Tuesday, October 26

Q&A #2

If I were your bishop* what would you want me to know or understand before you came to talk to me about SSA for the first time? (* by "your bishop" I mean that very generally, as in, the bishop/relief society pres/EQ pres of someone in a similar situation to yours) 

I can't say what would be the best things to know for everyone. We're all different, and even among the men who live with same-sex attraction, our struggles and trials vary. But I can tell you what I wanted when I first spoke with a Priesthood leader about this. Thankfully, he had been prepared.

  • Therapy may have potential benefits in certain situations. But therapy doesn't usually fix spiritual problems. 
  • I am not just going through a phase. 
  • I am absolutely and totally terrified while I talk to you. Not of you, but of how telling you, or miscommunicating, could jeopardize our relationship and how you think of me. 
  • My struggle with same-sex attraction is not going to go away just because I reach a certain level of righteousness. It might change over time. Or I may live with it, faithfully, for the rest of my life. 
  • I need you to listen to me, affirm me for the good I do in the world, and simply love me. 
  • Don't give me advice unless the Spirit compels you to do so or I ask point-blank. 
  • Pray before we begin, and always keep the Spirit. 
  • Ask me searching questions. Be specific. Look me in the eyes. Help me know that you love me, and make me answer difficult questions. If I am coming to you as the first person, I probably need to confess my sins and repent of them. 
  • Let me talk. 
  • Focus on helping me repent of my sins and helping me see the love of God in my life. 
  • I am trusting you more than I could ever explain; you must never, ever, ever tell another soul. 
  • I am not deficient in the gospel just because I life with SSA. I can still serve with the young men, and probably will have a greater ability to understand their trials. And I want to serve - to do anything I can to help others rise from their pain. 
  • Bear testimony about your own life. Let the Spirit witness to me which parts apply to mine.
  • Don't ever bring this topic up, mention it, make reference to it, have me speak on it, or anything else. If I want to talk about it, I will. Just listen to me and support me in choosing the right.

How do you feel about the media, or when you watch tv shows and movies? Almost everything has a gay or lesbian person portrayed. 

I'll be totally honest. I don't make time for pop culture. I don't watch TV or most movies. I just feel like there are things that are so much more worthwhile in life. There are sometimes good things portrayed in the media, and even some good movies and TV shows. But I prefer being with real people or creating my own story in my own life. As far as the portrayals of people in the media, few seem truly real-to-life. And the real-life stories make me feel compelled for a few moments, then disappear with the next commercial.

When peers (in church, specifically) make tact-less remarks about gay or SSA sterotypes, how do you handle it? How do you find the balance between maintaining a tactful discussion and keeping your own privacy? Do you ever fear that you are showing too much of yourself?

I've found that the answer is to always engage in every conversation as a voice of reason - to see the good side, to always push people to do what is right and think the best of others.

As far as speaking out, usually people are more teachable in smaller settings and when they are listening, not when they are the center of attention after a tactless remark that makes half the group laugh. From that perspective, it doesn't make sense to immediately object to gay jokes or speak out when I know that it will distance me from the other person instead of enabling me to make a bigger impact. Instead, I make a note and, later on, when I can see he is listening, voice a compelling comment on the importance of loving everyone, no matter who they are and what they choose. Will it immediately lessen the amount of tactless remarks? Maybe not. Will they still be painful? Yes. But simply helping others by teaching good principles (as the Church does) helps them to think more, to develop the right traits, and slowly the number of tactless comments will lessen on their own. If the Spirit directs, then I'll give direct feedback. If not, I try to teach correct principles and be a good example. That's the only effective long-term solution at my disposal.

Do you think/know if your co-works, peers, casual relationships know/can sense your same gender attraction? Do you think the girls you date have any idea? Either way--is this hard for you?

No one knows unless I've told them. And no, it isn't hard, because it means I can be myself around them - just someone who is trying to choose the right.

Lastly, how do you feel about the sterotypical "gay" men--fashion and styles specifically. I know you do not equate gay with SSA (which I like!), but do you feel the need to wax your eye brows and use the clinique mens facial line? (I'm doubting it.) How do gay sterotypes affect how you connect with others? 

I have absolutely no sense of clothes fashion whatsoever. So that is not usually an issue in communicating with others; it's just not a topic I often talk about. And I think I am doing pretty well at subduing my lifelong obsession with body image in favor of "my body is a temple of God." (side note: from my observations, obsession with body image is much more common than obsession with fashion. Fashion is sometimes just a subset of body image)

As far as my feelings on the matter, I don't think there's anything wrong with fashion, style, or buying specific brands. It's like being up to date on the latest pop music or the most recent news - totally acceptable as long as it doesn't hinder your ability to keep the commandments or distract you from the more important things in life. In my case, though, I would rather write my own story than read, hear about, or buy clothes that tell someone else's.


  1. Another excellent post. I think much of your answer to the first question doesn't just cover how a leader (or friend for that matter) should handle someone sharing their struggles with SSA, but every serious trial or sin that any of us face.

    I participated in the Book of Mormon based 12-step program and one of the conclusions I came to is that we are all marked in some way. Those marks may be differently colored, depending on the adversity we face, but they are marks nonetheless and we are not all that different at all in the pains and worries and fears that we face, even if the topic of those emotions are of a great variety. God's plan is about unifying us one with another and and with Him -- in finding ways that we are alike and using that to uplift and edify one another. Satan, on the other hand, would constantly have us alienating ourselves from one another. He would have us believe that no one ever suffered what we have suffered, that we are utterly alone.

    I know I say this everytime that I post a comment, but again thank you for your courage. I have been feeling overwhelmed by some major changes in my family and my life these past several months and reading your blog has helped me to regain my perspective. You have reminded me that I "know in whom I have trusted." Thank you for being a beacon of light for those in need.

  2. Growing up, one of my greatest fears was that people would be able to sense my same gender attraction. I'll never know if anyone did, and I don't really think it matters, but I find it interesting that when I finally confided in my parents, my dad wasn't really surprised and mentioned that they had wondered about that since I was 16 or so. Thanks, dad!

    I'm grateful for loving and understanding parents that expect me to do what's right even when that is difficult.

  3. I stumbled upon your blog and have been reading it for the past few hours. Thank you for taking the time to share you experiences, feelings, thoughts and viewpoints. I have been trying to reconcile SSA, homosexuality, gay marriage, gay rights and the church culture and gospel. It has been so painful for me to think that those with SSA would eventually be pushed or pulled away from the gospel. It is very helpful to read your viewpoints and your testimony. I hope we can all come to a better understanding so that we can help others to feel loved enough to be open to Heavenly Fathers love and remain in the church.

    I am amazed by how faithful and strong you are. I hope you are blessed with many loving friends along the way as you continue your mission. You are doing a better job than so many.

  4. While in high school, I had a very good friend who I suspected had SSA. (He was not a member of the church.) He was kind to me and never judged me when others often did. We stayed in contact for several years after high school, and then he suddenly dropped off the face of the earth.

    A few months ago, I connected with him on Facebook. I was thrilled to find him again. He was kind to me and we exchanged memories of the past. He told me of his SSA and long-term relationship. I told him that I had always known in my heart, but it didn't matter to me. Again, he was kind to me, but in the end decided to terminate our friendship on Facebook after seeing on my profile page that I was still a member of the church and had posted church-related videos.

    I'm sad to again lose his frienship. At first, I was slightly hurt that he felt it necessary to terminate our relationship, but after thinking about it, I've come to realize how difficult it would be for him.

    My question to you is: Do you ever feel uncomfortable with friends from your past?


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