Late last year, something tipped the long-standing balance between who I am inside (a gay man) and who I’m seen as from the outside (a married straight man). The balance over the years was tenuous at times but it served the expectations of a religious worldview that simply had no place for anything other than heterosexuality. For years, critical associates knew the secret of my gayness, but in my acquiescence to shame I still almost completely kept my sexual orientation to myself. The excuses for the suppression were varied: My sexuality was no-one’s business; I didn’t want to expose my wife to the potential for probing questions or unenlightened judgment from others; I didn’t need any persecution that might come my way from the insensitive and uninformed; I believed in the Church paradigm that homosexuality was sinful and un-natural.
Unfortunately what resulted from these excuses was the inability to reconcile my sexuality with the other parts of who I am as a person. There was internal exploration that needed to occur and I had been putting it off for a long time. In keeping my sexual orientation hidden, I subtly reinforced the notion that it was inherently shameful and embarrassing. There was no empirical evidence for this, just societal momentum – momentum that swept me along leaving my critical thinking mind behind. So late last year, it was time for me to confront the very thing that I was afraid to learn about. It was time to stop avoiding the literature that dealt with homosexuality. It was time for me to be comfortable with being gay. It was time for a few more petals in the flower of my personality to unfurl.
I turned to the internet and for weeks devoured videos, blogs, and other pages for sometimes hours during the evening. My first surprise was the abundance of blogs by gay Mormons. There were gay Mormons everywhere (!) (well mostly in the western US of course) and they presented a diversity of viewpoints, from those who still believed in the doctrine but wanted to be open about their sexuality to those who were more distant from the Church. I wanted to know their stories and all of these new perspectives. What also struck me was the apparent confidence of many gay Mormons who had accepted their sexuality. This was a new mental place for me – being open, confident and accepting of my secret reality.
In the months since those first nervous evenings on-line, I believe I have come a long way in understanding who I am. I feel much more open about my sexuality and have rid myself of much of the shame that I previously attached to being gay. I know that the journey of understanding will continue in the years to come, but I am so glad to have made these first steps. I wish that it had happened much earlier in life, but am also glad that I did not wait any longer.