Chapter Twenty-Nine – Can You Help a Trapped Gay Man? Part 2: My Take
My Ex and I lived in a small town called Fort Morgan, Colorado about fifteen years ago…
We lived in a shared a house that was divided into five apartments, and Shawna lived above us. I’ve kept in touch over the years, but her letter struck me as such an interesting, and lovely sentimental take. As you might imagine, she showed love in a situation where *no one* else would show what we needed: an understanding of what we were dealing with, and a hope that we would separate with love and care. She had discernment where not one Mormon did, an understanding of this difficult situation.
I cried when she wrote that she, “smiled through the tears that instantly blurred my vision. I even grasped my heart through my pj’s and mouthed a little “thank you!” to God.”. Shawna is a true “Christian”.
I’m not sure how I would have responded to Shawna had she sat me down then and said those things to me. I would most likely have distanced myself from her, but she may have been right about leaving me with one positive message. At that point, I had *no* positive messages going on, just a desperate belief that if I loved my Ex enough, I could *overcome* anything, including being severely attracted to men. I had blinders on, and I was just trying my best to make it day by day. The knife had been sharpened already, it was threatening.
She wasn’t the first to try and help me. One time after my mission, I was working at TGI Fridays. I was changing into my work clothes and almost fell into a stunned coma when a fellow server pulled his shirt off in front of me and I literally couldn’t stop myself from staring right at his body, unmoving for more than thirty seconds. I felt overwhelmed and desperate. He asked me if I was OK, I was so stunned I couldn’t utter even a word, that’s how messed up I was. My heart pounded my desire. He went on to tell a friend of mine during our shift what happened. Later in the day she sat me down, we had known each other since Middle School.
She leaned over and held my hand, looked me in the eye and said, “Steve…it’s OK if you like guys. I know you’re Mormon, but listen, it’s OK. I think he’s really cute, too” For as lovely and caring as she was, I was horrified, embarrassed, and humiliated. I just learned to never do that again, no matter what. I learned another lesson: Do a better job of hiding. I vowed to never let that happen again. I ached, I wanted to make a clean break, but my programming was so strong. I knew God had been so silent, and that I was alone in this problem, but I knew what the Mormons leaders and prophets expected of me. I never once consider transcendence then. That would be the tip of the painful iceberg. I would never let anyone in again, only God and my leaders.
After all this time I’m still somewhat boggled at how my marriage lasted as long as it did. But I know men who have been in it longer than me, and I know some who faced it earlier. But I believe that there are three areas that set up a men and women for failure given this situation. And given enough counseling to lie, it is rather easy for men and women to become entangled in this unfortunate relationship.
These are the three areas that create these unfortunate situations:
- Societal Pitfalls
- Religious Pitfalls
- Relationship Pitfalls
Society creates a very strong framework for a growing child. If your parents do not give any leeway, if they never send neutral messages, then the societal stranglehold manifests itself with intensity. As we approach the end of the first millennial decade, the world is warming up to homosexuals in a way never before seen. Kids are coming out sooner, and parents are showing more love and support than ever before. This is a fantastic thing! Parents who love their kids unconditionally are to be applauded publicly. The only way to change the hate is to break it publicly, in my opinion.
Society is the first layer of possible hate in a gay person’s life. Media, schools, public experiences all send a message, either positive or negative. My parents upheld the societal pressure, and passed it right on to me. As parents in the new world, we must ensure that all of our children learn to accept differences, diversity includes homosexuality.
What does this looks like in the home? It looks like parents who take the opportunity in family discussions to react neutrally when the topic of homosexuality appears in normal conversation. It is the responsibility of all caring parents to send the message that homosexuals have all the same rights as everyone else, and that we love and care for them. They deserve families just like the ones we have. Families come in all kinds of sizes, shapes, and models, and God loves them all.
Religions create a much larger possible harm to homosexual children and adults. Religions, especially non-accepting religions, push the agenda of the perfect heterosexual marriage onto children from birth as the God-accepted family unit. It is difficult for any child who feels different to feel accepted at church, at *any* church. The very scriptures used in services and home study carry threats against them. A young child, if reading on their own, will *not understand* that they are accepted by God if they happen to stumble across those awful verses.
It is the parents responsibility to bring those verses up *directly*, read them and then clearly diffuse those hateful verses with each and every child. If you believe there is love in the scriptures, then you must also realize there is hate in the scriptures, too. Either provide the child with a *new* translation releasing the potential gay child from the inherently hateful verses, or leave the non-accepting church entirely. It is the parent’s responsibility to PROTECT their children, and protecting them from possible scriptural hate is *imperative*.
This means that the parents, even if they feel they should *not* have to or are counseled by their own churches, must take the higher road. Parents should provide a neutral path for their children, *even if* they feel the desire for their children to believe the same doctrines they do. Humanity cannot withstand unchanged, archaic, hateful belief structures, and to force that onto a child is *child abuse*.
The typical religious structure places *much* more pressure on the potentially gay child to hide themselves for acceptance and love. A protective parent doesn’t force their beliefs onto their children. Knowing that a young child may be gay is all the reason a parent needs to begin early embedding loving ideas, accepting ideas, and unconditional love messages to their children. For a child like I was to endure the constant opposite messaging is unbelievably stressful and harmful. It was child abuse. Finding a church that is *entirely* accepting should be the goal of *any* parent. Straight children need to hear the message as much as gay children do.
Marital relationships occur after this harmful programming has taken hold. This programming supports a lying husband, and a wife in denial. The husband and wife are the victims of the society and the religion. They are placed in an awful situation, counseled to stay in awful situations by untrained Mormon leaders. This should be a crime! Parents should raise their children to be respectful of themselves and their partners, so that when they are independent adults, they are equipped to handle situations like this with love and dignity, not to fight them as directed by archaic religious ideas.
It is scientifically shown that 1,500 animal species practice homosexuality, and there is deep research demonstrating that 500 mammal species practice homosexuality. It is a naturally occurring phenomenon for about 10% of *all* mammals (including humans) in this God-created world. It is harmful to force a standard onto homosexuals for something they cannot change or control. This must *end now*! Do *not* believe the words that fall out of the mouths of untrained and bigoted religious leaders! Do your own research, learn from the latest studies. Become an agent for positive growth in this world.
Any human in this country deserves all of the same rights and privileges; regardless of what you think is religiously correct! Be a citizen first, and a Christian second. Vote for the rights of *all* citizens so that they are equal to you in all regards, and *then* live your life as you wish to believe. Live your life so that you can *truly* say you personally separate church and state.
I can tell you one thing is true about myself, I would *not* have married a straight woman and tortured her for sixteen years with lies and deceit had I been raised by loving, caring, and accepting religious parents. I have learned my lesson, and I will *ensure* that my own children will *not* suffer like I did due to negative societal and religious pressures.
My knife would never have been created; a box would never have entrapped me.
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