I had previously mentioned in a blog post that my best friend in high school had a gay father and that I would further speculate on this story. I am going to do that now. As I remember the story, after approximately 20 years of marriage, my friend's father (when my friend was just a toddler) declared that he was tired of living a lie, got a divorce, left the church, and moved to Seattle to find a boyfriend. The perception of these actions was uniformly negative in my friend's family. However, my friend still loved his father and we stayed with him and his partner while we were in Seattle on band tour in High School.
When we met my friend's father, the impression I had developed from the stories I had heard contrasted greatly with what I saw. I had imagined that his father would fit my preconceptions of the "gay lifestyle": be dressed like he had just come from a gay pride parade and have lots of sexual partners. Instead he was in a monogamous relationship and I was surprised at the level of commitment he exhibited. His partner was sick and dying of AIDS, but he dutifully cared for him, rather than abandoning him for a healthy, sexier companion when times got tough.
The one other impression I had of him was that he had very harsh words against the church. I unrighteously judged him to be a sinner and an apostate and that his heart was hardened against the "Truth"of the Gospel. Now, I wonder how he would tell his story. I'm sure his perspective is quite different from the one I heard from my friend's family.
Did he know he was gay before getting married? Did he get married because the church counseled him to, telling him it would cure him of his homosexuality? Did he enter his marriage with full disclosure or did he hide his homosexuality from his wife? Or was he like me, and many other MoHos, and had been unable to accept that he was gay until after he was married? Did his realization come as the result of a mid-life crisis?
I can no longer condemn his harsh words against the church. Besides the fact that I no longer believe in the church, this man's experiences would have occurred in the early 1980's, likely while the church was being led by President Spencer W. Kimball. Of course, it was Spencer W. Kimball who taught about homosexuality using words such as repugnant, deviant, unnatural, abominable, evil, ugly, and curable and who said:
"Prophets anciently and today condemn masturbation. It induces feelings of guilt and shame. It is detrimental to spirituality. It indicates slavery to the flesh, not that mastery of it and the growth toward godhood which is the object of our mortal life. Our modern prophet has indicated that no young man should be called on a mission who is not free from this practice. What is more, it too often leads to grievous sin, even to that sin against nature, homosexuality. For, done in private, it evolves often into mutual masturbation-practiced with another person of the same sex and thence into total homosexuality...."and
- Prophet Spencer W. Kimball, The Miracle of Forgiveness, Pages 77-79, 81-82
"I do not find in the Bible the modern terms "petting" nor "homosexuality," yet I found numerous scriptures which forbade such acts under by whatever names they might be called. I could not find the term "homosexuality," but I did find numerous places where the Lord condemned such a practice with such vigor that even the death penalty was assessed."My friend's dad would have read and heard these words as coming from the living Prophet of God in the world today. At the time, he would have been excommunicated for just admitting to having these feelings, even if he never acted on them. No, I can't blame him for the hostility he felt toward the church.
- Apostle Spencer W. Kimball, "Love Versus Lust", BYU Speech January 5, 1965
I am intensely interested in his side of the story. Unfortunately I will probably never hear his version. And that is a shame.