Walking with Autism, Leading with PRIDE

ImageMy first PRIDE was my “coming out” PRIDE. I came out of the “Mormon Closet” as a gay man AND as an LGBTQ activist. This year I come out as a leader who shows those who want to lead, but do not think they can that they can, and that they will! Everyone is able to lead and make a difference in the world if they set their minds to it!  This year I  come out in a different way, I come out as a man who fully accepts himself and who he is, despite his differences from the majority of society that are very much NOT because he is gay…

Up until two months ago, due to high school bullying and social rejection,I hated something about me as much as I hate getting fat. This “Thing” (as I called it) has been with me my entire life, and it will be with me until I die. When I realized that I helped in creating the LDS LGBT movement, and have accomplished what I have accomplished because of this “Thing,” I realized that this “Thing” is what has created EVERYTHING that I love and appreciate about my life and that my “Thing” has put me where I am today. Up until Imagetwo months ago I rejected this “Thing,” but now I love it and I embrace it. I OWN it like a PRIDE Beauty Queen owns her EIGHT inch pumps.

What I now call “Me” comes with its advantages. I can concentrate on a task more than a “normal” person can, I see the full set of consequences that a single action can cause better then a person who does not have this “Thing,” I am naturally honest, I am a critical thinker who’s thinking patters are very clear-cut and extremely rational, I have improved spatial perception abilities (meaning I am a 3D thinker), I am naturally resistance to group-think/orthodoxies and am not swayed by peer pressure, I naturally and easily create vivid and realistic artwork, and I easily learn how to play a musical instrument. These advantages help me in being a strong and productive leader. But I am also disadvantaged, and have to work through these every day and have to pay more attention to how I am perceived than the average activist does.

Some of these disadvantages are awkward and I had to train myself to not do them when I am in public. I have a VERY hard time looking people in the eyes, I am sometimes overbearingly and UNKNOWINGLY prideful in my accomplishments, I have to set a timer when working on projects or I will literally not eat, drink or use the bathroom, I have to write down all of my commitments, I am VERY picky about how my environment looks AND how it interacts with me, I have a hard time being at large parties/gatherings, I sometimes forget that others do not think like I do and I forget to explain why I do some of the things I do (such as why I chose to do a project the way I did or why I chose an abnormal or out of place approach to solve a problem or to complete a task), I cannot learn math in the same way as “normal” people, I don’t like being touched, I sometimes am not as sympathetic as I need to be, I… this list keeps going…

My “Thing,” my “Me,” my advantages and disadvantages go by another identity: I am a High Functioning (or Mildly) Autistic Gay Man.

My autism is me, it is my leadership type, it is my decision making platform, it is my organizational strategy, it is the glue that binds me to the label of a successful human being. My autism is meImage, and I am my autism.  We are one, and as one we lead! My autism is the best gift that I will ever receive.  If it was not for me being a high functioning autistic man I would not be in the position I am in today. Everything I have is because of my autism. I am more than autism, autism is more than just a disorder it is a tool for unique and talented leaders!

For those of you who are afraid to get involved in the LGBT movement because you are autistic or because you have a “disability” that people have told you prevents you from being “normal,” I have some advice:

Use your GIFT to your advantage, allow your gift to take you above and beyond what others think you are capable of, change the world, change your perspective about yourself, use your gift to your advantage. Remember that you see the world differently than others do and that your perspective could be what is needed for progress to happen.

In honor of PRIDE and everything that it represents I come out not as a gay man, but as a man who is a successful high functioning autistic individual who is also an activist for LGBTQ equality, civil rights, human rights and fairness.

For all the autistic people reading this: This year at PRIDE lets let the 3D trend take over, let’s freely think the way we think and show the world how awesome we are!

Walk with Autism, Lead in PRIDE! You are MORE than Autism, you are YOU and you are a leader!



Day 5: Do not go into a Lavender Marriage

Hello Readers!

I am in one, yet I tell couples not to do it… LDS gay men should NOT go into mixed orientation marriages (M.O.M.’s), otherwise known as a Lavender Marriage: a marriage meant to cover up or fix a persons sexual orientation.

For me, this is an awkward conversation because it is one where my thoughts and my actions did not go into the same direction. Many people assume that because I am in a Mixed Orientation Relationship that I think that it is what EVERY gay man needs to do, that they should do this to “fix themselves,” and that this is what God wants of his children. This is entirely not the case and is the exact opposite of my opinion and actions on this issue. When asked, “Do I think that a gay man should be married to a woman?” Almost always I would answer by saying, “no!” Here are my thoughts on this issue:

When someone finds out that I am gay and engaged to a woman they almost always ask me, “How does that work?”, unless they are LDS (Mormon), then I am usually congratulated and told something that means: “Good, I am glad you did the right thing.” The first response is easy to answer and the second makes me very sad and sometimes angry. The interesting thing about these two reactions is that I almost always answer with the same goal, to get them to understand that I did not expect or seek out my relationship with Anna to please God, I did it because eventually I realized that I had somehow fallen in love with a woman (an amazing lady at that!).

Before Anna and I decided that we were going to get married we discussed the harms that we had seen happen to other relationships like ours, both of us were worried that the same fate would befall us a few years down the road. We read blogs and heard from soon to be or were long ago divorced M.O.M. couples where the relationship sent both spouses into a downward spiral of depression and attempted suicide, into sadness and broken families and into anger and hurt. In these situations no one was spared, children, parent, spouse, family and friends all suffered. Anna and I did not want this for our future, and we were concerned that this would happen. To prevent this hurt from happening in our relationship we talked, and talked, and talked about what we would do if the relationship was harmed do to me being gay and her being straight. When would we know when to end the relationship, if needed.

We eventually decided that we were not going down the path of self-destruction and decided to get married.  Soon after this decision was made I came out to Anna’s parents. My soon-to-be Mother-in-law, unknowingly sharing our past fear, asked us to see a counselor. She was worried that we were setting ourselves and our relationship up for failure, it is unnatural for a gay man and a straight woman to be together. The counselor cemented our past decision, that Anna and I were making the correct choice.

For us, our M.O.M. works. We realize and try to let others know that this is not always the case (in fact, very rarely!). For Anna and I it just happened, I was searching for a Man and so was she. I just happened to find a woman instead! We are also not in  a M.O.M. forced by religious belief, which I think is absolutely horrible and should never be done. civil_disobedience_gender_identity_Ekthesi_fotografias_kai_video_art_apo_to_gitv12

Suffering as a gay man in LDS culture and beliefs I learned and do not understand HOW the majority of LDS culture tries to convince gay men that they need to be in a heterosexual relationship. Religion forcing someone to be what she/he is not is a very cruel and horrible thing to do to ANYONE who identifies as being LGBT. I by ACCIDENT fell for Anna, and was intensely shocked when I realized I was in love with a women. The internal struggle of this realization was one of the hardest in my life, it was a choice of being honest to my sexuality or Anna’s and my  happiness. Eventually, after months of watching our relationship and having MANY conversations with Anna made the decision that it was ok for us to be together. As I said above, it took us thinking A LOT and seeing a therapist to make us fully comfortable with continuing our relationship.

Being in a Mixed Orientation Relationship is not a joke, and can end VERY badly for the couple if they go in thinking that the relationship is “commanded by God” or that it is something that they should do because religion tells them to do it. Do not EVER go into a “Lavender Marriage,” do not ever go into a relationship because God or religion told you to. Make sure YOU know your self in your own skin, as a gay man, before you commit to anyone else. This is especially true if you are thinking about entering into a mixed orientation marriage, where you and your gay may affect the relationship in ways you may not want it to.

For those of you thinking about going into a Mixed Orientation Relationship and even a Marriage, make sure that it is the right thing for you. Ask yourself if it will make and KEEP you happy. If you are going into the relationship for you or her, only because God has “told you so”  (I have heard many men say that the revelations telling them to marry a women were false), and/or that your bishop, parent or someone else is making you think it is your only choice. If you say “yes” to any of these I highly recommend that you rethink your commitment before you hurt yourself, your spouse/potential spouse and your future children.

I cannot say more than this without getting redundant, but I do recommend the following blogs that talk about the pro’s and con’s of being in a Mixed Orientation Marriage:






I am in a happy and successful Mixed Orientation Relationship, but I would not recommend to other gay men to do what I am doing. If I did I would fear that they would face the same fate of depression and hurt that so many other gay men have unknowingly gone into.

Also, I have a message to those of you who are considering fixing your gay through marriage, instead of trying to pray your gay away and seeking for God to fix you, pray and ask if He wants you to be gay. While doing this, ask for yourself and not for what others want from you or because you have been told you are supposed to be straight. Pray and ask if it is ok for you to be gay, then define for yourself what being gay means to you. Being gay is not a light switch that you can turn off, it is part of you and always will be you. God made you as you are for a reason. As Bruno Mars says, “You are beautiful just the way you are!” 🙂 (check the music video out here)


-thatboyleroy and thatgalanna

Day 4: Protests, Cooperation and Love

Dear readers,

Tomorrow the Utah legislators begin looking at the non-discrimination ordinance that will help in protecting LGBT people from discrimination. It is unpredictable what might happen with this bill, but whatever does happen always remember that it gets better! To help those of you involved in this both personally and organizationally Anna and I have some words of knowledge that we have gained that we would like to share.:

Anna and I have two role models who have helped us with activism, being and staying human and always remembering to love each other and our fellow human beings. One of the ways we show our love is through carefully planned protests, that harm no one, no plan, and no thing. We recognize that words and deeds go a long way and represent who we are, the distance our words and deeds travel go farther than most people understand. Through action change occurs, through words change is brought forth with motivation.

Anna takes a lot of her inspiration from Robert F. Kennedy who said,

“Few will have the greatness to bend history; but each of us can work to change a small portion of events, and in the total of all those acts will be written the history of this generation … It is from numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is thus shaped. Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.”

Here Mr. Kennedy tells us how courage and the belief that many small actions done by many people will create positive change. Kennedy understood how protesting worked and how this tool of free speech effected the progression and digression of positive change in American society. With this direction, Robert Kennedy also gave us a warning, he said that the future “will belong to those who can blend passion, reason and courage in a personal commitment to the great enterprises and ideals of American society.” To create change, you have to also do it reasonably. To create change in a reasonable manner and with many people doing small actions you have to do so cooperatively, including the main negotiators and the citizens. Gandhi, who I love and try to be as good as, also thought this and saw the benefit of not rushing into “the battle” by protesting in a way that has the potential to hurt those who the goal is to protect.

Gandhi taught that protests should not happen unless they will not harm the cause. Gandhi taught what Kennedy taught, that passion, reason and courage create change. However, Gandhi also emphasized the power of love and careful planning. Gandhi realized that many people create change, and he worked in a network of activists who together created change. Not one person alone can create the change needed to make the world a better place, but many people with like minds aimed at carefully thought out protests do create change.

Anna and I realize that change needs to happen within many aspects of the worlds societies and cultures. We also realize that to create change a person has to think about how this is to happen before it happens. For a group of people to bend history, each one has to work in harmony with the reality of the situation and with the others involved. One rogue group never accomplishes anything, and often makes the situation worse. We hope that tomorrows protests and discussions were created in this way, with the implications of the consequences well realized before the gathering of people began occurring.

Anna and I have watched many people (including ourselves!) suffer because of the actions of those who did not think about what their actions would cause. We hope that tomorrow, Thursday, stays peaceful and that the days events create positive change for all involved, including all individuals on both sides of the LGBT issue. positivespeaking

Anna and I believe that love, wit, courage, patience, knowledge , reason, passion and cooperation are the keys to creating positive change. This is only the case if everyone involved in the creation of change are communicating in a positive and effective manner.

It is also important to recognize that peace, love, hope, belief and faith are character traits needed by both the individual and the group to be able to do and encourage the needed behaviors and character required to create the pro-active change in the world that both John F. Kennedy and Gandhi describe.

Tomorrow is a big day, Anna and I will be sending good energies your way! Our thoughts, actions and prayers are for positive change to come to our society and world, and Utah taking a step forward is a huge step towards the goal of full equality for all.


With Love,

-thatboyleroy and thatgalanna


Day 2: A day worth celebrating!

Dear Reader,

Today is a day of celebration! The first functional cure for HIV was found, for babies! 🙂 Neither Anna or I have HIV, but we do recognize the harm it does to the LGBTQ community and how this cure could change many people’s lives. We are crossing our fingers and our toes hoping that this can be replicated.

Check out the article written by US News here:



-thatboyleroy and thatgirlanna

Letter 1, Day 1: OMG SHOPPING!

Letter 1 (ONE):

Today was a gay and diva delicious day.

We started this diva day out right by going to the hair parlor and getting Anna’s hair trimmed. We went to “Wimsy, a Salon,” located in downtown Boise, Idaho. It was one of those salons where each beauticians station was decked out in vintage furniture and relics that scream Buddhism and Celtic heritage. The gal who cut Anna’s hair was pretty rad and awesome. She talked it up and wore some pretty awesome tattoo’s (all the hair dressers here had awesome tattoo’s, I was impressed!), and she did an amazing job on Anna’s hair!

After Anna’s hair cut we went to get coffee. I ordered an ICED COCONUT MILK MOCHA, OMG was it AMAZING (again, OMGAMAZING!!!). I consider myself a pretty big coffee snob, and this drink BLEW MY MIND, I definitely recommend this drink for you all to try! 😀 I was in coffee heaven until I tried Anna’s drink, a mango and coconut milk smoothy… OMGEPIC! This drink took me from heaven to nirvana, this is the coffee beverage I will suggest when I go to a coffee shop with my Mormon friends. We then did what a flamin-gay Elmer Fud would do, we went a-hunting for clothes!

So we went hunting for clothes for a specific purpose, to find Anna and pair of pants. A very dramatic, almost failed 007ish, and long clothing “Ohsh*t” story made short: Over the last couple of weeks Anna has been tirelessly looking for a pair of dress pants that fit her correctly… To make a pants search miracle happen we decided that Today we were going to check out Plato’s Closet, a Boise thrift store that sells designer clothes. We found the miracle Anna needed: a good, cute, and nearly perfectly fitting pair of pants (FINALLY!), OH and an extremely cute shirt! As an added bonus, I found an AMAZING black Dress Coat that matches my purple button up and black dress pants “State House” outfit PERFECTLY! I think this jacket is going to make those Idaho Senators jealous of my cute gay intern self! 😉

Overall, It took us TWO hours to make a decision on what we wanted to take out of the store with us, the waste of time was well worth  the reward. We ended Anna’s pants crisis and got this gay boy all cute jacket giddy! 😀 When we got home Anna looked at me and said, “So… can you hem these pants up for me???” That is right, I am that gay fiancée who can sew better than his soon-to-be wife (BOOYA!).

On our way back to the house we drove through old downtown Boise and found a herd of TEN deer!!! I was pretty much flabbergasted that a herd of deer would make an adventure into Boise’s downtown Saturday insanity! The irony of this rare occurrence: Today was the ONE day of the week that I decided to not bring my camera with me… I call that a failed epic photographer moment…

Now Anna and I are off to watch “The Help,” a movie known mostly for it pre-60’s African-American house maid who feeds a Sh*t containing pie to a white American stereotype wife from hell.



-thatboyleroy and thatgalanna

P.R.S. (stands for Perfect Relationship Solution): Today’s Gay-Straight relationship advice is to BE HONEST! Guys, If the pants make the butt look fat tell her and do not start singing the “I like big butts and I do not lie” song, you might get slapped… In all seriousness, Anna and I would not have the relationship we have if it was not for us being honest to each other about who we are. For me, I need to be honest about being gay, for her she needs to be honest about being straight, for both of us we need to be honest about what our sexual identities need from the relationship. Honest is the glue that holds our relationship together.-thatboyleroy

100 Letters for 100 Days: looking through the computer glass at the life of a gay man and his straight fiancee

Thank you all for the comments on the past couple of posts, because of what you all wrote in response to what Anna and I shared we decided that it would be awesome for us to share with our readers the daily life of a gay man and his straight fiancee.

I hope that you all will enjoy this addition to our Mixed Orientation Relationships blog series  as much as we are looking forward to doing it!

Join us on our 100 days of letters!



My Gay Travel: Our Coffee Shop Story

Our Coffee Shop Story

We were normal busy college students. Anna was in her fourth year of college and I was about to graduate with a B.A. in Religion and Liberal Arts.

Anna and I met while I was working at a coffee shop inside of Anna’s college. Our mutual friend, Paula, decided that we would be PERFECT for each other and decided to hook us up in the way her Jamaican blood dictates, by force. She then took Anna to the coffee shop I worked at to meet me. They got to the counter and said hi, Paula had a funny look on her face and forced Anna into my view, Anna shyly ordering a strawberry Italian soda, no cream. As I mixed her Italian soda we talked about the Saints hat I was wearing, she told me it looked good. I blushed and flamboyantly responded, “My buddies took me into a sports cap store and made me pick a football team. I picked the Saints because their clothing was the most fashionable.” I handed Anna her Italian Soda while she and Paula laughed. We talked for a few more minutes; Paula then took a cardboard coffee sleeve from its holder and ripped it in half, Anna and my eyes followed our friends confident black Jamaican hands as the Left one proceeded to write my phone number on one half of the textured cardboard and Anna’s on the other. She handed Anna’s number to me loudly stating in her Jamaican accent, “If you don’t call her, I won’t give you any tips!” They then went to their next class, leaving me in the coffee shop alone with half of a cardboard coffee sleeve and the number of a girl who I knew almost nothing about.

Over the next two weeks Anna and I chatted with each other while she was between classes. It was like clockwork we talked, Anna would leave the coffee shop to go to class and then Paula would be at my counter asking, “So, have you asked her out yet?” I would always respond by telling her no, “No” while thinking, “I’m gay, can we talk about the cute guy who always sits in front of that window?” She would then order a drink, pay for her drink, pick up her drink, look into the tip jar, look at me and smile before she walked away. Soon enough my other customers overheard our daily ritual and found out about the game Paula was playing. My customers not only found out about Paula’s matchmaking scheme, they started joining in! I then realized that if I did not ask Anna out, I would have no gas money! The next day I answered Paula’s question with “I will do it tomorrow.” I decided to put my gay bias aside and take my financial future into consideration…

On the morning of “tomorrow” my roommates informed me that it was Valentine’s Day and invited me to go to dinner with them, I told them I would be bringing a date. So, On February 14th, 2012 I dragged myself into work with a bouquet of Lilies. As the day grew into the afternoon Anna walked up to the register and handed me a brand new fashionable Saints hat while energetically saying, “Happy Valentine’s day!” While replacing the old hat on my head with the new one I told her thank you and asked if she would like a free drink. She said yes. As I mixed her up another Strawberry Italian Soda, no cream we talked about our mornings. When I was handing Anna her drink I grabbed the bouquet of Lilies and asked her out, she said yes!

The date went really well, Anna survived my friends and another date was set. From here we got to know each other. Over the next couple weeks I found out that she doesn’t like cooked fruit, she is GRUMPY in the mornings, and that she has a big heart. I also realized that along with us having started to develop a relationship I had developed feelings for Anna that I previously only felt for men. I decided that I would see what happened over the next two weeks before I needed to let her know that I am gay.

Over the first month our relationship became built with dancing, movies, and hanging out with our mutual friends. We had alone time, just like any other young couple that is starting to get to know each other. Soon, we started moving from the back and forth game of dating, and into a relationship based on honesty, trust, love and compassion for each other. We talked about the do’s and the do not’s, the birds and the bees, and most importantly the negotiation of “What if we end up getting married?” I then realized that I had fallen in love, as a gay man I was in trouble.

I needed to tell Anna that I am gay. A few nights later after we were doing some “get to know each other” games I started a serious conversation with Anna. I come out of the closet, again, and told her, “I’m gay!”

Anna’s first reaction was, “wait, what?” She then explained to me that this did not matter due to our spiritual, sexual and healthy connection with each other. She continued and said, “This connection is the type that every couple wishes for. We have no problems, we had never argued, and we openly and honestly love each other. You being gay is just who you are, as long as you love me and I love you why should you being gay matter?”

We then had a serious discussion about the future of our relationship. We did what my Mormon friends call, defining the relationship (the D.R.). By defining what each of us thought our relationship needed to be we opened up a line of communication that has allowed me to be fully honest with Anna about what I, as a gay man in a heterosexual relationship needs and what Anna, who is FULLY heterosexual, also needs. From this conversation we decided to see where the relationship would go. We agreed that if the relationship turns into something unhealthy that we would end the relationship. W decided that we would not fix something that was not broken.

Six months later we started talking about marriage and met with Elizabeth, a licensed therapist. We wanted to make sure that we were making the right decision and that we would not be harming each other by continuing our mixed orientation relationship. Elizabeth asked us some questions about our relationship and saw that we were doing everything we needed to be doing to make a healthy relationship stay healthy. Elizabeth specifically heard us declaring a lifelong commitment, she heard us committing to each other in the old classic way: that we were committed to each other for better or for worse, in sickness and health, till death do us part, etc.. Elizabeth heard us talking about wanting children, our commitment to high family values and our commitment to do what we need to do to raise children. Elizabeth wanted to make sure that we knew that marriage is not a walk in the park, but a day to day commitment. This commitment is what Elizabeth saw from both Anna and I. Elizabeth also saw in us our spiritual connection with each other, and how this connection allows for me, a gay man, to love a straight woman.

We did everything we needed to do to make sure that we were making the right choice. We knew that it was not every day that a gay guy marries a straight woman, we made sure to go above and beyond what a strictly heterosexual or homosexual couples would do.

After doing all that we could to make sure we were making the right choice for BOTH of us we became engaged (I will post this story later) and will soon be joining the ranks of what is now called a ‘Mixed Orientation Marriage,’ A relationship where one partner is heterosexual and the other is gay or lesbian.

I can imagine that for some of you reading this post that what I am saying does not make very much sense, or that you are not very sure what or how to think or even approach thinking about Anna’s and my relationship. One of the things that Anna and I have found most interesting in our journey is how our society holds biases against things and ideas that do not fit into its narrow definitions of normal; our society expects people to stay in a box. Both Anna and I have experienced these prejudices in our own lives, and have seen these prejudices and biases be directed in very negative ways towards our LGBTQI friends, family and even random strangers.

Anna and I have learned that people stay in this box of socially construed biases and prejudices because it is what society and religion teaches. It is taught that it is best for everyone to follow social norms which allow our day to day lives to go unhindered and uninterrupted with uncomfortable topics and new ideas. We have seen this box stay closed in both the Heterosexual and LGBTQI worlds. This socially endorsed bias happens because of what some heterosexual groups and individuals want and say, AND because LGBTQI individuals are unhappy due to them not able to be who they truly are (due to harmful social and religious ideas and homophobia).

I have been stuck in societies harmful boxes box’s twice, once by individuals who believe gay men are pretending to be gay and another time by people who think that gay men are just gay men and nothing else. Anna has been put into a box because she is a straight, heterosexual stereotype. Our relationship has been put into a box due to it being different.

Personally, I enjoy my box fully open, by having my box this way I am able to see the world holistically. I have learned that the world and its people are all interconnected in what we call life. By opening the boxes that we have been put into we let the stereotypes society has bound us onto free. By doing this we are not letting the harmful bias and prejudices of our society control us, and are instead meeting them head on, in a battle that makes our society a better one to live in.6a00d8341eb8e453ef017d3ffaeb81970c-320wi

Anna and I refuse to live in the closed boxes of stereotypes and prejudices. Through Anna’s and my relationship we have pulled our true, homosexual and heterosexual selves from the narrow boxes of our society that control intimacy and relationships. This has allowed us to live a life of transparency that we have opened to each other and to the world. We strive to live a life without labels or rejection in the hope that other will follow fate and do the same.

In unlikely circumstance we met, in an unlikely love we live. Through me Anna is her whole self, and through Anna my needs as a human are met. By putting us, a gay man and a straight woman, together we created a relationship that death cannot separate. Our relationship has everything it needs, spirituality, sexuality, connectivity, trust, love, humor, and many other needed things.

In essence, our relationship mirrors that of everyone’s who reads this, be it marriage or friendship.

Think about the current boxes our society puts itself in, are you ok with these? If not, why? Put your answer in the comments section below!