Tuesday, August 30

Looking Forward to The Day When...

...everything will work out.

I've had a bunch of conversations recently where, out of the blue, the conversation turns south... and people make jokes and crude references to being gay. I really have never gotten the humor, but that's probably because they aren't really funny to someone who's been there. Sometimes I think it's ironic that the only people who make crude sexual jokes have no idea how their jokes impact people around them... or the real meaning of the words that roll so easily off their tongues.

I definitely don't judge people for that - today's culture is full of sarcastic remarks, sardonic references, and sexual analogies galore. That it only rubs off partially on professionals is nice; I'm glad they don't perfectly mirror society's vision. But I still feel totally and completely left out. I feel left out when my bishop says that everyone in the room should want to date girls, and when my stake president echoes his remarks. I feel left out when I'm in a group of married guys who are talking about their children and their wives... and I have no desire to even go on second dates. I feel left out when I see family members get married, others date and fall in love, and others go through romantic encounters every other week.

And even though I know that someday it will all work out - I'll fall in love with a girl, be attracted to her, get married and begin a family... I still sometimes wonder when that will happen. And I'm definitely looking forward to the day when it will.

Sunday, August 28

Gay, Mormon, Faithful, Myself: I Choose Who I Am

There's a seeming dichotomy that exists in the world of homosexuality... that of choice.

Some people honestly believe that the feelings and attractions of homosexuality are a choice... that gay men could easily choose not to be attracted to other men, and that those who "struggle" with homosexuality are in reality simply struggling with their faith. Under this model, even feeling attractions to other men is a sin. A sin that, if left unattended and unquashed, is worthy of damnation. And all those who haven't gotten there are simply not trying hard enough - no matter what their age or station in life. People who honestly hold this belief usually don't hold it maliciously - they often have had no personal interaction with the people they stigmatize; they simply haven't had the opportunity to restructure the mental models that support their beliefs... and almost all of the people I have met have changed their thoughts when given the opportunity to understand in their own terms. Some of you used to believe this.

Some people believe that attractions and temptations are completely out of our control, and that anything other than following them is dishonest to "who I am." I regularly get a handful of emails from people who are probably sincere in their beliefs and their hope to help me in my life, encouraging me to follow the gay lifestyle that "is who I am." They take different styles - from long personal testimonies of the carnal pleasure and emotional release that comes from living a gay life, to the simple and pedantic "You're gay. You should be dating gay men, and you should marry a gay man." From meeting with many of these men and women - in the Church and without - I think that many of those who hold these beliefs hold them sincerely. They see the pain and seeming injustice that comes from differences in attraction, and somehow believe what they believe. But like the first group, their naïveté is still a huge factor, and their claim that I have no choice in the matter - no choice in determining my destiny - is contrary to reality of my own life and the principles taught in the gospel.

The last belief is one that, from my own experience, only comes from a personal experience with homosexuality and a bit of reflection and communion with God. It's an understanding and acceptance that I am not completely in control of the world around me or the circumstances that create my life - attractions and temptations included. It brings the peace that I (myself, my will, my choices, my spirit) am not defined by what happens to me (my attractions, temptations, worldly events, trials, and blessings)... but by what I do in those circumstances. I am who I choose to be. I may feel a certain way, but I have the ability to always choose the right, regardless of my feelings. My heart may be torn into pieces, but I have the ability to find peace and faith and happiness through keeping the commandments of God. My happiness, my peace, my honesty and integrity are not determined by anything but my choices, and the grace of God that follows when I choose the right.

I may not be able to choose who I am attracted to. I may not be able to choose the temptations I face or the love that I feel. But I can choose who I am in those circumstances... and in every case I do, by my every action. And in every case, I am choosing my destiny. This is who I am: Mormon, faithful, happy, fulfilled, peaceful, hopeful, optimistic, and, someday, saved. To thine own self be true. I am a child of God, and I am the arbiter of my destiny. I choose who I am.

Wednesday, August 17


I'm not a hugely artistic person when it comes to the visual arts. I have a hard time drawing stick figures. I'm aware, though, that pictures have a huge impact, especially with blogs, and I think it's ironic that I never use pictures...

I got an email the other day, letting me know about a site called the Helaman Gallery. The creator focuses on photography of LDS temples and makes the electronic proofs available for free on his website - http://helamangallery.com/

Pictures are amazing, and uber-commonplace. Most blogs written in the gay world, and most blogs in the Mormon world, and most blogs in the gay Mormon world where they overlap, use pictures. But I don't feel like I can use the same types of pictures. Mormon blogs post pictures of their kids and their craft stuff (usually done by women). Gay blogs... um... they often post blatant pornography. And many gay Mormon blogs post pictures that are on the edge - way too provocative to be benign. Then there's the issue of copyright and giving credit and everything else.

So I'll try this. Awesome temple pictures to remind me and everyone else what our ultimate goal is - and the reason that (Gay) Mormon Guy exists in the first place. Here's the first one. Enjoy. Art by Helamangallery.com

Inspirational Fire

I had a conversation with a friend this week. Someone else had mentioned that he needed help... and didn't want to be part of the Church anymore... and that's my cue to drop everything. I called him as soon as I could, then called his roommates when he didn't wake up, and then we just spent the rest of the day talking.

It's always an amazing experience for me to see where someone lacks in faith, and to be able to be there when the light goes back on in his eyes. To hear his story, to help him feel understood, and to open his eyes to the hope and peace that comes from the gospel. My friend was struggling in his testimony and told me, honestly, that he didn't want to come to church because he felt judged for his beliefs... and because he still had a long way to go in repentance before he could actually participate in all the aspects of the church, like going to the temple and taking the sacrament again. He didn't feel remorse for his sins, didn't feel like he should repent when he had learned from the bad mistakes he had made, and, at the core, didn't believe the gospel was true for everyone.

This friend doesn't know me very well. We've only had a smattering of conversations, ever. He doesn't know that I live with same-sex attraction, or any of the other difficulties that life has brought me. He expressed, ironically, the thought that the gospel couldn't be true for those with same-sex attraction... and so it really couldn't be true for anyone... because even though they might receive glory in the next life, a "lonely life of misery" wasn't worth an eternal reward. I agree - unlike him and his friends, though, I've found that happiness and peace in life doesn't come from following natural urges, but by becoming a different person - by working and growing and making a difference... and by doing what is right. It is more than possible to have an amazing, fulfilled life in the gospel and never be married or have a family (as long as that's out of my control). My friend doesn't have same-sex attraction - just a couple friends who have left the Church, or never were a part. So all I could do was share the testimony that I have, without giving context to all my beliefs and knowledge, and pray that somehow it would be enough... that somehow it would help him relight the fire of faith that he had before.

I dropped him off after our conversation and wondered what the impact had been. He hadn't made any commitments in the end, even though I extended a few. He hadn't gone through a visible change, and it seemed like our hours-long conversation was just sitting there on the surface - it hadn't sunk in. Until a few days ago. The same friend who had originally mentioned that his friend was struggling and needed help sent me an email, thanking me for the conversation I had had. In the days since, it sank in, and helped our friend work through his struggles, and regain at least part of his faith... relight part of the flame. The gospel really is true... and it has the power to bring peace and happiness in this life to everyone, regardless of their trials. That's the spark of truth that resonated with him, and the one that always brings a smile to my face. And any good boy scout knows that a spark - lighting part of the fire is usually enough to set it all aflame.