Last summer, Elbow blogged this subject which also generated some passionate responses. In his blog, he said
... I want every woman who is considering to marry a gay man to RUN FOR HER LIFE! And I sincerely mean that. There's no reason why a woman should try to force herself into a marriage that is full of homosexual thoughts, desires, and tendencies. It's not an environment for love to flourish and it's not an environment where self-esteem and self-worth can thrive.
At the risk of sounding like a hypocrite - I tend to agree with him. I believe that, in general, a gay man should not enter into a heterosexual marriage. There are, of course, exceptions (myself being one of them). But, I'm speaking in generalities.
The thing is, most mixed orientation marriages will end in divorce. No, I don't have any irrefutable statistics to back up this claim. But, consider
- Church leaders have said on a number of occasions in recent years that men with same sex attraction should not enter into a marriage as a way of 'fixing' their SSA.
- Try searching Amazon using "mixed orientation marriage". There are a number of books on this topic. And, all of them recommend against it (at least that's what I gather from the reader comments).
- Carol Lynn Pearson approaches this topic briefly in her book "No More Goodbyes", and she recommends against it.
- On the internet, there are numerous stories of mixed orientation marriages that haven't worked out. There are precious few stories of those that have. In fact, the only ones I'm aware of are in the Mormon queerosphere.
As I've said before: A gay man should marry a woman for the same reasons that a straight man should: Because he loves her. But, therein lies the catch - can a gay man truly love a woman? Being best friends is not the same as love. Being compatible is not the same as love.
The answer is yes, a gay man can love a woman. But, it's a different kind of love than the straight man experiences; and, when it does happen, our church leaders support the possibility of a mixed orientation marriage. But, you can't force it to happen. No matter how much you want it, no matter how hard you try, you cannot force yourself to love a woman for whom you feel no natural attraction. And, that doesn't mean you are any less of a man because you can't marry a woman. Those of us who are married are not better or more righteous in any way.
The thing about mixed orientation marriages, not only are you impacting your own eternal salvation, but you're impacting the eternal salvation of a daughter of zion. So, a gay man needs to be very careful about entering into such a relationship. A mixed orientation marriage can and does work for some of us; but, it is not the end all answer for every Mormon guy who likes guys.
And now, at the risk of sounding totally schizophrenic (I'm old now, I can do that) ...
The gay Mormon man should not totally dismiss the idea of marriage to a woman either. I think you should, at least, remain open to the possibility while accepting that it will likely never happen. But, you never know. You may, one day, meet a girl for whom you have feelings that you've never experienced about a woman before. It happened with my wife and I. The first time we met, we both knew that we would one day be married. And, she didn't even like me at the time! It was, at least, 6 months later before we even went out on a date. And, we broke up before I left on my mission - because we knew that 2 years is a long time and our feelings for each other might not be the same. But, after my mission, we rekindled our relationship and were married 9 months later.
A mixed orientation marriage carries with it a lot of unique challenges. Once you get past the honeymoon phase, physical intimacy will likely become a challenge. Even emotional intimacy may be difficult at times. There are some things you may never be able to do. For example, my wife and I don't kiss. She would love to be able to kiss me; but, I just can't do it - it's repulsive to me. To be honest, I don't really know if it is the act of kissing itself that I have a problem with, or is my problem with kissing girls. But the fact remains, we seldom kiss, and we've never made out. Other gay men may be able to get past this - I can't.
So, how can we make mixed orientation marriages work? How can we improve our success rate? We have a good mix of people here in the queerosphere. We have married people, divorced people, those considering marriage, those who have written off the possibility of marriage. I'm sure everyone has thoughts and ideas on this - so let's hear them!