HA! Ho-Mo! As in Homosexual Mormon, get it? I thought of that. You can use it, though.
Anywhey, Frank and I have had many conversations on our podcast about homosexuality, and even more about Mormonism, and so it was inevitable that I would at some point bring up my dear friend who knew he was gay (like, totally accepted it without reservation), but was completely devoted to his faith and got married to a woman, who also knew he was gay. And they're fine. Well adjusted, happy, and totally fine.
So, I did bring him up. Last week, as a matter of fact. I didn't use his or his wife's names, and I was EXTREMELY careful not to give any clues that might hint at who they were. I just talked about their situation. Then this week, wonder of wonders, they came out of the closet! On vacation for their 10th wedding anniversary, they posted a fantastic post on his blog all about their marriage and his sexuality. You should click here and read it. Many times.
Well, that shit went viral. Like, front page of Gawker viral. Suddenly, I'm seeing opinions about my dear friend popping up all over my Facebook feed, from friends all over the Country
|Cute couple, no?
who have no idea who he is. Who he is, by the way, is Josh Weed– a brilliant, kind, fantastic human being, who is in the process of completely screwing with everybody's formerly happy and neatly compartmentalized notions of sexuality, intimacy, marriage, and love.
So there it is. A gay guy and a straight woman. Married. A story I've seen dozens of times. A story that happens way-too-frequently in the Mormon community. And yet… not. The thing about Josh and Lolly is that I totally buy it. Unlike literally EVERY INSTANCE OF THIS I'VE EVER ENCOUNTERED BEFORE, I believe in this (Did you read their blog post? Their shit's legit, right?).
Here's where their thing and everybody else's thing completely differ: they are WAY smarter in their approach to the scenario, and (perhaps out of necessity), they are vigilant about attacking this thing with open-eyed awareness and a dogged commitment not only to each other, but to mindfulness and honesty (it doesn't hurt that he has a Master's degree in marriage and family therapy). It's a way of living in a relationship that few couples, gay, straight or otherwise, have any capacity for. But they do. And it works.
So what will be the impact of this bombshell? Well, I'm of two totally different minds on this.
On one hand, I think this post will actually have a very positive influence on Mormon culture (and eventually doctrine) when it comes to sexuality. This post is so well written, and the story is so honest that Mormons who have persisted in closing their eyes to the reality of homosexuality will finally have a digestible way of understanding that sexual orientation is not about choice, but a fact of every person's life. Because Josh lives a lifestyle that they find acceptable, and is so devout in his religious belief, his words carry far more weight than all those corrupt social and biological scientists out there. That's good. Once Mormons accept that sexuality is not a choice, they'll be a long way toward more reality-based opinions on the subject (and a lot more sympathetic toward their gay brothers and sisters).
On the other hand, as much as I appreciate how this makes the discussion of sexuality and marriage richer, I think this post of his is going to have a disastrous impact on a few lives. Intellectually, I think the Weeds have done a great job of presenting a model for a totally new and potentially viable alternative lifestyle. Practically, however, I worry. I know how Mormon/religious minds tend to work. Logical reasoning works backward- they start with a conclusion, and then bend the evidence to support that conclusion. And the conclusion Mormons start with is that being gay is wrong, and being married is right. That means that many (certainly not all) Mormons will see this and think this is an option for them. Well, for most of them it just isn't. And attempting it will end in tears. Families will be shredded.
I gotta give props to Josh , who goes out of his way to say things like this:
I want to make it very clear that while I have found a path that brings me profound joy and that is the right path for me, I don’t endorse this as the only path for somebody who is gay and religious. I will never, ever judge somebody else’s path as being “incorrect” and I know many people who have chosen different paths than myself.
He is under no delusions that this path will work for everybody. But I would venture to say that that's not going to be the takeaway for most Mormons. I think most Mormons are so woefully undereducated in matters of sexuality (in many cases purposefully so), that they will have no context from which to understand this. They will see a gay man happily married to a woman, and think they have all the evidence they need to prove that their gay son can pull it off too if he prays enough. Or that their lesbian sister has no excuse to continue sinning when it's so clear that you can be happily married in a straight marriage. Or that they themselves can be totally fine marrying their "best friend", and just not worrying about the fact that all they can think about is how hot that Abercrombie model is.
I just don't think that's realistic. In almost all cases, a successful partnership that includes sex must start with at least a mutual sexual attraction. Sex is so fundamental to marriage, that without that initial attraction, most relationships are doomed from the beginning. To overcome that is an exercise that only the most emotionally adept, the truly exceptional, should ever attempt. All others need not apply. These are professionals– DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME!
So… these are my initial responses. Frank and I will chat about it on our next episode, and I'm sure we'll come up with more fascinating points ("More? Where were the first ones?"). And, for the sake of fairness, I think I'll give Josh an opportunity to respond to this. He won't, of course- he's a big shot now. He's weighing which major network shows to go on, he doesn't have time for nonsense like this. But I'll give him the chance, anyway.