Over the last couple weeks, we have seen the viral post-sharing of Josh Weed’s Club Unicorn: In which I come out of the closet on our ten year anniversary.
In the post, Josh shares how he deals with being gay, Mormon, married to his best friend Lolly, having children, and squaring everything with the gospel, which he believes is true. Josh and Lolly have found a working marriage in spite of the odds stacked against them. Mixed orientation marriages are notoriously difficult to make work long term, for the obvious reasons. But Josh explains his sex life this way:
[we have built] a sexual relationship that is based on everything partners should want in their sex-life: intimacy, communication, genuine love and affection. This has resulted in us having a better sex life than most people I personally know. Most of whom are straight. Go fig.
I recognized Josh’s name, because we used to comment on a mutual friend’s blog a few years ago. It was that same mutual friend who shared Josh’s coming out post on FB when I read it for the first time. Little did I know that that post I was reading was about to erupt into an online phenomenon.
I started to see this post shared more often among the FB pages of my active, believing, Mormon friends. They touted it as a solution to the gay problem in the church. They alluded to the Weed’s approach as being what “people in that situation” should do. If you read the Club Unicorn post, you’ll notice that Josh says specifically that he knows his situation is not the only path. He says:
I want to make it very clear that while I have found a path that brings me profound joy and that is the right path for me, I don’t endorse this as the only path for somebody who is gay and religious. I will never, ever judge somebody else’s path as being “incorrect” and I know many people who have chosen different paths than myself.
About a week after the Club Unicorn post, there was a rebuttal by a person that I don’t know but whose story is one that I have heard far more often than Josh Weed’s success story. Her name is Ashley, and she wrote the blog post called In Which I Feel Compelled to Start a Blog Because of a Club and a Unicorn. Ashley explains that she is:
frightened at the message that the other post is sending. Some couples might be able to achieve what the Club Unicorn couple is (hell, Matt and I did when the denial and repression were working), but in most cases that type of arrangement can only end badly…
I shared Ashley’s concerns, not because of what Josh Weed had originally written, but because of how some people were using his post. It was almost as if some people were wielding it as a weapon against all those gay folks that had given up on the gospel and a heterosexual marriage.
Here is what a mixed orientation looked like for Ashley and her now ex-husband Matt:
We both were on our own individual roller coaster of depression, denial, angst, and wanting to die. A roller coaster we stayed on for 13 years. And while we were each on our own separate coaster, our kids were on the ground watching us, wondering why we were on a ride that we weren’t enjoying, and why we couldn’t be on an enjoyable ride all together.
Good times existed. Like I said, we were best friends. We enjoyed many of the same things. We laughed a lot. We were both hilarious. Both involved in theatre, heavily. Also, because we were in therapy off and on our entire marriage, our communication skills were superb! But there was always a pit in my stomach. A voice in my head telling me, “There is something more,” over and over.
This is the more common reality for those who end up in a mixed orientation marriage. The sexual compatibility isn’t there, the self of well-being isn’t there, depression abounds, and identity is unrealized.
So. We have two blog posts from two authors that have experienced mixed orientation marriage in very different ways. I acknowledge both of them as valid, because their stories belong to them, not to me. They know their stories better than anyone else. I choose to listen and believe them. I see them. (This process is simple, but profound, in my opinion.)
But the story goes on.
Last Friday, accusations about Josh Weed started flying again. People started saying he is an “ex-gay therapist” that uses reparative therapy, and he wrote the Club Unicorn post for political or Mormon PR reasons. Links to his profile on the LifeSTAR website, were given as evidence of this conspiracy.
But I don’t buy it.
In fact, I had been assuming the best case scenario since the beginning when I read Josh’s post. But even before that, I remember Josh’s blog comments from 5 years ago or so on our mutual friend’s blog. He’s not deluded. He is genuinely nice and funny. I suppose it’s possible that he actually has a political agenda, but I doubt it.
I was so fascinated with the whole thing that I felt I could reach out to Josh and ask him personally if he advocated the use of reparative therapy or becoming ex-gay. His counseling website has his phone number and email address prominently displayed, which I took as a sign that it would be okay to ask him that quick question.
He responded! Josh does not think that reparative therapy works, nor does he use it in his practice. I also asked him about LifeSTAR, which he said does not support reparative therapy either, but instead is a sexual addiction recovery program developed by Patrick Carnes.
I find it admirable that Josh is doing what he does. Despite my reservations about how he may handle gay patients or “sexual addiction”, I don’t really know the specifics. I hope for the best, which is that any patient who goes to Josh finds acceptance, love, and no more guilt layering upon guilt. I’m not sure how that can happen within a belief system that stacks so many issues against it’s gay members, like Mormonism seems to. But I am betting that it will be people like Josh that help change it for the better.