The 'mixed-orientation marriage' support group created to help rising number of Mormon wives living with a husband who is gay
16:02 GMT, 19 June 2012
As the number of Mormon women living with a gay husband appears to be on the rise, a support group has launched to offer emotional support.
Supportive Straight Spouses was created by Sarah Nicholson after her husband announced he was gay on their tenth wedding anniversary.
Understanding that couples in the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints want to remain together, regardless of sexual orientation, the group aims to help couples navigate their new marriage circumstances.
Mixed-orientation marriage: Morman's Josh and Lolly Weed are married and have three children, despite Mr Weed being openly gay
With many Mormon leaders not only unsympathetic, but openly hostile to such news, many wives previously had nowhere to turn.
Latter-day Saints in Ms Nicholson's West Valley City ward told her that gay-rights advocacy was Satan’s work, so she turned to the internet for a place to 'share stories, cry, laugh and encourage'.
However, after she found many of the groups already set up to be bitter, she launched Supportive Straight Spouses, which invites people to join a private Facebook support group.
The website says: 'Welcome to the club that none of us signed up for, to the club that often comes with heartbreak and tears.
'Our goal is to find a positive journey through the mud and storms of life, trying not to fill the role of “victim” – at least not every day.'
Ms Nicholson's story is by no means unusual in the Mormon community, with many more men starting to come forward.
Last week, Josh Weed and his wife,
Lolly, posted the story of their relationship on his blog, which
generated more than 3,000 comments.
Happily married: Josh and Lolly Weed have been together for 10-years
Mr Weed, a marriage and family therapist in the Northwest, said he had known he was gay since his teens, and Lolly was the first person he told.
They since married, and after ten years, have three daughters together.
He told the Salt Lake Tribune: 'For 10 years, I felt strongly we needed
to keep things quiet. Then that changed. My wife voiced it first. We needed to
be more authentic. It was time to tell our story.'
Mr Weed says the majority of responses to his story have been positive, however some comments have been negative, including allegations that he is part of the 'ex-gay movement,' and encouraging 'reparative therapy'.
He disagreed: 'I am totally against reparative therapy, and trying to change sexual orientation is a disservice to clients.'
In his blog post, he added that his orientation has not changed, and in a room full of naked people, he he would still be 'turned on' by men.
Still, he says the couple’s sex life is very satisfying.
He wrote: 'In a weird way, the circumstances of our marriage allowed us to build a sexual relationship that is based on everything partners should want in their sex life: intimacy, communication, genuine love and affection.
'Rather than being distracted by the powerful chemicals of infatuation and obsession,' he added.
A similar story about Ty Mansfield, a gay Mormon married to a woman, was recently featured on the June cover of Latter Day Saints Living Magazine.
In 2004, Mansfield wrote a section of the book In Quiet Desperation: Understanding the Challenge of Same-Gender Attraction.
As a single man with same-sex
attractions, he said he didn’t believe he would ever marry, however six
years later, he met the woman who would become his wife
'The circumstances of our marriage allowed
us to have everything partners
should want in their sex life'
He said: 'Sexuality is more fluid than we think. Everything fell into place, and we took that step. It continues to feel like it’s the right move for me.'
He says his attraction to men hasn’t disappeared, but it
is not as 'consuming' as it once was, and he no longer self-identifies as 'gay,' instead preferring to go by no label at all.
While neither Mr Mansfield nor Mr Weed claim that marrying a woman is the only path for Mormon gay men, many devoutly religious members still see it as the way to go.
Jessica Rodgers Trueman said it 'rocked her world,' when, right before their tenth anniversary, her husband said he was gay.
He was an active Mormon who wanted to keep his orientation a secret, so she felt isolated and alone.
'I didn’t know who to talk to, didn’t know who I could trust,' she said. 'I felt ashamed.'
Ms Trueman, who recently found solace in Ms Nicolson's support group, turned to blogs by married gay Mormons as she said her husband slipped into depression, disengagement and unemployment.
She explained: 'He had thought he was an abomination. I knew Heavenly Father loved him; he did not.'
Finally, she said, her husband got a spiritual confirmation that God loved him as he was.
'After his prayer, he felt an amazing outpouring of love. He started to pray more. He realized he was OK.'