Friday, January 1, 2010

Coming Out

By Mister Curie

“Coming Out” is typically thought of as the process of revealing one’s non-heterosexual sexual orientation. The DAMU has co-opted the phrase “Coming Out” from the LGBT community to refer to revealing one’s disaffection with the church. Both terms suggest a period of time of hiding in the closet behind culturally accepted norms (such as a heterosexual orientation or believing the church is “True”) when one no longer believes that “norm” applies to oneself, but then seeking the freedom and self-affirmation by revealing one’s sexual orientation or true beliefs. For me, the two definitions of “coming out” are closely tied to each other.

I was a typical TBM (30 year old returned missionary, married in the temple for nearly 6 years with a 3 year old son). I was raised with the conservative outlook espoused by much of the intermountain west, with all of its biases and narrow-minded (I dare say even homophobic) views. Moving to the East coast for school challenged many of my conservative views and I like to think that I became much more progressive and open-minded. However, I believed the church was “True” and led by a modern Prophet of God. Prop 8 came and went without me worrying too much about it. DW and I followed a blog of a person who really struggled with the church’s stance on Prop 8, which led us to have a discussion between ourselves. While I no longer necessarily believed it was appropriate for the church to be politically active on the issue, had I been in CA, I would have voted with the Church on the issue because a Prophet of God told me to.

Then, one day, DW told me that she no longer believed in the Restoration as taught by the church (those who have followed this blog for a while are familiar with her journey). It was very difficult and heart-wrenching to have her "deny the faith", so to speak. I was distraught for a couple of weeks. However, I love my wife very much and I very much value her judgment and insight. I decided that I should do some research into the history of the church, as she had done. My belief system and testimony quickly came crashing down. From that wreckage, I sought to understand who I really am and what I believe. That is the journey I am still on. Without the church-imposed beliefs, I soon recognized a pattern in my life suggesting that I am not strictly heterosexual, but my belief system had kept me from recognizing that pattern for what it was. However, my sexuality didn’t match the stereotypes or labels I had been raised with. I didn’t identify with the LGBT counterculture that I believed defined homosexuality. I sought out the stories of others in an attempt to understand my own. I read some MoHo blogs, corresponded with a DAMU-associated gay, heterosexually married Mormon, called an Elder from my mission who was now “out” and homosexually married, and of course talked with my wife. I soon recognized that people did not fit the stereotypes I had narrowly constructed behind LGBT labels and in many ways I am still unsure of how to label myself. I don’t necessarily feel that I am defined by homosexuality, heterosexuality, or bisexuality. It is just my-sexuality. I want to explore my-sexuality and who I am in a safe and constructive manner. Participating in this blog is one attempt at that.

Hearing stories from others, it seemed that many people struggled with reconciling their sexual orientation with the teachings of the LDS church. I recognized a recurring theme that a MoHo’s sexual orientation often led to their disaffection. So why was it that I was barely aware of my non-heterosexual orientation until after my disaffection? I am questioning now, but I think that I am bisexual. Bisexuality has allowed me to focus on my heterosexual feelings within my LDS belief system and ignore my homosexual feelings. I, unlike many MoHos, was not made painfully aware of my homosexual feelings because I had heterosexual feelings I could explore. I had several fulfilling relationships with girlfriends and of course have a wonderful, fulfilling marriage to DW. I never felt untrue to myself or my sexual orientation in pursuing those relationships. Any homosexual feelings that I chose not to pursue were easily ignored due to my LDS church belief system, as well as the cultural mindset I was raised with. I think being in the church is probably easier for the bisexual than for the homosexual.

This post makes me anonymously “Out” to the world. However, I am not fully “Out” in either sense of the word, LGBT or DAMU. A disaffected sibling and a few other close friends are aware of my disaffection with the church, most are followers of DW’s blog, so I guess I’m “Out” in the LGBT sense of the word to you now. To the rest of the world and my family, however, I still attend church weekly and faithfully fill my calling and appear heterosexual. I am beginning to realize that coming out is not a single event, but a process, repeated over and over again in a variety of circumstances and to a variety of people. For me, it is also a process that must be repeated to the same people about different aspects of coming out, LGBT and LDS. Somewhere in the process, however, I guess I need to understand where I stand and come out to myself. My upcoming series of blog posts will be an attempt to do that, come out to myself. I look forward to hearing the comments and experiences of others as I seek to understand my-sexuality and my-spirituality better.


  1. I also realized that I wasn't strictly heterosexual after I left the Church. I got married young enough and was sheltered enough that I didn't really know my sexuality by the time I got married. I'm happy with my partner, but I did confront the truth that, had I not met him, or had the influence of the rigidly gender-defined Church, I may have ended up with a woman. Or, more likely, with someone who doesn't identify as fully male or female - like me.

    I "came out" to my partner, and then to friends, as someone who is essentially omnisexual or pansexual. I consider myself gender-blind, attracted to individuals rather than sexes, with a tendency to be more broadly attracted to women.

    My partner took the news without any leering about threesomes! but he did wonder if I could be happy with him since I essentially define myself as queer. I have never felt a lack in my relationship with him, I think because I don't consider myself a woman married to a man in a heterosexually-defined relationship. I'm just me, and he's just him, and biology doesn't come into it so much.

    Over time I've also realized that I don't define my gender as a woman. Biologically, I am undoubtedly female, but I have never fully adapted to socializing influences directing me into a womanly identity. I don't believe in the gender binary (male vs. female) anymore, or a sexual trinary (homo- vs. bi- vs. hetero-) - I believe in a spectrum. Gender and sexuality are fluid, across populations and within individuals.

    So I internally identify as a biologically female pansexual genderqueer - extremely confusing to most people, but comfortable for me. In the end, what I look like outside - a woman engaged in a heterosexual marriage - is all that matters to almost anyone. But inside, I need to know who I am, and what I am not. I'm happy to be free of the Church's rigid identity because I don't have to doubt myself anymore, wondering why I don't feel particularly attracted to men or much like a "real woman." I also realize that I'm very blessed to have a partner who accepts me regardless of my conclusions.

    So that's my experience, and how I've found peace with these questions. I look forward to your upcoming posts on this topic.

  2. "I consider myself gender-blind, attracted to individuals rather than sexes"

    Actually, (not that this is your case) straight women have been known to fall in love with specific women, and lesbian women have been known to fall in love with specific men. There is a prof at the Univ. of Utah -- Lisa Diamond -- who has done some great research on this.

  3. That's interesting, adamf, but I'm not sure how that contradicts what I said (as you seem to be implying). I'll have to look up the professor you mentioned.

  4. Chandelle - Oh, I didn't mean to imply any "contradiction." Got to love online communication. I should have used the word "incidentally" rather than "actually" perhaps. :)

    There is great book that Diamond wrote called "Sexual Fluidity" - check it out!

  5. Chandelle - thanks for sharing. I appreciate it. I agree that "inside, I need to know who I am, and what I am not."

    Adamf - "Sexual Fluidity" sounds pretty interesting, I may have to add it to my reading list.

  6. Oh, the roller coaster ride you Curies are on! How fascinating and empowering and terrifying all at the same time.

    I think that truth is valuable, even when it is uncomfortable. Perhaps that's when it is most valuable. From a TBM perspective, I don't suppose a person can ever become a god without an absolute knowledge of him/herself, so to explore one's own psyche and emotions is righteous endeavor. To learn and accept ourselves -- both the good and the bad -- seems to me to be the essence of maturity.

    As for whether or not to take the risk that seems inherent in the questioning process, I'm not sure you have a choice at this point. In my experience, once the question is raised it demands to be answered and will keep rearing its head until you do so. Truth will out.

  7. EvolvingLesbian- You win the prize for understatement of the year :)

    I'm not sure how I feel about everything with Mr. C just yet. Some moments I am thrilled to understand him better, and the next I am absolutely horrified at the thought of our marriage changing. Its an emotional rollercoaster. As I said, even before we were married, I had my own sexual questioning that I fully understood and embraced. I made the decision to marry him in full knowledge of myself, and our lives have been wonderful and fulfilling in consequence. The hard part isn't being non-strictly heterosexual in a marriage. Its watching a spouse go through the sexual questioning process while being married to me. I mean, I knew who I was when we got married. Clearly he didn't fully understand himself. What if in understanding himself better he realizes that he doesn't want to be with me afterall?

    I realize its an irrational fear, since he has reassured me over and over again. But its still there. I feel like I've opened Pandora's box and now I can't close it.

  8. EvolvingLesbian - I agree with you. I don't think we can put the genie back into the lamp now either. The only path is forward.

  9. Madame Curie, have you considered joining a support group for women who are married or were married to homosexual/bisexual men? It might be nice to see how others have embraced this journey and the choices they've made along the way. It might be comforting during the times when the fear sets in for you.

    Just a thought . . .