Last Thursday night my internet connection went down and I couldn't get it to come back up. I think it had something to do with a power outage earlier in the day. When I got around to calling Comcast on Friday morning, they were able to reset it fairly quickly. I sat down at my computer to catch up on things I had missed the day before and discovered a post called "Club Unicorn" that was being shared all over Facebook. I wasn't really shocked to read the content of the post, but I have been surprised by how many people have shared it and commented on it. I'm now feeling grateful that Facebook didn't exist six years ago when Mr. Fob and I were interviewed in the newspaper and on television. That was the right decision at the time, but I'm glad we turned down bigger offers and that things weren't shared more than they were.
We first met Josh and Lolly a little over six years ago. In the fall of 2005, Mr. Fob published an essay he had written in Dialogue. We received some correspondence as a result of that article; one of those people was Josh, who was happy to find another couple in the same situation because he and Lolly thought they were the only ones. We met up for dinner at the Brick Oven in Provo and then went back to their apartment to chat. It was a great night and the beginning of a great friendship. Apart from the obvious thing we had in common, we seemed to 'click' as friends and sincerely enjoyed hanging out together. We also coincidentally moved up to Seattle at the same time, and knowing another couple in the area was a big blessing to us.
Josh has written other things about being in a mixed-orientation marriage before, but always anonymously. During the last few days I have been experiencing a wide variety of emotions from reading all the different reactions to this post. I have been there: exposed to public scrutiny, reading the thoughts and feelings of others who think they know everything about your life and your future based on what you have said once. Is it worth it? Should we share such private things about ourselves on the internet? What good can come from it?
First of all, I wasn't surprised that Josh and Lolly made this decision. I know that it can be hard to live with a big part of your life that most of the world doesn't know about. We moved to California in the fall of 2008, right when the Prop 8 campaign was heating up. It was really difficult to navigate all my relationships at school and church without telling anyone that my husband was gay, but there wasn't a really good opportunity to do it. I don't know if it would have changed anything had I been able to say "I'm married to a gay man and I love him, and I still don't know what the answers are for everything." Unfortunately that statement tends to be met with criticism from all sides.
What I hope will come from Josh's post is an expansion of our hearts and minds. The willingness to let people speak their own stories without our own judgement, whether we agree with them or not. Even more importantly, whether we have the same experience or not. The fact that my experience has not been the same does not negate their experience.
One thing I really hope will come about from such openness is a greater tolerance and acceptance for those who are LDS and gay. I was heartened to read in Josh's story that his family was so loving and accepting, and sad to read that he struggled with being teased while in school. As members of the Church we should be leading the way in tolerance and love, not standing in the way of it. Whatever you think they should do with their lives in the future, all gay teenagers need is a hug and loving support. Teasing and name-calling should not be tolerated anywhere, especially not at Church youth activities.
Anyways, I'll get back off my soapbox and continue. Another concern that I've heard expressed by many is that stories of successful mixed-orientation marriages will encourage more of them to take place. I'm a bit concerned about that as well. The thing is, people I know who are like Josh don't necessarily want that to happen either. What I read in Josh's writing, and that of other friends, is that he believes that we should open our lives to God and let Him direct our path. That path may be marriage and it may be not be. I still believe in God and I still agree with this point of view. I think that God gave me and Mr. Fob a chance to have something beautiful and the choices Mr. Fob made took that away from us. I don't think everyone who is gay and LDS should enter a mixed-orientation marriage, but I do think they should do their best to cultivate a close relationship with God, and stick with that throughout their lives.
There was more I was going to say, but then I decided it was too personal. I'm grateful that the discourse is changing and that those who are happy in mixed-orientation marriages are willing to talk about them. I'm also grateful that they acknowledge that being gay is not something that can be 'cured' or that can just go away. While I hope that the idea that 'gay people should get married to someone of the opposite gender every time' will not trickle down to the general public, I hope the idea that gay people are our friends, neighbors, and family and deserve respect will. I think that's all we need to take away from this experience.