By Mister Curie
The disaffection coming out approach I previously proposed in my post "Coming Out to My Family Revisted" was given a trial run with the arrival of my aunt and uncle, as I described in the post "Hiding", this is actually the approach we took in our own home when some relatives came to visit for a couple of days. I think that having experienced this type of approach, we didn't find that it actually worked that well for us. We felt uncomfortable wondering when/if they were going to notice our lack of orthodoxy or orthopraxy. Ultimately we don't think they noticed anything, but that is also part of the problem if we view this as a step toward coming out. Most recently we have decided to announce to my family before we arrive that we are no longer believing and while I trend toward avoiding challenging the orthopraxy, having had this uncomfortable experience the last couple of days, it may be best to drop all pretenses. Returning to the closet about disaffection was not a pleasant experience and I'm not sure that I want to do it again with regards to disaffection or being gay when we go out to visit. With the energy of outing myself regarding my disaffection and the relief I feel at being able to be open and honest, I think I will probably out myself regarding being gay at the same time to try and get it all out in the open. I have worked on a letter that I intend to email them shortly before we go out to visit. I would love to receive any comments and suggestions from others. I will also admit that I have taken some particularly clever phrases from Chris because his statements resonated so well with me. What do you think? Is it too much to drop it all at once on my parents?
Dear Mom and Dad,
First and foremost, I want to thank you for all of the love and support you have given me. I appreciate your efforts to raise me properly and teach me correct principles, such as honesty, integrity, love, service to my fellow man, etc. I have many wonderful memories from my childhood and your efforts have helped me to become the man I am today. I know that you did your best in your parenting efforts and sacrificed much on my behalf. Being a parent now myself, I am beginning to understand the great challenge of being a parent, with all of its joys, triumphs, difficulties, and heartbreaks.
Writing this letter is one of the most difficult things I have ever done. I wanted to write so that I could get the wording perfect, but still I struggle to find the right words to convey my thoughts and feelings in the spirit of love and respect that they are intended. I suspect that this letter ranks high on the list of letters that parents want least to receive. In writing this letter I am attempting to exemplify the principles of honesty and integrity that you instilled in me. I am not sure if you have noticed the increasing sense of separation between us over the past year. Our phone calls have become less frequent and I have been more and more at a loss as to what to say during the conversations we have had. I have been on a personal journey that I wasn’t sure you wanted to know about. However, I am accustomed to being honest with you and so I am compelled to share these parts of myself with you, despite the pain I fear it may cause. I hope that sharing this will lead to further understanding and love between us.
The past year has been a challenging one for Madame Curie and me in many ways. Circumstances and our scientific minds have compelled us to begin questioning all of our previous assumptions about life. I think that such a process is a natural part of growing up and taking responsibility. Madame Curie and I have been on separate, but similar journeys that have been both fascinating and overwhelming. You may recall some of the beginnings of Madame Curie’s journey as she blogged her questions on her “_______________” blog. Our questioning led us doubt the very foundation of our testimonies.
Speaking for myself, I had always believed the church was true. I assumed it was true. I had always trusted my leaders and friends that the church was true. I felt wonderful, positive feelings that I had been taught were the Holy Ghost that confirmed to me the church was true. In fact, I thought that I knew the church was true and I lived my life accordingly, exhibiting all seriousness and diligence in attempting to serve the Lord. Because so much of what I am was wrapped up in the church, I assure you that I have not taken my questioning lightly. I have always believed the Prophet Joseph Smith’s statement that “Mormonism is truth; and every man who embraces it feels himself at liberty to embrace every truth” and I moved forward believing that all truths I discovered could only strengthen my testimony.
We do feel like our questioning has drawn us closer to truth, but we admit that it has pulled us away from the church. Many of the prior inconsistencies we struggled with disappeared and made more sense when we no longer assumed the church was true. Additionally, much of what we have found in our questioning has been inconsistent with what we believed about the church. We would be happy to continue living the life we had as believing members of the church, a life which has brought us a lot of joy, if we could still believe in the church we thought we were members of, but we cannot. Currently Madame Curie and I are not in the same place as regards faith, but we are patiently working through those differences. We continue to question our prior and current assumptions. I assume it is a journey that we will travel for the rest of our lives, hoping to draw ever closer to truth. In many ways it is exciting and liberating to no longer think I (or even necessarily anyone else) have all the answers, if such answers even exist. I think that is part of the scientist in me.
Our changes in belief do not change who we are at our cores. This does not change our love for you, each other, Le Petite Curie, or any other members of the family. We do not wish to hurt anyone else’s relationship with the church and we do not intend to do anything to try and hurt the church. We intend to raise Le Petite Curie and instill in him the same core principles of goodness that you raised me with. We believe the church is largely a force of goodness in the world and that its members are sincere in their beliefs and righteous desires, although we no longer hold those same beliefs.
Our journey has been further complicated by the fact that as I was able to let go of my belief in the church, I have finally been able to accept that I am physically attracted to men. I am gay. In retrospect, I realize that I have experienced these feelings for the same gender since childhood. There are many reasons why it has taken me so long to acknowledge them, however. On one hand, the feelings came so naturally that there didn’t seem to be anything to notice or acknowledge, much like we rarely notice when we are breathing. On the other hand, the things I heard about homosexuality in church were in direct contradiction to what I experienced. President Spencer W. Kimball wrote in his book, The Miracle of Forgiveness, about homosexuality: “This perversion is defined as the sexual desire for those of the same sex or sexual relations between individuals of the same sex, whether men or women. It is the sin of the ages.” And later he uses these adjectives to describe homosexuality: repugnant, deviant, unnatural, abominable, evil, ugly, and curable. I did not feel that those statements could possibly apply to me, so I obviously couldn’t be homosexual. I was also taught that homosexuality was a choice, and I knew that I had not consciously chosen to have these feelings. In Junior High I began to notice a disparity between my own and my friends’ interests in girls. I had also begun to internalize the messages from church about homosexuals and so I labeled my growing attractions to the male body as temptations from Satan, thus externalizing the experience. I regularly prayed long, tearful prayers, asking Heavenly Father to help me overcome these temptations and to forgive me for them. I strove to live the gospel with exactness so that I could qualify for God’ help in overcoming these attractions.
It was only upon questioning my prior assumptions that I was able to acknowledge that my feelings of attraction toward men are not external temptations, but rather that they originate from inside me. They are not something that I believe can or needs to be changed. The exact causes of homosexuality are currently unknown and I think it is fruitless to speculate too long on potential causes. I do not think that my attractions to men are because of anything you have or have not done. They were not taught to me or learned from someone else.
Perhaps it is important to dispel some misperceptions at this point. Admitting that I am gay does not mean that I am promiscuous. It does not mean that I have had physical relationships with men before Madame Curie and I were married or after. It does not mean that I cross-dress. It does not mean that Madame Curie and I are splitting up, or that I love her or Le Petite Curie any less. It does not mean that I am attracted to children or should be considered unsafe around children. It does not mean that I am any other person than the son that you have known all these years.
This admission of homosexuality naturally raises some questions about my current family. Madame Curie and I are very happy together and love each other very much. As I’m sure you have noticed, we are made for each other. We connect on many levels, including intellectually and emotionally. Our marriage is (and has been) an expression of our sincere love for each other and has not been false in any way. Even without infidelities, acknowledging my homosexuality naturally introduces some challenges into our relationship and we are working through those with the help of a qualified therapist. Additionally, we have found a support network among other gay and married couples (many of whom are LDS). And with our intellectual inclinations, we are also delving into the scientific literature. We have every intention of staying together and making our marriage work. Many marriages face difficult challenges, this one just happens to be one such challenge that our marriage faces.
I know this information may be overwhelming and come as a surprise and a shock. I understand all too well that it may be painful. I hope that it will lead to further understanding and love between us. I am sure you have a lot of questions. We are happy to answer any questions that you may have. I am sure that you will have new questions in the future. I will always be happy to try and answer them to help facilitate understanding between us. I am the same person that I was before, but now I am sharing another part of myself with you. I am also bringing some books for you that I hope will be helpful. I hope you will read them and discuss them with me.
I love you very much and I look forward to our visit!