Thoughts on Mr Weed, a Gay Mormon
The other day I came across this story (that broke back in early June... Did I just say "broke back?") of a guy named Josh Weed and his wife Lolly. I would encourage you to, if you haven't already, take about 15 minutes and read it. Whatever your current position is on the "gay issue," I almost promise you that your paradigm will shift as a result. And I have no idea WHICH way it will shift for you, either, and perhaps it will be ever so slightly, but I think a shift will occur nonetheless. If nothing else, it is an incredible love story and there are some great nuggets in it.
Essentially, the gist of the story is this:
Josh discovered at the age of 11 that he was gay. That his only attraction was to boys. Not girls. However, Josh was a part of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, and within that religion there currently exists no space for someone to be a practicing gay.
As he grew up he become dear friends with Lolly. Also from the LDS church. Eventually he confided in her that he was gay, and together they grew even closer.
They tell the story of how they came to realize that they both loved each other so much (although for him, of course, there was no "attraction" to Lolly), but there was mutual respect, and trust, and intimacy. And neither felt like they could do life without the other, so they married.
Josh talks about how, for him, his commitment to the Mormon church and his desire to have and raise a family were more important to him than his sexual desires and attractions. He talks about how we all, in life, inevitably make sacrifices to live whatever lives we choose. For him, then, he was willing to sacrifice a practicing gay lifestyle so that he could have and raise a family, spend his life with his best friend Lolly, and stay a part of the LDS church. (I'm seriously doing injustice to their story with my recap. You really should read it.)
They also describe how they have a very happy sex life. For him, Josh says, the most important aspect, or GOAL of sex is intimacy. And so, as they tell it, regardless of whether or not Josh is attracted to Lolly, they still find deep intimacy in their sex life because of their commitment to honesty and openness and communication, etc.
I haven't been able to get their story out of my head, and I've engaged on FB a little about it with others.
There were things about this story that I just LOVED! And things about it that bummed me out.
So here's a couple thoughts I'd like to share about their story, and I'd love to hear your thoughts as well. Thoughts on what I appreciated about the blog, and what bummed me out.
(And, in the event you feel weird talking about other people's story, THAT is one of the reasons they put it out there. On their blog. For the world to read. They are encouraging open dialogue on these issues. Now, I will do my best to not make judgements or assumptions about them, because really we only know what they tell us.)
I Appreciated the Reminder that Love is About More than Sex
This should go without saying, and yet I think it needs to be said in light of a story like this. Some people would seriously doubt that an openly gay man can marry a straight woman and be happy! But don't we all know that loving someone is about more than the sex we have with them? I have zero doubts that these two love each other deeply, and are extremely committed to one another. Sex probably ranks differently for different couples with regards to how important it is to their love life, but all would agree that it does not start or stop there.
I Appreciated the Thought that Sex is About More than Attraction... Right?
Okay, so yes, I agree with Josh when he writes,
when sex is done right, at its deepest level it is about intimacy. It is about one human-being connecting with another human-being they love. It is a beautiful physical manifestation of two people being connected in a truly vulnerable, intimate manner because they love each other profoundly. It is bodies connecting and souls connecting. It is beautiful and rich and fulfilling and spiritual and amazing.
It isn't just about being attracted to the other person.
But, that being said, I'm not sure that for ME I could accomplish the above (intimacy, connectivity, etc) without being attracted to the other person. Now, what does it MEAN to be "attracted?" I think, in this context at least, it isn't about whether or not the other person is "attractive." It's about whether or not I am wired to be attracted to this or that type of person. And for Josh, as he says, he is not attracted to females. So he is saying that he is able to achieve the above reality in spite of not being attracted to his wife.
This seems strange and unlikely to me. But again, that is just me. I have no reason not to trust them.
(An aside: one thing their blog didn't address was whether or not Lolly was physically/sexually attracted to Josh. I'm curious about that dynamic. Does SHE, as a straight woman, find Josh to be attractive in THAT way? Wow... this feels really weird to talk about, doesn't it...)
I Appreciate Their Sacrifices... They are Incredible
When Josh describes how, for him, he wasn't willing to give up the Mormon Church, or give up raising a biological family IN the Mormon Church, or give up his best friend, Lolly, so that he could live a gay lifestyle, I find that pretty amazing.
People for millennia have been sacrificing sexual desires for the sake of following Christ (i.e. nuns, priests, missionaries in the vein of the Apostle Paul), but not many are on record for something like this. An openly gay person choosing to stay and enjoy a mixed marriage for the sake of the above. I think it's a beautiful thing.
I am Bummed and Wish They Didn't Have to Make Such Sacrifices
That being said, I am of the opinion that this type of sacrifice should not HAVE to be chosen. Meaning, I wish that a person's religious context (and some of them do, but definitely not this one) supported them in their orientation and blessed them to have a marriage with the type of person they were created to want to be with. If the Mormon church was Open and Affirming towards LGBTQ, then perhaps Josh would never feel like he HAD to make a choice: Religion or Orientation. If the Mormon church was Open and Affirming and didn't have such narrow definitions of what makes a real marriage and a real family, then perhaps Josh would never feel like he HAD to make a choice: Dream of Biological/Accepted Family or Different Kind of Family but Still Accepted and Encouraged. And if Josh felt, in all these ways, like he could truly be who God made him to be, then I imagine maybe he could have still maintained an incredibly close relationship with Lolly without needing/wanting to marry her.
(I am trying not to judge them or their relationship. I am just postulating what might have been had these two grown up in a more inclusive, tolerant and open environment. Who knows, perhaps even if all that WAS the case, maybe they'd STILL want to be married. Maybe... but I doubt it.)
And I'm not picking on the Mormon Church at ALL, here. Almost any and all other "Christian" religions/denominations also create this same sort of environment, where gay people have to make choices on what to sacrifice.
Do I stay in the closet and maintain my community of friends and family? Do I stay in the closet so I can still be a part of my church? Do I stay in the closet and just marry someone of the opposite sex so that I can have a family?
I Appreciate that They Have Given their Kids an Incredible Story
Their three little girls will be growing up in to quite the amazing home.
They will get to see that "being gay" is not evil.
They will get to see what commitment and sacrifice really mean.
They will be loved, I'm sure, in an overflowing way.
They will have a story to tell for the rest of their lives.
I Hope it Continues to Work Out the Way it Has Thus Far
This is, unfortunately, the "skeptic" in me coming out. As I read this, I had to continually challenge the thoughts that kept creeping in to my mind like, "yeah, that'll blow up in their face one day," or "wow, that won't last," or other such related thoughts.
I want to take them at their word. I want to believe them when they talk about being happy and healthy.
And so I will choose to.
However, forgive me if I still have my reservations.
I know a guy who suppressed his orientation for decades while in an opposite-sex marriage. Raised a family. Had a career. Was happy and "healthy." Until, well, it all sort of blew up on him... and his family. Now he is out (finally) and living in to his orientation and identity and is happier than ever, but his family was wrecked as a result. A person can only suppress who they are for so long before generally bad things will happen. Of course, this guy and Josh's story are different in that Josh is open about being gay, and is not trying to actively pray it away (like this other guy was). But still, I wonder how long a person can truly "live straight," when they're gay.
I know another guy who is gay, and is still in a straight marriage. But has not come out (and doesn't seem to be any time soon). And I see, from a distance, how it is eating him up and slowly chipping away at his stability and sanity.
And there are stories after stories of people who were gay and tried to live in a straight relationship only to have it not work out. Most of those, I believe, are stories where the gay person stays in the closet. So maybe because Josh is out, that will help... I HOPE it helps.
I hope that ten, twenty, thirty years from now, there is not another blog that comes out from them and recants. Says that they were wrong to have married. That would be a travesty and devastation, and even writing it feels awful. I hope they can be the exception, because they both truly seem to WANT to be.
I Am Bummed that this Appears to Perpetuate the Idea that Being Gay is Okay as Long as You Don't Do Gay Stuff
While this story is encouraging and inspiring on a number of levels, it does seem to perpetuate the notion that it's okay if you're gay, just so long as you don't actually DO anything about your gayness. Now granted, this posture is better than the one that says just BEING gay is sinful. So there's that. But practically speaking, I'm not sure this posture is much better.
Young people who are growing up and discovering they identify as queer need to be told that that is okay. That that is who God made them to be. And invite them to discover how to grow and mature in a healthy and loving and respectful manner.
As long as we keep creating environments that tell young people that it's only okay to be gay if you don't ACT gay, then we will continue to do great damage.
I don't know how Josh ultimately feels about this issue. He didn't seem to say, "to choose the gay lifestyle would be wrong, and should not be done."
He just stated that for him it would have meant not getting to be a part of the LDS church.
So perhaps he believes that it would be "okay" for other people who are gay to live out their orientation. And if so, I hope that one day he will come out and says precisely that.
I Appreciated Their Courage
Opening yourselves up like this could NOT have been easy in any way. It took unbelievable courage to write that blog and to post it for the world to see. They are truly putting themselves out there, and I hope they are discovering more "good" out of it than "bad."
They will certainly take shots from people (perhaps this blog post here, being one of them?), but I hope they receive even more encouragement.
I Appreciated their Love for their Readers
They took great pains to make sure that those reading their blog felt loved, appreciated and encouraged. They deeply wanted to support others in whatever ways they could. Their heart for people was clear!
Something I Wish I Could Ask Josh
My biggest question for Josh would be this: Do you believe that God created you to be Gay?
Based on his post, he clearly is aware that he didn't CHOOSE to be gay. He is gay, he knows that, and he accepts it without question.
However, I wonder if he takes the next step and would say that God created him to be that way? He clearly believes in God, but does he think he is gay because of God's design? That God did not screw up when making him as he is?
Because if he would say "yes, I believe this is how God made me," then I wonder how he would respond to the following question: "do you think you are being disobedient to God, then, for not living in fuller acceptance of who you are?" Or, to put it differently, "do you think God is offended that you would choose to be with a woman when he clearly designed you to be with a man?"
I would be fascinated to know what his thoughts are on that.
Some could understand Paul's words in Romans chapter 1 to suggest that people are sinning against God when they do what is unnatural for them. What is against their nature.
Could it be said that for a gay man, like Josh, to be with a woman in a sexual way is going against his nature, and is therefore in direct opposition to God's design?
I am just really curious as to how Josh reconciles his belief in God, his acceptance of the fact that his gay, his choosing to not live in that reality/orientation, and how that reflects back on the way in which God made him?
What About You?
If you read this, I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comment section about what stood out to you. Positive or negative.