On June 7th --the day of our ten-year wedding anniversary--my wife, Lolly, and I sat in front of our laptop in a hotel, staring at the screen. “You take this paragraph,” I said, “and I’ll take this one.” We edited in a mad rush, each proofing half the screen as we worked our way down the 6,000 words written for my small humor blog, The Weed. If we didn’t hurry, we’d be late to see The Blue Man Group, and we knew that if we didn’t press publish before we left, we might never find the courage to press it at all.
When we reached the end of the post, we looked at each other in disbelief. We were actually doing this. Nearly petrified, we decided to push the button together at the same time--the way we do everything: side-by-side, in total consensus.
We took a deep breath, counted to three, and pressed “publish post.” Then we raced out the door.
And then we sat through the show, trying hard to pay attention, and to not think about the fact that we had just told everyone we know, every single person who reads my blog, that even though I am an active, devout Mormon married to a woman, I am also gay.
When we got home, the blog had already started to spread. By the next day, it had officially gone viral. And suddenly, what began as a personal post on a small humor blog became something much bigger.
The answer to the question of why we published the post is a complicated one.
Several months ago--and this is hard to describe without using the overt language of our faith--Lolly and I started to receive what we consider to be personal revelation or inspiration: spiritual promptings that indicated that we needed to start preparing to share our story. We didn’t know why or how. We just knew that we had to start preparing. So, with great faith, not knowing beforehand what we were going to do, we started laying the groundwork. We started systematically, every Sunday, calling the remaining family and friends who didn’t already know about this part of our lives so that we could tell them in person. We contacted friends who were more public about this issue (like Ty Mansfield) asking “we feel like we need to share this. Are you aware of any opportunities?” We discussed some ideas, but nothing materialized. Yet we knew we needed to share.
Finally we decided to share it on our blog. It was our space to share our story and to let our loved ones and friends know about our situation. While we didn’t necessarily think people in our social circles “needed” to know about us, we wanted to let anybody who was interested, or anyone who heard about it through the rumor-mill, read our words and know our story as we perceive it.
The fact that it has spread so widely--that this very long document published on an insignificant humor blog somehow gained the momentum to spread across the entire nation--seems to indicate that the answer to the question “why did I come out as a gay Mormon” might have broader, perhaps even cosmic, implications.
I wish I could say that I had some hand in it; that I recognized the zeitgeist surrounding Mormonism and homosexuality and expertly knew exactly when to throw my story out into the world. But I didn’t. I didn’t have any idea it would have the impact it has had. Perhaps naively, I thought stories like mine were a little bit passé, and that it would cause a small splash in my own social circles and then the people I associate with could read about my situation if they chose to, and then we would just move on.
Looking back, I think that this conversation was ready to happen. I think that the climate, be it political or cultural or religious, is such that there are people desperately wanting to see a more nuanced approach to the issue of homosexuality than the binary, politicized debates that exist currently. Good people on all sides of the ideological divides want to see something conciliatory. Something that says “maybe there’s more to this issue than I had realized” or “it’s okay to have strong feelings about this, and we’re all trying to be good people in our own way and we’re all trying to make sense of things.” Something that says “above all else, let’s love people, and work together to make things better for everybody.” For whatever reason, my story seems to have been a part of that conversation.
I can say this definitely: My wife and I felt moved upon to share our story at this time. We felt it deeply, in the core of ourselves. This was the right moment. This was the right moment for us. Perhaps this was the right moment in broader ways as well. The conversation seems, at least in small part, to have been kicked ajar. So let’s talk with each other. Let’s talk about healing the wounds that have divided us. Let’s talk about respect and let’s talk about patience. Let’s talk about loving our neighbor.
I believe it’s what Christ would do. I believe it’s what good people everywhere would like to do. I hope we do it.