Dec 23, 2012

I did a lot of damage, both to my identity and to my relationship with my husband, by trying to conform to some sort of one-size-fits all narrative of sexual complementarity. Because I could not acknowledge the part of me that is “queer” in the early years of our relationship, I withheld that part of me from our marriage and tried to replace it with a simulacrum of “authentic femininity” which was not in any way authentic to me. This was a significant ommission in my gift of self. By pretending to be “straight,” and by trying to conform my life to a narrative of “orientation change” I deprived both myself and my husband of the full truth about who I am.

That’s why I prefer the language of “mixed-orientation marriage (MOM),” to traditional “ex-gay” tropes. To me, the former opens up the possibility of creating a model for conjugal relationships between gay people and opposite sex partners that is positive, appealing and that retains everything that is really authentic and important about queer identities. It makes it possible to discuss the ways in which sexual complementarity is different in an MOM than it is in other heterosexual marriages. It invites a conversation about the role of philia in gay-straight marriages, and of the ways in which friendship can mediate eros. It also makes it possible to discuss what value a gay person might derive from being in a heterosexual marriage. It takes the discussion beyond the notion of “change,” the notion of trying to become a different person in the hopes of playing a particular social role in the future, and it resituates it in terms of a realistic option for the person as he or she is in the present.

Melinda Selmys
My name is Wesley Hill. I am an assistant professor of New Testament at Trinity School for Ministry in Ambridge, Pennsylvania.

This is my commonplace book and sometime-journal.

I blog at

My book is here: Washed and Waiting: Reflections on Christian Faithfulness and Homosexuality.

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