Why I came out as a gay Mormon

A & W photography. Used with permission from Joshua Weed. Joshua Weed photographed with his wife and daughters. On June … Continued

A & W photography. Used with permission from Joshua Weed.

Joshua Weed photographed with his wife and daughters.

On June 7th –the day of our ten-year wedding anniversary–my wife, Lolly, and I sat in front of our laptop in a hotel, staring at the screen. “You take this paragraph,” I said, “and I’ll take this one.” We edited in a mad rush, each proofing half the screen as we worked our way down the 6,000 words written for my small humor blog, The Weed. If we didn’t hurry, we’d be late to see The Blue Man Group, and we knew that if we didn’t press publish before we left, we might never find the courage to press it at all.

When we reached the end of the post, we looked at each other in disbelief. We were actually doing this. Nearly petrified, we decided to push the button together at the same time–the way we do everything: side-by-side, in total consensus.

We took a deep breath, counted to three, and pressed “publish post.” Then we raced out the door.

And then we sat through the show, trying hard to pay attention, and to not think about the fact that we had just told everyone we know, every single person who reads my blog, that even though I am an active, devout Mormon married to a woman, I am also gay

When we got home, the blog had already started to spread. By the next day, it had officially gone viral. And suddenly, what began as a personal post on a small humor blog became something much bigger.

The answer to the question of why we published the post is a complicated one.

Several months ago–and this is hard to describe without using the overt language of our faith–Lolly and I started to receive what we consider to be personal revelation or inspiration: spiritual promptings that indicated that we needed to start preparing to share our story. We didn’t know why or how. We just knew that we had to start preparing. So, with great faith, not knowing beforehand what we were going to do, we started laying the groundwork. We started systematically, every Sunday, calling the remaining family and friends who didn’t already know about this part of our lives so that we could tell them in person. We contacted friends who were more public about this issue (like Ty Mansfield) asking “we feel like we need to share this. Are you aware of any opportunities?” We discussed some ideas, but nothing materialized. Yet we knew we needed to share.

Finally we decided to share it on our blog. It was our space to share our story and to let our loved ones and friends know about our situation. While we didn’t necessarily think people in our social circles “needed” to know about us, we wanted to let anybody who was interested, or anyone who heard about it through the rumor-mill, read our words and know our story as we perceive it.

The fact that it has spread so widely–that this very long document published on an insignificant humor blog somehow gained the momentum to spread across the entire nation–seems to indicate that the answer to the question “why did I come out as a gay Mormon” might have broader, perhaps even cosmic, implications.

I wish I could say that I had some hand in it; that I recognized the zeitgeist surrounding Mormonism and homosexuality and expertly knew exactly when to throw my story out into the world. But I didn’t. I didn’t have any idea it would have the impact it has had. Perhaps naively, I thought stories like mine were a little bit passé, and that it would cause a small splash in my own social circles and then the people I associate with could read about my situation if they chose to, and then we would just move on.

Looking back, I think that this conversation was ready to happen. I think that the climate, be it political or cultural or religious, is such that there are people desperately wanting to see a more nuanced approach to the issue of homosexuality than the binary, politicized debates that exist currently. Good people on all sides of the ideological divides want to see something conciliatory. Something that says “maybe there’s more to this issue than I had realized” or “it’s okay to have strong feelings about this, and we’re all trying to be good people in our own way and we’re all trying to make sense of things.” Something that says “above all else, let’s love people, and work together to make things better for everybody.” For whatever reason, my story seems to have been a part of that conversation.

I can say this definitely: My wife and I felt moved upon to share our story at this time. We felt it deeply, in the core of ourselves. This was the right moment. This was the right moment for us. Perhaps this was the right moment in broader ways as well. The conversation seems, at least in small part, to have been kicked ajar. So let’s talk with each other. Let’s talk about healing the wounds that have divided us. Let’s talk about respect and let’s talk about patience. Let’s talk about loving our neighbor.

I believe it’s what Christ would do. I believe it’s what good people everywhere would like to do. I hope we do it.

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  • torchbearer

    I applaud Joshua and his wife for their braver, however, in Mormons quest to stay on the ” straight and narrow path”, they tend to have some narrow minded thinking—what worked for one who was righteous and had faith, should surely work for others—right?? Well I just came out of the closet to my mom apparently right around the time Weed shared with the world he was gay and happily married for ten years. It must have been the hot topic and the first thing that popped up in a google search my mom did to find resources on gay mormons. She read the article, which apparently coincided with what she believed, and therefore nothing else mattered. Weed didn’t claim one shoe fit all, but sharing his story didn’t help the progress gay mormons were starting to make in the church.

  • nicolinesmits1

    Whatever works for this couple. I’m glad people are finally coming out without regard to the antiquated views of self-appointed and self-aggrandizing authorities.

  • RickH4

    we could all use a little more respectful conversation, like he asks for at the end of this article. internet anonymity has damaged our sense of civility in too many cases. this is a good man living a good life and trying to share his story that he hopes will help people understand.

  • PhilValentine

    That’s about the wrongest thing I’ve ever seen. What kind of idiot is Lolly? Maybe she’s just sick of him. He says, “Let’s talk about healing.” “Let’s talk about respect.” How about we talk about adultery?

    I failed to see the point. Does Lolly think this is a great thing? Does Joshua think he’s doing the world a service by destroying his marriage in public? And how much therapy will those little girls need?

    A very odd story.

  • torchbearer

    Kudos to him for not being as confused and suicidal as the rest of us

  • Kayla L. Burningham

    After reading some of the judgmental posts below, I commend Josh even more for his courage in sharing this story. However, I do believe that some of the comments stem from a misunderstanding of two things: 1) What Josh means when he uses the word “gay” and 2) LDS (Mormon) doctrine.

    Bottom line: As Christians we believe the Lord has the power to “heal” all things. Oftentimes that refers to the desires and attitudes of our hearts more than any physical, biological, chemical, or genetic change. In Josh’s case, I think it means that even though he finds himself attracted to men at times, he has been blessed with the ability to love a woman wholeheartedly and enjoy a happy, fulfilling life with.

    Be careful when you judge the luster and authenticity of one’s relationship with his wife. All I gather from this article is that they are committed, supportive, and loving of each other.

  • XVIIHailSkins

    Made possible by a very odd religious dogma.

  • kburn33

    After reading some of the judgmental posts below, I commend Josh even more for his courage in sharing this story. However, I do believe that some of the comments stem from a misunderstanding of two things: 1) What Josh means when he uses the word “gay” and 2) LDS (Mormon) doctrine.

    Bottom line: As Christians we believe the Lord has the power to “heal” all things. Oftentimes that refers to the desires and attitudes of our hearts more than any physical, biological, chemical, or genetic change. In Josh’s case, I think it means that even though he finds himself attracted to men at times, he has been blessed with the ability to love a woman wholeheartedly and enjoy a happy, fulfilling life with.

    Be careful when you judge the luster and authenticity of one’s relationship with his wife. All I gather from this article is that they are committed, supportive, and loving of each other.

  • kburn33

    Why don’t you explain some of the dogma you find so odd?

  • XVIIHailSkins

    Bottom line: As Christians you believe that homosexuality is an abomination and is punishable by death. Any attempt to soften this dictate of the Old Testament to make it more palatable in the modern world is simply a digression from the original scrapbook that you have built your life around. Like any mildly cranial person (and I do mean mildly), you sense at least subconsciously that this preachment of the Christian Bible is archaic, prejudiced, irrational, tribalistic, and abjectly evil (as is the case with most of the laws of the OT that modern christians choose to ignore) so you try to assuage this uncomfortable intrusion of actual morality by relativizing as you have in the above post.

    Perhaps Weed is exclusively attracted to men. Perhaps he is bisexual. What seems to be flying over his head is that no intelligent person would ever care about his sexual orientation. The only reason for all this pageantry is a church that has told him throughout his life that his homosexuality will be met with an eternity of torture in the inferno.

  • JasonJack

    I think it is time to be clear that Josh’s story is a true example of Christianity at its best, which says “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul? If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.”

    Let us stop pretending same-sex attraction and the gospel of Christ are at odds. They are not any more than adulterous attractions and the gospel of Christ. “And the answer is the same for everyone: we must, and we can, resist temptations of any kind.”

  • XVIIHailSkins

    Just as slavery and the gospel of Christ were apparently never at odds.

    ‘Slaves, obey your earthly masters with deep respect and fear. Serve them sincerely as you would serve Christ.’ (Ephesians 6:5 NLT)

    Kindly grow up. To be a Christian in the modern world is an exercise in turning a blind eye to the many preachments of your holy book that have no place in a civil society.

  • joelwcannon

    XVIII, if you were actually as intellectual as you are attempting to appear, you would realize if is silly to tell others what they believe.

    You certainly do not understand LDS philosophy, and this is probably why you hold it in such contempt.

    It appears you have not bothered to actually read Josh’s original blog . No need to speculate when he clearly addresses the topics you raise. You apparently are projecting onto him your own prejudices. You seem to have completely missed his message of love and acceptance, instead you demonstrate the problem – enmity.

  • joelwcannon

    PhilValentine, you might be less confused if you read Josh’s original blog. The conclusions you draw are groundless. The point of his “coming out” is to break the stereotype that you are embracing. I found it fascinating and well worth the read (assuming – you have an open mind).

  • XVIIHailSkins

    It’s fascinating to me that the only defense for mormonism that exists in the world seems to be a closed loop of ‘you just don’t understand.’

    I don’t hold LDS philosophy in contempt. It is far too boring, infantile, and abjectly ridiculous to arouse my contempt. My real contempt is for intellectual cowardice and dishonesty, and mormonism offers a particularly egregious example of both. Although this man has apparently taken a boldly progressive step even in the shadow of a church that employs a Stalinesque defense against progressivism and transparency, it’s clear to me that he is incapable of shaking off the evil preachment of all christian denominations that has caused homosexuals to commit suicide and subjected them to a torturous existence throughout recorded history. The man is free to be gay, bisexual, or whatever on earth he wishes to be. The only reason he felt compelled to write this manifesto is because he would have a tacit death sentence waiting for him in the church he grew up in if he simply admitted to being gay. If you sense enmity in this rhetoric, I won’t try to correct you.

  • joelwcannon

    torchbearer – you wrote “what worked for one who was righteous and had faith, should surely work for others—right??”

    Actually, Josh’s blog makes the exact opposite point. You might find it worth reading before jumping to conclusions.

    I believe Josh has just as much right to tell his story as you do – even if is a story you would wish to suppress.

    The World is a complicated place – welcome to it.

  • XVIIHailSkins

    You mean the letter in which Paul asks that Philemon reaccept the slave that Paul has returned to him? Not exactly a sparkling example of a christian anti-slavery ethic. Nor is the example of William Wilberforce. What on earth does the fact that Wilberforce was an abolitionist have to do with New Testament scripture that not only allows for slavery but offers guidance in how best to exercise it?

    They do indeed talk of Christ, but unfortunately it’s an abridged version of Christ, one that jives well with the modern sociopolitical climate and ignores some of the New Testament’s more unfortunate baggage. Same goes for the OT and the Book of Mormon, to deny this simple fact is to be a modern Christian.

  • Rom08

    Thank you Josh for sharing your story. It will definitely be part of the swelling conversation that is helping this country get past the binary messages about homosexuality that dominate the media coverage.

    I appreciate the fact that Josh presents his choice as a choice–not the only choice, or even the best choice–but a choice. I appreciate that his story is about his honesty–to himself and to those closest to him and about their love and acceptance in return. I appreciate that the love and acceptance he felt from them gave him the time and space to figure out the most holistic way to balance his own priorities for his own life. I appreciate that, for the many, many people who are both gay and devoutly religious (not just Christian), it opens up a whole landscape of wonderful possibilities for leading an authentic and fulfilling life.

    I appreciate that it offers parents, family members and friends new role models for how to respond to their gay loved ones.

    And I appreciate that it tells a story about a fulfilling sex life built around intimacy and commitment rather than the endless pursuit of self-fulfillment.

    Thank you Josh!!!

  • joelwcannon

    well said!

  • MrDarwin

    Unfortunately Mr. Weed doesn’t address what the title of his article purports to address. This is an awfully long article to say, basically, “I can’t really explain why I came out as a gay Mormon married to a woman, and if I tried you wouldn’t get it.” I just have to wonder how his wife, and every other wife of a gay man, feels knowing that her husband is sexually attracted to men, but not to her. This is the life that the opponents of same-sex marriage expect gay men to lead (otherwise a life alone and celibate) but one has to wonder why they would wish such a marriage on any woman.

  • JasonJack

    Hace you read the original post? she explains how she feels.

  • torchbearer

    Joel, I find you’ve jumped to conclusions yourself without reading my last sentence which clearly states Joshua doesn’t claim one shoe fits all. Haha. You clearly started forming what comment you’d post right after my first sentence. Good grief!! I’ve read both of Weeds articles, thank you. Just wish you would have read ALL that I wrote before jumping to conclusions. Beyond that, I appreciate you welcoming me the world, albeit a confusing place. I, in fact, read EVERYTHING you wrote. The end.

  • cantabman

    Josh told his future wife that he was gay while on a date with her when he was sixteen.

    Perhaps you should read their blog first before posting?

  • dougtheavenger

    Any man who marries a woman under the presumption that he is heterosexual when he knows he is gay should be a felony.

  • XVIIHailSkins

    ‘You concern is not slavery… I could explain to you that or any other concern you bring up.’

    And yet you won’t. We’ll work through each of your meticulous non sequitur arguments like the two that you just offered, and in the end you’ll say something to the effect of; ‘well you’ll just never understand why the Bible is perfect because you aren’t reading it in good faith.’ These are the defense mechanisms of a child.

    My concern is most definitely not as you describe. I’ve read each of the holy texts that you’ve chosen to build your life around, and I’ve also read the Qu’ran. My question to you is why haven’t you paid the price to find out whether or not you are on the fast track to the Muslim hell? Why are you so utterly unconcerned that their doctrine might be superior to yours? Why does their faith seem so demonstrably false and abjectly irrational to you? If you can answer these questions, then perhaps you’ll gain a sense of how your delusion appears to me.

  • XVIIHailSkins

    That wasn’t the case for Weed, but the true felons are the elderly virgins that have convinced him he will spend eternity in the inferno if he doesn’t live out this charade.

  • XVIIHailSkins

    ‘The World is a complicated place – welcome to it.’

    Kindly climb down from your high horse. You have built your life around a faith that serves no purpose other than to reduce the complexity of the world for the believer. It provides delusions that neatly fill in the blanks, saving you from pondering all the great existential questions like the rest of us.

  • SODDI

    Watch out for the mormon peasants with pitchforks and torches, “Kill the monster!”

  • Rom08

    Many gay men and women want to have lives that are also consistent with their religious convictions. I applaud Josh for helping them see past the Sophie’s choice options that activists are trying to force them to accept and giving them one example of how they can do that.

    And, as an aside, your generalization about opponents of same-sex marriage is simply false. Many opponents of treating same sex marriage the same as opposite sex marriage for every purpose do not oppose gay men having committed relationships with whomever they chose or even calling it marriage.

    Hopefully authentic voices like Mr. Weed’s will help us get past this kind of oversimplified rhetoric to a respectful dialogue that accounts for the many varied points of view on this topic.

  • DRJJJ

    We’ve talked more about private sex lives than we have public debt!

  • XVIIHailSkins

    You’re catching on. When the discussion is hijacked by an 80% religious majority people actually start to think that gay marriage or contraception coverage is the great moral question of our time. As H.L. Mencken said, ‘Democracy is a pathetic belief in the collective wisdom of individual ignorance.’

  • RaymondVG

    Soddi, the Weeds are members of our Stake. If there were “mormon peasants with pitchforks and torches” we’d know about it. Unfortunately, I think you have missed the point of the article, but, I suspect what you wanted to do was create hostility where there is none.

  • RaymondVG

    I am not sure why you say that, but, Mr. Weed made full disclosure to his wife before they were married. If she accepts him for what he is, why shouldn’t you and I?

  • RaymondVG

    While you may be confused, I hope that you are not suicidal. I wish you the very best in sorting through things with the hope that you can come to the peace that apparently Josh has. I know that there are people willing to help you.

  • RaymondVG

    It appears to me that the Weeds are very happily married and that his children are doing very well. I think that a person who discusses their feelings openly with his wife and family and is willing to help others that may be wrestling with the same issues does a tremendous service to others.

  • Bios

    The story is great and they look wonderful but I don’t understand how sex works in this couple. Now I want to know.

  • djm9625

    torchbearer, I’m sorry your mom reacted the way she did. As a member of the LDS Church my hope would be that all parents would reacted in the way Josh explains that his parents reacted when he came out with them–with nothing but love and support.

  • Catken1

    Wilberforce was a Christian evangelical abolitionist. The Darwin/Wedgwood clan were Unitarian and (sometimes) agnostic abolitionists. There were abolitionists all over the spectrum, religiously.

    Doesn’t change the fact that the Bible does in fact at least condone slavery.

  • SODDI

    No “hostility” directed at gays from the mormons? Apart from that multi-million dollar ad campaign? Apart from the arrests of law-abiding gay couples in cult central, Salt Lake City?

    You are dissembling. I suspect that you want to hide the truth about mormons’ anti-gay sentiments in this election year..

  • bnutz79

    He places a picture of Ryan Gosling on her back.

  • bnutz79

    Well said? This disturb young man is simply providing ammo for those that believe homosexuality is a choice and that gay men and women should simply choose to live a lie and enter heterosexual marriages.

    My parents are devout Christians. My sister is a lesiban. I’m sure when my and dad read about this it will give them hope that my sister will someday “do the right thing” and marry a man.

    This is another perfect example of how religion ruins everything.

  • ChrisWA

    Remove “gay” and leave this at a man who is not attracted to his wife at all and the commitment is commendable but still living a lie and means nothing.

    Rather than feel comfortable being who he is, he chose to cover if up with a straight marriage facade. I commend their commitment to family and the deeper bond which is that your partner is your best friend beyond just your sexual lover, but this example of commitment sets a terrible precedent for arguing that not being able to be oneself and pursue a healthy relationship in accordance to personal attraction is technically possible.

    Commitment is amazing, which I feel is the underlying point to this, but people deserve to pursue what makes them feel happy. My guess is that he was too cowardly to ever do so–he grew up in a faith that made him feel like it wasn’t possible.

    Sorry, Mr. Weed, but commitment and acceptance would have entailed you being able to live with a man and still have support, love, acceptance, and commitment to and from your kids, ex-wife, and community while doing so. NOT what you’re “displaying”, which isn’t much of having changed anything in my opinion. I fear your commitment will serve only to further alienate you from your faith community in addition to those who just think it’s very weird that you’re not pursuing a healthy and committed GAY lifestyle, which you deserve.

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