Writing mostly to the parents, church leaders, friends, and family of LGBT+ Mormons, I wish to say something: You probably do not understand whatsoever the concept I am about to discuss. However, I hope to explain it all in a way that clarifies any odd or complex points. To begin, it becomes very plain to anyone who knows our beliefs that a few distinct options - with sub-options, I might add - are available to those who choose to remain faithful to the teachings of Christ, in our church. Most people group them under these three categories:
1. Stay active in the LDS Church, while remaining sexually celibate for life as a single person.
2. Live as a typical LGBT+ person would, leaving the LDS Church and choosing which beliefs to keep, if any.
3. Stay active in the LDS Church, but marry someone of the opposite sex in order to fulfill the human need for sex.
If we were to really average out the answers of, say, 1,000 people, I believe we wouldn't have option #3 much in the picture, if at all. Perhaps a small amount of individuals would present marriage to the opposite sex as a viable option, but it has been my experience as a gay Mormon man that most reject this option, also known as mixed-orientation marriage, as "dishonest to your fiance", "betrayal", "lying to yourself", and so on. To expand others' understanding who are not a part of the LGBT+ Mormon or non-Mormon community, however, I wish to elaborate further on the concept of an LGBT+ individual marrying someone of the opposite sex. Many misunderstand this idea a great deal, and I wish to clear up any confusion insofar as possible.
Regardless of whether you are Mormon or not, please enter into a hypothetical reality with me for a moment. Imagine that you have entered into a religion several years ago, one which you love because of the joy and fellowship with others it brings into your life. It also guides your actions in a way that ultimately leads to your personal fulfillment. So, you stay actively involved the more part of your life as a dedicated member of this particular religion. Presently, the religion teaches that romance, sex, and marriage with anyone of the same sex are forbidden, since God's plan centers around traditional marriage and family. As you grow older, however, you realize that you are not attracted to the opposite sex at all, despite your plans for love, marriage, and children. In fact, you realize you are gay. But, since your love and devotion to God run deep through this religious and its practices, you decide to find a way to happily stay in it. Notwithstanding your pain from feeling isolated, different, misunderstood, and duty-bound to "fix" this problem, eventually you discover that same-sex friendships provide much of what you desire. It doesn't meet every single need, but at the same time it doesn't create a very wide gap between your desires and actual fulfillment of them. Rather, it is a small enough gap to where you still are getting your needs met as an ordinary human.
At some point, as all your straight friends are getting married, you realize that you want to fall in love, too. The desire for that for someone of the same sex is very real, and yet you also desire to have your own children. Or, you want to share a spiritual & emotional connection with someone of the opposite. Whatever the reason, it certainly doesn't strike you as frivolous, even though it seems that marrying someone of the opposite sex is completely impossible. After all, what Mormon person wants to marry someone who isn't straight? It violates social and religious norms, not to mention it sparks fear in the heart of virtually anyone who entertains that possibility. And yet, you have deeply loved and continually dedicated yourself to this religious path before now. There are many reasons to stop, and although some of them are almost good enough, yet none of them seem to be justified. So, you pursue an opposite sex marriage in the way any other heterosexual person would - dating and courtship. Now, let's exit this hypothetical reality.
Most individuals reject this option on the premise of lying to oneself or future spouse, being brainwashed by religious authorities, and so forth. And yet, while such people typically utilize the phrase, "Love is love", I have spotted a gaping, even hypocritical hole in their mantra. If love is love, why cannot a mixed-orientation marriage also be love? Our society too often defines love on the basis of sexual attraction - in essence, who you want to shove your genitals into. Is that really what we have sunk to, my dear readers...defining love primarily by what we want to physically do with each other? There are so many other measuring sticks to define true love by! I prefer the measuring sticks of intellectual, emotional, mental, spiritual, and social attraction, to be honest. They actually can measure true love because they are true standards! What keeps people together in difficult times isn't sex. It's the meaningful, deep, abiding qualities of the other lover that bind them together even in hard times. I should be very sorry indeed to find out that my beloved only wanted me because I was physically attractive or sexually talented. Some might smile or laugh at this, but I really would reject someone if I discovered such an awful thing. Why? Because I'd save myself heartbreak from the inevitable destruction of our relationship soon to come.
That being said, then, why can't mixed-orientation marriages have true love? Truth is, there isn't a reason. Then people will make counterarguments, such as:
- Even if you could make it work, there's no way you'll have a fulfilling sex life.
- Your spouse won't truly appreciate your body, whether in or out of the bedroom.
-Etc, etc, etc.
And yet, I know many couples who are in a mixed-orientation marriage. Is it hard? Yes, it can be very hard at times!! But, through open lines of communication, a sense of humor about one being LGBT+, and open-mindedness to alternative sexual advances, moves, mindsets, etc, these couples enjoy very healthy sexual lives together. The LGBT+ spouse can also compliment aesthetic beauty they see in their significant other, and the other can learn to love such expressions of attraction, while valuing them as equally meaningful as any other spouse's compliments. Furthermore, questions of fidelity can be settled by our answer to the question that love is love anywhere, even in the most unexpected of places. If that LGBT+ spouse truly loves his/her partner, the temptation to cheat will lessen tremendously. Combined with open lines of communication and ongoing attempts at romance, that temptation lessens even more. Indeed, many of these couples I know spend time with and talk to other mixed-orientation couples, even to the point of having bi-annual conferences to strengthen their marriages! Much goes on behind the scenes with mixed-orientation marriages that we do not understand or even know about. Thus, many judge and criticize - some even while proclaiming love can exist in unusual and unexpected circumstances.
To conclude, my friends, there are some things I yet do not fully understand about mixed-orientation marriage. But since I wish to pursue that for the honorable intention of raising a family I created, I can confidently assert myself in the face of opposition, and tell the haters to (in the words of a friend) back off. Please validate the choices of all LGBT+ people, regardless of which of those three options above they've decided on. That includes those who decide to date, court, and marry those of the opposite sex. If we truly wish to uphold the true phrase, "Love is Love", then we must hold ourselves to that declaration and validate love, wherever it may choose to appear. Until next time, beloved readers...