Monday, August 27, 2007

Better Out Than In

My wife had a Cockney grandmother whose favorite saying, whenever she'd pass a fart was, "Better out than in!" Ah yes, this is certainly true, in both the real and analogous senses.

I had a really nice Saturday afternoon with my son-in-law. We painted my adult daughter's office in the morning, had lunch and did some odd jobs together around the house, then hung out for an hour or so in the pool. My wife had gone shopping with my daughter, which allowed time for just the two of us. So I asked him, "Did I do the right thing, in telling you two of my orientation, and sharing my blog, or has it been too much information to handle?" He said, "Absolutely a good thing. Speaking as her husband, this has been so good for my wife, to put things together and sort out some of her family questions from the past. Changing some of her assumptions has caused her to adopt a new paradigm for viewing the family and herself. We now have greater understanding and such respect for you and the Moho's in the bloggosphere."

My daughter has felt somewhat disenfranchised at times from mainstream Mormonism, because of her passionate feminist viewpoints, and so to see what some gay LDS people are dealing with in terms of sacrifice and faith has been expanding for her. She has been a reader of Feminist Mormon Housewives and the like, but the Mohosphere is new territory, one that she didn't realize existed. Some things come full circle: it was her blog-reading that piqued my curiosity in blogging and initiated my search for greater meaning through writing and sharing. And my coming out to them has helped her to better understand her emotional and attitudinal roots, and has given her a greater respect for both her parents and their individual struggles. This was my principal hope in sharing when I was faced with the "Shall I tell them?" moment. In a word, I'm glad I took the risk and opened up when I had the opportunity.


J G-W said...

Life is so much less complicated when you can be out. I used to be very proud of the fact that I was out to everyone I knew.

Now my life is more... complicated. Being "active" in the Church (can you be active if you are excommunicated?) means that I interact on a regular basis with folks who don't necessarily know that I'm gay and with whom knowing would probably have a very negative effect on our interactions. For at least three hours every week I find myself in an environment where speaking candidly about my life or my relationship is very problematic. In any other environment -- even in casual settings such as at the store, the bank, or the post office -- I have no hesitation referring to my partner. At Church, it feels like making such a casual statement would be something like dropping a match at a gas station.

I'm not closeted in the sense that I am hiding anything from anyone. I'm making no special effort to conceal that I am gay and same-sex partnered, and I would frankly tell anyone who asked. I'm out to a lot of folks at Church. All the same... I once assumed that being out to just a few people was all it would take for everyone to know. I figured the grapevine would take care of my coming out for me. What I discovered is that Mormons are much more tight-lipped about such things than I ever imagined. I'm sure that is partly because many are so uncomfortable with the topic in general.

This means I find myself, for the first time in eighteen years, in a situation where I must pick and choose words very carefully, and think about my actions in a way I once never had to think about them.

GeckoMan said...

Yes, it is problematic being completely frank and open with anyone and everyone at church. The saints are not ready for this yet; they don't have enough experience with faithful members who they recognize are gay. I wish that I had the freedom to bring my experience to light in some types of discussions or teaching moments without fear of being misunderstood and/or inappropriately categorized.

But how else is this going to slowly change, unless we have righteous courage to say, "I'm gay, I have special insights to share, I'm not a mistake, and I'm worthy" ?? But I don't think this kind of dialogue belongs right now in Testimony meeting or Elder's Quorum; it is needed in families and with close friends who can consider the whole picture and come to loving and supportive conclusions.

My son-in-law and I agreed during our conversation on Saturday that it will probably take one or two generations of members and general leaders to relax the attitudes that currently exist. This is where the rising generation of faithful Mohos coming into adulthood will have a positive voice for change and the rethinking of established culture.

Abelard Enigma said...

I'm glad I took the risk and opened up when I had the opportunity.

I am jealous of you in so many ways. Unfortunately, I don't see that opportunity coming into my life any time soon - if ever.

GeckoMan said...

But Abelard, don't be jealous--this is where it's all in your head. Admittedly, I'm a risk taker, I strive for openness, and this sometimes gets me into trouble, but what the hell? I simply made the commitment to be more open with my wife and bring her along too, because my alternative is isolation, where I get into trouble.

I put the gay dialogue back out on the table with my wife when I decided to rejoin Disciples2, and basically said "I need to do this for myself, I must be more open with others and with you, take it or leave it." Her options at that point were freak out and have a hissy fit, leave me, or support me. She chose to do the right thing and support me, even though it was uncomfortable for her to embrace this issue in our marriage. Now she is so much more supportive I can hardly believe it. She asks me how you and the others are doing, she's concerned for everyone! Bless her good heart, I stand all amazed.