The End of Belonging
Today is my anniversary; I can overshare if I want to.
Last week I wrote a post during a dark moment that I intended to publish today titled The End of Belonging. In it I expressed how I felt 8 months after I discovered my husband was involved in a secret relationship and had decided to leave me and be with the other man. The short of it is that I felt rejected.
I am not a stranger to rejection. As I fought to make myself straight in high school and at BYU, I felt tons of rejection. I don’t need to chronicle it here, but all of that started to change when I accepted that I was gay and began to come out in 2007. In the blog post I wrote last week, I attributed the key to this new feeling of acceptance to my husband, who I met and started dating weeks after I first came out. He was the first to accept my sexuality not just in abstract theory, but in physical act. He was the lover and the companion that had previously been unobtainable because of the rejection from my faith, community, family, and most of all from myself.
Last week I wrote: If my life could be divided into two parts, the part in which I was not accepted and the part in which I was accepted, he would be at my side during the entire second part.
I know that’s a false dichotomy—that it fails to acknowledge my formative childhood in which I was incredibly supported by accepting parents or the future years to come in which I will continue to be accepted even without him. But it’s hard not to feel like my acceptance is connected to the man who was there with me when I first felt it as a gay man. Harder still not to feel intensely rejected when that same man chooses someone else 8 years later and after going through so much together.
Add to all that a few paragraphs belaboring the details of how I was feeling, and you have the post I wrote last week. I concluded by saying that this divorce was—an undoing of all other acceptances. It feels like the end of this phase in my life previously marked by happiness and belonging—and honestly, it is the end of that phase, and it sucks.
But then Pride happened.
Over the weekend I met up with the New York Chapter of Affirmation—a group of LGBT Mormons and their friends and family. We met for a barbecue in the park to make posters for the parade on Saturday, and then we marched on Sunday in the greatest Pride Parade in the world.
Marching with Affirmation was incredible. Since moving to the city, I’ve been more social and have seen my friends more often than any time in my life since college, and yet still I’ve struggled to feel like I belong anywhere as I’m adjusting to being single. But something about this weekend was different. These are not just new friends, these are the people of my tribe. We share a common language, a common experience. We share a familiarity that makes new acquaintances feel like old friends. These are my people.
It wasn’t just one guy who was there for me when I came out, it was a whole clan. The gay Mormons—all of them—were there to be my chosen family. And with them came the allies and the friends, and my birth family, all of them still here to love me. Nothing takes that away. When I was marching (and dancing, and skipping, and jumping, and hugging …) my way down the Pride Parade route, I remembered how it felt to really belong. I realize now that there has always been, and always will be, a place for belonging.