Thursday, March 31


The first time I met Jimmer Fredette was actually on the football field. I was visiting friends for a few days and, guys being guys, we played sports. A lanky, quiet kid was on my team and answered to the name "Jimmer." He didn't talk much, and explained he was going to take it easy because he didn't want to get injured. But he could throw and catch, and ended up on my team.

Today the name "Jimmer" is nationally known for basketball. But a list of statistics has never really defined a person when they get off the court... which lends itself to an interesting experience when watching from the outside.

Jimmer was a leading scorer for BYU. He was named player of the year by multiple sources. He's 22. He's majoring in American Studies at BYU. He has an older sister and brother.

But there's another stat that comes to mind - one that's empty. Jimmer never served a mission for the Church. And to an outsider who knows, that stat holds much more of a hidden story about who he is than the number of 3-point shots he hit in the last ten games.

Through the prophet, the Lord has commanded all worthy, able young men to serve for two years as full-time missionaries. That's the expectation. So when anyone chooses not to, it opens up the discussion to the universality of principles... and the difficulty in judging actions, applying them to life, and not judging people as a whole.

In the case of a national star like Jimmer Fredette, there are usually two strongly felt opinions. One - that Jimmer is infallible, or must have good judgment, and is in the public spotlight... and hence there must be some spectacular exception in his case. The same thing is happening with David Archuleta, and in his case all sorts of strange things have gone around - from people claiming to have overheard their cousin mention that the prophet had told him not to serve, to others asserting that he had been called as a lifelong full-time music missionary and ordained by God before he even came, so "obviously" he wouldn't serve a full-time proselyting mission.

The other side believes that the teachings of the prophet, when he speaks about all worthy and able young men, truly apply to all young men... and have big issues with the fact that anyone in the public eye wouldn't take the time to serve the Lord.

The potential dilemma comes as soon as I try to make a distant judgment of Jimmer as a person, and of his situation. I know that serving a mission is a commandment. If I judge him though, I align myself with one of the above camps - either claiming that God's commandments are not absolute, but relative, optional, and/or dependent on circumstances, or disregarding personal circumstances altogether.

Neither camp is ideal. Here at (Gay) Mormon Guy I get responses from both sides, usually passionate, trying to project themselves on my life. Sometimes they are accurate, and sometimes they're not.

But there is another option... one that holds much more power to love and understand others. And it comes when I don't judge people when I don't need to.

If I don't know him, does it really matter to my salvation whether Jimmer served a mission? Should his decision affect my own, or anyone else distant from him? I'd say no - except to cause me to turn to God and find personal direction in my own life. If he were my brother, it would be a more pressing issue. 

At the same time, his decision also doesn't change my conviction that all worthy young men should serve a mission... and my push to help them serve faithfully.

So was it right or wrong that Jimmer didn't serve a mission? 

I think that's the wrong question.

Here's a better one. Should all young men serve missions?

The Lord has asked all worthy and able young men to serve as full-time missionaries. So yeah, they should.

Tuesday, March 29

The Widow's Mite... And Mine

 And there came a certain poor widow, and she threw in two mites, which make a farthing...

And he called unto him his disciples, and saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That this poor widow hath cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury:

For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living.

This story requires some background to truly understand it. In the days of Christ, Israelites were required to pay tithes and make offerings at the temple. Some were freewill offerings, but others were specific sums and sacrifices required of all.

The rich men tossed in plenty of gold, easily surpassing their allotted amount and doing so often with a grand gesture, and ensuring that a large crowd saw them and their righteousness. But the widow, perhaps with her children at her side or watching from the gate of the courtyard, threw in all that she had - perhaps not even enough to pay the tithes required, but it was everything she had. She had come out of duty, and gave all she could. And it was enough in His eyes.

There is a scene from the Joseph Smith film that plays on Temple Square that has always stuck in my mind. Joseph and Emma are looking out into the twilight... and Emma asks, "Do you ever think He asks too much?" Joseph continues looking out, and replies: "I don't allow myself to think that..."

The widow at the temple gave everything she had to the Lord, because He asked her to, the same way that Elijah asked the widow of Zarapheth, the same way the Lord asked Abraham, and the young rich man, and the Prophet Joseph... and me.

So what is my mite - the offering of my entire soul that God asks of me? 

Many people have expressed the sentiment that being gay and a faithful Mormon is too hard. That it is a trial beyond comprehension and impossible to reconcile. That's just the point. The story of the widow's mite, and of life itself, is not about doing things that are easy... but about doing things that are hard. Harder than she, or I, ever thought possible.

He has asked me to be obedient. Here on (Gay) Mormon Guy, that means never acting on the carnal urges inside me, but learning to put off the natural man, becoming as a little child - meek, submissive, humble. It means obeying because I have faith in Him, and because I believe that through obedience to the laws and ordinances of the gospel I can be saved.

He has asked me to be patient. To watch friends go on missions, come home, get married, have children, and move on with their lives... when I've never been in love with a girl, and have no idea when that blessing will come. To wonder when people in the world will understand the importance of loving others unconditionally... and to wait and work as I try to share the gospel in my own way.

He has asked me to be humble. To toss away my desire to look good in the eyes of others and ardently embrace the standards of the gospel when, anonymously and in real life, that makes me an easy target for ridicule on every side. To be willing to admit that I don't know everything, and to turn to Him in faith to find the answers to my questions and the questions others ask me.

He has asked me to be loving. To honestly and truly love everyone I meet, and to follow the teachings outlined in the Beatitudes - which in my case sometimes means praying for the anonymous people who send me less-than-positive mail.

You see, the widow was asked to give, but she gave her offering willingly. And in doing so, she received a far better return than she could have achieved any other way. The Lord knew she needed to give up all she had in order to gain the faith for the blessings she needed... and it's the same for me. 

Is it too hard to be gay and Mormon? To live the standards of the gospel and stay true to who I am? In reality, it's impossible. Living the gospel is impossible for everyone... alone. 

And so each day I stand with a choice. I can try to do it alone - to use the intellect and talents the Lord has given me and swim upstream on my own... Or I can take my blessings, my burdens, my trials, and my faith, and cast them into the Lord's treasury... believing that He will from my sacrifice bring forth the blessings of Heaven. He has. He does. And I know He always will.

Monday, March 28

Why I Believe: The Bible

When I was little I definitely found the Bible intriguing. Its society seemed so incredibly distant from mine, its language totally foreign, its culture and people decidedly odd. Accounts of the Creation of the world, floods that cover the earth, wars between brothers and nations, miracles in the form of frogs and snakes, bread from heaven that turns into worms if you store it on any day but the Sabbath, marching around city walls to knock them down... all mixed in with page after page of genealogical entries, numbering the people, and cartographical references of some faraway place.

I found myself reading for the stories, and skimming everything else. The judges were dull until I read about Samson's feats of strength or Deborah's leadership in battle. 

But as I grew up and had my own problems to face, I found that the Bible, like the Book of Mormon, really did have applicable, personal insights into how to live my everyday life. David's prophetic and poetic psalms that seem to come to mind daily, and the warning intrinsic in his life to beware of sexual sin. The spiritual greatness of Solomon who, when he could have asked for anything, asked for the ability to bless others and help them as their king... and yet another warning in his life against the effects of sexual sin. 

One of the application issues with the Bible is that it can be easily interpreted, or translated, in a gazillion different ways. That means that referencing it without a common base of interpretation or a common authority is not incredibly helpful in discussions. Take the debate on homosexual sin. Bible scholars who have read the manuscripts in their many languages bicker over word choices, projecting their own logic into the text and trying to prove their point - on both sides. As soon as one brings up Sodom and Gomorrah, the Law of Moses, apostolic references as supporting evidence... the other side shows their own private interpretation... and vice versa. And since both are interpreting the scriptures within the imperfect frame they have - the literal translation from one archaic language to a modern one - there is no way to know which is right without choosing to accept the assumptions they make... or appealing to a greater authority. The Lord gave living authorities - prophets - to interpret His will for the welfare of mankind, and much of the New Testament is the story of the apostles trying desperately to rein in false doctrine and misinterpretation of sacred texts. Today, there are modern prophets, and thankfully, they're pretty direct in their statements and their application of the Bible to life.

Today the Bible continues to be a strength to me - one of the doors on which I can knock to speak with God. In its pages God helps me find direction, strength to overcome my temptations, and He helps me see who I really am. I'm not a gay Mormon guy - at least not in His eyes. In His eyes, I'm His son. I can feel that, and it blesses my life. And that's why I believe.

Sunday, March 27

Why I Believe: The Book of Mormon

There's a new show on Broadway called "The Book of Mormon - the Musical." It was written by a group of men who triumphantly proclaim their distaste for religion through endless sarcasm and obscenity, and its scenes are touted as ridiculing not only Latter-day Saint theology, but the beliefs and faith of religion as a whole.

The musical, which loosely follows the story of two missionaries serving in Uganda, has been heralded by the media as pushing Broadway to new heights of obscenity, profanity, and vulgarity. I'm not sure how that is supposed to be positive. I don't think the message of the musical is positive at all.

I'm not even sure if the writers of the musical ever read the Book of Mormon.

If they did, they didn't get it.

In a world that seems constantly headed for disaster - whether international financial crisis, nuclear catastrophe, international power struggles, or all-out war - people need the hope and peace the gospel brings. They need to know that the Book of Mormon, like the Bible, contains principles of truth that can improve our lives, help us find perspective, and bring us closer to God.

The Book of Mormon has changed my life. It has answered my prayers, taught me truth, opened my heart to others, inspired me to greater heights, dried my tears, and pushed me to serve my fellow men.

That's the secret of the Book of Mormon. It's not that the stories are cool about Ammon chopping off arms or Nephi and Lehi surrounded by divine flames... it's because, with each story, there is a parallel to my life - a principle that I can apply to become a better man. 

Nephi teaches me obedience - I will go and do what the Lord has commanded me, for I know He has prepared a way. Being attracted to guys/having ssa/sga/gay in a family-oriented Church means that sometimes I'm the exception to the rule. But just because marriage is a lot less simple doesn't mean that the commandments change. They don't - and as I forge ahead in my life, sometimes I feel like Nephi - not knowing beforehand whither I should go... but knowing that God loves His children and will be involved in my life.

Alma teaches faith. When I was younger, I knew that God loved me. But I didn't know how I could believe it when looking at my life. I have a desire to believe... and from that desire grew my faith. Today I have faith that, no matter what happens in my life, if I am doing what is right, all things will work together for my good.

King Benjamin teaches service. I find that service - especially unannounced, unspoken, anonymous service - warms my soul and gives me incredible peace. There's nothing better than doing things for others without getting any physical blessings in return. And I find that it helps me organize my life and resist temptation better. Cool.

Ammon and his brothers teach diligence. They went among the Lamanites to preach the gospel, were cast into prison, and continued with faith. When I'm having a rough day, and I wonder if I'm doing anything worthwhile, I think back to my own conversion to the gospel... and feel the joy it has brought to me. And that gives me the strength to keep moving forward.

Moroni teaches passion. His fiery letter to Pahoran, his march to oust the king-men and his making of the title of liberty are solid proofs of his zeal in the gospel. If all men were like unto Moroni, the powers of Hell would be shaken... as Satan would not have power to tempt any man. I sometimes think I take after Moroni. Usually I'm pretty cool-headed. But inside I'm hot with passion for the gospel and its principles. And nothing pushes me to action faster than when they are under attack.

Mormon teaches the importance of keeping a record. It's nice to have spiritual experiences, or to learn from the hand of the Lord. But with those experiences comes the responsibility to share what I've learned with others. The Lord commands all men to write and keep a record of His hand in their lives... and that applies to me... and with that record I can share my testimony that God lives and is actively a part of my life.

And Moroni teaches of the importance of having my own personal experiences. The Prophet Joseph taught that a man could learn more from gazing 5 minutes into Heaven than by reading every book ever written on the subject. Reading the scriptures isn't enough for me. I need to have personal experiences - to ask God sincerely if they are true, as Moroni encourages, and to seek the Lord in all things. And it's been true in my life. The Book of Mormon is just a starting point, from which the Lord teaches me more about who I am and my eternal destiny.

Reading the Book of Mormon, and abiding by its precepts, will bring a man nearer to God than will any other book. I've seen that. It has changed me, and continues to change me each day. The Book of Mormon is the word of God and a doorway to receiving revelations from Him. And that's why I believe.

Why I Believe: Prayer

"I begin by saying, 'Dear Heavenly Father.' 
I thank Him for blessings He sends.
Then humbly I ask Him for things that I need,
In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen."

Prayer has always been a huge part of my life. Some of my earliest memories were kneeling in a circle with my family, praying for the health of a family member, blessings of comfort, safety before embarking on a trip, strength from a meal, or peace and good sleep before going to bed.

As the years have gone by, though, prayer has become much more than just a habit... or even something that is part of my life. It has become the centerpiece of my relationship with God and the tie that binds me to Him.

When I lose my keys and need to find them, I pray. "Dear Father, I need to find my keys so that I can ..." Within moments, I find them - even if I began searching long before I prayed.

When I'm having a rough day, I pray. "Dear Father, please help me get through this day. Help me feel loved and worthwhile." And as the day goes on, I see and feel His presence all around me.

When I need direction, I kneel and pray. "Dear Father, I don't know what to do. There are so many different choices... so many paths to take. Please, help me know Thy will." And He takes the chance to teach me His will in my life... and helps me know what I can do better.

Prayer gives me direction, hope, and faith. But the greatest things I've learned in prayer came when I asked deep questions about my life... my purpose... my trials and my blessings. Why me? Who am I? What is my personal purpose in life? Why am I attracted to guys instead of girls? Why am I a member of the Church when so many others aren't?

As I've turned to the Lord and honestly asked Him those questions, I've learned the truth of the statement in James. "if any... lack wisdom, let him ask of God... and it shall be given him." Sometimes it takes years for me to understand the answers that come. But they always come. And when they do, they change me forever. Every prayer I pray is heard and answered from on high.

The God of the Universe listens to my questions. He helps me to understand principles of faith. He moves me to repentance and opens doors for opportunities to bless others around me. No matter what I have done, He is there for me, at my side. He answers my each and every humble prayer, no matter how small and insignificant it may seem. If it's important to me, it's important to the Lord. And that's why I believe.

Friday, March 25

Why I Believe: Modern Prophets

I grew up learning the names of latter-day prophets from a song in Primary - "Latter-day Prophets" - slowly adding on new names to the end as time moved forward. I learned about the lives they lived and the place they held in guiding and directing the Church, and found meaning in the Lord's decision to call each to serve. But how does that apply to me, personally?

God married Adam and Eve for forever while they were perfect in the Garden of Eden... but I'm not perfect. And when I need the most help from God and His power, it's often because I'm imperfect. A prophet is a man called of God who is given the authority and responsibility to act in His name for the welfare of His people. The Priesthood, and the organization of the Church, is how God has chosen to extend His power, physically, to help me grow to be worthy to stand in His presence. Because there is a prophet, my dad can give me a Priesthood blessing of healing and comfort... and give me counsel on personal issues that he doesn't know. Because there is a prophet, I can serve others and bless their lives through the Priesthood. Because there is a prophet, I can know the doctrine of Christ as it applies to me & to everyone. 

In one week is General Conference. The prophet and each member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles will speak... and something they say will resonate in my heart and guide me to becoming a better man. Last October's General Conference precipitated the first massive wave of readers to (Gay) Mormon Guy. I'm excited to hear the prophets' voices as they apply in my life... in my day... to my problems. Over the next week, in preparation, I'll make a list of questions in my life to which I need answers. I'll take extra time to study the scriptures, to pray in faith... and I'll make sure that there aren't any unfinished projects hanging over into Conference weekend. And the answers will come. They always do. Sometimes they come to my heart as I'm listening to the talks, and sometimes it sounds like the talks were written specifically for me. The Lord loves me and speaks to me through the Spirit and through the mouth of His prophets. And that's why I believe.

Thursday, March 24


So I've been working on putting together a really cool update for (Gay) Mormon Guy... but I haven't finished it yet. It's about as epic as the Post Index was and I'm hoping to be finished with it by General Conference, which is only 9 days away. There are a lot of other things happening in life, though... so hopefully the Lord will help me finish each of my projects. Stay tuned!

On the personal side, these last few days have been incredibly positive. I got a bunch of personal emails from people here on GMG explaining how they had found greater faith and courage to live the gospel in the face of their trials. I still get plenty of anti-fan mail and then lots of questions... so when I get an email telling about success stories - even when it's just the beginnings of success - it makes it easier to be grateful for what I have, and reminds me to smile, give thanks, and be happy.

Tuesday, March 22

Causation or Happenstance

I think a lot. I used to think that was normal until I went on my mission and learned that some people (as embodied in my companions) just didn't spend all day pondering. I'm still not really sure what people are doing when they're not thinking, but that's another issue altogether.

When I learned that overthinking was one of my personal traits, I wondered if it was correlated in any way with being attracted to guys. Now that may sound absurd, but physical attraction is a physical phenomenon - hence it is effected by definite differences somewhere in the brain. The brain is a complex organ; many chemicals and reaction sites function on many different levels - hence a difference in one area is likely to correlate with differences in others. The same thing happens in genetics - flowers that are purple usually have less disease resistance than flowers of the same type that are red.

So I wondered if overthinking was a side effect of being attracted to guys, or in some way a part of the whole. I read a paper once by a lead practitioner for LDS Family Services that found inordinate introspection as an anecdotal correlation, but I'm still not sure. And if it is correlated, what does that even mean?

The world has a definition of the gay guy or lesbian woman that falls into stereotypes. In the media, gay guys groom themselves meticulously, follow fashion religiously, passionately hate those who don't condone their lifestyle, are into the art-side of world more than other guys, wear way more earrings... but are these social constructs to which they unite themselves, or manifestations of joint differences in brain chemistry?

It's important to me because I'm trying to figure out who I am, and what I'm dealing with when it comes to my brain. The parts of "gay culture" that have been constructed aren't as useful, applicable, or interesting to me because they don't always apply - and I've found that as a religious, faithful Mormon, I lack one of the key characteristics to be accepted in the gay world (strong negative emotions towards those that don't support homosexual activity)... I'm somewhat spurned as a legitimate member of that culture anyway. 

Understanding the interplay between complex physiochemical relationships would be ideal for better understanding how to live while attracted to guys. Preliminary testing has been done trying to show a definite correlation with serotonin uptake and depression, for example, which means that dietary supplementation with tryptophan - the chemical precursor to serotonin - may have substantial effects on alleviating depression. Depression is one of the 5 symptoms of the "syndemic" of the urban gay men - very high rates (as compared with the general urban male populace) of depression, suicide, AIDS, partner abuse, and substance abuse. (Those of you who want sources, they are freely available online. For example, search "gay syndemic." This post is not intended for publication in Science magazine.) It's obvious that gay men are not physiochemically more inclined to get AIDS - it comes from actions they take instead of being inborn. Partner abuse, substance abuse, and suicide are also active, but those are often predicated on dissatisfaction with life... which could be caused by depression rates. All those pieces together? If depression is an underlying factor that detracts from my quality of life, and is related to the chemistry of my brain, then it's worth investigating.

But is it caused by differences in brain chemistry?

Some people in the gay world claim that depression in gay men and women is completely due to external causation. One group feels it is caused directly by society - that exclusionary day-to-day practices and tenets are what cause depression, not any inherent tendency. This is probably only partially accurate, as the urban metropolis is typically a much more accepting area, and the day-to-day affairs of gay men wouldn't run into those who have such a huge emotional influence on them to cause depression, unless they were predisposed to it. It also doesn't match my own experience - as I rarely feel discriminated against in my life, yet I've had depression.

Another thought is that depression is linked to society's disapproval as a whole of gay relationships - hence the hot battle for equalization of gay with other relationships in the public sphere. But that can't be completely true either - the vast majority of gay men, which would be represented in the urban syndemics, are sexually promiscuous, and hence incur society's views on promiscuous sexual actions - not intimate monogamous relationships. Yes, they may be actively involved in and passionately opposed to current views on same-sex marriage, but unless they are currently monogamous, depression caused by outside influences in this case would be mostly vicarious (and probable proof of innate tendency to depression. I'm not sure if straight supporters of gay marriage rights have higher rates of depression). Sodomy laws have been gone long enough that true societal pressure on promiscuity is no longer actively in force. This also doesn't apply to me and my experience.

The last potential for outside causes isn't really discussed in the gay community, or in most scientific literature... because it's religious. I've found, in my own life, that I have an internal sense of right and wrong - above and beyond what society, my family, my Church, or anyone else tells me. In the Church we call it the Light of Christ - it's the gift given to Adam and Eve when they ate of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Every human on the earth is born with this gift, which resonates with the good and bad things in their lives. When they do good, they feel good. When they do evil, they feel guilt. While it's possible to quench the feelings of guilt (called searing the conscience in scripture), it still has an impact - and my personal experience and my experience helping men and women has been that a life filled with guilt is definitely more depressed. When I sin, I am much more likely to fall into depression... and when I am clean, life is amazing. At least from my individual perspective, this could be a valid point in the syndemic. But it would obviously need specialized studies... and I'm not sure how you would set those up. In the meantime, I try to avoid sinning as much as possible, and I find that my depression is lessened significantly.

Wow. That was long. But that's what goes through my head anytime I see something unique in my life... something that could help me understand the life and trials I've been given. In my case, depression probably has a number of other complex interrelated causes, none of which I'll share here on (Gay) Mormon Guy. But I think that the investigation is worthwhile. Eventually, at least in my case, I'll be able to determine whether this and other factors are products of physiochemical causation... or circumstantial happenstance.

Sunday, March 20

A Drop in the Ocean

As I go down the street each day, I watch the people around me... and I wonder about their lives. What is their relationship with God like? What struggles do they face? How do they find symbolism in their lives and come closer to Christ? And, who teaches them? Who will bless them and change their lives - help them find the strength they need to be saved? There are thousands, millions of people who are searching for faith... and I feel as if I am standing in the midst of a churning, starving multitude, with a handful of bread and some fish... wondering how I could ever feed anyone but myself and maybe a few people on either side.

On my mission I felt the same way. I would watch people go by and wonder about them and their lives... wonder how I could ever make an impact on their families and help them understand the principles of salvation in only two years. So I just went to work.

In the time since, I've realized the true symbolism in the miracle of Christ feeding the 5000. There was a boy with five loaves and two fishes... and Christ took them, gave thanks, blessed them, and gave unto the multitude... and twelve baskets of fragments were taken up after everyone was filled. More often than not, I am the little boy - having brought my meager portion to listen to the Lord... and scared and confused when the Lord asks me to give Him what I have. I'm no one special. My experiences are my own... and often I wonder if they would really help anyone... or if they're worth reading in the first place.

But there are people out there, and so it's worth it... and God takes my loaves and fishes and sends them where He will. From the mother who is concerned about her daughter, to the father who is concerned about his son, to the brother who is trying to come back to faith or the sister at his side. From the niece praying for her uncle or the fathers and mothers wanting to repent and become better spouses and parents to their children... to the 14-year-old boy, wondering how to go on with life, who would normally never even think of googling a search term like "gay Mormon guy." And somehow, something touches their hearts and turns them to Christ, who fills them with His love.

There is still so much work to do... but I'm not alone. There are others who have come with their own loaves and fishes... and with each new miracle, others arrive. And Christ Himself is ever waiting to strengthen & feed all those who come unto Him.

Saturday, March 19

Food. And Junk. And Junk Food.

Sometimes I find myself eating pounds of junk food. Literally - pounds. I've been trying to figure out why, because for every pound of junk I eat I feel an equal portion of uncomfortable guilt, which eventually translates into a desire to go to the gym for hours on end. As much as I love the gym, having many hours to spend there is a thing of the past. And I feel physically awful after eating junk food. And I have no desire to move up in pant size.

So I've been looking at my consumption of junk food and trying to figure it out. I tend to eat junk food when it's available (I know, this is obvious... just stick with me), when I'm hungry and there's nothing healthy to eat, when I'm stressed, and when I'm waiting or thinking about something. I'm not much of a social junk food eater, which is nice. And as far as the quantity goes, I tend to eat all of what is available, whether it's junk food or not - hence the multiple pounds statement. I don't know why my body doesn't rebel more quickly.

So if I want to control my junk food consumption, I'll need to do the following:

1: Make it unavailable - don't buy it and hide it if it's already there. Avoid places where it's easy access.

2: Always have something healthy prepared to eat - meals and snacks.

3: Avoid stressing about life when junk food is around. Save my stress for somewhere else.

4: Don't wait or think in the presence of junk food. Go somewhere else.

5: Keep all my food in lots of little containers - that way when I end up eating it, I'm not gorging myself.

Now, you're probably wondering: "Um...
why is the post on (Gay) Mormon Guy on junk food? What does that have to do with anything?" 

Junk food is pretty easily turned into a symbol for sin. It destroys my body, digs pits in my teeth, ruins my self-esteem, spikes my insulin and gives me diabetes, clogs my arteries, and wreaks havoc on hormone balance... all the while promising in exchange about 4 minutes of ephemeral mouth-watering bliss. Yeah. Sin does about the same thing with my spirit.

So how do I avoid sin? I'm better at avoiding sin than I am avoiding junk food - that's for sure. But it's the same set of principles. Make it unavailable. Don't go places where there is easy access. Always have something meaningful and worthwhile to do. Realize the feelings that make me more vulnerable - like stress, depression, and fatigue - and stay in good environments when those feelings arise. Don't wait in the presence of sin. And I'm not sure how the last one fits into the metaphor.

Hopefully I can apply them in all ways... and eliminate both junk food and sin from my life.

Thursday, March 17

Living Close

The flowers outside the Provo temple are blooming. Looking out the west entrance, sprays of who-knows-what kind of colored blossoms dot the ground. But looking back toward the temple, at the rows closest to the temple walls, a strange phenomenon presents itself. Everywhere else on the temple grounds, the plants are randomly in bloom, with a few small blossoms surrounded by masses of still-undeveloped foliage. But in the rows closest to the temple, every flower is in full bloom. Even the tiny daffodils are open - the only ones blooming anywhere - and the ornamental grasses are twice as tall when compared to those bordering the walkway.

Amazingly, though, it is only the first two rows that show benefit from closeness. By the time you reach the third row, which is only maybe 5 feet from the temple walls, the plants act just like those in any other row - sporadic blooms and plenty of underdeveloped green. Only the very close ones exhibit the spectacular growth.

The flowers closest to the temple get approximately the same amount of light compared to those two rows away. They get the same amount of water, the same fertilizer, and were planted at the same time with the same size plants. So what is the secret to their success? Living close to the temple.

The temple is the house of the Lord. But in addition to having an abundance of His Spirit, it also always has people coming and going. The last shift of the night ends and the cleaning crews arrive, and the last cleaner leaves shortly after the temple presidency arrives in the morning. Because of that, the temple is always heated... and that heat radiates out through the stone walls and foundation, warming a thin layer of soil about 5 feet wide. Plants growing in this soil have an added support against freezing weather and changing weather patterns. Year after year, the constant warmth of the temple ensures that the plants closest to the temple are the strongest.

Looking at my life, the times when I live close to God are the times when, somehow, my problems seem easier to bear. Doing the right things, and seeing the fruits of my faith, seems easier, and I find myself wanting to read the scriptures, serve others, share the gospel, pray... The trials of life seem to melt away - I rarely find myself depressed, and temptations seem simple to overcome.

But just being there isn't enough. I have to be close to God. And, for me, that makes all the difference.

I can't just read my scriptures and expect to see visions and receive revelation for my life. I have to study, search, ponder, and apply them in my life... which usually takes much more time than 5 minutes before I fall asleep.

I can't say a quick prayer at all the right times and expect to have an intimate relationship with God. I have to plead with Him, understand His will, and listen and watch for answers all around me.

Living the gospel is great. Most of the flowers on the temple grounds will eventually bloom and look beautiful. Many of God's children will eventually acknowledge Him and turn to Him. But I want something better. I want to thrive here on Earth - to revel in the glories of life even while the storm is raging. I'm a (gay) Mormon guy with lots of problems. For me, living life on the outer edges of the gospel, according to the letter of the law, isn't enough. If I want to truly feel the power and influence that God can have in my life, I have to live close.

Tuesday, March 15

Japan: The Unreported Catastrophe

The massive earthquake that hit off the coast of Japan triggered a tectonic shift that moved the sea floor dozens of feet - resulting in a huge wave that hit the country's coastline only minutes after the main impact of the quake. In the aftermath, journalism has blurred into the sensational, as nuclear power plants experience one-in-a-million scenarios and declare nuclear emergencies, thousands are declared dead or missing, and the fragile world economy floats, waiting for impact from the potential devastation of its 3rd-largest contributor. Video feeds show cars, boats, houses, and planes that were picked up by the tsunami and smashed into bridges, buildings, and homes, crushing signs of society in a moment. Tens of thousands are without homes, and even as I write, the world stands poised to potentially face a nuclear catastrophe that would put Chernobyl to shame.

But there is another story that I have not seen reported - a story whose metaphors, to me, are far more compelling than fields of devastated homes and whose impact dwarfs a nuclear meltdown.

Alongside each natural disaster in the course of humanity comes a potential crisis in the faith of mankind. Some are able to see and understand the hand of God in all things, including catastrophes of nature... but some, upon witnessing the suffering of mortality, look to the sky and wonder, "Why?"

Their questions are heartfelt and sincere. Why would a loving God allow such massive suffering to occur? How could He stand back and watch as Saints and sinners are swept away, leaving families torn apart and dreams ravaged? Why doesn't He intervene on our behalf, if He truly loves us, and has the power to help us? Why do bad things happen to good people?

In the wake of the tidal wave that destroyed Japan came a wave of doubt, anguish, and despair that, with instant global communication, swept the entire modern world without warning. People as far away as the UK and Norway felt its impact... and as I write no number has even been begun to count the casualties of faith. Countless men and women, watching the story unfold through newspaper and television, will turn to the sky and curse God, or decide to simply deny His presence altogether. And while the ravages on the economy, human life, and infrastructure will prompt immediate reconstruction, rebuilding faith, in some cases, may never happen.

Families will be torn apart, lives destroyed, dreams shattered as members of humanity lose faith in their Creator. But, unlike the wave that left only devastation in its wake, there is another side to this story. Because while some of humanity questions the existence of a loving God in the face of adversity, others turn to Him, and grow stronger and stronger in their faith.

All over the world, men and women who haven't prayed for years feel a desire to kneel and approach God, imploring Him to bless their lives and give them hope and understanding. They find peace in doing their part to help rebuild a ravaged world - to open their homes and checkbooks for people they don't know - the nameless brothers and sisters of humanity - with an assurance that their monetary investments will never bring a physical return. Others turn from their sins and ask God to help them rebuild the infrastructure of their lives - abandoning alcoholism to return to a family, resolving feuds and fights, and combining to help change the world.

So what is the answer? If He truly loves us and has the power to alleviate suffering, why does God allow bad things to happen to good people?

The answer is this: He doesn't.

In God's eyes, all things work together for the good of those that love God and serve Him. The earthquake in Japan, like the personal catastrophes that happen every day, gives me an opportunity to choose - to turn to Him and grow in faith, or turn away. To reach out and help my fellow men, or to simply continue life as if nothing had ever happened. And in that choice lies the essence of mortality. This life is the time for men to prepare to meet God... and what we do and who we are in this life determines our relationship with Him.

I'll continue finding ways to help with the physical devastation of Japan. People need food, clean water, shelter, and safety to regain their lives. But, as I do, I know that a greater crusade will be gathering the invisible casualties of faith - finding ways to heal the brokenhearted, lift up the downcast, and raise the spiritually dead. I'm just another guy who happens to write here on (Gay) Mormon Guy. Someday, when the books are opened, I hope that I can read of the miracles that are happening and will take place as men and women of faith turn to God and do their part to rebuild their spiritual world. Hopefully, when my name is mentioned, I'll be able to say I did my part.

Monday, March 14

So What?

A friend told me he thought his elders quorum president could be gay.

Someone told me I was way too intense in keeping promises made to others - and it was about a promise I had made to someone else.

Both of the girls that seemed interested in me a few weeks ago seem much less interested now.

So what does that mean? How should those honestly affect my life or someone else's? 

If my elder's quorum president were attracted to guys (I definitely don't think mine is), I'd go out of my way to be his friend... which is something I already do. 

Part of being a friend, to me, means being willing to make any commitment in behalf of a friend, then doing everything in my power to keep it... which means that some people will always think I'm weird for being so committed. But keeping my commitments, at any cost, will always be a facet of my friendship.

And if a girl isn't interested in me, then trying to draw her into the complicated and chaotic web of who I am (my blog - gay Mormon guy - included) is definitely not worth it. Girls have said that dating me is a positive life-changing experience (which I usually have to question), but I would never wish the turmoil that stimulates those changes on anyone without their eyes fully open.

So what does life and its many twists and turns have to do with me? I know who I am. I'm a son of God, traveling slowly on the path back to Him. Slowly trying to understand what I need to do in life to better build His kingdom. Sometimes situations come up that require massive, painful changes in who I am... but often, just following the course I've already set out for myself is enough to overcome the daily trials in the way. Prayer. Scripture study. Meditation. Finding ways to serve others.

God is with me, and He will be at my side as long as I follow Him. He has promised that He will help me to overcome everything in life and to be happy now and always. So when life tosses me trials, often this is my response: So what?

Sunday, March 13

True Acceptance

When I was young, I would have given anything to feel "accepted" by others. People loved me for who I was, and I definitely felt it, but for some reason everything I did seemed to isolate me. It wasn't an obvious thing - just something in the back of my mind... as if people were constantly disapproving of what I did.

I agree that I'm definitely intense. And not like most other people (this blog is called (Gay) Mormon Guy). But I still wanted the mark of approval from society on my life. Whatever the issue, I realized I had only two options if I wanted people to completely accept me - somehow make them change to accept my choices, or change my choices to be "more acceptable."

In both cases, there's incredible danger. If I change my choices and actions for acceptance from just anywhere, I will almost always end up shooting for a bar far lower than what God has in store for me. On the other hand, if I try to convince others to accept my actions, I am asserting that my bar is high enough - again, running the definite risk that I may be complacent with the happiness that my life brings when there could be better things in store.

Hopefully I'm being clear that this is about condoning actions. People have always loved me. I've always known that. But love is different from condoning and supporting who I am... and my friends and colleagues rarely supported me when I declined major school events that happened on Sunday, or didn't play sports on Sunday, or when I felt a greater responsibility to my personal relationship with God than to anything else. Or whatever else it was. I wanted them to understand and accept my actions - to condone them and, by doing so, somehow eliminate the feeling of being ostracized by society for my choices.

I tried changing who I was within the bounds of the gospel. Then I tried changing the people to help them see my vision. But in the years that have passed, I've realized that what I wanted - the feeling of true acceptance and support of my choices in life - can't come from society. True acceptance, of me and my choices, can only come from someone who knows me and my circumstances completely... and there is only One - God - who does. Yes, society could be nicer to those who choose to live their lives honestly, openly, with faith. But that's not the issue, because even if society accepted me it wouldn't fill my need. Even if I became world famous and everyone loved me, it wouldn't make a difference... because no one can see inside my mind to who I really am - to judge me for my actions and to support me in the good things I try to do. Looking for acceptance anywhere other than from God is looking too low. Only God knows me. And only He truly understands the measure of worth and value... and can give the stamp of approval that I needed... the true measure of acceptance for who I am.

God loves all His children, and He approves of the actions that follow His Plan to bring us back to Him someday. Today I know that God accepts and approves of me, and that's all that really matters. 

But God's acceptance is only temporary. It only counts for today. 

And with His acceptance comes a sacred obligation to raise the bar higher and higher - and to never let my eyes leave heaven. I think that focusing on acceptance from the world lowers my sights and easily leads to complacency. God holds me to an ever higher standard. And as it rises I will rise to the occasion. As I go through life, I'm sure He will continue to raise the bar of my actions and what He expects of me... because He understands me completely. And as I turn to Him, He will give me the strength to clear the bar, every time... 

Today I'm good. Tomorrow I hope to be better. And, in the end, I hope to hear my God say, "Well done, thou true and faithful servant... Enter into the rest of the Lord."

Saturday, March 12

Some Things I Appreciate in Women

So my heart doesn't skip a beat when I see them. My throat doesn't go dry when I try to speak, and when we touch I don't feel butterflies. But there are definitely things that I love to see in women... and that hopefully will continue to develop as I make friends and try to become a better person. Here are a few of them. These probably used to be on the "ideal wife" list before I scrapped it.

1. Strong body. I love being able to run alongside someone and not have to stop... or to work together doing heavy lifting or manual labor. It doesn't have to be bodybuilder strength - just the ability to do anything she will need to do, and to work alongside me.

2. Strong mind. I'm intense. I love women who counter my intensity with their own and who can think about every subject under the sun - who make me think about life and all its majesties.

3. Strong will. I love women who have their own thoughts and opinions on life, and who are assertive - who aren't afraid to share them. ("How about a girl who's got a brain and always speaks her mind?")

4. Strong Spirit. I love women who have developed a depth of character by following the Spirit in their lives. They listen to God, have a personal relationship with Him, and integrate the gospel into every aspect of their lives. And, with their faith in God, nothing is impossible.

5. Love for others. This is not tolerance or acceptance of others. To me, those are low-tier feelings, when love is definitely a dozen tiers higher. I appreciate women who see people as they are and who they can become - and do everything in their power to help them come closer to Christ... including me.

6+. I love women who make me laugh, make me cry, inspire me to be a better man... women who love to lose themselves in my presence and who can command the attention of a crowded room... women who love children and everything in life, who are incredibly optimistic (because of faith - not naïveté), and who are anxious to give everything in their lives to bless the lives of others and to build the Kingdom of God.

There are a lot of things that I value in women - probably because I value many of them in my own life. I may not be able to answer the blond or brunette questions, or even tell you what color eyes I like best... but as far as spiritually, mentally, and socially... I feel like I'm able to understand the types of women I might be compatible with. I think. At least that's my thought right now; if God indicates a different direction I'll definitely follow it.

Friday, March 11

Coming to Zion

When I was little I dreamed of being alive when the prophets called for people to come to Zion. The thought of leaving everything behind to go to some faraway place was uniquely appealing in my mind - even though it probably meant I'd have to make new friends, walk a thousand miles, or eat somewhat tasteless roots for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

I'm sure that at least part of my fascination was a misunderstanding of the hardships that the pioneers actually faced. If I got hot on a summer day, I could walk inside, grab a glass of ice-cold water, and relax in the air-conditioned air. They didn't have air conditioning or ice in the middle of the summer - it was a totally different world. If I were called to Zion today, I'd have an air-conditioned ride, plenty of food, and constant communication with the outside world.

Another issue was my belief that Zion would be a perfect place that I could just go be a part of, without any work on my part. In reality, people are imperfect, and building Zion is a joint effort among everyone involved - gay Mormon guys included. I have my own trials and temptations to overcome, and my own abilities to build the kingdom.

As time has passed, I've realized that coming to Zion doesn't have to involve walking a thousand miles or even gathering to a physical location. Like the children's song says, "you don't have to push a handcart, leave your family dear, or walk a thousand miles or more to be a pioneer." Zion is the pure in heart, and just as I can stand in holy places by being holy, I can build Zion where I stand - whether I live among the Saints or in the middle of nowhere.

I think that's what I love best about the concept of Zion - the vested role that each member plays in its success. It's not a place I go to be among the perfect; it's an attitude of perfecting others - of reaching out and doing my part to build the people and improve my world.

Zion is the pure in heart - not the place, but the feeling of truly loving God and consecrating my life and talents to Him. Hopefully, as life passes me by, I can find my own way to be a part of Zion - to answer the call to come unto Christ - and continue to make my part of the world brighter, happier, and closer to God... and lift others who are on their own journey to Zion.

Thursday, March 10

Waiting for Someday to Come


I've been promised that a lot of things will happen someday. Fall in love with my future wife, marry her in the temple, have a great marriage and raise righteous, happy children. Affect the world in my chosen field. Be strong in the Church and grow righteous enough so that, like Captain Moroni, I'll be entirely free of the influence of Satan in my life. Someday.

My parents instilled in me a deep sense of industry, though - and so my waiting is a little more intense than the norm. I can't sit in a hospital waiting room and leaf idly through magazines, or sit idly outside the bishop's office for an interview. I guess the issue is that I have trouble just waiting - and so while I wait, I work on something else. If I'm expecting a phone call, I take my phone with me outside to run, or to the gym. I take girls out who I think would enjoy it for low-stakes, fun dates while I'm trying to figure out who to really ask. And while I wait on the Lord to help me understand His will for me, I write my innermost thoughts and broadcast them to the world as (Gay) Mormon Guy.

I used to simply ask for the blessings I knew I needed. Now, when I turn to the Lord, I find myself asking Him to prepare me for blessings, and help me find opportunities to serve, as much as I ask for the blessings themselves. While single, I've met people all over the world and had the opportunity to be a part of their lives - something that I may not have been as quick to do while married with children. (I definitely would have never started this blog, either) And, as I've waited, and worked, and prayed, I've seen changes in my own life - imperfections slowly buffed away and character developed into who I someday want to be.

In the end, the hopes I have for someday are widely different than the hopes that God has for me. I want to fall in love, be married, and grow with my family in righteousness. God wants me to be the best father and husband I can - and so He is teaching me now, with opportunities only available while I'm single. I want to shout the joy of the truth from the rooftops; He wants me to better understand the people, the message, and how to compose my words to be applicable - so that I'm not just shouting. I want to return to live with Him someday; He wants me to become more like Him today.

I'll keep waiting. I know that He will fulfill His promises to me - He's God. When He makes a promise, He always keeps it. But getting to someday probably requires effort on my part, and so I keep moving, working, praying... while I'm waiting for someday to come.

Wednesday, March 9

So I Smile

Sometimes when I was little I would have smiling contests with myself. I would grin as hard as I could until the sides of my mouth hurt and I could taste the burn in my cheeks. I'm sure I looked absurd with a massive grin plastered on my face (it was often during Primary at Church), but, as I smiled, I found myself wanting to smile even more - happy for life and all its majesties.

And so it is right now. I look at everything in my life - and from the outside it could be really easy to say that life is hard, or unpredictable, or just not ideal. My social life is in disarray, as is my professional and every other facet of life. And I smile. I wouldn't change anything. I love who I am, the things I've learned, the relationship I have with my God. Life is great. Today was great, tomorrow will be great, and so will every day be great after that.

God loves me. He answers my prayers. And while in the world's eyes I will probably always be a gay Mormon guy, in my eyes, and in His, I am His son.

Men are that they might have joy.

True joy is possible, even when my dreams are on hold, the storm is raging, and the world is turned against me. 

So I smile.

Tuesday, March 8

Outside of Eden

It snowed. And I'm grateful - for both the snow and the reminder that Spring is on its way. The weather has been amazing lately - warm, sunny days, ever-present rain... this might be the last time it snows (until mid-May when a crazy storm hits or something like that) this season.

Everything is symbolic in life - and the thoughts I had this morning walking through the snow were about trials in life. If life, like it was in the Garden of Eden, were an ever-bearing Spring, with amazing sights and beauty for years on end, no trials, no sorrow, and only peace, there would be things I would miss... principles I would forget... and people I would never meet.

God knows me and loves me - and so He didn't send me to Eden. He sent me to a fallen world, as a gay Mormon guy, to a mortal body full of "thorns of the flesh." And while sometimes I live in the Springtime of life, I also live through the blazes of Summer, the swirling storms of Autumn, and the freezing blizzards of Winter. Trees in the forest grow best in alternating conditions. During Spring and Summer, they experience massive growth. During Autumn and Winter, they create layers of hardened wood. Combining the two together gives the strength and breadth to withstand massive trials and support heavy burdens.

I'm grateful for the times of Winter in my life, and for the times of Spring - for the alternating lessons they teach me and the man they are helping me become. The imperfections that God gave me from birth (and yes, God did give us all imperfections - if it's not obvious from life, it teaches that in the scriptures) are the blessings Adam and Eve traded for ever-bearing fruit and eternal Spring. And as I've turned to God He has made me strong.

"I give unto all men weakness... That they may come unto me. And if they will come unto me I will make weak things strong unto them..."

Yeah, life would be great in a perfect Eden. But life outside is better.

Monday, March 7

Being a Christian

Last night at the CES Fireside - a meeting for young adults in the Church, Elder Perry of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles spoke about the importance of helping the world return to the basics of Christianity. The opening and closing songs were "Onward Christian Soldiers" and "Let Us All Press On" - both incredible songs that make my heart race.

As he spoke, I found myself comparing his message to the world I live in. In recent years, the world leaders of Christianity have watched as the world has become more and more permissive, obscene, and dishonest. The laws of broadcast decency have stretched and broken; Christian morals that used to be a basic tenet of society are now called into question on their standing for the public field. Men and women fought on battlefields hundreds of years ago for the right to live their faith - today they fight each other in courtrooms for the right to live without it.

So what can I do? I look at my life - my blog, my family, my colleagues and friends. Except for blog readers, almost everyone I know is Christian. And so the way that I can help them is by sharing the testimony that I have of Christ and His grace in my life. By reminding them of the simple things in life that give us our connection with God. Praying sincerely and honestly. Studying the Holy Scriptures daily. Serving others daily. And turning to God in times of joy and sorrow.

I'm a gay Mormon guy. There are a lot of people who think I'd be happier, better off, and more fulfilled if I were openly gay. But I'm not. And I don't believe what other people tell me. I believe what God tells me and what I can reason with the intellect He has given me. I believe Christ when He promises that He has overcome the world and all the trials I face. As I follow His commandments, He gives me incredible happiness. He gives me peace and hope. It's worth any price. And, someday, when my time on earth is complete, He will make me into a better man than I could ever do alone. By His grace, I will be saved. And that's why I'm a Christian.

Sunday, March 6

Let Us All Press On!

Note to new readers (from CJane & elsewhere): My blog is a little haphazard. Check out the Post Index for a shortened, but comprehensive, introduction. And thanks for coming.

A few months ago I got an influx of readers from a popular "Mormon mommy blog" named CJane. Somewhere in the comments section was a reference to my blog that got clicked by a bunch of people - some of whom became regular readers and commenters here.

I don't often read Mormon mommy blogs. But I know people who think Courtney (the author of CJane) is really inspirational, so I thanked her for sending readers and helping people to live better lives. In the email dialogue that followed I wrote a guest post that should be posted on CJane today. The blog address is

The title of the piece is "In Our Own Way" and focuses on finding ways to help others along the pathway to happiness and returning to God. Once I have entered into the path, though, am I done? No. Getting on the path is only the beginning.

There's a beautiful Christian battle hymn called "Let Us All Press On" that I'd like to share. The lyrics are more compelling than anything I could write.

Let us all press on in the work of the Lord
That when life is over we may gain a reward
In the fight for right let us wield a sword
The mighty sword of truth!

Fear not, though the enemy deride.
We will be victorious, for the Lord is on our side.
We'll not fear the wicked, nor give heed to what they say
For the Lord alone we will obey!

We will not retreat, though our numbers may be few
When compared with the opposite host in view
But an unseen power will aid me and you
In the glorious cause of truth!

If we do what's right we have no need to fear
For the Lord, our helper, will ever be near
In the days of trial His saints He will cheer
And prosper the cause of truth!

I may not know exactly what my future holds, but I know that as I put my trust and faith in God, He will ever be near. In my days of trial, even as a gay Mormon guy, He lifts my heart and gives me strength to press on and do my part in the cause of truth.

Saturday, March 5

Thriving. Not Just Surviving. are that they might have joy.

Have I mentioned recently how amazing life is? I know. Sometimes I am awfully and completely depressed. But today, with the sun shining and birds singing, I'm happy to be alive. Today it feels like anything is possible.

I'm reminded of the importance of keeping all of God's commandments - including the one to be happy. Christ commanded us to be of good cheer, to share our burdens with him, and to have peace... and in Nephi it clearly relates that God will give no commandment without also creating a way by which that commandment can be fulfilled.

For me, the biggest issue has been being willing to give the Lord all my worries. I worry about living up to the promises He's given me. I worry about affecting people. I worry about being a gay Mormon guy and dating and girls and relationships and Church callings and everything. And worst of all, I sometimes worry about if the Lord will actually keep His part of the promise. Turning to Him, and relying on Him, the answer is always clear. Put the Lord and His commandments first, and everything else will work out for the best. Not just work out - it will work out for the best.

So that's how I live my life. One day at a time, putting my faith in God, and reveling in the sunshine when it shows between the clouds. Tomorrow will be a new day, but while today lasts I will do my best to make it my own. To seize the moment, count my blessings, wish upon a falling star, climb mountains, build hopes and dreams... and thrive.

It's good to be alive.

Friday, March 4

Seven Truths I've Learned (From Being a Gay Mormon)

1. God really does answer my prayers.

I used to believe that God wasn't really all-powerful. Not in those words, but I didn't fully believe that just turning to Him could really ease the pain in my life. I've realized that sincere prayer often does more to help me feel loved, understood, valued, and inspired than anything else. I can honestly say that God is my friend; hopefully someday I can also say that I am His.

2. Modern prophets and others receive revelation on my behalf

I love sitting in General Conference or another meeting with my notes out in front of me, the questions I've recently pondered written at the top of the page... and then listening as speaker after speaker explains the Lord's will as if He were speaking directly to me. I sometimes wonder if God spends too much time listening and responding to me as one gay Mormon guy... but then I realize that He can and will do the same for everyone. That's pretty cool.

3. The little things make a big difference

People talk about the importance of studying the scriptures daily, having daily prayer, going to Church... but a huge number of people have trouble actually doing the little things. I've realized that holding on to the word of God is important. When I have the world and my inner demons pulling as hard as they can, I have to do everything possible to stay attached to the gospel.

4. I am the ruler of my destiny

A whole lot of people may say that I am born the way I am and that I can't change. But not being able to change doesn't determine my destiny. Blind men have won Olympic medals. Deaf men have written symphonies. And gay men have fallen madly in love with a woman, married, had children, and lived happily ever after. It takes a whole lot of work. More work than most people think is possible or reasonable. But, with God, all good things are possible. With Him, I can do anything. I'm the ruler of my destiny.

5. I can affect the world

Sometimes I look at the things I do in life - work, free time, social life - and muse about their impact on the world. Honestly, most of what I do doesn't have a huge effect. But when I find a way to lift someone - to inspire them, or to light their eyes with truth, then I realize deep inside that I can affect the world in a meaningful way.

6. Everything works together for the good of them that love and serve God

There have been times when I wanted to die. Literally. But when I turned to God and explained my pain, He always took it away and gave me the injunction to serve others. And as I found ways to serve them, I felt hope. Today I look back on my life, with being Mormon and gay, and can see the hand of God in everything. There are things I've learned from this that I couldn't learn any other way. And, as long as I'm faithful to the end, it will all work out.

7. Life is good

Happiness is partially a choice. I can think optimistically, see the good in the world and others, and try to be up all the time. But happiness is also a gift from God - like it explains at the end of Mosiah 2. "Keep[ing] the commandments of God" is the key to being happy. As long as I'm doing that, nothing else matters.

As an afterthought, I am still sort of uncomfortable calling myself a gay Mormon. If you search for gay Mormons on Google you normally get a lot of people who don't fully believe what the Church teaches - they aren't fully believing Mormons. And the word gay is sometimes used to describe someone who engages in homosexual activities and sometimes used to describe same-sex attraction. In both cases I usually try to be more articulate in my word choice. But my choice has backfired, as I got a message from Google that my blog's main keyword was "Christmas." Hence the rebranding effort.

Thursday, March 3

Strength from Fasting

So I broke my blog & food fast a few days early. You know how whenever you start to fast people start to offer you all sorts of amazing food that they never would have otherwise? Life is so ironic... For the first day I was fine, but when a friend wanted to take me to lunch, and I hadn't seen them in years, I decided that God had accepted my fast and broke it after a day and a half instead of three.

When I was little I wondered if it would be possible to fast for 40 days and 40 nights, like Moses did after the angel gave him food to eat, or like Christ in the wilderness. I couldn't imagine going without food and water for more than one day, let alone 40. They must have been superhuman or something.

I still wonder if I could go 40 days without food. Without water I'd probably die unless I lived in a really, really humid environment, ate tons of salt beforehand to drastically increase water retention, and somehow absorbed enough moisture to stay alive. But going without food would be interesting.

Fasting actually changes how the body processes food and nutrients. At the beginning of a fast, the muscles use up their stores of glycogen and ATP, reserving glucose for the brain and its functions. As time progresses and there's still no more food coming in, each organ and muscle group slowly begins the transition from burning only glucose to burning ketones - essentially shards of fatty acids that have been converted to a more usable form by the liver. The brain is usually the last holdout, but it, too, begins using ketones for energy, also eating any glucose that is left, anywhere.

At the beginning of a prolonged fast, while the body is changing its source of energy, it's pretty common to feel tired. I remember feeling it on my mission - we'd be biking and I would feel much more exhausted than usual (especially when appointments were ten miles away, partially uphill) on Fast Sundays and the evening before. My brain usually went on strike as well. But as time goes on, and each muscle group switches its energy source, the exhaustion and intense hunger lessens, and the body regains its ability to function properly - even without food from the outside... and my brain turns on and functions differently than before.

I think there's a spiritual metaphor there, but I'll let you find it this time. I'm not condoning prolonged fasts for the general population or anyone else. This blog is obviously not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, medicate, or whatever any medical condition. But I've found that the clarity of thought and strength of will that comes from fasting for a few days (instead of just one) is well worth the extra growling in my stomach. It gives me an opportunity to constantly remember God throughout the days, and gives me extra time to pray, read my scriptures, and dedicate my life to Him.

Wednesday, March 2

Meaning from Chaos

Blog Fast: Day 2

My life has been beyond crazy recently. Everything seems to go wrong, depression strikes, friends disappear, and family members seem totally clueless to what I'm going through. It's actually a pretty normal outline of how life has been for the last many years, but I've been realizing more and more that my life, with its chaos and constant ups and downs, isn't the norm, among Mormons, gay Mormons, or even gay Mormon guys. Most people are way more chill than I am in life – even other gay Mormon guys, and even though I find huge amounts of peace in living the gospel and turning to God, most people don't live their lives in constant upheaval unless they're bipolar.

So I went to the temple asking for direction. Asking for help and meaning – trying to understand what makes me tick, and why my life is constantly racing at breakneck speed when everyone else seems able to nonchalantly stroll. And the answer I got was striking.

The Lord gives us each exactly what we need to give us the best chance to return to Him. That's how He determines our trials, our gifts, our talents, our blessings, the events and circumstances in our lives over which we have little control. But that extends to others as well – the Lord gives them exactly what they need to give them the best chance to return to Him. Exactly why I live with being attracted to guys when the next guy over seems to have life all figured out? I don't know. But I know that, right now, there are lessons I need to learn from my life and lessons he needs to learn from his. Who knows – maybe he'll end up getting cancer at 45 and having to learn some lesson then. Maybe I'll have already learned the lesson another way, or I'll get cancer at 45, too. Ultimately, though, life is completely and totally fair – not equal, but fair – designed with our eternal well-being in mind and crafted perfectly for each individual who ever came to this earth.

So I embrace the constant upheaval of my life. I have the tools to conquer my depression, to reach out and to bless others, and to slowly become better. And, somehow, I find myself finding pearls of meaning among the chaos.

Tuesday, March 1

Proximity to Girls. And Closer.

My Blog Fast: Day 1

I'm not going to blog today. I actually wrote this post yesterday, along with the posts for tomorrow, and Thursday. I have a lot on my plate right now, and so I'm doing a blog fast (along with a normal one) to focus my thoughts. It simply entails not reading or writing any blogs and not checking my blog-related emails for a few days.

Why? It was a thought I had, and I need all the help I can get right now. I decided to try it. There isn't really a reason why.

But that's fine - on to the post.

Part of the issue of not being attracted to girls is the awkwardness of being physically near them. It's like when they had cooties all over again, except way, way worse... and no chance of ever growing out of it.

I have a friend who recently expressed her frustration because I never touch her. She's totally right - I don't. In my mind there's a reason... but I am contemplating change.

I've never actually had a huge problem touching girls; the issue comes when I think about the nonverbal social messages that come with touch. Hug at the end of an encounter = I really enjoy being in your company. Hug at the end of a date = I feel really comfortable with you. More hugs at the end of dates = I must really like hugging you... and so on.

I can't even imagine the messages that get sent from cuddling on the couch... but, wait a second. I'm being a bit unreasonable. Actually thinking about it, the underlying social messages can't
be all that intense. Guys cuddle with girls all the time and then never talk to each other again. Hey - they have makeout sessions and never talk to each other again.

So why am I so concerned about sending the wrong messages?

I think that part of it is wanting to be completely honest with girls. If I'm uncomfortable with my arm around a girl, I probably won't put my arm around her. And I probably won't kiss her at the doorway. More like a definite no on that one. I've made way too many girls cry already to do anything that would lead them on when our feelings aren't completely mutual.

But at the same time, physical proximity, and touch, are a vital way of developing attraction, and of showing I care about others. And touch plays a part even in friendship and totally nonromantic relationships. In the case of my friend, I find I'm unwilling even to hug girls until I know for sure that they have no glimmering hope that I'll fall in love with them. And while that may accurately express my lack of romantic desire, being standoffish is a type of disapproval that can really hurt.

So I guess that I've decided to change two things in my life. Sort of scary. I'll be more open with touch and other nonverbal ways to show I really do care when I'm around girls... and at the same time I'll be more vocal with girls who have romantic hopes to explain the meaning of what I do... and the realities of the difficulties of being more than my friend.

I'm not sure how this is going to work. I can already see myself with a girl on each arm watching a movie... and having major issues. But it's worth a try, right? Ready, set...