Saturday, October 22

Will You Trust God?

Sometimes it's disheartening to look out at the world and see so many casualties.

So many people who, because of whatever reason, have decided to stop fighting.

I get it. I get that it's hard to be alone, that culture doesn't accept me, that often it takes more faith than I feel I can give to trust in God when it seems like it will never work out. I get that the allure of just finding the right guy who I love and loves me back seems like it could fix everything. I get that falling in love is intoxicating and blurs everything I once took for granted. I get that trusting God brings eventual blessings, where trusting myself makes things happen now.

But I also get this:

Following God will always bring greater happiness than any other alternative.


I get that life is hard. But, deep down inside, where my soul can hear His voice, I know that following God is always worth it.

And so it's always worth fighting.

It's always worth making the choice today to be morally clean even if I've made major mistakes.

It's always worth moving towards being sober even if I've failed a thousand times.

It's always worth reading the scriptures, praying, talking with a bishop, attending Church, and getting a recommend for the temple.

It's always worth lighting a fire of faith and trusting God to take care of me and my enormous personal needs.

It's always worth preparing for eternal life even if I don't know how that is going to work or at all what it's going to look like.

And it's always worth inviting others to do the same.

And so I'm going to do something that I don't do here at (G)MG often.

It's not super obvious unless I bring it up... but almost everything I write here is in first person. This blog is about my story, and it's written almost 100% about me. I focus on my story because the moment I talk about someone else, it instantly opens me up to criticism. No one can criticize my life and my thoughts, but it's easy to criticize as soon as I try to make an application to someone else.

So, with the knowledge that at least some people will find the words written here unbearably presumptuous, I want to ask *you* to do something.

I want to ask you to give your life back to God. 

Completely. No matter what that means, how inconvenient your past decisions may make it, and no matter the seeming consequences.

If you're a guy married to a guy, to divorce him (and keep loving him without sex involved). Yes, I said it.

If you're a guy with a boyfriend you're sexually actively with, to stop having sex or anything like sex (and break off the relationship if he's not willing to have a nonsexual one).

And even if you're not, I ask you to give up the desires of your heart and put them all on the altar of sacrifice, no matter what they are. 

In our culture today, sometimes people say, "God would never do that," or "A *loving* God would never ask someone to give that up." People who say that don't get it. They don't know God, and they definitely haven't seen the enormous positive personal change that can and will come when men are willing to give God literally everything and experience transformation at His hands. And that can happen no other way.

Yes, I am asking you to give God everything. To give up your desire for friendship, for love, for family, for fame, for wealth, for peace, for comfort, for acceptance. I am asking you to give Him your desire to be a parent and a spouse, to give up your will and your loves and 100% of everything you hold most dear.

And, in return, when you have finally filled the altar of sacrifice with everything, when you have decided to trust God and His ways and to let Him show you the pathway to happiness...

Then I promise that God will take the sacrifices that you make and make you into something far better than you could have ever hoped for.

True, lasting happiness is not something we are given or that comes from the outside. It comes from being like God - and that begins when we are willing to entrust Him with everything.

So again, I ask you: Will you trust Him? Will you give Him everything? Will you make changes in your life?

Will you give your life back to God?

Friday, October 14

Everything is Awesome!

It's amazing how polar my life still is. A few days ago I felt like the world was crashing down around me... but today I feel like everything is... yes... awesome.

The weather is cold, and awesome.

The sky is awesome.

The food I ate for breakfast this morning was awesome.

Today is going to be awesome.


It really is amazing though how a switch in perspective changes everything.

Monday, October 10

Hungry. Lonely. Anxious.

I feel unsettled.




It's an intense mix of loneliness, anxiety, hunger, jealousy, frustration, angst, exhaustion, pain...

Like the floodgates of feeling have opened and the only thing behind them was Pandora's box.

If I stay home I'll probably eat until I'm sick.

I have a family activity that started already, and FHE for my ward at 7:00. But I'm not sure if I'll be able to push myself into going to either. Right now, I don't want to talk with anyone. I know inside that being around other people isn't going to make me better. And, right now, I just want this feeling to go away.

But I don't even know what the name of the feeling is.

It's consuming. It makes my stomach twist as I look at it, and seems to fuzz my brain a bit.

It's demanding. It has to be sated. Even writing this blog post doesn't change how I feel.

It's tempting. All the bad things I've ever done somehow seem tempting again right now. That's absurd, though - because I know, cognitively, that all the sins I made in the past were awful, terrible experiences. And yet, somehow, with this feeling, almost anything seems like a viable option. 

That's dangerous.

Wow. I just realized something. I know this feeling isn't unique in my life - it comes and goes, though it's usually far less intense than it is today. But I think it's the same feeling that possesses men to drown their lives. Alcohol, drugs, sex, pornography, video games, food... the feeling comes, it demands satiation, and then we feel forced to pick our poison and its eventual consequences.


I'm a rational, faithful member of the Church. Doing the right thing is important to me. And yet, right now, temptation is looking me squarely in the face... and I see how simple it would be to just give in.

Am I going to? 

Am I going to let an incredibly intense feeling dictate my life?

I don't intend to.

I do intend to go to the gym and work out until an endorphin rush overwhelms whatever this chemical/hormonal urge is that is inside me. I'll likely miss the family activity. But I need to get the feeling gone.

But what about the guys who feel this way and don't have a gym next door?

What about the people who feel their only outlet is sex? Or pornography?

What's the *real* solution?


I don't know.

But I have to go to the gym before it consumes me.


... half an hour later ...

If I ever have that feeling again - the feeling that seems like it will never go away and makes me want to give in - this is a message for me: don't do it. Don't give up. Don't give in. Hormones go up, so they also go down. I can do this. I can go to the gym, or call a friend for help, or just go outside and watch the sky. Some things in life can push me to good, others to do bad.

This feeling just makes me *do*... And I hope I always have the courage, faith, and hope to make it make me choose the right.


My best friend mentioned something that made me think that maybe the feeling is designed to make me turn to God. And maybe it is, and *that* is the answer.

That feels right. In the past, doing missionary work, I'm realizing, has made it go away. And doing something that pulls me to God feels like a better idea than working out until I'm dead.

Thanks, best friend. And thanks, world, for listening. :)

I'm a Missionary... likely for forever.

Who Am I? What Am I Looking For?

I had a realization.

My life isn't going to change.

I'll back up a bit and give some context.

When I was looking for a career, I went to my Patriarchal blessing. I was convinced that the answer would be there. And, sure enough, there's a paragraph that specifically promises blessings relating to choosing my profession.

It doesn't give much information, though, and it's incredibly vague.

The vast majority of the blessing talks about being a father and a missionary.

So I tried a dozen different dream jobs... everything from curriculum writing to video game design to acting. All of it was good, but none of it really *fit* with me - which ultimately left me with a very full resume and an empty list of dream jobs.

Finally I had a realization.

I'm a missionary.

And that needed to be the core of my professional life.

The reason that hadn't worked in my head before was the issue of priestcraft. The scriptures very specifically forbid preaching the gospel for money, and so I had found myself shying away from anything that seemed even remotely close. Even teaching seminary or Institute full-time felt somewhat off in my book. 

But I realized that I didn't need to sell the gospel for money, or get paid to share it, for missionary work to be central in my career. I just had to find a way to make it be a central part of my day-to-day life.

That was a huge breakthrough.

Then fast forward.

I had graduated with an MBA and was yet again trying to figure out my life. Education (missionary work) was my passion, and I applied to a handful of PhD programs around the country. A few of them were good, and one seemed like a perfect fit. The admissions committee assured me that I had an excellent application, and everyone assumed I was a shoe-in.

I got rejected from every single one, for reasons that were obviously not normal.

That same week I had a dream where God reminded me that He had sent me to be a missionary - not a supervisor or a researcher or someone in a back room. PhD's may be great, but getting a PhD would definitely pull me back from the day-to-day interaction of being a missionary. He also informed me that He wanted to keep me on the front lines... so any attempt to leave them would be thwarted.

And so I started another business based around customer experience design. Started teaching the gospel in all of my free time. Incorporated religion into every aspect of my professional life.

And slowly started to branch into a more social person.

I've never been good at being social in the long-term. My relationships are usually explosive, powerful, and short-lived... and those that stay long-term either take a whole lot of effort or are far more sporadic than what seems to be usual.

But someone asked me a little while ago what I wanted. What I was looking for. What my goal is.

Eventually I want to find a wife. I mean, that's a commandment - part of the Plan of Happiness - and so it's part of my goals. But modern science hasn't found any way to make me fall in love with a girl, and the prophets haven't said anything about it either... so I don't worry about that.

Beyond a wife someday in this life or the next, I've finally opened my hopes again to want close friends. I had given up on really close friendship a long time ago, but recent years have shown me that maybe it's possible even for me.

Figuring out what I want those friendships to *look* like has been the task.

Right now, I'm single, somewhat stable, yet focused deeply on transient relationships. I meet people at Soap Factory, online, or through real life, get close enough to them to effect major impact in their lives, and then usually never see them again.

My assumption has always been that this pattern - of constantly meeting people I don't know and falling in love with their souls - was temporary. Eventually, I'd find people to be my friends, maybe a spouse as well someday, and my circle of influence would shrink to the people I knew.

But then I had the realization, yet again, that I'm a missionary.

...And I likely always will be.

The signs are pretty obvious in retrospect, and it makes sense. Every passion, every talent, every single thing in my life points towards missionary work. Which means that my social life isn't going to suddenly switch over to a new phase someday... or likely ever. I'm always going to be a missionary, always going to be reaching out to people, and always going to be doing the things I do.

And that changes things.

That changes things a lot.

Before, I felt like I was looking for friends who were willing to stick through or put up with a phase where my heart is given to strangers. Being in love with the world can cause heartache in close relationships - I care deeply about people I've only just met, and I'm not shy about showing that love. That can be difficult to swallow for someone trying to get close to me, and my friendships in the past have felt like they were all waiting for me to catch up.

Now I realize what I'm working towards. And it's not people who can miserably stick through and put up with missionary love. It's people who feel the same way. I'm looking to find and make missionary companions - people whose hearts bleed for the world and who spend their days and nights and prayers and lives trying to lift souls to salvation.

With people I don't know, the ingredients of whether or not an acquaintance turns into a friendship have always been based on variables that have felt outside of my control. Now I realize that I should be looking for someone who has the same missionary focus I do. I definitely hadn't done that before.

With people already in my social circle, this could explain why I push people to change so much. It could be because I'm subconsciously molding them into missionaries - helping them find testimonies, love themselves and others, share the gospel...

That could be why I've pushed my best friend toward serving a mission. Because deep inside I know that I need people who love sharing the gospel as much as I do, and I feel we'll be able to understand one another better as we both increase in that love.


I could be totally off.

Thursday, September 22

Confession: Part of My Healing & Change

I fully intended to share everything about my appointment with my bishop. Going in, I felt overwhelmed, disappointed, anxious, and somewhat hopeful. Speaking with him and then blogging about it felt like an awesome opportunity to share my own personal repentance process... and hopefully inspire others to choose the same.

But sharing the experience with my best friend helped me realize that my idealistic goals could be very easily overrun by emotion.

And, for whatever reason, this time I'm not going to share everything. I think that modeling repentance is still a valuable way to motivate others and keep myself honest and on the path. I'll share some of my emotions, but the actual disciplinary process - and how it does and doesn't impact my life - will just be my path.

Scheduling the interview beforehand made it much easier to go. Arriving early was a good choice, but my stomach was in knots. I felt like I wanted to throw up, then run away somewhere no one would know my name. Bishop finished the appointment before mine, and the executive secretary left for the night. My appointment was at 9pm.

Bishop greeted me with a smile and asked what he could do for me. I had hoped that he would have read my blog, but knew that it wasn't super likely. He's definitely not tech-savvy: he texts, but I think his wife gets and actually prints emails for him. Some people have downtime at work, but he runs a car repair business and it's still summer. So following my blog isn't really in the picture.

"I have some confessing to do."

Swallow hard. Breathe deep. It's going to be ok.

I told him what had happened, and then stopped and waited for his response.

As I listened, a burden lifted from me. I had done this part of the process. The confession was over. I still felt like absolute garbage though. Here was my bishop - who trusts me, relies on me, and asks me to reach out to people in my ward - and how do I prepare myself to serve? Not very well... that's for sure.

He talked about the magnitude of what I had done. Messing up with another guy is a violation of the law of chastity... and while there are different levels of violation, any violation causes the Spirit to leave. And the more knowledge I have - from temple covenants to priesthood to personal covenants with God - the bigger that mistake becomes against God. In the back of my mind, I remembered that in the Handbook of Instructions - the blue policy handbook given to Church leaders (and only them - though any member can read it in their presence) - "homosexual relations" is listed under the section where a disciplinary council may be required.

He outlined how he saw the repentance process going forward, and then he said something that caught my attention. 

He suggested that I apologize to the other guy involved.

I already had. Half a dozen times. But the sheer depth of what I had done hit me like a ton of bricks yet again at that point. Yes, I had stunted my own personal progress in the Gospel. Yes, I had betrayed God and disappointed myself and everyone I love. But I had done far worse than that. On my journey into darkness, I had pulled another soul with me.

To someone whose sum goal and purpose in life is to help people find meaning in the Gospel, live better lives, repent, and be happy... Realizing that I've done the opposite was even more horrific than being damned myself. I mean, to me (and I think, to many who have ever known depression), my soul is sometimes expendable as long as others are ok. But someone else's? Worth dying for. And in the day since it has made me begin to rethink *everything* I do. Does this action help someone come to Christ? Or pull them away? And what can I do to repair the damage that has already been done?

That realization - that my sins affect others - has made me want the Spirit back, and the consistent counsel it provides, more than anything.

I asked my bishop for feedback on sharing my experience with my Elder's Quorum and asking them for help. We looked in the Handbook for any counsel on public confession... since both of us were aware of cultural history (public confession was an accepted, and sometimes expected part of the early Church) and current cultural dynamics (we both felt like someone had counseled against getting up in testimony meeting and detailing your sins). But in the section requiring bishops and leaders to keep confidentiality, there is nothing to suggest that members shouldn't share their trials and turn to their quorums and groups for support. And he agreed with me - what is Elders Quorum for if not to help the men of the ward address the things that they are facing? So this Sunday I'll be asking for help and support.

And then I asked him for a blessing.

I'm grateful for the opportunity I have... to choose God. It's a simple thing, really, to follow God. But it takes more faith than I sometimes want to give... and more sacrifice than I can sometimes even imagine.

But one thing is for sure.

It's worth it.

I still have a lot that needs to change. I'm sure I'll continue to make mistakes, though I hope deeply that the one that brought me to my bishop's office never happens again... but regardless, I'm going to keep moving forward. That's what life is about, right? When I make a mistake, or lose my connection with God, turn back towards Him. 

And no matter what happens, always have the faith and courage to keep turning back.

Wednesday, September 21

Change Begins With Me

I meet with my bishop today. 

And I'm preparing as much humility as I can.

My best friend asked what I would be willing to change. If I'd be willing to never meet with anyone I don't know again - to take myself off the roll of emotional / spiritual availability because I had failed to stay unspotted from the world. Another person asked if I'd be willing to never have physical contact with a guy beyond a short hug. Yet another if I'd be willing to break off contact with anyone I've met in this world, or if I'd never look for people who need help again.

I hope that those aren't sacrifices that God requests.

But it wouldn't be unusual. I've already given Him my deepest other hopes - someday having a family and falling in love. Those were tough things to lay on the altar.

My answer?



I'm willing to do anything.


I'd even stop blogging if God asked me to. Though that thought feels akin to ripping out a piece of my heart and the artery that keeps my soul alive. A major purpose of my life is to shout the gospel from the rooftops, and (G)MG is the trumpet I've learned to play... And playing it keeps me honest, focused, and (usually) safe.

But I choose to trust God more than I trust myself. Yes, there are dozens of cultural issues of my world that I would love to change, and things I feel that I should do to make them happen. But God is the One who knows the pathway to salvation and happiness. So, if I truly want salvation and happiness for me and for the world I love, everything I do needs to be subject to Him.

Someone told me this week that I was on the road to becoming apostate. That they could see the signs of my abandonment of God, and that if I kept going down the road I was on, I would inevitably turn away from Him.

Apostasy is something that could happen to anyone. One of my ancestors - Orson Hyde - was an apostle in the time of Joseph Smith when he turned away from God. He left the Church for, at least as I remember, maybe a few hours? But he also returned, humbled and ready to serve. And while my family isn't perfect, we truly love the gospel. I love the gospel. I live it, breathe it, and revel in it. Yes, I make enormous mistakes along my path. Yes, I have a lot to learn. But I invite people to my home to share the Spirit, teach everyone I can about Christ, and pray over the names of even people I've just met before I go to sleep at night.

To tell me that I could turn away from that - that I could turn away from the God and the Church that has given me hope and meaning and life...

At first I wanted to chastise the guy. To tell him that David Peterson was never going to go apostate, and would never let his own personal beliefs trump the teachings of the prophets. How could I? Ever? That is who I am - a bigger part of my personal identity than anything else (especially being randomly attracted to guys). Everything in my life revolves around God and the Church. Even my email addresses reference missionary work.

After my rare episode of indignation I tried to figure out how someone could think that.

And with a spark of intuition, I think that now I can see where he's coming from. 

Most of the vocal and visual apostates in our day have been people who, like me, rally for change. They shout their thoughts to the world, gather support, and then eventually try to change the Church to fit the mold to which they believe it should conform.

However, in my mind, there is a major difference between our goals of change.

I have no desire to change Church doctrine. It doesn't change. It can't change. I love it the way it is. And all the pounding and social pressure in the world won't dent my Church's focus on the Plan of Happiness as God Himself has revealed through the prophets. History has shown that you could jail the prophets, kill the Saints, and destroy the temples, and the work would continue to press forward until the Second Coming of Christ.

Apostasy can begin with wanting to change Church doctrine. Then it grows into claiming personal revelation that applies to the doctrine of the Church as a whole, and actively seeking to pull people astray.

I'm not interested in that. I just want to change people so that they more accurately *live* the doctrines that the Church already teaches. I want to change Church culture - a discrete, and very separate, from Church doctrine. Church doctrine is the pure law from Christ. Church culture sometimes keeps the simplicity and purity of the gospel intact... And oftentimes adds a whole lot of garbage on the side.

And that change begins with me - first by being completely subject to the doctrines and leadership of the Gospel. Hence why I'm willing to do anything my bishop asks tonight. And then, always second, by being the change I want to see in my world, and inviting others to do the same. 

Yes, I honestly want my Elders Quorum to be an environment of candor, honesty, and love that, right now, you can only find rarely in support groups. Yes, I honestly want people to be willing to openly ask for help with their problems. Yes, I honestly want people to ask the questions of their soul. Yes, I honestly want to see people's struggles and to be able to show people that I love them even when they've committed dire mistakes. Yes, I honestly want Church culture to invite me to be actively involved in the battlegrounds of Good and Evil. Yes, I want every single person that walks through a chapel door to feel loved and lifted closer to God.

Cultural change is uncomfortable. But the world is getting more and more wicked, and, at least from my perspective, we are losing far more members to false culture than we are from not understanding the doctrine. Many of the people I've met still believe the gospel... and most, even years after choosing darkened paths, still know it's true. The spark of testimony still burns deep inside. And, as I've seen time and time again, often all a testimony needs is a safe place where it can grow and burn.

People are worth it. One person is worth creating planets and moving mountains and sending down fire from Heaven. And that is why I want to change my world... beginning, as always, with me.

Monday, September 19

Culture, Connection, Personal Identity, and the War Between Good and Evil

I realize that having just messed with my life makes anything I say pretty suspect. But I've had these thoughts long before last night.

Connection comes from a multitude of different sources. But one major source is cultural identity. It's easy to identify as a Child of God, and to believe in Church doctrine. The problem is that, in order to survive in today's world, I also need to identify as Mormon - and be a part of Church culture as well. 


I identify with a cultural group to add value to the group and to get meaning from it. But in order to gain meaning from a group, I need to both be accepted by others and feel accepted. The criteria to determine if someone is acceptable in a culture is defined by core cultural tenets - essentially characteristics that are required to be in the "In" crowd. Core tenets can be anything from gender to beliefs or IQ. Sometimes core tenets can be learned or assumed, and sometimes they can't. Either way, all cultural groups have at least one thing in common: the only people allowed in are those who completely match the core. There are always extra optional beliefs as well, but you have to match the core to be in.

Beneath a culture are subcultural groups. In the Catholic Church, for example, there are dozens of orders - convents, monasteries, and religious schools of thought with widely varying belief systems. Each subculture has the exact same core as Catholicism, but then adds other core tenets to its beliefs - and some subcultures are actually exclusive. But each of those subcultures is a valid expression of the culture as a whole.

The last pro-cultural possibility is cross-culture. Cross-culture is where two or more cultures combine all of their core tenets, and the individuals involved reap the benefits of being part of both groups.

Culture, subculture, and cross-culture each present authentic, meaningful opportunities to belong to a group and find connection.

But what happens when I want to belong to a culture... But I don't match the core?

Enter counterculture.

If each person was a superhero, then the story would end here. If I need physical connection with other guys, and modern culture doesn't allow it, then I switch out that belief for another one, fight the battle on the battlefield alone, and I'm good to go.

But it's not that simple.

By eliminating a core tenet, I am cut off from the social structure of my culture - in two discrete ways. First, those who know about my core reject me. Second... and far more damaging... with the knowledge that my core beliefs don't match, even if no one else knows, I don't feel like I belong.

And since connection is the opposite of addiction, losing my connection to culture puts my at risk for addictive and dangerous behaviors.

So I look for another option - an option of a group that will accept me where I can belong.

And that's counterculture.

Counterculture is a sub-unit of a given culture where one or more core tenets is removed and/or reversed. The United States of America began as British counterculture, as ex-Mormonism is basically Mormon counterculture.

It would still seem simple to just assume an identity in counterculture. But there's still another issue. Countercultures have all sorts of strange cultural phenomena, and often look nothing like the culture on which they are based. Also, because they are only fragments of culture, they usually don't have the breadth to provide someone with an expansive connected experience. Countercultures are not accepted into the culture as a whole, and members, while they may actively identify, usually need to seek elsewhere to complete their connection. If the counterculture is able to develop into a full-fledged society, then awesome. But most don't. And as time goes on, individuals will find they have to identify with a culture instead of a shadow - and so yet again they are pulled between poles.

So at the end of the day, people have to make the choice which culture they will choose.

This is why Mormons and gays will never create a perfect cross-culture.

A core tenet in gay culture is sex.

A core tenet in Mormon doctrine (which is a defining part of culture) is chastity outside of marriage between a man and a woman.

Neither of those is changing, and so cross-culture will never truly work.

This is also why Mormons and gay Mormons currently struggle to understand one another... and one reason why so many gay Mormons leave the Church.

A current core tenet in Mormon culture (not doctrine) is no deep physical affection can be shared between men.

A core need in gay Mormons is to have deep physical connections with other men.

And that leaves gay Mormons in a bind. Either try to live without connection (and become deeply susceptible to addiction and sin), or connect in secret (and feel estranged from society... and become a little less deeply susceptible to addiction and sin).

There is one other option. Cultures change, and there are people who are accepted into cultures even though they may not actually match the core. These people are influencers - or cultural change agents. People who are seen as edgy, or leaders in the culture - and who may champion a shift in cultural ideology. Identifying as a change agent allows all the cultural problems to not affect you - since you are deeply invested in fixing/improving the culture. Being accepted as a change agent allows you to be at least somewhat integrated into cultural norms.

Gay Mormons could identify as change agents and still accept Doctrinal concepts (and seek to change Church culture), which would allow them to connect openly. But being a change agent is a lot harder than it sounds.


The first thing I want to change is for Church culture to own everything that is good. To reclaim the battlegrounds and declare that everything good is good. I want Church culture to shift and match Church doctrine... So that people aren't forced into counterculture and its attendant darkness to find meaning in their lives. The gay Mormon issue is only one issue with current Church culture vs doctrine. In most cases, it seems like people don't leave the Church because of the doctrine. They leave because of the people.

The second is that I want Church culture to treat addiction and sin as Christ & the prophets of The Book of Mormon did. Both prophets Alma typified themselves as vile sinners. But they realized there is a difference between the sinner and the sin. And I want our culture to truly love the sinner - as he is completely, all his sins visible. To lay them out on the table and look at Church as a hospital rather than a showroom. I want my ward and stake, when I walk in, to know me, my problems, my soul - and I want the ability to feel connected and find help there.

Yesterday a guy introduced himself in my Elder's Quorum. He shared his name, and that was it. That tells me nothing. Nothing about his work, his school, his life, his passions, his dreams, or his problems. Which means that in order to help him this week, I would have to get specific revelation from God Himself to tell me how.

I want my Elder's Quorum, and my ward, to be a place where I can share my problems and help others. Where I can be truly authentic about the things that I'm facing without feeling shame. And where I can feel like I completely belong - even though I make mistakes and need to continue changing in my life. And so I'll ask for help on Sunday and hopefully won't die from the stress.


I've wanted to write this post for a while. The thoughts in my head have been spinning for weeks now... And I guess my recent experience has made me realize how important it really is.

As far as cultural change, I'm going to do the following:

1: In my own personal life, I'm going to talk about my needs (own the good) and my problems (love the sinner) more openly.

2: In my ward, I'm going to try to push for change where I can. This Sunday in Elders Quorum, I'll take the plunge, share my experience from last night, and ask the other elders for help feeling connected.

3: In the Church as a whole, here on (G)MG and in the few interactions I have with Church leaders, I'm going to talk about owning the good and loving the sinner as much as I can.

4: In the community at large, I've finally identified what I want to do next. For my next endeavor, I want to create a place where people can come to feel connected. I don't know how yet... But that's my goal.


I think we can do this. 

No. I know we can do this.

Will you help me change our world?

Me... And My Horrible, Terrible, No Good, Very Bad Choice.

I want to start by simply saying I am sorry. More sorry than I have ever been.

One of the major tenets of the Church culture I want to someday see realized is a universal expectation of authenticity. To have each guy get to Elder's Quorum and be able to say, "I went too far with a guy this last week, and the experience made me realize that I need more positive connections in my life... and I need help figuring out how to change my heart. Can you guys help me?"

But culture doesn't just happen on its own. Someone has to make it happen - to take the first step into the unknown of pushing culture into change.

It just seems ironic that I'll be the first one saying it.

(Gay) Mormon Guy has always been an idyllic blog about my experience with being attracted to guys. Often I delve into deeper issues, but usually it doesn't accurately capture the constant emotional ordeal that is being gay and Mormon.

Perhaps, today it will.

Warning. This is long. But of all the posts I've ever written, I think this is worth it.

Some background:

Over the last little while I've been actively looking for gay men to connect with. It honestly began as wanting to find attractive guys to cuddle with - cuddle up on a couch and watch a movie - something totally innocent and benign. It stemmed from a lack of connection in my own life - a feeling that seems to come and go of its own accord.

That original desire faded pretty quickly into the background, though, as I realized that there were a whole lot of guys who just needed someone to listen or give them advice. Maybe cuddling was the reason I originally met with the first person... but the reason I kept looking was to find people who needed God.

Most of the time, God went with me. In many instances, I was able to look into guys' eyes and see in their hearts what they needed to do to change their lives. I invited them to make the change... and had amazing experiences watching some of them grow.

And sometimes God wasn't there... and I ran away. Just because a guy says he's willing to just cuddle doesn't mean he actually is. The gay world is saturated with sex, and many guys can't even dream of meeting another person without sex involved. One guy years ago put it this way, "Sexual contact is just part of life. (Stimulating a guy), to me, is like a handshake. Oral sex is like a simple kiss goodnight." 

Consider that many gay men have sexual contact of some sort on the first date or contact with another guy... and one study found that sexually active gay men can have sex with literally hundreds of different partners... and that makes a bit more sense.

That was the culture where I was finding people... the culture of being gay. About as deep into the mire of sin and temptation as someone could go... and I had amazing experiences. Yes, I met people to cuddle with and had good, tame cuddles. But the experiences I'm talking about were missionary experiences. Counseling a guy away from suicide. Inviting another to make changes in his life. Helping others completely transform theirs. Rebuilding hope and inspiring change and helping people feel wanted and loved.

But there were also not-so-good experiences. Times when a guy would grab my crotch, or I'd let him begin to grind on me without telling him to stop for 5 seconds. When a guy would try to kiss me full on the lips and I'd have to dodge.

You see, cuddling and close physical interaction have always been valuable parts of human intimacy. When done in the open, cuddling stays cuddling much more easily. But in recent years, the war between Good and Evil has made Good give up ground. When Evil says it wants something, maybe Good fights for a little while... but eventually it gives in and abandons the territory. That's what happened with physical intimacy. Evil decided to make all close physical contact into a series of sexual advances, and Good backed away... Until we became ok with touch-free workplaces and having a handshake be the only acceptable physical expression of love outside of marriage. We claim it's to keep us safe from the world. But when the culture of Good abandons territory, there are always casualties. Each child of God is tied to a portion of the battlefield because of his or her trials and circumstances... and when the forces of Good withdraw, the people who live on that portion of the field are left completely alone.

And when the battlefield where I'm fighting has been abandoned, I have two readily available choices. I can fight alone, without support from the people I need most, or I can give up and give in.

That's what has happened with gay Mormons.

And even what has happened with me.

Gay Mormons have the innate need to connect deeply with other men - emotionally and physically. All men have the need for brotherhood, but the need for gay men runs deeper... And most of the time you can't just make it go away.

When it was ok to have close, physical interaction between men (from 6000 to around 100 years ago), we saw photos and read accounts of men holding hands, embracing, wrestling and roughhousing. John rested on Christ's bosom during the Last Supper, men slept together in the same beds, and David & Jonathan were closer than close.

But Evil somehow claimed part of touch and physical intimacy in the last days... and what was once accepted as part and parcel of life is now suspect and shunned.

And because it is shunned in most current Church cultures, the physical contact that gay men feel they need to survive usually has to happen in dark, secluded places... places usually reserved for far darker acts. 

In my own experience, when the cuddling was good, everything was perfect. But there in the darkness, there were some moments when I allowed the edge of my boundaries to be pushed. Or I pushed them. And, each time I did, a bit of darkness flowed inside me.

And then last night happened.

I went for a cuddle and a conversation with a guy. Long story short, after breaking what I thought were strong moral boundaries, I found myself stimulating him, and him me.

It didn't take long for the sense of guilt, frustration... and, most of all, disappointment to set in my heart. I'm pretty sure I felt them even while it was happening. I felt awful. Awful for ruining another guy's life, awful for ruining my own, awful for betraying everyone in my life, and awful because I know better. If anyone in the entire gay Mormon world knows the end result of sexual sin, it's me.

And yet I did something like that?

There is obviously something wrong with my heart. Jesus would never do something like that... and I'm trying to be like Him. Sin is a manifestation of an unwillingness to trust and follow God. What do I need to change in my soul to burn out the darkness that has somehow made its way inside?

The feeling of dread of having to tell my bishop was shortly eclipsed by the feeling of dread of telling everyone else in my life. My best friend will probably kill me, then stop being my friend. Everyone else will be incredibly hurt... my family, my ward, and everyone else in my life.

I'm actually pondering posting this tomorrow, after my family leaves for a week-long trip, so that I don't have to face them.

Except that I want culture to change.

I need culture to change.

And I need to change.

The last few weeks I've had a realization of how deeply influential culture is in people's lives. My best friend showed me a TED talk about addiction and connection that rang true to me - you should watch it here ( The title is this: The Opposite of Addiction is Connection. Please watch it.

The speaker goes through a number of studies and pieces of history to show that how we usually deal with addictive or destructive behaviors (shaming and isolation) actually causes them to happen more... where actively seeking to help people feel connected can keep them from becoming addicts or choosing destructive behaviors in the first place.

After making an awful mistake last night, part of me feels like I should shun the world, and break off contact with everyone - especially anyone and anything that could trigger me again. Except that shunning connection, that talk shares and I am just now realizing, is exactly the opposite of what I should do. Running away from relationships may be the easy way out, but that's just likely to trigger even worse addictive or dangerous behaviors.

Instead, I need to reach out more.

But how could I be so stupid?


Perhaps the only positive thing that could come of my sins is my ability to go through the repentance process. To be open and candid with the world and to hopefully show someone else that sexual sin isn't worth it. Not worth it to experiment with. Not worth it to even try once.

I've already texted my executive secretary. I have a meeting with my bishop on Wednesday night... and somehow, through the Grace of God, the things that I've done can be washed away completely. Not to say it won't be hard. I've known a lot about God. Trusted Him. Followed Him. And those who are close to God usually have to work harder when they turn away. Maybe I'll end up having a disciplinary council. Maybe I'll lose my membership in the Church and have to be baptized again. Those might sound disproportionate... but sometimes God is light with me, and sometimes He is tough.

Those would be scary. But, right now, I'm ok with any and all of that happening, as long as I get back to God.

At this point, I'm willing to do anything to change my heart so that something like that never, ever, ever happens again... and so that I can spend the rest of my days close to Him.