There’s an amazing blog post I read when I was first coming to terms with things. He very eloquently outlined every option available to gay Mormons, something that I had started thinking about, but definitely not in the level of detail he presented.
I’ve spent the last several months obsessing over each option, and why I do or don’t agree with it. In this post I will examine option one: live a heterosexual lifestyle within the church.
The church is obsessed with marriage and families, and if you’re single you’d better be trying to find a spouse. In fact, I’ve been told that I am not honoring my priesthood if I’m not going on at least one date per week. Even in the early stages when I was doing things I’m not proud of I fully expected to “get it out of my system” and eventually get married.
There are lots of guys in this situation who marry women. I try really hard not to judge any of them, and I sincerely hope that things work out for them. These are my thoughts on the subject, not what I think anyone should or shouldn’t do.
After the mission I didn’t go out as much as most of my straight friends, but I still went on my fair share of dates. The longest I ever dated anyone was almost three months, but it was never official—I never even held her hand. I told myself that my discomfort with dating was due to a combination of girls being stupid and my innate social awkwardness. Part of me is sort of impressed that I managed to fool myself for over four years.
When I finally accepted my gayness I had to reevaluate every vision of the future I’d ever had. It suddenly became a real possibility that I would never have stickers of my wife and kids on my minivan. I’d read Josh Weed’s blog (who hasn’t?) and tried to convince myself that if I had enough faith I could live that dream.
Out of desperation I asked Heavenly Father “should I get married? Is that a goal that I should have in my life?” I fully expected Him to tell me of course, that’s a worthy goal and I should go for it. Instead I felt uneasy. As I thought about it over the next couple of days the question “why do you want to get married” kept popping into my mind. Why wouldn’t I want to get married? All my life I’ve been told the greatest joy I will ever experience comes from marriage and family. I saw how happy my sister and her husband were, and how happy my married friends were, and felt so jealous of them.
The difference, though, is that my sister and her husband love each other completely. My married friends love their spouses completely, and that’s the only reason to get married. For me, I’d be getting married to please my family, the church, and society. I’d be getting married just to have a church-approved sexual outlet. I couldn’t imagine that God would want me to marry one of his daughters unless I really, truly loved her and wanted to make our relationship last for eternity. When I took that conclusion to Him in prayer His answer was clear this time: “no, DON’T get married! It’s not in My plans for you.”
It was surprising, and a little humiliating. I’d never pictured Heavenly Father sitting on the front porch with a shotgun yelling “don’t be a-touchin’ my daughters!” I thought maybe I was misinterpreting things; maybe He meant I shouldn’t be trying to get married now, but once I worked through things I should try again.
I don’t think that’s the case. In my limited dating experience, with the few occasions where the girl actually liked me, my feelings toward her would progress to a certain point, then hit a wall. Try as hard as I might, I couldn’t make myself think of her as more than a really good friend. I used to tell myself that it meant I just hadn’t found the right one. I’m certain now that I’m just incapable of feeling that way about a girl. I’ve had plenty of crushes, and enjoyed dates with girls, but any relationship between me and a girl will inevitably stagnate.
I’ve never found any stats on mixed-orientation marriages, but from what I can tell they rarely end well. Even when both partners are straight more than 50% of marriages end in divorce. If two straight people have a hard time making it work how could I ever hope to stay married to a woman when I’d rather be with a man?
Ironically, I’ve been dating a girl for the last several months. We went out the first time right when I first started coming to terms with things. I thought of her as my last hope, the last chance I had to prove that I’m not gay. She really is a great girl. I enjoy spending time with her, and I really wanted it to work out. However, when we go on dates I flirt out of duty, not because I want to win her over. We cuddle on the couch because we’re supposed to, not because I truly enjoy that closeness. I held her hand at the movie theater once, not because I wanted that intimate touch, but because she was sending “the signal.”
I’ve thought about what to do about her. I do like her, even if I don’t like her, and I don’t want to lie to her or be a total jackass and just stop calling her. It’s really going to suck, though, when I tell her exactly why we’ll never be more than friends.