VOICES OF HOPE
JORDAN & KYLIE
Many years of searching for understanding through his experience with same-gender attraction led Jordan to peace, joy, and a temple marriage with his wife, Kylie.
Having been married for over two years, they are currently expecting a son to be born in December. Jordan has a bachelor’s degree in art and Kylie has her bachelor’s degree in plant science. They currently live in northern Utah. They have learned that it is through relying on the Lord that miracles can happen and that God is every detail of life, including marriage.
Jordan is a twenty-nine year old man who experiences same-gender attraction. He and his wife live in northern Utah and are expecting a son in late December. Jordan was raised as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and loves the Church and the God he believes in. He is the lead vocalist in a local rock band and works in manufacturing. Jordan has a bachelor’s degree in Visual Art from Brigham Young University-Idaho. He loves to spend time with friends and family. He enjoys reading and writing.
Kylie has been married for two years to a wonderful man named Jordan who experiences same-sex-attraction. She likes to be outside, especially when working with plants. She plays the violin, loves to read and is the author of a blog. She belongs to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. For her whole life, she wanted to grow up to be a mom. She recently graduated from USU with a degree in plant science, and now she and Jordan are lucky to announce that they are going to be parents to a little boy come late December 2015.
Full Interview (41 Minutes)
Highlights Interview (12 Minutes)
A PATH OF MY OWN
Life’s greatest teachers sometimes come in the form of trials, struggles, and weaknesses. My experience with same gender attraction has been a trial that has taught me greater self-worth, a struggle that has provided great blessings, and a weakness that has blossomed into many strengths. The lessons that I have learned from striving to stay upon the gospel path have been priceless. I’m grateful for the many opportunities to prove my own strength to myself as I’ve striven to live a life close to God while learning to understand my feelings and His will for me. My loving Heavenly Father has blessed me with these experiences and has guided me in my understanding of who I am and who I am meant to be. He has been there every step of the way and has led my walk of life in the direction of hope and greater understanding.
Childhood was a beautiful time – there was never a doubt in my mind that I was loved. I was raised in a home with a family that always cared for me and wanted the best that life had to offer for me. At an early age it was very obvious that I was different from other boys. In general, I had more interest in what the girls were playing than what the boys were doing. One example of differing interests was that I liked butterflies, not basketball. My loved ones recognized these differences, but didn’t seem to mind, so I chose not to either.
My best friend during my youth was a girl that I spent much of my time with. Many of the virtues and standards that I have held close are because of her friendship. She taught me the importance of being true to myself and to be confident in the beliefs I stood for. It was strong female influences like her, my mother, and my sisters, that caused me to greatly value the companionship of women. At a very early age, I had a great desire to marry a woman one day. With the faith that was instilled in me during that formative time of my life, I knew that I should someday be married in the temple for time and all eternity. This knowledge was important to me and I have kept that understanding very close to my heart.
Things that mattered to me at this age didn’t seem to concern the other boys, but I have always been one to do things my own way. Within my heart I knew what was right and always did my best to follow what I knew to be good and true. Perhaps that made me odd and different. It didn’t matter and I didn’t care at that age to be different. The fact that mattered was that I was accepted and loved for who I was. The incongruity of my interests and that of the other boys were of little importance until I grew a bit older.
Around the age of nine or ten, I started noticing the differences between myself and the other boys. Not being a very athletic person, playing sports at school made me very anxious. If I threw a ball and someone was able to catch it, I considered it a miracle. Although I had some guy friends at this point, as well as many amazing male role models, I began to keenly feel a rift between myself and the general male population. I didn’t understand men and they didn’t understand me. That rift felt like it grew wider as I went through puberty and advanced into my teenage years. I felt like a black sheep when I attended my different meetings at church. My attempts to fit in or to befriend the other boys were strained. The connection that I wanted seemed unattainable. Conversations left me feeling hollow and wanting so badly to connect. The desire to have some close friendships that had more substance to them beyond the simplicity of hobbies and activities was out of reach. There existed a feeling within me that I was a completely different creature from the other guys in my quorum. Scouting was bearable because of the phenomenal leaders that I had. While I felt that I understood women at this age, men were quickly becoming a mystery.
During all of this development, something had been forming under the surface. As a child, I had developed a passion and love for art. I loved to draw and use my imagination to create. Unfortunately, I discovered that I could become sexually aroused by drawing certain images. This was something that I discovered on my own when I was around the age of ten. Using my skill as an artist to create my own brand of pornography, I began to develop a strong sexual reaction to a portion of the male anatomy. At the time, I did not recognize that these were perhaps the first experiences with same sex attraction, nor did I realize that I was feeding something that would develop into strong addictions. While I continued to explore these strange new feelings, my skills as an artist improved. When I would draw an image I would destroy it shortly afterward, not wanting to be discovered. What I was doing was something that I didn’t understand and I certainly could not make sense of the feelings that I was experiencing.
As I grew a bit older, I realized that I wasn’t developing attractions to women as my guy friends were. This became very distressing as I gradually noticed greater attractions toward men. Because my fascination was not with a sexual organ and more with a body type, I was further confused with these strange desires and feelings. At school the term gay was used frequently in a derogatory sense. This filled me with a deep sense of fear concerning my attractions and I repeatedly denied the fact of these feelings to myself. An addiction to my behavior of drawing images and fantasizing about them grew. I was trapped. The shame of what I was doing was so great that I didn’t dare tell someone else about it. Since I figured that it was a personal problem, I decided that I would deal with it in a personal way. Turning to my faith, I prayed so often and pleaded with God to take this attraction away. Many tears were shed and many prayers were said from my bedside. For some reason I felt that I couldn’t tell my bishop about it. I was terrified that I would be excommunicated from the church or that something awful like that would occur. Already feeling like the odd one out, I certainly didn’t want to make matters worse.
Somehow, without ever recognizing any sort of answer through prayer, I knew that God loved me and that somehow things would work out. The gospel of Jesus Christ was true. In my heart I had a testimony that the Atonement could make anything right. Though I didn’t know how, I believed that in some way it would be made right for me someday.
Preparing for a Mission
My struggle with my addictions increased as the Internet become more accessible. Because of the things that were then readily available, I soon discovered that there were others online that had the same interests that I had, an entire community devoted to the very thing that I couldn’t seem to leave behind. My preferred brand of pornography was just a click away and there were many who had made it plentiful and varied. I hated myself. Feelings of worthlessness plagued my thoughts because of my addicting behaviors.
I continued to silently battle this addiction. Fear kept me from being honest to myself and to others at this time of inner turmoil. Unsure of my worthiness, I left to serve a mission and prayed many times asking that God would take these feelings away if I willingly served a mission.
My mission was an amazing time of drawing closer to God and truly coming to have a testimony of the Savior and His gospel. I came to know of the veracity of the Book of Mormon and of the role of Joseph Smith as a true prophet of God. I was not a perfect missionary. There were times of struggle where my heart was not in the work. There were also many times that the spirit was strong, miracles occurred, and many joined the church due to my efforts and those of my companions. Though I was flawed, I was able to make a difference by being where the Lord needed me to be.
Many wonderful companions who were kind and patient with me entered my life and helped me to understand what being a missionary meant. The friendships I gained and the memories that I share with them will always be cherished. It is because of them that I feel that I understand what it means to be a man in the gospel due to their examples of hard work and diligence.
The mission was the first time in my life that felt that I was on par with other men. My attractions and addictions, for the most part, weren’t prevalent as a missionary. I was repressing and ignoring them, but I often wondered about my worthiness and standing before God. At times I was able to teach powerfully with the Spirit and that helped me to know that I had made the right choice for serving and that my heart was in the right place.
Coming Home and Adjusting
One of the hardest things I’ve ever done was leaving the mission field. I had come from a place where what I did really mattered. To come home to my own life that seemed so pointless compared to the important work I had been doing was utterly depressing. The sense of purpose and meaning that I had discovered during those impactful two years was gone. This caused me to flounder and struggle because I felt so directionless. The sense of belonging that I once had was gone. As a missionary I knew who I was and I knew where I needed to stand. Being at home had taken all of that away somehow. This didn’t feel right and it wasn’t enough for me. Slowly I slipped back into being more selfish and began to pull away from spiritual things. I was returning to a life that I had left behind and was forgetting the many valuable lessons that my time of serving others had taught me.
It wasn’t long after returning home that my addictions and attractions came back with full force. I wasn’t at all surprised that my attractions were still there. It was a bit frustrating and disappointing that they were something that I was still dealing with. They weren’t something I wanted in my life but I didn’t know what to do about them. I did what I could to get my feet under me and get some more education. Feeling it to be the next step I should take, I attended my second year of college, the first having occurred before the mission. This kept me busy and occupied for a while, yet I felt that something was lacking. Because I was still living at home and not feeling like my life was going anywhere, I decided to take a leap of faith and go to school out of state for my remaining college education.
Attending BYU Idaho
Going to a church school was probably one of the smartest decisions I ever made for myself. To be surrounded by so many members of my own faith that were outwardly living the teachings that I loved was so refreshing. I was very fortunate to have roommates that I got along really well with and had a lot of fun with them. The friendships that I developed greatly blessed me during this time of my life. These friends helped me to keep balanced and happy.
While I roomed with these friends, I learned some things about my attractions. One such discovery that I encountered was that when I felt attracted to someone new in my life, these feelings would diminish and ultimately fade as I developed a friendship with them. If I cared for someone, that lust would no longer be an issue in regards to that individual. Some of my happiest and also the darkest times were during my time at school.
While continuing my education, I realized that marriage with a woman was still something that I desperately wanted. It was the next step on my lifelong to-do list. It was to my great pleasure that I met some amazing women at school. The attraction I felt to these women was usually nothing more than a spiritual attraction. These women had a spiritual beauty to them that I was drawn to. They stood out because of their standards and the way they lived. An air of goodness surrounded them that I found very appealing.
There was one girl in particular that I dated quite seriously. I was attracted to her in many ways. She was everything I had been looking for in a wife and I believed that she would be the one for me. Things ended with her breaking up the relationship after a few months. It was very heartbreaking and left me feeling distraught. I thought she would be the one to ‘fix’ me. In my mind I had supposed that by being in a relationship with a woman that I would experience more heterosexual attractions. The hope that I would discover those feelings was shattered when this woman I had cared about did not return those sentiments. It was hard for me to believe that I would ever find a woman to care for me enough to love me despite my weaknesses and issues. That relationship was very hard to get over and to look past. I didn’t think that I would ever be able to care for another woman like I had for her.
Delving Into the Depths
After the relationship with that girl ended, my attractions for men began to be more and more intense. It was so disheartening to fail with each attempt at dating women that I grew more disillusioned with the prospect of finding a woman that would be willing to marry me. While I continued to try and date, my heart was no longer in it.
By seriously considering the idea of pursuing a relationship with another man, I began to delve further into the world of my attractions. The idea of a temple marriage and a future family was something I had stopped caring about. Repeatedly I would fantasize about finding another man like me who would want to be with me. Instead of placing my energy into meeting a potential wife, I began frequenting the websites of the community of men that experienced the same interests that I had. The attempts to get to know these men were done primarily through email. All of these interactions were so shallow and empty. Anyone that I talked to seemed to be so lost. The realization slowly dawned on me that in order for any of these men to be attractive to me, they would have had to have the same spiritual and religious background that I had. This knowledge taught me that I needed and wanted those qualities in a companion. Of course, none of these men had the qualities I was seeking besides being physically attractive.
As I went further down this shadowed path, I started to become depressed and apathetic towards everything. Thoughts of suicide entered my mind frequently and I grew miserable due to a sense that I had nowhere to turn. The light that had once filled my life was gone and I felt the pain of having the lack of the Spirit in my life. Self-hatred grew because I wasn’t being honest to myself or anyone around me by living a double life. It was time to leave the path that was destroying me from the inside. It was at this near breaking point that I finally decided to talk to someone about my issues.
My final semester at college I went and spoke to my bishop. With all I had experienced, I didn’t truly know what I had been dealing with up to this point. He told me that it sounded like same gender attraction. It’s funny that I didn’t really recognize that fact until he said it out loud. I was finally able to admit it to myself and to actually have a name for what I had been feeling. By denying that piece of me, I had somehow blinded myself to it. As soon as someone that I trusted told me what I was experiencing, it was like a light was turned on and I could see myself for who I was. It was shocking but at the same time very relieving.
Seeking Help and Understanding
This first step began a long process of coming to terms with what I had been dealing with my whole life. Immediately, I began searching for resources in an attempt to understand what I was experiencing. One resource I discovered was the organization called Evergreen International and through it, a support group for men with same gender attraction that I could attend. It was amazing to find that I was not alone. It amazed me that I was no longer the only member of the church who had attractions to the same gender. It was freeing to encounter people that I could talk to who understood what I struggled with. They became a support system that could understand and empathize with me.
To continue to get greater help with the things that had been haunting me for many years, I began to meet with different therapists. The process of reaching out started as I began to share my feelings with close friends and a few family members. Some people were completely surprised as I shared this part of my life with them while others had seemed to already have guessed.
Finally, I told my parents about my attractions and they took it as well as could be expected and gave me their love and support. Each time I opened up to a person, I shared my goal to live the gospel and live my life the best I could. By no means was I about to abandon a God that had never abandoned me. He had provided me with so many countless blessings that I felt content with my status as a bachelor. It did not seem possible that I would ever meet a woman who would be willing to marry someone like me. That sort of person only existed in fairytales. Miracles tend to happen when we least expect them to.
During the summer of 2012, I met Kylie. She was doing a summer internship at my father’s business. Because she lived in my parent’s ward, my father arranged that Kylie and I would carpool together that summer. On our commute and at work, we began to get to know each other. Kylie was down to earth and had casualness about her that I found very refreshing. This was a woman that I could joke around with, and not feel any pressure to be someone that I wasn’t. There was no reason to put on a front for her. Surrounding her was a feeling of safety and peace that I hadn’t encountered in very many people before. When we met, she was a young, nineteen-year-old and I was twenty-six. Even with the age gap, she was fun to be with and very sincere. She was so easy going that it was easy for me to be myself around her and her with me.
Kylie reminded me a lot of the girl I dated in college because she was sweet, soft spoken, and very thoughtful. As I came to know her, I gained a lot of respect for her. If I had any thoughts of dating her that summer, I must have brushed them aside because I didn’t feel that I was ready to have a relationship with a woman.
God had other plans for me. At the end of the summer, I had a prompting to move to a different city and I followed that prompting. Following that prompting, I moved and consequently the only person I knew there was Kylie. I would visit her and her roommates and we had fun together. Eventually, Kylie got up the nerve to ask me out on a date. I honestly didn’t see it coming, having believed that she only saw me as a friend. The age difference and the nature of our friendship had blinded me to the fact that she was interested. I agreed to go on the date and I began to see her in a different light.
The date was fun and I was finally convinced that she was interested. Before meeting Kylie, I had decided and was determined that if a woman of her caliber showed up in my life and was interested in me, I would pursue a relationship with her and be straight forward with my attractions and addictions from the beginning. I believed that it would not be fair to a woman to learn that information later in a relationship.
On our second date I came out to her and shared a little of my experience. Kylie seemed to handle the information very well. Even though she was surprised, she was calm and collected to all I shared with her. After sharing my experiences, I told her that we could either continue dating or we could remain friends at the very least because I knew that my issues would very well be a deal breaker for many had they been in her shoes. As we talked, I told her that I would be okay if she wanted to talk to her parents about what I had shared with her and to pray about it if she needed to. We enjoyed the remainder of the date, and Kylie called me the next night and told me she wanted to continue to date. Her response amazed me because I had thought that I had scared her off with what I had shared with her. There was much that I would soon learn of the steadfast heart of this angelic woman.
Shortly after this we began dating exclusively. It was a whirlwind experience that occurred over several months. At the time, I didn’t feel like I was ready for a relationship or that I was worthy of a woman like Kylie. It was all too good to be true and I did not feel that I measured up. Yet it felt like God’s hand had arranged our meeting. It was a time of prayer and seeking for assurance that things would be okay. I received that comfort several times through the dating experience. Eventually, we got engaged and we were married in the temple a few months later.
Our first year of marriage had many highs and lows. Sex was an issue for us. After several months, we went to a therapist as a couple for a while and got things figured out. I still felt undeserving of my marriage and shame for my attractions and addictions. There was much that I didn’t understand about my feelings and I didn’t have any resources because I didn’t know where to look. Even though the first year was hard, it was exciting to get to know each other. We began to learn what being married entailed. It was a time of a lot of discovery. There was peace in knowing that I was no longer alone and that I had a companion who would help me fight my battles with me. Feeling like my problems were mine alone to deal with had become detrimental because I had tried to struggle on my own for so many years with my issues. It was critical to learn that I needed to allow her to help me, although bit by bit, I began to open up to her and to allow her to see the deepest parts of me.
Sometime after our first anniversary, I had become discouraged that my attractions were not going away within my marriage. I thought that perhaps they would go away and I would be straight after being married for so long. I began searching for more resources and in doing so I discovered North Star International, People Can Change, and the Voices of Hope project. I was amazed with all of the information available. With the latter resource, I watched every video that was available at the time within a few weeks. Within a month of finding these resources, I attended the experiential weekend, Journey into Manhood, and found it very beneficial. One of the most beneficial things I learned on the weekend was the detrimental nature of toxic shame and how that had affected my life. Coming away from that experience taught me that I was okay being who I am and that my attractions were something to learn from and not something to feel shame about. That idea was so liberating. There was great power in learning that I could love me for being me. Coming away from that weekend, I felt a deep sense that I needed to continue to reach out and connect with others who have walked a similar path. This became very pivotal to my happiness and understanding.
The many resources available through North Star International provided a safe place to begin to seek greater connection through the community. Many opportunities to mingle with others who have walked a similar path became available to me through attending firesides, temple trips, and becoming involved with support groups that the organization provides. Now more than ever before, I have a place where I am understood and heard within a community of other saints who really know what it means to battle for their faith. My involvement in the organization has blessed me with a feeling of purpose and belonging that helps me to better live the gospel as I seek to serve those in the community. It has been such a blessing to have met so many wonderful people by becoming involved with these different resources.
As I have affiliated with people who are striving to serve and love each other as the Savior would want us to, I have grown as a person. We all have struggles and imperfections that we cannot come to terms with alone. The Atonement is there for each of those things. At this point in my life, I am not perfect and my attractions and addictions are still present in my life. Some days are hard as I continue to struggle with them. Something however is very different within me that I never thought would be possible. I am okay having my attractions, and I am grateful for them. Now I see them as something that has taught me so many wonderful things. I am attracted to men, but I am not ashamed of that fact. Regardless of my attractions, I can live the gospel and love my wife. I am so grateful to have Kylie as my eternal companion. There is no one I would rather spend eternity with, man or woman. God sent her to me in a time when I felt I was beyond hope. She is a gift that I will treasure forever.
God has never abandoned me and I will never abandon Him. Because of Him, I have strength where I once had weakness. Though I still have much to learn and a lot of room to grow, with a God of miracles I can and I will thrive in this life. Heavenly Father loves all of His children and has and will continue to do all that He can for their happiness and salvation. My life is a testament of that fact.
I have hope.
WORKING TOWARDS OUR OWN “HAPPILY EVER AFTER”
Meeting and Dating My Prince Charming
On May 7th, 2012, at about 7:15am, I met my future husband. Our parents had set us up to carpool together to work at a plant nursery. I had finished my first year of college, which had changed me from a fearful, hesitant high school graduate to a less-fearful, hopeful college student. And meeting Jordan changed me even more.
For three months, I came to know Jordan as a fun-loving, adventurous, kind man who wasn’t afraid to sing loud in the car and who was brave enough to poke and prod until I dared to be myself with him. Needless to say, I instantly fell into a young, naïve love of Jordan. But through summer, it grew as I interacted with him and I came to learn much of the time he was wearing a mask. I wouldn’t have known it, except some days I saw it crack. Yes, he was a charismatic person who loved to laugh, but there was a depth to him I had not seen in anyone before. A depth that was only visible on a few, rare occasions when an expression of sadness, anger, or hesitance would flash across his eyes, then disappear. This is what drew my interest, more than his heavenly voice or his easygoing demeanor. I wanted to know who Jordan was.
All through the summer, especially when I got time alone to work in one of the back greenhouses and had time to think, I received prompting after prompting that I was exactly where I needed to be, and that being with Jordan was important. And though the prompting didn’t come all at once, I was told that Jordan and I would marry. It was so overwhelming at first that I pushed it aside, thinking I must be truly desperate to be having thoughts like that. But the promptings were gentle and persistent, and the more I prayed the more I came to believe we would be married someday. It was an exciting and frightening feeling because I felt so young, but I chose to believe.
I waited for him to ask me on a date for what seemed a long time to me. At home I talked about Jordan daily, which caused my mom unease and made my dad laugh. One day my dad pulled me aside and told me bluntly that if I didn’t do something to clearly show Jordan how I felt, I could end up waiting so desperately for Jordan and I wouldn’t be able to see the other people around me whom I might need to date. He urged me to tell him how I felt, so early in October I summoned up what courage I could find and asked Jordan on a date.
Our first date was lovely but was followed by an awkward period of neither of us knowing what our relationship looked like. I could see his mask cracking more frequently now, but I didn’t know why. After several weeks of this, he took me on a walk and told me his story. Jordan told me that he experienced same-sex-attraction and had struggled with pornography, though he was still temple worthy. It hit me that this was why he felt like he needed to wear a mask. I was one of a handful of people that Jordan had decided to tell about his story. With most people, he hoped that they wouldn’t see this piece of him because it wasn’t something that he had ever wanted or asked for. Those attractions were just there.
He told me of his hope to marry a woman in the temple someday and to have a family. As he spoke, I felt the calm peace of the Holy Ghost fill my mind and heart. I had already been told this would work out and Jordan’s willingness to be vulnerable helped me to trust him and believe it would work out. I told him the next day I would be willing to continue dating him if he wanted to keep dating me.
Six months of bliss followed as we dated and learned more about each other. I had never been in a real relationship before and the safety I felt with Jordan was amazing. And quite honestly, I don’t feel that my experience of dating a man who is not attracted to me was unique. Yes, there were some differences in our relationship because of his attractions. But we still held hands, kissed and cuddled and it was pleasant for both of us. The peace and direction I had felt while we worked together continued as I received more promptings confirming I was supposed to be with Jordan.
In April, Jordan proposed, and in July of 2013 we were sealed in the temple. It was a beautiful, perfect day! The peace and joy I felt in the temple was incredible, and though I wasn’t a fan of planning or setting up for the reception, everything worked out better than anyone had planned.
Marriage: The Final Frontier
From almost the moment I had met Jordan, I had felt the promptings of the Holy Ghost encourage me and guide me to a marriage relationship with Jordan. It was these promptings and the peace that I had felt in the temple that I held onto dearly as our married life began, because we weren’t lucky enough to get to enjoy the “honeymoon phase” of marriage where everything is blissful and lovely. Almost from the moment we left our wedding reception, we jumped right into the intense, hard, work of a marriage. Possibly because of how hard things were right off, my relationship with Christ began to change. As a single person and as I dated Jordan, I had felt strongly that Christ was my friend. I knew that He understood me perfectly and that I could always pray to Him for help. I still felt that He was my friend, but I began to feel more fully that at the same time He was also my Savior. I prayed constantly for guidance and direction
One of the struggles that Jordan and I had was learning to understand each other’s love languages as a married couple. I had never considered myself a very touchy person. But after our wedding day, it seemed as if every little thing I did bothered Jordan. He didn’t want to cuddle with me, and I was lucky if I got a peck on the lips at bedtime. Confused and hurt, I would ask Jordan why, and his answer was his need for physical touch, that love language, was more than full and he didn’t feel the need to touch as much as he had when we were dating. This confused me even more, because we almost never touched now. I felt it must be me, so I pulled away physically from him. I mean, I didn’t want to smother him, right? Fear of doing something wrong and pushing him away even more began to grow, and I felt a distance between Jordan and I grow with that fear.
Sex was not a part of our early married life. I bring this up not to be crass or vulgar, but to emphasize the importance of this sacred part of a marriage relationship. Neither of us had had sex before our marriage, but I had prayed and studied, and in doing so learned it is more than okay in a marriage between a man and a woman. It is right, good, and sacred. We did not have it, and our marriage was lacking. In fact, it got to a point where we went to our bishop for advice and learned that we needed to seek a counselor who could help us. I felt humiliated at first, but we needed help and it was the most appropriate way to get help.
So, three months after our wedding, we went to a marriage and family therapist to get help with sex. Awkward, right? I was embarrassed and afraid. Speaking about my emotions had never been a strong point of mine. But as we continued to go see the therapist, I was amazed at the peace I gained from each meeting. I felt our therapist was a safe person and he truly wanted to help us. In fact, one day he was explaining how I might have been feeling in our situation. He paused after a moment, looked me in the eyes and said, “No. This is how she is feeling.” Then, he told Jordan almost word for word what I had been unable to say. I don’t remember the specific topic of that meeting anymore, but from that point on, I was able to trust our therapist and gained more healing from the sessions we had with him. I do not believe that our therapist could have been so accurate in regards to what I was feeling and so helpful in our situation without the Holy Ghost’s guidance.
We went to that therapist for about five months. During that time, I learned that my habit of not expressing my emotions, especially anger, was actually damaging our marriage. Emotional intimacy is as critical as sexual intimacy, and by not letting myself be angry, I was hurting our marriage and myself. Understanding this idea was only the first step I had to take in understanding my emotions. Sex became a part of our marriage, and though we still had so much work in both emotional and sexual intimacy, we felt as though we had enough tools to stop seeing the therapist.
Because talking about my emotions was hard for me, Jordan and I had to be creative when it came to finding ways for me to talk. I’m not sure when it was discovered, but we learned that going on walks seemed to unlock my ability to talk about hard things. Sometimes I would ask if we could go on a walk if I needed to talk. More often, though, Jordan would recognize that I was starting to bottle emotions again and suggest that we walk for a bit. Our apartment was located about a mile from the Logan Temple, so many of our walks would lead us to the temple grounds. Evening walks when the snow was falling were by far my favorite. I loved the snow, and the chill meant that Jordan and I would walk close together to keep warm. Not only did I find it very romantic, but we were also able to connect emotionally in a situation where we both felt safe to talk. I remember those walks with fondness now.
Being married to a worthy priesthood holder also brought me much peace. One time, we were driving home late at night and I was bottling my emotions to the point that I felt like I was drowning. As we neared home, I remember feeling the Holy Ghost say in my mind, “Do you trust me?” I did trust God, despite how hard things had been. So I answered, “Yes.” I then had the impression, “Then watch me work!” As we arrived home, Jordan noticed that something was wrong and asked me if I was okay. I fell apart and started to cry, and it wasn’t a very pretty cry. In between sobs, I told him what I was feeling. He offered to give me a Priesthood blessing and though I don’t remember the specifics of what he said during the blessing I do remember the peace that was in our home for days afterward. Knowing that I could ask Jordan for a priesthood blessing, which I did many times, was a source of comfort for me. I did not keep a very good journal of this time, but I do have records of each blessing that he gave me. They still guide me and comfort me now.
During the summer of last year though, Jordan pulled away from me a lot. Most evenings, he told me that he was just tired and needed some space. But we talked less. He was angry and reclusive. I would try to give him space and not be needy, but he just became grouchier. And I grew quieter. I had learned how dangerous bottling emotions could be, but I had not yet learned to recognize when I was doing it. The angrier that Jordan became, the more I tried to make things perfect at home so that he would be happy and the more I felt like a failure. But I tried desperately to not let him see, because I didn’t want to smother him and push him farther away. He became angry and I became numb.
For most of the time that I had known Jordan’s story, I had prayed that God would heal Jordan and take away his attractions. I believed that it could be done because God is a God of miracles. This was a constant part of my prayers clear through the first year of our marriage, but towards the end of last summer, I realized that I was asking the wrong questions. Instead of asking for Jordan’s attractions to be taken away, I began to pray that he and I would be able to learn what we needed to from them.
Last August, Jordan began to look for help. I remember he came home from work one day in early September and told me about a website called North Star, who support people who experience same-sex-attraction who want to keep living the gospel standards. He joined an email support group immediately and I could see an instant change in everything he did. He wanted to talk with me and share what he was learning. He encouraged me to join the support groups available for spouses of individuals who experience same-sex-attraction. I was hesitant to join, but Jordan was so excited he jumped headfirst into every avenue available to him. We even met with a group of people from North Star at a temple day.
The real change happened after Jordan attended Journey into Manhood (JiM) at the end of last September. Even with how strained I felt our relationship had become, it was heart wrenching for me when Jordan left for five days. I couldn’t contact him for most of the weekend and I felt very alone. But when he came home, it was like I was finally getting back the man that I had dated and fallen in love with. We talked more, and though we still had things to work through, he wasn’t nearly as grouchy and he was willing to open up to me and be more vulnerable. He shared with me just how much he had struggled with pornography in the past year and that during the summer it had been especially hard. He told me about his earliest memories of when he noticed his attractions to men and when pornography became a problem. And for the first time, he was completely vulnerable as he shared everything with me. It was hard for me to listen to, but I was grateful for his honesty.
I learned that his reason for pulling away from me and for his anger was because he was afraid. He had been afraid for most of his life that he wouldn’t be able to marry a woman. After our marriage, that fear shifted to where he was afraid that he would fail in our marriage. Physical touch brought fear when he didn’t react how he felt a “normal” man would act. His attractions didn’t go away, either. One day, after we found North Star, Jordan came home from work very frustrated. Eventually, he told me that he had seen someone attractive on the way home and it had him frustrated and confused. He asked me if I was ever attracted to men that I saw throughout my day. I think it surprised him when I laughed and said, “Yes, I’m not dead.” Gradually, the shame and fear that he had developed about his attractions diminished. He is still attracted to men, but it doesn’t consume him like it used to.
My original prayer for Jordan that his attractions would be taken away was not answered how I had wanted. But the prayer that he and I would learn what we would need to from these trials has been answered, and I believe there is still more for us to learn. This experience showed me that sometimes Heavenly Father says no when I ask for something I think should be taken away. This doesn’t mean that He doesn’t love me or can’t hear me. Instead, He let a different miracle occur by letting Jordan and I grow and learn from our experiences.
Jordan and I had talked about our situation many times and wondered if other couples like us were out there. We knew of a handful of stories, but hearing of a few stories of hope amidst hundreds of nightmares wasn’t exactly encouraging. Through North Star, Jordan found support groups that met weekly for men who experience same-sex-attraction. I found support groups where I could meet regularly with women who were married to men with same-sex-attraction. Getting to know people who understood my situation and could empathize with me brought me so much peace. It was hard for me to open up about what I was really feeling at first, but just being around these women who were actively working towards healthy marriages encouraged me in a way that I hadn’t been before.
Through this support group, I learned about a healing weekend called “Daughters of Light”. I was terrified, but eager to learn. I had watched Jordan’s fear disappear after his experience at JiM, and I desperately wanted to be able to learn what he had learned. That weekend experience opened my eyes and taught me how to recognize when I was bottling emotions and how to express them in healthy ways.
And with that, all of the things I had been feeling, yet ignoring for years came boiling out. I had not realized how much I had numbed myself until I started to be angry and sad and afraid and confused and distrustful for seemingly silly reasons. Gratefully, it didn’t all come out at once. Generally those old emotions would come out when triggered by something current in my life. I cried a lot. I let myself get angry. Jordan and I even had our first fight, which ended up being a moment of celebration for both of us as I learned that I could put my foot down – rather than pull away to avoid the conflict – and yell and that we could work through it. Slowly, but steadily, the overflow of emotions calmed down to what was more of a normal flow of everyday life.
Jordan learned that he could fill his needs for male bonding in healthy ways. This meant a lot of going to support groups, hanging out with other guys, and even getting healthy physical touch from other men. At first, it was really hard for me, especially the physical touch. I kept thinking, “Why do you need to go get that from other people – from men? Why am I not enough?” But as I let him go and get the help he needed, he would come home so much happier. He acted more masculine and wanted to cuddle with me more. Which was very nice. As I watched him change, I realized that he had been denying himself any physical touch from anyone to the point that he had been starved of it for years. Now he was trying to make up for the lost time. And it was ok. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that straight men touch each other all the time, and it’s not weird. In the singles wards that I had attended, men put their arms around each other’s shoulders. At high school football games, the football team was constantly smacking each other’s backsides. At wrestling matches, the team would use each other as pillows whenever they had down time. And all of these situations of masculine physical touch were normal and okay. I learned that it was okay for Jordan to finally experience that too.
In the months following our discovery of North Star, Jordan was gone frequently to many different support groups and hangouts with friends. Because I was able to see the changes in him, I was willing to let him go. The time that I had to myself while he was gone helped me to find my own healing. Sometimes this was as simple as watching what I wanted to on Netflix. Occasionally, it meant that I would write down my feelings, a process that has become a helpful tool as I have continued to learn about my emotions and myself.
Our Journey is Just Beginning
Jordan and I just celebrated our second wedding anniversary. It has been almost one year since we found North Star and the support that it offered to us. It feels so odd to me to have had two distinctly different years of marriage. Our first was dominated by silence and fear, and was very painful for me. To deny this would be lying. Has Jordan hurt my feelings? Yes. But I believe that most of the pain that I experienced was not his fault, but my own. Because of my own habits and tendencies, mainly bottling my emotions, I began to break. Instead of exploding from the pressure, I imploded and became numb. Our second year of marriage has been one of immense growth for me. In finding North Star, I have found resources and friends who have helped me to break those habits and be more genuine and authentic. Jordan and I have shared our story, and he no longer feels the need to hide that part of himself behind a mask anymore. I am more alive now than I have ever been in my life.
My decision to marry Jordan was highly influenced by the impressions that I received from the Holy Ghost as he and I dated. More than once, people who I believe had my best interest at heart said things that were discouraging and made me question whether or not I should continue to date him. Every single time that I prayed to ask God what I should do, I was overcome with an immense love for Jordan and the undeniable feeling that he and I were meant to be together. I trusted those feelings then and I trust them now. God has guided me to this point, and I know that He is with me every step of the way.
Jordan’s SSA has impacted our relationship, but mostly for the better. He is more emotionally in-tune than many men I have known, and has been patient with me as I have learned more about my own emotions. Cooking, decorating our home, and shopping are not chores that I have to undertake alone. As he has explored what it means for him to be masculine, he has also encouraged me to embrace femininity more fully. Because of what he has experienced, he is understanding of others who share their personal struggles with him. He has taught me to give people the benefit of the doubt rather than casting out unfair judgments. Though I begged for Jordan to be “healed” for a time, I now wouldn’t ask for his attractions to be removed. Doing so would take away too many pieces of him.
Many times throughout the more trying times of our relationship, I have thought of a poem that has brought me peace in the past. It helped me to remember to ask what I need to learn from my experiences rather than asking for them to be removed.
“My life is but a weaving
Between my God and me.
I cannot choose the colors
He weaveth steadily.
Oft’ times He weaveth sorrow;
And I in foolish pride
Forget He sees the upper
And I the underside.
Not ’til the loom is silent
And the shuttles cease to fly
Will God unroll the canvas
And reveal the reason why.
The dark threads are as needful
In the weaver’s skillful hand
As the threads of gold and silver
In the pattern He has planned.”
Jordan and I are very young and have so much more of our lives to explore. Growth, work and healing still need to be accomplished. I believe that my hard times as well as my good times can benefit me as long as I turn to the Savior. When we were married, the temple sealer, who is a good friend of mine, gave us some amazing advice. He said, “Your eternal life starts now. You don’t have to wait until you are immortal to enjoy that happiness.” Modern romance portrays that the hardest part of love is finding “the one”, and then marriage is a happily ever after. I’m more inclined to believe our temple sealer. Our eternal life together has not been a bed of roses. Hard times don’t have to be bad times if we are willing to turn things over the God. As we have turned to the Savior, we have found peace and joy in our relationship and our lives. I love Jordan now more than I ever thought possible. He is my safe place, my friend and my companion. Our journey together is only just beginning.