This guest post offers a personal perspective of the TLC reality show My Husband’s Not Gay, airing Sunday. Guest blogger Ron Raynes is not one of the men profiled in the program, but like them, he is part of a “mixed-orientation” marriage, and wanted to offer a differing view than the one I presented here on Tuesday.
It is possible, he says, for a gay person and a straight person to have a happy marriage. He and his wife have done so for 34 years. — JKR
A guest post by Ron Raynes
My wife’s not gay, but I am. And no, I’m not afraid to use the “G” word. That was my gut reaction to the title of TLC’s upcoming, so-called documentary, My Husband’s Not Gay.
Because of the LDS Church’s downplay of all things “gay,” let me just say that I regard myself as more than an adjective, more than “same-sex attracted,” more than “suffering through a challenge of mortality.” I’m 58, married to the same woman for 34 years, and during those decades I’ve learned who I am. Here are some of the many adjectives I do identify with:
- I am an affirming gay man.
- I am a loving husband.
- I am a devoted father.
- I am a committed disciple of Jesus.
- I am an active member of the LDS Church.
And I’m not ashamed of who I am.
Do these sound like fighting words? They’re not intended to be, but if they are offensive to some, that’s part of our problem. With such an emotionally charged issue as religiously sanctioned mixed-orientation marriage (MOM), it’s easy for everyone to take sides about who’s right and who’s wrong — evidenced by all the commentary flying around the Internet reacting to the TLC show.
The lives of families in MOMs are paradoxical. Often church culture, gay culture, and society at large want to prescribe a lot of judgmental “shoulds” onto our mixed marriages, given very little information about our actual circumstances. But there is wide diversity of human experience encompassing faith and sexuality, and not everything fits neatly into simple little boxes. Life is complex. There is no one right answer for everyone.
So no, I don’t think it’s terrible if gay people and straight people love one another and want to marry and have a family. And yes, I do think it’s terrible if gay and straight spouses end up with a lot more pain and suffering than they bargained for, especially if a mixed-orientation marriage isn’t what the straight spouse signed up for.
I should know… we’ve lived through this.
My wife and I are admins for a private FB support group for LDS families openly dealing with their mixed-orientation marriages. It is sponsored by Affirmation and called “Mormon MOFIA: Mixed Orientation Families In Affirmation.” We have gained over sixty people in the group in the last four months, composed of a variety of family configurations, including married spouses (gay and straight), single ex-spouses (gay and straight), remarried spouses, and adult children from MOMs. We hear a lot of tough and tender experiences. Here are comments from members of the MOFIA group on My Husband’s Not Gay, shared with permission:
“I’m going to reserve my judgment of the show until I’ve seen it . . . What I do want to point out is that there are many gay guys married to women that find a way to make it work. My religious convictions are strong enough that I would feel like I was giving something up no matter what I chose. I know I’m not alone in that. . . ”
“As for myself, I have plenty of issues with mixed-orientation marriages and I definitely wouldn’t recommend them for most people, but I also have issues with the way these couples’ real lived experiences, including religious experiences, seem to be single-handedly dismissed as a ‘sham’ and a lie. That diminishes me, too. I do know of some MOM couples who share a beautiful life together and are happy. I’m hoping for some sort of happy middle ground here, but there doesn’t seem to be much of that.”
Much has changed in my own life in the 35 years since I was a zealous young returned missionary, anxious to get on with the Lord’s program and find a wife. Our biggest changes have to do with openness, affirmation and discarding judgment. I’m married to a wonderful, loyal woman, and we share a mutual desire to remain a loving couple.
We work on that every day, as this is the basis of any marriage, “mixed orientation” or not.
Guest blogger Ron Raynes lives in Eugene, Oregon, where he is the Choir Director in the Santa Clara 4th Ward.