Another year slipped by…
The scene is set: Fabrizio didn’t make it through the first year of his mission. He was sent home for behavior “unbecoming” a missionary. The RM started receiving calls. At first they were infrequent and then slowly became more frequent until they were almost daily. Fabrizio tried to put a good spin on his “being sent home”. Initially he explained that his dad was really sick and because he’s a non-member, the church decided to send him home to be with his family and take care of his parents. Though that didn’t sound completely true, the RM went with it and didn’t push for the real story.
But then, over the course of the following months, more and more came out. Fabrizio endured a nasty and wrenching disciplinary action where he was excommunicated from the church for homosexuality. He was devastated, and cried into the phone. Hours of phone calls and some letters passed between the two (note: this predates the Internet and emails). It was an agonizing period for both. And it was agonizing as well for the RM’s spouse. Every time Fabrizio would call, the cloud of doubt hung over the marriage like a brooding winter’s storm. The RM ached for his friend, his heart passionately longing to help, but what was he to do? What could he do being so far away.
He tried to offer hope and encouraged Fabrizio where he could and tried to keep things positive. Fabrizio continued to attend church and even attended missionary conferences and young adult events across the country (leaving his home stake where word was getting out about his excommunication and the reasons behind it, and being sent home early from his mission and the entire stigma that goes with it). But, eventually, it was too much. The signs of being ostracized
were overwhelming any attempt at reconciling the differences he was feeling between the church he loved with all his heart and the person that he was inside.
The calls became less frequent and more distant. Fabrizio started being more cryptic in his language.
One day he called and simply left a phone number and told the RM to call it. He didn’t understand but then hung up and called the number… it was the help line from AFFIRMATION, a support group for “gay Mormons”.
The RM was confused and called Fabrizio back:
“A support line for gay Mormons?” he asked incredulously.
“Yes, gay Mormons”, Fabrizio quietly but firmly restated those words! This was the first time that the two were using “gay” and “Mormon” together in a sentence.
“But, there is no such thing as a gay Mormon”, the RM insisted… “either you are “gay” or you are “Mormon”. You can’t be both. They don’t exist!”
There was silence on the other end. The RM could tell that Fabrizio was crying. He could tell that something was terribly going wrong between them.
Finally Fabrizio replied… “I thought you would understand… I really thought of all the people that I know and love, you would understand!”
“I can’t go there,”
the RM responded with a bit of shaky uncertainty in his voice. “I just can’t get my head around it. I don’t believe there is such a thing as a “gay Mormon”. Are you suggesting that I am gay…. like you?”
“Only time will tell. Only you can know for yourself… but… I think you know what I’m saying, my friend. One day you will come to realize that you and I are the same kind of people. We love the same kind of people… the same kind of young men. “
Fabrizio kept talking… “I’ve seen your interaction with the missionaries first hand. I know how you look at them, love them, care for them more than your marriage.”
“And I’ve seen the way you act around me, get excited. Remember our kiss? You are gay, my brother. You are a gay Mormon!”
“I can’t accept this! I won’t accept this. This is not right. This is not true. Sure, I have attachments to guys. Sure, I love you, but as a brother, not as a lover… I love my wife!”
“I’m sure you do… and that is what’s going to be very tough for you. Mark my words… the day will come when you will face the music as I have. Someday, you’ll be reaching out for help. I hope someone will be there for you when that day comes.”
“I’m here for you… I’ll always be here for you.”
“I wish I could believe that. But, just as all the others, as it comes down to “gay” or “Mormon” you’ll leave me behind, too, unless you face the fact that you are just like me.”
“I’m not like you!” The RM yelled passionately into the phone. “I’m not you, Fabrizio! I do not believe these things. I can’t support what you are saying. I don’t want to have this conversation anymore!”
He hung up the phone violently. Months passed by with just a letter or note. No more phone calls. Fabrizio was becoming more and more distant. And the RM didn’t reach out to him anymore...
(to be continued)