Saturday, February 3, 2007

Extended Denial



So this post is not meant to be inflammatory in any way. I mean that.

It is more of a question than anything and something I have been thinking about lately.

So as I cruise the so-called blog "queer-o-sphere," I am looking to suck up as much information as possible. Information is power to me. I love learning as much as I can about something and then coming to my own conclusions through analysis. I'm not presenting any conclusions here or anything but I just wanted to comment about a seemingly widespread phenomenon...

Why have so many LDS guys with SSA chosen to get married without first disclosing their 'gayness' in any way?

Yes, I understand the basic church pressures to get married, and I definitely understand repression because that's something I had mastered for the first 20 some odd years of my life. Yet, the sum of those two factors alone do not legitimize such behavior (meaning...getting married without first disclosing your sexual identity, or whatever you choose to call the SSA problem). Also, I understand that many people once hoped that marriage was in fact the cure to SSA. I am not ignorant to any of this, so don't get upset or think that I just don't get it. Try to understand where I am coming from.

Marriage is HUGE. I mean, even straight people should be terrified of it, don't you think? It carries a lot of responsibility, at the very least. Besides responsibility, it will affect the rest of your life and your happiness. Marriage within the church and in the temple brings that all to an even higher level, a spiritual one, and the decision will outlast mortality. Seriously, I would be terrified to get married regardless of my sexuality, or it would at least cause me to deeply consider all aspects before selecting a spouse and finalizing my decision. To me it is ludicrous to claim that social pressure, personal repression, and hope are enough to push gay people into marriage WITHOUT telling this woman, whom they love so much, that they are bringing serious issues into the marriage.

This brings us back to the point....apparently my reasoning is wrong, though, because it appears from what I have seen that many of us, at least many bloggers, fail to tell their fiancee of their problem, and then spend a marriage trying to decide whether or not to let this ENORMOUS elephant out of the closet (pun intended).

So look, it is not meant to be provocative at all, but these are my thoughts. I hope that in some way it seems reasonable that I would be shocked at this behavior. Don't you think it would avoid TONS of future conflicts and mental anguish if everyone with SSA (or any other serious issues) would disclose this to their spouse-to-be before marriage? If the person freaks out and calls it off then great, it means that it wasn't the person for you anyway.

I, as much as anyone, am greatly looking forward to marriage. Yes, I am somewhat afraid, but my whole life I have tackled issues that I am afraid of...for me, fear alone is not enough reason to not get married, but I must be very cautious about this major decision that will likely affect my entire life and beyond it, and the life of someone else as well! I think it is very unwise to delay disclosing SSA issues to someone you love, intend to marry, and are asking to spend eternity with. I am shocked that this non-disclosure issue is such a common phenomenon and I urge those of you considering marriage to not follow that dangerous practice.


To those of you who are married:
Don't hate me for questioning your common sense. We all have a host of personal issues, and one 'right' course of action can't and shouldn't be superimposed across everyone. I know this. So, I am not casting judgement on any of you individually, because I DON'T KNOW YOU, and I certainly don't know your circumstances. But I ask for your respect on this opinion, and possibly even your support, because I believe it could avoid a lot of the heartaches and struggles that some of you have been forced to deal with eventually.

That's all for now.

13 comments:

Jason said...

I completely agree with you that men with SSA should disclose the information early on in a serious relationship--definitely sometime before marriage. I also think it should be in as much detail and as "real" as possible so that the girl understands that it's not just some passing phase. My wife knew about my SSA years before we got married, and I told another girlfriend that I was serious with as well. In fact, I know of several guys who did tell their wifes before marriage, so you're not completely alone in your thinking ;-).

Beck said...

I so respect you! And the questions you raise are legitimate at this time and place. But for me, there was no discussion of SSA when I was courting my wife. The term "SSA" didn't even exist (yes, I know, it was back in the black-n-white days as my kids call it). The Church didn't discuss it!

Everyone's case, as you point out, is different. There are unique circumstances in each of our lives. In my case, I didn't accept that I was gay until barely two years ago! So what was I supposed to say? "Honey, 20 years from now I'll probably figure out who I really am, and most likely I'll be realizing that you married a homosexual!". As I've stated in my blog - I was as honest as possible with my wife before we got married. I told her that I loved (had special feelings for) certain guys in my life, and that I probably always would. She didn't understand that completely, but she accepted me then. To put it in terms that "I am a GAY MAN", wasn't possible in my psyche at the time! I didn't believe it and so I couldn't confess it! As I've also stated, I believed that there was no such thing as a "gay mormon", so how could I confess to be one to my wife?

Do you understand? Some of us weren't raised in this more open society of discussion of such things. Some of us weren't totally "aware" and "accepting" of SSA / gayness as being an issue when we were married. Some of us unenviably discovered these things years later...and some of us have been able to survive this delayed revelation coming to surface with our wife years later because of our honesty, integrity and commitment to that relationship.

Sorry to go on and on... you can delete this if you choose. I hope you understand that for some of this "queerosphere" community, the time has become right this week. Neither you or I should judge anyone as to "why" this "extended denial" as you put it, waited this long to be revealed. You and I don't know the circumstances!

Naked Native said...

I too agree with your thinking! I love the 'bluntness' of your writing! It is so awesome! :)

I know that if I was to ever get married I would definatley make sure the girl knew before we even started dating. Why waste their time? Why waste your time?

I look forward to getting to know You!

Jason said...

Beck:

I think you make a good point, and though you weren't addressing me, I wanted to comment and say that I can completely see where you're coming from, and that to those individuals out there who got married in an era where "tolerance" wasn't the attitude du jour in every high social echelon, and who didn't even realize what was going on internally until way later, I wish utmost success. I think it's important to let SSA guys know that telling a spouse berore marriage is very important, but I also think there are many situations, like yours, that have resulted out of nothing but righteous desires and good intentions during a time-period whose context I have no grasp of because of my age. The important thing for you is, like you said, how you're handling it now. And I think your desires to continue to do what's right are commendable.

-L- said...

I told my wife before we got married. It went something like this: "Sometimes I think I might like boys."

How's that for a firm declaration?

I agree with what's already been said. It's not a matter of purposeful deceit. It's a matter of where the person's personal insight level is at. For lots of gay Mormons that level is very low.

Beck said...

Jason:

I appreciate very much your comments to mine and understanding my point of view. I sometimes wish that I were 20 years younger and could do it all over again with what I know now. I wonder how it would be different? (interesting blog topic). The world is changing so very quickly regarding "tolerance" and "dialog" of these issues.

I echo to anyone out there in the dating scene that one must be forthcoming and honest (as honest as one is with oneself) with a potential spouse.

Samantha said...

I agree. I don't think I'd still be married if my husband didn't know about my SSA--and other things, as well. And yeah, I also agree that marriage is a pretty scary prospect at the outset, but I also have to say, it can definitely get better with practice. :)

Loyalist (with defects) said...

As one who just disclosed after years of marriage I have to agree with much, if not all of what has been said here.

If you have acknowleged your SSA/gaynes or whatever to yourself, then I do feel full disclosure prior to marriage is absolutely vital.

As L pointed out, some of are/were not at that point. However, even then caution must be taken. Whether one acknowledges their SSA or not, marriage should not be lept into without SERIOUS prayer and meditation - and as much full disclosure as is possible.

Can disclosure later in marriage hurt the marriage. Yes i think it does, however, I also feel that if both spouses continue to work together then even with the turbulance that comes with SSA, their dedication to each other and to their commitment to the covenants they made within the Temple or elsewhere should bring them marital happiness.

I do wish that I realized and acknowleged this part of my much earlier so that I could have given my wife the full honesty she deserved.

All that I know is that I love her with all that I am. I know there will be some who don't understand how a gay man could love a woman, but that is just how it is.

And by the way, I wasn't offended by your blunt approach. It was rather refreshing...and blunt. Which stings but it is honest. I can't fault that. :-)

Enduring Eric said...

I looked at your blog for the first time today and enjoyed it. No offense taken by your post. I told my wife and I think it has made all the difference in the strength of our marriage and her willingness to support me through even the toughest storms that come our way. We have a lot of joy and sunshine in our lives too. I whole heartedly endorse your post that full disclosure is necessary, yea even should be mandatory.

SG said...

You raise legitimate and worthy questions that should be asked. Looking back, it's just too bad they really weren't being asked when I got married. I was told to get married and have an active sex life and my attractions would go away. Well I did my best and am still waiting!

Beck is much more articulate than I, but in the long run am I SO glad I got married, because my wife is my best friend, my children are the light of my life, and my wife and I have grown extraordinarily close partly because of my "issues".

Was it unfair of me to not tell her before we got married? You bet! Would she still have married me? I've asked her that question. Her answer? "You bet!"

Mormon Enigma said...

As one of the targets of your inquiry (who waited 27 years before telling my wife), I will say that I am not offended in any way. It is a fair question and one that needs to be asked and openly discussed. I also agree with Jason that there should be full disclosure before marriage.

Chris said...

I'll echo much of what some of the other marrieds have said here, and what Beck wrote on his blog. In short, I didn't think I was gay when I got married. I knew I was attracted to other men, but I also knew I was in love and that things seemed to work with the woman who became my wife like I thought they should between a man and a woman.

I also think there is an age thing. I'm 35. Somewhere between the time I got married and I came out, there seems to have been a real societal and cultural transformation. Gay is okay now in a way that it wasn't when I was coming of age. I distinctly remember when the AIDS crisis hit while I was in high school and internalizing the fear that was associated with it. I think it hampered my ability to accept myself as gay even further.

Things have changed a lot, even in Mormon culture. I'm out now and my ex-wife and I are now both moving on with our lives. I don't regret the choices I've made, but I do wish I had been more self aware and more secure, with myself and within my church and culture, when I was making decisions that would impact not just the rest of my life, but the lives of others as well.

Anonymous said...

Hello, those of you know me as Kittywaymo, and on LDS-SSA.org as Sheila know my story. But for the benefit of newbies: I am a happily married LDS woman to an LDS ObGyn (who's straight) for 10 years now...but that wasn't always the case: Previously I was sealed in the Temple to a nice RM whom we fell in love with one another after 5 months. He was 31 y.o. never married/engaged, successful dentist. We met in Florida at the College Park Singles Ward. He was ward missionary leader, Me, at the time a successful radio journalist and Service Project Director of the Ward and on the Orlando Media Temple Committee.. our dating life was like a fairy tale.. complete with grossing all the other single adults and others on the beach when we made out for hours...One problem...He is SSA/Gay/Same-Gender attracted/Bi-sexual ( I hate labels.. but you get the pic) He did not tell me, nor did I with an IQ of 145 have a clue that he had these "inclinations". Apparently I was the lucky winner: the only girl he fell in love with enough to marry in the temple and be attracted to.. I feel I am very feminine, though a little bit tom-boy...my other gay friends (before the dentist) used to tell me that If they were to go straight, I'd be the gal they'd marry. I used to chuckle and be flattered by that comment. They are good men I worked with in radio (not LDS) Maybe I gave of a weird signal? Who knows. God only knows. But let me tell you this blog entry about not telling the girl before hand is an excellent, important topic..I was devastated when my fairy tale life came to a screeching halt after finding out through a letter I found hidden in the dentists old boxes in the garage, written to BYU newspaper "anon" but in his biz envelope and recognizable writing style..it read: "I hope someday the Lord will help me find a beautiful young lady to take to the temple of the Lord and have a family with...Just because I am attracted to persons of the same sex as myself, doesn't mean I am engaging in immoral acts.. I believe that people should have a sense of self control..." etc. etc. I was floored! Sadly, even as a sharp journalist, there were no words for me to say about it.. I was terrified to "know the truth" Furthermore, I was afraid to confront him. In the end I left him for another man I fell in love with during our separation, (yes, you guessed it the ObGyn) Both the dentist and I loved each other very much, but when I finally confronted him, he would not admit it, but did one day say "you think I'm gay don't you..., " I said "you wrote that letter to BYU saying you are".. and that was that. I moved out and we divorced. It was very sad. He tried to get me back, I wanted to go back and did for 6 months.. I believe all of this pain could have been avoided if he and I were honest with one another before we married and if he told me he had SSA, given my love for him, I would have married him and we could have had a chance to survive. "L" and his wife did it correctly. I feel "L" is a good example of an honest man who truly loves and adores his wife. They will be successful because he includes her in his pain and angst. Together with God nothing is impossible. That is why He, God, ordained man and woman to be a partnership, bringing forth human beings/children through their union.. It is really fascinating, procreation I mean, if you think about it. My husband, the OB says each baby he delivered (30 babies a month!) he feels is an absolute miracle. This is true. All of us who are parents can testify to the beauty of parenthood.

Bottom line: I forgive the dentist and still have love and concern for him and always will. We've communicated since then and I've begged him to look at LDS-SSA.org or some good examples in the community of mormon men who are in his position. He is still active in the Church, and that is terrific! But he needs support with this issue, just as all of us do who are connected, whether, parents, spouses, those suffering or friends...

I admire those like Samantha, Darren "L" and his wife amongst others who are really relying upon the Lord and each other and their beautiful children to see them through this. They will be successful, because again, with God nothing is impossible.

This last general conference was beautiful! Please take a listen if you haven't already. And brothers who hope to marry someday.. please make sure that you tell your future wife and trust in the Lord, He will help you. Those who are married who have not come out to their wives, please do so. Go to your Bishop and get his support and a blessing of courage. I can tell you it would have made a huge difference in my life and my former husband if he had told me the truth before marriage and even during...Well, I'm a NYer so I tend to "talk a lot".. Thank you for "listening" and God bless all of us in our endeavors to be faithful and endure till the end. Love always, Kittywaymo

"And behold, others he flattereth away, and telleth them there is no hell; and he saith unto them: I am no devil, for there is none—and thus he whispereth in their ears, until he grasps them with his awful chains, from whence there is no deliverance."