Monday, December 1, 2008

Emily: Memo From A Fairy Princess

I have, on many occasions, been called a Fag Hag. I HATE it. A hag is an old, saggy, smelly, toothless woman with warts on her nose and boobs around her ankles. And, I have already told you how I feel about the even worse term of Beard. Call me a Fag Hag and I will most likely kick you in the shin. Call me a Beard and I will run at you with a staple gun.

A few years ago, people started referring to me as a Fruit Fly. I'm not sure that Fruit is a whole lot less offensive these days to gay men than Fag. And while Fly is a bit better than Hag, it is still a nasty, germy, annoying insect that starts out as larvae and eats poo. So, no. I reject Fruit Fly.

If you have to stick a label on my forehead just because I love gay men, I have decided that the only acceptable one is Fairy Princess. I learned years ago that, if there is a gay man anywhere in the room, I do not get to be queen. And, while I have reclaimed the throne in my own home, I have accepted the title of lesser royal spiffiness in general. Hag and Fly are out. I am happy being a Fairy Princess.

I am in good company. Margaret Cho kicks ass. Grace and Karen kept us all laughing for years. On TV and in film, the Princesses are fun and brash and as snarky as the Queens whose trains they carry. But, in real life, I am finding cause for concern.

I had already been musing over this topic then had a conversation with my cousins at Thanksgiving that really got me thinking. They have a friend that has been engaged to be married, in the Mormon Temple, for about ten years to a guy that is clearly gay. Everyone in his world knows that he is gay. Everyone in her world knows that he is gay. I'm guessing that he has a fairly good idea but is clinging to his safety net for dear life. She gets violently outraged if anyone dares bring up the subject. They have come close but he calls it off at the last minute. They don't have sex - and this woman is freaking gorgeous. Like, Supermodel right off the pages gorgeous. She is completely devoted to him and won't even think of dating anyone else. They started dating when she was a teenager. Now she is in her late twenties and, looks like, will dangle until the end of time.

He has said: I love you but I won't marry you. I won't ever marry anyone but you and I want you to have my children - but I won't marry you. He lives his own separate life that she has no part of and she keeps dangling. They see one another now once every week or two and she keeps dangling. He won't marry her but they stay engaged and she keeps dangling.


Man, I rode that Merry Go Round from Hell for a long time and it is beyond dizzying. And it is a waste of life. I know a few women that fell in love with gay men in their early twenties, got engaged, then the guy broke it off, came out, broke her heart and they remained best friends for decades and the women never really moved on to find their own relationships with straight men that could love them the way they deserve to be loved. I totally get it. Gay men can be amazingly lovable and charming and sensitive and funny. We fall in love with them then stay best friends after the heartbreak because we can. We love their subsequent boyfriends. We take trips with them, spend holidays with them. We never stop loving them because we don't have to. We still love them and they still love us. We will always be the only woman they ever loved and that thought is intoxicating.

And we can't move on because once we have been in love with a gay man, we expect straight men to be just like them. Only straight. We look for, and expect, straight gay men to come into our lives and shop and cook with us, throw fabulous Oscar parties with us, yell bitchy things at all the contestants in the Miss America Pageant and sing show tunes on road trips with us.

And then, year after year, we go to bed alone.

I finally learned for myself. And I discovered straight men. Hallelujah. And I learned to have the reality check conversation with myself when I started dating someone that wasn't "gay man" enough. Memo to all Princesses everywhere: it is time to put down the Queen's train and wave your magic wand on your own behalf. Spend at least as much time with straight men as with your gay friends. Learn to appreciate and celebrate straight men for all the incredible things that they are and give. (That rant to come at a later time...)

A gay man will decorate your body head to toe like none other but will never love it like a straight man will. A gay man will love your soul with all his heart but will never let it live there.

Go ahead and love your gay friends all you want. March for their rights and support them in being all the wonderful things that they are. But, don't forget yourself. Don't forget that you deserve to be loved too - that you have a life to live too. Trust me, nothing is better than coming home from a night out at the gay clubs and crawling into bed with your very own cowboy.

Just make sure he has never spent time on Brokeback Mountain.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Emily: A Threat To Whose Marriage?

Last week the Salt Lake Tribune published a letter to the editor that I wrote, quite a while ago actually, in response to Mr B's response to my mother.

It really does baffle me that people actually view gay marriage as a threat to the institution of marriage and the family. People are terrified of absolutely nothing. Heterosexuals have already run the institution of marriage into the ground. It has become a freaking joke! Those to whom it is not a joke, and those that take their marriages seriously and hold them sacred, are not affected in the least by the rest of the straight population that don't. They just go about their lives ignoring those that make a mockery of marriage saying, "That's not my problem it's theirs," or "That's too bad, but it has nothing to do with my marriage." It will be the same with gay marriage. Gay people will marry and it won't make any difference to straights. We will still go about our lives and relationships.

In fact, up front it will create a slew of couples that are celebrating the institution in a way we straights don't because we take it for granted. These couples, many of whom have been together for years, have been denied something that they desire with their whole hearts and souls and you better believe that they will take it seriously. Will there be divorces? Sure there will. But, there are divorces now and it doesn't affect the rest of the married population.

Will children have to learn that gays can marry? That homosexual marriage is an option? Yep. But, they learn about homosexuality anyway. Guess what Internetland? Homosexuality isn't going anywhere. They're here, they're queer - get used to it! It is every family's job to educate their own children and then the kids just have to use their own brains and hearts and figure things out for themselves. That is happening anyway - regardless of whether or not gay marriage is legalized. Which it will be. If not today, one day. Just like with women's rights, just like with civil rights - it will happen.

The only real threat lies in NOT allowing gays to marry one another. It lies in continuing to believe that homosexuality is something that can and should be healed. Because then there continue to be marriages like mine, like my parents, like the women in my Wildflowers Group, like far too many couples out there. Families continue to be torn apart by divorce - and the fall out for both the gay and the straight spouse and the children is horribly painful. Parents and siblings continue to disown gay family members and families continue to lose gay loves ones to suicide because they swallowed the poison they were fed about who they are and what they are worth. Those are the only threats to families that truly exist. I promise.

* * *

A letter from a Wildflower...

The LDS Church as failed, by and large, its homosexual community. By homosexual community I mean, those who are homosexual, openly or not, and the heterosexual spouses these homosexuals may have, and their children.

Homosexuality CANNOT be cured. It is not an illness. Can someone with brown eyes be cured? Does someone with brown eyes need to be cured? Sure you can put on different colored contacts, but it only attempts to cover up what’s already there, that which cannot be changed-much like homosexuals trying to fix themselves through reparative therapy and/or marrying someone of the opposite sex.

Where does the church come in for the mixed-orientation couples? Where does the church come in to help the homosexuals who are miserable because they cannot love the way they were made to? Where does the church come in for those who are ashamed of what they are because they believe devoutly in the church’s teachings? Where does the church come in for those who have attempted reparative therapy to no avail and feel like failures? Where does the church come in for those who are suicidal due to these issues? Where does the church come in for those who have had priesthood blessings because they want the attraction to go away but doesn’t? Where does the church come in for the heterosexual spouses when no LDS leader is permitted to condone divorce? Where does the church come in for these spouses who feel like there is something wrong with them because the homosexual spouse doesn’t find them attractive? And what about those straight spouses who are so miserable not being loved the way they should that they become suicidal? And what about the scripture from the Book of Mormon stating, “men are that they might have joy”?

At a very young, naïve age, I was told by my then boyfriend that he had ‘same sex attraction’. Being naïve to this issue and being a devout member of the LDS church, I believed that between myself and God, he could be cured of this ‘problem’. I WAS WRONG. More than a decade later, my husband continues to struggle (after therapy off and on for 10 years), continues to hate who he is, and I have deteriorated to the point where I have wanted to take my own life because of the complete lack of affection I have endured.

On to the children: What does this teach our children about what marriage is/should be? What example does this set for them? What ideas about relationships between a man and a woman will they formulate and have for the rest of their lives when they see one parent yearning to show and receive affection and the other not reciprocating or rejecting? Then there is the issue of the anger and/or depression of the heterosexual parent because of the rejection and that bleeds over into how the children are treated. Not to mention, of course, the obvious misery of the homosexual parent straining his/her relationship with the kids, as well.

When a mixed-orientation couple feels trapped in a marriage, either because of the kids or the church, no one in the family is happy. So how does that scripture apply to us? It doesn’t. Mixed-orientation couples ARE NOT that they might have joy.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Laurie's Story

My story started about 3 years ago, well maybe 4. My husband had just started back to school, and I was so excited for him to start his new career. To give a little background, we met in high school and I knew he must be mine. I fell in love with him at an instant. We were both dating other people at the time, but my heart was taken.

We graduated and I became pregnant and married my son's father. It was an abusive relationship. After a year, I knew I had to leave my first husband. I decided to tell Brad how I felt. I went to his work and invited him over after he was off work. I told him how I felt. I told him I loved him since high school, and WHAMMO, we started dating. We dated for 3 years and were married in September of 1995. We had 3 other children together, among those were a set of twin girls. Life was great. We were both active in our [LDS - Mormon] ward, He was Elders Quorum President, Financial Clerk, Primary Teacher, Sunday School Teacher. I was happy.

HELL BROKE LOOSE. When my husband decided to go to school, I noticed he was gone alot. Got to the point that he would stay at school all night. As he was accomplishing his goal, I felt me and my children were left behind. Oh, he had good intentions, but he just wasn't acting himself. Well, I had made an appointment with my bishop for us to get counseling. As I waited for my husband to come out of the office, I had so many dreams for myself. Living the life I dreamed about when I was a little girl. He came out in tears. I asked him what was wrong, he told me he had same sex attraction. OK, I can deal with that... Or so I thought...

He started to go to a really good counseling group for people who had this. The people he met were amazing. We would talk about it, I would try and understand what he was going through. YEAH RIGHT. As we went through the next couple years, it got worse.... As we talked I told him, I would be fine as long as you don't cheat on me. WRONG.... I found out by finding a card that said where you could get AIDS tests. NO WOMAN SHOULD HAVE TO GO THROUGH THAT. My heart had been put in a blender and put on full speed.

This man I loved, that took me for better or worse, was NOT who I knew. But we stayed together. I thought we could be the "couple who could make it." This was about the time I found out about WILDFLOWERS. I finally had someplace that I could bring my troubles, and people would actually understand. Oh, my friends tried, but what do you tell them? It's OK, I'll survive. I found lifelong friendships through this group. It was around this time also, that I found out my husband was looking at Gay Pornography. I could not believe how quickly he was pulled into all that confusion. It finally got to a point to where I had to kick him out and say, "you are not healthy, you need help." At first I was really angry and would not talk to him.

After about a month of being separated, my husband had come to my house drunk and had taken some medication. We had to take him to the hospital, and we found out he tried committing suicide. He had actually convinced himself he'd be better off dead. I only bring this up so people can see what an impact SSA can have on someone. We had our family prayer at the hospital and he came to. I was very angry, confused, frustrated, sad... you name it, I probably felt it. How could this man do this to me? But as I listened to others situations, and learned more about SSA, my heart just went out to him and to others that feel this. It's a real feeling.

As the year went on, I learned it's not good for me to be angry. WHAT PURPOSE DOES THAT SERVE? We are now to a point to where my husband has disclosed many occurrences that have happened throughout the last couple years. Yes, we are still married. I have searched my soul, and beliefs, and yes I have prayed about it. I don't feel I need to not be with him. I can see it now, your eyes open wide and thinking "this girl is crazy." Well, crazy it may be, but I see people differently than others. I see this man who struggles day by day, wanting to have that feeling gone, but he's learning to love himself as a child of GOD. He's seeking counseling currently for his sex addiction and his pornography issues. Will we stay together? Who knows. It's not about that for me. For me it's about seeing the man I love get the necessary help he needs, so that he can help others who go through this as well. If there's anything I want to share it's this. GOD has a strong love for everyone. Whether it be for a gay man, or a lesbian, or a drunk, or someone who's addicted to drugs, it's not our place to judge. Life is too short to be angry. I do my best everyday to share that message to others whenever I can.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

A Daughter Steps Into The Light

Salt Lake Tribune Article By Peggy Fletcher Stack [Archive]

Emily Pearson was 10 years old when her Mormon father left the family to live as a gay man. She was 16 when he died of AIDS. Two years later, her famous mother, Carol Lynn Pearson, told their story in Good-Bye, I Love You: The True Story of a Wife, Her Homosexual Husband and a Love Honored for Time and All Eternity, which became a national best-seller.

At 25, Pearson married Steven Fales, even after he acknowledged a lifelong struggle with same-sex attraction. The marriage ended six years and two children later, and again, her life was splayed out in public with Fales' 2001 autobiographical play, "Confessions of a Mormon Boy." She describes seeing the play for the first time as "being dismembered with an ice pick."

"My marriage with Steven summed up a lifetime of being swallowed by narcissistic personalities," Pearson says. "I needed to finally stand up and choose for myself and think for myself."

Now, the Sandy mother is stepping out of the long shadow cast by her parents, husband and church.

Pearson is writing her memoirs, tentatively titled Dancing With Crazy, a shortened version of which was published in the April issue of Sunstone magazine, an independent Mormon publication. She will be speaking at the three-day Sunstone Symposium, which begins Wednesday night at the Sheraton Hotel in Salt Lake City.

She is on a panel titled "Will, Grace and Angels in Brokeback America: Straight Women, Gay Men and Mormonism." Also on the Sunstone program is a session on "Gays in the Mormon Universe," which features a presentation by Buckley Jeppson, an LDS man who married his male partner in Canada two years ago, and another one by Jeff Nielsen, who was recently let go as a Brigham Young University adjunct professor after publicly opposing the LDS Church's stance on a constitutional marriage amendment.

On top of that, the symposium showcases Pearson's mother, who is offering a 20-year retrospective look at her book, plus introducing her new works on homosexuality: "Facing East," a play about an LDS couple whose gay son committed suicide, and No More Good-byes: Circling the Wagons Around Our Gay Loved Ones. The play is slated to premiere at the Rose Wagner Theater in Salt Lake City in November, the same month she plans to publish the book online.

When published in 1986, Good-Bye, I Love You hit the Mormon community like a laser. Carol Lynn Pearson had built her reputation as a writer of poetry and uplifting Mormon plays, which commanded a lot of respect in church circles. At a time when many Mormons thought homosexuality was disgusting and evil, her riveting tale of love, hope, betrayal, forgiveness and reconciliation all within a devout LDS context put a human face on gayness. Mormons couldn't help but see their fathers, brothers and sons - as well as mothers, sisters and daughters - reflected in it.

Since then, Carol Lynn Pearson has received scores of letters and e-mails from Latter-day Saint gays, family members and friends, telling their stories and asking for advice.

"Progress has been made in Mormon culture and in religious culture broadly," Carol Lynn Pearson said Tuesday in a phone interview from her home in Walnut Creek, Calif. "But we still say too many goodbyes due to suicide, ill-fated marriages and to family alienation."

Given her early immersion in the tug-of-war between LDS Church teachings and homosexuality, it might seem astonishing that Emily Pearson would agree to marry a gay man. Didn't she know better? After all, she had watched her father try and fail to turn himself into a happy heterosexual husband. She was the one who uttered the words that became her mother's book title. She had been close at hand during her mother's anguish.

The answer to Pearson's marriage riddle lies in the biblical tale of Abraham, who was asked to sacrifice his son to show his love for God. After her father died, Pearson thought maybe God had punished her for a lack of faith. So she became super obedient and faithful to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. When she fell in love, there was divine confirmation - and several priesthood blessings - that she should marry him. Then one summer night, Fales admitted his history of same-sex attraction.

"I was furious with God," Pearson writes in her Sunstone piece. "I didn't understand why he would require the unthinkable of me. He wanted me to marry a gay man? I wasn't stupid. I knew exactly how it would turn out if we got married."

She prayed: "Heavenly Father. Do I have to do this?" The answer was instantaneous. "No, you don't have to do this. But if you do, it will heal the deepest, darkest parts of yourself."

They believed they could be the exception, that Fales' homosexuality could be "cured." That they might write a different book than her mother's. A success story.

Within a few months of their 1993 marriage in the LDS temple, the fairy tale was over. They went from being friendly, to being cordial, to being sad, to being angry, to being alone and resigned to the pain and disillusionment of it all. "We became highly skilled at the passive-aggressive dance we allowed our marriage to become," Pearson writes.

In some ways, though, her summertime epiphany did come true. The marriage did heal something in her. It did resolve the "massive unfinished business" she had with her dad. She found inner strength she didn't know she had. She no longer attends the LDS Church, nor looks to it for guidance and answers. She discovered that her happiness is not dependent on any other person or institution.

For Pearson, that's been a giant step forward.

She has launched an online support group for wives, mothers and fiancées of gay men, She also has a consulting business for couples or individuals who are divorcing over issues regarding homosexuality. "I can relate to the anger of the ex-wife," she says. "But I am also the daughter of a gay man. I have this absolute, boundless love for gay men. My life continues to be enriched by them."

Monday, September 8, 2008

The "B" Word

After reading about it on my list of Random Things I Hate, on DWC I was asked by a friend, "What is a beard?"

A beard is a HORRIBLE term used to describe a woman that a gay man marries or dates in order to appear straight to the world at large. A beard gives the illusion of being the manliest of men, much like unto a giant lumber jack. A beard is also a wirey mass of male facial pubic hair and if anyone ever calls me one again I will kick them in the crotch.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Reparative Therapy: Emily's Opinion

What is Reparative Therapy?

Reparative therapy is based on the belief that male homosexuality is caused by the homosexual in question being raised by an over-bearing mother and an emotionally absent father, which results in an inability to identify with, and lay claim to, his own masculinity. This, in turn, causes him to sexualize other men in an attempt to become what he wants to be - a strong and healthy man. By having the right therapy, developing bonding friendships with straight men and an increase of faith, homosexuality will decrease - while proper, straight masculinity will increase, causing the desire to fill the broken man void by having sex with another man to completely disappear.

My former husband read the book “Reparative Therapy of Male Homosexuality: A New Clinical Approach” by Joseph Nicolosi long before he and I met. This book and its theory were a major factor in our decision to attempt a marriage. He worked hard at becoming straight. It didn’t work. My father worked hard at becoming straight. It didn’t work. Decades ago a surprising number of men underwent electric shock therapy at Brigham Young University to become straight. It didn’t work. Dozens of my gay male friends (who, by the way, would be enormously offended at being called “masculinity deficient”) have worked hard at becoming straight. It hasn’t worked. I do know of one or two couples that have chosen to stay married and are, so far, experiencing a successful relationship. It seems that it is far easier for men who have been “out” and have immersed themselves in, and become disillusioned with, the gay lifestyle and have then chosen to marry and have a family – without all the wondering, the mystery and the “what ifs”. Will these marriages last for the long haul? Who knows? But if they do they are the exception - not the rule. And even if the choice to be married is made and a monogamous, straight lifestyle is strictly observed, the homosexual feelings and desires never go away. As several men have told me, “[Reparative therapy] doesn’t work. We all know it doesn’t work. We just say that it does to keep them off our backs.” An excellent book to read on this subject is “Anything But Straight” by Wayne R. Besen.

I am not a therapist, just an ex-wife and a daughter who has a few very well earned opinions. Are there some men whose sexual development was affected by their parents? Of course there are. How many of us have sexual attitudes, beliefs, desires and comfort zones, that were not affected by our parents, our grandparents, our friends, their parents, teachers, schools, cities, states, churches, hormones or body chemistry? Many things, regardless of whether we are gay or straight or bi-sexual, influence our individual sexuality. Does child sexual abuse cause homosexuality? No. It causes pain, confusion, anger, trauma and can certainly mess you up sexually, but there are countless survivors of abuse that are completely heterosexual. Nor is it caused by masturbation. If that were the case, heterosexuals would be an endangered species.

Homosexuality has been linked to sexual abuse, masturbation, pornography and demonic possession. It has been called a sin, a perversion, a handicap, and a sexual addiction. Were they born that way? Is it a choice? Everyone has his or her own opinion or belief that they are absolutely entitled to. It is not my purpose, nor is it my desire, to convince anyone that I am right and they are wrong or to argue the causes of homosexuality. Wildflowers is about supporting the wives of gay men in the lives they have chosen to live – regardless of what they choose to believe. While what we do will affect them, this is not about the husbands. It is about our inner worlds, and the inner worlds of our children, being fully alive, healthy and happy.

I do, however, think everyone deserves the right to be educated with all the information and to figure things out for themselves. For more information on Reparative Therapy contact: NARTH.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Colleen's Story

I think the thing that surprised me the most by the story I read on your web site is that there are still women marrying gays in the Mormon church—let alone the world--when things are so much more open now. When my story started--I thought all gays lived in San Francisco and they were a limited bunch. I had even had a heated debate with a Catholic friend of mine about gays a few years before I started dating my future husband. It also interested me to note that in the story posted on your web site that the wife had received the answer to her prayers as to whether marrying her husband was the right thing--as I had the same thing happen--but more forceful.
I had been in a singles ward for several years. I had been presented several opportunities to marry outside the church, but I wanted the "for time and all eternity" marriage. I wanted to be assured that I would never be alone--that I would never lose the man I loved--and so I held out for that "dream." I was giving up on that singles ward when in early June of 1982 I had a dream about someone that I would meet in my ward—to hang on. Then a month later, I had another dream that that person who would be my husband would be at church the next day. The dream was so vivid that I waited in the foyer watching each person come in. I finally went into opening exercises late and sat down by a friend on the back row. Within minutes, another friend of mine came in with someone new and they sat down right next to me--with the new person sitting RIGHT next to me. It was crowded on the bench--so it was rather obvious. I was never one to pursue guys or flirt--but this was the one I had dreamed about and so I made an effort--and it wasn't long before we were friends and then began dating. To make a long story short--I was confused about where things were going after seven months--so I confronted this guy as to how serious he was in the relationship and it was then I was told that he was gay. His apartment window just happened to have a perfect view of the Logan temple out the window (notice how those temples are right where they are supposed to be) and I remember staring at it thinking, "I'm not my mother's little girl anymore." Dr. Phil--one of my heroes--states "ten defining moments" . . .

I fell into a suicidal depression over this situation. I talked to the bishop over and over again--I did typing for the bishop and we were already good friends beforehand and my boyfriend was the financial clerk--so I spent a lot of time sorting through things with him. I didn't feel like I could tell anyone. I felt completely and totally alone. It was a huge burden. I was suicidal for a year--thinking about how God could put something like this on the earth and not have a solution for it. How could this person be damned if there were no answers? I saw God as an authority figure--sitting at His judgment bench with his gavel--but as time went by, my feelings changed. My belief system completely changed.

I had to deal with all the things that had happened in his past and learn to forgive him for it--I had to either let him go or stick it out. He asked me over and over to wait for him to work through his problems--that he'd always dreamed I'd come into his life to share his burden. I dated more that year than in my entire life--probably because I was so distracted that I really didn't care--when lo and behold, I met someone new. This person scared my gay boyfriend and after I moved away to get away from the situation--he asked me OVER THE PHONE while I was at work to marry him. I spent the next day in bed. A very good friend--who was another bishop that I worked with--gave me a blessing. He promised me that my husband would never leave me. He said to me, "How would you feel if God gave you this and you turned your back on it." I know he said this only because he truly believed it--and still does. I was already STUCK. The bishop of our ward told me that it would be okay--that if I had any doubts in my mind--to put them aside. The LDS Social Services therapist told me that it would be okay if we got married--to just not worry about it. I just realized this past summer that once I was in the situation--there was no other choice--I had to go forward. I had to take the chance--I had to give this person more in his life than I saw the gay world as offering him. I said yes. When I finally said yes--I had joy that I had never felt before. I had my doubts--many, many, many, many doubts as the three months passed to our wedding, but the day I went to the temple for the first time--those doubts flew out the window—my suicidal depression went away while in the temple. I was told in no uncertain terms that this was the right thing. The day I married him was one of the happiest days of my life. Everyone told me that I couldn't have this—and here it was MINE.

We had twins 14-1/2 months later--a boy and a girl. He had been told as a child that his first child would be twins. That was the first thing he asked the doctor when we went to the first appointment, "Is it twins?" In so many ways—it seemed our life was charmed. We got the house we wanted, our children were robust and healthy even born a month early. I landed a job that made it possible for me to work at home . . . the list goes on and on.

When my children turned 6--just after the second one had gotten through the worst of the chicken pox--he told me that he had been cheating on me since 2-1/2 years into the marriage. We went through therapy through a well known psychiatrist in Salt Lake City--and now I suspect that psychiatrist was gay--although married (but we all know that story). He would tell me that we had a chance--while he told my husband "you are nice looking, you can easily find a partner." We made it through that situation. We determined to stay together. I gave him leeway--I didn't want him to go and he didn't want to go. I had learned early on that his gay feelings--that his cheating--had nothing to do with me (it didn't mean it didn't hurt). This was between him and God--and I loved him. We WERE --and I mean this from the bottom of my heart--WERE the best of friends. We were close--closer than most couples we knew. Of course, we had our issues that all couples have . . . but he was the one I always turned to--and he to me emotionally. He had a hard family life and we were everything to him. He was an EXCELLENT father. My children still tell me how they had such a happy childhood—they spent hours and hours hiking the hills, hunting bones (which my little girl liked to do!!!), lighting fires up the canyon (which my little boy liked to do)--and we went on trips. He bought an old camper and fixed it up and we camped all the time. It was always hide and seek when dad came home--they would hear him come in the garage and they would hide--and he would hunt them down. If he got home and we weren't here--he'd hide and they'd find him. We had a really good life—why let it go. He was also in many church callings. He is the outgoing one and I'm the "reserved" one. We had a lot of friends in the ward--and I had several people tell me that he was the nicest person they had ever met. They adored him.

THEN--in May of _____? I had spent many days in SLC at UUMC with my older brother. He had a brain hemorrhage while going to University of Utah at age 42 to get a degree in Russian and German to be an interpreter. He was in his last quarter with a 4.0 grade point average--when he had a brain hemorrhage (he lost the speech center of his brain--so lost his Russian and German—he now does well with English). I went down several times a week to go to rehabilitation with him. My husband met me on Friday evening in Primary Children's Medical Center parking lot so he could go to a Family Fellowship Conference while I took the kids home with me. He came home on Sunday and told me that divorce was inevitable. We went to more therapy--the therapist told us to make pros and cons lists of why we should get a divorce. I made a huge list--but my reasons for getting a divorce had nothing to do with him being gay--it was more an issue of him "sucking the joy out of life on a daily basis"--he only did this to me--no one else. He didn't even make a list--he told the therapist that he couldn't BE DIVORCED and he couldn't imagine his life without me. Just as I'd get stable--feeling like things wouldn't change--he'd tell me (the night before my birthday--notice how they do this)--that he was looking for an apartment. I'd get prepared for him to leave--and he'd say, "I'm not leaving." At Christmas, things were uneasy. On January 3rd--I had a doctor's appointment in SLC and my kids went back to school that day. My car kept overheating on the way home--so it took forever. I walked in my bedroom and there was something on the bed that I had been asking him for for months--and I knew something was wrong--that he had left that there for me. I alked over to his side of the closet, opened the door--and everything was gone. He had left me a taped message by my computer. At first I felt bad for him--then I got mad. . . . he came back the next day--and came home the following Monday and told me he was getting a divorce and I kicked him out. He lived with some friends for a few months--but we had the basement finished so he could move back and we could raise our kids together, but he had already met someone who worked for him. My husband moved back in—and this "friend" of his moved to California (as a ploy, I know). In October--my husband said he couldn't be away from this guy--so I said "Go—go to California for six weeks (as he could get that much time off work)--and see if you can find a job--see if you are happy." He went . . . he left on November 9th. He cried the whole time he was gone. I don't even remember years anymore . . . I think it was seven years ago this week. I was at a store on November 10th this year waiting in the car for my daughter--and a profound sense of sadness came over me and tears just started to fall. I couldn't understand why--and then I came home to write an e-mail to a friend and I realized--that I had even forgotten—November 9th--it had passed and I didn't even know. You do get better . . .

Well--my husband--came back two weeks later as he couldn't find a job and I made the threat that I would take the kids and disappear if he didn't come back and at least work his job and help support us--so he came back. His boyfriend followed two days later. Over the next four years--just as I would start getting strong, my husband would call and say he was coming home. I was more than welcome to it--finances were in the toilet--and I was a basket case--and then he'd back out. Just as I gave up that he and his boyfriend would break up--they broke up. This boyfriend was horrible to all of us. It was an abusive relationship--but I blame my husband for even being involved in it at all. He didn't allow my husband to give me any money without a huge fight. I didn't have family to help me—I was actually the one who everyone relied on and I was too proud to ask for help. I was ON MY OWN--completely alone. I had only been working part-part time--and I work a job that requires self-motivation--of which I had none. I slept in the day and got up when my kids were coming home from school. I used credit to pay all the bills--and . . . finances just continued to get worse and worse. So--I don't have a very promising story. Maybe my story can help everyone else avoid my pitfalls!

That first year after he left--we lived from one catastrophe to another. Then one morning as I was watering lawn, my precious dog was hit by a car. The thing that had kept me going all these months was looking for the "small miracles" in my life--and this dog was one of those. That day--something in me died. I became suicidal and homicidal. I hate to say it--but it is true. I saw this world as such an ugly place--such a painful place--that why would I want my kids to have to live in it. The things I never wanted my children to have to go through--I had not been able to protect them from. I went back to another therapist for one visit--and he said, "You can either lay on the bed and be depressed or you can choose not to think about it." And I chose not to think about it. I shut down—I didn't think--I only solved things as the crisis came upon me. Things went from bad to worse, obviously! At this point in my life—someone needed to take over and let me heal--but there was no one there to do it. I call this my Andrea Yates period. I was completely out of my mind. There are things I did that people tell me that I have no memory of.

Then I saw Dr. Phil on Oprah for the first time--and that day--I called for a new therapist. I lucked out and got the best. I went to him twice a week for months and then continued seeing him for four years. He got me working on a regular basis. He got me to take steps in starting to re-live my life. When family members came to me with problems, I could refer them on to him rather than try to fix it myself.
But--just as my husband was breaking up with his boyfriend--my youngest brother ended up on my doorstep. His wife wanted a divorce. I let him move in--and he was a mess. This was the second hardest time of my journey from when my husband left. When my brother was home--I had to be at his beck and call . . . as we share the same genes--we both deal with severe depression—and so I worried constantly about him--and at the same time, my husband was suicidal. My son stayed with him a lot of that summer--and my children tended my nephew. It was a crazy, crazy, crazy time. Because of past financial problems, etc., and now my new load--I was frantic. I was in fear of losing my home, etc., etc. My brother told me of his mother-in-law--who is not a member of the church and is alcoholic--who had gone to the bishop of the ward she lived in and he was paying her house payment. I knew right then that that was my answer--I HAD to ask for help. It was one of the hardest things I ever did--but something I should have done in the very beginning. The church helped me save my house and get me back on my feet financially--they provided food, etc. If I had gone to them in the beginning, things never would have gotten so bad.

Just this summer--I found the energy and the time to start walking again--something I love to do and haven't done since all this mess began. I go to the middle school track and walk--and listen to music that makes me strong--and I realized how far I've come. I feel myself healing as I walk that track--more than I did in all those years. The fresh air, the escape from the problems—the load I carry--the reconnection with the person I WAS--and I realized that back when all this started I had begged God that if nothing else—I would live until my twins turned 18--which they do this coming Friday--and I had made it. My financial mess was so bad back then--that I look back in COMPLETE DISBELIEF and AWE that I didn't lose my house--that I am still putting one foot in front of the other--that my kids are strong and beautiful--the most wonderful children anyone could have. They have fought their own fights--and chosen to live good lives--when their friends have chosen other paths. There have been times they had to completely cut ties with friends--while in high school--and choose to not take drugs, etc., etc., and they did it. They are my best friends. I know the "experts" tell you that you can't be your childrens' friend—but you can. We have the best relationship. I have allowed my husband (and he is still my husband--he has never divorced me and I never had the strength to do it myself--let alone the money) to maintain a relationship with his children visiting them at our home--so that they weren't exposed to his lifestyle too much--and my husband and I are now very good friends. We will never be what we were before--but we all do things together--we even travel together. He dates all the time and I encourage it. I don't want him back. I don't know that I ever want to marry again either--I'm glad that I stayed single while my kids were young as they needed ME--not a step-father--and I was definitely not ready for a new relationship. Rather than a "new father," I say get a dog. Our dogs have carried us through emotionally.

Another thing that helped us is humor. As crazy as that sounds--my niece was living here when my husband left with his boyfriend and she has a very dry sense of humor--and when things were the most tense--she would do the most insane things and we would find ourselves in fits of laughter. We continue doing this--because sometimes life is just too much to handle. Sometimes things are such that if you think about them too much—or too hard--they just might kill you . . . and I think you all know what I mean by that.

My answers--that I have found--is that there are no answers. I read an article once about a mother whose son had died and she said she just couldn't find any answers for why he had died--and she finally realized that it was UNACCEPTABLE that he had died--and when she allowed herself to think that--then she came to terms with it. Whatever the reasons--why all this came to be in my life and my childrens' lives--I did realize while walking this summer--that this is not what God wanted for my life--but this IS my life. I use to believe that if bad things happened to you--then you must have done something to deserve it. I no longer believe that. When my husband first told me he was cheating--I was berating myself—telling myself "if only I had done this, if only I had done that--if only . . . I had been perfect--" and the feeling came to me "I love you just as you are--you are a good person--this has NOTHING to do with you . . ."

I can see now--as I look back--that my life is a MIRACLE . . . the fact that I am still alive, that I am still putting one foot in front of the other, that when the money shouldn't have covered everything it needed to--it still did, that my children turned out well even with their parents' insanity, and that when things seemed utterly hopeless, God would send a "small miracle" to remind me he was aware of me. I no longer feel that my husband is damned. I feel that him leaving us will be more of a burden to him—than his being gay, but as I told his sisters--I am the last one who will allow him to be punished for who he is. I don't know what place gays have in this world--I have found peace in knowing that someday I will have my answers. I am no longer "active" in the LDS Church. It doesn't mean that I don't believe MOST of what it teaches. I feel that in going through this--I found a more loving God than I ever believed in as a young girl. I know he loves me, my children, and he loves my husband--and he aches for our pain. I have many, many reasons for being inactive--too many to explain here. We all have to come to our own decisions.
My advice to anyone out there is--you have to do what you know is best. You have to believe that God loves you. If you are going through separation, divorce, etc., go straight to your bishop for financial help--don't try to be strong and brave, etc., etc., go ask for help NOW (as if you can avoid the financial struggles--it will be a shorter road to recovery). Get a therapist and stay in therapy for a long, long time. Get on an antidepressant. Don't try to go it alone--

I still believe and always will that my husband's place was here with us. It was destiny--I know he wasn't supposed to leave. A lot of ex's of gays wouldn't say that. For us--that was the answer. For him--it was. He will always need us more than we need him actually. The thing that is hard about watching a show like Will and Grace on TV--is that it is too true to life. The gay does want his wife and his lover . . . and because of the answers I received . . . the things that have happened to me because of the situation with gays--I know his place was with us. That is not an issue any longer—but everyone's answer is different. You have to do what you feel is right.

My best advice is to "listen"--because God is aware of you and your pain. He showed me that in my darkest hours--and when you are too broken to listen--he IS CARRYING YOU--I know that with all my heart. Look for the little miracles in your life--they will sustain you . . . This is a life-long road--once this is a part of your life--it always will be. It will have an effect in every decision you make, every thing you do--for the rest of your life--BUT that CAN be a good thing . . .

* * *

Updated 10/26/2010:

Since I wrote my story I don't know how many years ago, HUGE CHANGES have come about in my life and in my feelings about the LDS church, being gay, and my marriage.

I am now an Ex-Mormon and I post semi-regularly on two websites for ex or post Mormons. I have come to accept my husband JUST AS HE IS. I no longer have "questions"--I have all my answers. Do I know why he is gay? No. That doesn't matter. It is all very simple.

Someone on one of those Ex_Mormon boards stated one day that he is Native American and gay--and that the LDS church taught him to hate two parts of himself. I realized THAT DAY that to ask my husband to change to straight would be to ask him to disappear. Gay is what makes him who he is--the unique and wonderful person that he is. I can't imagine my world without HIM JUST AS HE IS.

The "love of my life" came back into my life 6 years ago. I didn't marry him at age 20 because he wasn't Mormon. Before he came back into my life, I had an "epiphany." I had been too busy taking care of my children to figure out what I felt about the LDS church. I had a good friend whose daughter was getting married. Every time something would go wrong with the plans for the wedding, her daughter would say, "The church is still true, so why does it matter." I couldn't get that statement out of my mind. I wrote in my journal at that time and I said, "BUT IT MATTERED TO ME." It was that very day that I lost all my beliefs in the LDS church. They just crumbled. This was before my boyfriend came back into my life. I had been such a devout Mormon that this boyfriend WOULDN'T, COULDN'T believe I didn't believe any longer.

Being gay, straight, lesbian, transgendered, etc., is about the WHOLE relationship. It is about emotional, mental, physical, psychological, AND sexual. AND when you put someone straight with someone gay/lesbian, then BOTH people are not in the right relationship for themselves.

I had someone who I admire recently say to me, "It isn't about gay, lesbian, straight, transgendered, etc., it is about who we connect to, who we love."

The pain will NEVER be completely gone for what we have all been through, but I have found my answers and I am at peace in my relationship with this man who is the father of my children and who "was" my husband. I feel that we saved each other.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Debi's Story

Hello Wildflowers,

I am just beginning this journey. My husband of 26 years came out to me Jan 15 2004, a little over a month ago. How do I describe my world now?

First of all HUGE relief that all the marital problems weren't all my fault or just my imagination. Here I was married to a "wonderful" man, had four great kids, no financial problems, all active in church... so where was my craziness and pain coming from??? Now I know without any doubt that a large part of it came from the lies and secrets that tainted everything in our family like a slow poison. Even though unseen and unknown, secrets affected our family as surely as a toxin. And the effects will be long lasting.

I cannot blame all of my pain on Jim's same-sex attraction (SSA), but so much makes sense, now that I have all the pieces. I conquered my personal demon – depression – several years ago after counseling that finally led me to my Savior and self worth. I feel that the personal strength gained by overcoming depression and working on healing my own wounds has helped me to deal with this new life that I am beginning.
I feel deep sadness for the dreams that I must now grieve. I went to the Mormon temple alone for the first time last week. It was hard, yet I felt sadness and pain, yet such peace and worthiness - interesting combination... I can’t bear to think of the mission Jim and I will not serve together, grandchildren that he will not bless, weddings he will not attend, a Sunday School class of 13-year-olds that love him that wonder why he has not been there at church for the past month, a ward choir that depended on his beautiful Italian tenor voice. I am finding that grief is a physical experience, not just an emotional one. I feel it deep within. The closest comparison is the feeling I had after giving birth, when I missed that child within me. That emptiness, that wound. There is a place within me that will forever bear the imprint to those dreams, but will never be filled.

I have much pain for our four children - two sons aged 25 and 21, two daughters aged 20 and 16. They love their dad. In spite of the conflict and bickering and low-grade unhappiness that was in our marriage, he was and is a great dad and loves his kids. He told all four of them about his SSA within a couple days of coming out to me. Each had a different reaction, but all expressed their love to him. The reaction of my 20-year-old daughter was representative of all of them - "You are my dad, and I love you. But you are creeping me out." How will my children see life now? How will they understand God or religion or marriage or themselves? Will it bring them to greater love, compassion, and righteousness – or drive them into a place of pain and confusion, without boundaries, where nothing makes sense? Only time will tell.
I also have felt jealousy for the first time in our marriage. For some reason, I never felt jealous when Jim went on business trips. I knew he would never leave me for another woman. Jim still always tells me how much he loves me, and that I am the only woman he will ever love. It just hurts to finally see him as a whole, real, honest person after years of deceit and unfaithfulness - to be able to finally love him as real person - and yet not have him with me. Jim moved out of our home into an apartment the week after he came out to me. Both of us felt it was a boundary that would create peace in our lives, and it has. Now that he is out of our home, I no longer feel jealousy. Now I am grieving and feeling the emptiness and loneliness of letting go.

So what about anger? I have felt so much anger for so many years towards Jim. He was so "perfect" - always on time for meetings, loved to cook and clean, was sociable and fun, etc. I often felt that he looked down on me and was disgusted with me. It made me angry that I would never "measure up" to what he seemed to want. Well, hello! Now I know that it was literally impossible for me to be what he needed... I had so much anger that a man, who is so "active" in church, would not pray with me, hold FHE or father's interviews, read scriptures, or go to the temple very often. Now I understand why he wouldn’t do those things. He never felt worthy. He was trying so hard to be perfect so that his SSA would go away. He wasn’t trying to be better than anyone. He was trying to exorcise his own demons. I do feel guilt for how I treated him, with anger and nagging and pleading. I only wish he would have confided in me years ago, so that I could have understood him and not taken the negativity personally. I just didn’t know the burden that he carried, the wounds he has, or the depth of our “incompatibility.” Now I do, and there is no anger left.
The honesty, courage, and tenderness surrounding his coming out has defused much of my anger. We had been talking about separating for nearly a month. We had gone to the Bishop and Stake President, and I was desperately trying to find a way to fix our marriage. But I just couldn’t come up with any solutions, and I there was nothing more I could do. I felt resigned, and agreed with Jim that we needed to separate. Then one night he finally told me the 'rest of the story.' It may sound strange, but it was a deeply spiritual moment. I literally saw his soul for the first time in years. He has carried this burden since the age of three. He was converted at the age of 19, and when he was called on his mission, he told the stake president about his SSA, which he had no yet acted on. The response was that since Jim had dated a little and liked women, he was normal. He was advised to go on a mission, get married, and that with patience and righteousness those feelings would fade away. It didn't happen that way for us.

Another emotion that I have is a deep love and hope for every member of our family. I don’t know what the future will hold for us. But right now it seems like our family is coming together in a way that is miraculous. There is much more to our story than this short snapshot. But I can see my children treating each other with more love, being more open, less judgmental. It seemed like before, we were all trying to measure up to this “perfect” man who was strangely distant and disconnected from each of us. Now we know that his perfection is not our standard. Now is the time for each of us to find that standard of perfection. And the one I have found is perfect trust in the Lord and his plan.

I have NO doubt that I was supposed to marry Jim. I am forever grateful for the children we have together. Jim is the only member of his family that joined the church. His father is an only child in a line that would have ended with Jim if we hadn’t married and had children (none of siblings have children). Who knows about what promises we made before we came here to those family members in the past and future? Jim is a man of deep spirituality and sensitivity. He believes that God created him this way. He wishes he could wake up one morning and his SSA feelings and yearnings would be gone. He wants to go back and live with his Heavenly Father. He loves the gospel and knows it is true.

I also believe with all of my heart that no one has control or choice over SSA. I do not personally believe that people are born with SSA, since that would be a case of Heavenly Father contradicting his own plan of happiness. I do believe that it is a complex construct possibly involving the unique tender personality of the child, trauma and parental bonding problems. (See Richard Cohen’s “Coming Out Straight.”) No one is to blame. It is a side effect of a telestial world. I do believe that we are all accountable for our choices, but I am not sure to what degree agency is mitigated by trauma and a shattered framework. I will leave that up to the Savior. All of my unanswered questions I have put on the shelf. At some future day, I will have answers.

Throughout this past month, little miracles have occurred. The first one was finding Wildflowers. I have found great support in the women who have shared their experiences here. Within a couple of weeks, several women in my ward had come to me and “confessed” that they had a son or husband who had come out to them. Each of these sisters had suffered silently and alone. I feel great peace and strength as we share our experiences with each other. I am convinced we cannot heal in isolation.
I also feel great concern for those who struggle with SSA, especially those who are LDS. It is a very difficult situation. Many of them miss the brotherhood and community found within a church that they can no longer be part of. The choices for those who are gay and LDS include either to live a lie in a marriage – which we know first-hand leaves wreckage in its wake – live alone and lonely forever, which drives many of them to take their own lives. They can spend countless hours and enormous amounts of money on counseling – which may work for some, but for many leaves them doubly traumatized. Or they can “accept” their life, and live openly. I have found that not all gay men are into porn or drugs or clubbing. There are a few who, however strange it may sound, have set up own standards to avoid those things. What unacceptable choices! I just see no good options, and this breaks my heart again.
I also feel worry and concern about the future, especially for Jim. I worry about his health – physical, emotional, and spiritual. Will I, as Carol Ann Pearson, have to care for this man I love as he dies? Would it be any less heart wrenching to watch him begin to die spiritually? Will his feelings for me and our children change or grow cold? I am not a big worrier. I realize that I will be given the strength, support and wisdom to deal with any of these eventualities as they come. In the Lord’s wisdom, He does not load us down with all the equipment and tools we need in life until the very moment we need them. I love the Alcoholics Anonymous phrase, “God may seem late, but He is always on time.” I believe that with all my heart.

Colleen, who I met on Wildflowers and was my only support in those first few days, told me that often these husbands will return to us for spiritual support and the “woman’s touch” that doesn’t exist in their world. Colleen also told me that Dr. Phil once said to one of the 9-11 widows, “your previous normal is OVER and as each day passes, you will develop a new normal.” I am beginning to accept this “new normal.” I feel great strength and clarity, blessings that I am sure come from keeping my covenants. Plus I now live in a world where the LIGHT is turned on. No more secrets and lies. The moment that we begin to keep secrets, a slow poison begins to work within us and within those around us. While we do need to be tactful, discreet and use wisdom in telling our stories, we MUST not be silent or suffer alone. Isolation is Satan’s greatest incubator for depression.

If you are reading this, welcome to what I have termed the ‘Bizarro Sisterhood.’ It is kind of like the Relief Society of the Twilight Zone. It is not made up of sisters who are living a perfect life. Rather it is made up of perfect sisters just living life. Not of our choosing, we have for some reason been entrusted with unthinkable challenges. In spite of our imperfections, we are given an extra helping of strength, of miracles, of comfort, of beauty, of love. We are all Heaven has to create a bridge of light to those we love who are in a dark kingdom. Though our stories are all different, we all share the same pain and longings and questions. Of one thing I am sure, there are fields and fields of Wildflowers in Heaven.

Text: Katharina von Schlegel
Music: Jean Sibelius
Be still, my soul; the Lord is on thy side;
Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain;
Leave to thy God to order and provide;
In every change He faithful will remain.
Be still, my soul: thy best, thy heav'nly Friend
Thro' thorny ways leads to a joyful end.
Be still, my soul; thy God doth undertake
To guide the future as He has the past.
Thy hope, thy confidence let nothing shake;
All now mysterious shall be bright at last.
Be still, my soul: the waves and wind still know
His voice who ruled them while he dwelt below.
Be still, my soul: the hour is hast' ning on
When we shall be forevr with the Lord,
When disappointment, grief, and fear are gone.
Sorrow forgot, love's purest joys restored.
Be still, my soul: when changes and tears are past,
All safe and blessed we shall meet at last.


Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Shannon's Story

10 years ago I married the love of my life.

7 years ago I became a divorced mother of one. I lost my best friend. My husband disclosed he was gay.

3 years ago I married again. I found a man whom I trusted to be straight and wanted to make a life with my child and me.

My story begins like this.

I met my first husband, Scott, while in Junior High School. We had the same interests; Drama Club, Music Class, Tap Dancing (ok, maybe looking back I see that Scott was not like the other boys), and we became best friends. Scott and I spent our high school years planning our future, from who would sing at our wedding to the names of our children. One of the most painful days of my teenage years was the day Scott moved to Lincoln, Nebraska to go to college while I stayed in California.

While in Lincoln, Scott and I stayed in contact. We spent every Sunday on the phone, we wrote letters to each other; we continued to plan our future. I heard about college parties, and even encouraged Scott to ask other girls to the events, as I was so far away. I saved money to visit him in Lincoln a few times while he was in collage. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary. He dated girls. I dated boys. We told each other, though we dated others, we were still committed to one another. Once Scott finished college, we would get married.

Scott finished college. It was time to make a decision. Scott proposed to me. He even asked my father for his permission. I said yes. Finally, Scott and I were going to be married. Just like we had planned in our Senior Year of High School.

The year we were engaged was wonderful. We moved in together. We went to pre-marital counseling. The counselor had great hopes for us. Both sets of parents had been married for over 25 years. We could make a marriage work. We both believed it.

3 months after our wedding, we decided it was time to start a family. It took a while, but 18 months after our wedding, we were blessed with a happy, healthy baby boy. We were now living the perfect married life. We both worked full time. We had a great daycare provider for our child. We were both involved in community theatre, he as a performer, and me as a backstage gal. We even found roles for the small child so that we could work all together as a family. Times were good.

How things change. Looking back, I have no idea what changed, or how I figured out things were changing. Scott and I fought all the time. The only thing we could/would agree upon were items regarding the child. Everything else was a knock out drag out fight. Scott was pushing me away mentally, sexually, physically. I solved all problems by eating. I gained 80 pounds. It was obvious I was unhappy, and Scott was too.

When your husband has an affair, straight or gay, there is something that clicks inside. That is what happened to me. I figured out Scott was having an affair, with a man. I waited 2 months before Scott came to me and told me the truth. Knowing that I could not change Scott’s feelings, I accepted the facts and took my 18-month-old child and moved out.

The first year alone was not fun. My emotions ran from really angry to feeling sorry for myself. Knowing I had to provide the primary care to my child kept me focused. I found solace in reading the Bible, praying and talking to friends. I took the time to grieve the loss of my marriage that I had counted on for so many years.

It was difficult to see Scott on a regular basis. I believe that all parents need to be involved in their children’s life. A very specific parenting plan was developed and Scott and I stuck to the plan down to the very last point. This meant I saw Scott at least twice a week…not easy when you are still in love with your child’s father.

During my healing, I found a great interest in the business side of community theatre. I was asked to sit on the board of directors for a local theatre company. I accepted. There I fell in love with a man who I found to be a stable, dedicated, honest individual. Mike was aware of my first marriage, he even knew Scott. Mike did not pass judgment on the details of why my first marriage ended. Mike accepted my son, my past, and me. We ended up getting married.

Since my 2nd marriage, my relationship with Scott and his partner has greatly improved. I’m certain that the reason Scott and I were together was to have our son. I also know we were to not stay together, that our destiny was to remain the best of friends…and to have love and partnership with others.

My son has reaped the benefit of having two families: his Mom and Mike, his Dad and Dustin. I’m proud to report that all of us attend parent/teacher conferences, sporting events and all school functions. Scott and Dustin are welcome in our home at any time, and we are welcome in their home. Mike has been a huge supporter of my continuing involvement with Scott. It makes for a unique lifestyle, but one that I’m proud of.

My life has had its challenges. My healing process was full of potholes, peaks and valleys. I with stood the hurt and pain by reading books about Homosexual marriages/divorces, prayer, friendships and most of all an understanding that I was not the issue, my ex-husband made bad choices.

Every day I think ‘what if’. What if Scott was straight? What if Scott had ‘come out’ before we were married? What if I stayed married to Scott even after he told me he was gay? I know that the path I’ve chosen to follow, with Gods help, is the right one for me. I don’t place blame on anyone. I’ve accepted that I’m a mother, wife and ex-wife. I’ve chosen to make my relationship with my gay ex-husband the best it can be.

God Bless

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Julie's Story

It is strange to say that things got better when my life began to fall to pieces. But that is exactly what happened. From the beginning of my marriage, I always felt that things were not quite right. I can remember how hard I tried to keep everything together. I felt the pieces coming apart long before I was willing to let go and let them fall. When he finally “came out” and told me what had been going on his entire life, MY life finally started to take shape. This is my story.

After a year and a half at Brigham Young University, I decided to go on a Mormon mission. My original call was to Venezuela, but after spending 3 months in the Missionary Training Center, in Provo, Utah waiting for a visa, I was reassigned to Santiago, Chile. I had no idea the change in my call would change my entire life. With less than 24 hours notice I was headed to Chile. Upon arrival I met, the man I would later marry, my first zone leader.

In July of 1996, unbeknownst to one another, we each made our way to Utah. After finding out that I was in town, he called me. We were both in school at Utah Valley State College and we began to spend a lot of time together. Within a month we were inseparable. In February 1997, he decided to move back to Florida. In March, I made a trip to Florida. We were engaged two weeks later and he kissed me for the first time.

We were married August 1, 1997 in the Orlando Florida Mormon Temple. While in Florida, we had two children, our first son was born in June 1998 and our second son was born in June 2000. Our second little guy was born with a genetic mitochondrial disorder and still spends many days and nights at doctor’s offices and hospitals. When it came to responsibility, the birth of our first son marked the day I became a single mother.

In March 2002, after a promotion to General Manager of the hotel he was working at he started to work extra long hours, specifically Sunday nights. During the week he would come home in the evening for an hour or two and then “have to go back to help his staff”, returning home very late. Consequently, from March through September the boys and I lived our own lives, only seeing him whenever our paths happened to cross. There were many times that I caught him lying. He would get defensive and say that I wasn’t trusting like I should and I would let it go. I always got the same sick feeling inside and knew that something was not right. His stories never added up or made sense.

Throughout our marriage we had one argument that cycled about every two months or so. The two major areas were his lack of spiritual and emotional commitment to marriage and family. Spiritually, he gave nothing. Here I thought I had married a righteous priesthood holder, in the temple, who would be the patriarch of our family. I soon realized that many things I thought I knew about him were not so. Day to day help and support with household tasks and the boys was non-existent, unless I begged. Emotionally he gave nothing to the boys and me and sexually he avoided me like the plague. By the time we cycled through to the next argument, I was empty. Sobbing, I would let out all my feelings, trying to get through to him. He would tell me I was crazy for making a big deal about nothing and then, to get the argument over with, he would tell me, “It is not you, it is me. It is all my fault, I’ll do better.” But things never got better, until….

September 27, 2002, my 29th birthday. I had spent the previous night awake with our youngest having a major crisis, the day at the doctor’s office and then ended up with him at the hospital for rounds of medications and IV fluids. He finally joined us at the hospital about 45 minutes before they discharged us. We got home around 11 P.M. and he did his usual which was to sit on the couch, turn the T.V. on and make comments about how tired he was. He didn’t want anything to do with me emotionally or sexually. We hadn’t been intimate for about 4 months and I sure wanted to be with him. So after yet another rejection we began our typical argument, except due to the circumstances this time was much worse. At this point he said that he only had “struggled” with same-sex attraction, but was still worthy to go to the Temple and had never acted upon those feelings. I was angry, humiliated, terrified, confused, crushed and most of all scared. The world I had known was crumbling and there wasn’t a thing I could do about it. After many intense emotions and hours of tears, silence and conversation he begged me to stay, no matter what. I had no idea he envisioned me by his side, holding one hand while boyfriends held the other.
After the initial shock, all the questions, none with easy answers, started eating me away. How did this happen to me, I had made all the right choices? What happens to my covenants? How did I not see it? How did I not know what he was doing behind my back? How will this affect our children? Does reparative therapy really work and if so will he really love me like I deserve to be loved? How can I still be in with love someone I despise? Forgiveness, yeah right. For me, the most difficult and the most motivating question was, Who am I? In my very proactive approach we headed to LDS Family Services to begin weekly Reparative Therapy. We also began regularly meeting with our Bishop. He went to LDS Family Services and the Bishop a few times on his own and then quit seeing both by mid November. I continued to go alone but I my focus changed. I started sticking up for myself, feeling that way to much emphasis was on him, his problems, his choices and his decisions for our family. I felt that I needed help to and that I deserved a say in what was happening to my life and our family. I was not willing to sit back and let people tell me that I just had to stand by and support him in whatever he was choosing to do if he wasn’t going to commit to our family. I was just as important as he was and this gay life of his was directly affecting me.

Over Thanksgiving weekend our youngest son had one of his worst crisis'. He was so sick that I was scared for his life. I spent four days in and out of the hospital with him as he needed special IV medications. I was exhausted from, once again, dealing with it all alone. It was on day three that he announced that he was leaving for a week to “figure things out”. It was during that time that I found out he had been going to gay clubs and that a few other people knew about his hidden life. When confronted, he told me that it was only one club, once a week and he had never acted upon his feelings; he only went looking for acceptance. According to him, there was “only one gay club” in the city and it had a drag queen show on Sunday nights that he liked because “it was funny”. At this point our Bishop asked our parents to get involved. Our parents came and we all met with the Bishop. That night he made the decision to come home, commenting, “I never left the house looking for sex.” Over the next 2 weeks we spent time discussing how our family would change if he made the commitment to go through years of reparative therapy and how it would change if he chose to leave us for a homosexual life. He asked me if I was would stay and let him have his gay life on the side. I was appalled and humiliated. I was willing to make whatever sacrifices were necessary if he committed to our family, but not if he chose to continue the gay lifestyle or if he chose to leave our family.
December 26, 2002, two weeks after his decision to come home, he made the choice to leave our family for a homosexual life. The day he left, we sat down together and wrote a “Property, Child and Support Agreement” that outlined exactly what we both wanted to happen to our home, assets, debts and children. At this point, a friend told me about Carol Lynn Pearson’s book, “Good-Bye, I Love You.” Finding too many similarities, I struggled to read it and chose to file it in my growing knowledge of homosexuality.

Night after night I continued to wake up with a sick feeling in my stomach. One of those nights I called him and told him I knew there was a lot he wasn’t’ telling me that I deserved to know. He came over the next day and finally began to tell me the truth of who he was, the life he was living and where the boys and I fit in. His comments were, “I am 100% gay. I’ve been living the life since I was 17.” The lies, deceit, infidelity, and cover-ups came gushing out. Pretty much our entire relationship was a lie. He never really wanted to get married or have a child, let alone two. I was important to he but he never had romantic feelings for me. He said he loved me but he was never in love with me. He thought that I could be the wife that could possibly fill the void and change him. Almost immediately after our wedding he realized the void was still there so he continued dabbling in his double life. When we found out I was pregnant he was hopeful that a child would do the trick. When that didn’t work either, he quickly began to live and juggle two completely separate lives.

During Thanksgiving he was in the middle of an affair (not the first) that had been going on for some time. He frequently visited sex booths, using his callings in the church, college classes and sending the boys and me on long trips to visit my parents as his covers. He also did the night club scene as well as had memberships to men’s clubs and bath houses. Working two jobs facilitated living “the life” as openly as possible without getting caught. When others started finding out about his life, he let me take the fall for his choices. My self esteem was almost destroyed by those who cowardly put the blame on me. For a time those comments caused many hours of me blaming myself and wondering what I could have done better. My final conclusion: not a single thing. I made every right choice I possibly could. In my heart of hearts I knew that, so no matter what was handed to me, I relayed on what I knew to be true. He wasn’t willing to admit that I had nothing to do with his homosexuality nor that he’d been gay and living it, since he was 17. It was easier for him to let people think that it was my fault than for him to be honest about who he really was.

It was a Sunday afternoon, and after hours of listening to him tell me about the secret life he had been living behind my back, I gathered up the boys and walked around the corner to a friend’s house, opened the door, asked for her and collapsed on the bed. That was my rock bottom. My bishop was called, I called my parents and on Wednesday, the boys and I headed to California to get away. My parents along with amazing friends saved me from a complete emotional and physical breakdown. There were certain people, carefully placed in my path, who walked step by step with the boys and me as the foundation of our eternal family collapsed.

I don’t remember much about the plane ride to California except that, I knew that if I could just get there my mom would be waiting. The boys and I spent the next three weeks trying to figure out how to get up in the morning. By the end of the planned three weeks, I made the decision to stay in California. My father accompanied me back to Florida to pack the house and go to court (Florida law is only 20 days for the divorce to be final). My father and a close friend supported me in court. It was a very emotional moment as we walked out of the courtroom, I took off my ring and my friend mentioned that we could see the temple from the window. I looked out and sure enough, while standing in the place where my eternal marriage had just ended, I could see where it all began.

In California, I continued my weekly counseling at LDS Family Services. My personal dedication to getting better and having a professional coaching me made the process happen very fast. In February I started an amazing experience, working through the grieving process and forgiveness. I remember not understanding how I was going to get from A to Z, but week by week I did it. My sessions in therapy were difficult, sometimes almost unbearable, but by the end of April I had completed every step and achieved my goals. I was able to forgive all the hurt, humiliation, lies, deceit, lost dreams, abuse, and anger. Sad, that my family and eternal marriage fell apart, yes, but there was an amazing peace that came with grieving those losses, forgiving myself and him and accepting that I would be OK and could move forward in my life. Throughout the year I have continued to counsel with my Bishop and Family Services to increase the peace and happiness in my life. I have realized that refocusing my efforts to continually find peace is an everyday goal and an everyday achievement.
Most of my questions are still unanswered by something more than the simple text book answers. But the more I search within myself and learn about me the more peace I am finding. In all the mess that my life has been the greatest blessing has to be finding ME. I have picked up the broken pieces of my life, one at a time, examined them, reshaped some of them, and fit them back together in a way that I can be the person I am today. I am not the same person I was a year ago, I never will be. I am stronger, more alive.

Finding out who I am and where the boys and I fit has become my journey. I am happy and my boys are happy. Life can be really hard but at the end of each day we have each other. The three of us are who we depend upon, where we feel safe and where love is simple. The boys miss there dad, but are very accepting of their new family where “daddy doesn’t live with us, is just mommy’s friend and still loves us”. To my journey’s end I will continue to pick up the pieces of my life, one at a time, examine them, reshape some of them, and place them back together in a healthy and happy way that my boys and I can thrive on, be who we are and fit where we fit.

Emily's Story

My story… now there’s a quick and easy thing to write. Okay, Reader’s Digest version: My dad was gay. My parents were divorced when I was ten. My dad died of AIDS in our home when I was sixteen. My mom wrote a book about it. We were in People Magazine, on Geraldo, Regis and Kathie Lee, Sunday Morning with Charles Kuralt, San Francisco’s People Are Talking…my parents wedding picture was even on the cover of the Weekly World News. In my early teenage years I spent much time with my dad, who was my very best friend, on Castro Street where drag queens also became some of the dearest friends I have ever had. In 1993, roughly nine years after my father’s death, I also married a gay man. Two children and six and a half years later we divorced.

Many of the details of My Big, Fat, Gay Wedding and the events that led me to consciously leap into that abyss are too long and complicated to write here – refer to my memoir and blog Dancing With Crazy (shameless plug, I know.)

No one but a woman who has experienced what we have experienced can know what it’s like. How being married to a gay man makes a woman feel about herself, her body, her worth… it colors just about everything. The great thing is how wonderful my life is now. Since my divorce eight years ago I have dated many deliciously heterosexual men, have worked very hard through enumerable issues and have finally fallen head over heels in love with myself. What a concept. It has been a long and painful journey but I can honestly say I am happier than I have ever been in my life.

I am in the unique position of being the daughter of a homosexual, former wife of a homosexual, and mother of two beautiful children who have a homosexual father. There is no “expert” out there that can tell me how to be me. There may be some great general parenting advice that I heed for my own children, but for the most part I am relying on my own experience of having a gay father. I know what hurt me and what didn’t. I know the things I want to do and the things I don’t want to do. Will I make mistakes? Without question. But I am doing the very best I possibly can. So did my parents. So are we all.

Growing up in our society, and especially (in my case) in the Mormon Church – or any other right wing /conservative religion - with a gay parent is extremely challenging, confusing and painful. But it doesn’t always have to be. As far as the world at large goes, homosexuality is more and more accepted and understood. Our children will feel about it, for the most part, the way we feel about it. They will absorb the attitudes we have and “energy” we hold about it. If we think it’s awful and evil and terrible and ugly, they will feel confused and torn. Feeling like I had to choose between my dad and God broke me in half and caused tremendous emotional and spiritual problems in my life. If we let our children know that it’s not a great, huge, end of the world big deal - that it’s just the way daddy is and that there are a lot of other kids out there with gay mommies and daddies, that will tend to be their attitude as well. Sure, they will still have to face hard stuff at school and with friends as they grow up and figure out this crazy world on their own. In my opinion the very best thing we can do is to help them accept that homosexuality just is what it is. Some people are gay, some people are straight - end of story.

I have been choking on this issue since I was twelve years old. I have run the gamut of possible beliefs and emotions. I have gone from waving my little rainbow flag, a defender of homosexuality to the death, to the opposite extreme of judging it harshly with righteous indignation and disgust. There has been rage, sorrow, confusion, acceptance, love, hurt, back to rage, sorrow, confusion... over and over again. I have screamed at the heavens to please make things different. I have prayed, begged, demanded, pled until my knees were bloody and my knuckles bruised from pounding on God’s door. Guess what I got? A whole lotta love, and wisdom, and experience, and emotional depth and refinement - all of which I am grateful for - but that’s about it. Nothing changed that I had wanted changed. I have learned to accept that things simply are the way they are and no screaming and arguing with reality is going to change it. IT just is what IT is and expecting IT to be something else made me crazy and depressed. I have surrendered to what my life is and what my life is not and I am finally finding peace.

Do I believe homosexuality is evil? Hell no. Do I believe it can be healed and changed? No, I do not. Nor do I believe it should be. My gay male friends are among the most vibrant of the colors that decorate my life and I would never, ever trade them for anything. This does not, however, mean that I would ever encourage one of my straight female friends to marry one of them. I wouldn't. Not in a million years.

Especially as wives that feel betrayed, humiliated, and abandoned there is much to be angry about. It’s okay to be angry. Feel it and work through it and let it go. Do I believe that we should forgive them? Without question. Not because we owe it to them or because God commands it, but because the alternative is exhausting and robs us of much of the joy that life has to offer. Being endlessly angry with our former husbands (or anyone else for that matter) is like us drinking poison hoping that it will kill them. As mothers, we must think of our children. If we are outwardly angry, belittling of our children’s fathers, make them feel they have to choose between their dads and us, or their dads and a family or a church, or if we seek to undermine our children’s relationships with them it will hurt our children tremendously. Just because a man is gay it doesn’t mean that he is a bad father, a pervert, a pedophile, or a dangerous degenerate. They may have been unbelievably dishonest and unfaithful and those issues need to be addressed. But don’t punish them for being homosexual. They didn’t choose their sexual orientation any more than we chose our nationality or eye color.

Okay, I’m done – for now. We could go on and on and around and around – which I’m sure we will do a great deal in the future. For now let’s get in touch, get together, and get moving.

In 2003 I was put in touch with Julie Cruz, a woman who was recently divorced from her gay husband. We hit it off immediately. As she and I talked we decided that something had to be done for all the other women who are in our same boat. I had been thinking of doing weekend retreats for women for a long time and as Julie and I talked, everything just kind of fell into place very quickly.

As we searched for a name for this thing we were starting, we knew we wanted something beautiful, feminine, strong, earthy and alive…something with meaning. As we started throwing out names of flowers, “Wives of Pansies” made us giggle but was quickly dismissed. We tried everything but nothing worked. Then one day Julie called. “Em, what about Wildflowers?” My heart skipped a beat. That was it! My dad’s ashes had been mixed with wildflower seeds and planted on Mt. Tamalpais overlooking San Francisco. My brother had written, and recorded, a great song about it “My daddy, he’s a wildflower. On Mt. Tamalpais by the sea…” I had played it for Julie and she hadn’t been able to get it out of her mind. It was perfect - feminine and “wild” and loaded with meaning.

My dad always wanted us, him and me, to make a difference. I think we still can. This is for my dad. And this is for my children. It is for all of us.

We are wildflowers – beautiful, alive, strong and rising.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Welcome to Wildflowers

Welcome to Wildflowers – founded in 2003 as a website/resource now turned blog for women formerly, or currently, married to homosexual men – dedicated to sharing and acknowledging one another’s journeys, pain, anger and disillusionment while reaching for understanding, enlightenment and peace. We are committed to the healing, growth and education of ourselves, our children, our families, and our communities.

Wildflower women come from all walks of life. We have different educational, social and religious backgrounds. Whether we have a PhD or are a high school drop out, are Jewish, Christian, Catholic, Mormon, Buddhist, Atheist or worship the Moon Goddess of chocolate and sushi – we are all human, we are all women and, once upon a time, we all married homosexual men.

How many of us actually grew up dreaming of marrying a gay man? We think it’s pretty safe to say not one. None of us ever imagined as young girls, or teenagers, that our Prince Charming would actually prefer to wear the glass slipper himself. We all started out with hopes and dreams that were eventually either dashed or enormously dimmed. Now we are left with emotions that, at times, feel far too much to handle and hundreds of questions that have no easy answers.

How do we address the things we have always been taught about the nature of homosexuality now that it has so tremendously affected us personally – not to mention our families and marriages? Is the man we once loved, and may still love, now the enemy because of his orientation? Can it actually be repaired and healed like so many of us have been taught and, what’s more, should it be? Did he / we just not try hard enough, have the right therapy, or enough faith? What do we tell our children? Will he be a bad influence on them? Is it better to keep the kids away from a gay man – even though he is their father? Do we really have to forgive him? How do we even begin to work through the pain, anger and humiliation we feel about all the deception and infidelity? Many of our husbands gave us sexually transmitted diseases – some cleared up, some will always be a part of our existence and some of us are living with the life threatening HIV / AIDS virus. Some of us still have the psychological, emotional, or religious framework we started out with while many of us are struggling with enormous frustration over the often unsatisfactory and oversimplified answers we have been given and are undergoing massive, difficult and sometimes frightening personal make-overs. It’s all completely overwhelming and vastly complex. No woman should have to face these challenges on her own.

Now no woman has to.

The purpose of this blog is to reach out, to educate, communicate and share our experiences. To put women in touch with women and to provide a safe place to express, grieve, and heal - a place where we can awaken and revive our slumbering souls. John Bradshaw said, "When we hear others' stories, they connect us with something larger. They connect us to our archetypal depths... All of our stories tell of a hero / heroine, a divine child who was exiled and who is on a journey to find his or her true self." Remember what it was like to feel pretty, wanted, strong, vibrant and completely alive? Remember as little girls the joy we felt having crushes, playing in the rain, having pillow fights, making dandelion bouquets, giggling with girlfriends and eating ice cream cones without once worrying how it was going to affect our thighs? Remember who we were and what life was like before HIS SEXUALITY eclipsed everything?

Regardless of whether we are divorced or still trying to make our marriages work, we all must reclaim who we are and what it is we want out of life. We are each of us a phoenix rising from the ashes and it is time to soar. Time to breathe in the fresh air, feel the sunshine, laugh, cry, dream and eat some chocolate. It is time to fall in love with our selves. Time to celebrate being women. It is time to be wild.

“…The word “wild” here is not used in it’s modern pejorative sense, meaning out of control, but in it’s original sense, which means to live a natural life, one in which the creature has innate integrity and healthy boundaries. These words, wild and woman, cause women to remember who they are and what they are about. They create a metaphor to describe the force which funds all females. They personify a force that women cannot live without.”

(Clarissa Pinkola Estés
"Women Who Run With the Wolves"© All rights reserved.
Ballentine / Random House 1992, 1995
Quoted with permission of author and publisher
For permission to excerpt or quote contact Rights & Permissions