Friday, July 22, 2016

Thought 2 of 4: beginning to seek out information about the "gay"

The summer after I returned home from my mission, I began feeling the internal pressure of being a gay woman- I was growing increasingly curious as to how gay lives worked and needed to seek out any literature I could find regarding them.

At that time, I did not have the benefits of the Internet to seek out information from. I also did not want to read anything that had to do with the so-called gay lifestyle. I needed to find books about real people who were gay or who were dealing with being gay. And, ideally, I wanted something from the Church about the subject but there was little to nothing offered.

After much research, I found a "church" book by a woman who wrote under a pseudonym, Erin Someone. I purchased her book and read with great anticipation. Erin wrote about her life, how she had entered into gay relationships, how she felt by sexually participating in them, and how, ultimately, she had decided that "acting on the gay" was not for her. I remember feeling disappointed somehow that she would reject her gayness and would instead choose to live a "regular" and "normal" life in the Church. Somehow, that felt wrong to me. I, however, ultimately accepted that this was her experience.

But, I needed more.

As an avid sports fan, I knew that women's tennis player, Martina Navratalova, was gay. I purchased her autobiography at a local bookstore. When I took it into the house, as I had done with Erin's book, I hid it among other things- I wanted absolutely no questions about why I would buy a book about "her". My family all knew she was gay. My brothers and father made fun of her every chance they could. I could not bare to go through any ridicule of any kind about the "gay", even by association, from any book I was reading.

In the safety of my bedroom, I began reading. I learned a lot about Martina and her struggles to accept her sexual identity. I devoured the book in a matter of a couple of hours. While she had struggled to know who she was, Martina chose to accept herself as a gay woman. The book detailed her relationships with other women. I was fascinated reading about her feelings and experiences. Even though it portrayed the opposite of what the Church taught, I found myself wanting what Martina had.

Once I had finished reading this book, I felt "dirty" and "guilty" because I had read details about sexual experiences. In retrospect, I was simply being curious. I needed to read books about gay relationships. I needed to read the details of how being gay worked. I needed to read others' experiences so that I could have reliable information on which to base my own future decisions and choices. I was not able to get information from anywhere else.

There was no need for me to feel dirty. I had done nothing wrong. But, I had been quite programmed by the church, and my family, to keep myself away from "sexual" things. I had read President Kimball's book, "The Miracle of Forgiveness". I certainly knew how he, the church, and my family all felt about the "gay". To them, gay was a pernicious evil. It was something to be avoided at all costs.

And, now that I had read Martina's life experiences, I knew I could not keep it for fear someone in my family would find out I had been reading a "gay" book. I sneaked it out to the garbage can, just as I had done with Erin's book, and hid it deep underneath other garbage and things. After the weekly garbage collector had emptied the can and had driven off, I breathed a sigh of relief that no one in my family could find out that I had any interest in anything gay.