Gay, Mormon and married: Utah couples share their stories

Posted at 9:56 PM, Oct 27, 2016
and last updated 2016-10-27 23:59:26-04

SALT LAKE CITY -- Ten years ago, we introduced you to Ben and Jessie Christensen, who married even though they both knew Ben was attracted to men.

Ben and Jessie were both raised Mormon and were determined to live by LDS standards, bringing children into what they believed was their eternal family. They had two at the time. Soon after, a third came along.

A decade later, where are they now?

"I realized I’m unhappy because I’m in this marriage and there's this big hole in my life," Ben Christensen said.

Nine and a half years into marriage, Ben left the church and his motivation to stay married faded. Soon after, he broke the news to Jessie.

"She did better than I think most people would in that situation, but it was tough," Christensen said.

Then, for the first time in his life, Ben started dating men.

"I felt like a teenager dating for the first time and getting this part of life that I had denied myself," Christensen said.

When he met Randon Spackman online, the connection was undeniable, as was the common history.

“There was no place for me to be gay and Mormon at the same time: It just doesn't really work,” Spackman said.

Randon left the LDS Church, and his marriage started to crumble. With two kids, divorce wasn't an easy decision.

"I was worried about what the fallout on my children would've been," Spackman said.

However, Ben and Randon have been fortunate. Their relationships with their ex-wives are positive and supportive.

"My ex-wife calls him her ex-husband in law," Spackman said.

Randon and Ben are no longer religious, but their kids are still Mormon, something the church allows since the children were already baptized and spend half the time with their mothers.

"I’m fine if they continue being faithful Mormons," Christensen said. "I have no objection to that. The important thing to me is that they're open minded enough to embrace people who are different, including me."

In light of their experience, do Ben and Randon think mixed orientation marriages can really work?

"Yeah it can. I think it's a pretty small percentage of cases where it does work," Christensen said.

Blaine and Linsday Hickman are one of those cases. For years, they were just best friends.

Finishing each other’s sentences, the couple says, "she would always talk about liking boys but as soon as they expressed interest back in her…It kind of scared me off for some reason. Maybe that's why we were a good pair. He was kind of the same way for different reasons, obviously."

It wasn't obvious to Lindsay back then, but Blaine is gay.

"How God would feel about me if I pursued a gay relationship or how God would feel about me if I made the wrong choice, or something like that," Blaine Hickman said of the struggles he faced.

Blaine never told anyone about his tortured feelings, but he wrote about them in a journal while on a Mormon mission. When he came home, he shared the entry with his family, then Lindsay.

"He took me to a park and gave me the journal entry to read. I remember being sort of shocked, but I also didn't really know what it meant," Lindsay Hickman said.

After praying about it and discussing it with her family, Lindsay was still determined to have a relationship with Blaine.

"She said, 'Well we're getting married, so you take your time to figure out whatever you need to figure out,'" Blaine Hickman said.

"Initially I think it was motivated a lot by fear," he added.

For Blaine, marrying a woman who is a member of the LDS Church was the only choice that made any sense. Twelve years and three kids later, Blaine says it's no longer fear that motivates him.

"My perspective has had to change because I’ve seen several times really amazing good people who are really happy in gay relationships," Blaine Hickman said.

Blaine said he's happy with the choice he made, even if that means denying his sexual desires. Which isn't to say that Blaine and Lindsay have a sexless marriage.

“It’s just not based on that I see her and can't keep my hands off her," Blaine Hickman said.

Lindsay is okay with that.

"I feel so comfortable with him, and I feel appreciated, and he tells me that I’m beautiful," Lindsay Hickman said.

They admit, their dynamic is unique.

"The fact that we can make this work is different," Lindsay Hickman said. "It’s really different. I'm sure a lot of people think that it's fake on the outside or that it’s not real, but we just realized that's part of life, is sacrificing for things that you love, and I don't know: We would just rather be together than not."

Fox 13 News reached out to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints regarding their stance mixed-orientation marriages, but they declined to comment.