Sunday, July 29

Northern Lights - Blog on Mormonism & Homosexuality

It's happening. Ty Mansfield just posted on Northern Lights - a group blog about faithful Mormons who live with same-sex attraction. On Monday Josh Weed will write, then his wife Lolly, then me, followed by a dozen other authors whose stories all have a familiar ring. They've all experienced facets of homosexuality... and they've all somehow found their way to peace and hope through the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Northern Lights isn't designed to be a source of doctrine or a voice to influence Church policy. It's not carefully designed to have a political impact or sway the masses. My sole hope in joining Northern Lights is to better lead people to Christ. I add my voice to others, and together we all help people look towards Heaven, sort of like how the constantly shifting and changing Northern Lights help you look up at the sky towards the symbolic North Star... towards Christ.

I'd like to add my own personal testimony to this effort. When I was searching for hope, peace, and understanding in my life, there was nothing I wanted more than to find someplace where I could have my questions answered... to find someone who knew what I was going through... and to find proof that what I truly wanted in my heart - to live the gospel and find peace in my soul - was possible. I think that Northern Lights will do that, and not just for people like me, but maybe for people all over the world.

The only way that we will really make a difference is if we somehow reach those who are looking. So I'm asking you to share the message... and promising that if you do, the people who need it will find it. You will change lives without ever knowing.

This is going to be big.

Northern Lights

Saturday, July 28

I Wish

Some days I wish the world would disappear. That all the stress and frustration and angst that I fight each day would wash away.

Some days I feel I have to be alone, but then feel the loneliness so keenly that I wish I couldn't feel at all.

Some days I look up at the sky and can't find pictures in the clouds. Just short breaths of shade between the blazing sunlight. No beauty in the wind whispering in the trees... just a short breath of relief from flies and bugs.

Some days I find it hard to deal with people who don't understand... who will probably never understand... and I wish that I were totally alone.

And some days, when nothing seems to help... I don't know what to wish for.

Today is one of those days.

Family Ties

My family is a constant source of... well... a mix of love and frustration and joy and every other feeling in the book. Sometimes I feel totally isolated, and sometimes I feel completely loved.

I was playing with my family yesterday and suddenly had arms around my neck - someone had climbed on my back. I assumed that I knew who it was, but after about five minutes, I realized that I had no idea who I was carrying - whether family or total stranger.

Trying to turn my head to identify the culprit didn't work. He leaned far to the opposite side each time I turned my head, and was fast enough that I couldn't figure out who it was. And he knew it. Each successful dodge set off a set of giggles until I finally grabbed both of his arms and pulled him over my head to see who it was.

It wasn't who I had thought it was. This kid didn't even know me. And yet he was there beaming with a huge smile... just like the little kid I saw on the bus a few weeks ago. And his smile, and unconditional love, made me feel honestly happy. So I beamed a smile back.

Sometimes I wish that my family (other than just my parents) knew about the trials I face. I wish they could understand what goes through my mind and could see the battles I fight. And sometimes I realize that they don't have to know. The little boy didn't need to know to brighten my day. No one really has to know... because if you truly love someone, you'll always give them everything.

And I realize, as I look around my own family, that each of them struggles with internal conflict as I have. Different? Definitely. But just as difficult - hard enough to take you to the end of your limit and then push you beyond. Together we can make it. Someday I'll have a family of my own. And I know that families can be forever.

(And a news update for those patient enough to read to the end. Launch is tomorrow.)

Wednesday, July 25

This is Gonna Be Big

I have epic unofficial news for you that may change your life forever. I think I'm allowed to share it. If not, then... you didn't hear it from me.

A handful of the writing powerhouses in the gay Mormon world (and me!?!?) are teaming up to share their message with the universe. And, in the very near future, we're starting a blog.

For the first time in world history, you'll be able to find and interact with all the sort-of-but-not-really-famous people you never knew about before you learned about this subculture of subcultures. Faithful gay Mormon bloggers aren't all that common. You find pieces all the time - sort of like the Indian shooting a star on the wrapper of a Tootsie-Pop - but the whole deal is far less frequent. A Mormon blogger here, a gay Mormon there, a faithful Mormon there. But if you keep looking, you'll find one eventually.

Look no further. If you don't like my straight-up-the-line style of writing, there's another faithful gay Mormon author who's passionately funny. Others who are happily married. Some who are crazy smart. Collectively, we may not represent the entire mass of faithful Mormons with same-sex attraction, but we're closer than we were on our own. At least I am. Not everyone is YSA.

So that's the epic news. (Gay) Mormon Guy isn't going to die, so when we launch, you can expect updates both there and here. Our hope is to be a voice in the conversation... to give hope to those who need it... and to spread the message of love and understanding that Christ taught.

So clear out some room from your blogging subscription list. Daily updates may be on the horizon. And stayed riveted to your screen or phone or whatever... I'll post the link when we go live.

Sunday, July 15

I Believe

I've had the opportunity to speak with men and women from belief systems around the world. Atheists from Russia. Medicine men from Africa. Catholic priests trained in the hallways of the Vatican City. Protestant ministers with doctoral degrees in divinity. Muslim scholars who travel regularly to Mecca. Jewish rabbis who can list all the commandments of the Torah.

And, after listening to them, watching the goodness in their lives, hearing them share their beliefs... I always feel the desire to share my own knowledge of the truth.

I believe in Christ.

I believe that God is my Father, and that He loves me more than anyone could ever imagine... and that His love is unconditional.

I believe that, because God loves me, He reveals the way for me to find happiness. Me. God knows me, understands who I am, and knows exactly what I need to find true and lasting happiness... and He will do anything to help me follow that path.

He sends angels to minister to men, teaching them the truth and revealing the principles that will lead them to happiness and peace.

He gives men His power - the power of the Priesthood... the same power that created the world, organized the universe, and can call down the powers of Heaven or exalt mortals to immortality.

He calls prophets to lead the work and teach the truth to all men... those who want to hear and are already listening for the voice of God, and those who don't... to give all men the opportunity to come unto Him.

He reveals commandments to show men the way to peace, hope, and happiness.

He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to atone for the imperfection of mortality, and to make it possible for me to repent and change each day... to change the very nature of who I am into something better.

He gives me trials, blessings, talents, weaknesses, family members, and life experiences that are all perfectly designed to help me become who He sees in me. Life is perfectly designed to help me find happiness... if I am willing to shape myself according to God's plan.

In my personal case, I'm attracted to some guys, and no girls. But I believe that God intended me to have all the same blessings He promised to all His children (falling in love, finding a wife, raising a family). If I am faithful, everything He has promised will come true.

And when I falter, or struggle, or fail... God's love doesn't change. No matter what I do, I will always be His Son. He will never give up on me.

I believe based on personal experience. Revelation from God, conversations with Him in the day and at night. Direction that has saved my life and changed it for the better. Feelings and promptings and miracles and proof beyond what I could have ever imagined.

But, after all is said and done, I could still find ways to convince myself otherwise. Interpreting the scriptures in my own way isn't hard. Neither is picking and choosing from the words of the prophets or the promptings I get from God. No. The proof, the knowledge, the blessings, and even the miracles still leave me room. And it's there that I make my decision.

You can call it faith, optimism, zeal, or courage. I believe because I choose to believe.

Saturday, July 14

Zipper Pull Bliss

There was a little one-year-old boy with flaxen blond hair on the bus today. His time was spent intensely examining the leather zipper pull on his mom's purse, only pausing to furtively look up into her eyes, and break into a huge grin... or steal glances over to the left where his dad sat, pretending to not notice until he tapped him on the shoulder.

Watching happy families makes me so incredibly happy. This is what life is about - finding happiness in the middle of everything and anything that is happening.

Unconsciously, I began wondering what my family would look like if I were married and had kids. If I had, like my original plans once outlined, fallen in love and married shortly after my mission... how many kids would I have? How old would they be?

And where would we be... and what would we be doing right now? My life would definitely be remarkably different... I look around the bus, and everyone else seems to be alone... riding without anyone. Even if I had a family, would I be sitting next to my wife, playing peek-a-boo with a giggling one-year-old, and sharing blissful glances above his head?

The thought makes me smile... and I turn back to watch them. He's still laughing. At one year old, he's found an inexhaustible supply of happiness in a zipper pull. Try to never grow up, kid. But if life makes you, then carry a zipper pull in your pocket.

Now I'm the one laughing.

Monday, July 9

Take No Thought for the Morrow

Sometimes, in the middle of the night, I wake up and find myself living a childhood nightmare. Every creak, every sound makes shivers go up my spine... and I find myself locking doors that I never lock, closing windows, and turning on lights... because I am suddenly afraid of the dark.

I've long realized that it isn't the darkness that makes me afraid. I know that it makes no sense to fear darkness... when it can't do anything to impact my life except maybe make it hard to read. It's what the darkness hides, or doesn't hide, that engenders my mental turmoil.

I'm not really afraid of the dark.

I'm afraid of the unknown.

And that's a fear that didn't disappear with childhood...

Walking into a situation where I don't know what will happen, I find myself afraid. Not knowing where I will be in a year or ten, I find myself wondering if I'll be up to whatever task I'll face. Waiting for the Lord to fulfill His promises today, tomorrow, or the next day... I find myself wondering if it will happen.

And dispelling the unknown is a little more complicated. With darkness, shedding light on the unknown is as simple as flipping a switch or pressing a flashlight. But with events in life it's not that easy.

For some things, I can plan out worst-case scenarios in my mind: "what would be the worst thing that could happen?" Then I ask myself, "So, if that happens, what would you do? How would you keep going?" In most cases, the worst case is actually far less scary than the amorphous vague fear I was dealing with... and putting it into words makes it far easier to move forward.

But sometimes the timeline is so massive, or the possibilities so vast, that thinking about a worst-case scenario really isn't a viable long-term option.

Take marriage, for example. I'm planning to get married sometime in this life, but that could be years away. Facing life with a worst-case scenario attitude (and I'm not really sure what the worst case would be) in this case would lead itself readily to a whole lot of frustration.

There's another option.

Take therefore no thought for the morrow, for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient is the day unto the evil thereof (3 Nephi 13:34).

The other option is to learn to lose your fear of the dark... to not worry about the unknown.

Grown-ups are just as blind in darkness as little children. They have just as much lack of sight - and maybe even more. So what makes them less afraid? With time, they have made the decision, or perhaps, more appropriately, have learned the talent, of being okay with the unknown in darkness.

The same thing can happen with life.

I honestly don't know which way my life is going right now. In any facet. There are so many directions that it would be impossible to even begin mapping out the potentials of what will happen in a few months, let alone a year or five or ten.

But that's okay.

Because one thing that even children know is that even a little bit of light can scare away the darkness. A tiny bulb by their bed, or a flashlight that sends a single beam into the night makes all the difference. It really doesn't - you have no idea what types of trees are at your left, or if there's a monster under your bed. But being able to see at least something makes it easier to be okay with the unknown.

I don't need to know what will happen tomorrow - if I'll fall in love, or if I'll spend my entire life celibate, if I'll die young or live to be 100. I just need to know what to do and where to go - the Lord's will for me today. I can't overcome a lifetime of pain and unknown in a day - no flashlight can light up the world. But it doesn't need to. It just needs to light the path for one step so that I can move forward. I can do that.

"Keep Thou my feet; I do not ask to see the distant scene... one step [is] enough for me."

Some nights, I still wake up afraid of the unknown. And I'll probably always be somewhat afraid... because I'm still working on my faith... and because it is still unknown.

But that's okay. I pray for the safety of my family in the darkness, and for the blessings of God in the confusion of my life... then go back to sleep. The light through my window just barely lets me see the painting of the Savior on my wall... and I know enough to take one step in my life.

Tomorrow I'll worry about the next one.

Sunday, July 8

The Blessings of Depression

I think I know what the feeling was... or at least where it came from. I looked back in my writing, my journals, and my thoughts... and found that it sandwiches depression. Sometimes before, sometimes after, but never far away.

And I wonder.

I've had a realization recently that depression, at least in my life, has been a huge part of developing who I am... I've almost written a post on the benefits of depression a dozen times, but depression itself - at least the utter low part of it - doesn't do much good in my life except force me to turn to God. Which is incredibly important. But not exactly what I was trying to put my finger on.

I think that what I've been trying to explain or understand is that, alongside the low of depression, there are periods of in-between. The time between depression and normalcy, where some parts of my brain are functioning perfectly, and other parts are not... and those periods... I think... hold some of the reasons for who I am today.

I remember learning once that depression acts severally - and has discontinuous effects on different parts of psychomotor skills and motivation. That's why anti-depressants can be dangerous... they lessen the physically paralyzing part of depression before addressing the psychological low.

One part of depression that I've identified in my own life discounts most of the things that I've done in life; another part discounts everything I've done; another part of it makes me feel incredibly alone; and yet another dulls me to the needs of others...

The timing of those parts shifts and flows. Sometimes one hits alone, sometimes they all hit at once.

I think the most poignant feeling of urgency comes when the mix hits just the right combination. When most of what I've done in life seems worthless... but not all... when I feel terribly and incredibly alone... but still want to be with people... when I don't have major sins to repent of... and when I'm still cognizant of the needs of others.

In those minutes and hours, I find myself focusing on the few things that really matter in life... the Church, sharing the gospel, keeping the commandments, and finding ways to help others become better. And in those moments, I subconsciously jettison everything and anything that doesn't directly apply. I pick up the mundane aspects of life just like anyone else. But when it hits me, video games, novels, and bike trails meet the same fate as sports, music, art, and working out at the gym. They cease to exist entirely.

On the one hand, that's a bit frustrating. It means that I have to reestablish goals and routines every time I fall into or come out of depression. My workout schedules have never been stable, partially for that reason.

On the other hand, it means that tomorrow I could wake up as a completely new person... and probably will. It opens doors to restructuring my life, has made it easier for me to make decisions in becoming who I am today, and refocuses me on what's really important in life.

I wonder if science will ever identify the positive aspects of depression... the creativity that some artists link to it, or the passion and purpose that I've found it fuels in my own life... and then find an herb / create a pill / identify a diet / etc / that would enable everyone to get the good psychological aspects without the bad.

Or maybe they're intertwined. And when the Lord gives a trial, the trial itself is an opportunity for a blessing. The creativity, the passion, and the purpose... aren't a part of depression, but can come as a result of the experience in life.

I don't know. But it's an interesting thought.

Thursday, July 5


Sometimes it hits me.

A yearning deeper than the thoughts of my everyday, a feeling stronger than the surface of my reality.

It cuts me to the core, and makes me wonder.

It's a feeling like I should be someone... or somewhere... or something... and a longing, stronger than I can imagine, to make it happen.

It interrupts my workday, diverts my thoughts, and compels my attention to focus...

But I don't know what to do with it.

It's different from wanting to find love or wanting to make a friend. It's different from wanting to make a difference, or needing to do my home teaching, or needing to respond to a letter asking for help.

There is no clear direction along with the feeling... no revelation on the path I should take... just a deeply rooted sense of urgency - like the gut-wrenching feeling that someone, somewhere, needs help... and somehow I can do something.

Dear God, please help me figure out what it is I need to do... help me become the man I'm supposed to be. Bless those who are struggling in life, and help me do my part.