Archive for the ‘Mormon’ Category

Here at this blog I have featured the stories of women married to men who tried to live straight lives, but ultimately could not. The stories and the comments left by others, some just trying to come to grips with their husbands’ sexuality, sadden me and move me.

The most common key words in search engines that bring people to this sight have to do with questions like, How do I know if my husband is gay? In the post My Gay Husband–A Spouse Speaks Out, Susanne tells some of her story. Just today a women left the following comment.

I’ve been married for 15 yrs. to a caring man. However, he’s always had a low sex drive, not ED but more like avoiding sex. He watches movies late at night and goes to bed after me. I’ve tried many times to approach him on this, but always comes up with an excuse, like we just had sex last week, in reality it could be a couple of months ago, or he says well you fell asleep before me. He vowes that he loves me and does alot of kind things for me. However, I starting to feel resentment towards him that sometimes I wish I could just jump off a bridge. I have not found any proof that he is cheating with a man or a woman.

I do know that when he was a kid he was molested by a man once. I do not want to be insensitive to what he maybe going through. Whether he is gay or I don’t know what. However, life is short and I feel like I deserve to be loved physically. I don’t see cheating as an option, for I know that is not the answer. I would rather find out the truth even it hurts. I do not how to begin.

Over at my Spanish blog, I received a similar comment from a woman who does not know how to respond to the fact that her husband looks at gay porn. When asked about it, he denies being gay and won’t talk any more about it.

Many of these women feel trapped in a world where they dare not talk to friends and family. They can feel isolated and often hopeless.

Truth Wins Out
has issued a video of four women, all formerly married to men who turned out to be gay. Some of their husbands even tried ex-gay therapy. These women tell their stories simply and raise a red flag about ex-gay conversion therapy.

At BeyondExGay.com (bXg) we also feature the story of Barbara Leavitt, a Mormon woman who married a man who turned out to be gay even after getting “help”. I saw in my 17 years in the ex-gay movement, that the vast majority of mixed marriages–ex-gay with straight a straight spouse, ended in divorce leaving a wake of pain and confusion and loss. And sadly there are often few people willing to help pick up the pieces and support these spouses who suddenly face very difficult choices.

This year for National Coming Out Day, let’s remember the spouses–they too are ex-gay survivors and their stories deserve to be heard as a witness and a warning.

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Barbara Leavitt is a straight woman who married her husband over two decades ago in a Mormon Temple (Latter Day Saints–LDS). They spoke the other day outside of Evergreen International, an ex-gay program in Salt Lake City. Lester turned to Evergreen for help for his same-sex attractions. The Salt Lake Tribune published a piece about Barbara and Lester.

When she married her husband Lester in a 1981 LDS temple wedding, Barbara Leavitt had big plans.

“I was going to be the best wife ever,” she said this week with a small, rueful laugh.
But Barbara always knew there was a part of Lester she’d never reach, some secret, private place filled with thoughts and feelings he’d never share.

In 2006, after 25 years of marriage, it all came out – or rather, Lester did. For most of his life, Lester struggled with his attraction to other men, avidly seeking help and reading literature from organizations that claimed to help gay people become heterosexual or to help weaken attraction to others of the same sex.

The material he received did more harm than good, Lester said, which is why the couple demonstrated outside Evergreen International’s Salt Lake City headquarters on Tuesday morning. Evergreen is a resource for members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that, according to its Web site, helps people “diminish same-sex attractions and overcome homosexual behavior.”

When Lester came out to her, she went to the church for support, but got the exact opposite.

In her pain and confusion she turned to her church friends for support and peace. Instead, she said, with rare exceptions, she found only overwhelming fear and discrimination.

“I was told, ‘It’s too bad you can’t love Lester anymore, and that he won’t be the father of your children for all eternity,’ ” she said in her speech.

She added that she received hateful e-mails from church members she barely knew, condemning her for standing by her husband. For Lester, the alienation was more intense.

Read all of the Salt Lake Tribune’s piece A Call for more “Christlike” Approach
The Express Gay News also published an extensive piece about the Leavitt’s, their children and Lester’s partner, Mickey Rowe.

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Yesterday I wrote about Barbara and Lester Leavitt and their press conference outside of the Latter Day Saint’s program Evergreen ex-gay program. In addition to telling their stories, the Leavitt showed up to give the Evergreen leadership specially designed collages of the Leavitt’s ex-gay survivor narratives.

Christine Bakke has spent hours creating beautiful and expressive collages about our lives as survivors. We each provide Christine with photos, journal entries, poems, scripture, etc and see soaks it all in then creates the piece. (You can see mine here) It takes her four to six hours to design, sometimes longer. As she builds the piece, she absorbs the hopes, the pain, the disappointments of the survivors. Much like our Chalk Talk at the Ex-Gay Survivor Conference, the creation of the collages is a meditation on the ex-gay experience–the good and the harm.

For Barbara and Lester, Christine created two collages that dramatically demonstrate the breaking apart of two lives and the creation of new individuality. So often the plight of the straight spouses in mixed orientation marriages go unheard. Lester and Barbara have wonderfully supported each other, but Barbara has found that while she accepts her husband as gay as he begins his new life, her church rejects her. If she denounces her husband, she is accepted with open arms.

On this blog we have looked at some of the lives of straight spouses, particularly wives. (See Gay Husbands and Sweet Potato Fries) In the pursuit of the American dream and of reaching for the heterosexual standard in many of our churches, gay men and lesbian woman have pursued a cure to their same-sex attractions and then marriage. Too often these marriages end in disaster. Barbara and Lester’s ended too, but their love for each other remains, and although it must be harder than I can imagine, they move on to support and affirm each other.
(click on images for larger views)
We will hear from more survivors next week in Memphis when Ex-Gay Survivors will visit Love in Action to tell their stories and give framed collages to John Smid, the head of that program.

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I wrote earlier about Claire Willett of Portland, OR and Daniel Stotenberg of Seattle, who attended the Ex-Gay Survivor Conference and shared some of their experiences on video. Lots of survivors are also blogging about their experiences.

On Tuesday two other survivors came forward to tell their story in a very public way. Their stories reveal the diversity of ex-gay experiences. Most people believe that the average ex-gay is a struggling gay or lesbian who attends an Exodus program. Although Exodus boasts it is the nation’s largest ex-gay ministry, I believe most people seek to change and suppress their sexuality outside of Exodus on their own, through their faith communities and in non-Exodus programs.

Barbara and Lester Leavitt were devout Mormons who sought to build a strong family. One major hurdle they had to overcome was Lester’s attractions for other men. Through teachings from the Church of Latter Day Saints and direct help from the Evergreen ex-gay program, the Leavitts tried to do the impossible.

On Tuesday Barbara and Lester traveled to Salt Lake City, Utah to share their stories in front of Evergreen. It is part of Soulforce’s Ex-Gay Survivor Initiative (Christine, Daniel and I went to New Life Church in Colorado Springs, CO on Sunday)

Fox News 13 covered the press conference in Salt Lake, where Barbara and Lester say that not only did the ex-gay conversion therapy not work, in their case, it did more harm than good.

See Fox News 13 report here. To hear more of Lester and Barbara’s story, see the video they posted a few months ago,

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