Monday, September 27, 2010

What Would You Do?

I need some help.

In the post about my mission years, I told you all about my favorite missionary companion – the one who prodded me to out myself to my mission president (unknowingly), and who later told me he suspected that I was gay.
Well, I was having dinner with some friends this last weekend. One of our friends has been dating a guy for about a year, and this was the first time we had met him. When he found out I was a returned missionary, he asked me where I served. After I told him, he immediately asked me if I knew “Elder So-and-So,” which is this missionary I happened to reference.
I told him I did, and he proceeded to tell me that the next time I saw him, to let him know that “Guy’s Name Here” misses him.
My mouth just about fell open.
To make a long story short, this favorite companion of mine had quite a senior year of high school having multiple flings, and one serious relationship – all of which this dinner friend claimed were sexual. He even said that Elder So-and-So told his best friend (who was and still is “Guy’s Name Here”) that if he could stay home from his mission and get married to him, he would. Unfortunately, that would be sinful.
As we talked about Elder So-and-So more fully, it became apparent that some of the same things we talked about as missionaries were directly linked to how he would “feel out” the men he knew would keep quiet in high school!
Needless to say, I’m rather shocked that I would pour out my soul to this person at a mission reunion just a few months before my excommunication (or was it after? I can’t remember), and he told me NOTHING.
Ok, I do understand that, actually… but here is the problem.

Elder So-and-So is recently married.
The one thing I would hate to happen is for him to be going through all of the alone-ness, the “tabooed” hush about the subject falling over his entire life. I don’t want him to bottle it all up until one day it just doesn’t work anymore. Being on MY side of the fence does provide some insight to how I would live and how I could make it work on the OTHER side of the fence. But would he benefit from that?
Maybe he’s figured it all out for himself. Maybe when he professed his love for “Guy’s Name Here” it was just experimentation and confusion. Maybe he’s bisexual, and perfectly happy in his marriage. I have no way of knowing without asking and him giving an honest answer.

So do I confront him, at least extending a hand as someone who he can talk to honestly and freely, with no judgments or suggestions as to what he should or shouldn’t do? Is it possible he would benefit from knowing the stories of some of the readers here who have been in mixed-orientation marriages so that he doesn’t make the same mistakes, or does the things right that some of you have done?

Or do I keep my mouth shut, and just be ready to help him pick up the pieces?

I'm sure we all know missionaries we've suspected as being gay (or at least secretly hoped, haha).  This one is literally that missionary, not just a missionary - he's one I would call a best friend for life. 

What would you do?

1 comment:

Scott N said...

If he really is "a best friend for life" you should talk to him.

Tell him that you know some of his history courtesy of "Guy's Name Here", and suggest that as a gay man who has left the church you can (at the very least) empathize with any struggles that he may have, and that perhaps you might have insight or advice that can make his life easier as well.

Tell him that you know several guys who are or were married despite being attracted to men, and that you might have the benefit of some of their experiences to offer him as well.

If he's gotten married then he is, as you suggest, bisexual and therefore able to be in love with his wife or (more likely, in my opinion) he is a gay man trying to appear straight (either because he believes in the church and wants to follow its policies prohibiting same-sex relations or because he is fearful of being an "out" gay man and got married in order to "lock the closet door", so to speak).

In any case he's almost certain to run into problems (I imagine even a bisexual man might struggle from time to time). Knowing that you are there to listen and assist will be a good thing.

(And I imagine it goes without saying that Sarah and I would be happy to talk to him if he's interested in doing so).