Every family is unique, but The Embley-Nielsons stands out from the rest. That is because the family of four has a queer dad who most comfortably identifies as gay, and his wife is totally okay with it. They share their family journey in finding their own happy ending on social media.
Brynn Embley identifies as a straight woman. Matthew Neilson identifies as a gay man, or possibly pansexual, he’s not 100% sure.
But before they met, Matthew dated men and women although he’d never had sex with anyone, including Brynn, before they tied the knot.
The pair are members of the Church of Jesus Christ and Latter Day Saints – a faith that doesn’t condone same-sex relationships – and Matthew admits a strong motivation for dating women was so he didn’t have to be single and celibate forever.
“I noticed Matthew on my first Sunday in that congregation. He sticks out, not just because of his height but also because of his curly hair, infectious smile, and exuberance for life,” Embley said.
Neilson made the first move, coming to talk to the woman. She feared that because he was so handsome, he was a “player” who simply wanted to sleep with her. She was overjoyed to learn that he was a gay man.
“I’m not sure how, but we started talking about books. In that short conversation, I learned we both loved books, care a lot about gender and racial equity, and might enjoy getting to know each other more. He asked for my phone number, I gave it, and we parted ways.”
Embley explained, “Our religion teaches that marriage is only between a man and a woman.”
Neilson claims that he is more attracted to men than women, but he “had a strong motivation to try really hard to make it work with a woman so that I didn’t have to be lonely and celibate for the rest of my life.”
Neilson asked Embley out on a date, and he told her about his sexual orientation after just a few dates, he said, “Brynn, I’m gay.”
Their first date was a disaster.
It was supposed to be a group hangout, but because of a miscommunication on place and time, it ended up being myself, Matthew, and one of his best friends — a girl who apparently had “dibs” on Matthew. So there we were at the movies, me, him, and his best friend who was in love with him. From the moment she got in the car, the “friend” monopolized the conversation, talking about inside jokes and people only they knew.
However, he surprised her when he invited her out on a date with just the two of them.
“Matthew then called me and asked if I would hang out with him — with just him. We went on an only-Matthew-and-Brynn date to the Japanese Friendship Gardens. It was like magic. We talked and talked, and he wove us beautiful crowns out of some pruned cherry blossom branches.”
33-year-old Matthew revealed that he broke up with Brynn sometime because of his strong attraction toward other men.
“I don’t think I actually had much emotional bandwidth at that time because I was still trying to deal with my strong feelings about another guy. It didn’t feel fair to either of us to keep up the relationship if I wasn’t sure about that basic attraction.”
The couple said that after breaking up, they remained friends, and that’s when Neilson realized he really had a strong connection with Embley.
The pair kept dating, even while Matthew was dating a man. Brynn was delighted to know that he had found someone.
“His dating a man was, if anything, a positive for me. I knew Matthew and loved him as a friend and human and wanted him to have a fulfilling life, even if that meant being with someone who didn’t fit into our religious lifestyle (heterosexual relationships only).”
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Months went by, and Brynn started dating another man, too. However, she had to move and needed help, so she texted Matthew.
“When Matthew and I saw each other again, it was like … sparks? Fireworks? An explosion? Our eyes met, and we SAW each other. I was mad at the boxes, the things to move. I just wanted to spend time with him. I felt the same energy from him.”
After the move, Matthew suggested that they get back together. They did and decided to get married. “We decided to get married in Utah, where much of our extended family lived.” However, “because of our religious beliefs, there was a limit to our intimacy before marriage.”
Although Matthew is gay, the couple manages to make things work. They even started a family. “Right now, we’re living in Michigan with our two girls — Guinevere (1) and Amandine (2).”