Shattered Silence

Shattered Silence

Sunday, July 22, 2012

The Road Less Traveled By

“Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both …”
The stories and experiences of gay Mormons have held an unusual position in the media spotlight lately. In a previous post, "Shedding the Figurative Closet," I briefly discussed two gay men who have not only remained active members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons), but who have thus-far found success and happiness in being married to women and even having children. With this surge of curiosity about gay Mormons—and as a gay Mormon myself—I recently decided to add tags to my blog posts to make them more searchable and hopefully more sharable with larger audiences.

After adding the tags, I conducted an experiment to see just how specific someone would have to be in searching the Internet in order to locate my humble little blog. I went to Google and searched the name of one of the previously-mentioned men, Ty Mansfield, whom I had tagged in my last post. Unfortunately, my blog wasn’t anywhere to be found in pages and pages of search results; although in reality I didn’t really expect my blog to hold a popular spot, I was a little dismayed. However, dismay turned to intrigue as I scrolled through some of the things that appeared when I searched this man’s name.

“I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence: …”
The first thing I noticed was an image under the heading “Images for Ty Mansfield.” It is a wedding engagement photo of Ty Mansfield, and his wife, Danielle. Written boldly above Ty’s head are the words, “Gay Man.” Next to Danielle’s head, which rests on her then-fiancĂ©e’s shoulder, are the words, “Future Single Mom?” Above the photo is a large heading reading, “Danielle Don’t Do It .com.”

I admit that I was a little shocked and appalled, so I investigated further to see to what or to whom this image was associated. The image was included with a short article on the website of an organization called Affirmation: Gay & Lesbian Mormons.” Affirmation is a national gay and lesbian support organization for people with Latter-day Saint backgrounds. They are non-affiliated with the LDS Church, and though they still claim some of the theocracy associated with Mormonism, they seem to be largely divided from many LDS doctrines and teachings, particularly those related to homosexuality.

The article was a brief report on the website, which was created in anticipation of the upcoming Temple marriage of Danielle Palmer to Ty Mansfield, which occurred in May 2010. The website was established to try to convince Danielle Palmer not to risk her future and her happiness by marrying a gay man. The website and the article noted that there have been many failed mixed-orientation marriages (MOMs) that have occurred particularly among Latter-day Saint couples, and it was implied that statistically Danielle was setting herself up for a doomed marriage and a fate of single parenthood. The website has apparently been discontinued, and I have not been able to find any information as to who created the site.

"In Quiet Desperation,"
Published by Deseret Book Co.
I knew that Ty Mansfield had experienced his share of criticism and support since telling his story in the book In Quiet Desperation,” which he co-wrote in 2004 with Fred and Marilyn Matis, the parents of a gay son who took his own life. I remember the buzz of gossip that circled around the Internet when Ty and Danielle announced their marriage in 2010. As a couple they received, I’m sure, a barrage of criticism from many groups and individuals; and I know from my presence in different circles on many sides that the gossip came from all directions—Latter-day Saint members, non-members, ex-members, and from the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) community.

Experiencing all these things at a very involved level (though not as intimately as I’m sure Ty and Danielle did), I was still in disbelief that anyone could invite themselves into the most delicate and personal events of someone else’s life and expect to have a say in it all. It seemed to me that those in the LGBTQ community are often quick to demand acceptance and tolerance of the personal choices that they make, but when they feel that one of their own, an LGBTQ individual, is not living up to the gay standard—especially for religious reasons—that they are the first to insist that the one whom they feel is being suppressed ought to cease the charade and embrace their gay identity.

In a similar vein, I find it interesting that individuals in LDS circles can be so ruffled by the image of a Latter-day Saint who doesn’t fit nicely into some sort of typical, cookie-cutter Mormon way of life, and can even feel threatened by it. I think, sometimes, perhaps they are fearful that a bit of diversity within The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will mean an immediate slipping of Mormon values and morals, followed by leniency in doctrine and teachings, and finally culminating in the upheaval of their religion as they have always known it. Perhaps these assumptions are far-fetched to some, but I base them off of personal experience.

“Two roads diverged in a wood, and …
I took the one less traveled by …”
To continue in this regard, the issue of homosexuality in the LDS Church seems to be equivalent to the “polygamy” issue of the 1890’s, or the “blacks and the priesthood” issue of the 1970’s. There were many during both of those periods of time in LDS history who felt that their world of religion was crashing down on them. Everything that they had always known was being uprooted and discarded. Many members of the Church, some prominent, willfully left the fold, or allowed themselves to be excommunicated.

I hear my LGBTQ friends who have Mormon ties talk about how it’s only a matter of time before the LDS Church leaders will “change their minds” about the issue of homosexuality the same way they supposedly changed their minds about polygamy or the priesthood. They claim that gay and lesbian relationships will soon be acceptable in the Mormon Church, with same-sex couples living in full fellowship without ecclesiastical reprimand. Some even talk about same-sex couples someday being able to marry for eternity in Mormon Temples.

I don’t quite know how approach their assumptions. I suppose there are multiple things that I could share, like the eternal nature of gender; the eternal organization of families and the responsibilities of mothers and fathers; the seriousness of sexual sin, no matter what the combination of the involved genders might be. Most of the time my LGBTQ friends have a retort that seems compelling, yet not very wise. They don’t seem to take in the whole picture of the gospel of Jesus Christ that has been restored in the LDS Church. 

Ultimately when these debates arise, I come back to the most important things that I know, and upon which all members of our Heavenly Father’s family can rely: The love and mercy of God, the Eternal Father; the gift of His Son, the Savior Jesus Christ, and His atonement of hope, forgiveness, and strength, and the reality of life after death; the commandment given by Christ to love our neighbors as ourselves, and to withhold our judgments; and the reassurance that only God and our Redeemer will be our ultimate judges after this life, and that they judge in righteousness and fairness.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama,
Tenzin Gyatso
One of my gay friends once posted to his Facebook profile this quote by Tenzin Gyatso, the fourteenth, and current Dalai Lama:

          “People take different roads seeking fulfillment and happiness. Just because they're not on your road doesn't mean they've gotten lost.”

I think this masterful quote summarizes my concluding thoughts on this whole matter. My friend who posted this quote did so seeking to reaffirm his choice to leave the LDS Church and pursue a same-sex relationship and find his own happiness in coming out openly as a gay man. I think, though, that my friend and others in the LGBTQ community ought to remember that this quote, if they see its truth, also applies to a gay or lesbian person who chooses to embrace their faith and religion and to suppress the sexual urges that might cause them to drift from their spiritual beliefs. Likewise, a Latter-day Saint who might have trouble with the issue of gay Mormons existing within their religion would be wise to remember the Dalai Lama’s counsel.

As for me, I am happy travelling the road I am on. I certainly find much fulfillment and happiness in my journey. But I see myself being prepared for one of two possible divergences. One road could be living out my life joyfully in the love and affection of my immediate and extended family and my many wonderful friends. This path often seems lonely and difficult, but I feel I am prepared for it if I am called upon to bear it. And certainly I don’t believe that enduring faithfully to the end, if I should do so, would be any less sweet a victory in my eyes or in the eyes of my God, even if I endure it all without a spouse or children. 

“And that has made all the difference.”
The other road that might appear adjacent to the one I’m currently on, in the Lord’s timing, of course, would be that I will be blessed to find the special woman whom my Patriarchal blessing calls my “sweetheart,” and having the opportunity to marry her for time and all eternity in the House of the Lord. Raising the “noble posterity” that I am also promised in my faithfulness would be a great joy. Enduring to the end of that road, though, should I do so, would seem just a little more sweet than the road previously mentioned. I don’t know what God has in store for my life, but I remain hopeful and positive that He knows well what is best for me, and that He will bless me with what I need and what I am worthy of in His own time.

Years ago, I was a relationship with a woman. We dated for a few months. I told her that I was attracted to men, but that I had made covenants to remain faithful to God and the Savior and to live as they wanted me to. She was very understanding. But after several weeks of feeling like things weren’t going to work out between she and I, I decided to end the relationship so that she could pursue a man who could love her more fully and properly than I felt I could. 

As I walked home from my college campus just minutes after ending the relationship, my mind was furiously trying to put what I felt into poetic form—something that I do frequently when normal words just don’t suffice for the emotion that I feel. It wasn’t long after that when I finished the following poem about my feelings of inadequacy in loving a woman. The words of the poem grow from my desire to join myself in a loving, eternal bond with a daughter of God, but are coupled with the emotional lack that I feel for the female sex. It is the best way I can describe in few words what being a gay Mormon is sometimes like for me.

Inadequate Emotion


A flower, newly woken,
To tuck into her hair;
Alas, the missing token—
Behold, my garden, bare!

A song of adoration,
Which no one could refute;
Herein there lies frustration—
My tongue is held in mute.

Her body pressed against me,
So soft her warm embrace;
Alas, my arms are empty,
I cannot fill the space.

A kiss upon her fair skin
That blushes gentle rose;
A prize this man cannot win—
This dream I do suppose.

A heart that’s full and beating
For her, and her alone;
A loving feeling fleeting—
My heart is made of stone.

A spiritual connection,
A half that makes me whole;
But fear of her rejection
Tears up my heart and soul.

A vow to love and cherish
With patience and devotion;
A promise bound to perish
From inadequate emotion.

Eternal bonds extending
Beyond our mortal years;
Instead, a fate unending
Of shedding lonely tears.


- Wade A. Walker -
April 12, 2010

Poetry excerpts used herein come from "The Road Not Taken"
by Robert Frost (1874-1963).  You can read the poem in its

entirety by clicking

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  1. Wade, I am glad you are my friend. I have to remind myself constantly that we all find our own path that brings us happiness. Just because I am on the path that I have chosen, doesn't mean you should be on the same path. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

    1. Thanks, Jordan. I'm glad to know you, too. And it's true, I have to remind myself of that sometimes too. Thanks so much for reading!