Saturday, April 7

It Gets Better... at BYU

(This post was just edited - Sunday April 8)

I have an apology to make. What I wrote in this post about the It Gets Better video from BYU didn't capture anything of what the video was about, and took away the effort and sacrifice, love, and faith that went into its creation. The video wasn't designed to teach the world about what Mormons believe about same-sex attraction. It wasn't designed to reaffirm members who wonder about those same beliefs. It was created for one sole purpose - a purpose that matches the reason I began writing (Gay) Mormon Guy - to reach out and help those who are struggling inside the Church... and to help them realize that, if you can make it past the hardest years, it really does get better. Life isn't over. You can have faith that life will go on, you can find happiness, follow your dreams, and... whatever else you want to make of your life.

That's why there isn't a distinction or any doctrinal teaching in the video... because it is designed only for the people who already know. It speaks to them, and even if everyone else doesn't understand, it still speaks to their hearts. Yes, there is a distinction between living the gospel and breaking it - and that's where the video lays. Staying in the Church, staying in life, staying on BYU campus, it gets better, and staying in the Church or on campus means staying morally clean.

I just watched the video again. And I applaud the students who share their love and their experiences - those fighting the battles and those who support them on the streets. Almost, it makes me want to be a part of something like that... another way to share the gospel with the world.

No matter who you are, what your life, or anything else, the Lord loves you. There is a place for you in the Church and in the gospel. And you can find peace, hope, love, and understanding from people around you. I add my voice here to those around the world.

It gets better.


  1. Thank you so much for this. I was uneasy about the video as well, because I was confused about what the USGA's real goals when I watched it and had to go to their Facebook page to get more clarification. It helped at first glance, but as I dug deeper, I saw plenty to make me uneasy again. I appreciate your willingness to stand up and declare the truth that true happiness only comes through living the gospel.

    1. I guess I should include at least part of the original post to put comments in perspective. I felt uneasy that the movie didn't make the distinction between having same-sex attraction and acting on those feelings... and that is the point around which the controversy broils. I, the Church, and most of us are extremely clear in the understanding that keeping the commandments will bring happiness, no matter what temptations you are overcoming. But sinning doesn't bring happiness.

      Where people are departing (and trying to determine the background or goal of the video) is on the face - are they supporting the Church or supporting activities that go against it?

      Honestly? I don't know. I haven't met the members of USGA and doubt I will. I don't know what they're trying to teach or promote. But if I ever do meet them, I'll definitely suggest that they make it clear what the Church's doctrines are... whether or not they support them on an individual basis.

    2. Thank you. I was so torn when I saw the video. A friend of mine, now actively living a gay lifestyle, formerly LDS, posted it, and I wanted to be excited with him that there is finally some communication going on, but was concerned how to do it without appearing to support his lifestyle because the video never states anything about the lifestyle versus the trial of SSA.

      I'm thrilled we finally have people willing to talk, because without openness and understanding we cannot help those with trials--no matter what kind they are. But, I want to be clear to my friends that while I love and care for them, I cannot change my stance on gospel standards. And sometimes, that is a very hard tightrope to walk.

  2. I totally agree with you here... in fact I watched it, and since your blog is the first and only gay mormon person I've ever known and since I knew that you're striving to live righteously, I automatically assumed that those people in the video were just like you. However as SOON as I re-shared the video on my facebook, tons of mixed reactions from different friends popped right up on my shared link. You're completely right, the video wasn't very clear and is probably confusing a lot of people.

  3. I felt the exactly the same when I watched it and was confused why I wasn't agreeing with a BYU video. Thank you for putting the confusion I had into words. I think there is a clear difference between being gay and struggling with same gender attraction that the video doesn't address, like you said. The video implies it is ok to be gay. But at the same time, it offers the support of knowing there is help and they can talk to people about it. I don't know.... I just feel like if I got confused about the video, i'm sure there are others that will as well. That worries me for those in or out of the church. But thank you for making sense of it. I appreciate you blog and the hope that you have.

  4. I very much appreciate your thoughts on this. I've always felt some need to better understand the experiences of gay members of the Church, and I have read your blog with interest and appreciation for your positive outlook and constant reliance on Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ.

    I watched the "It Gets Better" video hoping to find more of the same, but the lack of distinction between living with SGA and acting on it disturbed me a bit. I was unable to put words to my feelings after watching it, and your words helped solidify my reactions.

    I hope the students in the video, students I'm sure I pass daily on campus, have the same outlook you have and the same testimony.

    Thank you for raising the important questions, and I hope the video accurately represents what the interviewed students actually said. I wonder how many of them made the distinctions in their interviews and the editors left those distinctions on the cutting room floor.

    Thank you for presenting your experiences in light of a gospel perspective.

  5. They don't make the distinction because they don't need to. The word "gay" for most people means simply same-sex attracted. Being "gay" does not automatically imply any particular kind of behavior any more than do the terms "straight" or "heterosexual."

  6. I guess my thoughts were different than you and most of your followers. I felt that there wasn't anything wrong with the comments in the video. Although there were fact shared, the feelings that were shared seemed to be very clearly those of the people in the video.

    Unfortunately, your thoughts and those of your followers perpetuate the idea that a person can't be gay and happy or gay and accepted by Heavenly Father. I know there is a current division in the LDS Church. And while there is still confusion on this topic (President Hinckley versus President Packer), it is safe to say that we will all need to deal with people that are struggling with gay/same sex attraction issue, who are LDS.

    How we treat them will not only define us as people, as Christians, as followers of Jesus Christ, and as Mormons ... it may determine how they treat and see themselves. It may also save a life. Is life worth living? YES! Does life get better? Yes! We are ALL children of our Heavenly Father. He loves ALL of us. Life IS good and it can always get better!

  7. You mentioned: (I definitely don't agree with the organization itself - as its goals extend beyond preventing bullying into the arena of same-sex marriage.)

    I'm curious where you found this information, as I searched and can't seem to find extra information or a mission statement. Just from the video, it seems like the organization does what it states on the page with the video clip:

    "USGA (Understanding Same-Gender Attraction) is an unofficial group of Brigham Young students, faculty, and friends who wish to strengthen families and the BYU community by providing a place for open, respectful discussions on the topic of same-gender attraction."

    Nowhere does it imply these students are speaking for every gay Mormon at BYU or otherwise. It outright says it's unofficial. The students interviewed are simply saying that they struggle with resolving SSA with their personal beliefs as a Mormon. They also feel alone or ostracized in their community because others around them abandon them or treat them poorly. They simply want to find somewhere they feel safe or "a place for open, respectful discussions on the topic of same-gender attraction."

    I don't understand why that would make you feel uneasy. These are BYU students and presumably agreed to live the honor code, just the same as straight students by abstaining from sexual relationships. Because they are BYU students, to me it's implied they are not acting on their SSA feelings and if they were, it would be no different than a non-married heterosexual couple having sex - a violation of the school rules. After watching, I wasn't left with any sense of confusion.

    I feel like the video is good in that it encourages open dialogue and serves as an aid to those struggling.

    1. Jimbo - the organization I meant to reference was It Gets Better, not USGA. Thanks for the comment so I could make that more clear.

      I agree that opening communication is a good thing. But the movie still makes me somewhat uneasy. Regardless of the unofficial disclaimer, it's already hit media spots and is causing a stir... mostly of confusion on the part of new members. I've gotten a bunch of emails asking about it.

  8. Definitely confusion because the church's stance is clear so why would our church leaders want any of us to participate in something that could possibly be seen as supporting or encouraging a different agenda? It would not make sense. So when those who don't understand us see something like this it gives the wrong impression.

  9. I didn't watch all the video, but read quite a few of the comments. I found it strange that a few from church members suggested that the "change" in attitude would start to bring to pass a change in the church standing, on the matter of what is in affect, an issue of keeping or not the law of chastity. I was pleased to see your comments here that reaffirm my own views that SSA is not the same as living in a homosexual relationship. Chastity is chastity regardless of your attraction, I take it from things like the family proclamation that it will always be so.


  10. We've been chatting about this over on a FB group of Mormon moms, and the confusion seems to be rampant there, too (even among members of the Church - not confusion about the Church's doctrine, but confusion about the agenda of the video). I made this comment:

    Quoted another commenter:
    "what does it mean to be “gay” anyway? It is having sexual feelings for the same sex. If a gay person doesn’t act out these feelings, are they still gay? Do they walk around thinking sexually about people all the time?"

    I think that is a big part of the problem with "homosexuality" and the Church - the term the world uses to describe those that struggle with SSA is "homosexual" - but that's the same word they use to describe those who ACT on feelings of SSA. So... how do we distinguish?

    I am uncomfortable with saying that "being gay" is not a sin, unless you define "being gay" as "struggling with SSA" rather than "acting on feelings of SSA" - which is not a distinction those in the world make.

    I believe that this video is trying to help kids who think they want to commit suicide over their struggles - and I think that for that purpose, they will need to call themselves "gay" and "lesbian" so that they can connect with kids who self-identify that way.

    But I think the video would have had a more spiritual impact if they would have followed up with "But I know that I don't have to act on the feelings that I struggle with - I know that I can live a righteous life in spite of my struggles."

    Thanks for your comments. It's good to read your response.

  11. I think the key here is the audience of the video. To a guy in his late teens, trying to decide between suicide and another week of trying to live on campus among people who don't understand, this video speaks truth. The truth that God loves you, and that you aren't cursed or hated because of something you can't control. The truth that there are people all around you who love and support you, even though you may not believe it from what the media says. And the truth that there is room in the Church and BYU for people living with same-gender attraction... to be full participants, not just on the periphery.

    To people on the outside, it may lack pieces to be a doctrinal dissertation. But the love that is communicated, the hope, and the encouragement to keep going aligns perfectly with what the Church teaches: we need to love all men and help them in the good they do. And, if we stay around and do our best, life may get harder, but it will always get better.

  12. I loved that I saw the video through my very inactive lesbian cousin. I love her. I loved the video and I stand up and applaud these people who so bravely shared their story. Lovely to hear your perspective as well. I pray for you and hope you are finding joy. xo

  13. When I first watched the video I was uneasy, as you've said, about the lack of distinction between homosexual behavior, and feelings. So to find out more, I watched all of the individual interviews, and the distinction is mixed. My favorite I think by far was Jenna's. Although I'm a gay male, Jenna's experience in the church as a lesbian mirrors my experiences in a lot of ways. She's active in the church, because she knows that the church is true, just like I do, and you do. And that means that she's committed to following the commandments. I think you would love her interview just as much as I did.

  14. Most "gay" mormons consider the words (gay or homosexual) to mean that they are attracted to the same sex. It doesn't mean that they are involved in a lifestyle or are having sexual relations. Heterosexual members often refer to it as Same-Sex Attraction (SSA) or Same Gender Attraction (SGA).

  15. I think I can relate to a lot of posts here and can appreciate the different perspectives. I can't say I was so much confused by the video as I was just plain curious about the experiences these young adults are having and how they are acting, or not, with their attraction. But frankly, it is none of my business, nor anyone else business. Has anyone stopped to think that a lot of the kids that might feel support from this group ARE or HAVE in some form experimented with their same sex attraction? Do they owe it to the community to vocalize that? Nope. I thought of how alienating the group would be to those who have broken the law of chastity if in the video they all repeated... "But I know I must still keep the commandments, and I do." Some of them aren't keeping the commandments. Does that mean they don’t qualify to receive support from the group?

    Maybe I am alone in my thinking but I do believe that you can be half in the church, with one foot "in the world." I DO NOT think it's easy, and I don't think it doesn't mean you won't have to answer for it... but Christ is our Advocate before the Lord and He will make a case for each of us. It seems like in this church we have a tendency to skip right over the GRACE part of the Atonement, and focus so much of our attention on WORKS. But our Savior will plead our case before the Lord, gay or straight, commandment keeping or not.

  16. I liked the video. It wasn't perfect, but helped me understand the difficulties of those who struggle with same sex attraction. This is a difficult problem for those in the church who have this problem. I think the church has come a long way in dealing with it. I applaud the students in the video for their courage.

  17. I think those who are confused by the videos need to understand are wishing the message of the videos was "you can be happy if you live righteously!"
    When the real message is "there are people who love and care for you, regardless of what you struggle with, please don't kill yourself!"
    I think sometimes people think their membership in the church morally obligates them to call to repentance whoever they believe is acting against the will of God. The truth is that our first responsibility is to love everyone and bear testimony of gospel truths that have blessed our lives. Leave the rest to the Spirit and the stewards God has put in place to help his children.

  18. I agree with many of the comments. I couldn't tell if the video was trying to say "It's okay to be gay. Just accept it" or if it was trying to say "We're here for you in your quest to overcome this." They should have been more clear. I felt a little uneasy with some of the quotes they gave regarding personal righteousness etc. If USGA is a club devoted to supporting and overcoming, much like Alcoholics Anonymous, than I think the church will back that up, but if it's a club about just accepting than I'm positive BYU isn't going to get behind it.


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