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Simonson Says: It's not for us to judge

I must be crazy. I’m actually about to willingly go there, one of the all-time touchiest topics for people of just about any stance: homosexuality in the LDS Church.

Well, that might be overselling my courage a bit. I won’t really “go there” so much as defend someone who did.

Earlier this month, “The Weed” blogger Josh Weed and his wife, Lolly, celebrated their 10-year anniversary with a lengthy blog post declaring that Josh is married, a devout Mormon and gay.

“I am gay,” Weed wrote. “I am Mormon. I am married to a woman. I am happy every single day. My life is filled with joy. I have a wonderful sex life. And I’ve been married for ten years and plan to be married for decades more to come to the woman of my dreams. All of these things are true, whether your mind is allowing you to believe them or not.”

I won’t try to recap all the insights in the post, but I will say that anyone responding to Weed’s post in any way needs to read the whole thing in order to address it fairly. Weed and his wife addressed just about every question or thought one reading their post might have, and did so with impressive honesty and eloquence.

Perhaps most important to make clear is that Weed repeatedly stated he is not advocating this as the right choice for everyone. He claims his own personal desire to have a traditional family and remain active in his church simply outweighed his desire to pursue romantic relationships with men.

Now, I am not here to talk about the LDS Church or the implications of Weed’s choice to marry a woman. That simply isn’t my business. It is worth pointing out that the comments on Weed’s blog have been overwhelmingly supportive. However, multiple other bloggers and sites, including and The Democratic Underground forum, have shared his story (or the sensationalist highlights of it), spawning comments that range from skeptical to downright ugly.

Obviously, all commenters have their freedom of speech and right to opinion. But Weed’s raw honesty about his sex life with his wife being enjoyable regardless of his homosexuality — not bisexuality, he clarifies — must have taken courage. Surely he preferred to gloss over that topic, but, knowing it would be the foremost question on everyone’s mind, he wrote openly about his belief that sex is less about animal attraction than it is about the deepest intimacy, trust and affection. I blush a little bit just paraphrasing that; imagine how Weed (who, it is worth pointing out, is a successful marriage and family therapist) must feel explicitly addressing that part of his life, just so we can understand him better and not pity his wife.

What saddened me about the responses is that many commenters who disagree with the LDS Church’s stance on gay marriage blatantly ridiculed his statements, many of them speculating with certainty that he is cheating on his wife or feels disgusted just looking at her. Others accused him of being brainwashed by or a pawn for the Church, flat-out lying about his circumstances to encourage other LGBT individuals to “live a lie,” despite Weed’s repeated assurance that he does not judge others in his situation for any choice they might make, does not believe his situation would even be thinkable for the majority, and has no ulterior motive for sharing intimate details of his life other than adding his voice to what should be a more open discussion.

My question is this: Why do we claim to only care about people’s happiness, but balk when we can’t wrap our heads around what they say makes them happy, resorting to ridicule and withdrawing our support for their happiness? Weed’s situation is unique, to be sure, even a touch bizarre; I won’t lie that I had trouble with it, too. My instinct was to pity Weed and, of course, to think with horror, “Oh, his poor wife!”

But when writing about his three young daughters, Weed said, “I almost feel bad to have such an incredibly fulfilling life. I often find myself in awe at how amazing my life is and how lucky I am.” That doesn’t sound like a man who has to struggle to find worth in his life.

Even if I can’t imagine being in his or his wife’s shoes, I have no right to tell them their lives are miserable despite their assertions from the bottom of their hearts that they are incredibly fulfilled and happy, that their priorities are simply different from the norm.

Weed wrote near the end of his post, “My hope is that other gay people will be as accepting of my choices as they hope others would be of their choices.”

The bigger point here is that not everyone takes the path we think they should want. Some people want different things than we do, and that is their right. If we believe that as it applies to one side of the coin, we also have to believe it when it applies to the other. There is more than one way to be happy. We don’t have to understand it, but neither should we be hateful or claim to know other people and what is best for them better than they do.

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