The Curious Case of Josh Weed the Ho-Mo

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

I totally used this pic without permission. 
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. 

6 thoughts on “The Curious Case of Josh Weed the Ho-Mo

  1. You are spot-on with the very serious danger implicit in this story’s wide publicity. No caveats or explanations or admonitions will change how this story will be misinterpreted and misapplied. I would not want to be responsible for putting this message out into the universe.

    I appreciate his honesty, I admire his dedication to his faith, and I am glad that he has achieved as much happiness as he has. I think it may be slightly pompous of him to assume that his sexual happiness is somehow equivalent or better than the bliss that comes from following one’s natural attractions. He has never been in love with a man, never had sex with a man he is in love with, and therefore has no basis for comparison.

    I don’t think any of us will be able to judge his relationship, much less comprehend it, with any kind of true understanding. I am happy for him, and I wish him all the best. I only wish that people would see this for what it is–a fortunate anomaly. Those who attempt to recreate it face tremendously bad odds and risk years of devastating pain.

  2. I am rather torn about this. On the one hand I understand his attitude to the relationship, and it is sort of what I dream of having myself one day (I am asexual, something I only came to understand after a failed marriage – and am still in the closet about it). People should marry someone they love, respect and are good friends with, regardless of their genitalia. But then the sex issue is probably a lot bigger a deal for sexual people than it is for me, I certainly have a hard time understanding many aspects sexual attraction and its effects on society and pair bonding.

    On the other hand, I see the dangers, not so much to this relationship, but to spreading the idea that this can work for just anyone, and specifically for any couple, as one also has to weigh in also the other person in the relationship, including their feelings, reactions and sexuality.

    I suspect Josh has been exceptionally lucky with his wife, and that they also put more work into this – maybe for religious reasons, hard to say for sure – than may be apparent to people perhaps wanting to try this for themselves

  3. Dan–

    Seriously, excellent write up and also pretty hilarious. I’m only sad that I didn’t have a chance to read this until now because I’m in agreement with about 90% of what you have to say here. I think your analysis of the positives and negatives of having published this type of post is spot on. There are benefits and risks. And I hate that there are risks. Thankfully, there have been enough people with good analytical minds like yours, and enough people with their own stories, that I feel there has been a decent amount of counterpoint. But I do hope with all of my heart that there aren’t sweet couples deciding to give it a go who are going to have their marriages end disastrously. Given the divorce rate in general, I think it’s safe to say that this is going to happen.

    My hope is that I’m able to, along with my story, provide as much education as I possibly can so that those who do wish to take this road (and there are plenty that do, even without my help) can do so in the most informed, healthy way possible. I think opening up this dialogue to be able to provide that might be worth the risks. I really do believe that for this to work, it has to be something that the parties involved truly want for themselves, independent of outside cultural pressures. I hope I’m able to communicate the risks, and I’m thankful for articles like yours that tastefully and articulately help me do that.

  4. I see nothing positive about a gay man getting married to a woman. This kind of behaviour does nothing more than support the religious rant that homosexuality is a choice that does’t have to be acted on. I would not be surprised if Josh becomes a poster boy for the religious right in their continuous rantings that homosexuality is a choice that can be subverted by prayer. No matter how ‘wonderful’ this marriage seems to be at the moment, if Josh really is a gay man with normal same sex attraction as opposed to opposite sex attraction, then no matter how hard the husband and wife try it will one day prove to be the sham that it is with not just the two adults reaping the consequences but the children as well.

    If Josh wants to remain within the confines of his church then he and the rest of his gay brothers and sisters would be better served if he took steps to show that being gay is nothing to be ashamed of instead of hiding within the confines of a sham heterosexual marriage that will inevitably end is disaster.

    And just on that church issue. How is his heart could he continue to support an institution that believes that he and people like him are abominations and should be shunned (at least) and put to death at worst?

    • I know I’m really late to respond to David B, but I want to point out that people are more than just political or religious statements. Josh really wanted marriage and biological children for himself, specifically with this woman whom he loved. Just because he’s a gay man, he shouldn’t have to think any more than anyone else about the political/religious statement he’s making by doing this. It’s his right, just as it is yours and mine.

  5. Sorry for commenting so much later than the post, but I came across your very funny speech bubble when when looking for Mr. Weed’s blog. I direct this comment to David B:

    Something ignored in the discussion of whether homosexual practice is a choice is the fact that heterosexual practice is also a choice. I am attracted to several (many) women to whom I am not married. But I only have sex with my wife. This choice is called monogamy (but you knew that). As a civilized human being, I don’t have to drop my pants and attempt to mate with every hot chick I see.

    If I were in a committed relationship with another man, I would behave in the same monogamous way. At least I assume I would. That doesn’t mean that I don’t think I’d be attracted to men besides my partner, but that I am civilized enough to keep it in my pants until I get home.

    And ten (now eleven) happy years of heterosexual marriage while being openly gay (at least to one’s wife and family) is no sham, sir. I am sorry that apparently in your worldview that must necessarily be the case.

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