Wednesday, April 14, 2010

An Unexpected Path

This is an article I wrote for Mormons for Marriage. I know, it is a web site that isn't very favorable to mixed-orientation couples, but I think that by communication, we can help other people see our story. They published my article, which is very favorable to mixed-orientation couples. Hopefully, this will indicate a change in the future for them to soften their stance against mixed-orientation couples. Here is my article. Also found here.

Life has a way of happening. Regardless of what you might plan for your life, there are always unexpected turns. Often, these turns are not what you would have chosen for yourself. Notwithstanding, I have learned that God has a much greater plan for me than I could ever imagine. If I only be patient and put my trust in God, He will direct my path and make more of my life than I could have done on my own.

One of the first unexpected turns was becoming an openly gay Mormon, fully dedicated to serving the Lord and following his prophets. I came out to my ward in a sacrament meeting talk over the pulpit. I had no role model to follow. For much of my life I had thought that gay people didn’t belong in the church. I pretended to be straight for many years, because that was what I thought God wanted me to do. Living the gospel brought a peace into my life, and I didn’t want to give that up, even if it meant pretending to be something that I wasn’t. But as I prayed and searched for answers, I found that God didn’t want me to lie. He wanted me to be true to myself and authentic. I didn’t know if it would work, but I would try hard to hold strong to the Church and its teachings on homosexuality and still be open and honest about my feelings. I felt like a living paradox, yet at the same time, I felt more authentic than I ever had in my life. I felt people really knew me and were friends with me, instead of just my facade.

It was great, but I soon learned that wasn’t all that God had in store for me. While authenticity brought me great happiness and contentment, I found there was still something missing. I yearned for companionship. I let myself stray from the path. I allowed myself to flirt with other men and even become romantically involved. For the first time, I felt alive. Just being with another man sent my heart racing. I felt a bond that I had never felt before; a bond that I had tried for years to create with women and had failed. He was there with me, and he understood me. I knew I was meant to love and was meant to be loved.

The passion was addicting, but I realized that I no longer felt the peace that I so treasured. I began to sink into discouragement. I had discovered a feeling that I had longed for ever since I could remember, and didn’t want to give it up. I had tried with so many women, and failed miserably. Everything I had heard seemed to suggest that I would never be happy with a woman. At the time, California had just legalized same-sex marriage, on the grounds that gay people would never be able to form a marriage with the person they would chose as a lifetime partner. People were declaring that gay people could not create a fulfilling and faithful marriage under the old law. Did I really think I was an exception? Did I really think I knew more than the California Supreme Court? I came to the conclusion that I had to choose between the passion I had found, and the peace that I always knew. I decided that I would follow the church, even if it meant I would be celibate.

But again, God had something greater in store for me.

That is when I met the love of my life. She and I got along great and started dating right away. She was an amazing person who I looked up to in several ways. I told her of my attractions to men, and she was very supportive. She never made me do anything I wasn’t comfortable with. Slowly, I started being comfortable with more and more intimacy. While intimacy was forced, I found I started to enjoy it. What was more striking, is that I still felt at peace. I had never associated intimacy with peace before. I knew it wasn’t supposed to feel empty, like my relationships with men had felt, but I didn’t expect intimacy to be spiritual.

The more I got to know this woman, the more I fell in love with her, and the stronger the peace became. This continued until the peace was overwhelming. I felt that I should pray and ask God about marriage. I did not want to. I wasn’t ready. It was too soon. All of the doubts about mixed-orientation marriages flooded my mind. What girl would want to marry me? I wrestled with God. I couldn’t ask the question. Instead I asked if I should proceed as if I were to marry her. As soon as I brought myself to ask, I felt a powerful confirmation that I was supposed to follow this path. It was one of the most spiritual experiences of my life. From there it seemed like all barriers fell away. Intimacy no longer was forced. Instead, I had a craving. I found myself wanting more than I would allow myself to have before marriage. My love and my bond with her eclipsed anything I had ever felt with a man. I trusted her, and felt I could really give myself to her completely. I was now ready to pray about marriage, and it felt good. We have been married for a year now, and it has been bliss. I have never been so happy in my whole entire life.

Not to say that everything has been perfect. I fear that in my brevity I have oversimplified my story. There have been many struggles and heartaches, but in the end I look at the miracle that God did in my life and I am overwhelmed with gratitude. For the first time, my life makes sense. What I had considered trials and tribulations, I now realize are blessings from a gracious Heavenly Father who loves me. In helping me deal with my same-sex attractions, my wife has gone with me deep into my soul. Instead of breaking apart our marriage, our challenges and strife have strengthened our relationship. It has created a bond that few people have.

I realize that this is not everyone’s experience. I only got here because God put me here, and I realize that for different people, God has different paths. That is why we must never judge others. Who knows what miracle God has in store for them? Our job is to love and support them. We are here to learn the difference from good and bad, and chose the good. How can we learn the difference if someone chooses for us? Many people tried to choose for me. Some were convinced I needed to marry a woman in order to obtain salvation. Others tried to tell me that for a faithful gay Mormon, the only option was celibacy. Others told me that in order to find fulfillment and be true to myself, I needed to be in a relationship with a man. Only God knows his will for us. We worship God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and we need to allow other people the same privilege.

Even though I had a strong impression that I needed to marry my wife, it was still difficult for me because of everything people had told me about mixed-orientation marriages. Everyone should have a fair shot at making their marriage work. When people in mixed-orientation marriages hear things like, “gay people can’t get married,” or “you wouldn’t want your daughter to marry someone like that”, it is easy for them to question their own worth and validity of their marriage. There is a challenge associated with mixed-orientation marriages, but I think that should give us more reason to buoy people up, rather than tear them down.

Just as I do not want anyone to judge me for entering into my marriage, I do not think anyone should be judged for the relationship they choose to enter. Before I met my wife, I had never felt as alive as I did as when I was with another man. It was hard to leave that behind, even knowing the peace I found in the gospel of Christ. How can I expect those who do not know that peace to turn down such a wonderful experience, when I myself had such a hard time? Society teaches that same-sex relationships are the only opportunity for gay people to be true to themselves and find fulfillment. While I disagree with society and think that teaching is harmful, many gay people know no other option. If they know no other option, can we really expect them to make another choice? I am thankful the church has given me another option, but many do not know the love that is found in the Mormon Church. While I fully supported Prop 8, at the same time I think there are many other ways we can show our love and support to same-sex couples. There are over 1100 federal rights and benefits that are being denied Californian same-sex couples that the Church does not oppose. Why focus on the areas of disagreement?

I think we need to do all we can to increase the agency of those around us. We should fight so that both mixed-orientation and same-sex couples have all of the rights and privileges they need to protect, support, and openly love their families. No one should be forced into the closet. There are wonderful people in same-sex relationships and there are wonderful people in mixed-orientation relationships. I fully believe people from both types of relationships will inherit the Celestial Kingdom.

Joseph Smith once said “If I esteem mankind to be in error, shall I bear them down? No, I will lift them up and in their own way too, if I cannot persuade them my way is better; and I will not seek to compel any man to believe as I do, only by the force of reasoning, for truth will cut its own way.” I feel many Mormons do not lift up same-sex couples, but bear them down along with the organizations that support them. Likewise, I do not feel many in the gay community lift mixed-orientation couples up, but I have felt many bear us down along with the organizations that support us.

If we show hate, are we really obeying the commandments of God? Aren’t the two greatest commandments love thy God and love thy neighbor? Don’t all the commandments hang off of these two? If it isn’t based in love, it isn’t a commandment of God. As Christ said, that is the way he will recognize his disciples, if we have love one towards another We need to bear one another’s burdens, not to add to other’s burdens. We need to mourn with those who mourn, not cause them to mourn. Unless we can learn to love as Christ loved, we will be the ones who will not enter into the Celestial Kingdom.

What happened to me is nothing short of a miracle. At one time, my same-sex attractions, my faith in God, and my desire for a family seemed to be at odds with one another. Now, everything has come together in a beautiful masterpiece. I am thankful for those who put their faith in me, who told me I could when the rest of the world told me I couldn’t. Most importantly I thank God who has given me my greatest blessing here on Earth, my wife. I have a testimony that if we put our faith in God, He will direct our paths. He will make more of our life than we could ever dream possible. We do not know anyone else’s path. Of us, it is only required to love God and love our neighbor. Hate is not in the program.


  1. Thanks, Joshua!

    I get frustrated when people deny that we exist. I echo your words that it IS possible to have a successful, happy "mixed orientation" marriage. I am in one.

    I'm a gay man. I'm married to a woman. I'm happy. It's true.

    Thanks, buddy. Happy to know that you two are doing well.

  2. Rachael5:52 PM

    Joshua, you don't know me, but I stumbled upon your blog while blog stalking. I want to thank you for your writings. I am active and LDS, and I have a cousin who came out of the closet, and now is no longer active in the church. I know that it hurt him to leave, but I think he felt it was his only choice. I love him, and told him I would support him in whatever decision made him happy. It is inspirational to read your words as being an open gay mormon. I always used to think it must be so hard for those gay members who want to stay in the church, because there aren't many roll models to follow. Thank you for your words

  3. Great post Joshua. I agree on so many levels. As one who has been happily married for 25 years in June, I promise it is totally possible, not without difficulties as all relationships sometimes face, but totally possible.

  4. How are you doing now? It's been awhile since your last post ...