8:4 THE MENTOR

8—HOW I CAME OUT
4—He was older and a policeman and there was nothing he was afraid of. He was involved in the gay community and taught me all I needed to learn. I had a crush on him. he was the perfect mentor.

Salt Lake City, Utah, August ’98—I remember waking up in Logan’s ² bed thinking that first morning thinking: “What a mistake this trip is!” I started feeling so homesick I felt physically sick. It had not happened last summer—my first time abroad alone. No even once! And it had been my first first time away from home too!

It was missed the safety of the ‘closet’ that I missed. I wanted to go back. There was too much to face up to here. My religion was in full battle with my deepest desires while my fear of ‘the gay life’ colluded with my incredible need for love.

At the age of 22 something had to give! And over these two weeks Logan would guide me, offer me support and let me ‘come out’ at my own pace. He was the best mentor I could have dreamed of. But that morning I was unable to realise how lucky I was. I had hardly slept. I was on the verge of a full panic attack all morning. 

I do not think I fully realised that Logan was the reassuring authority-figure I craved until I went on police patrol with him hat afternoon. Back then, effeminate guys made me run a mile, as they represented a side of me I could not stand, while aggressive guys—the loud and in your face kind—put me off. Logan was a manly cop, assertive but caring, and a good communicator who sounded like a teacher. I admired his intelligence, his wisdom. He spoke about philosophy and read out poetry to me in bed. Well-read, he introduced me to authors I love to this day 

Logan never pressured me to do anything but he pushed me to express myself (and was patient with my broken English). We talked about everything. About things I had never shared with anyone else. He understood. He empathised when he did not. He asked about my parents. I told him we were not close and had no relationship with my Dad. I think we both knew Logan was the clichéd ‘father figure’. I think he used that to help me out.

I was a child. Because I was so inexperienced. I had never been in a romantic relationship. I had tried to date girls. It had been easier as I had felt quite detached. But I did not know how to handle those wild feelings with man. I did not know how to behave. I could not accept that Logan wanted to relax and watch TV in peace on his day off. I spoke crudely. “Don’t be so immature!” I heard him shout with no anger as I slammed the door behind me. I walked all the way to Downtown, sulking and hurting.

When I got back I found him napping in bed. I joined him. He stirred in his sleep and took me in his arms and I had a good cry. I had never been sexually attracted to girls but now I burned with desire. Logan felt my mood. His hands wiped my teas and ran over me. It started again. Being with a man had forever been fantasies, but being intimate with a man in actuality now was not easy. I had been in the closet for way too long. And I was an Elder of the Church about to go on a mission. 

Logan was not religious but he was a deeply spiritual man. And at any rate it was obvious that his most important task was to help me deal with my religion. At Cahoots—where we had met a year ago, and where calendars of half-naked male models that both embarrassed and stirred me—he put a book in my hands: Peculiar People: Mormons and Same-Sex Orientation. ¹ It was a collection of essays about, and testimonials of, gay Mormons and their families. I did not buy it. I should have.

Then he took me to the MCC Church. The Metropolitan Community Church served the LGBT population and was “a safe space” where folks could be openly gay. At the MCC Church, openly gay people had full fellowship with their gay partner and with other members. My mentor was a mentor there. In fact, he mentored several organisations—and founded one of them. The lights were dim. It was just me and him. It was peaceful. “An accepting Church would be nice, wouldn’t it?” is the question he let me ask myself. I did not know such Churches existed! It was wonderful! Yes, it would be nice to be part of it—provided that Church was the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints! This was not the Church I believed in. On the way out we walked past a large window boarded up. Some “gay haters drove by one night and threw a brick to smash the stained glass window. It’s so sad that people could do this to a church!” It is.

The door is open, come on outside. No, I can’t come out today. And no, I don’t understand. You deserve so much more than this.

—Sarah McLachlan, Elsewhere

Back home, Logan tried another approach. Man is somewhere between the pure (“angel”) and the corrupted (“beast”), he said. Accepting “the beast” would help me find my core: and therein lied spiritual strength—the “angel”. It sounded like something Tori Amos would say. That was a language I understood. I was not ready to reconcile both sides—it would take years—but Logan laid the foundations for me to build upon. 

Logan had no time for the LDS Church but he was gracious enough to come with me to Temple Square. Of course, he would not come to meeting. He guessed that I had entertained the notion of bringing him into the fold. “It’s not going to happen!” I had imagined us together (in a somewhat chaste relationship) as LDS members. Together inspiring other gay members. How ridiculous! I loved watching him interact with others, seeing how confidant and extrovert he was, even in Temple Square. Observing this self-assured gay man was starting to give me a little gay pride. He was a great example, and I had had no example at all in my life!

Logan felt it was important to give me a complete crash course on the gay movement, and to tell me about the community that I started to discover last summer. He was a quiet and intelligent kind of activist who claimed his mission was to “fight for Justice”. He taught me about the Stonewall riots of 1969 and about the Rainbow flag—whose colours represented different aspects of man united. I remember Green was for Nature and Red for Sex. He said he met the guy who designed the flag. Judy Garland had been the inspiration for it. “Somewhere over the rainbow there is a better world for gay people.” I had never seen The Wizard of Oz but I loved Tori’s rendition of the song on her MTV Unplugged.

Logan’s Attitude and Out magazines were my study guides. We watched To Wong Foo one night—my introduction to drag queens. We went to stores that sold Rainbow flags, gay literature, sexy fridge magnets and the Tori Amos’s biography too. I learned she was a gay icon. Apparently all the female singers that I loved growing up were! We did not know that in France. And we did not have any of that stuff. I was like an alien who discovers there is planet were those like him are. I loved being back to America now!

One night we went to the Sun—the first gay bar I had been to. We drove through this city and I felt exited and at home. The bars had been a sanctuary last summer. Within their walls I felt safe. I could let my guard down. I had met really nice people. This summer I liked going with him (and that people he knew thought we were together).

We had iced water when we got back to the house. It was still so warm and we sat outside. Then he stood up and went to kneel under the tree. “What is it?” His late partner had planted bulbs. Logan never expected them to make it through the winter but the flowers had grown and blossomed. He ran his shirt sleeve over his face. That is when I really understood that being a homosexual was not only a sexual deviance, a proclivity or an abomination. His sorrow inspired me: he had known love. Homosexual love could be beautiful. Because love is. I learnt that there and then. Right before I went to kneel by the flowers to hug him tight under the moonlight. 

Tired, we went to bed and cuddled before falling asleep. In the rumble of the fans I realised that I felt completely different than I did the first night. I was jealous when his new man from San Francisco called. But it helped me accept that we were not together. We were just two friends—with wandering hands and who kissed passionately. He gave me my first hickey. All we did was light stuff. I believed it did not have any impact on my virtue and worthiness to go serve a mission.

At any rate, I now realised that we could talk in bed after we were done playing, instead of me being quiet and in my head. I was not feeling guilty about being in bed with him. I realised that I did not mind getting undressed in front of him anymore. He once insisted ww remained naked to chat in bed once. It felt liberating. 

The next evening we sat outside and we had dinner and another long chat about me, my mission, my Church, and my fears. I loved watching the sunset. He said he had a song he needed to play for me. He repeated all the words of Calling All Angels by Jane Siberry and K. D. Lang, so I could understand them. “And every day you gaze upon the sunset with such love and intensity. Why it’s almost as if you could only crack the code then you’d finally understand what this all means. Ah, but if you could… Do you think you would trade in all the pain and suffering? Ah, but then you’d miss the beauty of the light upon this earth and the sweetness of the leaving.” And then he played the song again. The music was now so loud that it filled every corner of the house plunged in the soft summer twilight. And I will never forget what I felt.

And there was the night I was standing at the ironing board. He heard the words I did not say: That I was damaged and that I will never be good enough. He said: “There is nothing wrong with you!” And I put the iron down as he came closer until he stood right in front of me. I felt something in my eyes and I looked away. “Look at me!” He cupped my face in his strong hands as I looked into his eyes. “There is nothing wrong with you.” I felt something shift inside. “I hate what they did to us!” Something invisible broke inside. I will never forget. I believed him… There was still so much for me to work out. It would take a very long time. I knew I was not out of the woods yet. But I believed him. 

I never would have opened up. But you seemed so real to me. And after all the bullshit I’ve heard. It’s refreshing that I don’t have to pretend

—Sarah McLachlan, Elsewhere

Today—I took his advice, I took his old soldier shirt with his name on it. I stole kisses from him—he remains one of the best kissers I have ever met. I had written a bad poem about him. He was touched. He asked me type it. He said no one had ever written anything for him. I never typed it and I lost it. So I dedicate this post to him. With all my love and gratitude.

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

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