5—Touching that closet door on the other side of the world
1—New beginnings for the ‘independent’ gay Mormon Fundamentalist. Stevie Nicks and a date, and Texas and Utah in the summer of ’97 after WHAT HAD BEEN a tough year.
No different from the ebb and flow of the sea, our ups and downs are natural. Something I thought I’d remind myself in order to find serenity. Because I was a little sad. The ex-boyfriend once said, “No matter how you feel—happy or sad—Stevie Nicks always makes it better!”
So, I was listening to Stevie when I received a notification that someone in the world was looking up this blog. The Gay Mormonboyz ¹ post again. It is, by far, the most popular from the last series of posts that dealt with my being a new member of the LDS Church in France—and being deep in the closet. I suspect most folk don’t expect a post about religion. I never fail to imagine the disappointment on their faces.
YouTube started playing another song from The Other Side of the Mirror, and I knew the time had come for a new series of posts. The first time I heard that album was the first time I ever heard Stevie as a solo artist. It was back in 1997. Just where I’m picking up the story. It was my first time in Utah. That was the summer of many first times. It’s still vivid and with me now. But when I got back to France at the end of it, it all felt unreal, like a dream, like I had been to the other side of the mirror.
“How can you be so materialistic when you are so religious?”
I am writing from my new apartment. Some people thought I was ‘too fussy’ when I complained about the longest and most frustrating flat hunt of the year but I just wanted to find the perfect place for me. I’ve furnished it mostly with chrome and glass furniture, all white and grey with a few splashes of colour. And I think I’m borderline OCD, so my new home has been compared to a show-room but I love it.
A friend asked me, “How can you be so materialistic when you are so religious?” Maybe because Mormonism isn’t about yearning for a Buddhist dissolution to nothingness or a spiritualised heaven. Mormons used to envision setting up the Kingdom of God here on Earth. We believe in an embodied God, in eternal matter and life eternal. Even spirits are refined matter in our additional Scriptures. ²
I don’t believe rejecting all this planet has to offer is a sign of spiritual advancement. I’ll even say that beautifying anything is honouring God. It is also preparing for the life to come—and for exaltation too. Or maybe I just have a fixation with glass desks and modern living quarters with an 80’s Knots Landing-esque feel to them.
Some items in my new pad reveal that I am a Mormon: the silver ornament with a reproduction of the Salt Lake Temple door handle on one of the walls; the Scriptures that sit on the bedside table and that I bought the day I received a testimony of Mormon Fundamentalism, back in 2009; (and more than anything else) the complete set of The Journal of Discourses ² displayed in the silver industrial bookcase.
Each piece of decoration means something to me and is a treasured memory: the Kachina doll bought on a road trip with my Fundamentalist friends in New Mexico; the large framed photographs I fell in love with in that California gallery with my friend Todd; the Victorian tile placed in the centre of the square (glass and chrome) coffee table, from the floor of the British Parliament and purchased last October during a visit of Elder Larson (my missionary) and his wife Tandy.
Despite all those trips and having many people so dear to me, I love living alone. I can play Stevie’s demos on YouTube all day long if I want to; I can refocus on myself and pursue my own interests, discuss politics with friends and read about religion for hours. I’ve even had the missionaries over. They know who I am and it’s nice that they still come. I don’t feel like attending meetings but basic messages like, “Read the Book of Mormon everyday” sometimes is just what you need to be reminded of.
I never feel lonely. One of my friends often laments,“You’re too independent!” Maybe I am. When I went home to France over Easter I wondered if it was because my father had never been interested in having a relationship with me, and because my mother only does small talk or makes me feel sorry for her. So, no doubt that’s affected me and made me independent. It has affected all my relationships—and my relationships with men too.
Becoming religious probably was a way for me, among other things, to find a connection with the world, myself and others. However, it has not helped me much in the love department! First, being in the closet for so long, thinking I should never love a man, even before becoming a Mormon, which reinforced that idea, meant I sabotaged any prospect of a proper relationship. Then, once I finally for other that notion and was open to find romance, I’d sometimes hear: “You’re quite a catch but you’re Mormon!” It’s a huge thing, I get it. But this is me. And if that means I will remain single for the rest of my life, then so be it.
“Wouldn’t you like to meet someone new?” my friends keep asking. I’ve been single for a year now. I am open to love. But I refuse to settle for someone who’s not for me and with whom I cannot fully and freely co-exist and have a real partnership.
“You’re quite a catch but you’re Mormon!” is the bittersweet compliment I’ve heard a few times.
I am quite unimpressed with most guys I meet. Maybe maturity has brought me self-confidence as well as detachment. Not to mention too many bad—and some scary—experiences! Having said that, I had the most perfect date last Saturday. He looked like Jamie Dornan in The Fall (with the same intense eyes but with fairer hair and beard). We’d been talking on a dating app for a week. Now we talked and laughed for hours at that gin bar. Then he touched my hand over the table for the longest time before we went to some pub called the Mad Hatter. There we kissed.
When the pub closed he said, “I don’t want this date to ever end…” And I felt the same. I could hear Stevie Nicks: “He remembers how good it can be. He remembers her melody: The dream was not over, the dream was only lost.” I did indeed. That moment reminded me of those dreams I used to have of finding love.
We walked together a while and shared a very long goodbye kiss. I looked back as he walked away. I hadn’t told him I was a Mormon (and I didn’t tell him he looked like Jamie Dornan). And even though it had been a great date, I felt I’d never see him again. “‘Run for your life!’ cried the Mad Hatter… ‘Alright,’ said Alice, ‘I’m going back… to the other side of the mirror… I’m going back'”.
Like the summer of 1997.