Sunday, November 29, 2015

Invictus Pilgrim Memoir: Realizations About Life in the Closet

In late November 2010, I wrote a blog post in which I shared seven lessons or realizations I had come to as I tried to make sense of the choices I had made in my life. Here is the first part of that post:

"I’m going to be honest. There is a part of me that deeply regrets not coming out before I was married, or at least not too far into my marriage. Let’s face it: it’s hard on the psyche to accuse oneself of a betrayal of a large swath of one’s adult life.

"As I have been contemplating this recently, I have thought back over the years of my marriage and tried to see and feel where I was at various points along the journey that has brought me to where I am today. As I have done so, seven “lessons” have come into my mind. 

"First lesson:  I wasn’t prepared to live life as a gay man when I decided to get married. 

"I was far too far into the closet and into my Mormon religion in order to take that step at that time. In addition, then was then and now is now. It was far safer to get married then. I didn’t really think of myself as “gay” then, just someone who was very attracted to men. Despite flirting with the idea of coming out of the closet while on my mission, I really had bought into the Church’s teaching that I could be happy living in a heterosexual marriage and that I could control my attraction and be a better person because of these choices.

"Second Lesson:  Though in a sense I was living a lie, I couldn’t see it at the time.

"Most of my life had been spent trying to please other people and to hide the real me (which was not limited to just the gay me). In a very real way, joining the Mormon Church facilitated this process (i.e., pleasing other people and hiding the real me) and gave me the ultimate reward for doing so: eternal salvation. So, psychologically, I had a vested interest in “toeing the line,” i.e., living the “priesthood path.”

"I also didn’t really know who I was. Again, I had spent so much of my life with my false persona, I actually thought my false persona was the real me. Though I had some moments of connection on my mission, I had grown and continued to grow so out of touch with my real self that I could not possibly have allowed myself to come out at that period in my life."

(I'm working on a memoir about the year I came out. This is one of a ongoing series of posts based on the blog - entitled "Invictus Pilgrim" - that I kept during that year.)


  1. I just wanted to say, Joseph, that I hope everything is going well with your memoir. I am really enjoying rereading your earlier posts. I feel that they are critical for me, actually. As you know, I am actually at the point where you were when you originally wrote these posts. They do a lot to help center my thoughts as I delve into this stage of my life. I think what I find the most incredible is how similar our experiences and thought processes are. I, too, have been doing some thinking about why I didn't just realize that I was gay, not get married and prevent a whole lot of pain. I was just a different person then. I was not at the stage in the love and appreciation of myself that I am now. I bought everything that the LDS church taught...hook, line and sinker. I remember an LDS therapist showing me a wedding invitation from one of his "ex"-gay patients years earlier. He promised that the same would happen for me, that I would get married, as soon as I recovered from homosexuality. That moment was crucial, because I wanted it so badly. It is what drove me to eventually get married. I wanted the idea of marriage so badly, that I didn't realize I was making a horrible decision. 13 years and one very bad marriage later, I finally am comfortable with who I am. The false persona was not worth it. I now find great worth in who I am for real. Keep sharing your posts...they're very poignant and powerful to me.

  2. Hi Jeff - I'm glad these posts are resonating with you and so happy for you in your journey. I wish you well as you keep moving courageously forward!