Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Circling the Wagons

I had the opportunity and privilege to go to the "Circling the Wagons" conference put on by Mormon Stories. I flew in from California on Friday night and made it to the session amid the snow the next day. The conference was by far better than I even imagined.

Ten years before, just after turning 18, I went to the Evergreen International Conference with my Dad, around the time of September 11th. We had to drive because there were no flights available. This was my first experience being a "Gay Mormon" and meeting other "strugglers." Evergreen has it's place. I feel like many that it is unfair to talk totally negatively of the experience of for the first time in your life having a space to talk, to vent, to share with others.

The problem is the misinformation there. See at this conference "experts" like A. Dean Byrd told me that homosexuality was in fact a mental illness, that if not curable, was treatable by therapeutic means. Research had been done that showed that homosexuality was most likely caused by several factors, but possibly by an absent father, an overbearing mother. He and other panelists waxed on and on, peddling their wares about how they could change us, help us "diminish our unwanted feelings of same-sex attraction", help us to get married heterosexually, etc.

What a contrast, to step into Salt Lake, ten years later, in the early snow of Autumn, to the First Baptist Church, and meet my true brothers and sisters, straight, gay, bisexual, transgendered, queer, SSA, whatever they preferred to identify as, and simply be with them, in the open, talking openly and freely about our feelings, our worries, our pains, was incredible. We talked about the real pain that we had felt being gay and Mormon, seeking to bridge understanding between allies and LGBT members. In reality it isn't an us and them thing. We were all there together questioning, thinking what can we do, right now, to make our lives and the lives of those around us better.

Carol Lynn Pearson's gave a talk about the hero's journey, how we as gay members of the church or just gay people in general had been called to a journey, refused the call, been initiated or forced to adventure, and then to take home what we said. For those unfamiliar with Joseph Campbell's work that was the source for the talk, think of it as being Luke Skywalker, on the desert in Tatooine, unaware that an adventure was to be had. Lucas followed Campbell's model and created Star Wars. We as gay men and women are like Luke Skywalker, thrust out onto an adventure we didn't choose but that we have to face all the same.

As Lee Beckstead put it, you all prayed and fasted to overcome being gay. Let them pray and fast to cure their Homophobia. Homophobia is curable. Homosexuality is not. People are often too afraid to learn the truth about homosexuality, deal with their own inadequacy or their own fear of difference, their homophobia (fear of gay people: let's call it what it is).

The other talks and panels were helpful as well. Lee Beckstead's talk was about bridging and navigating conflict with our communities and with our families, and this was an important theme and one that carried into the panel discussion. As Carol Lynn Pearson said, the truth is that people should not have to choose loving their son or daughter or the church, that this needs to end and stop immediately.

I was inspired. The musical numbers, the visiting bishop's testimony, the testimony's/testimonials at the end. There was an amazing spirit of love, tolerance, and true Christian worship there in a Baptist church in Salt Lake. And that's something I can be proud of when I say I'm Mormon. And it's something that can lead me to say I'm proud that I'm a gay man. I'm grateful that I have so many wonderful brothers and sisters who love and support me in being who I am. For not having to hang my head or be ashamed for existing, or loving or being attracted to people who happen to be of the same gender as me. It was....wonderful.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Reparative/Conversion Therapy

I watched this video and it made me cry. It was available on a link from the Huffington Post.

This case is extreme. I doubt very few parents would do this to their children simply because they are gay. I doubt very many therapists would do this to their client to cure them. But in the 1970s and apparently in some rare cases today, these techniques are used to "cure" individuals.

This is the heritage of NARTH, Evergreen, and other groups. The beginning of reparative therapy is Electroshock techniques, torture, and violence. Evergreen and NARTH et. al. want to forget the history of their craft, to change and convert sexual orientation. The history of violence against people because they don't fit the mold. This is the reason the APA took homosexuality out of the DSM-IV, not because of the political pressure as A. Dean Byrd and others claim. Homosexuality is a variation of normal. Deviancy, crime against nature, this is the rhetoric used to attempt to force bodies and psyches into conformity with a norm. But it doesn't work. And even if it did work, if we could find a cure to homosexuality, it would be unethical to force or coerce children, or anyone, into a therapeutic program they didn't want.

No one listened to me. I told the therapists when I was 17 I was gay, I wanted to be with a man, but not one of the LDS therapists my bishop sent me to and paid for listened to me. But at the time, unsure of what to do, unsure of how to handle telling my parents, I continued. I eventually told my parents, they took over paying for therapy, and I continued to suffer being told over and over I wasn't gay, I was going through a phase.

I found Evergreen. I thought I'd found an answer. But I found instead empty promises, testimonials, and confusion.

It's unethical to lie to people to promise a cure. Notice that everything that Evergreen does is anecdotal. No reputable journal will support reparative therapy. Why? Because there is some sort of liberal bias that wants to show that homosexuality is normal?

Hardly. I suppose there is a bias, a bias that LGBT people are normal and not freaks or deviants. But that's a bias that I can get behind. I suspect however that if the techniques were effective, there would be a much different debate around the issue. But they don't work. This is complicated, but Lee Beckstead's research (see ldsresources.info, google or look up his articles otherwise) shows that it is usually harmful.

Since many people operate if not totally objectively, then according to reason, scientific evidence, psychology, the world at large, not some oligarchical liberal conspiracy as Byrd and others claim, is responsible for helping people accept homosexuality as a variant of normal.

And to Evergreen's anecdotal evidence of change, I offer my own counter evidence. Case histories are a valid means for establishing social work/therapeutic techniques. But there are thousands of case histories of LGB individuals in therapy because of religious bashing, trying to pray the gay away, trying to undergo a psychic transformation. I tried it. It hurt me emotionally. It hurt my faith, my relationship with my family, the relationship with my now ex-wife, my relationship with friends. It hurts to be told over and over again that something is wrong or broken with you, to pour your soul out before God to heal you make you whole. But I was never broken. I was just me. I was just different, not deviant, evil, wrong. It isn't my fault that I'm gay. It isn't a choice. It isn't a whim. It isn't something I just woke up one day and said, you know what, I'd like to ruin my parent's dreams and my own of who I want to be and what I want. I'd really like to screw up my life now. I'd like to according to what I believe condemns myself to damnation, suffering, spirit prison, an eternity less than exaltation.

But that isn't true. Neither does it fit LDS doctrine nor any conception of a loving God. I'm healing. I'm not broken. I'm hurt because of the way I've been treated. But I will overcome. I'm just grateful to have others to talk with, others to share the burden with, and a loving God to pray to to help me overcome years of emotional abuse simply because of who I am.

Friday, October 28, 2011

It got worse

On October 11, 2011 I came out as gay on facebook. It was National Coming Out Day This was my message.

Dear Family and Friends,
I’m gay. Surprise. Some of you already know. Some of you aren’t surprised. But many of you are probably confused. I know a lot of you won’t understand this, and I wish I had the time to sit down one on one with you and explain this and teach you about many of misconceptions that you’ve grown up with about homosexuality. Trust me, I know a lot about this. I’m divorced now and I’m starting a new life. And I hope you’ll be part of it, supporting me and accepting what I’ve come to accept as an important part of me. I hope you can appreciate how difficult this journey has been, but also how exciting it is to share this with you now.

The public response to my coming out was incredibly positive. Friends I hadn't talked to in years either messaged me or wrote on my wall to talk about how proud they were of me and happy for me. And my friends, my brother, my cousins, so many people publicly congratulated me. I felt elated.

I still turn to that every time I get down or discouraged. I couldn't have predicted how much that would help me to know that so many people I love about care about me, and love me, and support me publicly.

But there's an unfortunate aspect to the story too. There are people who didn't say anything, like most of my siblings, or some of my aunts and cousins. They are still too afraid to talk to me. And my Grandparents were upset that I'd do such a bold thing. This is a private thing. Alex isn't that gay. He was married after all. What will we say to people? All of these are things they haven't had the courage to say to me directly, but behind closed doors and whispers.

Then there's my Mom. I went home to visit the week after, another bold thing, and one that I partially regret. I went to my High School reunion, met up with my best friend growing up, and played rock music and had a great time. Until the next day, when everything came crashing down.

It started simple enough. I slept in through church. I ate dinner with my family, I started playing the piano, and my Mom and I started talking.

"Make sure you don't tell your little brother about you know what."
"It's on facebook Mom. He probably already knows."

My mother had asked me to not tell my brothers and sisters. She asked why I disobeyed her. I'm 28. I respected her wishes for a while, but at this point I feel the need to be open and honest with my family about my life and who I am. My Mom and I proceeded out side to continue talking and things continued their downward spiral.

She wanted to protect my brother's innocence. I told him at 11 he probably knew what gay is, and knew a lot more about sex than she suspects. I explained that I just wanted it to be normal so that we could move past it, and quick treating it like it was some big secret, and shaming me into silence. She asked how I could expect her to think it was normal. Did I want to bring a boyfriend over and cuddle? That would never happen. I said, I wasn't talking about that, just some basic respect. We talked about the facebook post and about how she thought that was private. I agreed that facebook wasn't the ideal format, possibly email or individual calls, but it suited my needs coming out and telling people very well.

"I understand that going to church is hard for you because you are gay, but why are you throwing your soul away?"

I didn't know what to say. I was upset. I was shocked that my Mom would say this to me.

Should I have been? I came out to her when I was 17 and she told me I was going to die of AIDS, displease her and Heavenly Father. Me, her son who has for his whole life tried to be the best kid possible, to be kind to others, treat them with love and respect, was now throwing his soul away simply because he's gay.

It hurts. I try to empathize, but I can't wrap my head around this kind of prejudice. It doesn't matter that my whole life I've lived a decent and honest life, that I was honest with my wife when I started being honest with myself, that I did the best I could to make things the best for her. That I've been the oldest kid and taken care of my family. Suddenly the fact that I was gay was more important than all of that.

I don't believe a just and loving God would do that, to anyone. Either he didn't and I'm not gay, or I am gay. But I am gay, homosexuality does exist, and so what does that mean? That leaves two options. Either there is no God, or God doesn't agree with what the church and my Mother believe about it.

I choose to believe that there is a God. That he loves me. And he loves my Mom. But she's lost and confused.

The irony of this situation is that my 10 year old brother already knew. He asked me what we talked about and he said he probably knew. He said, "Is it about you coming out of the closet?" "Yep. What did you think about that." "I didn't really care that much."

There's hope. But unfortunately the actions and reactions of my Mom make it likely that there will still be some in the next generation who react negatively and with fear to news about gay family members or continue to act out of fear of gays, homophobia. But likely many of them will reject what they were taught, the bad example of their elders, and choose to love and to accept rather than to fear and to hate.

I'm 28. I know better now than to depend on my parent's approval for my life, but their strong disapproval is difficult. I know that my Mom doesn't hate me, but the attitude she have scares me and it hurts. But the basic lack of respect and understanding and empathy is what's so difficult. I believe it's because of the Mormon Wall, the ideology of homophobia that is reinforced by culture, practice and doctrine. It's a thick wall to scale and climb. There is the wall of homophobia, and then there are the many Mormons who do not have that kind of attitude. But unfortunately, there are so many that do. I'm not the only one who's been treated like this, even by family.

I'm grateful to each and every one of the people who wrote me and supported me, Mormon and otherwise, telling me they supported my honesty and candor, and my choices. I need to honor them. Honor the people who are too afraid to come out, because they have Moms like mine, or a brother like mine, or grandparents like mine. I have to remind myself, and them, that it does get better. That I have to focus on the positive. And take the negative one step at a time, little by little. I've come to accept that my Mother will probably never change, and my Grandparents certainly never will. It's their loss, people tell me. And it is. But it's a tragedy that I should have to lose at least a lot of my relationship with them over something outside of my control. But if that's the price I have to pay to be true to myself, true to what I believe, and true to whatever future family I may have, then it's one that I'll pay.

Monday, October 10, 2011

It gets better

I'm divorced. It was recently finalized.

As I think back over the last few months, it's been really rough on me. That's an understatement. Today I was reading over a letter I sent to a friend to tell him what I went through. Then I came across this video on youtube which brought me back to what had been going on for the last few months, and over the last few years.

It brought me to tears. I played this song when I was 17, and then rediscovered it recently. It's a way for me to express the depression, the loneliness, self doubt, but also the sublime acceptance and peace I've felt. It's all there. It's like there are two Alex's, duking it out for survival. One was the married family man, or the boy who has tried his all life to become that man, and the other is the gay man I shut off, buried away, suppressed at all costs. They both "come out" from time to time. They are at war with each other. My hope is that someday I'll be a gay married family man and they'll be at peace.

But until then, I know it isn't going to be easy. I've questioned myself so many times, wondering if I made the right decision, trying to undo my decision by saying "no I'm not really gay, I'm bi." I've one week left the church and another gone crying back. I think that is surprisingly normal given the circumstances. At one point I took down my blog posts wondering what I'd been saying, wondering if this was alright. I think as a whole my blog shows this. But luckily I didn't delete them. I was angry, frustrated confused. I've felt all that and more as I've tried to make myself fit some box or category I don't fit.

It's been hell. At times it's been worse than that. But it's over. That chapter in my life is over and gone. I'm coming out. I'm divorced. I'm going forward. It isn't some magic switch or pill. It's been hard. But it gets better. I know, because it's better now. It's not perfect. It's not easy. I don't have life figured out. I don't think I ever will. But suddenly, I don't care what people think a much, I'm just me. and I'm ok with that. I know my family and some friends will disagree with me, and even pressure me to live a life I know I can't live anymore. But I won't. I know they care, but they are wrong.

And so now I step out into the unknown. I don't know what to feel or think religiously. I'm Mormon, but not in the same sense as I was before. I don't go to church. I don't plan on being "active" for a long time now. I don't know if they'll excommunicate me someday for my choices. But it doesn't matter. I have my faith, I am living what I believe to be true, and I'm willing to act on things I've always believed were true. And so I step into the dark, but also into the light, to see where this journey takes me.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Understanding Homophobia

I want to talk about bigotry. And racism. And make plain something that isn't obvious.
This is a difficult topic to broach. Whenever you talk about racism or homophobia people just want to ignore it or rationalize it or accuse people of being "over sensitive." No one wants to be a racist. And no one wants to be bigoted.
When I tell them I think the church is bigoted, homophobic, prejudiced, whatever name you want to call it, they think of the worst expressions of that. And that's plainly there. I grew up in the Central Valley of California, and I heard plenty of that from my friends at church, or even from adults. I was there for the fundraising of Proposition 22 (the earlier incarnation of Prop 8) that happened in Stake Priesthood meetings. And the things said even over the pulpit were inconsistent with followers of Christ. When I moved to Utah, any semblance of civility was swept away as people bashed gays during Prop 8.
I've had a bishop apologize to me because he said he would like to dedicate a fifth sunday to the topic, but was worried about the kinds of things people would say (as in discriminatory things) if the topic were brought up. I think he's right.
And yet, I believe that the majority of bishops, and members of the church wouldn't react in such a negative way. That isn't the problem. The problem is actually in denying the existence of homosexuality. This is a much subtler form of homophobia. To ask members to deny the existence of a gay identity, to ask them to love the sinner but hate the sin, to talk about "so-called gays and lesbians" is derogatory.
Why? Why should I want to take a phenomenon, a physical, sexual, romantic, emotional attraction to the same sex and label it, identify it? That's legitimizing it, making it normal, making it natural.
Exactly. This is what the church wants to avoid. What members are taught to shun. For example, Elder Oaks in his Q&A with Elder Wickman told parents they shouldn't have to accept a visiting partner because that would grant legitimacy to such a union, and that's unfair to the parents.
Is it? To recognize that your son or daughter is in love, even if you don't agree with "such a union", is that unfair? Is that wrong? It isn't. It's what I would hope anyone would do.

One day after a particularly difficult discussion with my cousin about me being gay, I asked myself, do I exist? Of course I exist, and of course this part of my identity exists, but in their minds and in the minds of many in the church, my purpose is to procreate and be bonded to a woman. That is the purpose of life. And if I can't do that, I don't exist on the same level as my friends and family who can do that. That's frustrating.
During this discussion my cousin told me, "You just think that you're gay. Try not to think about it so much. It's like an alcoholic thinking about alcohol" I'll admit, as will many of you, that I'm guilty of over thinking. Of worrying about it too much. Of stressing about what people would think if they knew.
But that isn't what she meant. She was talking about if I could think I was straight, I would be able to be straight. "As a man thinketh.." Or something like that. But really? I was married three years. Many other people have been married longer than that. If I could think myself straight I would have.
But you can't. I can't undo biology, or the complex interaction of physiological and psychological processes. It's unethical to try (and believe me, people try, and have all kinds of advice on how to do so). Imagine, taking a straight man, and making him gay by sexual experience, by getting at the root of his "opposite sex attraction", of telling him that God loves him even though he struggles with opposite sex attraction, that he just shouldn't think about it so much, that he should marry a man anyway if the right guy comes along.
I think this would be fascinating. Fascinating, but unethical. There are standards for therapy and there are standards for experimentation. We also wouldn't show the man pictures of naked women and shock his genitals until he turned gay. Or lobotamize him (See The Mormon Proposition). Or alter his physical body or attempt to screw with his psyche to get him to change his sexual orientation. Or make lame analogies about dragons (see Jeffrey Robinson...or don't.)
Guess what? When you sleep, when you dream, it's there. Subconsciously, no matter how hard you try, your need, your desire to be with a man is there. It's what you want. And it isn't wrong. It isn't sinful. It just is. And it's going to be there the rest of your life.
One of the saddest things is that we gay men internalize the homophobia and repeat it. I'm guilty of this. For years I participated in it. And I apologize for it.I hope that I can overcome it fully. Because when you deny yourself what you want, you make sure others can't have it. Or when you indulge in self-loathing and shame because you are gay, that shows in the way you hate others. Sometimes this is subtle too. People can be compassionate and still be against "acting on same-sex attraction", but there's a subtle jealousy there, a subtle desire to have what they have, and it shows in how strongly they react against it.
I believe in the gospel of peace and love. And homophobia in any form is inconsistent with this. So is racism. As time goes on, the parallels between the two become more and more obvious. I'd like to see this change in the church. I'd like to be part of it, but as they say it's important to put your own oxygen mask on first. Or in more Mormon terms, it's important to handle your own stewardship and provide for your own emotional health and that of your family first before helping others. I can and must forgive, but that isn't the same as tacitly accepting it over and over and over again. I can't intentionally subject myself to it like I have been. Not now that my eyes are open.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Therapy (Again)

Today was my last appointment with the therapist I've been seeing for the last 7 months.

I stepped into the university counseling center in January of this year. The first day they asked me to fill out a survey. I was asked to identify my sexual orientation on the survey and state my reasons for coming to counseling. I didn't quite know what to say. I checked the box that said "questioning." I put I was there because of my sexual orientation as well as for depression. It wasn't as if I didn't know that I was attracted to men. So I didn't know if "questioning" or gay or bi was the right word for a formerly somewhat out gay man who tried to change his sexual orientation and was currently married.

I went in because something in my life wasn't right. My wife and I had moved to California, and the last couple of months had been hard. I'd stay up late crying. I pulled out the evergreen manual wondering if there was something in there that could help me. I didn't seem to find resolution or answers. Finally in January I told my wife, "I'm gay. I know I told you before, but there's more to the story than when I first told you."

We hadn't talked about it since I told her right before we got engaged. I wrote a letter. I had her read it, and then we talked about it. I told her in that letter I'd realized this was something I couldn't change. I told her I thought about doing therapy, but I was worried that they would convince me I was gay, or convince me to do something against the teachings of the church. Even though we were worried about that, we decided it'd be best if I went to therapy anyway.

So as I sat telling my counselor about how I'd gone to evergreen and how I'd gone 10 years since then avoiding a "Gay lifestyle" she seemed surprised. I told her though that I'd realized recently that no, my efforts to diminish my same sex attraction hadn't worked. I was still as attracted to men as I ever was. In all that time, I wasn't exactly in denial about being same-sex attracted, but I just sort of put it in a unresolved box that said, someday God will take this away. Confronting the reality that it wasn't going to change was difficult for me.

The next time we met, she pulled out a paper with a scale on it and explained that sexuality is complex and not as simple as gay/straight. I told her how much I loved my wife, but how I wasn't sure what to do about the fact that I was sexually attracted to men.

I didn't know exactly what I felt for my wife. Was I gay? Could I be in love with a woman as a gay man? As the weeks went on, we explored this conflict that I felt between having sex with a woman but being attracted primarily to men. It didn't really make sense to me at first. I thought, is she telling me it doesn't matter that I'm attracted to guys and married? She said she understood why I would feel a conflict. But in my way of seeing the world, I just didn't get it at first. It took some time, and education to learn what sexual orientation was, what "being gay" meant.

Contrary to what I feared originally, never once did my therapist tell me what to do, or convince me to be gay, or live any lifestyle. But as I went into this space where I was free to talk about what I wanted, what I was feeling, I realized for myself I felt a lot of conflict about being married. I was somewhat uncomfortable saying I was gay or bi, but accepting that my same-sex attraction was natural was affirming. I became more comfortable saying I was gay over time, because it was a way to view myself as a whole rather than shoving my "same-sex attraction" into a box that read "wrong, evil." I'd been told my whole life that somehow I was deviant, or unnatural. But finally I wasn't.

Therapists tend to affirm you as an individual.I don't believe this is wrong. She was with me and understanding and affirming when I talked about my conflict. But she never convinced me to label myself as gay, live a gay lifestlye, divorce my wife, or anything. My LDS therapists were for the most part unaffirming. They denied that I was gay, and lead me to do the same. They did steer me toward what they thought I should do. This is at least somewhat unethical. A therapist is supposed to do what the client wants. To try and push your client a certain direction because of your personal view point is, according to my understanding, against the standards of the profession.

As I came to an understanding that it was alright that I was gay, something I'd felt myself in prayer, then I had to figure out where to go from there. Being gay and married is not something I'd ever really come to terms with. I'd always lived believing that being gay was something wrong, and that my same-sex attraction was something that would someday be changed. The attractions and feelings were to be changed suppressed, ignored, prayed against, and I believed God would help me overcome them.

He didn't. He lead me to understand it isn't wrong to be attracted, sexually or otherwise, to men. It's not my fault that I am, it's not because I had gotten too close to my Mom, or because of abuse, or any reason other than it just was.

Sometimes people ask, well, you seemed to deal with being Mormon and gay and married really well for a while didn't you? What changed? I can't say exactly. It's hard to explain. I think after enough years of having my interest piqued every time a gay themed story, or movie, or book, or even lesson in church came up, it gets to the point where you can't ignore it anymore. After enough years beating yourself up because you notice a good looking guy, or noticing how you don't check out the pretty girl down the hall, or in a movie, you can't help feeling different. You can't help but start to question your choices, and the path your life is on.

So what do you do about it? I think a lot of things. I think we all have to make our own decisions and live with our choices. A healthy way seems to be to say, I'm attracted to men. Awesome. And then move on. Or saying, I'm attracted to this guy, we like each other, I'd like to see where this goes. An unhealthy way seems to be to try and root it out, beat yourself up for it, seek for causes and roots, and reasons that are invalid. It's pretty disappointing when after years and years of believing a lie, you confront the reality of that.

I don't believe that everyone in a "Mixed orientation Marriage" should just get divorced. I don't even believe that everyone with "same-gender attraction" should resign themselves to celibacy to stay in the church or leaving the church to have a relationship with a same-sex partner. We're all different. Human relationships and human sexuality is so complex. At the same time, I don't believe that it's healthy to just ignore conflict, ignore the way it affects the sexual relationship and other aspects of a relationship. I think honesty before marriage and during marriage goes a long way. I don’t know if that’s enough, but it helps avoid a lot of heartbreak down the line. Being honest with yourself and others is one of the most important things. For me and my wife it wasn’t enough. I don’t have the answers for other people, I just know for myself what I’ve lived and been through.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

A Collective Case of the Willies

There's a far side comic, where a man after 20 years of cleaning the snake room in the zoo has "a collective case of the willies." It shows him shivering and freaking out, like it all just hit him at once how creepy it was.

If I find it online, I'll post it later. The point is, that's what happened to me with the church. I read about the experiences of others like Invictus Pilgrim who heard Boyd K. Packer's talk, how something finally snapped, something finally gave.

For me, it was when I watched the video of Steve Lee talking about his experience in the church. And finally I couldn't take it anymore. Something clicked.

I had a collective case of the willies, like it all just dawned on me what I'd been putting myself through. Finally it all hit me, all the insults, all the preaching at the pulpit or conversations about Prop 22 or Prop 8, all the conference talks I've read about same-gender attraction, the evergreen conference, the materials I read, reading the miracle of forgiveness.

And finally I realized, this is homophobia. This is heterosexism. This is predjudice and bigotry.

And I can't unsee it. I go to church and hear it preached every week in lessons, in talks. It isn't any one person's fault. I don't hate either the church or the people. This is my people, my family, my loved ones, my friends, the people I've given my life to serving and helping, my time, my talents, my money to.

And it saddens me in a way that I can't describe that I'm not welcome. Or that I'm only welcome conditionally. Is there room for me, is there a place in the kingdom for someone like me? There's supposed to be. For sinners, saints, for everyone. But I just don't see that. I see the way that even in the highest offices in the church homophobia is expressed and taught.

Does this mean the church isn't true? I don't know. It's similar to blacks and the priesthood. Racism was institutionalized by church practice and defended by church "Doctrine". Statements from Brigham Young onward excluded blacks from not just receiving the priesthood but exaltation. They were not allowed to marry in the temple, or receive their endowments. Inter-racial marriage was strongly discouraged and in fact, you couldn't be sealed if you were in an inter-racial marriage.

So if racism was part of the church, does it surprise you that homophobia is as well? By homophobia, I mean discrimination against lesbian, gays, bisexual, transgendered, questioning, asexual..anything outside of the norm.

I've tried for so long to just reconcile Mormonism and my sexual orientation. I've tried therapy, I've tried Evergreen, I've talked to countless bishops, I've tried prayer and fasting, I've tried blessings, I've tried strict obedience, I've tried marriage (which to be fair, was not taken as a therapeutic step). In one way or another, I've tried to fit myself in the heteronormative doctrine and culture of the church.

But I can't. It's wrong. It's just not true. If I could do it, I would have done it by now! And so would so many other people. So many people suffering, depressed, suicidal, all in the name of trying to be part of the kingdom of God.

It's wrong. It's just wrong. And for some reason, people are blind to it.

I don't know what I believe about the church anymore. I've been through so much with priesthood leaders, LDS therapists, and others in the church. And the argument could be made, yes, those were individuals, not the church. But individuals with the blessing, and the backing of church doctrine and practice. And individuals who misused their position of authority to tell me what I should do, to steer me down a path which has ultimately lead to depression, heartache, pain, sadness and loneliness.

In the end, I realize that I am responsible for choosing to listen to them. But I can see why I did. I was raised and to trust that bishops and other leaders spoke for God.

And while I think that leaders of the church have much to offer in guidance and counsel, perpetuating falsehoods and negative stereotypes is not something that they should be doing. If the church is true, then this is still wrong. This still has to be changed. This has to stop.

Homophobia is not unique to the LDS church. This is a much bigger issue cultural issue. But given the dynamics of change in the church, and the ingrained cultural biases that are so heteronormative, (how many young men's and women's lessons are on temple marriage, or talks in general conference, or single's ward talks/ lessons for that matter?), I suspect it will take decades for change to happen. It's rooted in the institution, the doctrine, the practices, the culture, and the people.

In the meantime, hopefully more members will be like my brother and his wife who do reach out with compassion and love and understanding and tell me they know it isn't right, they have a hard time with the churches stance and political activity as well. There is hope. It might just take the church wandering in the wilderness of intolerance for 40 years before we see the change.

I can't say what I should do in the meantime. Do I come out to my ward? Do I limit my participation? Do I stop attending all together? Do I write a letter in protest resigning from the church? Do I look for a new community of faith? I can't get away from the fact that my family and many friends are Mormon, and there's no running from prejudice and homophobia that exists outside the church as well. But when it's at my church, my sanctuary, my place of refuge, why would I continue to go? Because I do feel some connection with God when I go? Because even though so much doesn't ring true there are other things that do?

Gah. I don't know.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

More Questions

I watched this video recently. While I don't agree with everything he says, a lot of it rings true to me, it's what I've lived myself.

My whole life, I’ve been told that this is not how you were created to be. You are just defective. Wait til the resurrection to be fixed. The rhetoric of “unnatural” “abominable” has toned down since Kimball, but the doctrine remains the same; and the message over and over is you don’t fit. You don't have a place in the plan of salvation as we know it.

I look back at the history of homosexuality and the church. Why is it that as a church we justify any means, even psychologically damaging ones, to fit people into the doctrine, fit into the plan of salvation who don't fit? Why did BYU say we’re going to justify showing pictures of naked men, and then shocking your genitals until we cure this? Or alternatively, and more recently, we’re going to psychologically break you down and use unapproved therapeutic methods until we get to the root of the matter and fix it.

Why is it that myself and many other gay Mormons have felt depression, anxiety, guilt, suicidal even, over just existing? Just being. Just trying to live from one day to another.

Why is it that the person must change, and not the doctrine or the institution?Science suggests that sexual orientation is inborn and is unable to be changed. That it’s natural and normal genetic variation. What if they are right?

I think they are right. I didn't choose to be gay. I just am.

And while the church does acknowledge this possibility, to a degree, their response is well, live the best you can with this challenge, this struggle, this burden, this defect, and someday, in the next life, God will make it right.

I'm not defective, broken, less of a man, less of anything because I'm gay. It's part of who I am. God does love all his children. And he loves them as they are.

And while I know this, it's difficult to week after week, day after day go to church and hear in one form or another the opposite.

Some may say, if you feel that way, why don't you just leave? And others say, you can do this, you can be strong enough to stay in the church in spite of the turmoil.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Another late night

Another late night post. It could be worse, it's just after midnight.
I miss her terribly. To lose her has been devastating. I do ok with this game of denial, until I wake up and she's in my dreams, or I go to bed wishing she were here beside me.
Sometimes I dream that everything is back to how it was. And it feels wonderful. And then I wake up to reality, and I just sob.
I feel like my emotions are bleeding all over this blog page, and that's not really what I want. I just want to say that I do love her with all my heart. I wish she was back. I wish I knew how to make that happen.
But it feels like it's too late. She's told me as much. I'd given up hope, but I feel like I shouldn't give up hope totally.
I often get asked what I want. And not believing it's possible, I hedge around the question. But what I want is to be myself, but to be with her. I don't need to be with a man for that to happen.
I do want a boyfriend sometimes. I want someone to console me, help me forget her. And I could have it. But I don't want it as much as I want to be married to her. To have her back in my life and in my arms.
I think I just have to take it a day at a time. It isn't easy. I don't know if it ever gets better. I don't think I'll ever stop loving her. But I guess the sharpness of the pain will subside.
I've never been through something like this, where no matter what I do or how hard I try, it doesn't go away. It's there when I sleep, it's there when I wake up, it's there when I'm not even thinking about it. This terrible sadness and pain from losing the woman I love.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011


I recently read this post in the New York Times.

The desire to reconcile our religious faith with our same-sex attractions is difficult. We aren't the only ones with this desire or conflict. But being Mormon is a unique variation on a theme that the entire Christian world is struggling with.

I'd like to share a little bit about my experiences both with therapists and with "book therapy." I do not endorse reparative therapy, or the authors I'm mentioning, or feel the same way now as I did then, so please don't assume I do.

At 17, I realized that I might be gay. I wasn't as into girls as my friends, and I noticed I was aroused by good looking muscular boys, and that same feeling didn't really happen with girls.
I called one of my friends and told her I thought I was gay. I don't exactly remember what she said. But she told me not to worry about it so much.
As I was getting ready to apply to BYU, I set up an appointment with my Bishop.
I told my bishop, and he reacted better than I expected. He started telling me that research showed that these feelings were caused by a lot of things. He agreed not to tell my parents and he sent me to counseling.

My first experience was with LDS family services. I pulled up to a stake center across town, and someone from LDS social services told me that because of problems with the relationship with my Dad, I had same-gender attraction. He told me a story about how he had ADHD and passed his test to become a therapist anyway. I cried for a long time in the car after. I didn't want to go back to him, and the Bishop agreed to pay to have me see a different therapist.

She was nice. She was LDS and she wasn't pushy or anything, but we talked a lot about me believing I was gay. She talked to me about how in some cultures masculine physical affection was more acceptable, but in ours it wasn't. She believed I just was expressing a natural desire for affection but that I wasn't gay.

I remember reading on the internet, my source for all knowledge at the time, some people believed that homosexuality was caused by sexual abuse. I thought that I might have repressed memories, and my therapist did hypnotherapy with me to explore this. I didn't remember anything. I kind of latched onto this idea though, because it gave me a way for me to explain my same-sex attractions to people.

I confided in my counselor at school, as well as two of the teachers that I might be gay. They were all heterosexual, but they were very understanding and compassionate to my situation. They urged me to take some time to find out about myself, to consider not going to BYU. They worried about how that might interfere my journey of self discovery. One teacher told me to be open to being gay. He told me that his friends had been in a committed monogamous relationship for over 20 years. He gave me a book about a pastor in California that had tried for years to deny himself, but eventually left his marriage and fell in love with a man. Somewhere in this process, I started dating a boy from the musical and from choir. It was mostly a good friendship and it wasn't serious, but we spent a lot of time together. He held my hand. He put his arm around me.

After a couple months, I felt like I should tell my parents. I told my parents I was gay. All hell broke loose. Suddenly my parents, who had kind of left me alone to do my own thing were constantly talking to me or writing me letters about how I would die of AIDS if I lived a "gay lifestyle" about how I was rebelling against the Lord's plan for me. My parents flipped when they found out I had a boyfriend. I was pretty honest with them about how I felt. I felt that it wasn't wrong to hold hands. Why couldn't I just live the standards of the church that apply to boy/girl relationship, but apply them to me and my relationship? Because it became so difficult, I agreed to stop seeing him.

My Dad gave me a book by Nicolosi. A perusal of his books on Amazon includes such title's as A Parent's Guide to Preventing Homosexuality or Reparative Therapy for Men. I don't remember the title of the book I read, but the idea of the book was that exotic becomes erotic, that because of a deficiency in my male relationships I had eroticized men.

A short time later, one of my friends came home from Ricks College for the summer. I told him that I thought I was gay. We talked all night. We prayed together on his lawn, and because of him, I decided to one not leave the church and two to try and marry a woman/become straight. He told me to have hope that someday I would find love and to not give up.

I decided to see a male therapist, since I believed that I needed one to help me overcome my "deficiency." He was my friend's Stake President.I wasn't going in trying to do reparative therapy per se, but I was trying to have him help me to overcome the same-sex attraction. When I saw him, he had me read things about how the dynamics of the relationship with my parents created my homosexuality. He said I was too close to my Mom, and too distant from my dad, and this dynamic created same-sex attractions. He told me that just because I was aroused by men didn't mean I was gay. I should let myself feel free to have all the sexual feelings I want for women, that me feeling embarrassed about sex made it so I had fantasies about men and not women. At the end of our time, he told me that he as a therapist could only do so much, but that the atonement would heal me.

In September of that year, I went with my Dad to an Evergreen International Conference. I heard A. Dean Byrd rail against the APA from taking homosexuality out of the DSM-IV. I head stories about how people had been excommunicated and come back and been excommunicated again. I remember them talking about cruising and having sex in bathrooms and all kinds of things. It was a heartbreaking experience to hear what they'd been through. But a lot of them had overcome this and gotten married. This gave me hope.

I also remember them talking about playing baseball to help feel more masculine. At the end I remember there was a fireside, and at the fireside I met a boy named Jon. He was from Provo and his Mom was there, and she didn't want us talking. But he did anyway. I remember wishing I could get to know him better. My Dad and I left the conference with a bunch of books that my Dad bought me. One was a workbook for Men on how to overcome SSA. I was on my way to becoming straight, or at least "diminishing" my feelings of same-sex attraction.

(To be continued)

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Coming Back

It's 1:30 AM. I should be sleeping or working on a paper. I'm not particularly restless, but I feel the need to write.

I'm at the end of my first year Ph.d program. My wife and I filed for divorce two months ago. I told my wife right after Christmas that I was gay. It seemed like the right thing to do. That seems like a long time ago but it wasn't. So much has happened since then.

Sometimes I wish that I could take the last few months back and do them over. Because while I may be gay, that word may not mean what you think it means. It doesn't mean you made a mistake getting married. It doesn't mean you don't love your wife. It doesn't mean you'll be happier leaving your wife. It doesn't mean you need to be in a relationship with a man to be happy. And it doesn't mean you have to leave the church. It doesn't mean you have to have sex with men to be true to yourself. And it doesn't mean you have to come out and tell everyone about it.

If you choose to do any of those things, you may be happier. It may be what you need. But it doesn't have to be. Me,I did some of those things, but not all. I've never kissed a man. I've never had sex with anyone but my wife. I'm in love with her. I miss her now. I want to be with her and I want to kiss her and hold her. If that means I'm bi, that's fine. Maybe I'm just a gay man in love with his wife. And maybe it doesn't matter if I fit into a box or are doing things according to what other people think I should do.

Leaving my wife hasn't brought me happiness. That's not quite right. My wife leaving me hasn't brought me happiness. There was sort of a mutual leaving, and a mutual getting divorced, and a mutual giving up on the relationship.

I've learned a lot since then. And I've made a lot of mistakes. There are things I wish I'd known. I wish I had come to know myself and what I wanted before I got married. I don't regret marrying her, but I was immature and uncommitted. And the list could go on.

I blamed a lot of problems in my relationship on being gay. But maybe there are reasons we got into the relationship or good things precisely because I'm gay. It is only part of the picture. There are so many dimensions and aspects to a relationship. Don't let this define you or your relationship completely.

I guess all I want to stay is don't go running off and leaving your wife just yet. There will be people that will tell you that's the only way to be happy. You are living a lie. You aren't being true to yourself. Well going out and doing things that you've never done before with people you don't really know isn't being anymore true to yourself. You may not even want to do them, so don't feel pressure to. I didn't do them. But I almost did. That's another story.

I'm back in the church now. I never really left it but I did stop going for a few weeks. It's not easy. But it's brought me a lot of help in a time when I need it. I can neither renounce my faith, nor deny this part of myself. I think I have a long road ahead.

I often wish I had my wife and best friend by my side to help me. She's done a lot for me, and I haven't taken the time to thank her for it. I didn't think about her needs enough. I was selfish and self centered, and if I could go back I'd change that. I should have put her needs above my own. And now I'm going to. I've hurt our relationship by the things I said and the things I've done. I would change that too.

The point is, be true to yourself. Not to some ideal of what you think you should be or be doing as a gay man, or otherwise. And be true to God. And let the other things fall in place.

I'm an imperfect man, giving an imperfect message. But I hope the message will come across in spite of this.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011


So the question weighing on my mind is, am I bisexual?
This is a harder question to answer than you'd think. On the Kinsey scale, based on my behavior, I'm by definition bisexual. Whatever my attractions, identity, etc, that makes me bisexual.

I feel like the identity gay mostly fits, but these gay shoes I'm trying to grow into are a little uncomfortable. So why is this difficult? There's on the one hand the religious beliefs which prohibit exploration of the homosexual side of things, and and the Evergreen brainwashing which got me to try to diminish one side and increase the other. On the other hand, I enjoyed having sex with my wife and I found it fulfilling for years. I can't just disregard years of sexual experiences, years of data if you will, because now I'm being more "honest" and out.
I really do love my wife. We're separated but that feeling, that love, is real.
I wonder if this happens to anyone else.
Then the question on my mind is, if I'm bisexual, did I do the right thing?
Hard to know. Hard to fix now.
I guess my point is that rushing to identify as gay is not a magic pill. Coming out is not a sublime ecstasy. There are great things about it. There's nothing wrong with being gay. There's nothing wrong with the sexual attractions, feelings, love between two men and two women. But there's nothing wrong with being bisexual either. The truth is that all of us are on a spectrum and continuum of sexuality and sexual orientation.
Things aren't as cut and dry as they always seem.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Powerful Thoughts: "A gay Mormon's perspective"

My friend recommended this video to me. It's part of a video blog and there are a number of them on Youtube. I can relate to him a lot.

This is a powerful video. He talks about his Mormon friend that committed suicide. If you are gay and Mormon, you need to see this.

This really affected me. I've been going back and forth with the church, looking at it this way or that. I love the church, the gospel. I have my doubts and questions, but I could see myself participating at church in spite of those.

But at this point, I don't care if the church is true or not anymore. I don't care if they do a lot of good. I don't think I can be part of the church if it's causing me such misery. I've felt that, that desire to just die. It's what caused me to say, this isn't right. I'm not supposed to be living the gospel, married in the temple to a good woman, and feeling like I want my life to be over.

Then I accepted myself as gay. And while it's obviously been a difficult road, I've never felt that since. I've felt sadness and pain at getting divorced, frustrated with family, but also peace with myself. I've felt hope for the future. My faith in God and his plan for me has strengthened.

Luckily in my case, it never became as serious as Clark's friend. I've never personally been at the point where I planned or attempted suicide but I do know gay Mormons who have. This is something I've been thinking about ever since I read Rob's recent post.I don't hate the church. But how many more Mormon youth, and some even older have to commit suicide before things change? How many more families have to fall apart before the church stops recommending or pressuring gay people to get married? I do not mean to say that everyone should up and get divorced. Quite the opposite. I respect that decision to stay married, and even to get married under certain conditions. But I do believe we need to look at how much pressure there is and allow some room for people, LGBT and otherwise, that shouldn't have to feel like to be part of the kingdom of God they have to deny their existence or human dignity.

Not only should we not recommend marriage as a fix or cure as President Hinckley said, we shouldn't suggest that people need to be fixed or cured at all. The church isn't there yet.

And until that changes, I think I'm going to have to sit out for a while. As much as people say otherwise, there is no place for me within Mormon doctrine, at least as currently revealed. More importantly, there's no room for me in church practice and procedure. To the LDS church, I'm an aberration. I don't fit into the paradigm being taught. I hold out hope that I exist somewhere in that "we believe God will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the kingdom of God."

I think for my own survival and happiness it may be the best decision to be Mormon, but not be in the church. At least for the time being.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Response to (Gay) Mormon Guy

Gay Mormon guy apparently chose not to publish my comment to this post. I want to say I think he is doing something admirable, helping members of the church change their predjudices about homosexuality. Still, I feel the right to publish my own comment, so I'll go ahead and write about it here. My comment is as follows:

This is something I’ve been thinking about for awhile now. I’m like you, a gay Mormon guy. As of recently, I’m a divorced gay Mormon guy. So where does that leave me in the kingdom of God?
I get frustrated when I talk with family members and they tell me that I should pray to God to “overcome my Same-sex attraction.” I know in my heart they are wrong. It can’t be overcome. I’m going to feel these feelings and attractions the rest of my life. It’s…natural. And we don’t ask people with “opposite-sex attraction” to overcome or pray away their feelings of attraction for the opposite sex. We tell them to wait until marriage. We tell them to “bridle their passions.” It should be the same with people who are gay.
The more I research and talk to people in the LGBT community, the more I realize how natural it all is. They love each other. They have fulfilling relationships. They in some cases have great families.
The more I experience, I realize that being in a relationship with someone of the same-sex is completely natural. For a long time, I used this as a sort of justification for saying that the church can’t be true, the church is wrong. I think a lot of people feel my frustration. People tell you that just being you is wrong, when it isn’t. Luckily, Elder Holland seems to understand.
But the issue isn’t whether or not it is natural. If you are a believing latter-day saint, you believe in the law of chastity. If you take a step back, it’s perfectly natural for a man and a woman to have sex. It’s maybe the most natural thing that there is. That doesn’t mean that it is allowed under the laws of God or the church. You still have to be married even if it’s natural.
Do people who aren’t married love each other? Absolutely. Do they sometimes have kids and are they good parents. Yes!
Should we condemn and hate people that don’t follow the law of chastity? Of course not! That goes for gay or straight people. We are supposed to welcome people and teach them the gospel.
I respect your decision, but let me tell you, I don’t think I can make it. I’m struggling with it. Because if all I was giving up was having sex, that’s one thing.
But I’m not allowed under the church to be married to the person I can love and be in a fulfilling relationship with. This would take much longer to explain than I possibly could in a few lines, but I was physically and psychologically incapable of giving my wife the love she deserves. I was married for three years before I finally came to that realization. It was/is hard.
And so my dream in life is to have a family. It’s to find someone I love and who loves me back. This is not an unrighteous desire! I believe that God wants me to be happy. And though this isn’t unique to gays and lesbians, to tell me that I can never have a family, I can never have the love and companionship of a spouse, to tell me that I can never have the happiness I want, doesn't feel right. Unlike my lovely heterosexual brothers and sisters, I can’t choose to obey the law of chastity by getting married. I can’t work towards being married. So while in essence the law of chastity is the same as heterosexuals who never marry, in my case there isn’t even the possibility. I can only choose to obey it by being celibate.
I don’t know how to make that choice.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Hello again Blogosphere

Well, I'm back. I'm now living on my own, my ex has moved back home to Colorado, and life is to put it mildly, pretty different.
I'm starting to like it. I've been reconnecting with old friends, and making new ones. I'm getting more of my work done for school. It's good.
I am starting to feel at peace with being divorced. It's a hard thing to go through. I don't wish it on anyone. But as they say, it gets better.
I'm more and more at peace with being gay. I've come out to most of my siblings (there are 8) as well as to more and more friends.
The trickiest part for me right now is the church. When I talk with my family about the church,about my doubts, my fears, and concerns I usually end up frustrated. One brother told me that if I read the Book of Mormon everyday, I wouldn't struggle with my same-sex attraction. My cousin told me that I shouldn't believe that lie of Satan that I can't change. My Grandpa told me that God made me to be a husband and Father.
And yeah. It hurt. I should forgive them. They care about me. But I also need to tell them when they are wrong, when they've crossed the line. And I have been. But I haven't resolved things really. Not yet at least.
My Mom keeps pleading with me to go to Church. And maybe I should. I didn't magically change from one person to another when I decided to come out. I'm still pretty Mormon, even as I doubt and question. I believe that is part of maturing, part of having faith. They don't seem to understand.
On the other hand, I have tremendous respect for my brother and his wife, who really do understand. I also respect my ex, and her family. They have always treated me with great respect. You can be in the church, and not treat other people how my family is treating me. I can't blame the Mormon church for the way they've acted, when there are so many many great people in the church.
I probably don't have it that bad. There are plenty of people in worse situations with their family than I am.
But it's still hard.
I'm not bitter at the church. I just don't really know my place anymore. I don't know why I would choose to go to a singles ward, if, following the rules, I wouldn't be dating and getting married. I don't know why I would go to a family ward, to be constantly reminded of the family I can't have, at least if I'm living according to the rules of the church.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Speaking Out

I was taking a break from the blogging scene. There's, to put it mildly, a lot of stuff going on. But first of all I wanted to update everyone on where things are now. And after reading the comments on a friend's blog, I can't hold back.

First about me.

These last few weeks have been very difficult. On our 3 year wedding anniversary, my wife and I made the decision to get divorced. We told our parents and siblings.
Making this decision has been the hardest thing in my life that I have ever done. You can say I am being true to myself. You can say that it will get better. I actually believe all of that. But nothing changes the fact that I am giving up a bond of safety and security and love that has sustained me and guided me for years. Nothing changes the fact that I feel something for her that I have never felt before for any human being.

I filed for divorce yesterday. It was strange no lies. She is gone, moved to another state, and I miss her terribly. But, I feel peace with this decision in spite of the sadness and pain. And she does too.

I got a new apartment. I move on Monday. Also, I started coming out to more and more friends at school. They have been very supportive. And while I'm sure no one can fully understand what this is like, but it helps to have people around me that love and support me.

Enough about the updates. In response to the blog comments about sacrificing your same sex attraction on the altar, I cannot remain silent.

I think of this as my Mt. Moriah. This is my test. To actually give to God the one thing that I am most afraid of in the world of losing, my wife. This is a sacrifice that shows my devotion to him. To show that I am in obedience with his will, to give up the safety and security of my marriage so that she can have the life that she deserves. It's almost too personal to speak about but I'm going to share because of the comments I read and the others out there who can't or won't understand.

Let me say this clearly, it is not God's will that I or any other gay man be forced into a relationship with a woman simply to obey his commandments. If God wanted me to be married, he would make it possible for me to be married. I thought he had, but I was mistaken. Being married in the temple is not enough. Simply "enduring to the end" isn't good enough. We're commanded to have an eternal marriage. It has to be "sealed by the holy spirit of promise." By the very words of the leaders of the lds church, you will read that you have to actually give yourself fully to the other person. This isn't some half baked ideal, you have to really love the person, and love them with all your heart and to "cleave unto your wife and unto none else."

I can't. It's not for lack of trying. I cannot be in a relationship with my wife that is eternal. I tried. I tried that sacrifice you are talking of airman, and it was a sacrifice that God didn't ask me to make. It brought me at times close to the brink of death because I thought that I had somehow failed God, that somehow I had not been faithful enough to "overcome" or "Deal with" my "Same-sex attraction."

And it frustrated me. Why wouldn't God change me or why hadn't he changed me like I thought he had? Wasn't I supposed to believe in miracles?

I do. But the miracle was not to change my sexual orientation. It was to find God through this.

"Same-sex attraction" isn't something you just deal with. I am gay. I am homosexually oriented. I didn't choose it, but I'm choosing to live in accordance with it. And I'll be damned if I waste another moment of my life trying to change something that God never intended me to try to change. Evergreen and others in the church lied to me.

I totally and completely understand anyone that doesn't make this choice. It is the hardest thing I will ever do and it has been soul wrenching and agonizing.

In regards to Abraham there are differences. There will be no angel, no ram waiting to take the place of Isaac at the altar. I place her on the altar of God as an ultimate act of faith and devotion. I trust that God has something in store for me. I love him and trust him.

I'll also admit I'm no Abraham. There are somewhat selfish reasons for this choice. I expect a reward. But even if I don't get it, this is the right decision. Even if I never find the love and happiness that I hope to find with a man, this is still the right decision to make for her. I've seen my wife's tears, and she has cried only a handful of times since I've know her. They were tears because she thought that she was doing something wrong. That my lack of intimacy, my lack of desire for sex was somehow her fault. It isn't fair of me to ask her to put herself through that again. Not for temple covenants, not for the wishes of my family, not because of my selfish desire to keep my best friend by my side. To others my advice is, don't put a woman through this. If you are going to be married to her, be married to her. God bless you if you do and make your experience less painful than my own. But don't willingly and with full knowledge make a wrong decision because someone out there like Evergreen promised you that "it would all work out." Don't live life without questioning deeply the things that matter most.

On another note, I'm not sure if I'm going to continue blogging, or at least on this blog. I'm no longer married. I don't even know how Mormon I am anymore. And I'm certainly not crazy. But I'll keep you posted. I appreciate everyone who has helped me in one way or another through this difficult journey. It isn't over. I'm turning a new leaf. Starting a new life. It's scary at times, disorienting, but I know that God will not abandon me as I move forward with faith.

Feel free to e-mail me though if you have questions or comments. I'd love to talk to any of you, and help you in whatever way I can as you navigate this difficult journey.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Reflections (ramblings) on a Wednesday Morning 8:00 AM

I'm in the middle of finals week. I need to write my papers. I probably couldn't have picked a worse time to do this. But I need a minute to reflect.
So much has happened in so little time. I'm starting the process of coming out. It's slow, but I'm telling a few people here and there, I'll write more about that later.
*Warning.* This next section gets pretty personal. (Some of this is rambling, so much like the last post, take it for what it's worth)
As far as my marriage goes, I have so many different feelings. Here is how things have been lately. As you can see from my last post, things have been pretty up and down. My wife and I fight (not even that bad or anything) but things are tense. We talk about it, understand each other better, and make up. But then as part of that, I think "alright, I feel like I trust my wife, I can be open with her, and I'm horny, we should have sex." And then it's just all wrong. I'm fake in my affection. I can't "make" myself do what needs to be done to initiate sex. So I don't. But then I walk away frustrated.
Sure we've been having sex all along. But she always began it. I thought I was straight (or had been made straight, mostly). That made it a lot easier.
So I decided(and she agreed) that at least for now we just wouldn't have sex anymore.
And I feel great. It takes a lot of pressure off.
At the same time, I wonder, "why am I still married then?"
I think that was the last straw for my wife. Not in a bad way. She didn't flip out or anything, but she did tell her parents. And this last weekend (before our agreement but after I first brought up divorce), she told my Mom, who then told my Dad, which initiated all kinds of drama.
Her parents are luckily, not crazy. My parents are really interesting, but that's a long story. I love them, don't get me wrong. But they are pretty crazy.
Her parents apparently still think I'm a nice guy. They're not angry with me. They think that ya, maybe we should get divorced.
So my wife and I talked openly about it. It felt good. When I wasn't talking about it, I'd just get home and be sad, and down. Getting it out in the open feels a lot better. We even started talking about who gets what. She of course gets the cat. I get the wii. I could go on, but it's something that both of us are seriously considering.
And it's confusing. It makes me see how amazing my wife is. I'm grateful she's who she is. If I could be married to any woman, I don't see how I could have picked much better. I start thinking that, and then I'm tempted to start the cycle again...
But I won't. At least not how I have been. I mean if all this lead to a sort of reconciliation, I think I could be happy with that. But I fundamentally believe it's not going to work out. If I'm wrong, I'm sure I'll figure that out. But I can't let fear of being wrong keep me from starting down this road, as painful as it is as times.
I think I'm learning. I think it's hard. I never wanted to be a person who got a divorce.But I don't have kids. There's a lot of reasons that making this decision now is a lot easier than making it down the line.
Even still, I'm not rushing to do it. I mean, I really genuinely enjoy being with my wife. I don't enjoy not being able to explore things about myself freely, but then I kind of think my wife is giving me that in a way.
I don't like feeling like I'm being false with people. Can I get over that? Maybe. But it's sort of conflicting (as you all know) being married and being gay. Some of you are fantastic at negotiating the pitfalls and hazards of that. I don't feel like I am so good at it.
There's a lot that enters into all of this!
We'll see. I'll keep you posted.
Don't get me wrong. There's some sadness. There's some regret in there of things I could and should have done better. I realize though I'm sort of already in the moving on stage. That I've already started grieving a loss. Which is weird, because I haven't lost it yet!
Mostly what I feel though is relief. I feel happy that I can accept myself, that I can embrace who I am and start to live my life again. That's something I wouldn't trade for anything.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Unanswered questions

So two nights ago I told my wife that I think we should get a divorce. I didn't really plan on it, but I was just so down that night, and when she asked me what was wrong, it was time to spill it. My wife just kind of calmly listened, and then I went to bed.
I woke up pretty shaken. The next day things were a bit tense as we started to try to make plans, even in the little things. But when we got in the car to head up to see my parents (planned trip) we started talking more about it. Much different than the night before, we actually started communicating openly.
I started to (and rightly so) question some of the assumptions on which I made my decision. There's no reason for me to rush into it.
I don't think I have time to get into all the details of that (it was a 4 hour car ride) but what it comes down to is, do the problems in our marriage come because I'm gay or because I haven't put enough into our marriage? Is my lack of commitment a result of a lack of commitment or an inability to be committed because of my sexual orientation?
And here's where it gets dicey. I think it's both. I think there are some things I can change, and while I'm not able to "change" my sexual orientation (or willing to go through conversion therapy which (I've been there before, it doesn't work), there are a lot of other things I am willing to change.
But then, and maybe you can relate, but if not, that's alright. For me I have a hard time knowing that it might not work out, knowing about the trouble of the road, not knowing if and when we'd have kids if we stay married. It's hard for me to commit not knowing it will work. But then again, isnt' faith something like that?
Lately, I've been learning to embrace ambiguity. In some ways, the black and white, cut and dry world view was great. I appreciated Scrum central's post on Fowlers stages of faith (I should probably get that book). But embracing the uncertainty is so much more rich. I think I want to make this, my marriage, my sexual orientation, cut and dry. It just isn't. It's not as simple as saying, "you're gay, get divorced." There's so much more intricacy and complexity to it, which is exciting and terrifying. I think though that I've tried to make it cut and dry, and now I'm in the process of undoing that.

We didn't exactly resolve anything, but I'd say I backed down from my "we need to get divorced" position. Where I'm at now is a list of unanswered questions.
At the same time it's so frustrating to be reminded constantly in every day things, holding hands, etc. that I don't have feelings for my wife. Or at the least that they changed, or aren't as strong, or whatever. I guess the unanswered question is, they were there, weren't they? It's not possible that it was just part of pretending to be a straight person of trying to conform. I'm pretty sure that I couldn't have done or felt the way I did it it was all an act. I guess what I'm saying is that maybe the "false persona" I created maybe wasn't so all the way false after all.
It kind of feels sometimes like there's two parts of me, duking it out. Sometimes I listen a lot more to one, and sometimes the other. I think it comes from me shoving a way part of myself, out of fear of being "found out" or because of guilt and shame. I think trying to squash it, it came back with a vengeance.
But was everything about my old self a lie? I doubt it. There's no need, as bravone said to "throw out the baby with the bathwater."
Is it any better to quash that part of me, only to have it come back with a vengeance so to speak later?
It makes for what my wife calls "A roller coaster." I think others have felt that. I think I'm ok with that, but my wife has told me that even though she loves me, that she won't just be there for me to treat however I want. I can't expect her (nor do I want her) to put up with that.
I originally decided to get a divorce in part because I just couldn't take the lack of decision anymore. But now I feel a peace in the uncertainty, in the not knowing, in taking this journey even without knowing.
My favorite hymn is "Lead Kindly Light." I especially like the line
Keep thou my feet, I do not ask to see.
The distant scene, one step enough for me.

I do now know exactly where things will head. I do not that things, whichever way the go, will get better. Sometimes it feels like I have to walk this "lonesome road, all by myself (James Taylor song, fyi)" I actually know though that I'm not alone. That means a lot to me. I think I can't but take the road a step at a time, and see where I go. It's going to be quite the journey.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Tough Questions, No Easy Answers

Things are especially difficult right now. Both my wife and I have been asking some tough questions, like, why would you want to be married if you don't feel for me the same thing that I feel for you. (Among other impossible questions) It's been painful. I don't think I shouldn't have been honest with her, but it doesn't make it any easier when I hurt her. When things are insecure.
Things are sort of past that impossible point where I feared that what I said would effectively end our marriage.
And maybe that's what's going on. I don't know. Everything is so new, so present, that I don't know what to make of it.
But it's lead me to lose a lot of sleep. I've basically come to a rational conclusion as to why I should divorce my wife. I can justify it to myself and even she sees why I would make that choice. But my wife has basically come to the conclusion that she loves me, and so she can't divorce me.
That puts me in a really difficult spot.
Do I feel some sort of peace coming to this point? Not really. Staring divorce in the mouth doesn't feel good. It's mostly just brought pain and sadness.
Last night if I'd chose to, it would have been over. After being at that point (this was just over 24 hours ago) I'd say that a lot of complicated things have happened. I don't know how to describe them. Some of them are accepting that this might be the best path, others are trying to hold onto my wife, to make it better, to hope it can work.
My wife and others ask me, "well what do you want?" That's a hard question in and of itself, because I think I want different things. I want to hold onto the relationship I have with my wife, which is if troubled, full of good things. Another part of me wants so badly what's missing in my relationship with my wife, what's become painfully obvious.
Thank you for your friendship, your love, and your support. It means a lot to me. This isn't easy. I don't have an answer to anyone in a similar situation,
but I admire the faith and love you put into living your lives, whatever path you choose.

Monday, February 21, 2011

After honesty

If I wasn't clear enough in my earlier posts, let me say it now.
This last week has been in many ways a living hell.
But, that’s not the whole story.
So Valentine's day was not at all what I expected. What began with a religious discussion turned into a talk about gay marriage and then, bombshell, our marriage.
It was like having the rug pulled out from under you, or the glass house you've built shattered, or whatever analogy best communicates the idea that all my perceptions of how and what I thought our marriage were were shattered.
My wife has been suffering, feeling alone. Hearing things like, "I knew if things didn't change we were heading for divorce." Yikes. But it means she feels things can change.
The other night round two of brutal honesty occurred. There was a moment when I thought, "This is impossible. There's no hope."Maybe others have better luck, but 3 am conversations about how our marriage is doing are probably not the best idea. That being said, there came a point when I think we sort of came to a truce or an understanding.
And things have been better since that. The next day was fabulous. I took my wife out, things were good. I think in a way it was own little miracle, God's gift to me to tell me to not give up hope.
So then what? Does that last? in a way yes. I feel so much more peace about everything, even though the problems in my marriage haven't gone away.
But then in a way no. Things come up. Life happens. Problems still there. Eventually we have to face them and own up to them, because my reactions and ways of dealing with them before are all still there. Unlearning that is hard.
I just hope we can do it with a lot more calmness than sort of the head plunging go all outness terror that's been happening the last two weeks. My honesty post probably didn't do that justice, but that's how it feels.
But then I come back to that calm reassurance I felt. Part of the calm was realizing that I didn't have to solve my problems immediately. That it's ok if it takes a long time to deal with them.
I even realized that they may never go away. But working towards resolving them, or learning how to best deal with them, that's the goal of a lifetime.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Why did I get married? Part 3 (and why I'm still married)

Then I pull out the evergreen manual, something I’d stuffed away in a corner for years. I’m afraid to talk to a therapist cause. who knows what they’d say! I try to do some serious emergency self reparative therapy. I’m staying up crying at night for reasons I don’t really understand. Months go by.
I start to realize something is really wrong. I’m getting more and more depressed, and feeling more and more alone. So now what do I do? I start for the first time in years to reach out, writing something on a forum. Then I talk to my wife, tell her that I'm still attracted to her, but I'm really attracted to men. It hasn't gone away in all this time. I don't know what to do. She says, "well what would you do if we weren't married"..."Probably live a lonely celibate life." That doesn't seem like a good option to either of us. We move on.
She tells me it’s ok, just that I better not cheat on her.
I decide to go finally to meet with a counselor. I find myself talking, and talking, and talking about how I really feel. I start to read more and more on blogs and forums, trying to figure out how other people feel and how they deal with this. I start to look back over all the years.
And I realize, I'm gay. I’ve been gay. It didn’t just change one day. And it's not going to change.
I had been lied to. And worst of all I had lied to myself.
At first it’s overwhelming, trying to figure out what that actually means for my life (I’m still in that process). And then I feel the greatest relief I’ve felt in years. All that depression, all that wondering if it would be better for everyone if I were dead, it’s gone.
So here I am. I can't really go back to the innocence of not knowing. I can't (yet) get over feeling angry at all the people who told me that I could get married, and it would work out.
Others told me that just cause I was aroused by men didn't mean I was gay, I was just a teenager. That my sexual desires were just trying to fulfill unmet emotional needs, or to complete a missing dynamic from my relationship with my parents (Sources: evergreen books, parents, and LDS therapists). I was lied to by all the people that "Change is possible."
Then on top of that there was all the pressure at BYU to get married, all the failed dates and relationships. All the frustration.
Is any of that my wife’s fault? Absolutely not.

But the reason I got married? I love her. I feel that despite all the lies I’ve been told and all the delusion I’ve lived under. And I want to be loved by someone, I want to talk to someone about the things in my soul, someone to laugh with, to cry with. Someone to be with me when times are hard. She’s all that and more to me.
It’s still confusing though.
We've talked very openly about this. She doesn't want to divorce me. She really loves me. And I love her, but I don't know how to resolve this.
I don't understand it all. I don't know what I should do about it all. But here I am. And I feel like some of you out there can totally understand what I'm going through. That gives me hope, reading your stories, knowing I'm not alone. Can I do this? Am I crazy? I think so sometimes. But then I also feel such a deep love, such a deep desire to hold onto my best friend. You can see why someone doesn't just give that up.
But? And it’s that “but” that’s keeping me up at night, writing this blog.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Why did I get married? Part 2 (and how it happened)

Then I met the woman who would be my wife. I didn't know then. I think it's harder for us to know maybe. But we spent all this time together, I really enjoyed being with her. And I knew she wanted it to go further. I didn't want to lose her, so we started dating (October).
Then I knew she expected me to kiss her. I made all kinds of excuses as to why I wasn't, but then it happened. After a week!I couldn't believe it. (I was also on pain meds, but again, that’s another story) And, it felt good! Here I was, oh boy! I'm a real boy!
Then I wasn't exactly jumping at kissing her more, longer or more often. After all, I was a good Mormon boy. That must be why I wasn’t trying to make out. But it happened. And you know, it was nice. Awkward at times, but nice.
Then we break up. I tell her it's for another girl, that it's because "she's not spiritual enough." I start to talk to another girl over the internet that I'd met in Mexico and we start making plans to get married. It's going to be a perfectly righteous wholesome marriage. (December)
Then I am about to fly to see her, but my “ex” is still in my ward. I think more about it and I decide I'm not going to fly to go see this other girl, that's a bad idea. I'm going to start dating my “ex” again. I apologize. I tell her I was a jerk I was). She forgives me (February).
We date, we talk about marriage. I meet her parents she meets mine. I ask her Dad if we can get married (it's May). I pray to ask, ok, now can I get married? The answer, "no." It dawns on me that maybe I haven't dealt with "my SSA".
Then I tell her I'm "attracted to men." It’s August. I expect to break up. She says, it doesn't matter. We can still get married. She's committed to me, am I going to commit to her? (August)
Then I move away unexpectedly, but we're still dating.
Then I start to “struggle.” I’m looking at guys, underwear models, all sorts of guys. I start to play video games a lot to distract myself. I think "it's just because I miss her." I write her a letter and she comes to visit. It’s November. And I propose.
She moves to California nearby. We see each other every day. I’m getting more and more used to physical intimacy (although it still sort of terrifies me). And overall, I’m excited to get married. This is what I’ve always wanted.
One day my fiancĂ©e asks me a question about what kind of lingerie I want, what my fantasies are. “I don’t know really.” I’m a little dumbfounded, what do I say? But we move on.
I get married in the temple. I go on my honeymoon. We have move into our new apartment. I'm having sex. It’s just like they said, I think. I’ve changed.
Years go by. I can pretend to be normal pretty well. I'm addicted to video games, and yes I sleep on the couch sometimes, and no I don’t go to bed at the same time as my wife. And yes, I’m always confused about sex. I'm not usually the one that initiates sex, I'm not thinking about it all day, but hey it's happening. But nothing’s wrong, I say. When I go to the gym, to the BYU pool, when I pass the underwear section in the store, I stare a little too long. But nothing's wrong, I think.
When I really start to get pulled to thinking about men at night. I think, "I’m not having sex as often anymore…. I’m just sexually frustrated." She goes away on trips and I think “wow this is hard.” I am looking at guys on the internet, “testing” myself to see how well I’ve overcome my SSA. But I think, it’s ok..I can just get over it.
It’s getting harder and harder to just ignore my attraction to men. Then more time goes by, sex is starting to feel different. These feelings don’t go away. I dream of men at night. I start to realize I’ve never fantasized in daydreams and rarely (if ever) in nightdreams about a woman.
And then it dawned on me. I don’t find other women attractive. I don’t think about other women. I don't often even think about my wife. I fantasize about men.
This wasn't a sudden thing. There were signs all along. When I watched the movie "Inn and Out" and thought, crap! I'm gay! But then after being with my wife I think, ya I guess I’m being ridiculous. After all, I’m married right?

Why did I get married? Part 1

After reading a lot of blogs, doing a lot of thinking. I have been trying to figure out, why did I get married?
The beginning of the answer is that's what a good Mormon boy would do. It's what my parents wanted for me, my bishops, all the wards and stake activities I went to told me I needed to do. All the priesthood leaders I talked to. The church tells us that marriage shouldn't be a therapeutic step, but that if attractions can be overcome then marriage is possible. Ok.
So I knew at 17 I was gay. That’s another story. When I turned 18, I went to my first evergreen conference with my Dad. (telling my parents, another story). I heard the testimonials that "change is possible." And men talk about how they went from having sex in bathrooms and getting excommunicated to meeting wonderful women and getting married. They talked about being open with their spouses and everything working out great. The wedding night, they were terrified of, but it was easier than they thought. Sounded like I didn’t wanna be gay. I got some books and went on my way.
Then I went to Byu-Idaho, and got set into missionary mindset. I found a friend to talk about my struggles. I thought, you know, if I work hard, if I dedicate my life to God, maybe he'll bless me with that miracle of a family. This is all I want in the world, to have a family of my own. I took a "The family: A proclamation to the world" class (I was the only guy)and was indoctrinated of the importance of protecting the family and how the family was under attack. I went on a mission, told my president "I struggle with SSA" and he told me God would help me and that someday I would stand up to those people who "have it all wrong”. Most important, someday I would have a family.
I came home from my mission and went to BYU. I taught at the MTC. I was an executive secretary in my student ward. I start dating a girl(I met at an evergreen conference, that’s a whole nother interesting story). We break up but stay friends.
I was the good little Mormon boy. Somewhere in this process I believed, I believed that maybe I had changed. I don't know exactly why I thought this. It wasn't as if I was spontaneously attracted to women, but I would say I was getting good at ignoring my attraction to men, repressing it and moving on. And one day I thought. Here it is! I have this under control. I’ve “overcome” this. I should get married!

Friday, February 4, 2011

It's ok to be gay

This isn't "my story" by any means, I'm working up to that.
But I want to say that it's ok to be gay. It's taken me a long time to realize this. For years and years I would freak out when I thought a guy was cute, or feeling attractions, but you know what? There's no reason to freak out about it. There's no reason to feel like you need to repress feelings, feelings are feelings. I feel so much better after I've come to admit this to myself, and tell others about it. I am by no means "out", but as I talk to family my wife, and others I can trust about what I've come to understand being gay, I feel a lot of freedom. No one has rejected me, I've felt a lot of love. Not that there aren't misunderstandings, but I've never felt closer to the people I love.
I guess the reason for this post is that for years I tried to change these feelings, frustrated when I kept being unable to do it. But when I was 17, in the midst of a lot of inner turmoil (more on that later), I remember praying. I prayed to God to ask what I should do. And the message? It's ok. I thought, how could this be ok? What does it mean, "it's ok?" I've been searching for that answer for years. Now 10 years later, after trying to fight it, I realize that all along God was trying to get me to stop freaking out, to stop worrying so much about something that was outside of my control.
Those 10 years were extremely painful.It's been a private hell trying to somehow solve this problem. I blamed my parents, I blamed God, myself, that I had done something to become gay.... but that's not why I'm attracted to men. And really I'm ok with not knowing. I read all kinds of things, that I just needed to conform to gender norms better (I am actually quite fine with the fact that I'm a man), that if I felt closer to my Dad, that if I just worked through this hard enough my feelings and attractions would eventually change.
They didn't. And now I realize, it's alright. It's ok for me to be gay. This is part of who I am, and I'm ok with that. I used to stay up late at night crying, wondering why God wouldn't just take this away. But now once again, I know that it's ok.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

On Being Mormon and Gay: A Manifesto

This is my first attempt to blog about being gay and Mormon.

As I think about the repression and delusion I’ve lived under, I realize I can no longer contain it. I’m gay (or as my euphemistic friends like to say, SSA).

Having said this, it is actually Elder Holland himself that has helped me both to realize and understand more about my situation. I tried for years, both with a counselor, and with a self workbook for men to undergo “reparative therapy” or change therapy to change my sexual orientation from one to another. While I've come to understand that sexuality is a continuum, where few are 100% percent homosexual or 100% heterosexual, I don't think that the changes proposed by these programs are possible.

You might ask, but why identify yourself as gay? When we speak of being gay, it's in partly an identity, partly a way to speak of desires, and partly a behavior. It means different things to different people. My reasons listed aren't the reasons for everyone. But when I and many of my “moho” colleagues out there are speaking of being gay or SSA 1) it helps to understand the sexual attraction to our own sex and 2)the experience of derision, hate, prejudice at the hands of our friends, neighbors, and family. What I think happens, is that most of us fail to distinguish between identity, orientation, and behavior. I admit, I myself tend to think like this. Some of us identify as gay but don't "act" gay. Some of us don't want to act that way, but we are attracted to our same gender. Many of these people identify as "same-sex attracted" "SSA" or "SGA" "Same-gender attracted". There are some of us who like the term "moho" and others who don't. Some prefer queer. There are lots of names we use to identify ourselves. The all encompassing LGBT-Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender (And now LGBTQ -Questioning) is one that is inclusive of all of the non "straight" or non heterosexual community.

What bothers me is that people assume they know how I act based on saying that I'm gay. This is I think, one reasons why I sometimes avoid saying I'm gay. The truth is, some us have never had sex with a man. And some of us never will. I think all of us understand why there are members of our community that do, why they have desires, just like you understand why people have heterosexual sex -even outside of marriage. There are many of us that feel that there is no other choice, since we aren't, in most cases, given the right to marry.

So what does this mean? It means that we can’t change our attractions and feelings although I do agree we can change our behaviors. Even if the development of homosexual feelings is in some part psychosocial, so is the development of your heterosexual attractions. There are biological and social reasons for your attraction, so entering into a tirade about being “born that way” or not, is for the most part irrelevant. There’s no magic pill, no easy fix. Many of us have spent our whole lives wishing, praying, fasting, being at times unusually devout at times. We go to great lengths, even and often unhealthy ones, just so God will make us straight. There’s been no lack of effort or desire on my part to be straight.

But many of us, after years of painful agony, depression, and sometimes even thoughts of suicide have embraced our homosexuality. We realize that since we can’t change, we won’t. Since it’s both psychologically destructive and impossible to accomplish, we accept ourselves and our feelings, trying the best we can to reconcile the contradictions that exist (or seem to exist) between being a Mormon and being gay. We need your help, not your hate. We need you to lift us up, to welcome us in your arms and to help us feel part of a church which emphasizes time and time again the importance of living a chaste, heterosexual, and family centered life.

All of you have stereotypes of who and what we are. But we don’t fit them all, or even most of them. We are a diverse community, with lots of room for growth and lots of desire to be part of the kingdom and fold of God. I hope you’ll welcome us.