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 know homosexuality was ‘wrong’ even when I got funny reactions when I shared with my classmates that I was attracted to them or to the male teachers, or to my father’s male friends. When I was a teenager, I experienced the full measure of personal shame, and was verbally abused and ostracised for the sexual orientation I tried to hide. As a child I was carefree, sociable, daring, even forward. As a teenager I was fearful, guarded, timid, even shy.

I watched my friends dating, and we became aware of our bodies. Being gay became awful! I joined the Church at the age of 19. I knew it would not help me dispel the fears I harboured about being homosexual, but I believed joining the Church could help me repress those feelings. At least it would give me an excuse not be sexually active with girls I forced myself to date.

Last summer was a watershed. ¹ Far from home for the first time I had felt free and lonely enough to let myself be for the first time. I challenged my secret dreams. That is when I stopped trying not to be gay. With Logan’s support—the gay cop I had met in Utah—I even started to accept my true nature. It is a slow process! I am nowhere ready to completely come out. You cannot move around all the guilt and shame that you have been carrying along most of your life. And religion complicated matters further. Being a closeted member got me to the point that I had sometimes had full-on panic attacks.

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 weighs me down.

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

—Sarah McLachlan, Hold on

It was unwise to be here, in Utah, with Logan. I loved loving him from afar, accepting who I was yet being celibate. I feel trapped between two worlds now. Back in France I imagined that I wanted to save Logan from a sinful life. Here, I wanted Logan to save me from my denial. I want to love him but I want to serve the Lord, and go on a mission. The day before flying, I panicked. I was violently pulled in two opposite directions. Now more than ever!

I tossed and turned all night before the early flight to America. Should I not go? On the plane I felt a bit sick. I tried to calm down. Seeing Logan would help me focus on my mission. Logan and I were friends. But we could kiss and be in each other’s arms. I needed human touch—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 finally got to Salt Lake after two long flights. Logan looked different from what I remembered. I did not have any snapshots of him. The sparkle in his eyes, and his hand on my shoulder as we walked out of the terminal, thrilled and scared me in equal measures. I tried to focus on his driving—fast, manly and agile—like cops on American TV shows. He sensed that I was nervous: he looked at me and grabbed my hand. “Stay calm,” I told myself, looking out the car window into this America that I loved. It was good to see the city again (almost more so by night when everything is peaceful).

He took a turn on 800 East. He lives in this urban location with a neighbourhood feel between the University of Utah and Downtown. That’s where my LDS friends live, 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. They hadn’t spoken since Shawn had thrown me out (for suspecting me of being gay). Aaron must know by now. As we parked in Logan’s driveway, I felt sad that I might never see my old missionary friends again. But I could not tell them that I was back.

Inside the house, Logan asked for a hug. I felt so uncomfortable—physically and emotionally. I could not eat. I said 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 I wanted to leave. In the bedroom he stripped down to his grey boxer trunks. I went for a shower, locked myself in the en-suite and let hot water washed the long day away and ease my nerves.

When I returned to the bedroom, Logan was under the comforter, and looked as if if he was asleep. I got into bed quietly, and switched off the light. I felt him move and turn around to spoon me. A new experience. It felt nice. After a while I turned to face him in our embrace. In the darkness my lips found his. We kissed tenderly. Then passionately. Still holding each other we rolled in the bed. Our hands hurriedly traveled over each other’s body. “You’re not so tired now!” he laughed. We carried on until he said, “OK, we need to sleep!” But after a few minutes we started again. And a third time. What’s when he said he wanted to make love to me. As he took my bed underwear off, I stayed his hand. He did not force me. We did not have sex. We relieved the tension, though. He knew I was stuck between ‘Stop’ and ‘More’. Most men would not put up with that but Logan respected the boundaries I set.

He fell asleep. 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 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 the closet door again is not what I thought it would be like. There is too much mess in my head. I am a 22 year-old virgin burning with desire. I am an Elder of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints too. I drank some water. I stood in the kitchen feeling light headed from guilt. So, I opened the kitchen door and went outside to get some fresh air. I sat down and after a few minutes Logan came through. “Come to bed! I can’t sleep without you there.”

Back to his bed, I was able to relax a little. I finally 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—in Mormon country! I wanted to take his picture in his uniform and take it on my mission.

I could not sleep after he left. I pictured the places where I would serve: Bordeaux, and the towns and villages of that mission field. There would be familiar smells and sounds out there: baguettes from bakeries, church bells in the morning. I could not believe that I missed France now! It had never happened before! 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 to 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, even with another gay man. But I tried to impress him naming 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 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 he had not done that, 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 cream 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. But 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 if I was going to be a missionary, 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 almost forgotten where it came from.

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

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