Queer Mormon Women*: Truth

by Charmaine

This is a post that is a part of the Queer Mormon Women* series.  Click HERE to see all the posts to date.

For over 30 years I lived as if the church was the greatest truth. That one thought shaped my whole world. And it was a good thought – my world was really beautiful.

EFY 1990s

EFY 1990s

Growing up, I was a bit “boy crazy.”I dated a lot of different boys and went on a lot of group dates, but I was a bit socially awkward. I used to hear the word “intimidating”a lot. I was smart and spoke my mind, sometimes to the horror of my parents, Sunday School teachers, and/or Young Women leaders. In college I blossomed though. I dated more in the first 6 months of college than all the previous years. I had my first boyfriend and my first broken heart. I was attracted to women, but I never considered it to be a problem, because I definitely wasn’t gay – I loved boys! I loved cuddling with them, I loved kissing them, I loved talking with them and hanging out and being around them. Boys were awesome!

I remember at one point in my adolescence, my mom pointing out that Anne Frank talks about the naked female form in her diary. This could only mean that it was normal to appreciate a human body – male or female, it didn’t make you gay! That made sense to me. I always just assumed that all girls were attracted to girls in addition to boys. Even today, I am surprised when women aren’t attracted to other women in even the smallest part. I forget that some women are completely heterosexual, I’m just not.

AF-Quote (2)

When I was the ripe old age of 22, I got married. For a couple of years he and I lived in Iowa. We happened to be there when same-sex marriage was legalized and we were living next door to the best neighbors we had ever had – two gay men. Our gaybors, in addition to other new LGBTQIA+ friends, opened my eyes up to what kind, loving, accepting, and service-oriented people who were non-Mormon AND queer could be. I’m ashamed to say that up until that point, a small part of me still held onto the notion that queer people were somehow deviant.

charmaine marriageIt was not too long after that when I began to look more closely at my own sexuality. Luckily, during this time, I was able to talk to my husband about my attraction to women. We were still active, practicing, and mostly believing Mormons at that point, but I had begun to wonder about (at that time) the Church’s stance on homosexuality

For 30 years, I had been living as if the church was the greatest truth. But something shifted. It wasn’t very big at first. I remember that first shift – I thought, “Huh. I guess some people really are just hardwired that way. There is nothing that can change them. AND THAT’S OK.”That one thought began to color everything I was seeing. Before, I saw the world in black and white. Black and white was really gorgeous and it worked for nearly 30 years, but gray opened up a lot of possibilities.

Eventually, my marriage ended, and not too long after, my faith in the Mormon church and God fell apart also. For me, this was essential in my ability to explore my sexuality. I was as Molly Mormon as you could be before this point. I was a virgin when I got married, and I had never even reached second base with anyone other than my husband. I had certainly never explored my sexuality beyond a couple of Truth or Dare games in adolescence. Now, things are a little different.

charmaineI can definitely say that I like girls at least as much as I like boys. I love cuddling with them, I love kissing them, I love talking with them and hanging out and being around them. Girls are awesome! I have a hard time settling on one specific label – bisexual, pansexual, demisexual, and sapiosexual all seem to describe me in different ways. “Queer”is a great catchall. Currently, I am in a “heteronormative” relationship with an amazing man who loves and supports me and encourages me to live authentically. While I still consider myself a cultural Mormon (sort of like a cultural Jew), I don’t believe or practice Mormonism, but it’s my heritage and I’m proud of it. I loved my time as a believing and practicing Mormon. It shaped who I am today, but for me to be able to live authentically, I had to take a step back from that faith and lifestyle. Luckily I have many amazing friends and family members who continue to love and support me in my new life choices.

For over 30 years I lived as if the church was the greatest truth. Now I live as if I am the greatest truth.

Charmaine is a thirty-something living with her two kids and two dogs in the heart ofTempe, AZ. She’s currently a student at ASU studying psychology and religion. Her favorite things are her boys, her dogs, her books, hanging out with Adrian, authentic Mexican food, and her collection of earrings (in that order). She is a self-proclaimed water snob and in blind taste tests can accurately tell you which Phoenix-metropolitan city tap water originates or which brand of bottled water she is drinking. In her spare time, she practices yoga and takes pictures ofpretty things. If she were a superhero, she would be a philosowarrior.

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21 Responses

  1. Rachel says:

    Thank you for sharing your story. It struck me again that as another of the Queer Series posts explicated: there is not just one story, one tight script to fit in. Humans are unique and complex and beautiful. It makes sense that human sexuality would also be these things.

    • Liz says:

      Exactly, Rachel! That was exactly my thought as I read this post, and my overall sense throughout this series. Thanks for putting it so eloquently so that I can add my “amen.”

      Thank you, Charmaine, for this fantastic post!

  2. Caroline says:

    Charmaine, I loved reading about your journey. One of the things that jumped out at me the most is the sense of joy and peace that you are finding in your life right now. I’m so glad you are surrounded by strong friends and a loving partner who all encourage you to live authentically. I particularly liked this line in your post: “Before, I saw the world in black and white. Black and white was really gorgeous and it worked for nearly 30 years, but gray opened up a lot of possibilities.” I feel like that about my faith journey over the last 15 years or so. There is beauty and possibility on both sides.

  3. EmilyCC says:

    Charmaine, your’s is a rich and vibrant story…I love your descriptors and discoveries. I love the peace I feel as I read your journey. Thank you so much for sharing it.

  4. Heather says:

    Charmaine I enjoyed reading about your journey. This series is so illuminating. Thank you for being part of it.

  5. Spunky says:

    This is such an interesting story! I love how you have discovered that being you is okay, and that you have a partner who encourages you to be authentic. Your story made me feel happy. Thank you!

  6. Shirl says:

    Thank you for sharing your story Charmaine! And I love how you write. There’s things I can relate to since I was part of a strict church close to 20 yrs. I still believe in God and His Word but my journey changed too, allowing me to see some shades of gray. I had to study on my own and let go of certain indoctrinations. Srae

  7. Ziff says:

    Thanks for sharing this, Charmaine. I love your self- and other-accepting tone. You come across as very open to everyone finding their own path, and I really appreciate that.

  8. Sarah says:

    Thank you so much for sharing. Frankly, this is almost identical to my experiences, except that I’m 16 and I’m still mid dealing with the church. But this is the point I’d like to reach if at all possible, thank you for showing me that it is.

  9. winifred says:

    LDS church members are supposed to encourage repentance not indulgence

    • Ziff says:

      Well, it’s true that you should be called to repentance for being so self-righteous judgmental, but I think the comment policy frowns on that, so shall we just let it slide this time?

    • TopHat says:

      Winifred, it is against our comment policy to question others’ righteousness or call people to repentance. You’ve done this multiple times in this thread and it is unacceptable. I’m removing the others, but leaving this one up so you can come back and see our comment policy.

      http://www.the-exponent.com/about-2/comment-policy/

    • Kelly says:

      Winifred….thank you for being the perfect example of what a follower of Christ SHOULDN’T do or be. Maybe you should study up on the Savior’s life a bit more….

  10. Jenny says:

    I felt growth in your personal power and joy as you shared your long and difficult journey. I think authentic happy lives are what our Heavenly Parents want for us more than anything. I am glad that you are finding that on your journey.

  11. Christine says:

    I love this and I am so glad you found happiness in finding yourself!

  12. Charmaine's Mom says:

    I’m Charmaine’s mom and I’m proud of her.
    I love it when I read a lesson that I have taught my children written in their own words. I am an artist and I too love the human form. I read Anne Frank many years ago and so loved her words and how they painted a picture for me.
    I too love women, I love to hug them, kiss them, cuddle with them and especially work with them. Most of the women that I cuddle with are from my own family but I wouldn’t mind a good cuddle from anyone that didn’t have on perfume. I also love my husband and as men go I think he is truly the only man that I want to hug, kiss, cuddle and be intimate with. I think that make me normal but not any other acronym.
    I think it is very easy to be attracted to other women because sometimes we see in others what we want to be. I love Charmaine and her wonderful amazing personality. She is funny, beautiful, smart if not genius, compassionate, and a good friend. Charmaine has the most beautiful blue hair and eyes you will ever see.
    This morning as I was thinking about her I thought, ‘I wonder if I should give Charmaine some money to have her rose tattoo colored. I won’t get a tattoo myself but I think if I did get one it would say, “I love my Charmainie Poo and you too”

    • Kelly says:

      What a beautiful paragraph absolutely full of love and acceptance. She’s so lucky to have a mom like you. Maybe you could do the motivational speaking circuit for other families and members who aren’t as accepting and loving and help them see how amazing it is to just love and see the beauty in everyone. Thank you Charmaine’s mom!

    • :’) Love you too Mommy.

  13. T-4-Tanya says:

    I thought this was a very good blog. This in part and hold has a very clear resemblance to that of my upbringing and yet still is my life. I came out to my family when I moved to the United States from Jamaica. I am still a member of my church family ward, and still get pushed my my bishop to go to the singles ward. I know going there will not lead me to the person I seek, I rebel and continue to go to the family ward. You are very right about the Mormon upbringings, I love the way I was raised and my values and believes, what I don’t like is that I can’t be fully happy if I continue to lie to myself. Maybe it’s my time to “live as if I’m the greatest truth” as well!

    Thank you.

  14. Cruelest Month says:

    Wonderful post and I loved the comments from your mom! The sense of direction, acceptance, and adventure in your post left me feeling open to new possibilities.

  1. February 19, 2015

    […] This is a post that is a part of the Queer Mormon Women* series.  Click HERE to see all the posts to date.  Please be sure to read Charmaine’s previous post here.  […]

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