Blaine & Lindsay
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Blaine’s Essay: “All Things Work Together for Good”
There are few things in my life that I believe with more conviction than that God desires my happiness, and that all things work together for my good. Whatever trials and struggles I have had in my life, I know that ultimately they have been meant to lead to my happiness. Over the years I have come to find that same-gender attraction is no different. With all the trouble and fear it has caused me, I know it has also brought me a level of happiness I never could have reached in any other way. For that I am honestly grateful.
It is interesting to look back at my earliest childhood memories knowing what I know now. The feelings that I felt, what they meant, and how they would impact the rest of my life seemed so scary and complicated to me even from a very young age. There were many things that brought a lot of anxiety to me then that now feel like happy parts of who I am. It is such a testament to the nature of God’s plan of progression. What new insights will I have in my current life when I look back 20 years from now?
My earliest childhood memories largely include time spent playing with my girl cousins and younger sister. As the only boy in the group, an outsider looking in might have just assumed that house and dolls were games I was forced to play because there was no other alternative. It wouldn’t have taken long, however, for an observer to see that I was often the initiator of these types of activities that were stereotypically more feminine. I enjoyed playing dress up, doing makeovers, and baking. I don’t have any specific memory of why I felt shameful about these things, but I remember being very conscious of the fact that I needed to make sure that no boys—including neighbors, my brother, and my dad—should see me doing these things. Every time they did I remember feeling awkward and embarrassed, like I had been caught.
There were a couple of boys in the neighborhood that I played with on occasion, but I remember as young as four and five years old feeling like I was different from them. At the time I felt like my differences were blaringly obvious to them as well, and looking back it probably was apparent to them that I was only pretending to like playing guns and wrestling. Consequently, as so often happens with children, those differences frequently led to me being left out or made fun of. I was blessed at this early age of vulnerability to have older siblings who often came to my rescue (a water balloon/hose attack on kids who had been making fun of me was one such retaliation).
I remember working very hard through my years of elementary school to make sure that I kept as “male” a profile as possible, but this was not always easy. I fell into easy friendships with girls and any attempt at being social with boys made me feel inadequate and awkward. I played in various sports leagues, tried to dumb down my fashion sense by wearing a t-shirt when I really wanted to wear that snazzy sweater that was only for church, and did everything I could to hide the fact that when girls were talking about how cute a certain boy in our class was, I totally agreed with them.
As I look back on my childhood memories I remember specific boys that I had typical childhood crushes on. It is interesting for me to see the pattern I created of admiring a boy, having a confused kind of crush, and ultimately feeling far inferior to him in almost any way that I could observe.
The Teenage Years
I think it is usually the exception when someone has a really great experience in the early years of junior high, but for a boy struggling with feelings of homosexuality, junior high can be truly horrific. It was during these years that my differences really set me apart and the despair and frustration I felt with them was often all-consuming. There were several days when I cried to my mom, asking her to send me to some private Latter-day Saint (LDS) school that I had heard about. I made the naïve assumption that in a different environment I wouldn’t be subject to the teasing and being left out that I was currently experiencing at school. Again, Heavenly Father in his grace gave me siblings and my siblings’ friends with whom I could share my stories. Together we could laugh about how lame kids in junior high were and how someday things would get better.
The later years of junior high and high school brought destructive patterns of pornography. While on the outside I maintained a very “good boy” status with peers and leaders, I secretly hid a growing addiction to pornography, masturbation, and sexual fantasies, all of which were homosexual in nature. How extremely blessed I was, however, to come into contact with amazing friends who, while they didn’t know about the homosexual attractions, allowed me to be as true to myself as I had ever been. Together with these friends (which actually included guys!) I sang in the choir and performed in theater. One of these friends was my future wife, Lindsay Skidmore.
While high school experiences offered some acceptance of my differences, I still felt pressured to participate in discussions about who I “liked” and I often found myself working on having crushes that were more like the general consensus of who I should have a crush on, rather than crushes based on my true feelings. When people thought it would be cute if I went on a date with so and so, I would try to work up a desire to “like” them so that I could please the masses. Most of these attempts were pretty unsuccessful and I know that I left at least a couple of girls feeling confused and frustrated. Lindsay was perhaps the first girl that I remember having a genuine desire to want to have feelings for. For the time being, however, we were very close friends sharing the joys and frustrations of teenage life.
I graduated high school, went to a semester of college, and began preparing for a mission. I had spoken with bishops about my problems with pornography, but I never disclosed that the pornography was homosexual or that I struggled with these feelings at all. Even after having several months free of pornography, I struggled to feel worthy to go on a mission. I felt that my attractions to men made me unworthy from the start, regardless of whatever behavior I engaged in or refrained from. I worked as best I could through these feelings and went on a mission to Taiwan.
To those around me, I’m sure that I appeared to be successful in the mission field. I was learning the language quickly and adjusting to cultural differences but my constant questioning of my personal worthiness became a stumbling block. I worried about my attraction to men making me unworthy, and a sense of perfectionism led to all kinds of anxieties, feelings, and thoughts that tore me down day after day. Once while my companion was getting ready for the day I was sitting at my desk and was shocked when I realized that I had spent all morning thinking about how much better things would be if I were dead. I spoke with my mission president and after a couple days it was decided that I needed to return home to get help for anxiety and depression. For months things were very dark and scary, and although I sought help from a counselor I never discussed my feelings of homosexuality with anyone.
I decided to utilize the amount of Chinese that I had learned and go to China to teach English. This experience was one of the first that gave me a deep understanding of how our trials work together for our happiness. I experienced so much joy and satisfaction at that time in completely different circumstances than I would have been in had I not been sent home early from my mission. It was on a night just a few weeks before I returned home that I wrote in my journal about having same-sex attraction. That was the first time I ever acknowledged outside of my head that these feelings existed for me, and even writing it down on paper was very scary. I realized that I was entering a period of life when these feelings could determine the rest of my future, and I knew that I needed to start making some decisions.
Within a couple weeks of returning home, I shared this journal entry with my parents and then my siblings. All of them were very supportive and loving. I began seeing a counselor, and this time I was more open about my feelings of same-sex attraction. I felt some amount of hope that things could get better. I went to some support groups and learned more about others’ struggles and successes.
Before I left for China, Lindsay and I had dated off and on a little bit. Before we tried dating again I felt impressed to share the journal entry where I had written about my homosexual feelings. Through personal witnesses and relying on the Lord, Lindsay felt prepared for the struggles that were ahead and with confidence she lovingly supported me.
Marriage and Children
With all of the information on the table, Lindsay and I started dating more seriously. It was a strange transition, not only because of struggles with homosexuality but also because we had spent so many years being such good friends. I believe I was encouraged by the Lord to take some of the typical steps in courtship such as holding hands and initiating the first kiss. However, I was often frustrated when these attempts were not as “magical” as I had hoped they would be. I knew how much I wanted to make things work with Lindsay and how much I loved her for the person she was. I was blessed from time to time with strong feelings of attraction toward her until eventually it became natural and easy for me and the awkwardness dissipated.
As friends and acquaintances found out more about our situation, they were often confused as to whether our relationship could really work. It does. I know that I have been extremely blessed to have things work in the way that they did so that my best friend became my wife. It is so wonderful that when times are hard and struggles intensify we are able to talk things out and laugh with each other about the quirks of our life.
Marriage has brought many wonderful things as well as some new and unexpected struggles. I did not believe at any point that marriage would completely take away the attractions I felt toward men, but I had hoped that being sexually active with my wife would diminish them significantly. Contrary to what I had hoped this did not happen immediately. During the first years of marriage I learned the significance of something that someone had told me early on in my learning to cope with same-sex attraction. I was told that the opposite of homosexual activity is not heterosexual activity; it is turning to Christ. I made the assumption that as I engaged more fully in heterosexual activity that my homosexual desires would fade away, but I have seen time and time again that it is not my efforts to life heterosexually that makes the difference; it is my effort to include Heavenly Father in my life that truly makes change.
We began having children and my insecurities led me to believe that I could be an effective father only to little girls. Secretly I hoped that we would have only girls. I would be so good at doing their hair and watching princess movies! I imagined myself sitting at tea parties and everyone thinking I was just this amazing dad. I struggled to find confidence as we had a boy and then again when our second boy was born. Once again Heavenly Father has taken my trials and insecurities and, over time, shown me how they are to contribute to my happiness. I find myself as a father trying and experiencing new things that make me a better, more understanding person. I can see life through the eyes of a typical boy. I am able to understand things in ways that I wasn’t able to growing up. My new understanding has led to deeper joy than I likely would have been able to gain otherwise.
Life As It Is Now
From the time I experienced progress with therapy in learning to how to deal with depression and same-sex attraction, I knew that I wanted to become a therapist. I also knew that I wanted to eventually find ways to utilize my knowledge and experience with homosexuality to help others. Within the last year I started a blog, initially discussing my homosexual feelings and history. This was an intimidating step to take, but I have found that it has enriched my life. I am able to answer questions about the topic, and people have conversations with me that they might not feel comfortable asking in another setting.
Despite my increasing confidence in my sexuality, there have often been times that I’ve found it difficult to reconcile my feelings of wanting to live within the bounds of the gospel due to the increasing social acceptance of homosexuality. I know that to many this seems strange. How could a guy who was teased about being girly and who lived in fear of someone finding out about his attractions to other guys feel conflicted about the world being more okay with being gay? The conflict that I feel comes into play due to the fact that I have several friends who are living homosexual lifestyles, and I love them very much. When they and others talk about how opposing homosexuality is the same as opposing someone for his or her race, I know exactly what they are talking about because I know that these feelings are a part of me and are as real as anything else. Because I understand their point of view I came to the conclusion that there is nothing I can say to convince anyone why I have made choices to live a heterosexual lifestyle when I so clearly do not fit easily into it. As the world sees it, it does not make sense. However, I know that God wants something different from me, and I can’t deny that.
My experience both personally and professionally have taught me that homosexuality is so much more than simply being attracted to someone of the same gender. There are so many emotional and social components to the issue that make it much deeper than simply a discussion of who it is okay to engage in sexual behavior with. As I have contemplated this, I think about all of the parts of me that are connected to or born from homosexuality. I think about how I used to pray that I wouldn’t have these attractions anymore. I remember asking Heavenly Father to take them away. However, if Heavenly Father were to come to me today and say, “I’m going to take away everything that is homosexual about you,” I think that I would have a problem with that. His grace, shown to me through the help of family, friends, and professionals, has taught me to give less credit to the problems that homosexuality has created and to instead love the good things that come for me with this issue: a deeper sense of compassion, understanding, and appreciation for the beauty and goodness in the world.
So much of what is happy about my life is in one way or another connected to having lived with, and continuing to live with, same-sex attraction. That is not to say that I don’t have continued struggles that bring me frustration and regret. Would it be easier if I didn’t have the drive or temptation for sexual intimacy with men? Of course. Pornography and other temptations have continued to be a struggle for me, and there are still times when I feel alone and out of place. But I truly believe that Heavenly Father has used this situation to create happiness for me that I could not have had any other way.
Hope, for me, came and continues to come when I am able to see what is right about my situation as opposed to what is wrong about it. When I am able to keep an eternal perspective I see how my current struggles have led and continue to lead me to become more of what Heavenly Father wants me to become: like Him—deeply and genuinely happy.
Lindsay’s Essay: “For with God Nothing Shall Be Impossible”
I know with all my heart that with God nothing is impossible.
I grew up as the youngest of four children in a typical Latter-day Saint family. My mom stayed home with the kids and my dad worked hard to support and provide for his family. I was a sheltered child and I was nervous about stepping out of my comfort zone. I was the child crying and screaming at the dentist and the doctor’s offices. I was the kid who was so homesick at school I had to put my teddy bear in my desk and squeeze it whenever I felt the tears of anxiety coming.
Through certain experiences in my life, specifically those with Blaine, I have learned that fear has only inhibited my happiness and growth. Fear is the opposite of faith, and my faith in the Lord and his plan for me has altered the way I now feel about things that used to seem impossible. I view challenges and trials differently than I did before I met Blaine. I now know the Lord will help me through whatever challenges may come because he loves me.
Meeting for the First Time
My teenage years were as normal as can be. After struggling to find a sense of belonging in school, I found my niche singing in choir and performing in musicals. I first met Blaine in high school in the musical productions class when he was a sophomore and I was a junior. The first time we actually spoke was at a school dance after a football game. I remember thinking that he was a lot of fun and that I really wanted to get to know him, but only as a friend. We became good friends, and as time went by I heard through the gossip chain that he “liked” me. I didn’t return his feelings, but we were still best friends all through high school. As an immature 16-year-old I was turned off by the fact that Blaine was different than other boys. He was musically talented, emotionally sensitive, very fashionable, and he didn’t play sports. I even wrote in a journal entry that because he was less “manly” than other boys I couldn’t ever see us together. It wasn’t until after I graduated high school that my feelings for him started to change. After having bad experiences with boys on the more “manly” side of the spectrum, I realized that all of those qualities in Blaine that had once been reasons for my hesitation were becoming things that I valued and loved about him. All of those less stereotypical “manly” things were what made him so amazing. I loved that he listened to me and that he valued my opinions and feelings.
After high school, before he went on his mission, a “romantic” relationship developed between us. This basically meant that we knew we liked each other, and that was the extent of it. We moved very slowly, held hands once or twice, and called things off. I assumed that I was the problem because I was afraid to have a serious relationship with anyone, especially when that someone had been my best friend for so long.
When Blaine left on his mission I felt so much loss, much more than I had anticipated. I didn’t realize how much I would miss him and I decided that he was the person I wanted to be with for eternity. About five months into his mission, I wrote in my journal about how much I missed Blaine and wished that he could be home. A few days later I found out that Blaine had come home early from his mission. This was a surprise to both his family and friends. At the time, he explained that he had come home because of severe depression and anxiety. Years later he admitted that although he was worthy to serve a mission, feelings of guilt about his same-sex attraction also contributed to his coming home early. Even though I was happy to see Blaine I was worried about him. I loved him so much and it was hard for me to see him so depressed, anxious, and mentally unhealthy.
Shortly after he returned home my mom convinced Blaine to be in a musical with me and some of our other friends over the summer. In the musical, Blaine and I had to kiss. This was awkward for several reasons, one being that we had never kissed each other at all! The night before we had to kiss on stage, Blaine picked me up and told me that he wanted to kiss me for real before we had to kiss on stage. We walked and drove around for two hours before he worked up the nerve to kiss me! I thought our first kiss was perfect, but after that night Blaine became more distant and I felt like we were not as close as we once were. I knew he was dealing with a lot of things but I felt like he was purposefully growing more removed from me. The next few months were frustrating. I didn’t know how to help Blaine, and it felt like whenever I tried to get closer to him he moved further away. Looking back I now realize that his attraction to men, coupled with his depression, had much to do with the distance between us.
Some months later, Blaine decided to teach English in China for six months. I was grateful that he could at least call and email me, unlike on his mission. Our relationship grew closer as we were apart, and when he came home I fully expected that we would officially start to date. A week or so after he came home, he came over to talk with me. That conversation was one of the most hopeless and helpless conversations I have ever had. Blaine told me that he didn’t think we could date and that he probably would never date or marry anyone. He said he still loved me, but that he wasn’t asking me to be patient or wait for him to sort out whatever he was dealing with. He still wanted to be my friend, but he basically told me that I should marry someone else. We sat on the curb and cried and hugged. During that talk I remember thinking that there was nothing he could say that would make me give up on him. I loved him too much to quit.
Even though we were not dating, Blaine and I continued to be friends and spent a lot of time together. During the next few months I had some of the most spiritual experiences of my life, starting with my participation in the Hill Cumorah Pageant. I knew the Lord loved me and that he wanted me to be happy. I knew the Lord loved Blaine. I knew that if we were meant to be together, the Lord would be the one to make that possible. When I returned from the pageant, Blaine and I went on a drive together and he told me that he wanted to talk about dating. However, before we started into a relationship he wanted to tell me what he was dealing with to see if I would still want to move forward. He left it at that.
I was nervous to hear what he had to say. I really wanted to be able to handle anything he was going tell me. For the next week, I prayed and fasted and read scriptures and conference talks to prepare myself for our next conversation. I hoped I could at least be a good friend and support to him, but I knew that I wanted to be more than just his friend. However, part of me was afraid that what he would tell me would completely change our relationship, and I didn’t know if I could handle that.
A particular church article by Elder Jeffery R. Holland that I read during this time really resonated with me. Elder Holland discussed that adversity and opposition usually surround moments of revelation, and he encouraged the reader to never turn back because the Lord would find a way. “If it was right when you prayed about it and trusted it and lived for it, it is right now…Face your doubts. Master your fears.” After reading those words, I was determined to do what the Lord wanted me to do and to stick with Blaine despite my fear—no matter what the challenges.
When Blaine and I talked again, he took me to the park. We sat in a quiet corner at a picnic table and he gave me a couple sheets of paper that he had torn out of his journal. As I read his words that told of his struggles with attractions to men and homosexual pornography, I felt some relief to finally put a name to this mysterious issue that had put our relationship on hold for so long. I also felt scared, worried, and nervous, but mostly I felt sad to see how much he had suffered worrying about what I would think of him. I loved him, no matter what. I knew that my love for him would never change, not even after reading what was on those pieces of paper. Blaine then told me that he felt ready to try dating. He had been working with his counselor and bishop and was worthy to go to the temple. He wanted me to talk to my family about his same-sex attraction and to take my time deciding if I wanted to date him.
My family was amazingly supportive and loving. I remember my sister saying how impressed she was with Blaine having so much courage to tell me about this; she thought he was incredible. I received a priesthood blessing from my dad. Whenever I prayed I felt so close to my Savior that, at times, I could almost feel him right beside me. Words cannot describe how I could feel so full of sorrow, but so full of peace as well. I knew Blaine needed me, but what I came to realize was that I needed him just as much. He had been so patient with me in our friendship and had inspired courage in me that I didn’t think I had.
After struggling for three days with my fear of making such a big decision, I finally decided to talk with Blaine. I told him that I loved him and that I was ready to date him. He asked me if I had any questions about his attractions to men, and to be completely honest, I had a lot of questions. We discussed them in later years but I didn’t voice any of my questions at the time. We sat on a bench in the park and talked and laughed. After having a ridiculous amount of dramatic discussions that summer, it felt so good to just laugh with him again!
A Rocky Road
After dating happily for about three months, I could tell that something was wrong. Again. It happened very suddenly. Blaine started to become distant again, and he seemed unhappy most of the time. We had yet another talk one day in which he basically told me that he needed some time to figure things out, and that he didn’t know if we could be together anymore. In return, I told him to take whatever time he needed, but I knew that we were going to get married. We parted that day, broken up for the one-hundredth time! He hadn’t been taking his medication for depression regularly, and I knew that when his depression was worse, so were his struggles with same-sex attraction.
While this was happening, I was cast in the musical “Savior of the World” at the LDS Conference Center. Through that experience I felt such a closeness to Mary, the mother of Jesus, and was inspired by her willingness to accept God’s will in her life. Two phrases of scripture kept going through my head at this time: “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word,” and “For with God nothing shall be impossible” (Luke 1:37-38). I knew that the Lord knew what Blaine and I were going through. No matter what the problem was, he would help us.
Finally, after a very lonely and hard month, Blaine told me he wanted to get back together. The next several months things between us were going well and we were both really happy dating each other. A couple months later we were engaged! When Blaine asked me to marry him, he gave me a box filled with reasons why he loved me on little pieces of paper. At the bottom of the box was the scripture from Ruth 1:16: “For whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God.” At that moment, more than any other moment, I knew I wanted to be with Blaine. Forever. We were the same person in so many ways. We had the same sense of humor and the same goals, but more importantly we had the same knowledge that if we stayed close to the Lord, we could have a successful eternal marriage.
Eight-and-a-half years and two kids later we are still happily married and still moving forward together. Complete honesty, a forgiving heart, open communication, and a good sense of humor have helped us to be successful in marriage so far. That is not to say we haven’t had our share of troubles and trials. Marriage is wonderful, but it can be difficult with or without same-sex attraction involved. I didn’t think it was possible, but through those trials and hard things I have come to love Blaine even more than I did the day I married him. And, unbelievably enough, Blaine’s experiences surrounding same-gender attraction have contributed positively to our marriage more than they have been a negative influence. We have become stronger because we have been able to work through them together. The things I love most about Blaine are getting fabulous theme gifts, shopping, singing duets together, being with someone who is patient and sensitive to my feelings, letting him pick what outfit I am going to wear to church, never having to care about any sort of sports playoffs, and watching The Golden Girls together. He is smart, funny, compassionate, artistic, and a loving and generous friend, father and husband. Those things are not caused by his same-sex attraction; they are enhanced by it.
That fearful little me from long ago might have looked at a relationship like this and thought it would be living a lie. I might have thought that a relationship like this would be bound for failure, that it would be impossible to be happy with Blaine. But for me now, I think it is the most beautiful example in my life of how God loves me. I have learned that, despite my fear, despite how impossible something may look from the outside, when God is in charge of it, it will not fail. “For with God nothing shall be impossible.”