8:3 THE FIRST NIGHT

8—HOW I CAME OUT
3—ONE MONTH BEFORE GOING ON MY MISSION FOR THE CHURCH, I DECIDED TO VISIT THE GAY COP I HAD MET IN UTAH THE PREVIOUS SUMMER. WAS THAT MAD OR NAÏve?

Salt Lake City, Utah, Wednesday, August 12, ’98—When I was a child, I did not mind being a homosexual because I privately experienced attraction to classmates or teachers or my father’s friends and because no one had told me it was wrong. I had not experienced the full scale of shame and homophobia teenagers are capable of. I had been carefree, sociable, daring, even forward. But friends started dating and we all became aware of our bodies. Being gay was just awful! I was now fearful, guarded, timid, even shy. I joined the Church at the age of 19. The Church did not dispel the fears I harboured about my homosexuality. I believed the Church would help me repress those feelings, or at least give me an excuse not be sexually active. Instead it triggered full-on panic attacks.

Last summer was a watershed. ¹ Far from home for the first time I had felt free and lonely enough to let that part of me be for the first time. I had challenged those secret dreams and faced the truth about my self. I stopped trying to be straight. Lately I stopped trying not to be gay. With Logan’s support—the gay cop I had met in Utah—I am starting to accept my nature. It is a slow process. I am nowhere ready to come out. You cannot just tell yourself it’s time to let go of all the guilt and of all you have carried around just like that. You just cannot.  

Next month I will be going on my mission. In France, for two years. So, I wanted to see America, and Logan, ² again this summer. I believe I love him. I know I want him in my life. Yet I do not want the gay life. Last week he emailed: “I am looking forward to seeing you again. I am really getting excited to have you so near me; close enough to touch you.” Last week I loved reading those lines. But now the reality kicked in. Was I naïve to think I could go see him and come back a ‘worthy’ member of the Church? The potential of breaking the Law of Chastity weighed me down.

Am I in heaven here or am I in hell? At the crossroads I am standing

—Sarah McLachlan, Hold on

I loved loving Logan, but from afar. It was unwise to go. Accepting who I was but being celibate was where I was in my journey. Am I trapped between two worlds? I even wanted to save Logan from a sinful life. But I also wanted Logan to save me from my denial. I want to love him and I want to serve the Lord, and go on a mission. The day before flying, I panicked. I had not fully appreciated how violently pulled in two opposite directions I was.

I tossed and turned all night before the early flight. I was not sure I wanted to go anymore. On the plane I felt the beginning of a panic attack. I told myself seeing Logan would help me focus on my mission. We were friends. But we could kiss and be in each other’s arms. I longed for human touch—and his touch—but I’d return home with my virtue intact and I’d serve my mission with pride.

I was a nervous wreck when I got to Salt Lake after two long flights. Logan looked different from what I remembered. I did not have any snapshots of him. The sparkles in his eyes and his hand on my shoulder as we walked out of the terminal, thrilled me and scared me in equal measures. I tried to get distracted and focus on his driving—fast, manly and agile—like cops on American TV shows. I think he sensed that I was nervous: he looked at me and grabbed my hand. I looked out through the window into this America that I loved so much. It was good to see the city again (almost more so by night).

He took a turn on 800 East. This urban location with a neighbourhood feel is located between the University of Utah and Downtown. That’s where my LDS friends lived, and where I stayed last summer. When they took me to the airport, Aaron, my missionary, said he was disappointed that Shawn, his old companion (with whom I had been staying) wasn’t there. He’d left messages on his answering machine and they hadn’t spoken since Shawn had thrown me out (for suspecting me of being gay). Would he tell Aaron? When I hugged him goodbye, I felt a distance born out of the fear of rejection. If Aaron and his girlfriend knew, they’d kick me out of their lives too. As we parked in the driveway, I felt sad that I might never see them again. But I could tell I was back.

Inside the house, Logan asked for a hug. I felt so uncomfortable now—physically and emotionally. I could not eat. I tried to tell myself that I was just exhausted. It was close to midnight—7 a.m. back home. He showed me where I’d be sleeping—his bed. I could have protested and said I’d be fine on the couch, but I did want to share his bed as much as leaving the house. He stripped down to his grey boxer trunks and I decided to go for a shower. I locked myself in the en-suite and stared at the mirror. The hot water washed the long day away. It also eased my nerves as I shut my eyes.

When I returned to the bedroom, Logan was under the comforter, and looked as if if he was asleep. I got into his bed quietly, and switched off the light. Then I felt him move and turn around. He spooned me. That was a new experience. And it felt nice to be in his arms. After a while I turned to face him. In the darkness my lips found his. We kissed tenderly. Then passionately. In our tight embrace we rolled in the bed. We let our hands travel over our bodies. “You’re not so tired now!” he laughed, then kissed me assertively. We carried on like this until he said, “OK, we need to sleep!” But we started again after a few minutes. The third time he said he wanted to make love to me. As he took my bed clothes off, I stopped his hand. He did not force me. He knew I was stuck between ‘Stop’ and ‘More’. Most men would not put up with that but he respected the boundaries I had set.

Once we were done I lay there awake. The two loud fans in the room were so American. In France, we didn’t have A/C—and I never understood why!—nor did people use fans. We just closed the shutters and kept the windows open to let some cool air in. The noise was a reminder that I was far from home. My heart raced. Logan moved in his sleep and released me from his embrace, so I discreetly got out of bed. “Where are you going?” he whispered in the dark. I felt sick again. “I’m going to get some water.” 

Touching that closet door again was not like I thought it should be. I was a 22 year-old virgin burning with desire. I was an Elder of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Such a mess in the Frenchboy’s head. I drank some water but my guilt trip made me feel light-headed. I opened the kitchen door and went outside. I sat down for a few minutes. I needed to breathe. Logan came through: “Come to bed! I can’t sleep without you there.”

We got back to bed, and I was able to relax a little and I fell asleep in his arms. The poor guy had to get up at 5 a.m. for work. We kissed good morning and he kissed me goodbye, looking dashing in his police uniform. I was surprised to feel he had a gun vest on too—this was Mormon country after all! I would take his picture in his uniform and take it on my mission. I pictured the places where I would serve: Bordeaux and the towns and villages of the mission field. There would be familiar smells and sounds: Baguettes from bakeries, church bells in the morning. I could not believe that I missed France now! It had never happened last time! Plus, I had missed America for a whole year. But now the smells and sounds in the house were another reminder that I was far from home and alone in this. I felt nauseous. 

My anxiety ran wild all day. But Logan took me on patrol with him (and I loved that!). He even stopped someone. While driving the police car he asked about me and the Church. “We need to talk about last night,” he finally said. “It felt as if you were cheating on the Church… and I felt as if I was cheating on this new guy I met at the weekend in San Francisco.” I tried hard not to cry.

This evening we took his dog and he showed me Memory Grove, behind the State Capitol. I loved how confident and outgoing he was, interacting with people (and the police officers on bikes). “Why are you so guarded with me?” he asked. Because I am so in the closet I find it difficult to let my guard down with a gay man too. But I tried to impress him with the name of all the trees around us. He showed me wheat growing wild since pioneer days. I picked one ear that was sticking out from the long grass, already anticipating our separation, wanting something to remember him by.

The night was falling now but I didn’t want to go back to the house. I loved being outside with him. So, we drove east to an ice cream parlour called Jack’s, and took the treat to the park that I always walked past last summer after Shawn kicked me out. If had not, who knows where I would be now? I might never have met Logan.

I am starting to relax now. It feels good sitting in the park with Logan, under a big tree. We’ve stopped talking: he’s enjoying his ice creams and I am in that introspective mode that my friends are used to (and strangers take for standoffishness). I feel a little sad: I’m jealous of his new man. I’m scared of losing him. I’ve no other gay friends. I don’t think I can cope without his support.

He’s just turned to me, with his ice cream melting in the twilight. He says he misses his late partner. He says he misses his new man. And he says, “I’ll miss you too after you’re gone.”

I smile a sad smile. I am glad to be here in Utah with him. Tonight I realise that we will never be lovers (even less partners) but we are friends (who enjoy each other’s touch). I am facing reality. For a change. Maybe coming out starts with growing up. I think I’ll sleep better tonight.

Don’t try to understand me. Your hands already know too much anyway

—Jewel, Near You Always

Today—If I could go back I think I’d want to just go along with it, live my wildest dreams. It was the window I had. But I was going to be a missionary, so I would be in the same predicament. 

If I regret being so hung up about things, I also regret being so caught up in my own turmoil that I could not see Logan’s pain nor appreciate his grief. In my Journal I can now read that he was struggling too. Back then I was this inexperienced kid with a huge crush on a daddy figure. But he was a man who had lost his partner and was trying to pick up the pieces. It is to his credit that he patiently guided me and helped me find my self and let me identify the true nature of the love I had for him. He never took advantage of me. He never pushed me away either. He was a good guy. I’ll forever love him for being a most beautiful friend and the best mentor I could ever wish for. 

I still have that ear of wheat that I picked that night in the park. It’s been in the pages of the French edition of my Scriptures since that night. I had forgotten where it came from.

² Some names have been changed to preserve the privacy of the subjects

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