(This post would probably be rated PG or PG-13 if it was a movie.)
J and I met four more times.
Did we have sex? ”Yes” according to some definitions and “No” according to other definitions. That may remind you of the Clinton and Lewinsky investigation.
When did I feel we had sex? On the fourth visit when the pants came off.
Was it good? I thought it was wonderful. He said it was exquisite.
Did it last? No. The sixth visit started out well, but changed with a phone call.
Who ended the relationship? J.
Did he say why? No. I have some ideas, but he did not tell me why he ended the relationship.
Did you have sex with other men? No. I met two other guys. I ended one dinner at the start when the guy admitted he was married. The third guy and I had dinner but did not feel any attraction to each other. (This is a correction from the shorter version of my story, which I corrected today. I forgot about meeting the third guy when I wrote that post but remembered it while writing this series.)
Why did you decide to stop meeting men for sex? I was not ready to come out. I was not interested in casual sex. I wanted an emotional relationship if I was going to have sex. I wanted it to move from having sex to making love.
Most importantly, I felt the emotional pain after experiencing such wonderful feelings at first was too great. The more I mourned the loss of the two weeks with J, the more I felt I could not go through that experience again.
I decided it was better to live with no partner rather than run the risk of experiencing such great pain again. I retreated back into my solitary personality and set out to live a good life with friends and family, but no companion.
I was solitary. I was single. I would be celibate.
My son came out to me a few weeks after J ended our relationship. I was happy for my son because I knew how wonderful being gay could be. I was concerned and hoped he would not experience rejection. I did not come out to him till a year later. He had some ups and downs, and I felt it would be good for him to know that he had a gay dad.
I came out to my brother. I asked him to keep it confidential. I did not come out to my parents or other siblings. I was solitary. I was single. I would be celibate.
I had “come out” to my parents as being inactive in church when I divorced. Dad noticed I was not wearing garments during one of our earlier trips to Utah. He was disappointed but he said it was my decision and I would have to answer for the consequences.
Mom had a much harder time accepting my decision to go inactive. Each trip to Utah, while enjoyable, had at least one lecture/testimony session that lasted anywhere from half an hour to several hours. Mom’s message was constant: “Move back to Utah. Get active in the church. Find a woman you love and marry her in the temple.” I thanked her for her concern, deflected her instructions, and stayed in North Carolina, inactive, and unmarried.
These conversations started before I knew I was gay, but most of them came after my experience with J. I did not mind Mom bearing her testimony to me. The requests to come back to the church and marry a woman in the temple, though, migrated into harping.
The worst discussion came a few months after Dad passed away. It went on for so long and was so intense that I could no longer deflect what she was saying. I told her that I loved her dearly and I hoped she would always know that, and I appreciated all she had sacrificed in having me, but I was an adult and where I lived, my religious life, and my marital status were my decisions and I expected her to respect my decisions.
She started in again on, “Move back to Utah. Get active in the church. Find a woman you love and marry her in the temple.”
I looked at Mom and said, “I don’t need a woman.”
She said, “Oh.” I don’t know if she realized what I was saying. That was as close as I came to coming out to her as gay.
She resumed with, “Then, move back to Utah. Get active in the church.”
I interrupted her, which rarely ever happened, and said, “Mom, I love you, but if these conversations continue, this will be my last trip to Utah.” She stopped and we changed the subject.
I was contacted through my photo site later at different times by two women who were interested in a relationship. The first woman ended the conversations and I broke off the contact with the second woman. Neither prospective relationship progressed to the point of actually meeting.
I was solitary. I was single. I would be celibate.
I made a several trips to Utah as Mom’s health declined. The visits were sweet but hard at times. We knew at the last visit that we would not see each other again on earth. She bore her sweet, deep testimony to me, but did not ask me to return to Utah or the church, or to marry in the temple. I loved and appreciated her testimony. I was glad it brought her such comfort. I realized, though, that some of what brought her comfort had brought me much pain.
My job had always been demanding. It was probably better to not have a relationship due to the increasing stresses of that work. My co-workers feared I would have a heart attack and die alone as I worked late in the evenings. I reached a point where I knew I could not go on at that pace with such stress indefinitely.
I had a small reserve plus a small pension. I called my son and said, “We have a choice. I can either continue working and die sometime soon. You will have a nice inheritance. Or I can retire and spend your inheritance. Which do you prefer?”
He replied, “That’s a stupid question. You know I would waste the money. I think you should retire.”
(The above conversation is not as ridiculous as it may seem. A co-worker who was over thirty years younger than me died of a heart attack several months after I retired.)
Around the time of the above phone call, a former high school classmate contacted me. She was living in Utah. We chatted. Our conversations came naturally. We were having a nice time.
I realized we were starting to get closer to each other, even though we were over 2,000 miles apart. I thought back on my former wife. I had loved her, but I could never fully emotionally connect with her. I did not feel that I could go through that experience again, and I could not put another woman through that experience. I pulled back.
Retirement came. I went on a nice trip to Hilton Head. Mid sixties temperatures in January are especially nice when one recalls the twenties and teens I lived with out west.
I was solitary. I was single. I would be celibate.
And then, the most traumatic experience I had since my divorce came in the form of a premonition late one March evening. I had premonitions a few times before – those times when a thought came totally unexpectedly and unplanned to my mind. Each time I followed those earlier premonitions. Each time the decision was right.
I live with five rescue cats and two rescue dogs. They are not all compatible. The dogs don’t mix with the cats. The home is large enough that the one cat who does not care for most of the other cats has her own space. The only time when all five cats are together is at night before I go to bed. I sit on the floor and they gather around for some final petting, rubbing, and sniffing (them – not me).
As I stroked the back of a black and white former feral while a deaf white long hair rubbed his chin against my other hand, the following spoke clearly and forcefully to my mind:
“Dean, you should have a partner, a companion, and it should be a man.”
I gasped and I felt my heart drop. I spoke out loud and said, “No, God. Don’t make me do this.”
The voice came back and said, “Dean, you are not supposed to be alone. You should have a partner. It should be a man.” That was followed by two more directives: “You need to come out as gay. You need to formally resign from the church.”
I begged again, “Please God, don’t make me do this. I can’t do this.” The voice did not come back again. The messages were delivered. The spirit had moved on.
I did not sleep that evening, or the next, or the next. I did not know where to turn to, especially where I lived. The debate before the vote on NC’s Marriage Amendment (Amendment 1) was in full swing. It was filled with lots of hatred being spewed by a few of the amendment’s supporters, most originating from local churches. I could not find any gay resources for my county.
I remembered seeing articles in the Internet editions of the Salt Lake newspapers about a support group for former and current gay Mormons. I did a search for “gay Mormons” and found the site for Affirmation. It had a plethora of links and excellent information, but there was nothing for the person who was coming out in their mid fifties.
I found some sites for gay former Mormons who hated the church. I did not hate the church, but it was not relevent to me. I found other sites of gay Mormons who were trying to change the church. Those did not apply to me either. I had nothing to do with the church for fifteen years. I felt I had no right to try to be an agent of change for the church.
I haphazardly worked my way through a number of blogs (but I did not find the MoHo Directory). I got frustrated. There seemed to be a split. Half were obsessed with hating the Mormon church. Half were adamant on supporting the church’s position. Almost all focused solely on gay issues. I wondered if “gay” was the only identity that some of the blog writers felt.
I went back to the Affirmation site and saw their list of blogs. I clicked through and saw that I had found some but not all the blogs. I think it was after 1:00 a.m. and I was past ready to go to sleep, but I decided to click on the last link, Boy Meets Blog.
I liked the guy’s writing style. I liked the variety of his entries. It looked like he was living a full life and that being gay was a significant factor but not the only thing about his life. I read a few posts each day for a week or two. I finally wrote a message to send to the guy, but I was a little concerned. His blog had some photos and it was obvious he was a lot younger than me. I did not want to come across as some old guy going after the young stud.
I finally sent the message to him. The gist was, “I’m probably not your intended demographic, but your blog has been the most helpful thing for me as I prepare to come out.” I gave a short background. I continued my search for other resources.
I was shocked to receive a reply from the guy, J. Seth Anderson. It was so kind. It was so warm. I wrote back, sent a Facebook friend request, and we continued more correspondence.
One of Seth’s blogs led me to this video from Michael. It was a quietly powerful video. The part the resonated the most was when told about realizing that he was not fulfilling the measure of his creation by trying to change himself from being gay.
I had thought writing the resignation letter to the church would be easy, but I found I could not write the letter. My mother had told me the story of her faith in a promise in her Patriarchal Blessing that led to my birth. I was indifferent to the church, but not indifferent to the pain that I thought my Mother would feel with my resignation. I wrote about an experience here that confirmed for me that my parents still loved me, but I could not write the letter.
There was a lull in my journey. I took a scheduled trip to Utah. It was great to see family and friends and visit new and favorite sites. I told the one sibling who I had come out to years earlier that I would be coming out and looking for a partner, but I did not tell any other people. I was not ready to talk to most people. I still had to figure out why it took me so long to realize I was gay.
I had one regret about the timing of the Utah trip. A Mormon Stories “Circling the Wagons” conference was held in Washington D. C. while I was out west. I found videos from a 2011 conference in Salt Lake and started watching those videos. A comment from Carol Lynn Pearson did not answer why it took me so long, but I realized coming out now was a blessing compared to what I would have experienced if I had recognized I was gay and come out in the 1970s or 1980s.
I felt I was moving along in a mostly forward direction, but I still could not bring myself to write my resignation letter to the church. I had a short phone call with Seth and he helped me realize that my resignation would share a parallel with my divorce. I did not want my marriage to end, but I knew it was the right decision. I did not want to resign even though I was inactive, but I knew resigning was the right decision.
I started coming out to a few people in person and over the phone. I contacted around thirty people, evenly split between friends and family out west and friends in North Carolina. Every conversation was difficult for me, but I experienced love instead of rejection.
In the midst of coming out I saw that Mormon Stories posted three Benji Schwimmer videos. I had not watch television for years. I had no idea who he was but read he was a dancer. I could not figure out what I would learn from a dancer, but I saw a comment that said his coming out story was powerful. I decided to watch the third video first since the caption said it talked about his coming out. Part way into the interview but well before he talked about his decision to resign from the church, I felt a calm, peaceful confirmation. It was time to write the letter. I wrote it when the video ended and mailed it that afternoon.
My gay journey continued to move forward, but much of the rest of my life was on hold. I had written a draft of a novel before coming out and sent it to a professional editor. It came back with lots of compliments and suggested edits. I understood what the editor was saying but each time I pulled out the draft to make the changes my mind went blank.
I had another draft for a book on recollections. It needed a lot of polishing before it would be ready to go to the editor. I could not work on it, either.
I spent a major part of three months working in the background for some of the groups organizing Mormon marchers in Pride Parades and was fully functional on those assignments, but I could not focus on kick starting my professional writing career. I was also getting frustrated because I had not met anyone to date.
I had an unscheduled trip to Utah for a funeral. I had some very powerful and reassuring experiences on the trip that I wrote about here. I started writing more regularly for my blog. I finally started meeting gay people in neighboring counties when I became involved with a gay men’s chorus.
I told small parts of my story to some people, larger parts of my story to a few people, but had not told the fuller version of my story to anyone. I had thought earlier about telling it as a Gay Mormon Stories interview, but I don’t think I am ready for that.
One person who knew more about my story said it was probably too long to cover in an hour-long interview. The unspoken implication was that it was so long because I was so old, but it was a mutual inside joke. He was older than me when he came out to his family.
I sat down the other week and started writing my story. I felt it was time. I did not know how long it would take, and it is a lot longer than I expected it to be. I had four reasons for writing this series:
- It helped me understand the role that a few significant events during my teens had on delaying my realization that I was gay.
- I think the stories of ordinary people can help other people with their own stories. My story is a niche story that most people will not relate to, but there may be parts of the story that can help other people as they decide how to live their lives. I doubt Seth Anderson, Michael Ferguson, or Benji Schwimmer thought something they said or wrote would help an older person, but they played key roles in helping me understand my story. Carol Lynn Pearson has a unique story, but she has helped thousands of people even though their stories were different.
- I found next to nothing to help the older person, like me, who is coming out or dealing with being gay. People who are in their mid or late life are still committing suicide because of unsound ideas taught by churches and society that gay is a verb – a decision or action. Gay people need support at all stages of life. I hope my story raises that awareness.
- A lot of the religious background of my story applies to other religions that have similar teachings about and against gays as the Mormon church. As a highly centralized religion, I think the Mormon church is farther along the road to understanding gay people than the Catholic church. Less centralized Protestant religions vary from congregation to congregation, but I find the most hateful language often comes from these churches.
Friends ask how I am doing. I have my good days. I have my bad days. I have not found anyone to date, but I have made some very good friends.
I am still not sure what I am looking for in a relationship. I assumed after the premonition that I was looking for someone to have a committed, long-term sexually intimate life.
I realized something a few days ago. Between scheduled trips, unscheduled trips, and day trips, I had spent around eight weeks driving to tourist sites this year. I wanted to share those experiences with someone – a man. I wanted to talk with someone – a man. I wanted to hold and hug someone – a man. I wanted to kiss and be kissed by someone – a man. I day dreamed at times and fantasized on what it would be like to have a man with me as I visited those beautiful and interesting sites. I am still trying to understand what kind of relationship I should have when I find a partner.