Alan Turing and Jean Clarke

Alan Turing and Jean Clarke

o-the-imitation-game-facebookI went to see the Imitation Game yesterday. It was quite provoking in many ways due to the nature of the story being that of a persecuted gay man in the 1940’s. But one thing that stood out to me was the situation with Alan Turing and his engagement to Joan Clarke. I can’t quote it exactly, but when he spoke to her about breaking off the engagement seemingly due to his homosexuality, she said something like, “We can make it work. We have our minds to connect with one another with. We can have a marriage that is unique to us.”


I thought back to my own engagement before my second marriage. What would either of us done if we had been able to have been totally honest with each other. Oh, she knew about my homosexuality. I knew I was still overtly attracted to men. But what I didn’t take into consideration was the impact of my ongoing attraction to men and my totally lack of sexual attraction to women and how that would impact our marriage in the long term.


The Christian culture I was part of and the ExGay movement that surrounded me emphasized the power of God to do anything. Since I believed God was against me having a homosexual relationship and that God was totally supportive of my desire to be married to a women, I believed God would move heaven and earth to heal my broken sexuality as long as I did my part by living a moral life committed to my relationship with God and faithful in my marriage.


But what would have been the case if I’d begun my marriage with the reality that my sexuality would never change? What would my wife have done if I’d said, “I’ll always be gay. I’ll always be attracted to men. I will never be sexually attracted to you and you will never feel that intense love of a man for you as a woman from me?”


What would I have done if I’d accepted that outcome? Would I have been willing to walk down the marriage aisle with full commitment if I’d known that I would never have an emotional and physical fulfillment with her as my wife? Would she have been willing to have married me if she’d known I would never love her as a heterosexual man would and be intimate with her in full attraction and love for her as a woman?


When we got married, the facts were on the table, but they were connected with a false hope that we would not have to live our total married life with the disconnect that was so obvious to us both from the very beginning. I know that I based much of my desire to marry on the hope for change.


Much like what was shown of Alan Turing and Joan Clarke, I loved and deeply respected her as a person, as a companion, and as a woman who loved God. We could see that we would be good, and compatible companions. But our relationship had struggled emotionally due to my anxiety about being intimately connected to her. The anxiety was connected to more than just the sexual intimacy. I had anxiety about allowing her to totally know me and to release my soul to connect with hers.


Alan Turing seemed to deeply respect and love Joan Clarke. They were compatible in so many ways. Joan seemed to see someone in Alan she was willing to love and marry. She admitted in the movie that she saw their minds were something they could rely on in their marriage even if their sexuality was incompatible. But it seems Alan was more realistic than that. He was unwilling to continue with the marriage plans.


Honestly, when I was 34 years old and excited about being married and stepping into a more culturally normal married life, I had my head in the sand about some very important things. I was romantically attached to the idea of being married and more compatible with Christian culture. I wanted so much to continue down the path of healing and deeply wanted to be free of what I internally referred to as “this damned homosexuality.” I believed it was a terrible problem that I wanted to go away. I trusted in what I was taught about God’s healing power and God’s desire to make me a whole person. I determined that to be a whole person, I also had to allow God to heal my broken sexuality.


So I believed to be married would provide a healing place to work with God on my goals. My fiancé’ and future wife believed as I did and I think she was likely as caught up in the romance of marriage as I was. She was a woman who desired to be married to a man that she believed she could respect and love, just like any adult woman.


As I look at those years today, I do not believe I would have wanted to forgo my desire for relational intimacy. I don’t think I would have wanted to live as a celibate married man. I certainly would have not wanted to bring a woman into my life that I knew I could never fulfill in terms of intimate love.


Sadly, it took 24 years to reach the courage to bring to the surface something that was always there but we were unwilling to really face it. My sexuality throughout my tenure of over two decades of ExGay ministry didn’t change, or diminish at all. The anxiety I felt towards intimacy with my wife continued to be problematic and increased over the years. I learned how to stuff it and attempt to ignore it just to survive my own marriage reality.


After twenty years I began to allow myself to be more internally honest and to bring forth the courage to bring my personal truth to the light. I can say I do not regret our marriage, nor do I minimize the positive things about our 24 year marriage. But, frankly, I do regret that I was unable to discern for myself the reality of my life and that I based an entire marriage not on the reality of what was, but the façade of what I hoped it could have been.


As the Bible says,


“Hope deferred makes the heart sick, – but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.” Proverbs 13:12


My heart became very sick, but thankfully, today I have a longing that has been amazingly and wonderfully fulfilled and have found tremendous life!


The movie, Imitation Game, revealed to me many truths that were profound. I’ll be thinking about them for some time.


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