Ben Brown is a member of Plan-B Theatre Company’s board of trustees. He and Steve Verno are also subscribers and donors.
After serving an LDS mission, I met Steve Verno. It was several months after returning home that I realized I couldn’t seem to change. I had always felt “different” but gave little thought to what being “gay” meant and continued my pursuit of eternal happiness. I put everything I could into understanding the history and teachings of the LDS Church. At the age of 12, I began experiencing feelings of same-sex attraction and understood completely the ramifications of any indiscretion. By the age of 17, I knew I wanted to go on a mission, and then continue with a career as an LDS seminary teacher. I studied the theology, the history and supplemental writings from various LDS scholars. I remember flipping through the pages of any book in the “self-help” section of Deseret Book, looking in the index for the words gay, homosexual, same-sex attraction, anything to understand more on the topic. Rarely would I find anything helpful – there was very little to say on the subject. Scripture can sum up the thesis of my religiously based study. In John 8:32, it reads “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
I remember reading the book “Miracle of Forgiveness” on the topic of same-sex attraction. I remember feeling so alone and miserable that I decided to “turn to the Lord.” I quietly closed my bedroom door and knelt to pray. I remember making a pact with God that if he would deliver me from these feelings and help me to succeed I would serve my mission. I promised two years in return for what I saw as the perfect life.
Little changed as far as those feelings were concerned and I worked the best I could during my mission. Upon returning I felt a new chapter of my life was beginning. I had so many questions and needed time to adjust to living in the world. I returned with little regret and a promise to find happiness no matter the cost. Almost 7 months later I met Steve for the first time and we have been together ever since.
When we first met we gave little thought to getting married, we would sometimes joke, but the jokes were set aside and life went on. It was Steve who had thought for many years that he would never get married – there was no such thing as marriage for a gay man. For the past decade, Steve and I have enjoyed our lives together and given little thought to sharing our commitment and love with those around us, except for our friends.
In October 2011, we celebrated the 10-year mark in our relationship while vacationing in Puerto Rico. I proposed to Steve on the trip. Since that day our lives have been different. It was a journey to reconnect to lost friends and family and “open the door” to our commitment and love that we intended to celebrate. In February 2012, Steve and I were married overlooking the Empire State Building in New York City. A reception for our friends and family was held this spring.
Thinking back more than a decade, I never thought I would have the opportunity to marry. I knew many years ago that I enjoyed Steve’s company and felt who better to spend my life with than with my best friend. As more individuals look towards truth and understanding, more doors will open for them, and then their journey can end as ours has: free.
Plan-B Theatre Company’s Script-In-Hand Series reading of “8″ takes the stage August 4-5. A fundraiser for both Plan-B and the American Foundation for Equal Rights, the event boasts a cast of 20 and a post-show discussion with the playwright, Oscar winner Dustin Lance Black, and Congressman Barney Frank (D-Massachusetts). Tickets and more info available here.