Josh Weed, who made headlines in 2012 for coming out as a gay Mormon man in a straight marriage, announced Thursday that he and his wife, Lolly, are getting divorced.
The Seattle-based couple, who have been married for 10 years and have four daughters, first opened up about their relationship in a now-deleted blog post. It quickly became a major national story, with coverage by ABC News, Gawker, and many more sites.
At the time, Josh Weed claimed the two had a happy marriage and an "extremely healthy and robust sex life," despite both knowing he has been "same-sex attracted" for the entirety of their relationship.
The couple's 2012 story angered many people in the LGBT community due to what many saw as internalized homophobia and an agenda to push gay Mormons further into the closet. Some people accused Josh, who works as a marriage and family counselor, of practicing conversion therapy, although he denied this.
The couple did not immediately respond to request for comment from BuzzFeed News on Saturday.
In a lengthy blog post on Thursday, Josh announced that he and Lolly are ending their marriage after he "finally saw how important it was to love myself, to truly love myself as a gay man."
After a conversation with a friend about three years ago, Josh said it dawned on him that his sexual orientation isn't a "biological aberration" — it's "beautiful" in its difference from the norm, like having blue eyes.
Was it possible that my sexual orientation was beautiful? That it was beautiful in the same way blue eyes can be beautiful? In the same way the Grand Canyon is majestic and lovely, attracting admirers from around the world? Could it be that my sexual orientation wasn’t a mistake? That it was part of the diversity and variety that brings nuance to our planet and to humanity? And that God meant it to be that way?
When he spoke to Lolly about it, she wholeheartedly agreed. They began to discuss what that would mean for their relationship — and for all the LGBT people who had heard their story.
We had both promised to be together, to be a family. We are both true to our word, and we both adored in many ways the life we’d created together. We assumed God would never lead us to feel otherwise.
But we 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.
It hurt us both very deeply, and we spent many long nights holding one another and weeping as we thought of the decades to come for us, neither of us experiencing real romantic love.
The couple emphatically apologized for the 2012 blog post, saying they now realize it "stemmed from internalized homophobia."
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.
They also said they are "so incredibly sorry for the ways our post has been used to bully others."
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!”
In one part of the blog post, Lolly spoke about the pain of knowing her husband was not attracted to her.
We were best friends, but he never desired me, he never adored me, he never longed for me. People who read our previous post might be confused because we mention having a robust sex life. That was true. We put forth a lot of effort and were “mechanically” good at sex—and it did help us to feel intimate, and for a time that closeness did help us to feel content in our sex life—but I don’t remember him ever looking at me with passion in his eyes.
Josh has never looked at me with romantic love in his eyes. He has never touched me with the sensitive touch of a lover. Whenever he held me in his arms, it was with a love that was similar to the love of a brother to a sister.
The absence of "romantic attachment" from marriage can "take its toll on your self-esteem," Lolly said.
No matter how much I knew “why” he couldn’t respond to me in the ways a lover responds to a partner, it wears a person down, as if you’re not “good enough” to be loved “in that way.” And what I didn’t realize is that as human beings, we actually need to feel loved in that way with our partners.
This deficit started to mess with my self-esteem. I almost felt if only I could be thinner, prettier, sexier, maybe it would be enough to catch Josh’s eye, to help him want me in the way we need to be wanted by our attachment partners. In reality, Josh was GAY and it had nothing to do with me.
Lolly said she told their daughters about the reason for the divorce with a reference to the children's book Stellaluna, in which a baby bat tries very hard to fit in with a family of birds — until she's reunited with her long-lost Mother Bat and "finally accepted her identity as a bat."
When Lolly first read the book, she "felt absolutely sick in my heart because I could instantly see the parallels between Stellaluna and Josh."
Josh was a bat trying to be a good bird. I knew that he didn’t want to eat bugs and that he wanted to hang upside down, but everyone around him told him it was wrong. He was gay, trying to live a straight life. That is the essence of internalized homophobia—trying to be something you’re not because you think it’s “bad” or “wrong.”
So, Lolly told their daughters "that Dad was a bat trying to live like a bird."
I explained that he needed to love himself and be a bat. We told them we would always be a family and that Mom and Dad would always love each other and that we wanted to still live in the same house but that we might find other people.
Despite their separation, Josh said he and Lolly are planning to buy a homestead together — a property large enough to keep their family together, while allowing the two of them to "just add future partners to it when the time comes."
We can continue to be the family we have always been, and we can add to that family. This is a concept I learned from my step-mom, Laura. When she married my dad, she told me that her vision was not one of two separate family groups awkwardly interfacing from time to time, but instead a family unit where everybody in her clan and everybody in our clan felt loved, included, accepted and embraced, fully and completely.
And that is how we will treat our family. It is a beautiful vision. Nobody rejected. All invited to the table. All members loved unconditionally, no matter what.
Julia Reinstein is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
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