Friday, October 22, 2010

Reader question (part 2): If youre gay, why did you marry her?

This is part 2 of an anonymous question that was asked in my sidebar
How did you meet your wife? If you're gay, why did you marry her?

If I'm gay, why did I marry a girl?

I spent my adolescent years in the late 60's and 70's - which was a very different era.  I was raised to believe that homosexuals were perverts who hung out in mens restrooms waiting to molest boys.  So, while I knew I had an attraction to men - I wasn't like that so, obviously, I couldn't be gay.

Add to that the bullying I received in Jr High and High School.  Although I was in deep denial - evidently I wasn't hiding it as well as I thought.  I had few friends in school and was often taunted with "fag" and "queer", as well as being pushed and shoved in the hallways.  I remember coming to school one day to find the word "FAGGOT" spray painted across my locker door.

Bottom line, being gay was just the most horrible thing I could ever imagine.  And so, I somehow managed to block it out and convince myself that I wasn't gay.

Upon joining the LDS church, I did everything that was asked of me.  I read the book of mormon.  I was baptized.  I received the priesthood.  I even served a mission (much to the chagrin of my family).  And, about 9 months after returning home from my mission I asked my wife to be sealed to me for time and all eternity in the Oakland temple.

In short, I truly believed I had been healed of my "unnatural and impure tendencies".  Of course, I tried to block out the mini crushes I had on some of my missionary companions :)

My wife became pregnant 3 months after we were married and our first child was born the day before our 1st anniversary.  She became pregnant with our 2nd child 6 months later.  It was during that second pregnancy that the realization that I had not been cured hit me like a ton of bricks.

I was still in college (she had already graduated before we were married) and working to support my young family.  I was getting close to graduation and, upon checking to make sure I had met the requirements, learned that I was short some PE credits.  So, I enrolled in a PE class my last semester.  This was the first time I had been in a locker room since high school.  Seeing all of those naked men in the showers and walking around the locker room brought back all of those feelings I had suppressed. In particular, the guy whose locker was next to mine always dressed and undressed while standing facing me - giving me, 3 times a week, an up-close view of ... [ahem] ... his manhood.  I started having homoerotic dreams about him.

Of course, by this time it was too late - I was already married and had a wife and children to support.  So, I resolved that this would be my dirty dark secret that I would never tell to anyone.  I had not done anything - so I saw no need to talk to my bishop or to tell my wife.

I kept that dark dirty secret to myself for another 24 years.

But keeping this dark dirty secret took it's toll on me.  I was diagnosed with clinical depression and given anti-depressants. But, even talking to a therapist, I couldn't tell him that I was attracted to guys.  This was my cross to bear - the thorn in my side - my dark and dirty secret that I was prepared to take with me to my grave.

4 years ago I just couldn't take it anymore.  I started frantically searching the internet trying to find other people like myself.  I was getting more and more discouraged.  I found other gay Mormon's - but most had left, and felt bitter about, the church.  Those that had married had since divorced.  I felt like I was some sort of freak of nature with my desire to remain married and active in the church.

Fortunately, I found the Mormon queerosphere.  I spent hours upon hours reading blogs.  Eventually I decided to create my own blog - and the rest, as they say, is history ...

I've had some accuse me of lying to my wife about my homosexuality because I didn't tell her about my feelings for men prior to being married.  I disagree - lying implies a malicious intent.  When we first married, I sincerely believed that my unholy feelings for men were gone.  More than anything I wanted to make her happy - to tell her I liked guys was counter intuitive to that goal.

In a sense, I think I'm as much a victim as she is - a victim of an extremely homophobic society and religious based oppression.  I was conditioned since I was a little boy that to be gay was a horrendous sin.  Being gay made you less of a man.  Everything I thought I knew about homosexuals made them out to be broken and inferior.  To be called a "queer" and a "faggot" was, and still is, the ultimate insult for a man.

Looking back, all of the signs were there - clearly others were able to see in me what I refused to see in myself.  But, I somehow managed to convince myself that I was heterosexual. - a straight man with a dark dirty secret.  But, it was a house of cards that was doomed to come crashing down eventually.  And, when it did come crashing down, I told my wife shortly thereafter.


Adon said...

Ah, you have expressed some of the same inner sentiments that have laid dormant (sometimes) in my mind over the last 50 years of my life.

When I came out to my wife about 5 years ago, she asked me why I had married her if I was gay. She felt I had lied to her. But I was in the same frame of mind as you were. "PLUS"...Years ago I had access to a chuch publication that instructed ard and branch leaders how to cope with homosexuals. It wasn't the handbook of instructions but a special guide book for Bishops and branch presidents. In it they were instructed to encourage men
/boys to find a good women and get married. Getting married would "cure" their same sex attractions. At that tender young age I believed it. I did find someone special that I married and we have been married for over 30 years but...I am still gay/bisexual and always will be. I have been faithful to my wife all these years but it hasn't been easy.

I have read on other blogs about bishops giving this same advice to young men during that same period. So I know where they got their rational from. I don't know if this eroneous approach to curing gays is still taught to local leaders of the church today or not. I sure wished I had kept a copy of that booklet.

Invictus Pilgrim said...

I echo what Adon said. Thanks for sharing your story. Unlike Adon, however, my inner sentiments were never really dormant, but always there, albeit hidden. Like you, I have reached a point where I cannot continue like I was. Though I cherish my family and what we have together, I have begun a journey toward affirmation of myself.

Anonymous said...


So much in common.

Being brought up to be homophobic.

The self denial instead of self affirmation.

The self-hatred and sexual ignorance instead of self-acceptance and self-awareness.

I remember thinking of getting married as a gamble wrth taking.

I was willing to risk that these feelings that never quite went away would become history because I was not exclusively gay and wanted so badly to be straight and have a family.

And then I loved the woman I married.

And, of course, there were the moments went everything worked and magically for a few minutes anyway I was straight.

I gambled my life and my wife's life based on those few precious, magical moments that I thought would become more and more commonplace.

I was wrong.

Of course, I told my soon-to-be wife nothing about my doubts because back then you didn't tell anyone and I would have first had to admit it to myself.

What I regret most is that I didn't have the wherewithal and wasn't brave enough to tell her my doubts, my greatest fear; I owed her that much before marriage.


Brad Carmack said...

Please guest post the below immediately.

Thank you,

Brad Carmack
2011 JD/MPA Candidate

Title: Homosexuality: A Straight BYU Student’s Perspective
1) President Packer’s general conference talk
2) The recent rash of suicides by gay teens across the country, accompanying “It Gets Better Project,” and current suffering of my homosexually oriented brothers and sisters
3) My coauthor, from whom I have received much help and inspiration, wants it out sooner than later
These are the reasons why I am releasing my book now. I preferred to wait until Homosexuality: A Straight BYU Student’s Perspective was groomed and edited further; however, it is not my book alone. Heavenly Father helped me write it, and I believe He would have me release it rather than keep it on my hard drive while I spend months making minor improvements. This book is destined to relieve some of the suffering of my homosexual brothers and sisters, though I don’t yet know by how much. Stuart Matis, shortly before committing suicide on the steps of an LDS chapel on February 25, 2000 in Los Altos, California, wrote to his family: “Perhaps my death ... might become the catalyst for much good. I'm sure that you will now be strengthened in your resolve to teach the members and the leaders regarding the true nature of homosexuality. My life was actually killed many years ago. Your actions might help to save many young people's lives."

So here it is- my 165-page magnum opus to date, in raw .docx and .pdf form (google doc:
Non gmail users, in .pdf only: I invite your feedback as I’m still in the later editing stage. Summary of the book below.

My promise to the open-minded reader is that you will be touched, you will learn things you had never considered, and your views on same-sex marriage and homosexuality in the LDS church will likely change voluntarily.

-Bradley Carmack

Brad Carmack said...

Summary: The book has two parts: 1) homosexuality (chapters 1-3) and 2) same-sex marriage (chapters 4-7).

In chapter 1, I argue that church members should have great compassion for homosexually oriented members of the church because of the personal difficulties they experience as a result of their orientation and how the Mormon community typically responds to that orientation. I quote a number of studies and give voice to the experiences of many LDS homosexually oriented people.

In chapter 2, I explore causation, detailing both the religious voice and the scientific consensus. Elder Oaks noted how appropriate this type of an inquiry is: "The Church does not have a position on the causes of any of these susceptibilities or inclinations, including those related to same-gender attraction. Those are scientific questions — whether nature or nurture — those are things the Church doesn’t have a position on." I detail 60 statements by church leaders on what causes homosexuality. On the scientific side, I discuss 32 separate subjects to juxtapose two opposing hypotheses for the causation of homosexual orientation: 1) biological factors such as genes and pre-natal hormones, and 2) factors such as infection, molestation, and choice. Some examples of the evidence addressed: homosexual men have, on average, measurably and significantly different ratios of the second to fourth digit of their hands than their heterosexual counterparts. The anterior commissure of their brains is gender shifted away from the heterosexual male norm and toward the heterosexual female norm. Their limb:trunk ratio is similarly gender-shifted, as is their performance on visio-spatial tasks, third interstitial nucleus (a region of the brain thought to be directive of male-type sexual behavior) size and density, left:right brain hemisphere ratio, brain response to sex pheromones, cochlear sound production, thalamic response to female faces, verbal abilities, physical aggressiveness, expressiveness, and childhood gender conformity to name just a few.

In chapter 3 I examine how changeable sexual orientation is by considering relevant church doctrines and looking at the empirical evidence on both sides.

In chapter 4 I show why homosexuals can reproduce, contrary to popular belief, and note that they are no different from inherently infertile heterosexual couples as to their reproductive capacity.

In chapter 5 I argue why, assuming for a moment that homosexual behavior is not sinful, it makes a lot of moral sense to support LDS same-sex marriage. For instance, I show how important family is to mortal experience and point out that celibacy does not provide a family experience, while same-sex marriage does.

Chapter 6 contains rebuttals to common anti- same-sex marriage arguments, many of which are deeply flawed.

Chapter 7 applies Elder Oaks's recent speech on the Constitution. Many church members have said that Judge Walker should not have heard the Perry v. Schwarzenegger (Prop 8) case, but instead should have let the voice of the people of California decide the matter. I show why this view is antithetical to our constitutional system of governance.

In closing, I explain my motivations for writing and make invitations to the reader.


Brad Carmack is in his last year of the JD/MPA program at BYU. He majored in Biology, performed clerk assignments for Justice Joel Horton of the Idaho Supreme Court, and is currently a teacher’s assistant for Human Resources Law and Bioethics. Brad also regularly participates in USGA [Understanding Same Gender Attraction], an unsponsored BYU student talk group.

Bravone said...

Abe, we are of the same vintage, and I can really relate to your story. We celebrated our 25th anniversary this year. I will likely always be 'gay,' but that's okay with me now. I am content with the life I have with my wonderful wife and family. It hasn't always been easy, but whose life is? I feel so blessed.

Three of our four kids are now on their own. We have a couple more years with our daughter, and I don't look forward to having her leave, but do look forward to growing old with my wife, my best friend.