My husband loves to task me...and by "task me" I mean make sure that I have something to do and something to write about at all times. Sometimes this is a good thing, especially when I scan the news and can't find it in myself to emotionally connect with yet another wing nut spouting the same over-the-top garbage that we have all heard before. In those moments, I appreciate his ability to focus me. But some days.....oh well, I'm just gonna say it....it drives me nuts. Today was one of these days when Jay has emotionally connected with a topic I thought long dead and yelled from across the house for me to come take a look.....Josh Weed, the Gay, married to a woman, councilor, and father of three is back in the news with a recent appearance on Nightline.
"Hey have you seen this video?", Jay says to me with excitment. "What video I ask?", wondering what in the world could have made him so animated. Did Mitt Romney get caught toe tapping in a mens room?....Did NOM finally and permanently self-destruct?......no? I came from the breakfast table to Jays computer to see what all the fuss was about and looked at the screen to see Josh Weed and family staring back at me with the headline Gay. Mormon, and Happily Married. "Oh that story...I saw that weeks ago. why is that back again?"
And that simple comment was the one that opened the door to a debate that suprised me in the intensity of MY emotional reaction to it and incited a debate that still rages on in our home. but first....some background....
(Due to ABCnews.com's annoying amount of ads you can not turn off, I have removed the embedded video. the Original Nightline interview with the Josh and Lollie Weed can be found here)
Josh Weed and his family first popped up in the gay news blogs last month when he came out in his own blog The weed....as gay, Mormon, and happily married to a woman for ten years. Josh and his wife Laurel(Lollie) have three girls and the busy family life that comes with a family that size. In addition, Josh is also a Marriage and family therapist who also claims to tackle LGBT issues....and it is in the combination of his profession, his connection with the LDS church, as well as this high profile coming out that has ignited criticism and a firestorm of accusations over his life choices, credibility, and motivation for publicly coming out. Among those accusations is the claim that he practices ex-gay therapy...a claim that he refutes in a pair of youtube videos posted to his blog.
Josh claims that he knew he was gay from time he was thirteen and he came out to his family who were "accepting" and loving of him in his own words. Josh and Lollie were childhood friends and Josh has been out to Lollie since their early teens. Josh and Lollie have chosen to be married to each other even though Josh has been honest about his sexual orientation and both claim to be happy within their relationship. This has prompted the public at large to ask the question," Just how the hell does that work?!" .....a now your caught up. Let's move on...
The reason that Jay brought this to my attention this morning was because he noticed the intense and blistering amount of comments directed at Josh ranging from outright judgement of him as a purveyor of the worst kind of self hatred to being considered an Uncle Tom for the LDS church. Jay had felt that Josh was getting a raw deal from gay people who are...in essence...judging him while simultaneously asking to be able to live our lives without judgment or discrimination.....all on the basis that we are being authentic to a truth we feel as core to who we are as human beings.
"Well...ok", I thought. all that is true. the problem as I saw it was expressed by John Dehlin at 4:30 in the video. Any mother faced with a child who is coming out to them will see a story like Josh Weeds and think, "Well, if he can do it, so can my child." And thus...even though Josh Weed may not espouse or support reparative therapy as he claims, the notion that with enough effort you can be happily and heterosexually married will encourage parents to ignore the warnings of credible medical organizations that condemn reparative therapy and plant their child right in the middle of a program like Evergreen....the Mormon version of Exodus International. It is this indirect chain of events that lead one Towleroad commentor to suspect that Josh Weeds coming out was a subtler attempt by the LDS church to reaffirm the notion that LGBT people can change their orientation....
So why is he doing the media rounds? Why is he going for big time media outlets to tell his story of "being a gay man married to a women" other than to suggest "YOU CAN TOO!" and give ammunition to homophobic hate mongers.
Mormon Church plant? I think so.
But conspiracy theories aside, that people question that Josh can be gay and have a "robust" sex life with his wife is somewhat puzzling to me. their intimacy is emotional first...they obviously have a trust with each other that makes such closeness possible. And as someone who had sex with women before I came out I know that physical attraction is only one piece of the puzzle.....just ask all those straight guys doing "gay for pay" movies. This is not to equate Josh's sex life to that(sorry guys)...just saying that sexuality is more than one functional piece. But dam what it does to you when you are firing on all cylindars.....just sayin. That Josh and Lollie have a "robust" experience together does not confuse me or trouble me in the least. Good for them...go get it guys. As long as they are happy, the rest is none of our business.
Here is were it gets sticky for me......By the time I am blogging about a topic like this, I like to have my opinion somewhat formed. On this occasion I can not. When reading the comments in reaction to Weed on the various blogs it is easy to see that the notion that Josh could be honestly gay and also commit himself to a woman patently offends some of us as gay people. After having to work so hard to accept ourselves and working to build acceptance in a hostile society it seems like a gargantuan step backward to accept the subtext of Weed's coming out. "yes, I am gay but because my religion condemns it, I am putting it on a shelf and choosing to love a woman." This is the core belief of what is known as the "Side B" gay christian...someone who acknowledges their sexuality as unchangeable but chooses not to act on that for religious reasons. This can mean a lifetime of celibacy for some. That is a notion many of us reject. After all, if we are going to do the hard work of accepting ourselves as gay people, why in the world would we cut ourselves off from a life of love and intimacy..and, yes...sex. that is a part of the fullness of being a human being and part of the fullness of a loving relationship. As much as I want to accept others for their choice in how they live their lives as gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgendered people...cutting love and closeness out of our lives in order to see ourselves as good people just doesn't feel like full self acceptance. And so...Josh and Lollie Weeds life can look to some of us like harmful compromise between religion and wholeness of self. In short...it pushes our buttons. And yet....
I looked long and carefully into their eyes as they spoke to each other. I watched their children. I looked at the way they sat together....I looked for anything that would have appeared to me like things were not what they seemed. And sure...I am no FBI profiler. I can't read a lie like the Mentalist. I am just someone who has been married long enough to know the little signs of people who know each other intimately. I couldn't see anything other then the love for each other that they claim. And that love should trump all in my opinion. I can not condemn theirs and then ask someone else to accept my own...especially since I have no way to judge the veracity of anyones heart but my own. I looked at the pictures I selected for todays post and realised that I had taken nearly identicle ones with my own kids and for me, that means that I can't help but see my own family in theirs.
As I made the point to Jay that Josh Weeds story will encourage others to emulate his, he made the point that others accuse us of doing exactly the same thing. And he is right in that regard, we often get accused of advancing the idea that all gays should get married...which is absolutely NOT what we are about and we have said it time and time again. The difference has always been choice....just as Josh Weed has stated that coming to terms with being gay can mean that we go through a mourning period for all those things we believe we will not be able to have...the point of what we do is to say, "why the hell not? If you want it, get out there and make it happen...because you absolutely can."......but that's if you want it. You don't have to be married to be a good gay anymore than you have to be married to be a good straight person. There again is that dam mirror showing me back to myself in the guise of Weed and his family. And yet...something in my gut is still screaming "Nooooooooooo!"
But there again...it comes back to a matter of the sanctity of our ability to chose how we live our own lives on the condition that it does not cause harm to others... and just as I am asking society at large to accept that I am a gay man who wants to be married to another man and raise my two children...hell, as a gay man who is asking society to not discriminate against me just for being a gay man....how can I ever tell someone like Josh Weed that his family...his life...is wrong. If he loves them as I love mine...I can't.
So there we were, with Jay making point and I making some rather heated counterpoint. this was elevating beyond mere debate and raising some emotions in me. Can I judge Josh Weed....no. But neither can I fully accept that his story will not have negative consequences. The only solution I can see is for Josh Weed to write an open letter...or create a video response to all those parents out there who would use his story as a way to try to change their children into someone they are not....to all those kids who want to be someone they are not. Perhaps he should address them specifically and explain it in no uncertain terms why he did what he did....how that was his choice alone....and if he really believes in what he put in his ex-gay refutation videos, he will say it loud and clear that he believes that they are ok just as they are...that he made his choice for himself..as did Lollie...but others do not have to follow their same path to realize their dreams for marriage and family. Their way is not the way...it was just their way....just as families like Jay's and mine are also.
In the end, we have to live our own lives and make our own choices for how we are going to live it. It is damned hard enough to find voices out there in the world that tell us we can be who ever we want to be as gay people....that being gay does not close the door to God, family, or anything you ever wanted to be or held dear. Accepting your sexuality should not ever mean giving up another equally important piece of your being...that is my opinion of the matter. My job...and my desire...is not to judge Josh Weed or his family because they are the same as me and mine....but I do think there are some things that he needs to make crystal clear to those who are most at risk of destroying themselves from the inside out....and do it in a medium as public and high profile as his coming out has been. Maybe then we will remember that love is the same on the inside no matter how it may look from the outside or how it may push us beyond the comfortable boundries of the world we accept.
Maybe this will finally settle that
Until next time dear readers....