I am an out, gay mormon. People in my life know this fact about me. If someone asks me, I have no problem telling them. I am ok living with the contradictions that come from being a gay mormon. But now I am throwing in a new twist—I have a boyfriend! If you didn't know that—and few people do—now you know. Though, this weekend, I realized just how uncomfortable I am with people knowing I am in a relationship.
That's odd right? I took my boyfriend to a friend's housewarming party and I chickened out as introduced him as my "friend". I know that several of the people there know I am gay. So I am left wondering, what makes me so uncomfortable with them knowing I am in a relationship. I think I might have finally figured this out.
Being a gay mormon is acceptable –
It is easy to be authentic at church, as long as I prescribe to the standards set by the church and it's membership. If I stay quiet on my socially liberal views in Sunday School, I am welcomed and encouraged to join the class. If my social media posts remain quiet and unnoticed, my LDS friends won't block me. If I am Peter Priesthood who "struggles with SSA", I am held up as someone who is noble.
Being a gay mormon hasn't always been this "easy". Things have come a long way. There is still a lot to be done but the church is a little more accepting than they were five years ago. Once I divert from the straight (not strait) and narrow path ahead of me, I become a social pariah again.
Having a boyfriend is stepping out of line –
I think I have discovered why I am so scared to announce my relationship with another man. By doing so, I again step into the obscure. I will no longer be the man "struggling with SSA". I will be the one who is "embracing the lifestyle" that separates me from God.
The church and it's members will have a harder time accepting or tolerating me when I move beyond that blurry line. Once I entered into a relationship, I am everything the church stands against.
Imagine I entered in the housewarming party and introduced my boyfriend as such. I might have been greeted with contempt, or asked not to bring my "lifestyle" so abrasively to their home. I might have been ignored and tolerated until I left and then spoken of negatively.
I believe my friends wouldn't be so unkind. But then again, this is uncharted territory for me and most definitely for them. Not too many years ago, just coming out as a single gay man was met with attempts to counsel the gay out or pray it away. It was not tolerated like it is today.
Starting all over again –
So what can I do? How do I become comfortable again in the darkness of obscurity? I suppose I must go back to the beginning. I would need to come out all over again. I would need to be ok with the uncomfortable, awkward situations like when I first came out.
When I came out, I had to deal with going to church in what felt like a hostile environment. I had to be ok with people judging me, avoiding me or trying to correct my ways. It was hard. I don't want to do this all over. But if I want to stay in the church to any degree, I have to.
It took years for me to be comfortable in my own identity at church. It took even longer for local church leadership to be ok with me attending their ward on my own terms. It took time for members who knew I was gay to treat me normally. But now that I am in a relationship, it is going to take even more time.
Pushing the boundaries –
This might be the beginning of the end. My final disciplinary council might be sooner than later. I may be walking to my own excommunication for having a boyfriend. I hope not. I am not ready or wanting to leave the church. But I am once again pushing the boundaries of the church's comfort. I am once again testing the elasticity of the local leadership's acceptance. I am once again finding out who are my true friends.
Pushing boundaries is never comfortable. It is hard. It can sometimes be painful. But if I am ever to be happy in this life, and this life is that man "might have joy" (2 Nephi 2:25), then I need to push. I can only hope that I am met with love and acceptance, as I try to follow what I believe God wants for me and my life.