Thursday, June 08, 2006

Choices

I began to make a comment on one of the other threads about this, but decided it was better for a new post. Now that we've experienced all kinds of reactions to our news, and have let it settle with people for a few weeks, I have begun to sort the responses in my mind. Many of our Mormon friends and family fall into the same category-- love us, but don't love the choices we're making. Very sad for the loss of our family, but not optimistic that we can make a good future for ourselves. I've expected these kinds of reactions, because there is a measure of sadness, and I know that not everyone is going to understand why we do the things we do. I don't understand why anyone else does the things they do, either, so it's only fair.

What I want to say is this: Chris and I are each doing the very best we can to salvage the love and family that we want to continue to share. We are doing the best we can to remain close to God and to our Savior. We are doing the best we can to give our girls a spiritual and open environment where they can feel free to explore their own beliefs as they get older, but where we make it clear to them what we believe.

A lot of people have said that they've seen this situation before, and that it never ends well, never results in happiness for either of the parties. While Chris has already pointed out that we do know a few couples who have made it work pretty well, I agree that when a husband comes out of the closet, it rarely translates into a positive thing for the family.

I would venture a guess that because this situation is so personal to me, I have done more reading and research on this topic than most of you. From that reading, I've gained a bit of perspective as to why this is so. First, many husbands who have come out do so only when either their adulterous homosexual activities are exposed, or when the guilt stemming from those activities is so overwhelming they cannot take it anymore and have to confess. Many husbands struggle with their homosexuality alone and rather than include their wives as helpmates in this struggle, try to "get it out of their system" by exploring anonymous sexual encounters, or even real relationships with men unbeknownst to their wives. Beginning the conversation with "I'm gay, and here's what I've been doing about it" is not the best way to explore healthy dialogue regarding the future of the relationship, and leaves many wives feeling so betrayed and angry that there is no hope of a family.

Chris did not choose this path. He chose to begin the conversation by saying, "I'm gay, and I don't know what to do about it, but I want you to be a part of whatever comes next." He chose to remain faithful to the marriage vows he took until he is released from those vows. He chose to talk rather than act. He trusted me enough to know that I would be a partner in finding a way for our family to find the most happiness.

Second, even when there has been no infidelity, but especially when there has, many wives react to their husbands' news with disgust and horror. Many choose to cut off contact, to start their lives over and forget they were ever married to a gay man. Sadly, this sometimes includes cutting their children's father out of their lives as well. This can't be the way a family finds happiness.

I was blessed to have an immediate empathy for Chris, and during our first long night of discussion after he came out to me, I gained an understanding of homosexuality that I can only attribute to God. I believe He allowed me to ask the questions I needed to, and enlightened my mind with true empathy. This wasn't sympathy, as in, "This must have been so hard for you, tell me all about it, I'm sorry you had to do this alone, I'm your friend, I'm here for you." This was a completely real feeling of BEING Chris, of looking back on his life and heartache and actually feeling it as if I had been in his soul with him. I saw things from his point of view, I cried as if I had been the one traumatized by my self-hatred and fear of judgement. It was only one of many miracles given to me that have enabled me to not just "get through" the last nine months, but to grow from it and have a restored faith and hope in the future.

I did not walk away from the church lightly. I did not follow Chris out without considering my beliefs for myself. The first week after the coming out, I had such spiritual experiences that my testimony of God as my true Father was undeniably strengthened, and I felt Him holding me and comforting me in a way that I had never understood before. I knew He was there, and since the only way I had come to know Him was in the Mormon church, I wanted to find a way to make it work for me. In another post, I'll talk more about my spiritual experiences and my rebuilding of my faith. For now I will simply say that I asked in earnest of God how I could reconcile my newfound knowledge of homosexuality and my unshakeable witness that everything Chris had shared with me about his experience was true, with the doctrine the church has given on the subject. They were completely at odds. This struggle took me to Elder Oaks's article (which Chris referred to in an earlier post) and to various church-sanctioned sites such as Evergreen International, and took me to my knees, and took me to my ward, and took me through long nights of discussion with Chris.

I know that many of you will perhaps be even more saddened by what I concluded. I know that many of you will believe, and some will say, that there is no way the Spirit of the True and Living God would ever lead someone away from the LDS church. I know that many of you will decide that it is an evil spirit that pursuaded me of this, or that Chris's influence on me was too strong and I couldn't stand on my own. Our beliefs differ here, friends, and only I know what I felt and the strength I have gained from the Spirit on this topic. I cannot explain it. I cannot tell you why I was blessed this way. But neither can I deny it.

So my choice was not simply to follow Chris, but to follow God. My choice was to turn my path over to Him and allow Him to guide me, cautious step by cautious step, along the high wire that has been my life over the past year. My choice is to pursue the happiness that He has in store for me, in the only way I know how right now.

Matthew 7: 18-22:

A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring
forth good fruit

Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn
down, and cast into the fire.

Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know
them.

Some of you may not see the good fruit that has come for us in the past year. Some of you may view our decision to leave the church as proof of evil fruit from a corrupt tree. I respect that belief, and wish you the peace an happiness you are entitled to from searching out a path for yourself on which God will walk with you. From my viewpoint, every person this experience has touched, really touched, has been the better for it, and those are the fruits I see. Is it easy? No. Will it be easy in the future? No. But I believe Elder Monson once said, "That which is easy is rarely right." (Sorry, can't find the exact reference right now...) I am following the path I believe is right, but not easy, not by a long shot. So when you say to me that we're in for a rough time, or that the way will be hard for us, or that we have no easy choices, I say you're right. I embrace the roughness. It will polish me. I embrace the choices I am making, because I am making them with God.

14 comments:

BB said...

Yes.

Foxx said...

K, I found the reference for the Monson quote.

Thomas S. Monson, “Meeting Your Goliath,” Ensign, Jan. 1987, 2

I know what it's like to feel that divine empathy, and I am delighted to hear how open and honest you are about the choices you are making. I find them refreshing, for, as a young single gay Mormon, I worried greatly about how my potential marriage would have worked out. Your experience gives me hope that every story like yours must end in tragedy.

Jennifer said...

K,
I read this entire blog today. I am sorry for your loss. Its unfortunate that your ex-husband was such a coward for so many years. Im sorry he stole so much of your life. I have never been able to get my life back.

CatchingWaterfalls said...

It is amazing to hear this from your perspective. I look forward to more of your blogs. And learing about the journey you have shared with your husband.

KK said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
KK said...

foxx,

I trust you mean that my experience gives you hope that every story like ours must NOT end in tragedy...

...and I agree. Although my life now is not as I would have pictured it when I got married, I have no regrets, and would marry Chris again if given the opportunity. However, I would not blanketly encourage gay men to marry women (Mormon or not) simply because there is hope of friendship after marriage. I believe that our marriage was blessed by God, and that He encouraged us to enter into it, for a multidue of purposes that we have only begun to appreciate. I would hope that anyone considering entering marriage would seek the same confirmation, and not simply do it in the hopes that it will change them, or that they can stay closeted that way. In my opinion, that situation would have a great chance of resulting in hurt and unhappiness for all involved.


jennifer,

thank you for your sympathy. i'm so sorry you feel your life was stolen. if you'd like to share more about your story, i'm a good listener.

Elisabeth said...

K -

Your description of empathy brought tears to my eyes. It is truly a rare gift to experience pure empathy for others.

I don't have much to say other than to add that I hope you and your family continue to feel comforted and supported during this difficult time. Sounds like you already have an excellent foundation from which to rebuild your lives together and individually. But you should also know that many people are reading your words and wishing you much love and peace.

Anonymous said...

Oops, yes. You got my meaning even though I left out that one important word. :D

Foxx

Aaron said...

K and Chris, thank you both so much for sharing your experiences in this way. Your courage, generosity and love are truly inspiring.

Cody said...

Hello Keri and Chris,

I just want you to know how much I love this blog, I am a daily reader now. I'm happy I finally get to post something! I would like to apologize in advance for my terrible writing and grammar; I am far from an excellent writer. And I have a difficult time getting meaningful and good points across, but I’ll try anyway. This blog has definitely opened my eyes in a lot of different ways. As you hopefully know by now I am about as open and understanding to the homosexual life style as a straight man can be. I have always been raised to know that being Gay is ok, and there in absolutely nothing wrong with it.

Growing up in Salt Lake City and going to East High School (a somewhat "Gay rights" historical site) I quickly learned that the way I was raised was not they way most of my friends were raised. The word "fag" and using the word "gay" to describe something stupid, idiotic and dumb, was common slang in the halls. I felt so sad for the openly gay students at East because of the hate that filled their lives while at school. One of the most awful experiences I ever had while at East was after the annual Multi-Cultural assembly, where they showed a short film about homosexuality to try and increase acceptance. Of course the film was booed, and it sent people into an outrage. Students openly discussed going gay-bashing and how much they hated and were disgusted by gays. It was a pretty awful time to be a gay student at East High. I have always felt so bad for those students and all homosexual people that must face that daily ridicule and hate. The one thing I have come to learn from your experience and blog is that those must have been awful times for the openly gay students, but now when I think back I can’t imagine how awful that was for the closeted gay students.

I cannot even begin to understand how difficult it must be to know you are attracted to people of the same sex in such an awful environment. I wonder how many of my friends will have the same experience that Chris is having now when they get older. What will they do when they eventually cannot hide who they really are? They will probably learn to hate themselves, have a risky relationship, turn to pornography, lose their families or commit suicide. It’s an awful reality for the closeted gay men in our country. What would have happened if these mean were raised like I was, and went to school at a place where it was ok to be gay? They would lead happy lives, and not feel ashamed for who they really are. So many people’s lives are being ruined because of the views on homosexuality.

I am really impressed with Chris and Keri’s courage to send out this news, and to open themselves up to such a private time in their lives. Not only does it give the people a better understanding of exactly what they are going through without spreading rumors and gossip. But it also gives people a much needed front row experience into a serious problem that many men are facing. I don’t think that it really matters what type of comments that this blog is getting, which is mostly positive. The important thing is that people are reading it, and they are voluntarily or involuntarily learning something. I have a hard time believing that anyone with a heart would ever act hateful toward a gay/lesbian person, no matter what their views are, after knowing Chris or what Chris has gone through. With every person that this letter and blog touches it’s bettering the lives of the homosexual people around them. With every closeted gay person this touches its giving them hope that there are other alternatives besides loosing their families or suicide. I just want Chris and Keri to know that I have noticed a change for the better in people that have been following this experience closely. This letter and blog has already reached hundreds of people, and when their son, daughter, father, cousin, ect comes out of the closet they will hopefully be met with open arms. Both of you are amazing people, and the way you have handled this situation has been nothing short of remarkable, and I am so glad I have gotten to know you. I am honored that I am a member of this family so I can go through this experience with you, and get to watch this experience transform people’s lives. Thanks for the blog, and keep posting! The impact of this blog could save lives and families. Me and Mad will be here for you like we have been the entire time!

Cody
p.s. sorry for the length, I’ve been reading for weeks now, I had a lot to say. And sorry for the writing.

KK said...

Cody! I'm so happy to hear from you!

Thank you so much for your comments. You have a unique perspective and I really value your presence here. Please keep writing...

You pointed out that no matter how hard it is to be an openly gay person and feel the hate and criticism, it must be that much harder to be closeted and in some cases, feel pressure to join in. I know that Chris felt a little of that over the years, and fortunately never did say hateful or misguided things about gay people even though he was closeted. But we know a few others who have been some of the most rabidly homophobic people, simply because of the self-hatred they feel. It's so sad.

I hope that people your age are better at dealing with this-- I feel like it's getting better. I don't know.

At any rate, thanks. Say hi to your beautiful wife, and tell her to get on the blog too!

Chris said...

Cody, I'm delighted to hear from you, too. Keep reading and commenting, and thanks for your love and support.

Elbow said...

I am so moved. Every time I sit down to read another enty I am inspired and uplifted.
Thank you...sincerely.
Your examples have given me an insurmountable dose of hope.

Cody said...

I am happy to be here! I usually love to post on blogs but with the amazing writing and emotion on this blof I felt a little intemmidated. But its inspired me to start my own blogs! Check them out, and keep posting.