Friday, December 12, 2008

A long time coming...

With all the hype over California’s Proposition 8, and all the hoopla surrounding the after-effects, I decided to take a little break from my blog. I needed to clear my head and ensure that when I finally did sit down to write this piece, that I was doing so with a straight head. Sometimes, I get a little emotional over this issue.

First of all, I need to say that I get it. I understand why the church voices its doctrine in the way that it does. I don’t disagree with the LDS church or its decision to get involved in the Yes on 8 campaign. I understand that to the LDS church and its members, marriage is not just something that exists in this life, but is something that echoes the structure of the eternities. Families are how God gets things done, and marriage and children are the highest, most sacred rite; the closest to Godhood one can get in this life.

I also understand why the LGBT community is so upset over the time and money the LDS church spent fighting what they believe is (and what California ruled was) a civil right to legal marriage.

Gaining a clear understanding of this issue is difficult without the facts, and FACTS have been a bit hard to come by in this case. I feel FACTS have been skewed by both sides of the argument. Unfortunately, most of the evidence I have uncovered does seem to place some blame on the Yes on 8 campaign (notice, I DID NOT SAY the LDS Church), and I do very much feel that the Yes on 8 campaign was run with more dirt and malice than the No on 8 campaign was. I think this is why the LGBT, including myself, is so upset over this issue, and has chosen to place blame with the LDS church.

The fact is: The LDS church, or to put it more correctly, its members, financed more than half of the Yes on 8 campaign, which was full of lies and misconceptions. I received a copy of a letter sent by the Yes on 8 campaign to a businessman who had donated to the No on 8 campaign that was so awful and sickening, that to me, it bordered on blackmail. It wasn’t worded kindly, it wasn’t respectful. This letter told this business that if they did not donate equally to the Yes on 8 campaign, then the Yes on 8 campaign would post the name of this business, and advertise it as being against traditional family values.

The letter had four signatures. One was the chairman of the Yes on 8 campaign, one was a lawyer, one was a Catholic representative, and the other? LDS.

I will do my best to contact the LDS man on this letter in hopes of discovering his reasons for allowing his name to be used. After I let my bishop read this letter, even he was appalled. He told me that there must be a reason, something I was missing, something that only the LDS side of the argument could answer, as to why the LDS church would allow its name to be used in a strong-arm argument. I was assured that this was not the church’s way... although I do believe the current evidence dictates otherwise.

I hope I am mistaken, but even if I am, there will be few others within the LGBT community with more sympathy than I, and fewer still who are willing to seek for answers. If anyone knows any specifics, I would be very happy to discuss them. In fact, I’m salivating for the chance to discuss it with someone who worked closely with the Yes on 8 campaign, because for the life of me, I cannot understand why a church that I believe to be led by God himself would resort to using lies and falsehoods in a dirty campaign. Did the Yes on 8 campaign really think they were telling the truth? They had to know they were being deceptive, right? If God himself is against gay civil marriage, then there must be a better way to reach people than to spread the lie that schools would have to teach children about gay marriage, or that churches could lose their tax exempt status for not performing such marriages if a law were to pass that would require the state or federal government to recognize (legally) such unions. And let’s not forget about those “Six consequences of Gay Marriage” pamphlets that got distributed (written by Glen Greener and Gary Lawrence, two members of the LDS church), that were all refuted by a still-in-good-standing BYU professor (if his arguments weren’t legit, wouldn’t he have been fired like the other BYU professor who supported gay marriage?)

I don’t know how much the ACTUAL church donated to the Yes on 8 campaign, but I am sure that there is now an investigation as to why phone trees, ad production, actors, and website fees weren’t reported. I highly doubt that these funds came from the tithing funds of the church (the legality of such would be questionable), but I would like to know from where it came.

So if anyone might know of someone I can talk to in order to get these questions answered, I’d appreciate an email to Everything said in that discussion will remain confidential. I just need to know... for me.

My personal views of this subject will be discussed further... eventually.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The List

One of the many questions I often asked myself, and later asked to others, was “What can I do to overcome my same-gender attraction?” I was given various answers from multiple sources, but tried literally everything someone thought would help. I have compiled a quick list of everything I tried, in hopes that, perhaps, it can be of help to someone else, as well as show you exactly how much I did to try to overcome this part of my nature. I would like to elaborate on each of these list items, so forgive me if this post runs a bit long:

1. Prayer
2. Fasting
3. Church attendance
4. Scripture study
5. Seminary/Institute
6. Temple attendance
7. Mission service
8. Group and Individual therapy
9. Weekly meetings with bishops / Blessings
10. Church activities
11. Sports
12. Enlarging my circle of male friends
13. Reading church sponsored materials
14. Dating

1. Prayer. My Father in Heaven and I still have a great relationship – and this relationship was built on prayer. I’m sure you’ve heard of other gay young men who have claimed that prayer has been a staple in their life, and I am no different. I depended so much on prayer, that I don’t think there was a single day that went by without my offering at least four prayers a day related specifically to this issue. I’ve had prayers that have lasted hours, I’ve had prayers that lasted seconds. I’ve had tears during prayers in private, and even tears during prayers in public. Perhaps, most significantly, were the prayers I said before going to bed. My mom once caught me getting into bed without kneeling, and she asked me if I had forgotten to say my prayers. I made up some excuse about how I had said my nightly prayer earlier when she didn’t see, but the fact was, I prayed from the moment my light went out until I fell asleep every night, in hopes of keeping my thoughts clean and avoiding any dreams that might end up erotic. I don’t know how long these prayers lasted on average, but often they went well into the night.

2. Fasting. I was taught that fasting on fast Sunday was really the only time someone needed to fast, and that fasting any extra was superfluous. I was taught fasting on fast Sunday was enough to show God that you were willing and ready to do his will. I started fasting half-day when I was eight, and moved to a full fast when I was sixteen. I started fasting for the issue of same-gender attraction every month when I was twelve. I never missed a month, and often added extra fasts "just in case." Even when family outings, or holidays, or something else interfered, I made up the fast the week before, in hopes of showing the Lord just how hopeful I was, and how willing I was to put Him first.

3. Church attendance. I was never one to dislike going to church. I loved every meeting, and often went to more than one church session. For a while I was a member of a Spanish speaking branch, so I would attend those meetings, a branch missionary meeting, and then attend my home ward meetings all in the same day. Even after “coming out,” church attendance has been something I enjoy doing. I can’t remember ever skipping a meeting growing up, unless I was sick. My family even made it a point to find the local church on vacations.

4. Scripture study. I love the scriptures, especially the Bible and the Doctrine & Covenants. The Book of Mormon has never been a favorite of mine, but I made sure to read it every day anyway, and always rose to a scripture reading challenge, whether issued in a class, or by the church. I’m excited to share some of the things I have learned in regards to the scriptures on this blog. On average, my scripture study started around a half hour a day, but as I found temptation more difficult to resist, that time increased to at least an hour.

5. Seminary/Institute. Most high school kids I knew would occasionally cut class when it came to seminary, without any guilt or remorse. After all, we lived in Utah, and seminary was “release time” from a regularly scheduled school day. The school didn’t really care what you did with that time. I never missed a day. Institute was the same way. I always did my assignments, participated heavily in any and all activities (yup, even early morning devotionals), and never got anything less than an A. This was the one class where I felt it was inappropriate to get anything less… after all, how could I justify a B in "“God 101."

6. Temple attendance. When I turned 12 and went to the temple my first time, I loved it so much I made it a point to go at least monthly. This schedule became harder as I grew up and had less and less time, but when I was told that temple attendance might be the key to overcoming SGA, I increased my frequency. Once endowed, I frequented as often as possible, which often meant going more than once a month. If I felt particularly unworthy, I would go anyway and sit on the grounds until I did feel worthy, or would return another time that month.

7. Mission service. I made a promise to God that if He would do two things for me, I would serve an honorable mission for Him with all my might, heart, and strength. First, I wanted my inappropriate desires to go away. Second, I wanted to learn a foreign language. I repented for the second requirement my first day in the MTC. The wording of my release letter informed my priesthood leaders at home that I served a “… very honorable mission.” They were impressed by the addition of the word “very,” as was I.

8. Group and Individual therapy. I have a whole other blog on this subject.

9. Weekly meetings with a bishop. After I started therapy, I decided I needed the help and support of everyone who wouldn’t look down on me. I started meeting weekly with my bishop, and at his request started attending a singles ward, where I met with that bishop weekly, and my home ward bishop monthly. I used these meetings to bounce ideas, report on my progress, discuss my frustration, get priesthood blessings, and get encouragement. I found these two bishops to be especially supportive of me. I still meet with that home ward bishop on an every-other-month basis.

10. Church activities. During the years when I was in college and working full time, I found it difficult to arrange my schedule in such a way that I was able to participate in church activities during the week. At the insistence of my counselor, as well as my bishop, I made such arrangements. I also participated in my own “activities” during church – such as learning the names of every member of the elder’s quorum, and ensuring that I went anywhere I was invited to go with my fellow peers.

11. Sports. Yup, I even started learning new sports. I started figure skating (I know, not exactly a "straight" sport, but it gave me an outlet where I could set and achieve goals), learned to play golf (however awfully), attended super bowl parties, learned to play ultimate Frisbee, volleyball, and tennis, and specifically integrated myself into any sports related activities at church… except basketball… I never liked basketball. I gave myself this one exception.

12. Enlarging my circle of male friends. When I got home from my mission I really only had two good close male friends. It was suggested that building healthy relationships with other men would be advantageous, in hopes of settling the need I had for male companionship with friendship. I reconnected with two mission companions, and, as mentioned earlier, learned the names of the elders in my quorum (which, subsequently, earned me a spot as the quorum’s first counselor), and started to integrate myself into new circles of friends. I consider my success in this aspect to be rather high.

13. Reading church sponsored materials. Yes, this includes the Ensign and the Liahona (the Spanish version), but it also includes Evergreen books, the church’s 12 step addiction recovery program (in hopes that I would find something useful), Ty Mansfield’s book (with Stuart’s section ripped out by my mom. She didn’t want me to read anything that could be interpreted as “failure”), my counselor's book (which is fantastic), and many others. I reread the entire missionary library during this time as well, and had my bishop order in all of the materials written specifically to church leadership in regards to same-gender attraction.

14. Dating. When I got back from my mission I was practically engaged to a girl who had waited for me. When that didn’t work out I took some time to be single, and then continued along the dating path, with the encouragement of my parents, church leaders, and counselor. My church leaders always would ask, “Do you think your not wanting to get married could be because you haven’t found the right one yet? Maybe it isn’t because of this whole SGA thing.” Uh huh. Sure. I really did enjoy my time with these women, and became very good friends with most of them. Thankfully, most of us were able to part ways on good terms, and most have accepted me fully for who I am today.

The only step I can think of that could be on this list but isn’t, is the step of marriage. That is something I don’t think should just be “tried.” I realize that it decreases feelings of SGA for a very select few, but there is just no way I would be willing to take that risk. More on my feelings about marriage later.

If you can think of something that should be on this list, but isn’t, please feel free to contact me at Most likely, I've already tried it and just forgot to add it, but I'm always willing to accept suggestions.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

The End of the Story

I would like to finish my “life story” so that I can get on to discussing more important issues (which I have already taken a pause to do more than once, sorry about that), and focus on individual experiences that affect how I live my life. I think I can finish this story rather quickly; after a few months alone, I met the fantastic man with whom I now share my life.

Honestly, our relationship progressed faster than I expected it to. I told him when we first met that I didn’t want to rush into a relationship, and that I was having fun just dating and being unattached. But the fact that we spent almost every day together negated that thought process rather quickly, and after just a few weeks we decided we would like to be exclusive. We celebrated the one year anniversary of that decision September 12, 2008. I have never felt so in sync with someone in all of my life. I have never been so happy to wake up or to come home from work. I have never been so in love.

My feelings are so completely wrapped up in this person that I can’t imagine my life without him. I never thought I would be able to say that about another human being. I have no desire for anyone, or anything else. He has become a closer member of my family than any other family member I have known or had.

In counseling I was told that if I “fulfilled” my desires for another man, that I would suddenly be confronted by a bottomless pit, always looking for the next best thing, and would never be satisfied or quenched in my lust. I have found that to be an outright lie. Never have I been so fulfilled. Never have I thought that there was something better. I imagine that the way I feel now is the same way many of you reading this have felt about your spouse or partner.

Of course, I say this is the end of my story, because I have brought you up to present day – but the fact remains – my life with this man is really just beginning. I don’t know what will happen in the future, but my conviction to him is stronger than ever, and I know he feels the same way about me. I feel truly blessed – yes, by God, – to have him in my life.

Although I am plagued by certain fears and uncertainties, just as any other couple, I am sure our relationship is enduring. No matter the challenge, I know that if we stay by each others' side and make decisions together, we will get through anything.

I have often pondered how it could be that the Lord could be responsible for our relationship, considering the LDS church’s stand on the subject. When I have considered this, both personally and in prayer, I have been reminded of an experience I had on my mission.

While serving in Weslaco, Texas, I had the pleasure of meeting the son of a man who served on a team that was responsible for the translation of the Dead Sea Scrolls. This man read both Hebrew and Greek, and was a great scriptorian. He started this experience by telling us that the Greek language has a flow, almost like poetry, so when it is cut - as in scriptural translation or change - a change in flow can usually be detected.

He then had us read what would become one of my favorite passages of scripture:

Mark 8:22-25

“22 And he cometh to Bethsaida; and they bring a blind man unto him, and besought him to touch him.
23 And he took the blind man by the hand, and led him out of the town; and when he had spit on his eyes, and put his hands upon him, he asked him if he saw ought.
24 And he looked up, and said, I see men as trees, walking.
25 After that he put his hands again upon his eyes, and made him look up: and he was restored, and saw every man clearly.”

This translator then assured us that in the Greek scriptures, the flow was uninterrupted, and to his knowledge and ability, the translation was correct. He then asked us why the blind man was not initially healed.

We, as missionaries, responded it was because of a lack of faith.

The translator then shook his head and said, “Every time Christ healed someone, he asked them if they had faith in Him. Do you honestly believe he would not ask this man the same question – although it might not be documented?”

We said that we weren’t sure. The translator then asked, “And if he didn’t have the faith, how was it that he was healed in the end. Did Christ mess up? Is that why the man wasn’t completely healed on the first attempt? Obviously he could see slightly, but the people the man could see looked like 'tree walking' or, blurred shadows.”

We responded that of course Christ wouldn’t have made a mistake, but we were unable to come up with a reason as to why the Savior would only partially heal the man.

The translator, after many frustrated attempts to help us attain the correct answer, told us, “In verse 22, who was it that brought the man to Christ?”

We responded it was the apostles.

He continued, “So they were with Him during the healing. I think Christ was teaching his apostles in this moment. In just a few verses down, Christ asks the apostles who they think he is, his plan, and the fact that he would be sacrificed for their sins, but the did not understand. These were the apostles of Christ! And they didn’t understand his gospel clearly. They, in fact, still saw the gospel as ‘trees walking.’ Christ was teaching his apostles by example, and acknowledging that they did not understand his gospel clearly.”

I remember feeling the spirit confirm to me that this was true, and I wondered myself, how much of the gospel I still saw unclearly. If Christ’s own apostles were unable to clearly see, even in the presence of the Master, how blind must I - as a 20 year old missionary- still be?

This passage of scripture gives me the simple understanding that there are things that I, this world, the church, apostles, prophets, and angels still see as “trees walking.” I believe the issues of homosexual attraction, love, expression, and tolerance are just a few of the items of which we still don’t have a clear picture. I don’t know if, like the apostles in relation to the Savior’s sacrifice, this is because we simply don’t understand all of the information that the Savior is telling us, or if we just don’t have all of the information because of the Godhead's choice to withhold such revelation from the church at this current time. What I do know, is that one day, the Savior will place his hands on my eyes, and open my understanding. I don’t know what the result of this “healing” will be. It might be a way for the man that I love and me to be together forever. It might be a greater understanding that will give us the desire to live separate lives. For certain, however, it will be a decision made with clear vision.

I cannot wait to see perfectly. Until then, I’ll be happy with the vision I have been given. I might still see aspects of the gospel as trees walking, but at least I’m not blind.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Coming Out

My relationship with Dave moved quickly, more out of necessity than anything else. I knew my parents would never support my decision, and so I quickly had to come up with living arrangements that didn’t include my parent’s basement. Dave spoke with his parents, who, although LDS, were extremely supportive of me, and it was decided that I would move in there.

I very clearly remember the Sunday afternoon that I told my mother I was moving out. I was, of course, extremely nervous. Luckily, she had already known about my same-gender attraction, so I didn’t have to start from the beginning. I had arranged for some friends of mine to show up with a truck at 7pm, and I already had most of my stuff organized in such a way that I could pack easily.

I can still feel the emotion of that day. I was so sad, because I knew I would no longer be a welcome member of my family, now that I had “acted out” on my tendencies. My mom was napping on the couch and I sat at her feet for almost half an hour before she noticed I was there. She finally asked me what was wrong.

It is very painful to recount what happened after that moment, so I’m going to skip over it briefly. I became an emotional mess. The only thing I could do was wall myself off from everything everyone was saying. Before I got done crying my entire family was in the room, my dad called home from work, my sisters called from their respective apartments, my bishop and his wife were there. At one point I found myself defending my right to live, as my father informed me he would rather see me dead than gay. My bishop, who was a kind and intellectual man, did the best he could to stop anyone from saying things that would be forever damaging, but things were still said.

I can’t say that I’m proud of myself in that moment, because I said some things I wish I wouldn’t have said as well. Finally, the doorbell rang, my friends there to bail me out. My dad helped me pack – I don’t know if he was trying to be helpful and apologetic for the things he had said to me, or if he was just trying to get me out of the house quicker.

My relationship with my parents and family has never been the same. I blame myself, partly, for that. I don’t know how I could have softened the blow for them, I don’t know how I could have prepared them better. I gave them almost two years of foresight, they had read the books, talked openly with me about my experiences in counseling (at this time I was still involved in counseling and group therapy), and although I know they wish I would have been capable of making a different choice, I feel as though I prepared them the best I could for either outcome. Still, it was a heart-wrenching experience for me to pull away from that house. I had to hide behind a bit of strength and defiance, and I wish I could have come off that evening with a little more kindness, but I didn’t know how.

That night, Dave’s mom cried with me for hours. I remember breaking down to her, and I remember her putting her arms around me and telling me that I was safe, and loved, and wanted. I didn’t understand how someone who was LDS could be so loving and kind to me. When I asked about this she simply stated, “God made you the way you are for some greater purpose. He knows more than we do.”

The next five months of my life were an adjusting period as I learned how to live as an out gay man. I attended church every week, held regular meetings with my priesthood leaders, and finished out my group counseling session, where everyone learned of my choice, and, surprisingly, received it well. One of the group members mentioned the first week after I had come out, that I walked in, sat down, and looked relaxed for the first time he had seen. They knew the time and effort I had put into my decision, and I was respected for it. I finished out the group therapy with a Christ-like love for my friends in that group, and hope they are all doing well. I wish them the best.

At the end of the five months, and I recount these next few experiences only for the sake of completeness, my relationship with Dave turned sour. Law enforcement showed up on our doorstep, and Dave confessed to me his desire to seek a relationship with underage boys. I was of the opinion that our relationship could still work, as long as we loved each other and he was willing to seek professional help, to which he agreed. But once his secret was out he didn’t feel any desire to hide it, and he began telling me about his trips to the local pool, and the young boys he met there, and how some of their parents were “OK” with him spending time with their son. When I confronted him about one particular boy, we got into an argument that resulted in his attempted suicide.

I saw Dave in the hospital a few days later, and told him how happy I was that he had survived. I told him how much I loved him, but then told him that if he was so scared to break up with me that he would rather kill himself, then I would do the hard work for him.

Dave’s parents asked me to stay in the home with them, because, they said, I had become a son to them. I told them I also felt a familiar bond, but that Dave was their son, and he needed their support.

I don’t regret any decisions I made, and am still very grateful for Dave and his amazing family. I do wish there would have been a way to slow down the relationship so that I could have learned about Dave’s problems before we moved in together.

I did feel cheated. I had given my heart to Dave, even if it was for only five months, but it was his completely. He had never loved me.

I knew that this was an opportunity to possibly get back into church, to live a celibate life, but I wanted so badly to be loved.

So I took the experiences I garnished, spent three months as a man with no commitments to anyone as I discovered myself, and enjoyed learning about the gay culture from my new roommate, who was kind enough to share his apartment with me for a few months. My new bishop was much kinder than the one in Dave’s ward, probably due to the fact that he was about 40 years younger, and I found myself easily able to confide in him. It was during these few months that I realized that the self-hatred I had harbored for so long was waning, and I could see the church side of me, and the gay side of me, finally getting along.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Another Cause to Pause

I’ve had the opportunity to discuss this blog in depth with two people who I consider very good friends. One of them told me that my blog sounded a bit bitter toward the LDS church, and that they would no longer be reading. I understand how a few of my recent posts could have come across that way, but I feel the need to clarify.

My feelings for the church have really evolved constantly through this experience. Please remember that I am recounting a story from its inception, as I remember it during the time it happened. My CURRENT feelings for the church are only partially recounted in posts such as “A Shift of Faith.” That experience took place almost two years ago, and at that time, yes, I was bitter toward the church… or should I say… the people in the church. I’ve also been bitter towards God, towards myself, towards my parents (which you’ll see in the next few posts), and towards Satan.

But I told my other friend with whom I’ve been discussing this blog, that although she may feel differently, I don’t think I’ll ever let go of the gospel principles. If anything, my faith in God and in Christ has increased over the course of my ordeal. After all, if the church is right in its current stance, I will be relying on them both in mercy for my salvation! And my faith in them is such that I don’t believe that it is “too late” for me. “A Shift of Faith” really was intended to do nothing more than point out that the people in the church don’t understand the things they do to hurt those in my situation. I’ve blamed the church for that, I’ve blamed God for that, but the fact remains that really, I can only blame myself. Who can teach them what things are hurtful and what things are not in this regard unless someone like me is willing to put myself out there enough to help them understand?

The ninth article of faith reads: “We believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God.”

I believe that God is not done talking about this issue. I might hope that a revelation will come to the church that will resolve this issue one way or the other, but the only thing I expect is that such a revelation will come to me, personally, for me, personally.

In fact, one, mostly, already has. I might take a lot of flak from the gay world by posting this, but I think it is important that everyone know that for me, this is my testimony, and this is the secret as to how I have currently resolved this issue inside of myself:

I know God lives, and prayer has been the most important thing I have learned in regards to this issue. My conversations with my Father in Heaven have been sincere and realistic. I have been promised that one day, the issue of homosexuality will be put into perspective with God’s greater plan. I have been promised that one day, I will have that perspective, and that with it will come the choice. That choice will also be about love, but not in the same way it is now. If I am still with my partner on that day I will see my love for him grow even more, into the realm of the gospel, and will then, together, may make the choice to separate.

That day may come tomorrow, or it may come after this life. Perhaps some of you may think that I have made the wrong choices leading up to this so-called “day.” You may be right, and if so, thank God for the Savior.

My complaints and agony in regards to the church are down to one, and it has nothing to do with gospel. My complaint, in fact, is only with the people who spout hatred, like the high-counsel man who read the letter in that fateful sacrament meeting. What he said wasn’t gospel. In fact, I think if he would have bothered to read what the church has officially put out on the subject, he would have had a kinder tone. To that man, and all of you who preach against homosexuality without knowing your own church’s doctrine, I will not do the same against you. I will, in fact, tell you how to help.

Imagine, please, for a moment, a 12 year old boy in your sacrament meeting who realizes his struggle is actually same gender attraction. If he felt that every member felt as you did, would he be able to come forward, and confess, at such a tender age, what he feels? Or would he be fraught with fear, his only resources telling him he would be excommunicated for being gay (the distinction between feeling and action still underdeveloped in his mind). Could he tell his parents, when he has heard his father and mother make comments about how gay people are going to Hell?

I was that twelve year old boy.

Now, imagine if the overall attitude in the church was one of tolerance. What if that boy was not afraid to approach his bishop and parents? What if counseling could be started younger, before the boy felt any frustration in regards to his feelings and the gospel? What if those parents and that bishop, cried with him, expressed their love for him and the heartache they knew he would endure? What if the subject could be discussed openly in sacrament meeting, with no feelings of guilt or shame for this boy?

I am not against LDS counseling in this regard. In fact, although it didn’t quite have the intended change in me, it DID help me rid myself of the same feelings of guilt and shame. Is it possible, that had I been younger, and this issue wasn’t taboo, and if it is environmental as the church suggests, that I could have resolved myself to be heterosexual? I don’t know. And we won’t know, unless we try a softer, more inclusive approach.

Thank you for the open dialog. I hope everyone knows that I will discuss spirituality openly and often in this blog, as soon as I get through my story. We are almost there. I can’t wait to share with everyone about my favorite prophet (Nehemiah), whose story touched me years ago, and will help anyone at any juncture in life.

Skip the parts you find offensive, but please understand that by doing so, you might miss a lesson I learned that you would AGREE with. And please, give me time to get out the story, so you can know the background behind my current thoughts and feelings.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Fall

Just a note: Although this entry doesn’t specifically tell of my first homosexual experience (nor will I ever relate those types of details), it does discuss how I met my first boyfriend, and the spiritual experiences that relate thereto. While recounting this story to a friend, just as it is outlined here, she told me it was “too much information.” However, it is a pivotal point in my story, and the spiritual experiences contained herein MUST be recounted.

It wasn’t long after that experience with the church, that shift of faith, that I met Dave (name has been changed). Dave was an interesting fellow, and we became friends long before I knew he was gay (blame it on faulty gaydar if you want). When we finally discussed his sexuality, I suddenly was filled with a million questions: What was it like to be an out gay Mormon? How did you resolve the inner conflict? What did it take to come to terms with, what I considered was, breaking the law of chastity?

In counseling, I was told I needed to stop running away from my fears. Whenever I had met anyone else like Dave in the past, I immediately ran in the opposite direction. This tendency I had to run away affected my relationships with male friends, as well. I never allowed myself to get too close to someone I was attracted to, just in case. This was a behavior I was told I needed to change, so I decided to maintain my friendship with Dave. This, to me, necessitated my telling him of my own personal struggles with homosexuality.

He took the news very well, and promised to never do anything to make me uncomfortable. The joke flirting he was known for while thinking I was “straight” stopped immediately, and he did nothing but listen and answer my questions to the best of his ability. I found this to be very comforting, and also very strange. I was always taught that gay men were only after sex, and after telling Dave of my own homosexuality, I practically expected him to pressure me into more intimate situations. This was simply not the case. Dave respected my boundaries, and I respected him for that.

When I told him I had some more embarrassing questions to ask him, that I didn’t think would be appropriate to do in private because of my own temptations, he immediately suggested we go to dinner. The public ambiance of a restaurant would remove any possibility of “falling into temptation” while maintaining enough privacy that our conversation would not be overheard. I was cautious at first, because I didn’t want to feel like I was being taken on a date. We resolved that we would each pay for our own meals, take separate cars, and treat it as nothing more than two friends going out to eat, because, after all, that would be exactly what it was. We went to Panda Express so nothing would be too formal, and I finally got to ask the questions that had been weighing on my mind regarding alcohol, drugs, sex, promiscuity, and the more negative details of the gay lifestyle.

Questions led to more questions, and when dinner was over and we had been sitting in the restaurant for far too long, our conversation turned back to religion, and I thought it would be safe to invite him back to a house that I was watching for a friend so that we could continue our conversation.

As the night drew to a close I saw something in Dave’s eye that sent my head into a spiral. There was a glimmer there that told me he was starting to have feelings for me. I knew he would never act on this interest, out of respect for me, but I also knew that the situation had come that I had prepared for during the last 12 years of struggle. That fact didn’t scare me as much as knowing that I wasn’t strong enough to resist. I started telling myself that there was nothing wrong with wanting to know what it felt like to hug him, but before my train of thought could go beyond that, I excused myself and went into the bedroom, where I hit my knees in prayer.

I pleaded with my Heavenly Father. I told him that the moment had come where I would fall, and I knew I wasn’t strong enough spiritually, even after all of my preparation, to resist. The worst part was that part of me didn't want to resist. I begged God for any excuse… a telephone call, an earthquake, a fire, an angelic vision, anything to distract me or give me a reason to send Dave home.

In that moment I think I felt the spirit more strongly than I ever have in my life. I could almost make out the words, “It will be alright.”

I argued back. A spiritual revelation like that was not enough. Couldn’t I at least get a “Don’t do it!”, or “You'll go to Hell!?” Things would not be alright, I was going to fail!

The voice returned, and simply said, “I know.”

I don’t believe those two words were an endorsement, maybe not even approval, but I did learn more about agency and the lengths to which God is willing to go for my happiness. I knew that God wanted me to be happy, and that if His way wasn’t working for me, then He was willing to allow me to try my own.

I think when people say they received an answer from God telling them that it was OK to be gay, that they aren't lying. I know, from an LDS perspective, that such an answer would seem impossible. But I think, perhaps, that such a claim is simply an answer similar to mine - and what a loving God it is who gives us such range on our agency.

My resolve remained unsure as the spirit drifted slowly away. The only thing that remained was the knowledge that I was, in fact, gay, and the choice in this situation wasn't whether or not to break the laws of God, but whether or not I would allow myself to love. Did I dare allow my relationship with Dave to grow? Was it even possible for me to love? I had tried with so many women without success, so since I had never felt those feelings was it even possible? I didn't know.

But I finally got off my knees, resolved to give love a chance.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

A Shift of Faith

I can tell you the exact moment when I lost faith in the church’s ability to help me overcome my same gender attraction. It was the same moment that I realized they had no understanding of my struggle. Sure, I knew that Elder Oaks had stated that the causes of homosexuality were unknown. I knew that the church didn’t officially endorse marriage or reparative therapy as a solution to the “problem.” But for some reason I continued to believe that there was something I was missing, something that could be found in the church, something I wasn’t doing, or didn’t understand, that by finding, would put into perspective the grander scheme of my place in the plan of salvation. Now I leave that for God to reveal, and hope that he will do so using the church. Until then, I’ll finally listen to the choir of church leaders that I had heard for so long singing “I don’t know.”

The moment was rather simple. I was sitting in sacrament meeting in my local single’s ward during the time that the federal marriage amendment was before the senate. Around this time the church put out a letter requesting all of its members to write their senators in support of the amendment. Our high-counsel man got up to read the letter, but instead of simply reading what was put out by the church, he first attacked “gays and lesbians” as being “detrimental to society and the sacred institution of marriage.” His rant continued for about ten minutes (perhaps there was just some time left in the meeting he felt he should fill?), before finally reading the letter, adding his personal testimony to the fact that the amendment needed to pass, and sitting down.

The bishop during this time knew of my plight. He purposely avoided my eyes during the entire tirade, and did not stop the man at the pulpit. Obviously I was furious. I remember feeling my hands ball into fists, hoping no one would notice while at the same time feeling an overwhelming desire to get up and march out in protest. The only reason I didn’t was because, at this time, I wasn’t prepared to come out publicly.

To make matters worse, as the words of the closing hymn were being sung, I was struck by the incredible hypocrisy that only I seemed to notice. I looked around the congregation in awe and wonder as they sang “As I have loved you, love one another.” I got so choked up I couldn’t sing.

That night I wrote my senator asking him to vote “no” on the federal amendment to legally define marriage between one man and one woman.

The next week I had my regular appointment to see my bishop and report how I was doing. After informing him of the astonishing event I had witnessed, and that he had been apart of the week earlier, and telling him of my choice to write my senator in opposition to the amendment, I was informed my temple recommend was then in danger. I was, the bishop informed me, in violation of two of the temple recommend interview questions (paraphrased): 1. Do you sustain the leadership of the church, and 2. Do you support or affiliate yourself with any group whose practices are contrary to the doctrines of the church.

I did not lose my temple recommend that day, but was warned to repent and take heed. I left the office flabbergasted and awed that such a display of outright hatred was expressed with no repercussions. This fact caused me to distrust my bishop’s sincerity in his quest to help me. I realized that the church, with all of its understanding of both the physical and spiritual world, had no idea, or just didn’t care, what it felt like to be a full-fledged worthy member struggling with same gender attraction. There was no endorsed program to help me, and those that tried to help knew less about how to help than I did.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

A Letter to Intolerance

I need to take a quick break from my story, and post a letter I wrote after reading some rather hate-filled comments surrounding the issue of homosexuality. If anyone would like to have an honest, open, love-filled discussion with me, no matter what side of the issue you are on, I welcome your emails:

I love you all - especially those who will not show me the same courtesy.

And now, the letter:

Dear Intolerance,

It is with a rather heavy heart that I write to you today. I don’t think you know how much I hurt in hope that one day you will do nothing more than understand. I’ve seen you often, with your sharp claws exposed as love and gentleness fall prey in all of those whose lives you consume. There are most who have the ability to let your temper roll off them when they see you, but what about the child you infect and destroy? Will you not think of him? Is he not the seed of Godhood? Does he do no good in your eyes?

Is it not enough to know that a child such as this already must conquer fear and doubt? A war wages within the child between who he is and who you want him to be that must end in resolution within him, not within you. You have no resolution. You are the opposite of love. You are fear.

But think not of the child dear Intolerance. Destroy him instead. You think this will silence the child, but the war wages on. You know nothing of the child or the war. You were spared service in such a battle. Is it God that gives you such knowledge to win a war you’ve never had to fight?

Then pray-tell, oh Intolerance, if you are so mighty and high, what would you have the child do to silence the rebellion? Can you even tell him which side is rebelling? Do you not suppose he has already approached his Creator in hopes of angels aiding him on his quest? Do you not suppose he has not done all that you have asked of him already? Would it surprise you to know the battle continues to rage in spite of your uninformative and ill-created suggestions?

Yes. It is up to the darling child to find the enemy and destroy it. Will you not give him a quiet place where he can retreat in love and warmth to do so?

I know you were born with large claws and a disposition to use them, but when you act on such a disposition you anger the very God you claim to know, condemning us all to Hell.


Wednesday, August 20, 2008


After my mission, it quickly became clear that my prayers to overcome my same gender attraction would not be answered. I think part of me expected the mission to be the sacrifice required to show God I was worthy of an answer, and willing to go to great lengths to get one. When I realized that the feelings I had were not going to go away, and after ruining yet another relationship with the girl that had waited for me (all of the relationship stuff really should be a blog of its own. It’s coming… haha), I decided the next step would be to seek help from others. I knew I couldn’t keep fighting on my own, so I did one of the hardest things I ever had to do in my life – I told my mother my struggles, and asked for her support as I spoke to church leaders and sought professional help.

To say my mother took the news badly would be an understatement. Sometimes I wish I had a mother who would simply look at me and say “I love you anyway,” but the first words out of her mouth were, “This is the worst thing a mother could hear.” She’ll deny that she said that to this day, but my impressionable, fearful, timid, and despairing mind was seared with those words. I can’t say that I blame her, or that I think the words she said were untrue. In fact, I sympathize with her – if that is how she felt just how hard was it for her to imagine how I felt. Those were not the words I needed at that time. To her defense and credit, after that initial shock, we cried together, and reaffirmed our love for each other that night. My mother offered to put up half of the costs of counseling, and I had an appointment with LDS Family Services the next day.

I was extremely nervous on my first trip to LDS Family Services. In fact, I had a hard time feeling like counseling was a good idea. I sat in the waiting room with people who had addictions and other problems, and honestly had a hard time seeing how my situation justified the same thing theirs did. After all, I wasn’t addicted to anything – how could I be addicted to something I had never had? I wasn’t mentally deficient in any way – even the APA agreed with me on that. But I filled out the survey I was asked to fill out in the lobby anyway: Did I do drugs? How often? Did I find that my alcohol use interfered with my work? Was I happy? Was I sleeping? I checked the lowest box on the happiness question, but didn’t feel like the rest really applied.

My counselor was the third person to whom I had vocally admitted being gay. I drove much further than the closest Family Services building because I was assured that this counselor had “experience” with what the church called “same gender attraction.” It turned out, however, that this man had never worked with someone dealing with my feelings. In fact, he told me he had never even heard of someone coming into Family Services before they acted out on homosexual urges. He committed to help me to the best of his ability, and promptly gave me the assignment to carry around a picture of the Savior, and make marks on a paper every time I found someone of the same sex attractive. In addition to making the tick marks, I was to look at the picture of Christ every time I made a mark, and try to figure out what thought process led me to feel like I wanted to look at another man.

The pad of paper was full of little tick marks by the end of the day. I didn’t really understand how focusing on my attraction was going to help, but certainly having the little book did nothing but bring those feelings to the surface and make me feel worse about myself. What made me look at these men? How about the fact that they were there? That they breathed? That so did I? Were those valid reasons?

I went back the next week to find that the counselor was ready with the name of someone else who might be better able to help me.

I don’t remember the name of this counselor either, but I can tell you I preferred talking to him. When I arrived (at another distant location different from the first), I found him to be more focused on helping me accept myself (funny how when the church says that they mean something different than when the world does), and building my self-esteem. This man was an addiction counselor, and still had no experience with homosexual attraction, but he made a more earnest effort at helping me to control my thoughts. He talked to me at length about masturbation, about the church’s view on it, about how he as a married man engaged in it for some time, and about how he felt about it. I found this line of discussion a bit disturbing, because it didn’t seem to me to be a good idea to talk to the gay kid that comes into your office about your private escapades with yourself. I saw him for a little less than a month before he referred me to someone outside of LDS Family Services who, I was assured, was a specialist and dealt only with same gender attraction.

Before I move on to the next and last counselor, I want to make something very clear. During my first few sessions the option of shock therapy (as part of a “reparative therapy routing”) did surface. I was actually the one who brought it up, and although surprised, both therapists at LDS Family Services assured me that if that was an option I wanted, then they would be able to arrange for it. I assured them that I did not wish to go that route, and that I was asking to ensure that they didn’t support such practices. Both assured me that they did not, but the fact that they knew how or who to contact in regards to such options, scared me just a little.

My final counselor was a gentle man by the name of Jim Lewis. Jim Lewis was an Evergreen endorsed counselor who did not believe in "adversion" therapy. His mantra to all of his patients was “You are man enough.” My experience here was a good one, and if anyone is considering therapy to help overcome homosexual desires, even with the way I feel now concerning such therapy, I would still highly recommend Jim Lewis. His methods are applicable to all people in all walks of life. It was he who helped me realize that I had internalized a lot of self hatred and doubt, but hid that hatred even from myself. He was the first to admit that the way I had been taught and treated in the church and in society was to blame. Jim helped me to embrace my entire self, which included the part of me that was gay and the part of me that was LDS, and taught me to love myself first, in the hopes that I could then learn to love another.

When I was sufficiently progressing, he asked me to join a group session. I did so with a little trepidation, but was happy to find that I not only enjoyed the sessions, but got to meet a lot of fantastic people who were just like me. Jim had another counselor that worked with him by the name of Christy (although I’m not sure I have the spelling correct), who really touched me. I felt like everyone involved really cared for me, and their experience working with people who are homosexual gave them a love and a perspective for us that I wish everyone in the LDS culture could adopt.

From hatred to appreciation, I learned to stop viewing myself as a homosexual, homosexuality as a sin, and a sin as something to hate. Instead, I appreciated the unique gifts I possessed as a gay man. I know that Jim and Christy would have preferred a different outcome for me, but when I left their care by my own choice, openly honest with them about the choices I had made, they were supportive and caring. I never felt judged or condemned by them – in fact, only uplifted.

It is important for me to conclude this chapter of this blog by saying that Jim often told me there was nothing wrong with me, and that there was nothing to fix. He was very honest in telling me that out of the hundreds or thousands of men who had been through his program, only three now claim to never be bothered by homosexual desires, though many more have “learned to live with said desires differently.” I knew, after many conversations with God, that these desires would not change in this life for me. I knew that the best I could hope for in this life was celibacy and a continued Hell, or a choice. The choice for me wasn’t whether or not to go out and live a life of sin and debauchery, but whether or not to love another person. I hope that as you read these blogs you will begin to understand why I chose the latter, that you will understand that being gay is not a choice, but loving is.

Monday, August 4, 2008

The Mission Years

To say my mission was the best two years of my life wouldn’t exactly be the full truth, but I did gain incredible life experiences for which I will always be grateful. The people, the culture, the language, and the friendships I made were incredible. I loved immersing myself in the scriptures in ways I never could do at home, and couldn’t believe that the doctrines of the church that I had grown up with were viewed so unconventionally in average society. For those who might be wondering, I served from 2002 to 2004 in the Texas McAllen mission. Now, just in case there is a random missionary from that timeframe that might be reading this and horrified at the possibility that I was their companion, just let me assure – I feel very blessed, even lucky, to have never been attracted to one of my companions.

That said, in relation to my homosexual feelings and desires, serving a mission was very difficult. That difficulty started in the MTC, where I was forced to shower with other men. For years I had taken myself out of situations where I would be in the presence of undressed men, and I find it slightly ironic that my first experience with a live nude body was seemingly church endorsed. I did everything I could to avoid being in the shower with other people by showering at night, at odd times, or by moving to a different bathroom where the men were, at least, less attractive. Yet the repercussions didn’t escape me, and my thoughts became very difficult to control. I also was robbed of my pornography outlet (again, I was very upfront with my priesthood leaders about this… and this was before the so-called “raising of the bar”). I found myself often seeking solace, even if it was just outside of the dormitory door for ten minutes, where I would write or read scriptures in hopes of relieving the tension.

Things did get better in the mission field, although some days were better than others. I have one companion that I have now told my whole story, and he was the most sensitive companion to my issues. One night, I had had a particularly rough day, and although this person didn’t know what I was struggling with at the time, he did notice that something was bothering me. It was probably my fists that gave it away, sometimes balled up so tightly that the knuckles literally turned white. The physical agony I felt cannot be understood by someone who has not been in a similar situation. This companion looked at me very seriously as he climbed into bed, and said, “I don’t know what is bothering you, and I know you don’t want to talk about it, but just promise me you’ll talk to the mission president if you have another day like today.”

I was so preoccupied that I hadn’t even noticed that he noticed I was preoccupied. I responded by telling him that I was ok, but he was serious about making me promise to see the mission president if I ever felt the same again. In fact, he wouldn’t let it go until I did.

A few weeks later, I was tracting (knocking on doors) with this same companion, when a young man about our age opened the door with his shirt off. As usual, my companion managed to get the man to invite us in, and proceeded to teach our first lesson. I remember the day well, but I don’t remember the discussion. My head literally swam through the whole thing, and the guilt I felt for being preoccupied over this man’s body over his soul was enough to send me spiraling back into that place where I physically hurt. Luckily it was getting late, and I was able to find enough distractions to keep myself from thinking about the man for the rest of the evening. That night, however, my companion said nothing, but gave me a look that reminded me of the promise I had made to him.

That companion told me just four months ago that he suspected I was gay, but that during those hard days he didn’t know what it was that was causing my suffering. He doesn’t remember the man without his shirt (and why should he?), nor did he put together that this man was a trigger that put me into the same place I had been in a few weeks earlier. I told this companion everything during a mission reunion just this last April. He is the only missionary I served with that currently knows me as an out, gay man, and his love and support has been a great pillar to me. Our friendship has only strengthened.

The day following the man without a shirt, I woke up in what could only be considered a depression. I made an appointment with the mission president, as per my promise, and actually had the opportunity to sit down with him that same day. I expected to be sent home, part of me wanted to be sent home, but after asking me a few questions regarding my past and present conduct, I was simply told that I would have an appointment set up in a few weeks with a traveling counselor from LDS Family Services. During the interim between the meeting with the mission president and the appointment with the counselor, my companion was transferred, and I got someone new. When it came time for my appointment, he was allowed to sit outside of the door, but he knew where we were. I kept trying to come up with an excuse as to why I needed to see someone from LDS Family Services, and this new companion of mine was not one to let the subject go easily. I never did come up with an excuse. I eventually just refused to answer his questions.

The counseling session was, to put it simply, a waste of time. The counselor made me feel like a sinner, like someone who was “lucky” to be on a mission as opposed to someone who was working my butt off every day to be there. He gave me a few scriptures to read regarding Nephi’s leaving Jerusalem, which I suppose was to be some way of telling me to leave my homosexuality behind to find “the promised land.” It really is too bad that this counselor didn’t understand that even those men who choose to live some sort of gospel-approved life with this problem, it never, ever, ever gets left behind.

My mission president called me a few days after my appointment to ask me how things went. I responded, “Just fine,” to which he asked if I would like to see the counselor again. My answer was, of course, no thank you. I think the mission president took that to mean that this one counseling session somehow had “fixed” me. Honestly, I felt even worse, but I knew that I was going to be home in a few months, and hoped that at the completion of a successful mission God would see fit to finally bless me with the ability to love a woman.

I was released honorably soon after, with the faith that the gospel and a conventional family was what awaited me.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The Early Years

I was always a little different. I was the kid in elementary school who would bring fresh picked flowers to my teachers simply because I was taught to value the fact that they were of a profession that would ensure my future success. I was always sensitive, and kind to the kids other kids picked on. I remember one day specifically, when my mom and I gave a ride home to one of the girls who was a favorite class scapegoat. My mom told me, “It’s a good thing you’re nice to her, because one day she is going to grow up and be beautiful and she’ll remember you were nice to her.” Funny as it may be, that girl grew up to be one of my closest friends, model gorgeous, and now lives in Russia with her millionaire father.

I’m not trying to say that every sensitive, kind, flower-bearing man is gay, simply that, in my case, these traits came easily to me as a direct result of my feeling “different.” As I look back on it, it wasn’t these traits that MADE me different; they were just the RESULT of something I already was. I think that it is important for me to make that distinction. That isn’t to say that all homosexuals possess these traits – but now I’m getting off topic.

I’m pretty sure the first time I became aware of my sexuality was around age 12. I remember feeling my first twinge of guilt around this age when I was ordained a deacon; I had recently had my first erotic dream – which included a cameo appearance by my best friend’s younger brother. I was so terrified of church discipline (I was sure I would be kicked to the curb if I dared tell anyone about the dream, let alone about the fact that I was, indeed, genuinely attracted to him) that I simply learned to keep my mouth shut, all the while starting down a destructive path of self-loathing.

I promised myself that no matter what I would simply follow the gospel that I had been taught. I compartmentalized my feelings, and thought if I just ignored them they would go away. I continually read my scriptures, attended the temple regularly, read the church magazines before anything else, and was active in seminary, boy scouts, and young men’s. I had great experiences with dating. I prayed at least six times a day. I literally did everything I could think of that the church told me to do – not only because I believed the gospel, but because I wanted to distract myself from the ever bulging mental box in which I had sealed my feelings.

I discovered early on that I could relieve some pressure if I dabbled in pornography. This, surprisingly, I did not feel I needed to hide from my priesthood leaders, and spoke to them often regarding the issue. They never asked what KIND of pornography I was viewing, and I never volunteered the information during my teen years. I have to admit that I was a bit shocked that I never lost my temple recommend, continued to be called to leadership positions, and eventually, was called to serve a mission.

My story will continue there, next week...

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

A Bit About Me...

Honestly, I started this blog simply because I wanted to have a place where I could share some rather unconventional thoughts, while at the same time, hopefully fostering love and understanding in a world that, I believe, is too full of hate and cruelty. I hear the word 'bigot' thrown around by people who should probably be looking in a mirror when they say it, the phrase 'family values' like a punishment, and 'religion' by one side like 'HIV' is by the other (who knew religion was a disease?).

If I could resolve my own feelings between the LDS church and my homosexuality, and do it in love, I feel there is no reason the world can't follow suit. I hope to provide a safe place for people on both sides of the argument to understand, grow, and embrace. I have no issue with fielding questions, as long as you don't have a problem with your question being put out on this blog. Feel free to email me at

Now, to me. I'm a 25 year old professional who came out in February 2007. Before that date, I was the model Mormon boy. I got all A's in seminary, fell in love with the scriptures, and served a mission. Secretly, I struggled with the inability to resolve two halves of myself that seemed doomed to eternal conflict. One day, I would hate the gay half of myself; the next, the spiritual side. Eventually, however, I learned how to unite myself, how to become a whole person.

These blogs may be sporadic at first, but I hope to eventually get a consistent schedule. Please join me in learning, in accepting, and in loving.