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.


  1. Fantastic post. You're such a great example and I have learned so much about the perspective of people who deal with SSA from reading your blog. I used to think that homosexuality was a choice people made, but then I found your blog last year and I think I understand better and can be a lot more sympathetic and accepting and helpful toward people who struggle with this. Thanks for speaking out and helping us all to be a little more Christlike and understanding of our brothers and sisters.

  2. my scope of understanding and compassion is broadened with every single post. your powerful thoughts are gods gift and i am so appreciative of you taking the time to write them down. it makes me more sensitive to the world around me, one person at a time. thank you.

  3. Thanks for your post. That idea, that I choose who I want to be, has been a hard lesson for me to learn. It was hard just to start choosing. I thought that someone else would tell me who to be or that I would just suddenly become someone wonderful and interesting. It was very empowering to finally realize that my life depends on me and the choices I make.
    We may not be able to choose who we are attracted to, either hetero or homosexually, but you're right, we can choose how we will behave. One of my favorite movies is the Iron Giant because it teaches this exact principle. You are who you choose to be.
    Thanks again for your courage to address these issues publicly. They apply to so many people. I appreciate your candor and commitment to principles of the gospel.

  4. Brother Guy,

    This is The Truth. Thank you for writing it out so simply and eloquently. The adversary has done his usual insidious work in distracting the world from the key question of agency, in this and many other arenas. Your voice is becoming more influential to many, and it's wonderful to hear your reminder to refocus. Your faith and trust in the Lord is a great example to the rest of us, regardless of the imperfections or challenges you may face. You're a good guy :) Thank you!

  5. I'm particularly interested in the conflict you explained later on in the post.

    How do you reconcile the fact that (a) "[you] are not completely in control of the world around [you] or the circumstances that create [your] life" (i.e., actions are influenced by the world around you), (b) "[you] are who [you] choose to be", and © the gospel teaches that what you do is determined by who you are deep inside. It seems if you cannot control who you are because you cannot control the parameters of the world around you that influence what you do. Thus, you aren't totally behind or in control of choosing who you want to be. It seems like it would create a situation in which you're willing yourself to possess more goodness, but that effort is fruitless in changing the patterns of your actions that are not consistent with the strictures of the Church.

  6. I sincerely love your blog because it opens a world to me that I am completely unfamiliar with. I use to be one of those people that thought temptation such as yours was a lack of faith. I am sorry for being so judgmental and naive. There is much I have learned in the last year that has lead me to realize that each trial God gives us is meant for us and we can little understand how another's trial will affect them. Every individual as some strength that you can learn from, and from you today I have learned of hope. Thank you for taking the time and having the courage to step out of the box and write about something so personal and sometimes painful for you. God speed.

  7. I don't have words to express my thoughts tonight other than to agree with those who have already posted. Again you have taught us. You are a fine example to us all.

  8. This is definitely an awesome post. And i don't even think it relates to identifying as a gay. I think in most situations that we face we can definitely choose who we want to be in that circumstance. Great post for me to reflect as i choose who i am on a daily basis since that we have choice over!

  9. Thank you so much for this blog. A friend introduced me to it. I have a couple of adult children who struggle with the church, mainly because they feel the church is "anti-gay".

    I tried to raise them to love everyone, and to not judge, and feel that for the most part they are that way. But they can only see that if someone acts upon their homosexual tendencies, then they can't be a member in good standing, and for them that's enough to push them away.

    It makes me sad that they can't see that the church teaches love. Not that all members practice that, and I would guess that you've had your fair share of run-ins with those who think there is something wrong with you because of how you feel. I've tried to teach them that the gospel is true, but the church is full of fallible humans, and we have to look past that and continue to live in the way that Heavenly Father has asked us to.

    So thank you for explaining things in a way I have been unable to. I'll be forwarding your amazing blog to them.

  10. Ryan:

    The wording of the last section relates that, while I may not be in control of the outside factors that tempt me, I have full and complete control over the actions I take nonetheless. There is no paradox or dichotomy - regardless of the influences or predispositions, it is my choice of what to do within the agency afforded me, and my choices within that agency are the determining factors in who I am.

  11. Hi! I've been following your blog the past several weeks. You are an elect man! Thank you for your courage. Incidentally, my sister struggles with SSA, and it has been an interesting experience for our family. I have blogged very recently concerning these issues. I love the quotes from the brethren that I researched. I believe they support all that you stand for. God bless you.

  12. I was in your shoes. I decided to stay single. I had given up on the idea of marriage since I did not think I could ever change enough to make it work. It was very hard, I was in my late 20's, very lonely and felt so different.
    I was, like you, determined to be faithful to the end. But, I was not looking and hoping like you.
    Then I lost my job and after months of desperate searching for work, I began to pray with all of my being asking what it was that I should do to find a job before I lost my home. I became much closer to my Savior during those times. It was a blessing. I started asking "What do you want from me?" and I committed to be faithful to what ever was asked.
    Then the answer came. I was not to find a job where I lived. I was going to be meeting someone. But who? And I had already decided to stay single. This was the last thing I wanted. Did I want to trust this opportunity and open myself to this? I wondered if I was crazy and imagining all this due to stress. But
    this was the answer to my question of what did the Lord want me to do. And I had already promised to obey.
    The next week I met the very person who was revealed to me. I was overcome with feelings I had never experienced before, and I did not even know this person yet!
    I moved forward in faith, literally and it was a miracle. Three months later, I sold my house in 7 days to the first person who saw my sign in the yard. And I did not have a real estate agent.
    I moved out of state, we were sealed in the Temple, and today we have a very Celestial marriage. I never knew such sweetness, compassion and love before. I have healed and I have grown, and I have never looked back.
    A friend said they could never be attracted to someone like that. So what happened?
    I was blessed with everything and more than I could possibly imagine.
    I am still basically the same person I was, but I needed to be truly humble, teachable, and faithful.
    I have accepted that I was made with a personality that is on the edge of the bell curve. I have decided that I was made this way and that Heavenly Father loves me the way he made me. He chose for me someone who is also on the edge of the bell curve. And we compliment each other perfectly. To be honest, I have always had traits from the opposite sex. And since my spouse is the same way, we match perfectly. Looking back, I wish I had worried less about what the world thought and only cared about what Heavenly Father thought, becuase in the end, that is all that matters.
    Today, we compliment each other perfectly, but mostly, our faithfulness to our covenants has allowed us to overcome all obstacles and we continue to progress together. I have come so far, that it is very sweet to see where we are today. I can clearly see our same traits in our children. I teach them to love themselves and have faith. My life is a testimony that Heavenly Father can bless us, and we don;t need to fit into any special mold. We just need to be worthy and willing. I pray for all of you who are struggling today becuase i know it is very hard, especially in today's culture. But I want you to know that my life was completely changed and I believe yours can be too. I am blessed beyond measure. I am so grateful I was ready to act in faith when told to.

  13. I think you are forgetting about another group of us who are sort of in the middle. We view homosexuality as a trial, but are understanding towards the hardship of that trial, and are understanding of those that are not as strong as you. Living a life of celibacy without being able to act on romantic feelings is indeed a very hard thing to do. I don't know if I would be able to do it, so I cannot judge those who can't. I'm posting anonymously because for some reason the things I post from my name never make it on here, although I am 100% supportive. Anyway, I think it's the choice of the person with those feelings, and if they want to find a wife/husband, as long as they are completely upfront and honest with that person, I support them immensely. If they are honest with their spouse, they are being true to themselves as well. If they want to stay celibate, it's up to them. If they choose same sex partners, they still deserve certain unalienable rights. It's their choice and I will not judge them for it. That's the long and short of it.

  14. i just found your blog thru an LDS board i am on. i am inspired by you. i hope you don't mind but i just used part of your blog post as my fb status. i think if i can remember, and more of the world believed, these words, then there would be SO much more peace, internal and otherwise. thank you SO much.

  15. Your blog is a work of faith and love and honesty that is so helpful to me in my life. My challenges are very different from yours yet the way you write translates over to my challenges.

    This blog of yours is a big deal. I can't wait to watch your story unfold. You've seen the end from the beginning it seems

  16. Anonymous who I definitely haven't forgotten:

    I am so busy that anything that requires a response usually just gets starred and then it disappears eventually.

    When faced with basic moral questions, there are always only two options. I can either judge the action to be right, or I can judge the action to be wrong. If it looks gray, then that means I've mixed up multiple moral issues, and I need to look closer. Gray doesn't exist, in morals or in reality - it's black specks that have surrounded themselves with a camouflage of white.

    Final judgement of people is different - just because an action is wrong or right, that doesn't tell the whole story of the person. True judgement requires knowledge of men's thoughts, desires, weaknesses, hopes, dreams, actions, prayers... and thankfully all I have to do is love others and do all I can to help them come closer unto Christ.

    So when I see a gay couple, do I judge them as damned? Of course not - only God knows them completely. Do I judge the action? Yes - and I have two choices. Either I believe that God will never ask men to live a commandment without preparing the way, and that He will not suffer anyone to be tempted above that he is able... and I judge it to be wrong... or I believe that maybe their life was just too hard, and I choose to discount the teachings of the prophets, and I judge it to be right.

  17. LOVE this post! You continue to teach me. Any girl would be lucky to have such a faithful follower of Christ. Please know that I think you are AMAZING! :)


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