Theresa and Rachel: Our Story

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Our Story…
Thanks for coming to this blog to learn a little bit more about our story. Theresa and I met when Theresa was a recently returned missionary and we were both attending school at BYU. We became very close friends and eventually fell in love with each other. We didn’t always recognize that we were in love with each other as a relationship as more than friends was against our religious beliefs, but in retrospect it is very clear that we have been in love and committed to each for over ten years.

During our final months at BYU we spent countless hours talking about how to reconcile same sex attraction and our belief in the gospel. Theresa dated a guy that she genuinely cared for and Rachel played the part of the ever supportive best friend. At the same time, her jealousy and confusion caused deep pain for both of us. Looking back, it’s clear that Rachel felt on some level that Theresa was being unfaithful to our relationship, even though we both genuinely believed that we wanted the other to find our Prince Charming and get whisked away to an eternal marriage. But neither of us really realized that at the time. Friends looked at our relationship with each other with jealousy, which we also didn’t understand at the time. At the end of the year, we decided to move to different states, remaining friends but exploring life in different parts of the country.

Even though we lived hundreds of miles apart, we continued to lean on each other. We talked on the phone for hours nearly every day. Eventually, we decided that it was madness for us to live apart, and Rachel moved to Arizona. We were committed to supporting each other in overcoming our challenges and living the life we’d always hoped for. Over the next several years we constantly tried to balance these two competing inner agendas. We attended singles wards and would go through a cycle of diligently trying to date, then taking a break from dating. We both threw ourselves into our work, each of us seeking fulfillment in working for a cause. As our lives became more and more entwined- we bought a condo together, bought furniture together, lost track of who owed what money to who and for what, we would *joke* about the upcoming “divorce” when we would have to separate our stuff in order to move forward with our lives with a new partner. We didn’t realize that we were in love with each other. Looking back, there was always an underlying sense of uncertainty and confusion about our relationship and our future together, and this insecurity would burst to the surface in really volatile ways.

Throughout all of this, we always thought that we were the only ones who felt this way. I know now how egocentric and naive that sounds, but that’s really what we thought. We never thought to look on the internet to see the stories of other people. At church, all we saw were our fellow “LDS single adults” who were striving to (and obsessing over) getting married. After getting worn out by several years of hearing “I just can’t wait to overcome this struggle and finally be married” over the pulpit, we transitioned to a “family ward”. Imagine our surprise when we started to hear, from married people no less, about the constant struggles that these people were facing as well. Surrounded by people *struggling*, we believed that this was just the way life was, and that the struggles we were facing just needed to be borne and overcome like anyone else’s. As the years passed we knew a few things: that we loved each other as dear friends, that we were committed to our testimonies, that to remain Mormon meant remaining celibate (& us being a couple was not something that we had even considered), and that dating men held little allure for either of us.Cracks in these tightly held beliefs started in 2008. The year of Proposition 8 in California was also the year that a similar bill came before the voters of Arizona. We were shocked by the outright hysteria we heard at church about gays and gay rights. Now, to be clear, neither of us had ever identified ourselves as gay. That was not a term that we had ever considered for ourselves. And yet, as we heard the rhetoric it seemed overblown, hysterical, and hypocritical. Those months made us start questioning the church’s stance in a way we never, ever thought we would. The next crack was the infamous President Packer talk in October, 2010. We settled in together to listen to the living prophets teach the principles and truths that we believed they were called by God to do. And then, President Packer said this, clearly referring to homosexuality: “Some suppose that they were preset and cannot overcome what they feel are inborn tendencies toward the impure and the unnatural. Not so. Why would our Heavenly Father do that to anyone?” Upon hearing that, Rachel picked up the remote control, turned the TV off, and threw the remote onto the ground. She yelled at the TV and hurled unanswerable questions to a distant apostle. Theresa’s heart broke as she realized that she didn’t know about those gay rights protesters shown on TV in flamboyant costumes, but she did know about Rachel. She knew how believing and sincere she was. She knew how invested she was in the church. And she knew that Rachel had recognized in herself an attraction to girls since her early teen years. In that moment, we were confronted with the fact that the church just didn’t have an answer for our questions.We kept holding on to both the church and our love for each other for the next several months. But after nearly 10 years of battling, something was bound to break. Theresa’s belief that God would answer her nightly prayers pleading for God to show us a way to lay claim to the life of a faithful Mormon as she understood it (temple marriage, kids, happily ever after into the eternities) was fading to say the least. Then, one day a simple misunderstanding between us blew up into a huge argument, and something snapped. Theresa decided she’d had enough. She’d had enough of feeling pulled into two pieces. She’d had enough of waiting around for someone else to appear in her life. She’d had enough of acting like her relationship with Rachel wasn’t a truly significant and defining relationship in her life. She’d had enough of trying to figure something out that wasn’t figure-out-able. Most of all, she’d had enough of focusing on what was lacking. The truth was that we had great jobs which we enjoyed, good health, a nice house, were financially stable, and had the luxury of being able to travel. More importantly, Theresa realized she already had someone in her life who loved her unconditionally, and who she loved and adored. So, she turned to Rachel and told her that she was done *struggling*. She just wanted to be with Rachel. What in the world were we waiting for? How selfish and ungrateful were we for feeling like our lives were somehow incomplete when we already had so very much. We had a love that not everyone gets to have, so how could we continue to refuse to accept it. Why sit around waiting for something else and beating ourselves up when the truth of the matter is that we just love each other. Rachel sat, stunned, and finally said something to the effect of, “um, okay!” We didn’t know where that left the church in our lives, but in that moment we just stopped worrying about it.The hands which had been holding onto the church so tightly just let go and we wondered what the future would hold. But the most amazing thing happened: from the moment we made the decision to just love each other, the underlying angst, depressions, anxiety, worry, insecurity, and anger have virtually disappeared. We never expected that. We never thought that would be possible. We never thought that just allowing ourselves to love and be loved would be such a freeing experience.

We spent the next several months just being okay with being us. We didn’t come out to anyone for a while, mostly because we just really wanted to be 100% sure that we were both okay with us being together. And we were. We knew eventually we’d need to figure out what we were going to do about the church, and how we were going to tell folks, but we just enjoyed our time together for a while.

Finally, we knew that it was time to get the ball rolling and move on, whatever that meant. Rachel had a Family Reunion, and I stayed behind. That was torture for both of us. She was tired of pretending like we weren’t a family. One night she took the plunge and came out to one of her brothers. He couldn’t have been more supportive. The whole world started to shift. It was amazing to be open and honest, not just finally with ourselves, but now with other people. Within a few weeks we decided to come out to the rest of our immediate families.

Getting engaged…

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When Rachel Proposed to Me…

In December of 2011 Rachel and I were getting ready for Christmas. We were shopping, decorating, baking, and doing all that good holiday stuff. I was more excited for Christmas than I had been since childhood because I knew she had bought a ring for me. I wondered when she would give me the ring, how she would propose, and what it would feel like.

About two weeks before Christmas, on an otherwise ordinary day, Rachel grabbed my hand as I was walking across the family room to put something away. She looked nervous and excited as she explained that she couldn’t wait anymore. She reached into her pocket, pulled out a ring, and knelt down on one knee. She talked about our life together, and the life she wants to build together, and said a whole bunch of sweet things that brought tears to my eyes. I said yes, of course! and we just held each other for the longest time. It was sweet and spontaneous and perfect. And it was a moment for just us to savor and hold in our hearts.

When Theresa proposed to me…

The day before my 35th birthday Theresa told me she had planned a surprise trip to San Francisco for me for my birthday. She had been planning this for months and somehow had kept it a secret. We got to Oakland late Friday night and made our way to our hotel. Saturday morning we set off for a sight seeing trip around San Francisco. We hit some of the major tourist traps and then landed in China Town. We went from store to store and then in one store Theresa was looking for some jewelry and I went and sat outside. She was in the store for a long time and I just sat and people watched for 20 to 30 minutes. She came out and she seemed a little nervous, but I didn’t think much of it.

Then we headed to the Ferry Building Marketplace. We grabbed a bite to eat and then as the sun was beginning to set and the moon was making its way into the sky we took a stroll on the pier toward the Bay Bridge. When got past all the buildings Theresa kept walking around like she was looking for something. Then she lead me to the side of the walkway with the most gorgeous sunset in the background. She then said that she needed to ask me something. I got a little lump in my throat. She pulled out a ring, (she had bought it in China Town while I was sitting outside the store) she told me she was not going to get down on one knee due to the broken glass on the ground, and then she told me she didn’t want to live her life without me and asked me to marry her. I said yes of course. She put the ring on my finger and we cried and kissed. It was a perfect moment.

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Rachel grew-up in Massachusetts with her 6 brothers and parents. Much of her time was spent playing sports, going to church, going to seminary, being on the Stake Youth Council, and spending time with her friends. She served a mission in Guatemala. She knew from an early age that she was attracted to other girls. She felt guilty about this fact and tried to follow the counsel of the Brethren to get those feelings to go away.

Theresa grew-up in California with her 3 sisters, brother, and parents. Theresa was an avid soccer player and had many friends inside and outside of the church. She also spent countless hours at church, seminary, stake activities, reading scriptures, and learning the gospel. She served a mission in Spain.

Rachel and Theresa shared with friends and family the following blogpost as a way to tell the story of how they met, fell in love, built a life together, and got engaged.

 

1 comment for “Theresa and Rachel: Our Story

  1. Gina
    June 3, 2013 at 11:18 am

    Beautiful story! What a journey! It was under your noses the whole time.

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