When I first asked a priesthood leader for advice on sharing the gospel in the gay Mormon community, his advice was simple. Don't betray your anonymity.
Looking back, his advice was inspired and wise beyond his own experiences. I've had the opportunity to share and process my story out loud here on (Gay) Mormon Guy without having to worry about how it would impact my social, church, or professional life. The few times I shared my feelings with people close to me, I realized how far our world still needed to go.
But that world is changing.
20 years ago, openly coming out while in the Church often meant that you were giving up on the gospel. It came at the end of a long, isolating road of self-mastery, addiction, faith, courage, repentance, and finally despair. And it also often meant that you had come to a decision to engage in homosexuality.
Today, the story can be different. You can be like Josh Weed, who shared his story as a way of reaffirming his faith and in order to help others on the same path. Or like Ty Mansfield, who went so far as to write a book on his feelings. Most stories don't get picked up by the Associated Press like theirs did... but ultimately you can be like any of a number of other men and women - single, married, old, young - who have joined their voices in sharing their testimony of the gospel.
The world hasn't finished changing... which means that sharing this story with the world isn't the right choice for everyone. There are some families that would still disown a son for sharing his mind... friends who would never talk to him again... and others who would judge him as a sinner without ever asking.
But, in some places, at some times, the darkness can disappear. And shining that light of hope on the world makes people better - both those in and outside of the issue at hand.
To help people share that message, the NorthStar community has begun a project called Voices of Hope. Building off the anthology of the same name, the Voices of Hope project aims to enable people to share their testimony that the gospel of Jesus Christ really does have the power to save... and to bring happiness, authenticity, hope, satisfaction, and peace in this life, regardless of circumstance. Voice of Hope is a conversation - built around essays, videos, comments and questions submitted by people all over the world, we hope it will become another place to feel the truth of the gospel as it applies to homosexuality. We hope that it will be a part of the force to change the world - to show everyone involved that it is possible - and even preferable - to find salvation in the gospel.
The link to the project is here.
Voices of Hope Project
I'm not sure what this means for my own anonymity. Over the last few years, there have been a million thoughts in my mind... and I can see more and more the positive aspects that would come from combining the different aspects of my life.
But I keep my anonymity because of that first piece of inspired counsel years ago. Which means I will definitely need some type of divine confirmation before I do anything else. :)