Sunday, December 2, 2012

Moving (Forward)

What a strange journey it's been these last two years. I went from being married, separated, then divorced, to being in a committed relationship, and am now living with my boyfriend.

For some reason, during the holidays, things get more intense emotionally for me. It brings up a lot of issues that tend to stay tucked away, like my relationship with church, my family, and my ex-wife. It's been hard for me not to look back to a time where I thought I had all the answers, where I thought I knew my plan.

I lived for a time naively, never really questioning the assumptions I'd made that therapy and Evergreen had helped me diminish my same-sex attraction. But then reality hit me. I couldn't hide the fact that I was gay from myself or my wife anymore. We both knew it, but it was something we didn't want to acknowledge.  I've talked a lot about that in this blog, and I'd like to revisit that more sometime with time and perspective. But for now I want to talk about moving forward.

After months of feeling like I was doing nothing to make things better, I finally decided to get out to church today. Not an LDS church. The First Congregational Church. It felt really good, to walk into a place where I'm welcome, affirmed, and celebrated as a human being. To me, that's what Jesus taught, the true message of the gospel, to love and welcome and affirm each other. 

For months I've felt without a home or a center. I think after the pain I've been through, I'm hesitant to recreate that sense of family and home, after trying so hard to do so, only to find out that it was an illusion. Sometimes I've been trying to go it alone. This is somewhat selfish of me, as there are many around me with open welcoming arms ready to embrace me as I am.  I think it's good to develop resilience and independence. But we're social animals, and we need community, support, love, and family.I'm grateful for the people who provide that for me. I need to embrace them, and thank them, and show them how much I appreciate that.

Now I'm in a relationship, and trying to move forward with my life. At times though, I let the past, anniversaries, holidays, all of that, get in the way. Like Lot's wife, I look back, towards "Sodom and Gomorrah", a place where I was unwilling to move in spite of the problems I knew were there, unable or unwilling to acknowledge my doubts and questions about my faith and sexuality because they would force me to do something about them. I have. I've acted. I've left that place and I can't look back now. I don't think I'll be turned into a pillar of salt or anything, but looking back hurts me. It prevents me from living in the present, from going forward; it's a dark depressing place, and not the place for someone given the chances that I have to be happy with a wonderful man and with a wonderful life. 

As I look to my past, growing up Mormon was in many ways a beautiful thing. My service, my mission, learning Spanish, going to BYU, teaching at the MTC, have all been things that have profoundly influenced my life. But the LDS church is not presently a welcoming place for me or other LGBT people. I appreciate the efforts to make it so. I feel welcome in this in between space that people are trying to create to make church welcoming for all and make our communities more welcoming. But there will always be struggle and conflict and disagreement on this issue. I think that's healthy, because there are a lot of things for the church and it's members to come to terms with on this question. But I don't know that it's a place I can call home anymore.

My family home is still not a place where I am totally welcome and accepted. It's getting better, and I don't mean to discredit the effort or the progress that's been made.  But  there's a reason I didn't go home for Thanksgiving, and Christmas may be difficult. I can't make everyone ok with me being in a relationship, and I can't force my partner to go into an environment where we aren't totally welcome and accepted for who we are. There are people in my family who welcome me, and us, with loving arms. But some people won't change, and likely will not change for years to come. 

And so it's time to create a new home. When the Mormon pioneers felt persecuted, they had to leave their homes in Kirtland, Missouri, and Nauvoo. They fought to create home wherever they were, despite the persecutions they endured for their beliefs and lifestyle. But ultimately, none of those places were safe. They preferred to go West, and create a new home rather than continue to fight and die in their old one.

For a long time, I've been in exile, and I've longed for home. Part of the reason holidays are hard is that longing.  I've been unwilling to find a new home. But after wandering in the desert, it's time to find a new home. That doesn't mean I abandon everyone or everything that made those places home, but it does mean being independent and free to go to new places where I haven't allowed myself to go before. It's time to create home rather than waiting for a home to be created for me. And together with my partner, that's exactly what I need to do. I can't stay stuck in the past forever. It's time to move forward.


  1. Alex, I haven't spoken to you in YEARS. Probably not since we went to your formal together in High School. Lol. But I saw your profile picture on my mom's friends list, and it piqued my interest. A support of Gay Marriage? Who isn't Steve Young's wife? So of course I had to dig deeper :) Your blog brought me to tears more than once, and I wanted to say how proud I am of you. It isn't easy to leave a marriage (especially when you have no ill will against the other person) and to come out with a truth that isn't easy for your family and friends to hear. I know from personal experience. I've been told more than once that because I left the church I took the "easy" way out, but in all reality I LOVED the gospel, and found those times that I accepted it without question some of the easiest I ever had. Leaving everything you have ever known in a quest to be true to yourself is anything BUT easy, and I just wanted you to know that you are not alone. <3 Valerie Porter

  2. Thank you so much Valerie. Hope you are doing well! Sorry for the late response!