Monday morning, as the kids and I were getting ready to go paint some ceramics, I received a phone call from Peggy Fletcher Stack of the Salt Lake Tribune. She asked me to tell her my story, and specifically about starting the straight spouses Facebook group a little over a year ago, and also the recent website and effort to reach out to more spouses that might need support.
I shared as much as I could and the tears flowed. I don't often cry over everything anymore, but as I recalled the difficult times, especially with church leaders and with my last pregnancy, I became very emotional. Hmmm. It occurs to me now that the most emotional parts of my story are the ones that she included in her article.
Anyway, off the kids and I went for an afternoon of fun. So excited to get my ceramic small-appetizer-plate back--it is going to be EPIC. I promise to post photos. Scott entertained two of the uninterested children at his place, so the rest of us enjoyed letting our creativity flow, not worrying too much about the clock and time that passed.
That evening, it occurred to me that if the article ran the next day in the paper as Peggy said she hoped it would, that people would be directed to our new straight spouse blog/website. I quickly contacted a couple of the ladies that have really encouraged the outreach that we've done lately, and asked them to look over the website and help me figure out any quick edits that would make it better for the moment. Just as I was texting back and forth with one of them, Peggy called and said the article was online. She wanted me to look at it and correct any blatant errors if needed.
The article is online.
It would be in the morning paper.
Weird emotions of fear, anxiety, excitement, and so on fell over me as I went online, found the article and began to read.
It was good. It presented different issues of mixed orientation marriages, from Josh and Lolly Weed and Ty and Danielle Mansfield to myself and my uber spiritual friend Jessica. Titled "Group offers Help to Mormons whose Spouses are Gay" , the article starts and ends with promoting our Facebook group. It also, of course, speaks to the hype surrounding the Weed blog post earlier this month, which I blogged about last week.
A couple of comments from me: At the end of the article, it says I am now divorced. This is a slight error since Scott and I have not yet done that last technical step. And I'm pretty sure I mentioned that to Peggy. But she also understood that divorce is inevitable, and we are divorced emotionally and physically, and mostly financially, down to our separate accounts and Scott's self-imposed generous child-support payments. It's just not legally divorce yet. We don't have the paper with the signature that says it's so--kind of like gay couples in Utah that have committed their lives to each other and consider themselves married, which they aren't really, unless they've taken the time to go to some other state to get that little piece of paper that says they are. Yes, Scott has dated other men for over two years now with my permission and blessing. I personally do not yet feel ready to start dating again yet, but I also don't want to date until we are divorced, so I think I'm ready to start working on those papers this summer so that when I'm ready to check out the other fish in the sea, I will also be legally and morally ready to do so. It is my own personal decision, and I really have no problem with those in my situation that have begun dating before their divorces have been final.
That was more than I planned to share. Oh well. :)
Moving on--my main concern with the article was this paragraph, and I sort of mentioned my discomfort with it on the phone that night, but it was obvious that Peggy felt it somewhat central to the piece and did not want to try to edit it:
Nicholson’s husband of 13 years, whom she had loved since they were madrigal partners in high school, told her he was gay. Latter-day Saints in her West Valley City ward kept saying gay-rights advocacy was Satan’s work, she says. Though the couple remained together at first and honored their marriage vows, several local Mormon leaders were not only unsympathetic, they also were openly hostile to the news.
So, being all about clarifications and honesty, here goes: there was one lady in my ward during one lesson (before Scott was out to anyone but me really ) that said something to the effect that the whole thing with gays wanting to get married was the work of Satan. No one else said that, nor did this lady keep saying it. But I guess the fact that the bishop asked me to repent of sending letters to these woman about my changed view of gay rights might also infer that he feels the same way about gay rights activism being Satan's work. And the fact that temple recommend worthiness was questioned because of our public views on gay rights and our associations with other gay Mormons also indicates that same mentality, I suppose. So I understand Peggy's interpretation. However, I have such good friends in my ward that have been nothing but supportive, and I didn't want any of them to read the article and feel like I was speaking against all of them in general.
The fact is, over the past four years, I have had several traumatic events at church relating to this new phase of my life and my views on LGBT rights, and even though the trauma has come from very few people, and I even believe that those people had only the best of intentions to help me and our family, Peggy heard the pain in my words and my emotions as I spoke of the experiences. And this paragraph of her article speaks to that pain that she shared with me for a few moments as I unloaded it on her. I just hope that those who have reached out to me, or even those in my ward that have quietly prayed for me, will know that I love them and recognize their efforts to just love and accept our family regardless of what we believe and how often we go (or don't go, rather) to church.
The tribune article received a lot of comments, both positive and negative. One thing that came up as a discussion in the comments was the thought that the men in mixed orientation marriages must be bisexual. To this idea, Scott wrote a response that some of us told him he should send in as a letter to the editor.
The other thing that I want to address with people is that to the world, the words "gay" and "homosexual" and even "same-sex attraction" all mean about the same thing these days. But to some old-school religious people, using the word "gay" automatically means living the gay lifestyle, or sin. To me, I don't differentiate. I never have. Scott blogged about this once long ago. (I will have to look up the link later). When he thought the words to himself "I am gay", he had one of the most spiritual and self-affirming experiences of his life, and yet he not done anything that would pertain to "the lifestyle". I don't look at my gay friends and say "he's gay because he sleeps around" or "He's gay because he has a boyfriend" or "he struggles with same-sex attraction but has been faithful to his wife" or "he is homosexual but is celibate." Why use different words to indicate if someone is a sinner or not? Why, in the words of Elder Uchtdorf and someone's bumper sticker, judge someone because they sin differently than we do? It's silly. It is so "The Scarlet Letter" era of thinking, in my opinion.
So get with the times. Use whatever terminology you personally want to use, but don't get all self-righteous with me because of what you consider my (or others) inappropriate use of the word "gay."
Next, (I'm almost done), some other noteworthy links and responses to these same topics.
- A news site in the UK picked up the SL Tribune Article and looked at the straight spouses website and subsequently wrote their own report.
- Huffington Post has also now picked up the story.
- Awesome response from "Single Dad Laughing", who not too long ago wrote another winning article titled "I'm Christian Unless You're Gay".
- Utah news story about the Weed post.
- Another blog post I read and enjoyed (From Dad's Primal Scream, "Women who Marry Gay Men". I'm sure there are many, many other responses out there).
- Ashley's crumbs--blog post about how allowing gay marriage would help families, and not allowing it actually hurts families (like hers and mine, for example.)
I would love for people to comment and post links to other blogs or articles that they have recently read on these topics. Thanks!