Yesterday I ran into an old friend, and for this blog I will call her Ellie. I should say, "a friend I've known for some time." She's not old, even if we both qualify for the senior discount at the movies! Maybe I have a bad memory, because Ellie recalled that the last time we ran into each other, I told her I was dating someone I described as, "Definitely NOT GAY." Back when I dated that guy, I was too consumed with him to remember that fleeting conversation, but when prompted about it, I did remember. (Honest, my memory runs worse and worse - just ask my kids, but I'm STILL claiming the "not old" designation, got that?)
One of our mutual friends had let me know that Ellie was once married to a gay man. For some reason, even though it seems everyone in our town (with our church connections) certainly knows about Ray (my former husband) coming out, Ellie had never mentioned it, even when we have connected at get-togethers when she could have.
As for myself, I really wanted to talk about her experience, compare a note or two, and possibly connect with another ally. That motivation led me to ask Ellie, "Did you know?" She proceeded to tell me that at least once before they were married, a friend had stated, "Well, you know he's gay, don't you?" But, like others before and since, she blew that off in ignorance because she was in love.
Ellie went on to say that the subject came up again, later, but her then-husband waved away the question so that he didn't have to answer. And, finally, there was the evidence: phone calls, trips, letters, and ultimately there was proof. Yes, her husband was gay. Because he'd been unfaithful, they soon divorced after having been married less than 5 years.
Of course I sympathized. She'd lost her love, her hopes, her future with him. I was sad for them both, and wished Ellie had not had to live with this hurt. To myself I wondered what ever happened to him - in our talk he was nameless. It made me sad to think of the hopes dashed, the questions of "why?" and how we go forward, smiling, yet explaining to ourselves in ways that make sense.
She asked me about my life, "What about you? Did you know?" "How long did you know?" And she also asked, "Did Ray ever go to Exodus?" I know I must have frowned and said, "No, and I'm so glad he didn't...It would only have made him feel worse...I don't think it would have helped, since change isn't possible. If it were, Ray would have changed."
Soon we got to the point where she and I no longer had things in common...It was when she said, "...But if someone really wants to change, I believe God will change them." And, "Haven't you heard of Dennis Jernigan? He has 9 kids."
Oh, my, gosh. Just the day before I had been writing an entry about how I am NOT convinced that by Dennis Jernigan's marriage and his 9 kids, that he is any way straight. I stopped writing and then didn't publish what I had, because I don't feel it's in anyone's best interest to comment on his personal life. Ellie was surprised at my reaction. She actually believes he's not gay.
You may be asking, Why does this interaction bear mentioning in Carol's blog?
It's because I keep wondering: How can a former wife of a gay man, having married him with love and commitment, logically come to the conclusion that he would be drawn to men rather than oneself? Wouldn't you rather realize that it was an inherent attraction to something OTHER than anything you can be? Isn't it more reasonable to understand that you are NOT the problem? Or, rather than being "not the problem," doesn't it feel better to know that you can't possibly be the solution?
I really hesitate to write more about Gayle Haggard, (wife of Ted Haggard) who is on a book tour to promote her book, "Why I stayed." I don't really want to write about whether or not Dennis Jernigan is straight or gay, or about anyone else who has a personal life that they deserve to preserve and protect. (Mr. Jernigan is a Christian worship song-writer, who claims he was healed from being gay, says he was "called to marry" his wife, and has fathered nine children.) Those two are just a fraction of mixed-orientation couples holding out false hopes of change, or at the least are living in denial. In those cases, in obscure blogs, such as Robert's "thearchitectsgarage" some claim to have overcome same-sex-attraction. (I still can't figure what he's trying to say or convince others of.) I just don't buy those claims. HOWEVER, when I see Ms. Haggard on the Today show, or read a published "testimonial" online, and when they go public, write blogs (or weird narratives) for other people in the same situation, I DO feel like I have the obligation to speak out on the conclusions that I have made.
Today I cried thinking about the families who have established themselves upon the doomed foundation of mixed-orientation couples, expecting change to occur. Some live monogamously, for long periods of time, abstaining from gay connections, and they declare that they are "cured." It is NOT my intention to break up these families! However I feel strongly that the right thing to do is to admit that the "gay-ness" or the same-sex-attraction, or whatever you want to call it, doesn't go away.
It seems redundant to keep saying it, but just don't claim to have prayed it away. Willing yourself to live a straight life is NOT the same as being straight. Remember, it's not what you do, it's about who you ARE.
What am I trying to say? If you are married, live with integrity. Honor your spouse, raise your kids. Be truthful. Don't lie. Be faithful. Live honestly.
And if you know (or are coming to terms with the fact that) you are gay and are NOT yet married to someone of the opposite sex, please do the same things: Live with integrity. Be truthful. Don't lie. Live honestly. And don't think that marrying a straight partner will solve or change your sexual orientation.
Can I be any clearer?