On 02/06/06 I found The Ultimate Brokeback Forum. The remarkable journey I have been on since is probably the reason I have been invited to write for TBP. We call ourselves "Brokies," and coined the name "Brokeaholic" to describe our affliction.
A tremendous benefit of being on the Forum was that I could start a thread to help me lose weight. The Brokeback Mountain Lovesick Diet. It's not really a diet, just groups of people dedicated to helping each other lose weight and keep it off. Check it out . . . I lost 70 lbs!
To introduce myself, let me quote from our book, Beyond Brokeback . . .The Impact of a Film. (The book came about when sixty of us on the Forum read 50,000 posts and winnowed them down to 4,000 that we thought were good enough for a book. The Editorial Board chose 176 from those to represent the other thousands on the Forum.)
I was nineteen in 1963, gay, and afraid to admit it. As a naïve, closeted gay man in those days, I did a lot of drinking to release those inhibitions and try to find some relief. Then, still totally messed up with my sexuality, I got married.
That was so, so long ago---a lifetime ago. Now I'm older, and I find myself having been married for decades to a wonderful woman in a marriage that has satisfied neither of us. Then this wonderful movie comes along and wastes me! The movie made me face up to the fact that I've lied to myself all my life and have never found, for even a minute, the wonderful happiness Ennis and Jack have when they are first together. I had repressed those thoughts for so long that when I saw them on the screen my heart almost broke.
Those words were written over two years ago. Since then, my wife and I have divorced after 43 years of marriage. My marriage brought me three children, and soon, 12 grandchildren. I've been told by my children that as long as I come alone to their homes I am welcome, but if I ever bring a man they won't let me see my grandchildren. They remain true to a homophobic religion, whose intolerance of gays helps foster the highest rate of suicides among men ages 15-24 out of any state in the nation, a large portion of whom are gay.
I am a Mormon convert of 33 years. I have worked mightily in the Church for all that time. I know very few people who have worked as hard as I have to support the goals of the Church. Two weeks ago I was told by my Stake President that if I continued to talk to members of the Church about my views on the gay marriage amendment on the ballot in Arizona, expressly against the teachings of the Prophet, that I was ?sternly warned? that I am on the road to apostasy.
I'll have more to talk about concerning the Mormon Church in future posts. Suffice it to say that if the world really knew what was happening in California as a result of the concerted efforts of the LDS Church, people would be amazed. No other church has the resources, or has been planning for this fight for as long, to have the organization now in place to fight for passage of that amendment there. It is amazing to me that run of the mill people have no idea how much influence this church has in our nation.
I represent perhaps the last frontier of men in this country who remain closeted for life. As such, it is extremely important for a man coming out at my age to find a support structure to help withstand the slings and arrows that he will encounter.
Perhaps miraculously for me, just when I needed it, Phoenix's 1 Voice Community Center started a Men's Discussion Group, and I was invited to attend its first meeting. We have been meeting every Monday evening since January of this year, and have discussed the widest range of topics.
I've also been fortunate to be a volunteer with Equality Arizona and Out The Vote. This has connected me to the larger political arm of the GLBT community.
I've counted as my friends the Editors of local papers and have called upon them to print op-eds to better inform Mormons and others about gay issues.
Since I lost all of my friends in the Church and moved away from my family, I've been steadily putting together what I refer to as Brokeback Bobby's Bois (3Bs). These are men and women whom I've become close to, and with whom I want to form a new family. Just like in our real families, there are challenges with personalities and ideas, which has been another learning experience for me. We include transgender MTF and FTM, a straight Fairy Godmother, several with physical and emotional handicaps, and a mix of others that gives us a rainbow of variety.
As I continue to experience this coming out late in life, I'll pass on to you what I am learning, which may help us better understand how we can help others who might find themselves where I did. I figure there are 15,000 gay Mormon men in Arizona, and I only know about six!