I was asked today by someone else, who also is attracted to men, but single, if I get enough support. He was specifically curious about whether being married helped.
First, to tackle the support issue, I have my wife, I have a few close friends who know what’s going on (one of whom is now my bishop), I attend occasionally a support group in Los Angeles that meets monthly, I’ve made some new acquaintances/friends in person now who also have these attractions, I blog, I have more on-line acquaintances, I get emails daily from the Northstar and D2 email support groups, and I have God. I’m not alone, which is what I felt significantly at the time I finally was able to accept my attractions for what they are. I like men. I can’t deny that anymore.
The conflict comes when I’ve chosen a life that doesn’t really leave room for that. I’m married with kids. I’m a Mormon, which religion, like most Christian churches, has little tolerance for homosexuals. I have this huge inner conflict about what my desires tell me is natural, normal, and wonderful to try to meet a guy with whom I could connect with at all levels—emotionally, physically, spiritually, etc. Then there’s the other side of me raised to believe that marriage between and a man and woman is the only legitimate intimate relationship, the desire I have always had to be a husband and father, the cleanness I feel in my relationship with my wife, my unease/trepidation/fear of change, and lack of spiritual guidance to encourage me to leave my life as I know it and try something different with a man. Overtime, I’ve also had to let go of the idea that being gay is evil. To accept myself and not hate or despise myself, I have to accept that being sexually active with other men is not evil in and of itself any more than sex, dating, relationships between two people of the opposite gender is not evil in and of itself. So, am I conflicted? Oh hell yes. Do I need support? Yes. As you can see from the above list, I have some. Is it sufficient? Am I making the most of these options? I don’t know, but I haven’t been suicidal, so that’s a good sign, but I do get down at times. Maybe you can tell me if I'm making the most of these options.
Blog. I use this blog sometimes to express myself, to connect to others, and to have a safe place. I feel this is a medium that I can use to express my inner thoughts without being judged too much for being too gay, too Christian, too whatever. Generally those on the blogosphere who talk about their attractions to other men are respectful. Some guys are in relationships with other men, some attend church, some are married, some are single, some are celibate—there are all kinds, and I respect their choices and hope they respect mine. I’ve learned a lot from reading others blogs, though some people’s blogs don’t allow comments, which is strange, but I always appreciate the few comments people leave on this blog. It’s special because this was really where I found expression for this side of me that I blocked off.
Email lists. I started with the email lists, but have rarely participated. Mostly I just read and learn. Occasionally I’ll respond, but only about once a year. I’ve connected there as well.
LA Support Group. This spring, I met other guys like me for the first time. What an intense, energetic and encouraging experience to be surrounded by three to four dozen other guys also learning, also striving to be good people and not enter into fully intimate relationships with other men. I’ve learned more about myself and just knowing that group is there is helpful, but it is a 2-hour drive for me, which bites. Most of the guys are in LA, so don’t see them outside of the group much. I have a few of their numbers and could call if I need to. The topics are definitely geared to those who believe in reparative therapy. I’m not all convinced of that, but don’t see any harm in learning more or to use those therapy methods if you’re fully informed. Maybe one day I’ll try one of those weekend trainings they are always pushing.
New acquaintances. Through my online experiences and this LA group, I have made a few new friends and acquaintances. That’s cool. Most are single and have a lot more free time than I do. I still have to keep my focus on this family, and so can’t be going off for all day adventures or get-togethers. Like I said, I have their numbers and emails and FB connections.
Close friends. I came out to a friend first before my wife. I have since come out to a few others. Nothing changed. That’s awesome! What can I say? I learned I’m loved because of that, though I do wish I’d get a few more hugs and few more “how are you doing?” It is rough now, but they are there too.
Family. I have not come out to my parents or my sister. I have told my wife and one cousin. I have not told my wife’s sister and husband. They are so politically conservative and see things in black and white that I think that would be bad. My parents…I have no idea how they’d react, but we’ve never been emotionally close. I have very little communication with my sister. We’ve just lived separate lives without really talking to each other more than a few times a year.
It’s been just over a year since I told my wife. It’s good she knows, but hard in new ways. I recognize I’m not the most transparent person. She wants that. I’m not the most affectionate person. She wants that. I like porn. She doesn’t like that (understatement of the year). There’s been lots of tension this year, but relief she knows what I’m going through. I haven’t figured out how or if she is a necessary sounding board or comfort on these issues because they cause her pain, grief, insecurities, and anger. I’m gay and she hates that. She accepts that it won’t change or just go away, but she hasn’t reached an internal accommodation with me where she can be somewhat comfortable with me. We’re working on it. There a “moreness” to our relationship she wants, but can’t define for me. I have my doubts that I’ll ever be able to by emotionally, physically, and spiritually intimate as she craves. But it is overwhelming helpful that she hasn’t thrown me out on my ass. I want quiet acceptance from her and she wants my soul. Hopefully we’ll still continue to find that middle ground where we’re happy and benefiting from this relationship and not just for the kids. We’ve had over 13 years together as a married couple. Neither of us wants to throw that away.
One day I’ll have to figure out about whether to share with the kids what I’ve been going through. They’re still so young, that that issue is years off yet.
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