This is the latest installment in our series on LGBT Mormon families. For more information, check out Affirmation.org.
It was a Phase
Trey: After our missions (to Korea and Sweden) in the early 80’s, we both attended BYU. I met Guy for the first time when I joined Response, a group he also belonged to. He was the cute one in the group, but I was closeted, in fact attempting to change through “therapy.”
Guy: We weren’t close friends, but for two years learned to like and respect each other at the time as we worked together at the student peace and human rights group. We had no idea the other was gay. In fact, neither of us knew anyone gay at BYU and, living in accordance with the Honor Code of the time, were deeply closeted.
We graduated and went our separate ways in 1985. It wasn’t meant to be.
The Chance Meeting
Trey: I was asked to give a talk at Sunstone in Salt Lake City on the biology of sexuality in 1996. I declined on the advice of my Ph.D. advisor (I was getting a Ph.D. at the time in molecular biology) and my step-father. But a week before Sunstone, my mother called and insisted I go and give the talk. She didn’t know why, but she insisted something amazing would happen there. The skeptic I am, I told her she’d have to pay for the trip. It wasn’t cheap, a flight from New York to SLC at the last minute, but she did. At the last minute, decided to go and give the talk.
Guy: By this time, we’d both finally come out. He was speaking at a Sunstone Symposium in Salt Lake where, sitting beside my mother, I whispered, “I knew Warren at BYU. He’s a great guy. Straight.” Just then he announced from the podium, “I’m a gay Mormon male.” I said, “Well, so much for my gaydar!” We hung out that weekend with a group of friends. The last night in Salt Lake we ended up talking until the wee hours of the morning, after which I left for Bryce Canyon and he for New York.
Trey: I emailed Guy when I got home. I was completely enamoured of him. So I took a step I never did before. I wrote him an email and asked if he’d consider dating long distance, by email.
Guy: I definitely wasn’t looking to date just yet as I’d just come out of my first relationship, which was way too long. I had never really experienced single life yet. I thought, “Well, perfect. The only way I’d consider dating right then was from a long distance so we could to take it slowly, while hoping to eventually find the right guy, a real soul mate.
Trey: We started writing emails. Long daily emails. I type fast and always have a lot to say. Before long he asked if we could talk on the phone instead.
Guy: Well, so much for my intentions! We knew we’d spend our lives together within a very few weeks of all night phone calls (often until the sun would rise in New York). Upon hanging up, there was still so much we wanted to share. It just felt so right, so wonderful.
Trey: I knew I found my soulmate.
Guy: I’d been planning a move to San Francisco, as had he eventually, and I happened to get an offer accepted on our Victorian Haight Street home the very week we re-met. That next summer, 8 months after we remet in SLC, he moved to SLC briefly while we prepared for our move to our new home.
Aside from four wonderful years in Heidelberg, Germany for Trey’s post-doc and some additional time just outside DC, where we currently live for Trey’s fellowship at the National Science Foundation, that home is where we’ve lived ever since.
Trey: My family, who are not LDS, accepted our relationship with open arms. It was immediate and loving. Guy’s parents were amazing. The very first time I met his father, he gave me a huge hug and said “welcome to the family.” His mother immediately let it be known I was another son :).
Guy: We were fortunate to be welcomed into each other’s families and now have a great relationship with most family members. There are some relatives with whom we’ve had painful relationships, but overall it’s been really positive. When I first came out, that wasn’t exactly the case. My poor, sweet mother even threw up when I told her. But my family has come a long way to being extremely supportive, in part thanks to the passage of time, seeing our happy lives, and to Family Fellowship for my parents (now nearly 90).
Trey: I was still attending church at the time I met Guy. I was out and openly gay, but living in accordance with the Church rules. One day, my bishop called me. He heard I gave a talk at Sunstone that criticized the Church leaders. He said he read the text of the talk (though I never wrote it down) and it didn’t seem to be critical at all. But he also heard I had a new relationship.
Guy: I hadn’t been active since shortly after leaving BYU, where the VP, my stake president, told me he greatly respected the way I’d handled my situation, already in a relationship, and wished me well, so I decided to quit while I was ahead. Trey had devoted twenty years of his life to the church since he’d joined at 17 under unusual circumstance (when he joined he was even denied the priesthood because he had a distant ancestor who was black) and against his family’s wishes. Trey, ever honest and open, told the stake president about our commitment to each other. They held a court which we both attended and after three hours of searching, sincere questioning and despite what they said the high council would have decided had they had their way, the president said he had no choice but to “follow the handbook” and excommunicate him. He felt that when Trey felt the loss of the spirit, he’d realize the mistake of his ways.
Trey: Upon hearing the decision I felt at peace and it was right for me. I could create the life I was meant to have.
Guy: I wasn’t sure I wanted children. It was a little while after coming out I had decided I could never have children. When I was with my former partner I had finally come to peace with that, feeling I could “multiply and replenish the earth” in many other ways than being a parent. So, we debated and eventually each convinced the other of our own positions and switched. In the end, we came to an agreement and pursued adoption. We settled finally on doing a private, domestic adoption even though we were by that time living in Europe.
Trey: It took over 2 years after we made the decision. We had to find an adoption agency that would work with same-sex parents, US citizens living in Europe. After tens of thousands of dollars, lots of home visits and paperwork, we were matched. We flew back to meet the expectant birth mother and anticipated the day. We learned while in Germany that the baby was born unexpectedly immediately after our return, so we flew right back to pick up our new child! It wasn’t to be. The mother changed her mind. So we returned to Germany, when soon after we got another call, there was a newborn near Seattle available for adoption. Guy immediately flew back to the US and I followed soon after. There we met our soon-to-be new 4lb 4oz baby daughter. We named her after our grandmothers, Emma Marie and took her home to Germany. We returned to the US by the time she was 1.
Guy: We started the process for a second adoption a few years later. We wanted two children and Emma really wanted a sibling. After almost giving up after a few more years of trying through foster adoption, Janessa, then nearly 4, suddenly joined our family. Trey got a call one night and asked if we could take a child… that night. We asked for a one day delay as Guy was in Mexico. We had to let Emma know in the morning that by the time she got home from school, she’d be a sister. The next day we had a meeting, they inspected our house again and brought our new daughter that afternoon. Janessa had a difficult and sad childhood to say the least and those first months were extremely difficult with lots of challenges, but she has made a lot of progress and is a really beautiful, sweet, girl.
The girls are now 6 and 10 and our family is complete.
Guy: We had a commitment ceremony in December 1997 that we consider our most important anniversary as that, despite its lack of legal status, was where we formally committed to each other in front of most of our family and friends and truly felt the love and support of our community. We will always greatly cherish that time. At the time I don’t know that we believed we’d ever have the opportunity and blessing of a legal marriage.
Trey: The ceremony was amazing and deeply spiritual. Our friends and family read from Walt Whitman and the Book of Mormon (Men are that they might have joy), beautiful music, Our good friend Trevor painted a canopy.
A few years later California instituted Domestic Partnership and we took advantage of at least a semblance of legal recognition. I guess that was our second “marriage.”
Guy: Our third “marriage” was the remarkable Valentine’s Day weekend in 2004 when Mayor Newsom bravely opened up City Hall for weddings. We waited in line for two days with friends, who were also getting married, and our families, in order to make our commitment equal under the law. It was a huge pleasure seeing the thousands of committed couples and families like ours who, valuing the institution of marriage, were eager to commit their lives to one another with all the rights and responsibilities that accompany such a huge commitment. It was amazing, too, to see the love and support of the community, people coming out braving the cold and rain, bringing hot drinks, blankets and flowers to the couples waiting so long outside to enter and seal their love. Alas, it was very short lived when all our marriages were annulled (as we expected they would be, but still…).
Trey: Then, in 2008, about a week before the devastating Prop. 8 vote, we were married again in San Francisco City Hall (after a simple ceremony in front of friends and family in our home). This time it remained legal, in the eyes of the state of California anyway. That was our fourth “marriage.” We hope and pray for the day that marriage equality is realized and our family and the many families like ours will be not only equal under the laws of the land, but also in the eyes and hearts of its citizens.
Trey: Our lives have been deeply blessed. It hasn’t been without its struggles, challenges and sorrows. 36 years ago I survived the suicide of my first love, a boy who brought me so much joy. It scarred and devastated me and I thought at that time that I’d never find happiness. If a person from the future told me on that day 36 years ago that I’d have a soulmate who I was committed to, loved and cherished decades later, I would have not believed it. But if it had turned out that was all that was true, it would have been enough. If you told me that we’d have two sweet, wonderful daughters. I wouldn’t have believed it, but it would have been enough. If then you told me that we’d have a supportive, loving extended family and many close and wonderful friends. I’d wouldn’t have believed it, but it would have been enough. Then… if this person from the future told me that we be legally married, well, I would have had him committed.
But it’s all true. And we are blessed. I wish I could go back and tell my 17 year old self.. that it didn’t just get better, it got unbelievable.