2—ONE YEAR HAD PASSED SINCE MY TRIP TO AMERICA. THESE WERE BETTER DAYS BUT NOBODY KNEW THE REASON Why I HAD COME OUT OF THE DARKNESS
France, Sunday, August 9, ’98—They’re all downstairs listening to the last talk of the Sacrament meeting. I am the Executive Secretary to the Bishop now, so I left them to it to go make photocopies ahead of the the meetings I’ll be missing over the next two weeks. I’m standing still in the corridor. I feel something strange: I’m happy.
These are better days: I’ve mended my ways with the Church after being disfellowshipped for six months. ¹ I have a part-time job (to save money for my mission), and I passed all my exams and graduated in June.
When I was disfellowshipped (and could not fully participate in church meetings), members avoided me. Perhaps they weren’t being judgemental and it was just out of embarrassment. The worst part was that the Mission President instructed Sister St John ² to keep away from me. She had been the only one to show me some support. I had faced those dark months alone: I couldn’t share the pain I was in with friends or family. I couldn’t give them ammunition against the Church.
There’s a man who’d been there for me, though. He’s in his mid-thirties and has become a sort of father figure to me. His name is Logan. ² I met him in Salt Lake City last summer. In the Gay Literature section of a bookstore. He looked very serious perusing a synopsis on a back cover. I talked to him first. He smiled and after a little chat he invited me “to go for a coffee.” There was a radio system in his car. “For work,” he said. He was a cop, “here to arrest bad boys!” Was he joking? I know I was relieved that see he took me to a coffee shop.
My stomach churned while he laughed at his own pleasantry with the baristas. I was glad to be there. I had provoked this, but my stomach hurt whenever I tried and face up to my sexual orientation. We sat outside and talked. He’d been a soldier (“after a spell as an actor back east,” where he was from). I started to relax with that well-spoken and sensitive, manly man. What was not to like?
The internet appeared in France (and something called E-mails too)! I looked up Logan at the University Library in February and his name came up in several articles. I found his Police Department and his E-mail address on their website. I emailed him with some metaphor about the lake we drove by in the mountains after I drank my Seven Up with him. He replied! “You amaze me! The metaphor blew me away. You are a beautiful and poetic writer. You inspire me. I would love to softly stroke your face like a slow, warm spring rain.” He took my breath away. No one had ever said anything like this to me! When I first read those words, they made me shiver. I sent him some pictures. “The pictures are great! My favorite is the one of you in your room with that sultry look on your face and the Evita movie poster on the wall behind you. I love the sun coming in the window behind you and the color of your hair.” His words make me feel warm inside.
I’m standing still in the church corridor, thinking about our letters and E-mails, and about our phone conversations. I’d called him two days after we met—my last day in America. He picked me up in his big white car and with a smile. We went for lunch and we went to his house, and I went a little farther than ever before. He drove me back to my friend’s apartment. I was in a daze. I also had mixed emotions about leaving. On one hand I was this child who’s told it’s time to go home when he’s having the time of his life in the park with friends he’s just made, and on the other hand I wanted to go home, as this trip had destroyed my faith in many things. So, I flew back home more cynical, and disillusioned.
I believe… this is heaven to no one else but me.—Sarah McLachlan, Elsewhere
What would my life be like if I had not met Logan? What would my standing in the Church be? How about my mental health? This past year has been Hell, but Logan draws me closer to Heaven. He soothed me. He’s no Mormon, but he understands that my religious life is important to me. He gets that I am determined to control my homosexual feelings. I told him I had come to the point where I stopped believing that loving him was “evil or abominable”. I just could not break the rules. He emailed: “When we held each other and cared for each other it was not ‘evil’. It was blessed. Love always is.” He’s helped me accept those feelings. And it feels good to be myself with him.
The Drama graduate is thinking of leaving the police force to go to Law school. He inspires me to be as smart as I can be. As if to honour him. I started to read Sam Shepard because that’s his favourite playwright. I studied hard in all my classes because I wanted to make him proud. He wrote: “Congratulations!! I am so proud of you!” when I graduated. I have no relationship with my father and no significant other, but how lucky I am to have someone like him.
I do not mind the thousands of miles between us too much. It actually works as a safeguard: I can remain chaste. And he’s with me whenever I listen to Sarah McLachlan’s Fumbling Towards Ecstasy or Jewel’s Pieces of You. And he was with me when I saw Titanic or watched Romeo and Juliet with Di Caprio. I cast him as “the angel who saves me”. And I love the police shirt he sent me. I know I idealise this situation but I feel I do that on purpose too. So I don’t drown. So I don’t feel all alone in this world.
For the last six months I’ve dreamed that we met, here in France, or in New York City or in Salt Lake City. In those dreams he’s a tourist here and I’m his guide and interpreter, or we share a room in the Big Apple, or he’s my landlord while I study at the University of Utah for a semester. He lives his life and I live mine. I go to church on Sundays and enjoy his company when I return home.
I’ve also dreamed that I was sent to the Salt Lake Mission, and me and my companion would teach and baptise him. Given his wonderful qualities, he could become a high-ranked member! I’m sure God has put him on my path: I mean, we met and then I lost him, but I was able to find him again—and at a time when he might need a friend! Indeed, when he’d been off work following the death of his live-in partner. I was not aware that he was with someone—or what an open relationship was! But the timing of my contacting him must be a sign!
But I have received my mission call and I am sent to the Mission de Bordeaux, France. Too far from Utah. I phoned him. He said: “I want to see you and feel you again.” I have to see him before becoming a full-time missionary for two long years. One more time. So, I am going to visit him for two weeks. I told a few friends I was going to Utah (to see a friend) but I cannot tell members I’m using some of my mission savings for a vacation (to visit a gay man)!
“I can not believe you are really coming to see me. I am looking forward to your visit. My heart is warmed by the thought of you.” On Tuesday night I will finally wrap my hungry arms around him again!
I am all packed. I am taking my Scriptures, books, Tori’s CDs and my Jewel’s CD. “Let’s see. … what to bring? Packing List: chocolate, your clothing, toiletries, a copy of your novel, your hopes, imagination, joys, sorrows and burdens (I will help you carry them), your comfort, love, respect, your dreams, and your deepest desires. Anything else I will provide.”
Those words touch me much too deeply. They make my core tremble. Don’t think you realize the effect you have over me.Jewel, Near You Always
Today—Man, was I naïve! I was a 22 year-old going on 16! For my defence, I was a virgin who had never dated a man (and only forced himself to date girls but didn’t have much experience in that department either), and there I had this American cop (like in those series on TV!) who wrote me love those emails.
Of course, just like all LDS members, I just couldn’t dissociate God and His Church back then. I had faced opposition in the ward, and was waging a war against myself too, but I desperately wanted to conform despite it all. Leaving the Church was never an option because it meant turning my back on God Himself. But to think I could convert Logan and love him as a smitten friend or roommate was just mad!
Reading my Journal and his emails (and listening to Pieces of You) took me back there. He was my rock, my father figure and my hero. I was naïve, but I am forever grateful to that wondrous man.
I even have a knot in my throat as I am typing this.
² Some names have been changed when authorisation was not or could not be granted.