Thursday, May 23, 2019

Utah Mormon Republican Comes Out as Gay: He "Could Not Continue to Live a Lie”

Nathan Ivie — Photo: Facebook
Those of us of older generations and/or raised in anti-gay religious traditions often struggle for years trying to "pray away the gay" or even undergoing fraudulent "conversion therapy" in order to meet family or religious denomination expectations.  Having undergone this struggle myself for decades, I can assure straight readers that it is a living hell filled with self-hate and self-loathing and, at least in my own case, constant thoughts of suicide which eventually lead to two serious attempts which landed me in the hospital.  Eventually many of us - unless one is Rick Santorum or Ken Cuccinelli - reach a point where we simply no longer have the strength to continue to live a lie and live our lives as actors on a stage playing an assigned role. To say that it is exhausting and soul killing is an understatement.

This is not to say that those of us who married spouses of the opposite gender did not love that other person as much as a gay can romantically love an  opposite gender spouse.  I/we did love them, yet felt guilt because in our heart we could not be what they deserved. This damage to both the gay spouse and the straight spouse is the direct fruit of right wing Christians' - and Muslims' - rejection of modern medical and mental health knowledge on sexual orientation.  Rather than admit that their cherished religious dogma is wrong, these fundamentalist prefer to ruin countless lives. 

As Metro Weekly is reporting, a Mormon Republican  from the state of Utah finally reached the point I reached 18 years ago where he simply could no longer live the lie.  Here are article excerpts:
A Republican lawmaker in Utah has come out as gay after working with families who lost their LGBTQ children to suicide.  Nathan Ivie, a Utah County Commissioner, posted a four-minute video to his Facebook page saying that he had been fighting his sexuality since age 9.
The forty-year-old also detailed a suicide attempt in his early 20s, and said he wanted to help struggling LGBTQ youth know that life is worth living.
“There’s no easy way to say this, I might as well just jump up and say it — I’m gay,” Ivie, who is also Mormon, said. “That’s my reality and that’s what I need to talk to you about today.” Ivie said he had spent “decades…wrestling with who I really am,” and that accepting his sexuality had “not been easy.”
“I understand the impact my discoveries have had and will have on others, yet I’m still the same person I’ve always been,” he said. “I hope, to you, this part of my life doesn’t become my defining trait.”
Ivie said that, when he first realized his sexuality at age 9, he “believed there was something wrong with me.”  “I fought from the beginning to find some way to change myself,” Ivie said. “That battle resulted in a failed suicide attempt when I was 22 years old.”
After recovering from what he called a “near tragedy,” Ivie said he “tried to live the life that was expected of me.” “The truth is, I never felt comfortable in my own skin,” he continued. “I felt I was living someone else’s life rather than my own.”
Ivie said that while he was “as committed today as I have ever been to my faith, family and freedom,” he realized he “could not continue to live a lie. It wasn’t fair, it wasn’t right for anyone.”
The politician noted that he and his wife had separated, but that she remains his best friend and they have discussed at length how to “move forward as a different kind of family to fulfill the responsibilities we took on together to our two amazing children.”
Ivie said he was aware that some would neither understand nor accept his announcement, but that he would “continue to serve my county as Utah County commissioner with all of my heart. I know there are haters in every area of our lives, but we cannot let that be what defines us as a community.”
Ivie said his decision to come out was inspired by working with families who have lost LGBTQ children to suicide.  “That really makes you reevaluate your life, and what you’re doing as a leader to prevent that kind of stuff,” he said.
He added that he wanted young LGBTQ people to know that “it’s OK to be different, it’s OK to live authentically. You can be gay and a Republican…. You need to trust that people will love you for who you really are.”
Speaking to the Salt Lake Tribune, he noted that “somewhere out there” is a younger version of him, who is contemplating taking their own life, and that he wants them to know that it’s worth continuing to live.  “They need to know that it is,” Ivie said. “They need to know they’re valued, they’re loved.”
Tanner Ainge, who serves alongside Ivie on the Utah County Commission, tweeted his support for Ivie’s announcement.
“My instinct is just to embrace [Nathan],” he tweeted. “Today I stand with him as a friend, valued colleague, and fellow Republican. His story will provide strength and hope to those feeling the lonely despair that almost took his life and has taken too many in our community.”

Utah has one of the highest youth suicide rates in America - in my view probably in no small part due the the Mormon Church's historic homophobia.  In my own case, I think I knew from around age 12 that I was gay, but my Catholic upbringing in then conservative Central New York  and family expectations - not to mention the fact that homosexuality was at the time classified as a mental illness - made accepting my true self impossible.  Suicide seemed a far better solution to my problem. Kudos to Ivie for coming out and striving to stop LGBT youth suicides. 

1 comment:

Roger said...

Imagine how hopeful this would have been to see happen when we were young and struggling with our own sexuality. This man is helping more men and women than he realizes with his frank and honest actions. Both homosexual and heterosexual people can gain an understanding of humanity around them just by listening to people like him, everywhere. Great.