Monday, November 8

Lifting Me

"I think a post on fellow-shipping members with SSA would be great. When I look around my family ward and think who I should reach out to, it is usually people in my same circumstance in life. So, in my case, I know how to befriend and serve young couples, young mothers, etc. So, if you were in my ward, how could I fellowship you? Should I encourage my husband to befriend you, befriend you myself, ask you to join our family for FHE or a dinner? Do you want to hold my baby? Do you want me to set you up with my single friends? What would make you feel most welcome at church from married couples?"

"I just learned that my friend's daughter is lesbian. What can I say to her if she wonders about how her daughter will be accepted in Church?"

I might be in your ward. And even if I'm not, two or three of my brothers or sisters probably are. I can't tell you exactly how to best fellowship every type of person. Every person who faces trials has different needs. But I can tell you how I have been blessed and fellowshipped by the people around me... the people who, in almost every case, had no idea of the impact they were having on my life. I'll say it again and again: The Church is the perfect place for me as I struggle with being attracted to guys... because it is through the teachings of the Church that I have come closer to God and found true peace.

I have a friend who, one day, just knocked on my door and asked if we could be friends. I didn't know her, but she had felt like she wanted to be friends with me... and had no idea how to begin. It may sound like her approach was a bit awkward, but that day had been terrible... and her knock on my door was an answer to prayer. Only moments before she knocked, I had felt so incredibly alone, and had prayed for someone - anyone - to simply spend time with. My roommates were as close to antisocial as you can get in an LDS community. I dropped everything to spend time with her whenever she wanted a friend. And as we talked, I felt useful, loved, and worthwhile. Did she understand me, completely? No. But she valued me as a person and a friend.

Another friend got my phone number the first time he met me, and called me each week to let me know when Family Home Evening took place... invited me to birthday parties for people I didn't know... encouraged me to play flag football or ultimate frisbee with the group each Saturday... and I reciprocated with invitations (and often a ride) to attend the temple each week.

Should you encourage your husband to fellowship me? Yes. Should you fellowship me? Yes. Do I want to be involved in your family? Yes. I love kids - I would love to hold your baby and rock it to sleep. The last time I heard a baby cry in Sacrament meeting, I wished I could go, hold her, and rock her to sleep out in the foyer while her mom and dad sat in peace and silence. I appreciate when I'm invited to family dinner, FHE, and everything else... even if I'm not in your ward. I love to laugh, play board games, talk about the world and the gospel, and eat good food. And even though being around families creates a powerful, and sometimes painful, contrast to my own current life... it fills a need in my life.

Now, the last question - do I want to be set up with your single friends? It doesn't really matter if your single friends are the most attractive females in the world. I've never been attracted to girls. It seems, from my perspective, that relationships that "don't work out" return to the state before you began dating. If we were total strangers before, then dating makes it pretty likely that we will remain total strangers forever. But if we develop a friendship and become good friends, then (at least hopefully) we'll stay good friends regardless of what happens romantically. Don't just introduce me to someone and say she's really cute. Leaving us in a room alone is more likely to destroy any chance of relationship than anything else. But introducing us... over and over again, and then letting the relationship move forward on its own, will allow us to become real friends - not just blind dates.

Of all the things you could do, opening your home and your life to me makes the biggest difference. I feel lifted when I lift others... and so you enable me by letting me help, even when you could do it on your own. The greatest trial I face is feeling alone, and feeling worthless... and when I am with people who love me and value me, I can almost forget my pain. For me, the Church, the temple, and my family are the only places I have ever felt accepted and loved. The only place where I knew that I was really a valued member of the group, and not just an outcast that someone had allowed to take part. Treat me like a brother. A friend. And realize, that, beyond the things I face, I'm just another person who needs a friend, an opportunity to serve, and to be lifted by the word of God. And when I have those things, it's easier to remember that I, too, am a son of God.


  1. Excellent post and applicable to everyone, actually, whether married or single, young or old. I suspect come final judgment, Pres. Monson would rather be judged on his care for the widows in his ward when he was bishop than his administration as president of the Church. I know I have been astonished to learn (much later) of the positive influence I have had as a hometeacher.

    I'm hoping you can expand on this topic. You say to treat you as any other friend, but my experiences socializing with non-LDS gay men makes me wary. How do we get past my awkwardness (assuming I know about your SSA) that might make you feel like you are my "token gay Mormon friend". And what about touching? I'm pretty hands on with my guy friends. Should I treat you as I would the wife of a friend in terms of touch, level of social intimacy, etc. or can I tackle you in my backyard during a frisbee game? These may seem trivial from your perspective, but not knowing "the rules of engagement" make me hesitate. And you will experience that as indifference.

  2. I guess I come across as a really nice guy to some people. One person told me he just couldn't imagine tackling me. Whatever the reason, no one has ever had the guts to tackle me in a Frisbee game. I really wish they would.

    I'll be honest. If you know about my struggle, then I'll let you know my limits. And those limits are different for each guy. Me personally? Some of my best friends are guys. We have conversations that go late into the night, talking about everything. We can rub eachother's backs in Church or at a fireside, give each other hugs, wrestle, work out at the gym, and do all the normal guy stuff. The basic rules of engagement? I want a hands-on relationship that treats me, and lets me treat you, like a good guy friend... and not an object or just a token friendship. On the one hand, be hands-on. On the other, as long as you don't interlock fingers with me or kiss me goodnight, everything will good.

  3. I think the most important thing to keep in mind is that there is no all encompassing formula for how to treat a gay. Get to know them as a person like you would any other person in the ward. Find out what they do, what they study, what their hobbies are, what they spent their weekend doing, where they're from, what they're passionate about.

    Just like getting to know and becoming friends with anyone at all, gay or straight, Mormon or not, simply show an interest in their lives and if they are interested, include them in yours. Definitely don't do it though, for the sole purpose of trying to find them a spouse. Do it because we are all brothers and sisters and because loving one another makes the world a better place. :)

  4. ditto for over 30 singles

  5. PNW,

    I think straight people have a lot of misconceptions about how an SSA person experiences "attraction". It is no different than a straight person - identical really. We're not attracted to everyone of the same gender any more than you may be attracted to everyone of the opposite gender. Attraction is complex - its selective. We have things that attract us and things that don't. I'm not "attracted" off hand to most people. Its not something I think about all the time. My sexuality is only a part of who I am as a person, and I guess I look at others the same way. I'm much more interested in your experiences, knowledge and testimony than anything physical.

    You can hug us and be our friends without fear. If I'm attracted to you and think it would make either of us uncomfortable, I won't hang around you. Maybe that's because of the standards I try to uphold, which come from my testimony of the Gospel.

    Most of my male friends are married members of the Church, and we hug each other regularly. We're human beings - we need appropriate touch to be emotionally whole. They also let me sit with their families in Sarcrament Meeting, invite me to Birthday parties, and generally include me in their life. I need healthy relationships like that. We all do.

    So just treat us normally. Treat us like anyone else - one of the gang, part of the Fam! We're actually very nice people, and probably have much more in common than you might imagine. :)

  6. Here I go again with another comment that you, understandably, will not post. But I know you read everything, even when you don't post it.

    I just read your last 3 posts. In some ways you are an enigma. On one level your posts are interesting, articulate, insightful and sometimes open and honest. On another level, you seem determined to isolate yourself -- far more interested in what you have to say than learning about others out there who are also successfully navigating the path of same-gender attraction, while remaining true to their faith and living by the Spirit. It is almost as if you believe that if you acknowledged there are other SGA brothers and sisters who are faithful like you, it would in some way threaten your uniqueness. You are happy to acknowledge the regular members of the church who are faithful to gospel principles, like the word of wisdom, or whatever. But when it comes to SGA, you still tend to communicate as if you are in a league of your own.

    One thing you said in this post I can readily relate to: "I'll say it again and again: The Church is the perfect place for me as I struggle with being attracted to guys... because it is through the teachings of the Church that I have come closer to God and found true peace." That has also been true for me, and what has kept me going all these years.

    I have been married for over 25 years and our marriage was blessed with several children. The SGA struggle did not end with marriage. But I was completely up front with my wife when we were dating about my sexual orientation, so she did not feel betrayed when I continued to struggle at times (though I have never been unfaithful to her). I think we both believed it would be less of an issue than it has been in our marriage. Those feelings don't just go away because you marry a wonderful woman. But we are friends. We care about each other. Most importantly we are committed to each other. And because our hearts are in the right place and we have faith in God, He has helped us through the trials. Every marriage has trials -- not just marriages where one partner deals with SGA.

    Regarding your patriarchal blessing, I absolutely believe you can get married and have a family. And that the Lord will bless your marriage and family and help you collectively weather the challenges that each marriage faces. If you have issues other than SGA, that is a matter I don't have experience with. But I DO have experience with being a man who, like you, has felt that same kind of love (numerous times, especially before marriage) for another man you described in an earlier post. And like you, I kept it appropriate. But that did not stop a woman from loving me and it did not stop us from marrying in the temple, raising our children and remaining committed to each other and to God. And it won't stop you either. I can say this from personal experience, but even more because you have been given that promise by God.

    Whether you really think you are dreaming the impossible dream or whether you are simply adding extra drama to your blog postings by painting marriage as a goal you wonder if you will ever reach, I have no idea. But again I refer you to the many others with SGA who have loving marriages that work. Do some marriages where one partner struggles with SGA fail? Yes, of course. But so do many heterosexual marriages, even temple marriages. I hope you are being real with your postings on this subject and not just trying to be "interesting" or dramatic. Either way, I sincerely hope for your success and happiness.

  7. Anon:

    It's not that I don't want to recognize those who live my struggles and love the gospel. The issue is that, as soon as I begin speaking about someone else, I change from being a faithful member who is telling his story to a "representative" of a group of men and women who I don't know... and who I can't honestly represent. I know some things are universal, and those are the things I write. God will fulfill His promises. Through Christ and the Atonement all mankind may be saved. God gives us the strength to choose our actions, thereby choosing who we are. We are in control of our own destiny.

    But some things aren't universal. How the gospel applies. When the Lord will bless us with the promises He has given. And in this blog, I am completely honest. I have rough days when I wonder if I have destroyed my hope of happiness - if my sins are against a light bright enough that I won't be able to get back. When I pray, ponder, read the scriptures, and attend the temple, I know that I am not abandoned or hopelessly lost... but I still get those feelings, and I know that others share them... and so I write.

    If you ever met me in real life, you would never guess the things that go through my head. I'm an optimist in everything. But when I felt prompted to begin this blog, I felt prompted to be honest. And that means that my faith waxes and wanes with my life and my relationship with God.

    I know that there are many good men and women who, like me, live out their lives and meet their struggles in the light of the gospel. I just don't have time to find them or share their stories. And, since I'm not an authority on any subject but my own life, I don't endorse following their "teachings," just as I try to share my experience instead of telling others what theirs should be. The prophets exhort. Bishops counsel. Parents and home teachers encourage. But I'm just a random Mormon guy writing a blog; the only thing I can do is tell my story and live my life with faith... and pray that the Spirit will teach people according to their needs.

    Thanks for commenting.

  8. I know some random person out in the Internet probably doesn't help much and negatives always seem to weigh heavier on the heart and mind than the positive, but I'm sorry some people keep attacking you. For some reason people feel that since someone is putting themselves out there, they're open to criticism no matter if it's warranted or not. Which is why most people don't have the courage to put themselves out there in the first place. I love your blog and it has helped me so much to understand SSA, something I honestly did not get until I found your blog. So thank you for writing this and for continuing until the Lord tells you your work is done. As I read your words, you inspire me in my own trials to keep enduring and to endure with optimism and hope.


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