Sunday, October 11, 2015

Who are you? Part 1 of (hopefully) many

I've shared this plenty of times - but it's worth repeating: I love blogging. I'm grateful I have this outlet to share my story and what's on my mind. Blogging is "so 5 (10?) years ago," but it's all about showing up fashionably late. It's liberating to spew my thoughts of growing up gay and Mormon.

I have no regrets in starting this little blog two years ago and for various reasons, I'm glad I've kept my posts anonymous. Ironically, today is National Coming Out Day, but sorry, I won't be doing that publically on my blog! (But those who've reached out to me know that once I'm comfortable chatting, I reveal my true self and am Facebook friends with a few of you!)

As I've shared my story with you over the past two years, there's one thing that I DON'T like in authoring a blog: I don't know YOUR story. Yes, you. The person reading this right now. YOU. If you haven't reached out via email or left a comment, I don't know anything about you. And that bugs me! Blogger does throw out a few analytics, but still, I'm in the dark and I have so many questions I want to ask YOU. Yes, you. I love reading others' stories - hearing them all was my motivation to start sharing my own. They're all so different. So fascinating. And for many, so secret.  

While Gay Mormon Stories and Far Between are great outlets to share stories, you lose the anonymity. Staying anonymous allows ME to share a little bit more - a few extra secrets. So this gave me an idea. I'll start collecting YOUR stories and post them here. All anonymously, of course. People tend to share more and dig a little deeper if they know there would be no repercussions. This is similar to the confessions stunt I did, but on a more detailed scale. (Sheesh, I'm so nosy!) :) And again, those of you who know the 'real me,' the reason for doing this makes perfect sense!

I've reached out to a few people and I'll continue to do so. Below you'll find the first Q & A. This interview is with a straight woman who married a gay man. (*Names have been changed.) The only background I had was this was a woman in a Mixed-Orientation Marriage and I based my questions off that single fact - and I tossed out all the questions at once. These stories are in random order. I have no reason for starting off with this interview - other than the fact it's extremely interesting.

If YOU (yes, you) want to share your story - let me know. Contact me using the form on the right or drop me a line - gaymormonsouthpaw (at) gmail (dot) com. And again, I promise full anonymity. You give me your one single fact - and I'll ask my questions based on that.

Without further ado....

Q. Briefly explain your correlation to the Moho community. 
A. There is almost no motivation for me to remain connected to the gay Mormon community because I have left Mormonism entirely. Fairly early in my marriage I fantasized about turning my mixed-orientation marriage into a source of strength for other mormons in the same type of marriage. We could host fabulous brunch support group sessions with other couples and help strengthen other marriages. It was a very complex set of dreams that I had hoped to accomplish to make this arrangement make some sense. Then I woke up and realized that I wanted absolutely nothing to do with Mormonism any more, so those dreams of heroism died an unfulfilled death.

Q. Did you know your husband was gay before marrying him? 
A. I did. There were a couple of stages of coming to this awareness. After our first date, my co-workers were asking how it went and I told them that I would probably never see him again because Craig* was pretty obviously gay. I figured that was the end of that. But Craig kept calling and we kept going out so I began to dismiss the idea that he was actively gay, and was maybe just effeminate.After we had dated for about a year, we took a long weekend to drive and let Craig meet my parents. This may seem a little unbelievable but on that drive Craig was reading the new Greg Louganis biography. Once I saw that book, I figured at that point that he was definitely gay, or at least had those inclinations. On the drive back from meeting my parents, Craig made the big reveal. For as aware as I was that Craig was probably gay, the talk went poorly and I freaked. It made it so real to hear him say that about himself, plus I realized the degree to which he still identified with his homosexuality. That was startling to hear.

Q. How did 'the talk' go once he confessed? 
A. I think the talk went poorly, considering all the clues that I had already picked up on. At this point I loved him and this was a big unknown and risky variable that was being introduced into the relationship. It was horribly scary and I didn't expect the massive emotional reaction that came out. It was hours of sobbing and I was so sad.But I'm a live-and-let-live type of gal and thought that everyone deserved their chance at making a family work so by the next day I was pretty chill with the idea. I told him almost immediately that I knew he was still Craig and this new information didn't change my feelings for him.In hindsight, that was idiocy. Knowing what I know now, I realize that I was only being given part of the information. I didn't know this at the time but Craig had already had multiple male sex partners and he was still actively banging his best friend, but at the time, all I saw was a nice dude who wanted a shot at having a family.

Q. What are the advantages of being married to a gay man? 
A. Craig was a somewhat stereotypical gay man. He liked to shop, he liked to chat, and he liked to keep the floors clean. So those were all pretty handy benefits. I am domestic-skills impaired so for our first Christmas as a married couple I gave him a sewing machine, knowing that I would soon get some fantastic curtains for our new house.

Q. Disadvantages? 
A. Too many and too painful to dig too deep here. The overarching problem is that everything was a lie. He was trying to fake straight because his conservative, LDS upbringing guilted him into that. I'm not the first person to use this terminology but it was an immediate sensation that I had just been pulled into the closet with him, and NOT in a fun high school make-out sort of way. I cut off my friends and family. I completely turned inward because of this big secret that I was now also living. In retrospect, it was devastating to me emotionally but I was loyal to a fault and would never throw him over for something that was entirely out of his control.The major problem is that our two kids ended up caught in this lie. In the end, I learned that entering a MOM is a completely selfish move for both Craig and myself. I was selfish to expect him to limit himself to a heterosexual marriage that he had only limited ability to engage in. He was selfish to expect me to give up a normal sense of marriage, partnership, and sex life to play cover for his homosexuality. He married me to be his beard, and everybody lost.

Q. What is your status now? (divorced? Exmo? etc.) What's his status? 
A. As for the status of the marriage, we are right now working through a contentious divorce and it is not pleasant. He has a new partner and "has never been happier." He wants to leg it away from us and pretend that there is no financial responsibility to us because he is so happy moving on and pretending that we don't exist.As for religion, I am exmormon and haven't attended mormon church services for maybe about three years now. Our kids are teens and they have also left the mormon church. Craig doesn't talk to me at all and lives a few thousand miles away so I am only guessing, but I'm pretty sure that he is also now exmormon.

Q. Do you two remain friends? 
A. No. I am too susceptible to his lies and self-serving manipulation so I have had to make a clean break now that the kids are old enough to manage their own communications with him. Plus I see how he has treated his kids now that he has a new partner and wants to pretend that they don't exist, and it's pretty difficult being friends with that kind of person. The dishonesty killed the friendship and relationship far more than any gayness could have.

Q. What advice do you have for folks about to enter a MOM? 
A. Anyone entering a MOM is making a horrible mistake. It cannot succeed and is entirely unfair to absolutely everyone involved. Each partner is being selfish and both are being cruel to any resulting children.

Q. How much blame to you put on the church? (If any.) 
A. I definitely hold the church as being partially to blame. Craig was so indoctrinated and terrified to be his gay self that he had to fake a heterosexual marriage. I was so indoctrinated that my only path forward as a woman was to be married and produce children that I accepted this sham of a marriage. The church puts this burden of expectation of a single path forward for its members and that will always be a recipe for disaster, especially when dealing with encouraging mixed-orientation marriage, as was the church policy back when we were dating and married.

Q. Is life better now? How so? 
A. Life is better to be away from the daily head games that come when one partner is sleeping with dozens of anonymous randoms every month and racking up the more permanent lovers in several cities that he had to travel to for work. The lies are over and done with but I'm now almost 50 years old and have little to no prospect of ever trusting another man again. My kids miss their dad but they don't recognize that man that he is now. He used to be an engaged father who was fun and awesome. Now that he is done living the lie, he has moved on in every respect and has no time for them at all anymore. He will go several months without calling them. It is a very messy situation. Nobody won.

Q. Anything else you'd like to add? 
A. Maybe one thing that some people might wonder is whether the kids now know that their father is gay and how that went down. This is something that I thought about a lot before I acted. For about a year before I told them, I introduced them to the TV show "Modern Family." We lived abroad and didn't watch US television so they had never seen it. I introduced that show to them to normalize the idea of gay couples of how they are just normal members of the family.One afternoon I gave them the basic run down to catch them up on the details of their family. I told them that their dad was gay (he was already living thousands of miles away from us at the time is why he wasn't a part of the conversation), that he wanted a divorce, and that he had a new boyfriend. They were not at all shocked about the gay part, and hardly cared. Gay is so normal to this generation that the impact from that was incredibly minimal. The massive impact was how they were crushed that he had told me he wanted a divorce. That was the entire emotional blow. But funnily enough, my clever children processed this information for a few minutes, asked some basic questions, and then said, "Hey, is this why you had us start watching 'Modern Family?'" That was so funny that it only took them minutes to see right through my plan to normalize as much as possible. My kids were 15 and 13 at the time.  

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