“My wife’s not gay, but I am”: A Mormon responds to TLC show “My Husband’s Not Gay”

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Guest blogger Ron Raynes

(courtesy of Ron Raynes)

Guest blogger Ron Raynes

Guest blogger Ron Raynes

Guest blogger Ron Raynes

This guest post offers a personal perspective of the TLC reality show My Husband’s Not Gay, airing Sunday. Guest blogger Ron Raynes is not one of the men profiled in the program, but like them, he is part of a “mixed-orientation” marriage, and wanted to offer a differing view than the one I presented here on Tuesday.

It is possible, he says, for a gay person and a straight person to have a happy marriage. He and his wife have done so for 34 years. — JKR

A guest post by Ron Raynes

My wife’s not gay, but I am. And no, I’m not afraid to use the “G” word. That was my gut reaction to the title of TLC’s upcoming, so-called documentary, My Husband’s Not Gay.

Because of the LDS Church’s downplay of all things “gay,” let me just say that I regard myself as more than an adjective, more than “same-sex attracted,” more than “suffering through a challenge of mortality.” I’m 58, married to the same woman for 34 years, and during those decades I’ve learned who I am. Here are some of the many adjectives I do identify with:

  • I am an affirming gay man.
  • I am a loving husband.
  • I am a devoted father.
  • I am a committed disciple of Jesus.
  • I am an active member of the LDS Church.

And I’m not ashamed of who I am.

Do these sound like fighting words? They’re not intended to be, but if they are offensive to some, that’s part of our problem. With such an emotionally charged issue as religiously sanctioned mixed-orientation marriage (MOM), it’s easy for everyone to take sides about who’s right and who’s wrong — evidenced by all the commentary flying around the Internet reacting to the TLC show.

The lives of families in MOMs are paradoxical. Often church culture, gay culture, and society at large want to prescribe a lot of judgmental “shoulds” onto our mixed marriages, given very little information about our actual circumstances. But there is wide diversity of human experience encompassing faith and sexuality, and not everything fits neatly into simple little boxes. Life is complex. There is no one right answer for everyone.

So no, I don’t think it’s terrible if gay people and straight people love one another and want to marry and have a family. And yes, I do think it’s terrible if gay and straight spouses end up with a lot more pain and suffering than they bargained for, especially if a mixed-orientation marriage isn’t what the straight spouse signed up for.

I should know… we’ve lived through this.

My wife and I are admins for a private FB support group for LDS families openly dealing with their mixed-orientation marriages. It is sponsored by Affirmation and called “Mormon MOFIA: Mixed Orientation Families In Affirmation.” We have gained over sixty people in the group in the last four months, composed of a variety of family configurations, including married spouses (gay and straight), single ex-spouses (gay and straight), remarried spouses, and adult children from MOMs. We hear a lot of tough and tender experiences. Here are comments from members of the MOFIA group on My Husband’s Not Gay, shared with permission:

“I’m going to reserve my judgment of the show until I’ve seen it . . . What I do want to point out is that there are many gay guys married to women that find a way to make it work. My religious convictions are strong enough that I would feel like I was giving something up no matter what I chose. I know I’m not alone in that. . . ”

“As for myself, I have plenty of issues with mixed-orientation marriages and I definitely wouldn’t recommend them for most people, but I also have issues with the way these couples’ real lived experiences, including religious experiences, seem to be single-handedly dismissed as a ‘sham’ and a lie. That diminishes me, too. I do know of some MOM couples who share a beautiful life together and are happy. I’m hoping for some sort of happy middle ground here, but there doesn’t seem to be much of that.”

Much has changed in my own life in the 35 years since I was a zealous young returned missionary, anxious to get on with the Lord’s program and find a wife. Our biggest changes have to do with openness, affirmation and discarding judgment. I’m married to a wonderful, loyal woman, and we share a mutual desire to remain a loving couple.

We work on that every day, as this is the basis of any marriage, “mixed orientation” or not.

Guest blogger Ron Raynes lives in Eugene, Oregon, where he is the Choir Director in the Santa Clara 4th Ward.

  • Larry

    Its a shame Mr. Raynes came from a religious group and culture where an alternative to marrying someone he was not physically attracted to was an option.

    Its a shame that the only options available for a gay man in his faith is either celibacy or severe repression of one’s self. Anything else would have incurred severe ostracism, discrimination and pressure from family, community and church.

    Its nice that he is proud, but it seems to smack of rationalization for actions where there was little choice or alternative if he was to live without ostracism or harassment by the community and sect.

    But please don’t do the following:
    1. Relate a “mixed orientation” marriage to marriage equality. Nobody is arguing he did not have a legal right to marry a straight person or should not have had such a right. At the end of the day his marriage is recognized by all states and countries and gays still have to struggle for such legal recognition.

    2. Pretend that a “mixed orientation” marriage is a sane alternative to marriage equality. Even the much-reviled and misrepresented Regenerus study found that such families faced an extreme level of tension among spouses and children. The big mistake/dishonest element was claiming such families were “gay couples”.

    3. Pretend that intense social pressure is not a factor here.

  • Ben in oakland

    Good things for what this writer had to say. But his solution is not possible or desirable for many gay people, and hasn’t worked for a lot of people who tried for decades to be heterosexual, did what he did and raised a family, but later admitted how much it cost them to do so.

    And he doesn’t say whether he has children, whether he and his wife have a regular sexual relationship, or whether they are just living together.

    good for him if he can live his faith, and leave other gay people alone.

  • Sharee

    He said he was a “devoted father” so that would imply he had children. He did not say this was something for all gay people, just that it worked for him. I also know a gay man who married a woman and said she was the best thing that ever happened to him. These people are not denying who the are–they are making choices. We all have our agency to do so.

  • Joshua Bolding

    I appreciate this follow up post.

    If these men are doing this not to please some social construct but because they really feel and believe it to be a divine mandate of God and find fulfillment in that, who are we to judge? Same for those who may not feel that way.

    I believe pretense says to God “can you believe what they think/say/believe?” When true faith from God says “can you believe you care what they think/say/believe?”

    True faith allows one to feel peace when others disagree, and allows one to make decisions based on their own moral judgement. If these men have done that, and not just to please others, I applaud.

    All things done to please others, church, or a community will always fail without true faith.

  • Ben in oakland

    Absolutely, share. We’re 100% in agreement.

    I suspect with the use of the word agency that you are a Mormon. so why are gay people not allowed the same agency?

    I also suspect that the man is bisexual, and enough so that he can maintain his marriage. That doesn’t make him gay, it makes him bisexual.

  • Larry

    “If these men are doing this not to please some social construct but because they really feel and believe it to be a divine mandate of God and find fulfillment in that, who are we to judge? ”

    Pretty much anyone who is not under any compulsion to follow such “divine mandates”. It speaks badly of the church in question to make such a thing the only available option as a precondition to staying within the congregation.

    It would be highly misleading to ignore how much social pressure factors and the lack of available options play into such decisions

  • Jeff

    Well he’s definitely not gay, he’s bi-sexual.

  • Post-Mom

    How about you let Ron identify himself? If he says he’s gay, then he’s gay!

  • MK Solomon

    I think mixed-orientation marriages, as long as both partners go into it knowingly and honestly, can be a wonderful way to love and share life. Raising children together can give a couple a harmony, trust and support that goes way beyond, and way deeper, than sexual gratification. I applaud Mr. Raynes and his wife and their family, and thank him for sharing his perspective.

  • Larry

    “Raising children together can give a couple a harmony, trust and support that goes way beyond, and way deeper, than sexual gratification.”

    Especially since his sexual gratification would incur the wrath of his church, community and until about a decade ago, the law.

    So what choice did he actually have here? It was either enter such a marriage or risk a ton of pressure and negative consequences from those around him.

    Frankly I think people supporting this kind of marriage are doing more to denigrate the institution of marriage far worse than anything people claim the marriage equality supporters do. Because he is gay, he should be happy with what is clearly an inferior reflection of the kind of marriages shared by members of his church. Nobody else has to sacrifice sexual attraction for their marriages. He was expected to.

  • Ben in oakland

    If he’s having sex regularly with a woman, he’s not gay, he’s bisexual.

    It’s very much like the people who say they have “converted” from gay to straight. If they still want gay sex and gay love all of the time, and have no real interest in an opposite sex relationship, despite heir fervent wishes, then they haven’t become heterosexual, no matter what they may say about it. That’s the biggest fault in the whole ex-gay premise.


  • Billysees

    Ben in oakland,

    All of your comments are good and sensible.

  • StelleSenzaDio

    As a general reply to a few previously posted comments:

    It’s cute that you think he MUST be a bisexual. Society is more comfortable when ideas or actions are uniform or fall into specific groups. Everything must fall into a certain category or “you must be just confused.”

    We are not machines. And sometimes we feel or do things that are best for us that make others uncomfortable. Being uncomfortable with the idea of Ron being in a heterosexual relationship is may be due to lack of understanding of his feelings and what makes HIM happy. Because we can’t can’t comprehend why he doesn’t fit into a neat, outlined group, he must be the one confused, right?

    You hear this argument in regards to the general gay community. How can they be happy? How can a man not desire a woman? That’s not natural! Well, your not gay, your just confused. Now get back in a neat, outlined, group, so I can feel comfortable again. These again re all shortsighted ideas that come from misinformation and a lack of understanding.
    But the truth of it is that we don’t need to understand it. Love, lust, friendship and the desire for companionship aren’t simple emotions, and they arent always black and white like we’d like them to be. Maybe we need to try coming from an angle of acceptance, instead of judgement.

    Somehow I feel that if religion wasn’t involved in this man’s life, others wouldn’t be so bothered by it.

    Consider this scenario: A currently straight identifying man marries a straight woman. Somewhere in the journey of their marriage he realizes that he has feelings for other men, or desires them. He no longer feels desire for the opposite sex. They already have children together. They have a mortgage together. They share the same friends and their families enjoy them together. They have really struggled and fought in life together and FOR each other. Wow, at this point, you probably love and understand this person better than you understand yourself. Your are super close. Like best friends, you want to call this person when something bad happened in your day. You want to celebrate when something wonderfeul happens to you. You become intimate confidants . You want to stay with this person through the rest of life’s adventures. Even if you want the same sex.
    That’s a powerful statement of love for this person.
    Now, because Ron is Mormon, we say he is being limited or somehow restrained by it. He must not be happy, he’s a gay dude married to a vagina! Stupid religion. Now get back in line so I can feel comfortable again.
    I say this as an atheist.

    We may not be able to comprehend or appreciate why Ron continues to stay with his wife. But we don’t really need to. If he says that he is happy, and he wants to stay with her (the woman he has been with all these years and likely his best friend) then I ham happy for him as well.

  • StelleSenzaDio

    Your right, he must not understand himself very well. We should educate him on the clear and defined groups he must fall under for orientation.

    It’s not really a new or unheard of idea that gay men make babies with straight women. Even lesbians.

    People from all walks of life and from around the globe have sex for a variety of reasons. We may not, and don’t really need to understand it for Ron ‘ s identify ing orientation to be “true.”

  • Franken

    The only faithful response to someone afflicted with SSA is celibacy or heterosexual marriage where the spouse is aware of the affliction. Nothing else can be blessed by God an everything else is sinful.

    Your faith Is inspiring Mr Raynes.

  • ben in oakland

    Thanks, billy.

    Of course, there are people who post here who are sure I’m a deluded, devil infested, lying POS. But that’s just life.

  • ben in oakland

    Funny, Frank. He’s a Mormon. does that faith “inspire” you, or is it only the anti-gay part that gets your approval.

  • ben in oakland

    No one is questioning why he stays with his wife, nor is anyone questioning his love for her and his family. We’re questioning the label he applies to himself.

    I had sex with a woman 35 years ago. It neither made me heterosexual nor even remotely bisexual. But that’s not our man. He claims he is gay, but he is functioning bisexually, at least to all appearances.

    let’s turn it around, as you did. we have a thoroughly heterosexual man who suddenly discovers he is really gay. That’s an orientation, not a behavior. Even if he remains completely faithful to his wife, he still WANTS other men. That’s what makes ihm bisexual.

    It’s not a question of making him fit into my categories. It’s a question of honesty and accuracy. I could have sex with a woman every day for the rest of my life, and that is NEVER going to make me heterosexual.

    But accurately speaking, the only thing that concerns me about the labels he applies to himself is the use that other people, who wish dominion over gay people, will apply to it. “See? you could live THAT life! He’s done it, and so MUST you, or remain forever celibate.”

  • OregonMum

    Thanks Ron for sharing your story. You and your wife are amazing people.

  • maddy

    “the only thing that concerns me about the labels he applies to himself is the use that other people, who wish dominion over gay people, will apply to it. “See? you could live THAT life! He’s done it, and so MUST you, or remain forever celibate.”

    Very true.

    Ron Raynes does make the point he wouldn’t recommend mixed marriages for most people. Why wouldn’t he recommend mixed marriages? What made his situation different? I would also be interested to know more about Ron’s journey–for example, did his wife know he was gay before they got married?

    I think everybody and every situation is unique. I for one, can’t imagine if I were gay, not sharing my life with someone I love and living a celibate life.
    I think we ought to leave it up to God to sort out–after all, he created us.

  • Kate fox

    Here we have the heartfelt story of a man and his own experience. Next…in steps the bashers and the haters. I find it very sad, that they are also the ones doing exactly, what they do not want done to themselves. This is his life Larry, not yours. His own situation. Yours is entirely different. But, you are so quick to step in and tell him what he is doing wrong. Personally, I think it is because he is LDS, and you need to get on your band wagon about it. We all have our own set of issues. Why can’t those, making their rude comments here, just be happy for this man and his family. He is happy!! Could it be that many of you aren’t.? It seems like some Gay people out there, are certainly not practicing what they are preaching on their soapbox. Look within people. You are analyzing this family, and you don’t even know them. Just stop. Ron, I love your story and I am so happy for you, your wife and your children.

  • Larry

    It was not really his life, was it?

    I would not be so harsh about the marriage if there was some feeling that it was entirely voluntary. Of course that entails his religion would ever except him completely as a gay man and all that entails. That social pressure does not factor into any of this. But because it does it makes your little tirade read very false. Of course it is because he is LDS and said church is as far from “affirming” as one can get these days. They only gays, but not as fully functioning people capable of relations one would expect from their straight adherents.

    You like to pretend that he would not have faced discrimination, ostracism and extreme pressure from his family and community for identifying as gay. But that is what really makes one cynical about the marriage. I am not analyzing the family as I am the ridiculous circumstances he is dealing with and the mendacity of the people cheerleading him.

  • Larry

    Lets be brutally honest, do you think he would have considered a mixed orientation relationship without the threat of social pressure from his church, family and community?

    I sincerely doubt these sort of things will exist much outside of extreme devout religious communities as time goes on. With the increased acceptance of marriage equality and greater penalties for discriminating against gays there is simply less impetus to do so.

  • Larry

    “Your right, he must not understand himself very well.”

    I am sure he understood the personal, legal, financial and social penalties that could have been faced being an openly gay man 34 years ago. 😉

  • ben in oakland

    I read all of the comments. I have to say I don’t see any hate directed at this man at all. What I see are questions. Let me explain it to you this way– a small elaboration of what I wrote above.

    I have no idea if he has a regular sex life with his wife, or if he did it only the several times necessary to produce his children, or if he did it a few times more than that, or if he NEVER did it and the children were come by through some other means. As I said above, I had a short sexual relationship with a woman 35 years ago. Not by the remotest stretch would I call myself bisexual, nor do I have the slightest desire to repeat it.

    Nor do I condemn him for the life he leads, any more than I condemn religious people for the life they live. It’s none of my business. and as far as I’m concerned, if it makes your life better and the lives of those around you better, and makes you a better person, well, I’m all for it.

    But there are several memes that this man’s life is used to support.
    Conservative, and/or fundamentalist, and/or right wing Christians especially believe these memes, and use them for justifying the harm they inflict on gay people. They point to men like this as their proof. His life is proof of nothing except that his life and life choices seem to work for him.

    These memes are 1) homosexuality is a choice. 2) You have the same right to marry someone of the opposite sex as anyone else. 3) gay people are really heterosexuals and perverse. 4) Gay people are really heterosexuals who “struggle” with same sex attraction. 5) Gay people do not exist. Heterosexuals with issues exist. 6) He is happy in his life. you gay people can be happy, too. And if you’re not, well, WE tried. 7) The lives of the opposite sex spouse are really not all that important, if it maintains the myth of heterosexual hegemony and ubiquity. 8) The lives of the children produced in such marriages are also not that important, if it preserves the same myth. If Daddy and mommy get a divorce because of the mixed orientation, or mommy drinks too much, or Daddy is sleeping around, well howdy, it’s the price OTHER people pay. 8) Just keep pretending you’re straight. maybe it will happen. 9) And if adultery is the price the marriage pays, well, hey, at least you’re not queer. god will forgive you for the adultery. Being queer, well, you’ll fry.

    I think I covered them all.

    This is why the label is important, because the uses to which it is put harms other people who cannot or will not make the same choices as he. And I have no reason to believe, one way or the other, that he isn’t making those choices of what to call himself with the same agenda in mind. I don’t discuss my intimate life in public. But what I do know is that he is Mormon. I know what his church encourages non-heterosexual men to do. I’ve met a number of those men myself. Let’s just say they are not faithful to their marriages.

  • Larry

    The show is a trainwreck!

    The subjects appear very repressed and delusional and are not seen in a positive light. It certainly doesn’t do any favors to the people who are wholeheartedly endorsing such relationships.

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  • Rick

    I will withhold opinion on the show, not having seen it yet. However, I love Ron and his wife, for how they have handled this and other issues that could have instead sent them into divorce hell. As he said, “Life is complex. There is no one right answer for everyone.” This is absolutely true in gay, straight or mixed marriages.

    It’s a shame there has been entirely too much snippy cattiness from folks that don’t really have the first idea about what it is to be and stay married, be that in a gay or straight relationship. For example, there are many almost or entirely sexless hetero marriages. These, as well as all other marriages, are subject to destruction over the sexual attraction to others, be it straight or gay. There also is a horrendous wave of bitter, nasty gay divorce and child custody fights in their future. Some think they fought for marriage equality and will find out they merely have the right to be as miserable as at least half of the hetero marriage world, whom are now divorced and teach their children to hate each other.

    I’ve had passionate relationships with several lesbians who were living in long term, committed relationships. I still would not label them as bi, even as I’m aware of the dissonance that our relationships created within their hearts and minds. The ultra orthodox on either side, foolishly argue that it’s an either or situation, when life has taught me that there are fifty shades of gay. The purists condemn in a way that hearkens back to the one drop rule to determine racial purity. They sneer that any interest in the other gender makes one too impure to be really gay and they are in fact merely some form of halfbreed, bisexuals. They then further demonstrate their bigoted, abhorrent intolerance, because of someone else’s choice of which church to belong to.

    A best friend came out to me in 1977, a year after HS graduation. Sexuality had never been an issue to him until a twice his age, male hospital orderly, took his virginity. They met at his father’s cancer death bed, when my friend was so brokenhearted and vulnerable.

    We had extended discussions about this, as he was so troubled by his feelings. As we had group and doubled dated with girls in our high school class, he mistakenly thought I had enough game to get him a woman. At his repeated suggestion, we tried ineptly for several months to get him hooked up. Four months later, I married and lost regular contact with him. He dealt with these conflicted feelings by burying himself in school and he became highly specialized in a medical field where he helped to save many lives.

    Because my intimate knowledge of my friend’s condition, I know how this all exquisitely tortured him. He had a burning desire to have an intimate relationship with a woman. I am sure my girlfriend’s best friend in high school would have given him that chance, if they had gone on more than that first date. I think he could have married a man or woman and it would have worked out either way. Today, my friend is married to a man, he has been in a relationship with, for over a decade. I still love and support him the same as I did decades ago, the same as I would if he instead married dear, sweet Carol. Ditto as well, irregardless of where he goes to church.

    Before anyone says anything else critical of Ron and his wife, let he who has been married to anyone, for 34 years, cast the first stone. None of us are wise enough to understand these people’s hearts, so we just need to keep our mouths shut and let God figure that part out.

  • Frank

    It’s the faith part where he trusts that God made him male and sin causeS SSA. He chooses God over sin. That’s what’s inspiring.

  • ben in oakland

    A very good comment on the situation.

  • ben in oakland

    “Look within people. You are analyzing this family, and you don’t even know them.”

    Welcome to the world of gay people, and what we experience every single day from people who don’t know us, or know anything about us. But they are just full of opinions. Why should ron have it nay different?

  • SanAntonioRob

    1) Your take on Ron = his sexual identification is based on who he has sex with, not who he is sexually attracted to. Hence he is not gay BECAUSE he has sex with a woman.

    2) Your other example = sexual identification is NOT based on who you have sex with, but who you are attracted to. Hence they are not heterosexual EVEN THOUGH they have sex with only women.

    Pretty glaring contradiction in rationale, all done to somewhat lessen the validity of others’ experiences. You have become your own enemy.

  • ben in oakland

    I guess you missed the word BISEXUAL. It’s a known phenomenon.

    Putting words in my mouth likewise.

  • SanAntonioRob

    Didn’t miss the word. I disagreed with your reasoning

    Ron can’t self-identify as gay because he (presumably) has sex with a woman. Ben can self-identify as gay even though he had sex with a woman. Some men (per your comment above) can’t self-identify as straight even though they have only had sex with women. But kids can self-identify as gay even though they haven’t had sex with anybody.

    You have constructed a narrow definition of sexual orientation based on neither pure biological sexual attraction, nor pure actions, nor even a simple, consistent combination of both. It’s some kind of subjective hodgepodge based on whether someone’s lifestyle suits your fancy for being part of the gay community. If being gay is biological, not a choice … then it is just that!!! Always! Not just when it is convenient or comfortable.

    The man is only sexually attracted to other men. Sounds like a suitable reason to self-identify as gay – whether you want him to self-identify as such or not.

  • JoAn

    Isn’t being gay and married to a woman a lot like being married and committed to monogamy when you feel attracted to a lot of different people. Marriage is when You make a commitment and keep with it, regardless of feelings toward anyone else.
    I think Ron and his wife are the coolest! Thanks for sharing !!!

  • Ben in oakland

    I think you chose to misunderstand what I was saying, so I will endeavor to respond and clarify.

    “Ben can self-identify as gay even though he had sex with a woman.” I said in an earlier piece I had sex with a woman once, but that doesn’t by any stretch of the imagination make me bisexual. I also said there that I could IN THEORY stop having sex with my husband and IN THEORY have sex only with women for the rest of my life, and that would not make me heterosexual. IN THEORY is the apposite word here, because I am not heterosexual, nor am I bisexual. I have zero interest in the opposite sex, and never had any, except for some curiosity which was easily satisfied.

    My quite heterosexual brother-in-law had sex with a man once. He declared it “wasn’t for me.” That didn’t make him gay.

    The key concept here is ORIENTATION. But orientation does not exist entirely in a vacuum. Nor does behavior.

    “Ron can’t self-identify as gay because he (presumably) has sex with a woman.” He can identify as anything he wishes, and he and you can ignore the reality of it. But nevertheless, no matter how gay he says he is, he can’t be all that gay if he has been maintaining a sexual relationship with a woman for years. I know I couldn’t manage it. but then, I’m not bi. Nor could any other gay man I’ve ever known.

    “Some men (per your comment above) can’t self-identify as straight even though they have only had sex with women.” I didn’t say that. Case 1: Most of the “straight” men I’ve known in my life who later came out as gay ALWAYS knew where their hearts and heads lay. In other words, they were orientationally bisexual, even though their behavior was strictly heterosexual. Case 2) Some only discovered it later in life. I myself don’t believe they didn’t have some inkling, but preferred to see it as something else. For SOME people, therefore, sexuality is fluid.

    “But kids can self-identify as gay even though they haven’t had sex with anybody.” Yes, because orientation is key, not behavior. I knew I was gay when I was three. I just didn’t know what to call it until much later.

    As for the rest of your comment, I haven’t constructed any such hodgepodge. I’m quite clear that orientation is key. I’m also quite clear that what one says about one’s orientation does not negate one’s behavior.

  • Ron Raynes

    I was going to let all the judgments and speculation about my sexuality, orientation, and religion just be what they were, but after stewing on it a while, I would like to offer a few more details to a fairly ambiguous portrait that only 700 words would allow in my guest post. I have never before been “out” on the Internet in such a public way, and I admit I felt a little vulnerable and not sure I wanted to invite any more criticism. The main point of my text was to promote openness and reconciliation for those already living in mixed orientation marriages, be they LDS or not.

    I’d like to respond to Larry… yes, LGBT people in the Mormon Church have a tough row to hoe, and we have lived in a culture of repression. However, through love-based internal activism, such as Mormons Building Bridges, Affirmation and even the NorthStar organization, I believe LDS attitudes and responses to the LGBT experience are softening. There is still a long way to go on this, but definitely a shift in Mormon cultural attitudes is occurring, allowing a more inclusive and empathetic view of gay people to be as they are.

    Secondly, to Ben in Oakland, your comments in debate with other folks about my ‘true orientation’ and the need for accuracy in labels was eye-opening to me. Am I somehow any ‘less gay’ for being married to a woman for 34 years? Is there anything wrong with being somewhere in middle? I don’t think you were implying a value system here, but there is a rather arrogant downstream implication to such rhetoric. No, I’m not “pure” gay. My personal experience in sexual orientation has been rather fluid. I don’t think we’re stuck in one place for life. My knowledge, beliefs and emotional capacities have evolved significantly over the course of my life, and as I changed in my attitudes, my sexuality adjusted as well. I don’t feel that I’ve been dishonest along the way: we simply grow up and do the best we can through each stage of life.

    I’d like to give a little more of my story, to give some context: timeframe was 1980, I was 25 years old, I knew I was “same sex attracted,” but there were no family options available to me in general society other than what my church was promoting. I wanted a family. I can truly say that I fell in love with my fiancé, was physically attracted to my wife, enjoyed the sex, and was still attracted to men, so I guess that made me bisexual. At that time, I was certainly uncomfortable in labeling myself “Gay.” Today however, I am more open and comfortable with that term, because that is what feels right to me.

    The unspoken hero in this drama is my wife, who lived in the closet with me. For the first fifteen years of our marriage, she didn’t even know she was in the closet. It was painful for both of us to come out. Most folks divorce at this point, but we mutually desired to stay together. We are deeply committed to each other. Being human trumps being gay. You love the person, not the sex. Our journey has not been easy, and many of our assumptions about life, family, and even the eternities have changed. But we have become stronger together through the conflict and the resolution.

    We do not promote mixed orientation marriage as a solution to the Mormon dilemma with what to do about being LGBT. We do promote honest, loving relationships of all kinds, and we support marriage equality. And for those thousands of couples already in MOMs and wondering what to do now with their lives, we hope there will be more support for them, too. At the very least, these couple should be encouraged to embrace greater openness with one another and their families. Hopefully, kindness and affirming attitudes will be a new ‘middle ground’ for mixed orientation marriage, where folks can sort out what is best for them.

  • Ben in Oakland

    Thank you, ron, for telling your story, your compliment directed at me, and your willingness to correct, however gently, those invested with a far different story.

    As I have said repeatedly, I am not interested in anything but accuracy. I’m certainly not interested in telling people how to live their lives. I will leave that to the so-called Christians who presume to speak for god, and presume to know the status of his relationship with anyone else on the planet.

    My interest is in people who will use your story to justify the harm they intend to others. Thank you for standing true and tall. As I wrote above, “And I have no reason to believe, one way or the other, that he isn’t making those choices of what to call himself with the same agenda in mind.”

    Thank you for clarifying that you are not promoting that same agenda.