Friday, March 16, 2007

Secrets

My wife and I were sitting in Wendy's yesterday afternoon eating a late lunch, early dinner. She looked up at me and said:
Her: So, how are you doing?

Me: I'm doing OK

Her: What about your other life?

Me: (caught off guard) Huh? what other life?

Her: You know, your secret life

Her: How are your blogging friends doing?

I'll have to admit, this conversation took me by surprise and I wasn't sure how to proceed. So, I muttered

Me: They're doing OK, for the most part

I took a couple more bites of my food while I pondered this turn of events. I then decided to open up with her. So, I started to explain how some of my MoHo friends are doing (although, I didn't say "MoHo friends" to her). Without mentioning names (using terms like "this one guy" and "this other guy"), I talked about Gay BYU Student (an update really, since I had talked about him on a couple of other occasions). I talked about drex and salad. I talked about Elbow, and how worried I was about him. I talked about how it felt kind of weird to care so much about these people whom I've never even met (and likely never will) and who I only know through a pseudonym.

She then talked about how, for the first time in our marriage, she is having feelings of insecurity. That kind of floored me, so I started apologizing profusely. But, she stopped me. She said she doesn't want me to be sorry because that makes her feel bad. She just wanted me to understand how she is feeling. I thanked her for sharing that with me.

I've been talking the last couple of weeks about going to the Saint Patrick's Day parade this weekend to take pictures. So, she told me that she was concerned about me doing that because of the kind of people who will be there. That took me by surprise too. Having gone last year, I tried to assure her that it wasn't like that. It wasn't a Gay Pride parade, it was more like a college frat boy thing with lots of beer drinking (although, I'm not sure that made it sound any better). She repeated that she was concerned, but it didn't mean I shouldn't go. She just wanted me to know of her concerns.

Lately, I've been recording some shows on Logo TV (a GLBT cable station) as well as other gay themed shows on our DVR. We talked about those. She had reviewed the shows I had recorded and/or scheduled and talked about a couple that she was interested in watching with me (such as the Montel Williams show that aired Thursday discussing Reparative Therapy). She expressed concern about having these shows on the DVR. I explained that I wasn't concerned about our daughter seeing them since she is never home anyway (spending all of her free time with her boyfriend), but that I was going to be much more cautious when our son comes home from BYU-Idaho.

So, what's the problem? We're talking, we're opening up to each other. She is even watching gay themed shows with me (so far, she has watched "Latter Days", "Beautiful Thing", and "The Hard Pill"). Everything should be hunky doorey, right?

The truth of the matter is, while I have been opening up to her, I haven't told her everything. I still have secrets. For example

  • She knows that I joined a Photography club in the area (a small club with about 6 people) and have gone to a couple of meetings.
  • What I haven't told her is: Most of the people in this club are gay. (I figured it out at the first meeting I went to when one of the club members was showing me some of his pictures, which included pictures of his boyfriend)
  • We've talked about how my photography club has started making plans to get together to take pictures, and how the first such meeting was to go to a Rodeo to take pictures the same weekend that we were in California. I talked about how I wished the Rodeo were on a different weekend so that I could have gone
  • What I haven't told her is: The rodeo they were going to was sponsored by the Texas Gay Rodeo Association.
  • She knows that I have an online blog and read blogs by other gay Mormons
  • What I haven't told her is: How much I really share on my blog (my MoHo friends know more about my gay side than she does)
  • She has expressed concern that I may be sharing too much in my blog and someone might be able to piece together the puzzle and figure out my real identity. I've tried to assure her that I'm careful
  • What I haven't told her is: I'm not sure I really care (in fact, I think there may even be a tiny part of me that would sort of like that to happen)
Other things I haven't told her:
  • I'm starting to question some of my long held views on gay issues, such as same sex unions.
  • When I read of someone in a committed gay relationship, a part of me feels pangs of jealousy.
  • While I don't consider myself as having a problem with pornography, I do like to look at PG rated pictures of cute guys.
  • I would like to go to the next Gay Pride parade (in the fall) to take pictures.
  • I've purchased, but have not yet read, a couple of gay Mormon books at the half price book store, namely "Out of the Bishop's Closet" and "Same-Sex Dynamics Among Nineteenth-Century Americans: A Mormon Example".
  • Someday, I might want to purchase a gay news magazine (such as "Advocate") to read.
  • How lonely and isolated I feel sometimes. That I don't feel like I really connect with anyone in our ward.
  • I know of at least two other gay Mormons in the greater metropolitan area that I live in (from discussion groups) and even have their email addresses. I've considered contacting them to see if they would be interested in getting together for lunch some time. Not to hook up, but just to have someone to talk to face to face.
  • Intellectually, I know that pursuing a, so called, gay lifestyle would be foolhardy at best. The most likely outcome would be me ending up as a lonely old man living in a dingy apartment (especially at my age). But, I can't deny that there is a small part of me that is drawn to that lifestyle.
  • Not only do I fully accept that I'm gay. But, in some ways, I think it's kind of cool to be gay. I'm Mormon, I'm gay, and I'm proud.
  • A part of me is starting to feel like I want to come completely out of the closet and damn the consequences

Please don't misunderstand. I'm still committed to her and the church, and I don't want to do anything that might jeopardize my marriage or my standing in the church. I feel my testimony is as strong as ever and I'm doing the stuff I'm supposed to be doing (magnifying my calling, reading the scriptures, going to the Temple, yada, yada, yada).

But, I've been thinking about some of Beck's recent posts where he discusses living duplicitously., and I'm starting to feel like I too am living a dual life. And, now I'm feeling confused. Should I open up and tell her everything? Or would doing so hurt her more than help her? Is it OK for a husband and wife to have secrets from each other? I'm exploring my gay side (mostly with her knowledge). But, by doing so, am I walking on the edge of the precipice?

And, are her feelings of insecurity valid? Right now, it is easy to feel smug and think that I will never do anything to hurt her. But, what if I were to meet some guy and we're mutually attracted to each other? What would I do then? I don't anticipate this ever happening (especially since I'm now an old fart); but, after reading similar experiences by other MoHo's, I'm not so confident when I consider the possibility. I don't think I'm inherently any stronger than my MoHo friends.

Before I sat myself down last fall and said "self, you're gay, accept it", I was starting to have anxiety attacks. It was getting bad enough that I was seriously considering scheduling a visit with a psychiatrist to have my anti-depressants re-evaluated. I was also seriously considering going to see a therapist and had done some searching on my insurance companies web site for one that had experience in gay issues. But, since I've accepted I'm gay and have discussed it with others (via discussion groups, email, and blogs), I've calmed down considerably and have, generally, been feeling pretty good about myself lately.

In fact, my wife has observed on a couple of occasions that, for the last few months (since I accepted that I'm gay), I've been happier than she has seen me in a long long time. And it's true. Although I'm still messed up in a lot of ways, I am happier than I've been in a long time. Isn't that a good thing? Doesn't God want us to be happy? Or would it be better for me to give all of this up? (my MoHo friends, my blog, looking at pictures of cute guys, my exploration of my gay side, etc.) and go back to my old lonely and unhappy, yet fully in harmony with church teachings, life? Would it even be possible for me to go back to my old life? Or have I embarked on a one-way road where God only knows where I'll ultimately end up?

And, the really sad thing is, when I read other blogs, I realize that I'm not alone in some of these thoughts and feelings. Are there any MoHo's out there that are truly happy? Please stand up and tell us how you did it. Impart unto us your sage wisdom. Or is this our lot in this mortal life: To be a bunch of messed up guys (and gals) trying to figure out where we fit in this life, this church, etc.?

I'm so confused!

12 comments:

MoHoHawaii said...

Your post takes me back to my own coming out process. I definitely can relate to the feelings you are having.

I don't have any advice for you. I can only wish you the best and tell you my own experiences.

Here are some random experiences.

- When I started talking more openly about my feelings with my wife, it increased the level of scrutiny. She'd even watch my eyes to see what I was looking at when we were in public. Was I checking out a guy? She wanted to know. This put a lot of pressure on me and made the feelings of claustrophobia even worse.

- Like you, I was committed to being sexually faithful in marriage. This wasn't a big problem for me, but I admit I came out pre-Internet. I don't know what would have happened if I had had less social isolation.

- There is a phenomenon known as "gay adolescence" that is, in my experience, almost unavoidable. Basically, what this means is that regardless of your biological age, you tend to have emotions like a teenager when you first come out. For example, you can easily become infatuated. Your sense of "drama" and exhilaration increases. This lasts until you get it out of your system, in the same way that it works for teenagers. It's not all bad-- it makes you experience life with wonderful intensity and passion, but it also can make you irresponsible and kind of crazy. (Parents of actual teenagers will recognize this.) Be on the lookout for this. Your emotions may play tricks on you. When I hear you say "damn the consequences", I think this.

- I would recommend going to gay pride this summer. It's a mixed bag, but there's something wonderful about just standing there with so many gay and gay-friendly people while cheering silly floats and costumes. Gay pride is no longer bacchanalian. You'll see more "rainbow families" (with young children) than go-go boys in leather.

- I subscribe to the Advocate. Believe me, you're not missing anything. haha

- There's a tremendous amount of prejudice and misinformation about the "gay lifestyle." I had the same views that you have expressed on your blog. In reality, gay life is quite varied. It runs the whole spectrum. There are loving, stable gay people.

- Marriages do not necessarily break up over this issue. Mine did, and it was the right thing, but I also have an 80-year-old uncle who is gay and still married to his wife of 50 years. They are loving companions. There is no way to predict what the ultimate effect of coming out will be on your life.

I would be willing to talk to you by phone, online chat or e-mail if you ever wanted that.

Best of luck to you. Even with the turmoil, this will be an exciting period of your life that you'll remember with fondness and nostalgia later on.

Mormon Enigma said...

There is a phenomenon known as "gay adolescence" that is, in my experience, almost unavoidable

Aaack! Not another adolescence? The first one was bad enough, I don't think I could handle another one.

Of course, this time I don't have a bunch of bullies pushing and shoving, calling me a queer, and painting "faggot" on my locker door.

Beck said...

I just ready MoHOHawaii's comments on gay adolescence. I'm intrigued by them. I feel you and I are on a pretty close parallel path - only I'm struggling to be as open with my wife as you are... yet your secrets are my secrets, too.

This paradigm shift of logic makes sense to me. I'm not saying that I'll choose a different path because of it, but I like the idea that I'm (we're) struggling through a crazy period of twitterpated confusion and passion... I don't know whether I want it to end or whether I can endure the ride long enough to mature into a calmer state...

even so, secrets remain part of my life... maybe that's a teenage-kind-of-thing to still be doing at my age...

PS Did you ever get crammed into your locker by a jock bully? :)

Mormon Enigma said...

Beck, like maybe we could, ya know, like hang out at the mall.

I'm struggling to be as open with my wife as you are

A lot depends on the individual woman as to how open you can be; although, I'm not sure if the level openness I have established with my wife is a good thing or a bad thing.

One thing for sure, this 'out' thing with my wife isn't anything like I imagined it would be. Sometimes I wish I could just crawl back into my closet where it's warm and cozy.

MoHoHawaii said...

Beck, like maybe we could, ya know, like hang out at the mall.

LOL

Ammon said...

You guys even sound my age. LOL I guess I'm no better off. I feel very like you, ME. Your fear of secrets and change in views is exactly what I'm going through. My family knows what I face, but I've hidden a lot. My adopted gay father is planning out our Spring Vacation and I'm thrilled to go south to spend time with him and his family. He told me my emotional state reminded him of a sixth grader. LOL I've got just as far as the rest of you to go I suppose.

Kengo Biddles said...

Mr. Nigma, do you know anyone who is "truly happy"? I think we all go through times of lonliness, I think we all go through times when we get depressed or we let things stress us. I think we all, regardless of our gender/sexuality/whatever you want to call it, have less than blissful moments in life.

I think that it's important you evaluate the things you want in your life, the things you value as important. Sit down, make a list.

Once you've decided what's important to you, make some decisions. I really, really like what Scot says in his Gayness Manual. And e-mail me if you want to talk offline.

-L- said...

For all the millions of times I've seen posts saying "me too" and been convinced there is an underlying common experience to being a MoHo, I'm also surprised occasionally at how different things can be.

For the record: I'm happy. Conflict is much more interesting than happily ever afters, so you may not get that full impression from my blog, but I think I've mentioned it a few times. :-)

Second, in all the recent talk about duplicity, every one of the guys who have posted about being duplicitous have been married. And when there's a question about whether to elliminate the duplicity of being a closeted gay or the duplicity of having a group of friends online who know more about you than your wife does--the one who is your eternal companion and with whom you are commanded to be one, coming out gets the most press time. Your wife actually sounds like one of the most understanding I've read about (barring mine, of course!). She's adapted quickly, told you that she was concerned, tolerates the new aspects of your investigation, and still loves and supports you the best way she knows how within the context of her faith and family.

Anyway. I'd be interested to read about your coming out to everyone--it's certainly something I've not had the guts to do (or felt was appropriate). But I'd be even more interested to someday down the road read about how you and your wife are dealing with this with her as invested in it as you are. My wife has given me the option of full privacy and I love her for it. But we have a great time talking about all of you MoHos on occasion. We laugh at you and cry with you and she gets me all the more for it.

I'm not even going to proof this before posting cuz I'm tired and tomorrow I'll prolly regret it, but here it is. :-)

salad said...

I will admit to being really excited that you talk to yourself using "self" in your sentence. I got a good laugh over that because I do the same thing in my head when I'm having conversations with myself.

Brett said...

ME, I just came across your blog, following a link from the Q-Saints group, where I'm a long-time lurker. I've found the evolution of your comments there, and the ones I've recently read here very interesting.

I have bitter-sweet feelings about the "coming out" process. I went through a period where I started exploring the gay world--the gay magazines, pride parades, gay soccer days, bar-b-ques, etc. In one way, it was good for me; it was part of a process of me coming to a place where I realize that all that is something I really don't want in my life--the "lifestyle," I mean. I do still value connection with others who understand what I'm experiencing, but I've also become much less interested in hearing the "me too" points of view those who have found their way out of the Church. As I read your blog today, I felt sad a little bit for you. Some of the language you've come to use and ideas you're growing to embrace are much more reminiscent of the Affirmation crowd than one who is as committed to the Church and your family as you say you are. It's like riding two horses. At some point, the horses are going to diverge--if they haven't started to already--and you're going to have to choose which horse you really want to ride.

But, that's the beauty of it. YOU get to decide. Being "gay" doesn't mean you're determinately bound down a particular path.

As for happiness, I feel truly happy. Like someone else said, having down days is simply part of being human. Overall, however, I feel genuinely happy and fulfilled in my life. But it's not because I'm "out". I'm not. Generally speaking. I'm open with those who I want to know, and I don't feel any shame in what I feel, but I also don't feel the need to desire to announce it to the world--particularly a world so prone to label, stereotype, and pigeonhole. Most importantly, what I believe contributes to my sense of happiness is living in integrity with myself--not embracing my "gayness." I don't feel I have to pretend anything to myself or any others, but I also don't need to be open about everything with everyone either. There is a difference between "honesty" and "openness."

When I thing of the whirlwind of my "coming out," so to speak, period, I also think of the many things that fascinated me and held my interest captive--the things I got involved with. In hindsight, with most of that out of my system, the phase in the Book of Mormon where it talked about someone being administered "poison by degrees" comes to mind.

So, that's where it becomes bitter-sweet. There *is* a process that is crucial, imo. And so much of it is very liberating and empowering. The other side of it, though, is that much of it is also spiritual poison and if people aren't able to discern the difference, they end up on the fast track away from the things you said you were most committed too.

I hope none of this came across as "preachy." I just had a wave of thoughts and emotion come across me as I read your post. However things work out for you, I wish you the best.

Brett

-L- said...

Where's your blog, Bret? You sound like a guy I'd like to hear more from. :-)

Brett said...

Sorry, L. No blog. Just long wind. ;-)