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.


  1. I'm really interested in your perspective and I'm glad you are starting to blog. I think that each of our journeys is going to be different, and that is okay. You're right that sexuality is much more complex than simply gay and straight. In my experience though, being "gay" isn't just about sexual desires being mixed up with identity and behavior. Being gay was part of my identity long before I ever accepted that I was sexually attracted to other guys. It shaped who I was. Looking back on my life, I can see how that was part of me even before I was aware of sex at all. Perhaps that wasn't your own experience. It also dictated certain behaviors (that were non-sexual) but definitely more feminine. That was before I could even distinguish between what boy things were vs what girl things were. They way I felt around boys and girls was different, even though at the time I didn't know what it meant.

    So I agree that we can choose our behavior. I know that if I stick my hand in fire it will burn, but I can still certainly choose to do it. But if it is an action that goes against everything you know and feel and all your experiences, why should you do it?

    When I claim "gay" as a title, it means far more that simply my sexual preference or a group that I can lump myself into. And although being "gay" doesn't define me, it is an important part of who I am. It is tangled up in my emotions, my happiness, and even my spirituality.

    Please don't misunderstand me. I do not claim that this is everyone's experience. I do not claim that my way is the right way for everyone or that what it means to me to be gay is the same for everyone. But I just felt I should comment because I do not feel I fit into your description of why I identify myself as gay. I'm sure there are many who do.

    I guess I try and be careful not to make broad statements... because you never know who is reading. I can share how I feel and my own experiences, but I cannot claim to know another person's thoughts and feelings the way I can my own.

    I really do look forward to hearing about your experiences and thoughts and the honest feelings of your heart. I am so glad that you have been able to find happiness in a relationship that our faith deems appropriate. I wish you well on your journey! =)

  2. I enjoy reading your thoughts. I too am a gay Mormon married man and have had to work and continue to work through what that means to me. I look forward to following your journey.