soon learned that I was a phenomenon in the LDS Church. I was chivalrous, I dressed well, I knew how to make my hair look good, I shaped my eyebrows, and I had a successful and meaningful future planned. As I became more engrossed in the emotionally harmful social group of my singles branch I hid who I was and I started dating LDS women who were more conservative then a straight line. After a year of this social pressure induced trauma I decided to back away and out of this group. I then sent myself into a promise, two years of no dating so I could answer one question. How can I be gay and Mormon? I also found solace in a group of ‘liberal’ Mormons, who could care less if someone was gay.
The next two years were easily the hardest of my life, so far… I read the scriptures more than a bookworm could in its lifetime. Soon my scriptures contained no margins; they were overly filled with notes about personal revelations, questions and thoughts that begged the question, “is being gay ok?” I prayed, I Prayed, I PRAYED. AND I PRAYED. I also fasted, often. These two years made me realize that I am who I am for a specific reason. I have my experiences and gifts so that the future could benefit from them. I learned that I did not need to “pray away” the gay, I did not need to “fast the gay gone,” these practices are not religious belief in action this is self inflicted torture engrained by social bias and prejudice. I also learned that it is ok to like guys over girls, and I also learned that my beliefs, my faith and my eternal purpose were just as needed as honestly acknowledging who I am. Once I did this, once I said I am gay, my life changed and God took over. For the first time in my life I was in balance with both my spiritual and personal selves.
To my surprise, about six months after this self exploration ended, I went on a date with a gal who I am now planning to marry. Somehow the gay man inside of me fell in love with a wonderful woman who is my yin and I her yang.
Some of you who are reading this may be thinking that a gay man gone straightish is a Mormon excuse to fit into the norm, for me this is not the case. I promised myself that I would not marry a girl unless I knew I loved her and that my attraction to men would not harm our relationship. I take this VERY seriously! Not only is this the case, but our relationship is not the “Mormon norm,” Anna is Unitarian. We are very open about my sexuality with each other and for some reason I am more attracted to her then I have ever been to ANY man. Now that you know that I fell head over heels for on our first date, let me share how I got involved with Mormons Building Bridges.
A year and a half ago I began to gather information from interviews and online sources and was soon SHOCKED at how many people in the LGBT community had been negatively harmed both emotionally and/or physically due to the negative social occurrences that have come from LDS social groups. This was my motivator; this information was what triggered an earthquake in my life. I began doing silent activism and helped those men who I could, I told my leaders about what I was doing and offered my time. I did the Mormon thing and prayed for opportunities, and I received many. Day after day I met LDS LGBT members. I heard story after story about how social pressure(s) had caused depression, feelings of being ostracized, and humiliation. When the word got around that I was doing this research and I was an openly gay member of the LDS Church the backlash began towards me, and I soon experienced the homophobia and hate that is common here in Idaho and Utah LDS social groups. These experiences shocked me and forced me into a meditative deep prayer.
From this prayer I emerged a new being with new motivation. Personal Revelation taught me to be prepared for an opportunity to change the homophobic behavior that had taken over much of the LDS social culture. I prepared myself through reading literature and creating presentations that I could use for action. I also wrote a monthly column called ‘Ask a Mormon’ for the College of Idaho’s newspaper where, along with other religious issues, I discussed Mormonism and homosexuality. It was in these college newspaper articles that I “officially” came out. I also worked within my singles branch in showing that yes, it is possible for someone to be Mormon and gay! I kept myself in this circle of initiatives until Mormons Building Bridges came into the spot light, what I had been waiting to happen finally happened! I took this opportunity to build a Mormons Building Bridges group here in Boise, Idaho, the first group to branch itself off of the main MBB one in Utah. We are still young and in the planning stages, but we will and have been creating opportunities for the LDS social mindset on issues of LGBT to change in Idaho. I am also involved in Mormon Allies.
To end I would like to share a scripture with you all which helped me along the way: 3rd Nephi 27:9 “Ask and Ye Shall Receive, knock and it shall be opened unto you.” I would not have been able to help others as I have if it were not for the advice this scripture gives. This scripture has been the teaching factor to me that without God, nothing can be done.