Family Acceptance, Marriage, Happily Ever After

He says that he has changed so much since we got together, his own family wouldn’t recognize him. My family says they have never seen me happier as when we first got together. His older brother once told him if he ever saw him come around with one of his boyfriends, he would shoot us both. Thom hadn’t seen his older brother for 25 years. I got to see their reunion and watch them hug each other when they finally met again, in the middle of a Wal-Mart parking lot. And the brother likes me, too and didn’t try to shoot either one of us. I like him and his whole family. They live in a tiny home and don’t have a lot of money, but the house is just full of love. He has three sons who served on missions. We wrote to one of them while he was in Arizona. The last one is now in Arizona as well, but we are a little hesitant to write to him for fear of getting him in trouble with the mission authorities for corresponding with two gay men. We never try to force ourselves on anybody.

Nobody says you have to like everybody or that everybody has to like you. But we find we get wonderful acceptance from most people. They are comfortable around us because we are comfortable around each other. They respect us as a couple because we respect their family and their traditions.

People who think they know me don’t really understand me until they see us together. They have to see the whole picture. We don’t think of ourselves as individuals any more. We always think in terms of “we”. The only disagreements we ever had, both of them, were caused by somebody coming in from the outside and trying to meddle.

Thom always carries more than his share of the load. He did that for his family as well, but they never appreciated it. Over the years, I have had the opportunity to work from home much of the time, which means we are together 24 hours a day. We have never gotten bored with each other in all that time. We always have some lively discussions. I often wish we could record them and put them on the internet. We usually discuss thing from a perspective that nobody has thought of before.

I have received the spiritual confirmation many times that we belong together, and that our true strength lies in remaining together. Whenever, I think of him, even casually, it’s like all the confirmations of the Spirit that I have even received in my life, rolled up into one. Does God approve of me being attracted to men. I don’t know, and frankly, I don’t care. I know He approves of me being attracted to this man, and that’s all that counts.

As a family, we have big plans ahead. In September, Thom and I are going out to California to get married, now that it is finally legal again. It’s ironic that the same church that came in from outside the state and tried to sway the election that enacted an unconstitutional measure, now sees two of its own former missionaries receive the rights they waited so long to achieve, that the church tried so hard to block. And the families that the church tried to divide over this issue, instead coming together, as they have done. We have announced our plans to both families, and so far, we have received nothing but love and support, with several members of both families planning to attend.

One thing I miss about my late dad is his flair for publicity. He was a master of getting all our names in the newspaper at one time or another. For this wedding, he would have made this a huge deal — two ex-Mormon missionaries, ex temple marriage holders, but from different parts of the church — one coming from an old-line, seventh generation Mormon family with roots back to Palmyra, and the other coming from a part-member family of immigrant converts and a mix of nearly every American religion, defying the nay-sayers and creating a stable relationship going on 27 years.

All my children are gathering in Seattle, WA for Christmas this year. All my kids and their families are going to be there, even the ones from Utah, who seldom leave the state. We could have gotten married in Washington, but the focus of the reunion is to introduce cousins who have never met. I have three grand-sons and six grand-daughters. They need to get to know each other, the way we experienced it as children.

Next April is my mother’s 90th birthday party. All my brothers and their families will be there. Thom will be there. As the oldest, they keep calling me the “patriarch of the family”, and they have adopted Thom as an “honorary Crane brother”. What more could you ask?

And, now we come full circle. I remember fondly having family get-togethers in that little house in White Salmon at Christmas, Thanksgiving, and July 4. I would like to create a modern-day version of that little house that all my children and grand-children could call home base, as long as they don’t mind having two grandpa’s.

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Looking for Love — The Dreamers Awake

In my personal life, I longed for the spiritual companionship of the Lord, but I also longed for the physical and emotional contact with somebody I could, as Joseph Smith put it, “it is pleasing for friends to lie down together, locked in the arms of love, to sleep and wake in each other’s embrace and renew their conversation.” This is what I wanted with all my heart.

There are many people today who claim to speak for God, or claim to possess an uncanny knowledge of the intentions and inner mind of God when He caused the scriptures to be written thousands of years ago. Most Mormons do not even read these scriptures, much less study the written words of their leaders, but persist in passing around speculation, gossip, and rumors in Sunday School class — fables that pass for doctrine because “everybody know that” such and such is true. As I said earlier, I’m not a believer. I’m a knower. I want to know for myself,  and if there is anything that God thinks I am entitled to know, I will take him at his word and ask. The Restoration scriptures are full of scriptures that contain the promises of God to bless us with knowledge, even the deep mysteries of God, when we prepare ourselves to receive them.

Not content with taking anybody else’s word for it, and realizing  that everybody had presumed to know how God felt about homosexuality, but never  bothered to ask. I decided to ask. To give you a quick summary of what I  received, I learned that when it comes to sexual relations, God is no respecter  of persons. The same rules about adultery and fornication apply to everybody,  regardless of sexual orientation. To God, it is irrelevant and immaterial whether  the couple is same-sex or opposite-sex. Cheating is cheating. Sex is deep and  intimate communication that takes place on many levels, and it can destroy a  couple or friendship, or it can create a bond that must be preserved in a relationship  that is secured by a deep interpersonal covenant, made in connection with the  Holy Ghost.

It’s OK to be gay, but, you must be responsible; you must  make sacred covenants; and you must live by them. And, now that same-sex  marriage is legal in many states, that couple must make a legal commitment. If  the LDS church could just make the policy change that recognizes legal same-sex  marriages and discourages adultery and infidelity of any kind, they would come  much closer to being in step with society, not to mention getting in step with  the revealed word of God to me and the prophets of other Restoration churches.

With this new knowledge, I changed my behavior immediately.   A couple of months later, I received a revelation that God  had somebody especially prepared for me to come into my life. He would be  somebody I never considered or expected, but he would come into my life and we  would be a blessing to each other. I waited.

Our little study group started moving in a direction that I  thought was wrong. They wanted to start accepting tax-free donations, so they  incorporated as a church in California, and suddenly the state was our silent  partner in running everything. We also set up legal church with a First  Presidency and created impersonal branches to replace the warm and welcoming  families. We were warned in a revelation to the Presiding High Priest that we  had “followed the arm of flesh” in doing so, but he persisted in this  course anyway. Instead of a Priesthood group that was open to all, and guided  by constant ongoing revelation, the group was degenerating into a “gay Mormon church”. The members demanded manuals and guidelines instead of  revelation. I wanted to teach the principles of revelation to all the members,  but was forbidden by the president to do so.

I was on the verge of leaving the group. We began in August  1985, and it was now October 1986. We were going to have a missionary meeting  on a Saturday, but I wasn’t sure if I was going to participate or ever return  to the organization again.

However, all that week I had a different dream each night. I  dreamt about missing a plane. Then I dreamt about missing an elevator. Finally  I dreamt about missing the proverbial boat. I took this as a message and  decided to attend the Saturday meeting. Just as I showed up and began to walk  up the sidewalk to the porch of the private home where we were to meet, Thom,  who was as the meeting, decided to come out on the porch to get a breath of  fresh air. He saw me coming, and he said time stood still for him. I came up  and gave him a hug, the same as I would do for anybody in the group. But, this  time, I especially wanted him to feel all the love of God in that hug. Later  on, he says that he felt it was God hugging him, and he never felt safer in  anybody’s arms.

Throughout the meeting, we kept looking across the room at  each other. It was getting embarrassing because other people started to notice,  and I tried not to look at the most beautiful face I have even seen in my life.

Thom had been staying with some church members all that  week, but nobody told him about me and nobody told me about him. We started  talking a couple of days later, and it was literally love at first sight. The  song “Some Enchanted Evening” doesn’t do justice to how we both felt.  In fact, all the love songs started making sense to me.

It turns out he was the son of a Mormon bishop. He had been  staying in town with church members for a couple of weeks. Like me, he also had  a very tough birth and was born premature. He was handicapped with cerebral  palsy. It only affected how he walked. He was so intelligent he got accepted  into Stanford right out of high school, and so good looking that a model agency  wanted him to come work for them. But, he gave all that up to serve a mission  because he wanted to please an ungrateful and abusive father.

I still wonder whether you can tell children who are gay at  an early age, but I have seen early pictures of Thom. I didn’t have any trouble  picking him out from his brothers and sisters. He was the brightest, the  happiest, with the biggest smile, and a certain sparkle about him that the  others lacked. I know that sounds clichéd, but there really was something  special about him. I wanted to know him, even as a child.   We moved in together as soon as we could find a place. But,  before that, I didn’t want him to feel stuck in any situation and not able to  get out of it, so on our first date, I went to the ATM and gave him some money  right on the spot. No questions asked. When we moved in, we decided not to have  sex until we held a commitment ceremony at the church. It was difficult holding  off about three weeks, but we made it. Nobody believed us, but we made it. The  first night we slept in bed together in our new apartment, we each had the same  dream. I dreamt that we were sitting beside each other, and a man facing  opposite us was showing us a big album of our life together, slowing turning  page by page. Next morning, I told Thom about the dream, and he said he had the  exact same dream.

As the years went by, we found we had a lot in  common. He was handicapped. I was a little handicapped. From the moment I met  him, I just knew exactly how he wanted to be treated. No sympathy. No coddling.  No special treatment. If he falls down, he doesn’t want any help getting up.  Eventually, he threw out his braces and doesn’t need them any more. I call that  a miracle. Just recently, I remembered the children’s hospital and my prayer  for the “poor little crippled boys and girls”. Without knowing or  realizing it, I was praying for him.

 

The Church of Jesus Christ of ALL Latter-Day Saints

I met some friends in Affirmation and read some excellent pamphlets that Affirmation put out. One was about excommunication, which the pamphlet explained, doesn’t mean the end of the world. There is a road back. That was a great comfort and source of information to me. In Affirmation I met a couple of men who were thinking of starting a study group and meeting to study the Gospel and partake of the Sacrament together in each other’s homes. I thought this might be a good idea, but I wanted to pray about it, so I did.

This is how my prayer was answered. One day I was sitting alone in a gay restaurant in West Hollywood, sipping a beer and checking out a guy as he walked across the room. All of a sudden, the Spirit came over me and confirmed that I should take part with this group. But, think about it! God was sending me a message in the most vivid way possible. According to traditional church teachings, I was in the wrong place, drinking the wrong beverage, and thinking the wrong thoughts. But, the Holy Ghost cut through all that clutter and told me what was really important. All the trivial do’s and don’t’s are not important in the eyes of God. What God is looking for are people who trust Him and obey His voice. This was another lesson learned.

We began meeting as a little group, then suddenly, several of us began receiving revelation, just like Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery did in the early days of the church. What’s it like to receive a revelation? First you sense something like a point of tension building and building in your spirit. It’s like a dam ready to burst. You feel like a piece of knowledge or intelligence is about to flood over you. Joseph Smith aptly described it as pure intelligence flowing through you. Another teacher described it as “the flashing forth of intuition”.

Then the light really dawns, are you instantly receive a huge block of understanding, all in an instant. You want to write it down. You want to write while in the Spirit as Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon did while receiving the Vision of the Three Degrees of Glory. During that time, you struggle to get your multi-dimensional holographic down in a one-dimensional stream of words. You struggle to find the right word, or sometime the correct wordage just comes to you. You feel like you are on Cloud 9. You feel like you can ask God any question, and it will be answered before you even finish asking it. You feel like God knows what you are going to ask, and he knows what you are going to ask next, so he just jumps ahead to answer the next question. Unfortunately, the vision eventually closes, though you wish it would last forever. All you can do is exclaim. It’s true! I know for myself, it’s true!

I learned in the church that we are all entitled to revelation and the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, concerning our callings and stewardship, regardless if the stewardship is our own life, our family, our church callings, our job, or even a venture such as we felt called to embark upon.

We were first directed to organize ourselves into a body of Priesthood holders, and begin to serve in the various offices, each according to our own talents, desires, and abilities. One of us was a High Priest, a Bishop, and a temple sealer. Others of us were Elders, Seventies, and Aaronic Priesthood holders. Several of us were returned missionaries. You might ask where we got the authority to do this. We were directed to statements from early church leaders who stated that if all the church were out of order, save one elder only, or the church was taken from the earth, save one elder only, or there were a group of saints who wanted to build up the Kingdom, and there was no organized body for them to join, then one elder had the necessary authority to re-establish and set in order the Priesthood and Kingdom of God, when directed by revelation to do so.

This was the very situation that we found ourselves in. We were cut off from the main body of the Priesthood without any way of exercising the Priesthood which we still held, and without any way to fulfill the missions we were foreordained to perform in this life. We had the revelation and the authorization. There was no need to restore any additional authority because we already had all the keys inherent in the Melchizedek Priesthood which we held. We had not one elder. We had three. We chose the man who had been the Bishop and High Priest as our presiding elder, as he was so called by the revelation. He was called to set one of us apart at Presiding Bishop and me as Presiding Patriarch. The settings-apart were for now. We were told that if we were true and faithful, the day would come when we would be ordained to these offices.

After all of this, I was so excited to spread the news in the Mormon Gay community. God had called not one, but two prophets to our community, and he wants to show us how much he loves us. He’s going to let us to continue serving one another in the Priesthood, and in time, receive all the ordinances of His House. This news was not well-received among Affirmation members. Some of them couldn’t believe something like this could happen to one of our own. (“Is this not the son of Joseph the carpenter?”). Others wanted to have nothing to do with religion of any kind. Others were hoping to be reconciled back into the Mormon church and didn’t want to risk belonging to another organization.

I later realized that this group and these revelations weren’t just for gay Mormons, but they were for everybody who had been cast out and made to feel unwelcome in the church for any reason. I thought of the man who held a bridal feast and invited all his wealthy friends, but they refused to come, so he went out into the streets and invited all the poor, the blind, the beggars, and the undesirables to come into the feast. Or, more accurately, those whom society had deemed the “poor”, the “blind”, the “beggars”, and the “undesirables”. The Lord was the rich man throwing the bridal feast. The rich and the haughty were the proud people of the world, who lived in the “great and spacious building”, and who “fought against the 12 apostles of the lamb”. These were they who looked down the poor and humble followers of Christ, trying to make their way through the mists of darkness, following the iron rod, which was the word of God. These are they who would not enter into the Kingdom of God, but stood at the gate blocking entrance for all others who wanted to enter. Those who were considered the poor, the blind, the beggars, and the undesirables were those who were forced to roam the streets, outcast and rejected in the eyes of the rich and the haughty, and who were invited, last of all, to come into the feast.

I wrote a hymn about this.

God doth grant unto all nations and all peoples of the earth
Wisdom, truth, and revelations, showing human souls their worth.
Deep His counsels, though not hidden, speaking wisdom, just and true,
Touching tender hearts when bidden, gently as the heaven’s dew.

“Come”, He calls, “unto My table. See the regal banquet spread.
Come ye rich, ye wise, ye able. Come and share the Master’s bread.
Come and feed upon My Spirit. Come and taste eternal joy.
Word of life, oh come and hear it, and My peace and rest enjoy.”

“Come ye poor.” the Lord entreats us. “Come lost sheep unto my board.”
At the door He stands and greets us as we meet our God and Lord.
We, the poor, have come in meekness, while the Lord most Tenderly
Builds our faith and strength from weakness, and each wandering soul sets free.

Growing up as saints together, sharing love with arms entwined,
Forging bonds which last forever, seeking after our own kind.
Heavenly Father builds His Kingdom, (Why should mankind think it odd?)
Of all nations, tongues, and peoples. Saints unto the Most High God.

Text: John R. Crane
Music: John R. Crane

I went on a trip to Salt Lake City and received a more positive response than I received in LA. Soon we had a family in Los Angeles and a family in Salt Lake City.
While in Salt Lake City, I went to a bar in Salt Lake called the Backstreet. I was surprised. It was full of men who reminded me of myself a couple of years ago. They were obviously all Mormon types — all insecure, scared and nervous, looking over their shoulders to see who would notice them and turn them in to their bishops or BYU Security.

I continued to seek to magnify my calling as a Presiding Patriarch, and Evangelist. Not growing up around patriarchs and hardly knowing what a true evangelist did, I did a lot of studying and praying about these callings. I realized that the people who gathered with us were without families, and we needed to form new families to welcome them in. They were also without relationships, and needed to learn how to form lasting relationships. I saw my work cut out for me. I received many revelations on the science of human relationships with each other and with God. I have written these impressions down over the years and compiled them and put them on my website, http://john144.com.

I was later called to be an Apostle, and I put the same energy into that calling as I did for the office of Patriarch. I guess my dad was right after all, but not in the way he thought. I don’t take any particular glory in either of these offices. I have no desire to rule over or control anybody. They are simply opportunities to serve, and opportunities for God to demonstrate that He can work through us and make us equal to any task he asks of us. It is one thing to have somebody lay his hands on your head and say that you have authority. This does nothing but fulfill the letter of the law. Receiving power to act in the Priesthood, together with the knowledge and understanding of how to act in the Priesthood, comes only from God, and therein lie the keys of the Priesthood. Anybody who claims to hold Priesthood keys, but lacks the knowledge of how to use them, has no keys, and his authority in the Priesthood is in name only.

Please think about this. I’m using myself as an example, but this could be anybody. I was called by God as the Presiding Patriarch of our little Priesthood gathering. In the short time, I was associated with the group, many gay men who were descendants of leading early church leaders dropped by to check us out. We had literal descendants of Hyrum Smith and Wilford Woodruff come see us. I asked God, why he wanted me to serve in this position, when I wasn’t a Smith, or somebody in the so-called “chosen lineage”. The answer I got was short and direct, and should be a lesson to us all: “Because you are filled with the Holy Ghost.” Another lesson learned.
I later found out, when Thom did our family genealogy, that he had an illustrious heritage, coming from both the early leadership of the church, back to the crowned heads of Europe. Not knowing this, I once told him, speaking as a Patriarch, that he had the pure blood of Ephraim. Turns out, he did. I also found out, because of his research, that through my dad’s mother, I had some pretty cool ancestors, too. I am particularly pleased to be a direct descendant of King Olof III of Sweden. He was the king who first allowed Christian missionaries into Sweden. However, the Swedes would have none of this, so they burned down their homes, and chased the Christian missionaries out of the country. Sometimes, I felt we missionaries received the same reception today.

Turning Point in Los Angeles

That wedding was 1997. I wanted to cover my family in one section. Now, back to 1985. I took a new job and moved from San Francisco to Los Angeles in August 1984, during the Summer Olympics. During the period from 1984-1985, a lot happened. First, I left my roommate behind in San Francisco because it just wasn’t working out. I got tired of scraping him off the street after another drunken motorcycle accident, him sleeping with everybody under the sun, and the occasional physical abuse.

I decided that I would live alone in LA for awhile and just sort things out. I got interested in religion again. There were a lot of religious radio stations in Los Angeles, and it was something to listen to in the car while stuck in the endless traffic. I was particularly attracted to what you might call Christian rock and electronic music, and the preachers who, rather that rant and scream, delved deeply into Biblical passages. It got me studying the Bible again. I bought a dictionary of Greek words from the New Testament, so I could study the words in their original meanings. I learned that over the years, the sectarians had taken nearly every critical word in the Bible and changed its meaning. I discovered that if you take the words back to their original meanings, the Bible teaches a completely different doctrine than what you hear from the religions of the day. It fact, it is much closer to the teachings of Joseph Smith.

This didn’t stop me from dating. I went to a lot of different bars all over LA. There are several gay districts, as there are in San Francisco, each with their own character. West Hollywood is home to all the pretty boys who came to Hollywood in search of a career. Everybody is model-perfect and very stuck up. In the San Fernando Valley, where I lived, the people were much more open, real, and friendlier. I quickly made friends, and despite my intention of living alone and sorting things out, I found myself in another relationship. This one was shorter and a lot more violent. This guy threatened everybody who didn’t do what he wanted with a gun. After a couple of months, he quit his job and expected me to support him. One day I came home from work to eat lunch and found him gone and all my valuables cleaned out. For months after that, I received letters for him, and bills and letters demanding money coming from all over the country. From the best I can tell, he left LA and headed east. Last I heard, he was somewhere in Texas.

At this same time, I was heavily into working out and fitness. We lived next to a big hike and bike trail and I bought a pair of roller skates. My whole fitness adventure came crashing down one day when I fell down and shattered my left wrist.

This was a real down point in my life. I had just been robbed; a relationship had failed miserably; and I had just broken my wrist. To make matter worse, I sensed that something illegal was going on at work. I remember laying on my bed and praying to God. I basically said:

“I have made such a mess of my life trying to do things on my own, and living my life for myself, I am going to, from now on, I am going to dedicate my life to you and your service. I’m not asking you to take over my life and make decisions for me, but I, here and now, make a covenant to dedicate my life to your service. I’ll go where you want me to go. I’ll say what you want me to say. I’ll do what you want me to do. I’ll see what you want me to see.”

I opened up and made myself completely vulnerable and pliable in the Lord’s hands, come what may. I was ready to make that kind of commitment.

Then, in the coming months, things started unfolding. I got laid off from work because I was complaining too much. I later found out that I was working, not for a software company, but a giant international money laundering operation. I got out just in time. They gave me a very generous severance and sent me on my way. Immediately, I was contacted by another former employee who wanted to go into business developing software. We have a fairly successful business creating what is now called GPS software, like Garmin and Tom Tom. We were one of the early pioneers in the business. With our product, you could use a touch screen to get detailed driving directions from any address in the US or Canada to any other address or point of interest. We later went out of business and sold the company, but we had a good run while it lasted.

I was also receiving a great deal of inspiration and spiritual guidance. I wanted my wrist to heal up, and once, while attending a prayer service at one of the local gay churches, I was standing in a circle, praying for a healing for my wrist. I felt a surge of the Spirit in my wrist, a sense of warmth and high vibration, and I heard my bones literally go “crack” and “crunch”. And I knew my wrist had been healed, and I praised God. I visited my orthopedic surgeon for a follow-up visit a week later, and he said it was completely healed, and then proceeded to congratulate himself and tell me what a great doctor he was. I’m sure he was a great doctor, but there were other forces at work here, as well. Lesson learned: You don’t have to be a church member to exercise your priesthood. You don’t have to have a companion or follow a set procedure. You don’t even need oil. These are nice, but not necessary.

I joined the local Affirmation chapter. It was a group of gay Mormons and ex-Mormons, meeting together in a social setting. Many of them were closeted and afraid to give their real names for fear of being excommunicated. The church is known for sending out spies to infiltrate organizations such as this and get names to turn in for future excommunications, witch hunt style. How do I know this? I knew a man who worked for the church to infiltrate polygamous, fundamentalist groups in Salt Lake City. We started a little group of gay Mormons, ourselves, and we soon found ourselves with “suspicious” peopled snooping around in our Sunday meetings. They would come and pretend interest, ask a lot of questions, then leave, never to be seen again.

 

Reconciling with My Parents

Since we are talking about the family, let’s talk about my parents. After telling them about my excommunication, I hadn’t been in much contact with them for many years. However, in 1997, after Thom and I had been together for 11 years, my brother in New Jersey married his current wife and they invited both of us back for the wedding. The whole family was there: all my brothers and their wives. Everybody was nice and friendly to us. I really think that when people saw Thom and me together, they realized that we really belonged together and accepted us. Thom and my dad had a long talk together, and I don’t know everything they talked about, but they came to a reconciliation and acceptance.

 

Introducing My Brothers

I was living out along the beach in San Francisco. My brother, just younger than I, was in town on a tour of duty with the Navy. He came by the apartment to visit. I didn’t know whether he would accept me, but I figured that he would accept me if he was willing to come by and visit. He showed up in his Navy white dress uniform. He was a blond-haired, blue-eyed man in his late 30’s, early 40’s. My roommate went nuts. I was my roommate’s type, but my younger brother even more so. But, my brother took it all in stride, and there was no problem. We had a good visit, and I was on the way to coming out to each of my four brothers. This was the same brother who used to help pick up my toys and hand them to me when I couldn’t see them. We were a year apart, and we went through scouts together. We finished our last years of graduate school together. He was always the natural leader, and I was always the scholar. I have to tell another story about him. When Thom (whom you will read about later) and I moved to Palm Springs, this brother came out to visit again, as he was moving to nearby Riverside. He wanted to go out for the evening, but failed to ask us to recommend a bar. He wound up at one of the most infamous gay bars in town, Daddy Warbucks, home of naked wrestling and drag shows every Sunday afternoon. He came home and told us all about it. He realized it was a gay bar, but it didn’t bother him. Gay bars are fun, and even straights have a good time there.

A year after this, I found out through the grapevine that my youngest brother was gay. He is 13 years younger than me, so we were almost from two different families. Once on a trip back to Portland, I phoned ahead and told him I wanted to drop by and introduce my new boyfriend. I didn’t think he’d have a problem with this, but, when I came by to see him, he wasn’t home and wouldn’t answer the phone. We never made contact until about 10 years later. By then, his life had stabilized somewhat and he was in a relationship. Thom and I came for the commitment ceremony, and I hoped this would be the start of a good dialog with him. But, he hasn’t wanted to communicate much over the years, and I don’t know why. I know there is an age gap, but at our age now, that shouldn’t be much of a barrier.

My third brother is a very talented artist and photographer living in New Jersey. He is married to a woman who is a top executive at a large drug company. They are both very liberal new age types, and have sent us various letters of love and support. My family has never been that cohesive. We see each other at weddings and funerals and the occasional family reunion, and we brothers get together and have a great time together. We say we want to get together and do this again, but we never do. Next year is my mom’s 90th birthday, and we are planning a huge family celebration.

I have been in a relationship with my partner, Thom, for 27 years. I haven’t discussed him yet, but he is a respected member of my family and is planning on coming to my mother’s celebration this year.

Thom has been doing extensive genealogy research for his family and my family over the years. He is in better touch with my long lost relatives through ancestry.com than I am. My fourth brother and the last one to be mentioned is a conservative, active Mormon. He built an apartment for my mom in his house, and they live across the street from the chapel in a very Mormon neighborhood in Provo. He has always been nice to Thom and me. I think he realizes that being together for 27 years says a lot for our stability, and he is accepting Thom in our family, but more importantly, he is accepting us as a couple in our family. When he saw all the research that Thom has been doing, he suggested that we accept Thom as an “honorary brother” in our family. You can’t get any better than that. All of us boys take after our father. People say we have the “Crane charm”, and also my dad’s weird sense of humor. This particular brother is the funniest of all.

Seeking the Relationship I Never Knew I Wanted

I realized that, despite an unhappy marriage, I really was the “marryin’ kind”. As much as I treasured being alone, I wanted a companion. I never heard of gay “lovers” before. I thought it was a lonely, promiscuous life, but I soon learned otherwise, and I really wanted to have a companion.

Perhaps it was because I felt guilty and wanted to punish myself, or just naivety, but I got involved in a series of abusive relationships, one right after the other. On several occasions I was literally in fear of my life. I have had my car stolen, my credit card stolen, my credit rating ruined, thrown out of my car and beaten up on the side of the freeway, my missionary suits stolen, the Swiss watch I got on my mission stolen, threatened at gunpoint, irreplaceable books stolen. Somebody stole my identity and opened up a phone account, charging it to me. I have been lied about, maligned, exposed to dangerous diseases, etc. You will meet adulterers, fornicators, liars, psychotics, narcissists, rapists, sadists, child abusers, welfare cheats, and peeping toms. And, (shock!) all of the above, Gay ex-Mormons.

It’s nice to think of the gay community as a bunch of good, but misunderstood people. Realize that there are also a bunch of alcoholics, criminals and perverts blended into the mix as there are with any human mix. And, do not make the mistake of thinking that being subjected to discrimination and intolerance makes a person more tolerant and less judgmental.

This may be another reason that I ran into trouble with many of the people I met. I was riding on a crowded bus in downtown Seattle, on my way to work. Let’s just say that the bus was filled with the type of people who usually ride a city bus, and the reason why many people refuse to take public transportation. I prayed for a special endowment of the Spirit, if you will, for lack of a better name, that I might see all people as our Heavenly Father sees them. He gave me that gift some 30 years ago, but He forgot to take it back. Something happened to me that day, and I saw everyone on that bus in a totally different light. I wasn’t riding on a bus full of old ladies, minorities, disabled people, and homeless people, with the occasional business man trying to keep as far from the rabble as possible. I saw a bus full of gods and angels. I looked around me and saw the people in a completely new light, as I were god and they were my children. I was filled with love and admiration. They seemed to look back at me with an inner recognition, as well. I will never forget that experience, and that experience has never left me.

But, it does have one serious downside. Deep down inside of us is an inner goodness and shining beauty that often blinds us to the evils that may lurk on the surface. I got hurt and betrayed a lot, because I saw only the inner goodness and forgot to look at the outside. We have to judge the whole man, not just the skin, and not just the inner beauty of the soul. We must worship the creator rather than the creature. But, each of us is a part of God. We carry that potential within. We are creators, though sometimes our creations — our exteriors that we have created — are not so pretty to behold.

“Wherefore, let no man glory in man, but rather let him glory in God …” D&C 76:61.

The economy turned sour in Seattle, so I moved from Seattle to Silicon Valley in order to get a job. With no family to move, I was able to be more flexible. I was involved in a same-sex relationship. The guy was smart and talented and had a Master’s degree, but for some reason he just couldn’t get a job of any kind in Seattle. He had blown through his unemployment and I was supporting him, along with supporting myself and paying child support, which didn’t go to my kids, but bought an awfully nice telescope for my ex-wife’s new husband.