Back in 2012, commemorating their 10th wedding anniversary, devout Mormon couple Josh and Laurel “Lolly” Weed made headlines when they revealed a big family secret: Josh was a gay man.
“I am gay, I am Mormon, I am married to a woman,” Josh announced on his blog. “I am happy every single day. My life is filled with joy. I have wonderful sex life. All of these things are true whether your mind allows you to believe them or not.”
Believe it or not, earlier this week the Weeds announced their plans to divorce in another lengthy blog post.
“Today, we need to let you know that Lolly and I are divorcing,” Josh writes. “Surely, there will be those who are amused or overjoyed.”
Josh, a licensed marriage and family therapist, says they have both come to understand that platonic love is not a substitute for mutual romantic love and sexual attraction.
“Why am I, as a straight person, entitled to reciprocal, requited romantic love while an LGBTQ individual is not?” Lolly adds.
Josh says he ultimately saw divorce as their only option because of his love for the LGBT community, his love for himself as a “beautiful” gay person, and the recent death of his mother, which effectively ended the couple’s sexual intimacy.
He explains that they were “suddenly very, very interested in making sure that other LGBT people felt the beauty of their sexual orientation just like we had come to know the beauty of mine. And we were suddenly able to see more clearly the pain that my sexual orientation brought to our marriage.”
Josh also uses the divorce announcement as an opportunity to apologize to the LGBT community:
We’re sorry for some of the things we said in our original coming out post in 2012. There are several ideas in that post that, though well-meaning, we now realize stemmed from internalized homophobia. We’re sorry, so incredibly sorry, for the ways our post has been used to bully others.
We’re sorry to any gay Mormon who even had a moment’s pause as they tried to make the breathtakingly difficult decision that I am now making—to love myself fully for exactly what God made me—because of our post. We’re sorry for any degree that our existence, and the publicity of our supposedly successful marriage made you feel “less than” as you made your own terribly difficult choices. And we’re sorry if our story made it easier for people in your life to reject you and your difficult path as being wrong. If this is you, we want you to know: you were right. You did the correct, brave thing. You are ahead of me in the sense that you have progressed through things I have yet to progress through. You listened to your gut and to God and did a brave, brave thing. Now I’m following your example.
We’re sorry to any gay Mormon who received criticism, backlash, or hatred as a result of our story. It wasn’t long after our post that we began to get messages from the LGBTQIA community, letting us know that their loved ones were using our blog post to pressure them to get married to a person of the opposite gender—sometimes even disowning them, saying things like, “if these two can do it, so can you.” Our hearts broke as we learned of the ways our story was used a battering ram by fearful, uninformed parents and loved ones, desperate to get their children to act in the ways they thought were best. One person wrote—and I’ll never get the horror of this out of my head for the rest of my life—saying that he went to see his family for Thanksgiving during his second year of college, where he was an out gay man who openly had a boyfriend. When he got home, his father pulled up our story on the computer and then physically assaulted him, beating him as he had often done during his childhood, saying “if this guy could avoid being a faggot, so could you!”
Think of that. If we heard about our story being used in that way, I cannot even imagine the stories, all along the spectrum of manipulative horror, that we have never heard.
We’re sorry to anybody who felt a measure of false peace because of our story. There are many people who have good hearts, who were grappling with the issue of homosexuality before we came out, and who were having difficulty reconciling the church they loved with the things they knew about their gay loved ones. Our coming out post gave a false hope: “See? I just knew there had to be a way for gay people to stay true to their faith by denying themselves and live a happy, healthy life!” We’re sorry to perhaps send you back to the state of confusion you were in before you saw our story—but at the same time, that state of confusion is necessary. Something is wrong. It really doesn’t add up. As I have said in thousands of prayers over the last half-decade as I have come to know more and more LGBTQIA individuals and the ways they have been hurt, as well as have realized the impossibility of a God that would set up a “plan” that is totally impossible for a huge segment of His children to participate in, all within a church whose policies and positions assert that that is exactly what God has done: something is wrong. Something is very, very wrong with how things are currently set up. I don’t know yet what is right. But, Father, something is so incredibly wrong.
We’re sorry to any LGBTQIA person who was given false hope by our story, or who used our story as part of the basis for their life-decisions. We honor your decisions, whatever they are, and we’re sorry for any way in which our current trajectory might be unsettling or alarming.
I, Josh, am sorry to the many LGBTQIA people over the years that I subconsciously saw myself as different than. I am no different than you, and any degree to which I held on to the idea that I could be gay without being gay was, I see now, a manifestation of lingering internalized homophobia born of decades of being told this part of me was evil. It was an effort to belong to the “in-group” (heterosexual members of the Mormon Church) that I was actually not a part of.
Josh also writes that his views have evolved regarding his church’s stance on homosexuality, which he believes fills LGBT people “with self-loathing and internalized homophobia.”
“I have spent my entire life conforming to every standard of the LDS faith because I believed it was what God wanted me to do,” he continues. “I believed this because every mentor, every exemplar, every religious teacher, every therapist, every leader I ever grew up listening to and trusting told me that that was the only way I could return to live with God. There was an emphasis on ’perfect obedience’ and yet, over the course of my lifetime, the list of things said by these trusted leaders about my sexual orientation was profoundly inconsistent and confusing.”
Josh, who works in private practice helping those “with sexual identity issues and unwanted sexual attractions and/or behaviors,” has been accused in the past of practicing “ex-gay” conversion therapy, which he has denied.
“I do not practice, nor do I believe in, reparative therapy or change therapy,” he said. “Quite the opposite, my therapeutic stance is one that favors (but does not depend on) the idea that sexual orientation is immutable.”
Josh says on his blog that he and Lolly will continue co-parenting their daughters on a large homestead, adding, “We can continue to be the family we have always been, and we can add to that family.”