"I guess the premise of this post is to share that not only am I homosexual, but I'm also a devout and believing Mormon. And that I'm very happily married to a woman, and have been for ten years now.
And for the first time, we're talking about it publicly.
1. Why have you decided to share this information?
We have several reasons for opening up about this part of our lives. First and foremost, my clinical work as a therapist is taking me in the direction of helping clients who struggle to reconcile their sexual orientation with their religious beliefs. I have decided to be open with these clients about my own homosexuality, and in doing so have opened the door to people finding out about this in ways I can't control. Therefore, we thought it would be wise to be the ones who told those we love about this part of our lives. Posting on the blog was the simplest way to make sure that happened as it would be impossible to sit all of the people we have known and loved in our lives down and share this personally.
The second reason is that the issue of homosexuality is not very well understood. We wanted to add our voice and experience to the dialogue taking place about this very sensitive issue.
Thirdly, I (Josh) feel the desire to be more open regarding this part of my identity. I have found that sharing this part of me allows my relationships with others to be more authentic. It has deepened my friendships and enhanced my interactions, and it has also helped me to feel more accepted by others as it allows others the opportunity to choose to accept me for who I really am.
2. What do you mean when you say you're "gay"?
When I say I am gay or homosexual or same-sex attracted (and I use these terms interchangeably, which is a personal decision) I refer specifically to sexual orientation. I am sexually attracted to men. I am not sexually attracted to women. It is very simple. I have many, many years of experience which confirm this to be true, but it's really as simple as what a girl asked me* in junior high-and I'm sorry if this is a little blunt, but I've never found a question that cuts to the heart of the matter more effectively- "so, if everyone in this room took off their clothes, would you be turned on by the girls or the guys?" My answer, which I didn't say out loud, was unquestionably the guys. And it was unquestionably not the girls. And that still is my answer. It's really not very complicated. Most people just don't think about their sexual orientation because they don't have any reason to.
*Why did a girl ask me that question in junior high? Because a bully actively spread a rumor around the entire school that I was a "woman trapped in a man's body." This was unbelievably horrific and traumatizing, and I was harassed every single day about it, often by perfect strangers. I was more effeminate, played the violin, didn't play sports, was never interested in girls and didn't hang out with guys, and so people glommed onto that rumor and ruthlessly harassed me for the entire year, culminating in a yearbook filled with breathtakingly insensitive taunts. Being the gay kid is really, really hard in junior high. If you know a gay kid in junior high, give them a hug and tell them you love them. I assure you they could use it.
3. When did you know you were gay?
I knew I was gay when I was 11 or 12. That's the onset of puberty, when humans begin to feel sexual attractions. For a little while I was waiting for the attraction to girls to set in because that's what everyone said would happen, but then there was a sinking moment of realization-a thought like "oh, this thing for guys is its replacement." I told my parents shortly thereafter, when it seemed pretty clear that my sexuality wasn't playing a trick on me, and the girl thing wasn't going to happen, but the guy thing was totally happening. I was 13 when I told my dad (a member of the Stake Presidency-which is a lay leader in the Mormon church-at the time). My parents were incredibly loving and supportive, which is part of why I believe I'm so well adjusted today. They deserve serious props for being so loving and accepting-I never felt judged or unwanted or that they wished to change anything about me. That's part of why I have never been ashamed about this part of myself. (I feel plenty of shame about other irrational things, like the fact that I can't catch a ball or change a tire (as you may have noticed on the blog)-and I'm working on that stuff because toxic shame isn't a good thing. But I've never been shameful about who I am, or about this feature of me as a critical part of my person, which it is in the same way that sexuality is a critical part of any person.)
4. If you're married to a woman, how can you really be gay?
This is a really good question and I can see how people can be confused about it. Some might assume that because I'm married to a woman, I must be bisexual. This would be true if sexual orientation was defined by sexual experience. Heck, if sexual orientation were defined by sexual experience, I would be as straight as the day is long even though I've never been turned on by a Victoria's Secret commercial in my entire life. Sexual orientation is defined by attraction, not by experience. In my case, I am attracted sexually to men. Period. Yet my marriage is wonderful, and Lolly and I have an extremely healthy and robust sex life. How can this be?
The truth is, what people are really asking with the above question is "how can you be gay if your primary sex partner is a girl?" I didn't fully understand the answer to this question until I was doing research on sexuality in grad school even though I had been happily married for almost five years at that point. I knew that I was gay, and I also knew that sex with my wife was enjoyable. But I didn't understand how that was happening. Here is the basic reality that I actually think many people could use a lesson in: sex is about more than just visual attraction and lust and it is about more than just passion and infatuation. I won't get into the boring details of the research here, but basically when sex is done right, at its deepest level it is about intimacy. It is about one human being connecting with another human being they love. It is a beautiful physical manifestation of two people being connected in a truly vulnerable, intimate manner because they love each other profoundly. It is bodies connecting and souls connecting. It is beautiful and rich and fulfilling and spiritual and amazing. Many people never get to this point in their sex lives because it requires incredible communication, trust, vulnerability, and connection. And Lolly and I have had that from day one, mostly because we weren't distracted by the powerful chemicals of infatuation and obsession that usually bring a couple together (which dwindle dramatically after the first few years of marriage anyway). So, in a weird way, the circumstances of our marriage allowed us to build a sexual relationship that is based on everything partners should want in their sex-life: intimacy, communication, genuine love and affection. This has resulted in us having a better sex life than most people I personally know. Most of whom are straight. Go fig"
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