Sunday, September 23

Voices of Hope Project

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. :)

Wednesday, September 19

It's So Easy

It's so easy to be bitter
When the world won't understand
When the people passing by
Don't think to lend a helping hand

It's so easy to be angry
When people walk away
As if friendship never happened
When we were best friends yesterday

It's so easy to be tired
When I've fought and bled and won
And the world, blind to triumph
Only sees a job undone.

It's so easy to be lonely
In a crowd of those I love
When their feelings stay below
And their topics stay above

It's so easy to be fearful
When I try to give my all
And find I traded hope for failure
Balance for a fall

It's so easy to be hopeless
When the world falls apart
And I'm left alone and brooding
With just a broken heart

It's not easy to be hopeful
But I know that God is real
And, somehow, there is purpose
In the way I think and feel

It's not easy to be faithful
But He gives me strength to try
And as I make it through one moment
Another one goes by

It's not easy to be loving
When it brings so high a cost
But love makes people better
They are better loved than lost

It's not easy to be zealous
When I'm never paid for zeal
But just believing in the future
Can transform the way I feel

It's not easy to be peaceful
But in storms I find respite
In whirlwinds, a nexus
In darkened ways, a light

It's not easy to be happy
Or to learn to really laugh
But that's what life is all about -
Finding joy along the path.

I don't think that life is easy.
And yet I still forget the cost of letting life choose for me how I feel until I've lost something I value - something beautiful I've found along the twisting, turning pathway to Heaven from the ground.

I am the author of my feelings.
But that doesn't mean it's easy.

Sunday, September 16

Coming Out and Staying In

I finally read Joshua Johansen's FAIR address on navigating the labyrinth of homosexual desire. Yeah - I know - for someone involved in the gay Mormon world, I'm a bit late to the game.

But his article, combined with recent questions in my own mind, made me wonder about my place in this discussion. Right now, this blog and this aspect of my life run far below the rest of my priorities. I don't spend huge amounts of time thinking engaged in the conversation - this post even came as an afterthought.

But maybe that should be different.

Right now, in the Mormon Moment, the world is also making decisions that affect me and the rest of us who profess faith along with same-sex attraction. And being silent in that conversation means being regarded as nonexistent. Impossible. Immaterial.

And I find myself wondering what would happen if we were able to switch. If, instead of relegating sinners to the back rooms, we openly embraced their stories of coming to the light. If we created places of refuge where men and women could find solace from their temptations and inspiration on how to conquer the natural man. If the Church became a support group for sinners.

Nothing in the doctrine would have to change. In fact, we preach the imperfection of man each week over the pulpit. We would simply put those preachings to practice outside the walls of ecclesiastical counsels.

I wonder if this - and the term I'm using is "Coming Out and Staying In" - wouldn't be far more effective than what we currently do. Coming out - openly admitting your faults. Staying in - openly committing to the path of faith. What if more of us honestly accepted our failings, put ourselves on an open trajectory to being better, and then shared that vision with the world? For those who smoke or drink or want to change their diets, connecting with those around you is essential. For those who want to change in other ways, it is just as important. And I feel like our current methodology - as part of underlying culture - forces people to try to change on their own... without the support of people who could help them fight the battles they face.

I don't know what it will take. But something inside me makes me wonder. What if?


I met a really handsome guy yesterday, and we had a chance to talk a bit about life.

He had it all put together. Goals for his future, totally in love with his newlywed wife, both of them beaming from the inside out...

As our conversation progressed, I found myself feeling a mixture of admiration and happiness for this guy. You know the feeling you get when you meet someone who is honestly a good person, through and through? That's how I felt.

You don't become an honestly good person unless you make good choices, consistently, in the face of major trials... I don't know what trials he's faced, but I could tell that he was a really good guy.

As the conversation ended and we parted ways, I found myself reflecting on my own life... and inevitably comparing myself to him. Not always useful. I know. But it happened anyway.

He's blissfully married... and I'm not. I don't have a woman at my side who shares my love and thoughts and dreams. Right now I don't even have a girlfriend. He has his life planned out... I have some direction for my life, but nowhere near that amount.

But the part that hit me hardest was on spirituality.

I'm usually the stalwart guy who has faith all put together. But over the last little while, pieces of my life have been falling apart. Everything from physical health to professional direction to social environments has gone through complete overhaul... and somehow in the midst of the chaos I lost what was most important to me. My prayers became shorter and less fervent. My scripture study got tacked on late at night or not at all. And those two set a shaky foundation that eventually dropped everything else from its place. I'm even realizing, as I write, that I forgot to pay my tithing.

I'm not at rock bottom. I mean, I have a complete and sure knowledge of Christ, of His Church, and of the blessings that come through exercising faith. I know that those who keep the commandments receive all the blessings that God has promised.

I just lost sight of that.

Thankfully, though, I know how to go back. Take time every day to really, sincerely pray... to lay out my life on the altar before God and work out my salvation with Him. Study the scriptures and keep them close... have them become the first place I turn when a moment is free, and the first place I go when a question arises. I just have to put the habits I spent so long learning back into place.

I'm not sure if what I feel is true jealousy. I want what this guy has - a happy family, direction in life, and an unwavering connection with God. But I know how to get there... and our conversation was enough to help me realize where I'm lacking and which way to go.

Sunday, September 9

Mission Memories

I read from one of my mission journals today - the one stuffed with letters written to me by my companions. I had intended to simply look up the first and last name of an elder I served with... and then an hour had passed.

I miss my mission.

I miss the people, having a companion to talk to even if we never really understood each other (and that was almost always the case), the clear direction in exactly what to do each day...

I've had far more missionary experiences since I got home. I realize that the mission is designed to help you develop skills to apply in the rest of life.

Hopefully I learn to apply them.

Either way, I will be forever grateful that I had the opportunity to serve.

Wednesday, September 5


I've never really been a fan of the statements that encourage men and women to be good only so that the world returns that goodness. "What goes around comes around," and even the Bible's "Cast your bread upon the water" make me wonder about the motivation, and lack thereof, of humanity.

I don't dispute the eventual reality of those statements. The scriptures are replete with examples of goodness being returned for goodness, and evil for evil. That's the whole point of our teachings on the last judgment. But I don't feel comfortable with obedience to commandments solely for the hope of eventual blessings.

Homosexuality is a good example - (and one that is ever pertinent to this blog...) partially because many of the blessings promised may not even come in this life. And, at least in my case, having a hope that in 100 years everything will work out is difficult to apply to the day-to-day.

People who claim that those who follow gospel principles instead of finding another guy are making huge sacrifices usually aren't exaggerating. The sacrifices are considerable. From the gospel perspective, you're expected to refrain from all activity that could stimulate homosexual feelings - and that list, while definitely encompassing the normal expressions of dating, may be long depending on the person. You may never get married, fall in love with a member of the opposite sex, have a family... and, perhaps with purpose, many of the men I've met have a stronger desire for a family than the norm. Giving that up is, for some men, an Abrahamic trial. From a societal perspective, you're expected to be honest with girls you date - even if you don't share your life story in the first conversation - and there are plenty of people who vocally denounce anyone who even tries that route. If marriage doesn't come, it brings with it potential social stigma, tons of questions... Perhaps the greatest sacrifice, though, is giving up our fear of the unknown. When you've never fallen in love and live in a Church where eternal families are essential to mortal progression and happiness (and where women are often mentioned with condolences when they are unmarried, while men... usually are not), being willing to believe the promise that God will make everything right - not just in the future, but as life unfolds - is hard.

So what's the solution? I definitely can't claim to have any of the answers but for my own life, but, in my case, I've found that goodness naturally brings its own constant rewards. Not some gift from the cosmos, but in that being good makes life inherently better somehow.

Serving someone else, even if they never know or acknowledge it, gives me context into my own trials. Keeping the commandments somehow makes me closer to God - even when I keep the mundane ones like following the laws of the land. And as I choose to follow God into frustrating and unknown paths, I learn important lessons about myself and Him - something the world could never give me.

I think that if I were better at focusing on being good - not just doing good, or acting good, but truly becoming a new creature in Christ - many of the difficulties I face would simply fall into place. And while I'm sure that eventually the universe will repay goodness with goodness, that often seems a long ways away. I'm not really content with having to wait until death to be happy.