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Next: Scott Nicholson Up: Gay Mormons?: LDS Experiences Previous: Joseph Scoma

Sarah Nicholson

 ``I speak for romantic love. I speak, too, for trusting the mystery, for forgiveness, and for believing that love in all its forms once created can never be undone. And that not only in eternity, but here, hidden under the grey, all is well, and all manner of things shall be well."
    - Carol Lynn Pearson
 Image sarah  

I first met Scott in high school. He and I ended up in assigned seats next to each other in madrigal choir our senior year. I was drawn not only to his gorgeous bass voice, but also to his funny, yet quiet personality.

When I had the opportunity, I decided to ask him to the Sadie Hawkins girl's choice dance, which was coming up in November. I asked him by writing a message on a puzzle and putting it in a pumpkin. He answered by baking me a pumpkin pie and putting a paper that said ``yes" underneath the crust. Wow, he could cook, too! We hit it off at that first dance. Soon he asked me out to a movie, and then to the Christmas dance.

We spent a lot of time together. When I accomplished something great or was having a bad day, he would bring me flowers. We became known as the cute choir couple of the year. Our friends would tell us how cute our kids would be, and that someday they expected Scott to be the bishop and me to be the Relief Society president. We went on hikes together. We watched movies together. We sang together. We baked chocolate chip cookies together and spent long hours talking and kissing. At his request, I taught him how to knit and crochet. We did baptisms at the temple together. I became quite attached to his little brother and sister, and his dad seemed to really like me. It was like a dream come true.

My heart would ache for him

I had never really dated anyone else or felt desirable at all. And all of a sudden I had a boyfriend: a talented, intelligent, sweet, handsome boyfriend that treated me like a princess.

Before too long, I was moving away to attend Snow College, and he was preparing for a mission. We spent long hours on the phone. Sending him across the country to Philadelphia on his mission was one of the hardest things I have ever done. Every day my heart would ache for him. I longed to hold his hand and cuddle with him. I missed the sweet sound of his singing voice. And I missed having him around to cheer me up or calm my stress the way no one else could.

I wrote to him the whole two years at least once and sometimes twice a week. I tried to keep my letters upbeat and spiritual. I heard from him much less often than that, but I knew he was busy, and when I did get a letter from him, I devoured it joyously. His mission experiences and faith uplifted me and I loved him more and more with each letter.

He seemed to write better during the second half of his mission, after I wrote to him about someone I was dating. He wrote back panicked, told me that he could not imagine marrying anyone else, and that he hoped I would still be available when he got home. I had an incredible spiritual experience while reading that letter, and I felt like I really should wait for him. Within two weeks of him getting home, we were engaged, and within three months we were married.

The routine of our lives

Scott's mission president had encouraged all of the missionaries to trust in God when they had their families, and to let the babies come. So two months before our first anniversary we had a beautiful baby girl, and sixteen months later (a bit sooner than we would have liked or could afford) we were blessed with a baby boy.

That year was a particularly difficult time in our marriage. Scott had quit school the year before to take a full-time job, but they ended up letting him go. He attempted to start his own business, but that was not working out either. We had no money and lived on our credit cards for several months. By the end of the summer, I decided I should apply for a job. A few days after applying, I received a call from a local high school. They just had a math teacher quit and desperately needed a replacement to start out the school year the following week.

I had always wanted to be a stay-at-home mom, and I was not sure that I wanted to commit to a teaching contract, but based on our lack of income, it seemed foolish not to take it. We attended the temple a few days later, and while we were there, words came distinctly to my mind, that my children would be okay while I taught school but that someone else's children needed me.

So began the routine of our lives: I worked full time while Scott stayed home with the kids and worked on computer projects to supplement our income. I had been going a bit crazy with two young children at home, and working helped me have a much-needed break so that I could be a better mom when I was at home. Our marriage improved drastically with some of the financial problems behind us. We soon bought a house closer to my job, and together we enjoyed remodeling and decorating our home.

There was no way

When we spoke in church for the first time in our new ward, I introduced our little family. I said that Scott and I were kind of backwards when it came to gender roles in our family: I worked while he was home with the kids; and he did most of the cooking and shopping, while I did most of the yard work.

Scott would make homemade chocolates, and I would take them around to my friends at work. One time as I was handing them out, one of the ladies said, ``Oh, what a pretty necklace!"

I thanked her and mentioned that Scott had made it for me for our anniversary, that it had become somewhat of a tradition of his to make jewelry for me every year. Then another lady said, ``Did you get a haircut?"

``No," I replied, ``but Scott did color it for me last night."

By this time, one of the men was raising his eyebrows and giving me a funny look. ``He makes chocolates and jewelry, colors your hair, and stays home with the kids. Are you sure he's not ...?"

I laughed. ``No, he's not. We are just kind of backwards. I work and mow the lawn; he cooks and stays home with the kids."

It was around that time that he was elders quorum president. We had been married several years and had three or four children. With whatever I knew or understood about homosexuality at that time (which I now know was very little), that could not be him. There was no way.

Please tell me that you aren't gay

Early in the year 2008, one night we were lying in bed and I was desirous of some intimate time with him, but he was not interested. This was not uncommon, and sometimes I dealt with it just fine, but at other times I did not. This particular night I was quite frustrated, and spouted off questions to him: ``Is there something wrong with me? Is there something wrong with you? Have you ever asked the doctor about getting your testosterone levels checked or if it could be something else?"

Scott assured me that it wasn't me, that it was him, that any time a picture of a naked or nearly naked woman popped up on the internet accidentally, that it did nothing for him.

``Then are you gay or something?" I asked with exasperation. He was silent. I started to freak out. ``Please say something. I've heard horror stories of women who find out after they're married that their husband is gay."

Still silent.

``Please tell me that you aren't gay. Answer me!" By this time I was sobbing through my desperate plea for an answer.

``I'm not gay," he said softly.

Ok. I rolled over, my body still convulsing with the sobs that consumed me a few moments before, and slowly relaxed and fell asleep.

Is everything okay?

Around the beginning of July, I noticed that Scott started getting up at about 5:30 or 6:00 in the morning. This behavior was kind of strange, since he has never been a morning person. Then when he came home from work, he would help make dinner and then sit quietly and read a book. He loves to read, so the reading was not unusual, but he seemed distant somehow. I asked him a couple times if everything was okay, and he sincerely answered yes but did not want to talk much. He only wanted to read his book.

Okay, whatever. We've been through this before. It's not worth getting upset about.

One day he said, ``We should go to the temple sometime soon." It had been a while, so it was not strange to suggest that we should go, but it was usually me that presented the idea, not him. That seemed a little weird to me. I asked him if there was any reason in particular, and he said no, just that it had been a long time and he thought we should go.

On July 11th, my daughter and I hosted a mother-daughter Mary Kay party while Scott and the three boys went to a barbecue. They returned home when the party was winding down. After getting the kids to bed, Scott helped me clean up and helped me decide what Mary Kay products to order with the credit from my party. He started turning off the lights to get the house ready for bed. Then he went out to the garage and brought in a plastic bag with something in it.

He had kind of a strange look on his face, so I asked him what was in the bag. He said, ``Let's go in the bedroom and talk."

I started to get worried. As we were walking out of the kitchen, I asked him, ``Is everything okay with your job?" I had never gotten over the anxiety from how he had lost his previous job.

He quickly said, ``No, no. My job is fine. Don't worry about my job."

As we went into the bedroom, he shut the door behind us, and we sat on the bed. I waited for him to say something. He looked scared to death, was fidgety, and couldn't say a word. Normally he is a pretty calm person and does not get nervous about things. He started blowing air through his lips, like he was trying to keep from hyperventilating, and then said, ``I knew this would be hard, but I didn't know it would be this hard."

I started freaking out. I said, ``Are you sure your job is okay? Are you sick? Are you dying of cancer or something?"

He wouldn't answer. I started pacing; my heart was pounding. Heat rushed up my body to my head and I felt like I was going to pass out. ``You have to tell me, now. Would it help if I stopped looking at you?"

He said maybe it would. I took a deep breath, sat down on the bed with my face to the wall and my back to Scott. He said something about my needing to hear him out and try not to react after the first sentence. I said okay, and finally he said, ``I am gay."

Life could no longer be the same

I totally did not see that one coming, but I was so relieved that he had finally said it that I let out a sigh of relief. Through stressed laughing I said, ``At least you haven't lost your job and you're not dying of cancer." We both chuckled at that. I don't remember everything he said and everything I asked, but I do remember that the thought kept going through my mind, ``Where do we go from here?"

We talked about his experience with coming out to himself, the fact that he did not choose to be this way, that he had always tried to suppress and ignore these feelings, that he had been faithful to me and never had relations with any men. We talked about how he had been reading Carol Lynn Pearson's book No More Goodbyes (that was what was in the bag that he got out of the car). He told me he had been so scared to tell me and didn't want to hurt me, but simply could not bear to keep it from me any longer; it had only been about 10 days since he had really figured it out himself.

The main point he seemed to want to convey is that life could no longer be the same, and that he could not make any promises to me that he would be with me for the rest of our lives or forever, because he did not know what the future might bring, and he didn't want to risk feeling the need to break such a promise later.

I'm not sure exactly how I felt. I can't really remember. I was numb. I was in shock.

We finally decided we should go to bed.

After a few minutes we decided we should watch some TV to help get our minds away from the subject so that we could try to sleep. I have no memory of what we watched.

When we turned the TV off and tried to sleep, I couldn't. I had no idea what all of this really meant. Was my marriage now over? If he's always been gay, and we have survived this long, can't we keep living like this forever and pretend that nothing has changed? Does his being gay mean that he has never been attracted to me at all? In high school, through his mission, through our 13 years of marriage, was I nothing more than a friend?

He snored off and on through the night, so I think he slept more than I did. I cried softly into my pillow, my mind kept going through all of these questions. I had never been so confused or felt so helpless.

Where do we go from here?

Around 3:00 a.m. I got up, found my scriptures and went in the living room. I read my patriarchal blessing. I read his patriarchal blessing. I read the Book of Mormon. All three things brought me comfort. I went back to bed around 4:00 a.m. and finally slept for a while.

Then at 6:00 when the light started to come in the window, I woke up. The thoughts and questions filled my mind again. I desperately needed to sleep, but I couldn't. Maybe some music would help me relax. I picked up my pocket PC and starting perusing my MP3s. The words of a song went through my head. ``Where do we go from here?" I remembered that Brooke White had sung it on American Idol; it was from the movie version of Evita. As Scott was sleeping, I listened to the song:

Where do we go from here?
This isn't where we intended to be
We had it all, you believed in me
I believed in you

Certainties disappear
What do we do for our dream to survive?
How do we keep all our passions alive,
As we used to do?

Deep in my heart I'm concealing
Things that I'm longing to say
Scared to confess what I'm feeling
Frightened you'll slip away

You must love me
You must love me

Why are you at my side?
How can I be any use to you now?
Give me a chance and I'll let you see how
Nothing has changed

You must love me23

My quiet tears turned into audible sobs. I couldn't believe how perfect the words were. I had to hear it again. I sobbed harder. I didn't want to wake Scott, so I went to the kitchen to get some ibuprofen for my pounding headache. I got a cup from the cupboard, then turned to head toward the fridge for water.

I jumped. Scott was coming down the hall and into the kitchen. I was sure he had been asleep. Seeing him, I felt like he was a different person, like I had no idea who he really was, a stranger in my house. He had tears streaming down his face. He tentatively came to me and hugged me and said, ``The second time through that song was too much to bear." We hugged for a long time, crying together. He loosened his grip, looked me in the eyes and said, ``I didn't choose this. You understand that, right?" I nodded to comfort him. But in my heart, I did not know. And I kept thinking, ``Where do we go from here?"

They had no idea what had happened

The day after Scott came out to me, I was very tired due to lack of sleep, and very emotional. I attended a Relief Society breakfast. I wasn't sure I should go, but I decided I needed to try to get away for a bit. I piled on the makeup to hide my puffy eyes. I had some light conversations with some good friends, and no one asked me if I'd been crying or if something was wrong. Talking to one of them about it weeks later, she did notice that I was quiet and preoccupied that morning, but decided it best not to ask. She was probably inspired.

I left the breakfast early to attend our oldest son's ice skating lesson with the rest of the family. I was consumed with my thoughts. I sat there watching my husband, still feeling like I really did not know him.

After the lesson, we decided to take the kids to see the movie Wall-E. It ended up being a bad choice for me as I cried at the blossoming romance in the movie, keenly aware that the romance in my life was not what I thought it was.

The next evening we went to Scott's parents' house for our typical Sunday night visit. As we sat at the kitchen table, playing games with his parents and his sister and husband, I was keenly aware of the fact that I usually shared my struggles with these dear people, but right now I could not. I desperately wanted them to know so that they could love and support us like we needed them to. I was very uncomfortable and distracted. During the game, I looked at the cards in my hand, trying hard to concentrate on my strategy. Out of my lips came the words, ``Where do I go from here?"

Scott and his sister have this habit of breaking into song whenever anything prompts them to do so. Immediately, his sister started singing, ``Where do we go from here? This isn't where we intended to be ..." She started gazing into her husband's eyes as she sang. I turned on my PDA and hit play, because the song was there ready to go. Everyone was surprised, but didn't ask about it as the sister continued to sing. Before too long, I couldn't take it anymore and I burst into tears, turned to Scott and apologized, and abruptly left the table to cry loudly in another room.

Of course, everyone was shocked and had no idea what had happened. Scott made some kind of excuse for me. They all know I am an emotional person, so I'm sure it wasn't too disconcerting. I quickly gained my composure and returned to the game, pretending nothing had happened. No one said anything.

When we got home, I told Scott that I needed him to tell his sister so that I could have her to talk to and lean on. We started to make plans for how and when to tell her.

I could not lose my best friend

The next day we got up early to go to the temple. Once we got there, we realized that it was Monday, so the temple wasn't open. Later that day I started reading No More Goodbyes by Carol Lynn Pearson. I cried and cried through each agonizing story of self-hate and suicide. The stories were not sugar-coated. They were a reality I never knew existed. I read the quote on the first page of the section about mixed-orientation marriages: ``Should I smile because we're friends, or cry because that's all we'll ever be?"

The reality of my marriage hit me like a brick. I went into the next room and shared the quote with Scott, but as I tried to read it I broke into tears and could not finish. That is when I started to really understand. That is when I started to really hurt, for him, for me, and for us. I decided I needed a break from the book. It had been a very emotional day.

The next morning I again woke up early and could not sleep. We were again planning to attend the temple that morning. I decided to read. I went in our closet and sat on the floor to read so that turning on the light would not wake Scott. I read about failed mixed-orientation marriages, and I came to the conclusion that our marriage was officially not going to make it. I kept reading and cried and cried. Scott got up and showered. I wanted to keep reading, but I knew I needed to get ready, so I closed the book and dressed for the temple.

Scott could tell I was really upset but did not know exactly why. I was quiet during the ride to the temple. Scott was afraid to ask me to share what I was thinking and feeling. We attended a session. It brought some comfort, but still, my mind was tormented with the reality of my life and fear for what it meant. I could not be alone with four children to raise. I could not lose my best friend. I could not do it. Why me? What was really going to happen to us?

In the dressing room, one of the temple workers was the mother of a high school friend. She greeted me happily and asked about how our family was doing. I said we were fine, even though I desperately wanted to share with her what I was going through. I had not been able to share it with anyone but my Heavenly Father, which was good, but not enough. A few weeks later I found out through the grapevine that this lady had a gay son who had left the Church. I couldn't help but think that maybe I was being prompted to tell her the truth about my life.

On the ride home, Scott was brave enough to ask me what I was thinking and feeling. I let it all out, and it felt good. I wished I had told him how I was feeling before we went to the temple. He told me some of his ideas of what felt right for the future, with a disclaimer that he had no idea what the future would actually bring. Some of his ideas were not very comforting, but he said that he could not imagine a future without me in it.

All would somehow be well

When I got home, I found some courage and began reading again. The next chapter happened to focus on positive mixed-orientation marriages and how some people are able to make them work out. Oh, how I wished I had kept reading before the temple, that I had gone with this comfort in my heart from Carol Lynn Pearson: ``I speak for romantic love. I speak, too, for trusting the mystery, for forgiveness, and for believing that love in all its forms once created can never be undone. And that not only in eternity, but here, hidden under the grey, all is well, and all manner of things shall be well."

Peace began to fill my heart, and I began to heal and to trust my Heavenly Father that he had brought Scott and I together for a purpose, and no matter what the future might bring, we would have each other as best friends, and all would somehow be well.

It was really nice to have the summer to process everything before I had to go back to school. Scott and I both began to devour the words of other gay Mormons on the Internet. Scott already had a blog and I decided to start my own blog at the end of August to help me write out my feelings and experiences, mainly for myself, but also for others who found themselves on a similar path.

We began to come out to important people in our lives, starting with Scott's sister and then with his dad. After praying about it, we talked to our own children. We have never regretted that decision. We have continued to be completely honest with them through everything since, and even though it has not always been easy for them, it definitely has been the right thing to do, and they have been amazing.

Shortly after that, Scott wrote a letter to all of his ten siblings and step-siblings. The responses were varied, with those who were most active in the Church having the hardest time, and with others being incredibly supportive. I gradually began telling people in my family when the time seemed right.

I feel strongly that the gospel is true

Eventually our bishop found out what was going on in our lives, despite the fact that we had both decided that we did not want him to know. Scott had not done anything wrong, so there was no need for repentance, and therefore no reason for him to know. We don't know who called and told him, but his approach only deepened our agonizing struggle with the Church. We had already been having a hard time with the Church's participation in the gay marriage ban in California, and with homophobic comments that came up during lessons at church.

As fast Sunday approached, we both felt prompted that Scott should share his story with our ward by bearing his testimony in sacrament meeting. The reactions and consequences of that decision is a whole story for a different book, but neither of us can deny the Spirit we felt that told us it was the right thing to do at that time.

Scott was able to baptize and confirm our third child. A few months later, we were unable to renew our temple recommends, because our leaders questioned whether we could say that we sustained our leaders. But they did give Scott permission to ordain our second child and oldest son to the office of a deacon. Then we both took some time off from church attendance while we continued to send our children.

Now we have each chosen different paths. I am back to full activity with the children, with temple recommend in hand, and Scott has recently had his name removed from the records of the Church. We are both content with our choices, and I have learned to accept the fact that I have a different perspective than I used to, which makes church much different for me than it used to be. But I feel strongly that the gospel is true, despite some confusion among members (and leaders) about homosexuality.

I need the gospel in my life, and I believe that members of the Church need me and my children to help them more fully understand both sexual orientation and unconditional love. Sometimes I am sad at Scott's decision and I wonder what eternity will bring for his soul, but I believe God is merciful and that He knows what is in Scott's heart and will reward him accordingly in the life to come. I believe that the Atonement might be even more powerful than we can even imagine. I hope that someday he will come back to the Church, but I am fully aware that it will most likely never happen. So, we continue to try to accept each other's beliefs and decisions without judgment.

We will all be okay

Meanwhile, things have also changed drastically in our relationship. My worst fears of two and a half years ago are coming to pass, but I am strong and handling it well, ever grateful for the blessings in my life. I am certain that the prayers of our many friends and family are carrying me through. It has been incredibly difficult and painful for both of us as Scott has decided that he cannot continue to live pretending he is something that he is not.

During the past year, as we were unexpectedly pregnant with our fifth child, Scott began to let go of me emotionally, one step at a time. A month following the birth of our son, at the end of July this year, he wrote me a note to let me know that he couldn't do it anymore, that he would move downstairs for now, and then we could slowly proceed to work through details of a divorce. Writing and sending the message to me caused him his first real panic attack because he did not want to hurt me, but knew it would.

And yes, it was extremely hard on me, and I have been through many different phases of anger and depression and resentment and confusion. But I have also handled it with grace, with smiles and laughter, and I hope that everything will work out for the best for both of us. I still have times when I hope he will not find the love of his dreams, and that he will decide that having a romantic relationship with me has trade-offs that are just as good as anything else he could find in the long run. But I know he firmly believes that will never happen, that the chapter of his life that includes an intimate relationship with me is now over.

And so begins the chapter of raising the children together as friends but nothing more. He continues to sleep in the basement, and we are making plans to finish a more permanent arrangement for him down there so that he can stay indefinitely to help with the children and household. He goes on dates from time to time, attempting to find true love. Meanwhile, I am feeling a little bit negative about relationships in general and so will put off pursuing my own new romantic interests until I am ready.

We have no idea what the future will bring, of course, but I'm sure we will do the best we can to keep a friendly relationship and maintain some sort of family structure, for the sake of the children if nothing else. And no matter what happens, we will all be okay, for I believe that we truly have angels watching over us.


Footnotes

... me23
Lyrics by Tim Rice, music by Andrew Lloyd Webber.

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