Bobby Parker

Breaking Out: A Gay Mormon Comes Out After All This Time

Filed By Bobby Parker | September 16, 2008 8:00 AM | comments

Filed in: Living, Living, Marriage Equality
Tags: Brokeback Mountain, coming out of the closet, Mormon

On 02/06/06 I found The Ultimate Brokeback Forum. The remarkable journey I have been on since is probably the reason I have been invited to write for TBP. We call ourselves "Brokies," and coined the name "Brokeaholic" to describe our affliction.

A tremendous benefit of being on the Forum was that I could start a thread to help me lose weight. The Brokeback Mountain Lovesick Diet. It's not really a diet, just groups of people dedicated to helping each other lose weight and keep it off. Check it out . . . I lost 70 lbs!

To introduce myself, let me quote from our book, Beyond Brokeback . . .The Impact of a Film. (The book came about when sixty of us on the Forum read 50,000 posts and winnowed them down to 4,000 that we thought were good enough for a book. The Editorial Board chose 176 from those to represent the other thousands on the Forum.)

I was nineteen in 1963, gay, and afraid to admit it. As a naïve, closeted gay man in those days, I did a lot of drinking to release those inhibitions and try to find some relief. Then, still totally messed up with my sexuality, I got married.

That was so, so long ago---a lifetime ago. Now I'm older, and I find myself having been married for decades to a wonderful woman in a marriage that has satisfied neither of us. Then this wonderful movie comes along and wastes me! The movie made me face up to the fact that I've lied to myself all my life and have never found, for even a minute, the wonderful happiness Ennis and Jack have when they are first together. I had repressed those thoughts for so long that when I saw them on the screen my heart almost broke.

Those words were written over two years ago. Since then, my wife and I have divorced after 43 years of marriage. My marriage brought me three children, and soon, 12 grandchildren. I've been told by my children that as long as I come alone to their homes I am welcome, but if I ever bring a man they won't let me see my grandchildren. They remain true to a homophobic religion, whose intolerance of gays helps foster the highest rate of suicides among men ages 15-24 out of any state in the nation, a large portion of whom are gay.

I am a Mormon convert of 33 years. I have worked mightily in the Church for all that time. I know very few people who have worked as hard as I have to support the goals of the Church. Two weeks ago I was told by my Stake President that if I continued to talk to members of the Church about my views on the gay marriage amendment on the ballot in Arizona, expressly against the teachings of the Prophet, that I was ?sternly warned? that I am on the road to apostasy.

I'll have more to talk about concerning the Mormon Church in future posts. Suffice it to say that if the world really knew what was happening in California as a result of the concerted efforts of the LDS Church, people would be amazed. No other church has the resources, or has been planning for this fight for as long, to have the organization now in place to fight for passage of that amendment there. It is amazing to me that run of the mill people have no idea how much influence this church has in our nation.

I represent perhaps the last frontier of men in this country who remain closeted for life. As such, it is extremely important for a man coming out at my age to find a support structure to help withstand the slings and arrows that he will encounter.

Perhaps miraculously for me, just when I needed it, Phoenix's 1 Voice Community Center started a Men's Discussion Group, and I was invited to attend its first meeting. We have been meeting every Monday evening since January of this year, and have discussed the widest range of topics.

I've also been fortunate to be a volunteer with Equality Arizona and Out The Vote. This has connected me to the larger political arm of the GLBT community.

I've counted as my friends the Editors of local papers and have called upon them to print op-eds to better inform Mormons and others about gay issues.

Since I lost all of my friends in the Church and moved away from my family, I've been steadily putting together what I refer to as Brokeback Bobby's Bois (3Bs). These are men and women whom I've become close to, and with whom I want to form a new family. Just like in our real families, there are challenges with personalities and ideas, which has been another learning experience for me. We include transgender MTF and FTM, a straight Fairy Godmother, several with physical and emotional handicaps, and a mix of others that gives us a rainbow of variety.

As I continue to experience this coming out late in life, I'll pass on to you what I am learning, which may help us better understand how we can help others who might find themselves where I did. I figure there are 15,000 gay Mormon men in Arizona, and I only know about six!


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Welcome to the Bilerico family, Bobby! I can't wait to see more.

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | September 16, 2008 8:49 AM

God Bobby you have so much to teach us from the inside. I am grateful for your voyage of personal discovery and look forward to learning more about it's success. You are never alone.

bobby...

just linking over from the brokeback forum to see what you are up to. i must say, when you find your voice, you REALLY find your voice.

as someone who has seen you take this whole rollercoaster ride, i commend you, and although i am not in your small group, i am certainly among your supporters at large.

keep up the good work, and watch your back.

your fellow 19 in 63 guy,

jack

Bobby,
We are so fortunate to have you as an emerging leader, strong voice and incredible contributor in the community!

I feel am grateful to have the opportunity to work with you and to know you!

Thank you for all you do!

annie loyd
chair - out the vote!

Bobby, I'm so glad you're on board. Ever since we met last December for the interview series about gay Mormons, I knew we needed to have you as a regular at TBP. Good luck with your struggle against the Church. And congrats for creating a chosen family to help you through this process. I know from my own experience how invaluable that can be.

Bobby,

As someone raised in the Mormon church, I count myself very lucky that I was able to come out at a young age and that my family took to heart the "family first" teachings of the church and have stood by me despite the homophobic ravings of an old patriarchy. I no longer consider myself to be a Mormon, but there are certainly cultural associations that will last a lifetime, and even as a well-adjusted adult out of the closet for over a decade, it's still difficult to reconcile the beliefs of my childhood with my adult experiences.

Thanks for joining Bilerico. Ex-mo-homos are a numerous and often damaged bunch, and I appreciate you giving voice to your experience.

This is a great post, and a great way to introduce yourself to the Bilerico community. Thanks for joining up, Bobby!

The people who've mentioned it are correct - there are lots of people in the same situation as you, even though us young'uns don't see it every day: men and women who are coming out of heterosexual relationships late in life. It's still going on, and will probably go on for a long while, so it's good to have more than a few someones on board who can share in those experiences.

About the movie, even though I first came out when I was 14 (to online friends)/15 (to my father and school friends), that movie still had a big impact on me when it came to confronting some long-held internalized homophobia. I read it a bunch of times because I was doing an American Literature course at an adult education center in western France, and it got better every time I read it.