Coming Out

Boyfriend came back from Utah to visit for graduation. After several months of difficult conversations, loneliness, and such that I've faced with my closest friend being so far away, it was such a relief to have him home again.

After a week of spending time with me and his friends, he and I were sitting together on our friend's dock one day. He turned to me and said there was something he needed to tell me, but he didn't think he'd be able to say it. I encouraged him to talk to me. I reminded him of the trust he claimed to have instilled in me. Finally, fearing that his secret was one that perhaps ought not to be kept, begged him to tell me. Eventually, his silence got to be too heavy for me, and I gave up. We changed the subject.

Last night was very similar. We knew he would be leaving today, and tried to make the most of our remaining hours together. He was very close to me; asking me if there was anything I needed, always sitting close to me and reaching out to me with a ready hand. Perhaps that doesn't seem so atypical of a couple of teenagers in a relationship, but Boyfriend has never been like that. For as long as I've known him, and for as long as we've been together (about 3 years now), he has been very careful and conservative in ANY display of physical affection with me. It's something I respect very much about him, and have never questioned. So while I was, I guess you would say suspicious of the difference, I didn't think all that much of it.

Then he took me to the end of the dock, where we would share one of the most difficult conversations I've ever had.




We have never been afraid to be content with silence. We love to sit together and allow the beauty of nature to speak the thoughts we sometimes are unable to say. Last night was no different. The sky was a lovely pastel blue that blended like watercolor with the distant horizon, with a half-full moon poised perfectly at the end of the dock. And because the world was beautiful, I was afraid to ask him what he was keeping from me. But I knew that if I didn't ask him now, he might never tell me. I suspected that for one reason or another he would be breaking up with me, and I knew I couldn't allow something like that to go unsaid.

So I pushed the moment to its crisis. I asked him to tell me what he was keeping from me, and I'll never forget the way his face fell. He told me quietly that he could not bring himself to say the words. He told me that he hates himself for his struggle, that he didn't want me to think any less of him, and that he couldn't bare to see my reaction when he finally did tell me. I pleaded with him with all the yearnings of my heart--reminding him of how much he means to me, of what he has brought to my life as the person who helped me to convert, as someone I have trusted with more of myself than he will ever know. And after a pause and a silence that I swear could have cracked Heaven open wide, he restated his problem, and I repeated more of my desires to be close to him now, to help him with whatever it was.

This went on until the sun went down, and the moon rose higher and higher into the sky.

Finally, the silence cleaved us both in two. I cracked first, and he held me as everything spilled out from my secret hiding places. I told him of my weaknesses, how much I relied on him in so many ways to help me keep the pieces of my life together--how much I've struggled without him here. As I released my thoughts, gave them words, I felt as if I were casting stone after stone from my chest and watching them sink and into the murky depths of the Chesapeake.

I guess he must have felt something in my confession, because he finally let go. He took my embrace and allowed me to hold him as he shed tears that I couldn't understand. I crooned and whispered maternal nothings to him because it felt right somehow.

It's OK...

No, it's not.

You don't know that.

Yes, I do.

It's OK... It's OK... It's OK...

And again the silence.

I begged for the truth. I would not allow him to be Prufrock this time. I needed to know what he was keeping from me--what was keeping him from trusting me the way I had always trusted him.

Finally, the words escaped in such a wild fury I barely understood them.


"I struggle with same-gender attraction."





He leaped away from my shocked and breathless shell to the other side of the dock. He never saw me reel as my entire universe came to a grinding halt and my orbit changed directions forever. But because caring about him is the only thing my lonely little planet knows how to do, I returned to my sun.

"Look at me."

He refused.

"Please look at me, and see that I haven't changed."

Tear stained eyes found me and nearly broke my heart all over again. But I looked him in the eye until he smiled and knew that I would never leave him--not like he feared. Not like a secret, scared part of me wished I could.

"I'm so proud of you for telling me. Some people have gone their entire lives without being able to say what you have said."

I didn't know what to say after that, so I didn't say anything. I let the gravity of what he was telling me pull me into a new frontier where I had never travelled before. I thought of him--the jokes that everyone made about us with their talk of a marriage that I wanted to believe in. I thought of his parents, who have already "lost" one wayward son this week to the Marine Corps. I thought of his new life in Utah--how many times he had called it, and tried to make it "a new start."

And I thought of all the times I had made jokes about homosexuality, had given root to ugly prejudices, and I was ashamed of myself.

"I'm so sorry," I said through violent, trembling sobs. "I'm so sorry."

He understood that I wasn't giving him pity. He knew my compassion, and the apology that I hoped was also coming from Heavenly Father to His son for the cross he has already borne in secrecy. How desperately I hope that to be true.

But as I stood with him on the end of that dock, I knew if I examined my testimony, it would have a large crack. Fixable, but present. If only my dearest friend, someone who asks for so little and deserves so much, could say the same.

He had asked me before his confession if I would promise to still be his friend, to talk to him--essentially, not to abandon him now that I knew his secret. I gave him that promise, even though I have no idea how to keep it at this time.

What do I do with the feelings I have for him? They're not platonic. They haven't been since I met him. I've only ever destroyed lingering feelings like this that I can't escape... I can't do that now. It would ruin our friendship, and he needs me. I need him...

A glaring truth amid tempests and cracking testimonies.

I need this young man in my life, and he needs me. He needs to know that there is a place for him in this world, and I can teach him how to find it. I know I can. And he can teach me how to stand on my own now that I feel like it's impossible. On our own, he and I cannot do this. But together, we will not fall.

"I still stand by what I said," I stated, referencing something I had mentioned earlier in the week from a different context. "You can't do this alone. So do me a favor and please talk to me more than you have in the past."

"It'll be easier now that half of what I say to you doesn't have to be a lie or a secret," he commented.

"Well," I replied simply, "make sure you take back all of your words."

I asked him if I could talk to my mom about this because I knew I needed her. I promised him that his secret would be safe with my family and with me.

That was when our friends came to find us. They continued to call us lovebirds like they always had, and I was grateful it was dark so they couldn't see how much it hurt me. I didn't walk with Boyfriend (who will be needing a new title), but I didn't allow myself to get too far from him...




That was two days ago, and it already feels like I've been bearing this weight for so much longer. Thinking of all the memories I've shared with him; the dances, the dates, the times I've felt separated from him even when he was standing right next to me, and it all makes perfect sense... I think that's what hurts now. All this time I've wanted the truth from him, and it has cost me everything I didn't want to pay to finally get it...

And of course, God has been as puzzling and quiet as ever.

But perhaps that's for the best. I admit, I'm so furious with where Boyfriend and I are right now, part of me wants to hate myself for ever putting my trust in a God that would do this to us.

I think of the life that Boyfriend will never have. No temple marriage. No children. No answers to why he should live this way--feel this way. A lonely, celibate young man with nothing to look forward to in a family's church. And it makes me angry. They've preached to us in EFY and Sunday School and Youth Conferences about how life is supposed to work--baptism at 8, mission at 19, temple marriage, children, grandchildren, repeat. And no answers as to where to go or what to do when that just doesn't work out.

I think of the future I wanted to share with him, and still would if there was any way. I think of the prayers I've said in the past two days, the scriptures I've read, the pleas for SOMETHING I can understand from my Heavenly Father, and all He has told me is that endurance is necessary and miracles are possible.

And I want to believe it. I want to believe it so badly, it brings tears to my eyes. But I don't know if I can right now. Not today. And I'm not the one who has to believe it anyway, so what does it matter? At the end of the day, I'm not the one suffering the most. I see that now. After holding Boyfriend's weeping, bowed head to my chest, I see now who suffers most.

And that's what kills me. That is what ripped and tore, and now aches and throbs...

So I have myself on auto-pilot right now. I cry when I have to (which is a lot), I pray when I can stand it (which isn't often at the moment), and I'm going to call and make an appointment with my new bishop for Sunday. The fact that he is a complete stranger will help me to throw up this part of my universe in front of him. I plan to ask him for a blessing, and hopefully I'll find some clarity in it. And not even for my sake, but for Boyfriend's... he's the one I care about right now.

(Funny how some things never change.)

I have to believe there's something we can do... some way out of this mess. Some hope for, if not what we planned, for something better than what we now anticipate.

Until then, I guess Boyfriend will just have to settle for being a Heretic like the rest of us who don't fit the molds that the youth in the Church deal with so much--those of us who pay a high price to be ourselves when we're taught every Sunday to be... something else.

Comments

  1. Paradox, I just finished an e-mail conversation this week with someone who asked about my perspective on sexual orientation. What I shared is WAY too long to post here, but if you are interested, e-mail me at fam7heav at juno dot com.

    I am considered a conservative member by almost everyone who knows me personally, and I serve currently on the High Council in my stake, but I think you might find my feelings on this . . . interesting. I also would like to have you share them with "Boyfriend". He might need to read them - and it might be the reason the other person asked for my thoughts so recently. (so I would have it written and ready to send without taking as long to write and send it)

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  2. I think you need a category that would include this post besides "heretics" and "homosexuality." Something along the lines of "compassion" or "BIG issues," or "tempests," or "being there for someone when he really, really needs you" or "questions without easy answers."

    You will find that both he and you are not alone, and that although church culture might seem like a monolithic wall on this issue, in fact it is a wall with many chinks, cracks, and crannies where flowers grow. Having a close relationship suddenly change completely is a real maelstrom, but you are both the same people, and your shared history is something you can use to build something new, perhaps something you can't envision yet.

    One of the things I love about you, even though I don't know you, is that you are the kind of person someone close to you could share a burden with. I pray that you'll hear God in the whirlwind of everything you're feeling, ticking away at the heart of it all like a loving and constant clock. He knows your pain and he loves you both.

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  3. PapaD:
    I'll be happy to read anything you've prepared on the subject, and I'll be sending you an email at that address shortly to tell you so.

    jeans:
    I agree. And I don't think it was a mistake to stick with the "h" motif;)
    I don't want to get too much into it here because it's the subject of my next post, but let's just say that now that the storm has passed, I can better appreciate your advice at this time than I could have when I wrote this post.

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  4. I just sent you a long e-mail.

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  5. Love you and your sweet spirit! Boyfriend has a gem in your :0)

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  6. I think same-gender attraction is not as uncommon among church members as we think it is. I know more than one person who has struggled or is struggling with the same problem. I just hope he can understand what that attraction really is, because you two are the cutest couple. I'm going to keep both of you in my prayers.

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  7. I hope with everything in me that Boyfriend leaves this Church and finds love, and a life, and a full and accepting view of himself. He is a person with natural thoughts and feelings, and no one should be made to feel ashamed or less than for how they love when the relationship is equal and consensual and both parties- or all parties, as in polygamy- are willing. You're right, he could stay and be celibate, or perhaps take Church advice and try for a "mixed orientation marriage" or "MOM" for short, trapping another precious person and the little children to come in a sham of a marriage done solely to assuage the loneliness of being an outsider in what you correctly deem a family Church. But I hope instead of that he leaves. And I hope to God that he is able to leave with the majority of his dignity and self worth intact.

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  8. Cortney:

    I'm glad you think it's so easy for him. But I must point out something to you that will show you how wrong you are.

    To genuinely believe in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is to believe that the power and authority of God has been restored to the earth. It is to believe that through baptism and repentance, our sins, shortcomings, sorrows, and sufferings will be made whole through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. It it to believe that there is hope for a day when he will not deal with the heartbreak of this issue, because the Atonement isn't just for sins. It covers every pain and heartache we ever face.

    If my friend is to hope for that redemption and peace, He has to endure well in his faith in Jesus Christ, and the restored Church on the earth. If he doesn't, then he won't obtain that relief.

    To believe that the Church is false would also get rid of the one staple in his life that is teaching him that such healing is even possible. So I have to disagree with you by saying that leaving the Church is the WORST thing he could possibly do.

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  9. Paradox,
    Thank you. The way you responded to boyfriend is the way each of us hopes people would respond to us when we let them into our other lives. Boyfriend is very lucky to have your love. I've told a number of my friends, and some of them have been wonderful, others have abandoned me, while telling me they hadn't. (still trying to forgive that person.)
    I would like to tell you my story. I'm hoping that it might give additional hope. (I'm not out of the woods yet, my last relapse was only a week ago.) I may be coming to late to the party, and my words will not add to your hope, as it is already sufficient. If this is the case, perhaps you could pass it on to someone who would benefit from it.
    again, thank you.
    Legien
    http://bit.ly/cMYIdL

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  10. Legien,

    Thank you for your words and your experience. They mean so much to me, even now, years later. I'll be putting a link to your site in my sidebar.

    Stay strong my brother, and we will rejoice together erelong.

    Prayerfully yours,
    Paradox

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