Tuesday, May 31

Glorying in the Lord

When I started writing here at (Gay) Mormon Guy, I made the commitment to be honest. To lay all the cards on the table and play them like I see them, from my perspective. My hope was to be completely transparent... and in some way open up my experiences, thoughts, motivations, and feelings so that others could develop their own ideas and commitments in their own lives. That's why I write here - the hope that people will be able to find hope, peace, and faith somehow.

Sometimes, though, laying all the cards on the table has negative effects. For some reason... It's only okay to talk about my experiences as long as they prove my ultimate mediocrity. As a blogger, I could talk about a struggle preparing for and taking the LSAT, but mentioning that I got a perfect score, in all but the narrowest of contexts, could be easily misconstrued as arrogance.

It's a part of culture that, from my perspective, encourages me to truly embrace mediocrity as the social norm, instead of focusing on the reality of the good inside me. And, honestly, I don't understand it. I'm a candid person, in life and here, and if people take offense with my communication, then I guess I expect them to identify it so I can explain context. 

The first time it happened here, came with a vitriolic response to a memories about my mission; I had a great mission and was incredibly blessed while serving, and the reader took affront to that assertion. The only reason I had included that info was because someone had asked... and when I realized he was affronted, I tried to explain. Another reader felt it was arrogant to ask people to post their success stories - because of how I had written the invitation. Another more recent difficulty took the form of trying to share the mass of personal communications I get via email, without having to read hundreds of pages. Comments about how principles of the gospel have helped people change speak for themselves, but mixing them into a cohesive set creates difficulty. A good example is the transcript of how I felt I'd try to talk with my parents. I'll be honest. I have been amazed at the comments and letters I've received over the last year. The stories vary with each person - a wife who woke up in the middle of the night, somehow found (Gay) Mormon Guy, and then an hour later, her husband told her that he was attracted to men. A husband who was ready to file for divorce and again, somehow found (Gay) Mormon Guy and decided to talk with his bishop, find a therapist, and says he is happier than ever. Teenagers who had already planned their suicide and found (Gay) Mormon Guy... and found hope in the fact that someone else had been in their place and made it.

Do people change? Yes! Are there miracles? Yes! The gospel is an amazing thing - it changes lives and saves souls. And together I raise my voice with Ammon as he gloried in the Lord in Alma 26 -

11 But Ammon said unto him: I do not boast in my own strength, nor in my own wisdom; but behold, my joy is full, yea, my heart is brim with joy, and I will rejoice in my God.
12 Yea, I know that I am nothing; as to my strength I am weak; therefore I will not boast of myself, but I will boast of my God, for in his strength I can do all things; yea, behold, many mighty miracles we have wrought in this land, for which we will praise his name forever.
13 Behold, how many thousands of our brethren has he loosed from the pains of hell; and they are brought to sing redeeming love, and this because of the power of his word which is in us, therefore have we not great reason to rejoice?
14 Yea, we have reason to praise him forever, for he is the Most High God, and has loosed our brethren from the chains of hell.
15 Yea, they were encircled about with everlasting darkness and destruction; but behold, he has brought them into his everlasting light, yea, into everlasting salvation; and they are encircled about with the matchless bounty of his love; yea, and we have been instruments in his hands of doing this great and marvelous work.
16 Therefore, let us glory, yea, we will glory in the Lord; yea, we will rejoice, for our joy is full; yea, we will praise our God forever. Behold, who can glory too much in the Lord? Yea, who can say too much of his great power, and of his mercy, and of his long-suffering towards the children of men? Behold, I say unto you, I cannot say the smallest part which I feel.
17 Who could have supposed that our God would have been so merciful as to have snatched us from our awful, sinful, and polluted state?

35 Now have we not reason to rejoice? Yea, I say unto you, there never were men that had so great reason to rejoice as we, since the world began; yea, and my joy is carried away, even unto boasting in my God; for he has all power, all wisdom, and all understanding; he comprehendeth all things, and he is a merciful Being, even unto salvation, to those who will repent and believe on his name.
36 Now if this is boasting, even so will I boast; for this is my life and my light, my joy and my salvation, and my redemption from everlasting wo. Yea, blessed is the name of my God, who has been mindful of this people, who are a branch of the tree of Israel, and has been lost from its body in a strange land; yea, I say, blessed be the name of my God, who has been mindful of us, wanderers in a strange land.
37 Now my brethren, we see that God is mindful of every people, whatsoever land they may be in; yea, he numbereth his people, and his bowels of mercy are over all the earth. Now this is my joy, and my great thanksgiving; yea, and I will give thanks unto my God forever. Amen.

The Lord has not forgotten me. And He has not forgotten His children who, like me, have felt to be wanderers, outcasts, sinners, and forsaken. He is the God of the Universe, and will grant me my desires according to my faith and His will... and If I am faithful, someday He will save me, and I can help in my own way to make a difference. And, for that, I will give thanks unto my God forever.

Monday, May 30

"Some Gays Can Change"

I recently received a well-written comment here that empathized with my frustration in relationships and the concomitant tension caused by attraction to guys. But at first I didn't publish it, because part of it didn't ring true to me.

The part of the comment that kept playing over and over in my mind said, "And as frustrating as this experience is for me, it at least brings me peace in the certitude of the immutability of those natural sympathies toward men."

My first thought was to appeal to the teachings of the prophets, and I immediately thought of Elder Oaks speaking about the possibility of change for some people. Or the talks that strongly instill the doctrine that homosexuality is not a part of eternal identity - it did not exist in the Premortal world, and like other physical conditions, will not exist for the righteous after death. But while the teachings of the prophets are enough for me, society functions on a completely different level. Yes, anyone who listens, ponders, and prays for guidance can know the truth of principles of the gospel for themselves, but if change is really possible - something that a true belief in the Atonement has to allow, as it is by definition "infinite and eternal" - then there should be more than just teachings of the prophets available as well. 

The prompting came to me that I needed to actually do some research on the scientific evidence supporting or refuting the possibility of real, meaningful change... and read the studies documenting change efforts, written by gay activists, university researchers, and everyone else, regardless of their innate bias. 

I already knew that homosexuality had been removed from the manual of psychiatry in 1973, with the exception of "unwanted homosexuality" - which could still be diagnosed and treated. Unwanted homosexuality was deleted 15 years later, in 1987. Whether the choices made by the American Psychiatric Association were due to gay activism or actual scientific studies, from my perspective, shouldn't be as relevant as the findings of current research.

The only problem is that, shortly after the time that homosexuality was deleted from the APA manual, research sort of dried up, especially compared to the visibility of homosexuality in the population at large. Again, whether that was caused by a lack of meaningful reasons to do the studies or a lack of funding tied to political motivations doesn't really reflect on the issue. But there have been studies - dozens of them - that have been done. And the results, today as I read them, have again shocked me.

Each study qualified "recovery" differently, from complete cessation of homosexual attraction and development of heterosexual attraction, to the simple cessation of homosexual attractions or the development of stronger heterosexual ones. But in each of the modern, unbiased, peer-reviewed and published studies of this "reorientation therapy," they detailed success. Real, meaningful change. But there are miracles... and maybe the studies were actually biased in some way. How could I really tell? And then I found the jackpot.

Robert Spitzer, in 1973, was the most influential psychiatrist to spearhead the exclusion of homosexuality from the APA and the deletion of moral exceptions in 1987. In 2000, the APA was set to take the next step - to declare reorientation therapy as dangerous, harmful, and illegal under the guidelines of the APA. In the social moray that ensued, he met hundreds of people who protested the resolution. They claimed, sincerely, that reorientation therapy had helped them make significant changes. A scientist to the core, Spitzer realized that this data went directly against his hypothesis... which also meant that this was his opportunity to have solid proof if he could show that there had been no meaningful change in homosexual attraction.

His study changed his mind, and preserved reorientation therapy as an option for men and women. In a NARTH press release (May 9, 2001) he explained the results of his study thus: "Like most psychiatrists, I thought that homosexual behavior could be resisted, but sexual orientation could not be changed. I now believe that's untrue--some people can and do change." NARTH is definitely a biased source of information. But using an exact quote is pretty safe. And that he was willing to release his findings to NARTH, or at least let them quote him, is indicative that their context was fitting with his own feelings.

He even found that 67% of the males studied who had, before, had no heterosexual attraction, now had good heterosexual functioning.

The caveat of the study was the timeframe necessary to achieve any meaningful change. Unlike a diet, or interventions for many social maladies, sexual reorientation therapy seemed to be completely ineffective for at least two years after beginning in earnest. To me, that's a long time to follow a dedicated, rigorous, outside-influenced schedule without seeing any results. And it could also explain why some people believe it doesn't work or is impossible. He also noted that complete change - as in total cessation of homosexual attractions and perfect functioning of heterosexuality - was somewhat uncommon, as was common in psychiatric interventions. But even in the cases where actual homosexual attractions did swap with heterosexual ones, the therapy gave clients a significantly greater quality of life - a direct affront to the APA's assertion that reorientation therapy is harmful.

His study was met with a firestorm in the media and his personal life. He released the data for meta-analysis and other scientists clamored for the opportunity to find flaws in the research. But each of them also changed their minds as they published articles showing that Spitzer - who really was a good researcher - had done it right. And the data was real. Eventually, his study was peer-reviewed and substantiated enough that it was published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior in October 2003 - psychiatry's leading journal in sexual functioning. And it stands there today.

More studies have cropped up since Spitzer's politically incorrect foray into sexual science, each showing the real possibility of meaningful change, but usually with the caveat that change takes time, huge amounts of effort, a multi-faceted approach, and happens on a scale instead of a yes or no.

So why have I not known about this? I mean, the social media is usually biased, but this much? Even among the community of Mormons who live with this, there is the permeating feeling that change is impossible, even though real clinical research shows definite evidence to the contrary.

I found a quote that made me realize that there are probably some real political reasons that society is inundated with sexual determinism. It was attributed to a member of the APA and published by the Harvard University Press "...it may be that for now, the safest way to advocate for lesbian/gay/bisexual rights is to keep propagating a deterministic model: sexual minorities are born that way and can never be otherwise. If this is an easier route to acceptance (which may in fact be the case), is it really so bad that it is inaccurate?"

So what does that mean for me? Honestly, it gives me an outlet for hope - some type of actual scientific basis to my beliefs that living the gospel, following the Spirit, and choosing the right will ultimately lead to the miracle of falling in love with a woman and raising a happy, eternal family. Will it happen for everyone who tries? Maybe not. Will it be perfect? Probably not. But some people can change... and I think it's worth the effort to see if I can, too.

Sunday, May 29


Sometimes I feel like I'm a hypocrite. 

To most people around me, I look like my life is ideal. I'm active in the Church. I do "everything" right. I'm always at the front, in callings and work and other roles. I'm almost always happy, friendly, and outgoing. I've even had people and family members tell me that my life is perfect. And, in some ways, I believe them. I mean, for the most part, my life is ideal - a firm and abiding knowledge of the gospel, parents that inspire faith, and my own personal experiences coming to know God and learning to communicate with Him in all things.

But that's only part of the story. And if people knew the other part... I'm confident they wouldn't idolize me or want to trade lives. Anyone who reads (Gay) Mormon Guy would probably agree. Deep down inside, for years I've struggled with base instincts and carnal desires, temptations and thoughts that could make a romance writer blush. I live with depression that can hit me like a ton of bricks. I've gone up and down in phases and cycles and seen the height and breadth of God and felt the abysmal tension of losing the Spirit in my life. And now, even though I've had incredible spiritual experiences, I still struggle. I still dig holes for myself and jump in, headlong. I have everything I need to move forward - faith, support, the power of God made manifest in my life... and yet sometimes I look at my life and feel like I'm in the same place I was last time I looked - or even a step backwards.

I think I am beginning to understand how Nephi felt as he fled from his brothers with his family following the death of his father... and then bemoaned his lack of faith for feeling anger and fear toward them... when the Lord had made it obvious to him that He would always be at his side. He had been fighting this feeling, willing himself to change, submitting to the will of the Lord, for decades... and yet it was still a thorn in his side. I feel the same way. I know that through God, all things are possible. If I follow Him, everything will work out for the best - not just for the good - everything will be a hundred times better because I have followed Him. And it's true. Life really is more hopeful, happier, more fulfilling, and better in every way when I follow Him. So, with that knowledge, and after all that the Lord has done for me, why do I still give space for the enemy of my soul?

There are so many things I need to improve. I find myself judging others, wishing I had different roles in life, feeling like I could do a better job than someone else. In my relationships, I give people advice for their own problems in life, but never ask for advice, or anything, in return... I'm involved in their lives and never open the door to my heart, except for the part that I wear on my sleeve. I sometimes tame my thoughts, and sometimes don't.

For me, learning more integrity, and somehow lessening my own hypocrisy, starts inside. It means honestly keeping the covenants and promises I've made, and making time to ensure that those commitments will be kept - every single time. It means always doing things for the right reason - to give glory to God and to build His kingdom. And it means recommitting myself each day to living a new life, free from guile and completely clean. It's possible to live a life of integrity - even attracted to guys in the Church. I can be true to God, to myself, and to others. It just takes a lot of work, and the willingness to live each day one at a time.

Saturday, May 28

And Then.

Sometimes I think I'm done with this. That I've moved on, somehow finished this trial, and it will disappear, leaving only a memory and an empathy possible in no other way. Time goes by and I find myself engrossed in the world of work, dating, and everything else that takes precedence in social life. I look out through my lens into life and the world and, almost, feel like everyone else. My blogging here at (Gay) Mormon Guy slows, as my mind moves in other directions, and it crosses my mind more than once that I could never come back. Part of me always entertains the hope that I won't... that this will be my last post and I can move on, disappearing into society like every other success story. And then.

I get a handful of emails from people who share their own experiences... and relate how reading mine has done something in their lives. They write of prayers, of fasting, of newly found hope and faith, of change and of peace. And I feel a kinship. A love that wracks my heart and burns me inside... unwilling to leave me alone or let me be silent. And suddenly I am consumed with a desire to do something to help others, to open my mouth, even when another voice inside me just wants to disappear, live my own already-too-messed-up life... and somehow stop caring. "It would be easier that way," the voice says.... But true love doesn't work that way. Meaning doesn't come from watching life from the sidelines. I learned that on my mission - when the Lord shows me His love for others, I am irreparably linked to them. Blessed with their successes and bruised with their defeat. They consume my thoughts and direct my passion... with no vacations, breaks, or leaves of absence. And it keeps me alive. So I look outward, and recommit myself to making a difference, even if I've moved on. And then.

I start dating a girl even though I feel no physical attraction... because I think that maybe we could have an emotional or intellectual bond that could then develop and grow... and she feels the same. And maybe it will. Time can only tell. But then I realize I'm more interested in my relationship with and attracted to a guy in my ward in every way than I am to her... and my mind falls to pieces. 

I've never wanted anything but friendship from other guys - this guy included. The attraction complicates everything. On one side, if we stay casual friends, that would be great with me. Amass enough casual friends, and eventually I'll find good friends, right? The likelihood of finding best friends isn't very high anyway. The other side of me pushes me to try - to do something to ensure that when circumstantial friendship ends, there is still something there. In both cases - with the girl I'm dating and the guy I just want to befriend. But almost every time I've tried has failed... in one way or another. And my relationships are often full of stress and tears anyway... even for my family. Maybe it isn't worth it. Maybe I'm not worth it.

And then.

The Lord tells me that I am. Worth it. Worth whatever pain it took... to Him... to help me become who I am today, and who He sees in me. And maybe this time it will work out - maybe I'll find good friends and a future wife and live happily ever after. Maybe not. But someday it will happen. And as long as I'm doing the right thing, what happens tomorrow, or the next day, or even for the rest of mortality, doesn't matter. The Lord will make it work out in the end, and in the meantime, it will all be worth it. I'll do my part... and then... He will do His miracle.

Friday, May 20

It's Really Not *That* Hard

Not to discount some of the hardest trials I have ever faced in my life, but being a faithful member of the Church while also being attracted to guys really isn't impossible. Nor is it as hard or mentally trying, faith-deprecating or paradoxical as many people think it is. For most of the day, each day, it doesn't affect me. Yes, I am a male in an extremely overstimulated, oversexed society. There are times when it is incredibly hard. But even when people are trying to set me up, others unknowingly say or do something callous, I wonder when I'll ever have a family, and I'm way too attracted to the guys around me, it all subsides eventually. The sun comes out, the feelings temper, and faith, in the end, wins every battle. Even with the issue of looking toward the future - and potentially consecrating it to God instead of following my hormones - isn't all that hard today. If I'm living each day in the present, leaving the future in the Lord's hands, I have no qualms about keeping the commandments today and knowing that He will take care of tomorrow.

I'll agree that, at the same time, it does take work - it takes time, determination, persistence, and faith, but that's the same with everything in life... my life included. I have other problems which are not of this blog, and them also I must solve. I don't think that I or anyone can survive in today's world without gripping tightly to the iron rod - whether our lives look perfect from the outside, or are entrenched in chaos within.

I get a lot of emails and comments here at (Gay) Mormon Guy from guys who express the feeling that it's too hard to live a faithful life with this trial. That their faith and righteousness, keeping the commandments, and staying true to the things that they have learned from God... is impossible without somehow changing their sexual orientation. They think that if they were attracted to women, living a righteous life would be possible, whereas in their minds being attracted to guys makes it an impossibility.

I believed that once - but in my case it was because I believed, erroneously, that being attracted to guys was a curse... and since it says very clearly in the scriptures that all those who are cursed brought the cursing upon themselves, then I had somehow brought it upon myself... and its continued existence was proof of my uncleanliness before God.

I now realize the deception in that belief, and its equally deceptive counterpart on the other side of the truth. On one side, I am cursed, and will not be acceptable in the eyes of God until I change everything... which is sort of impossible. On the other side, I have no need to change, and God will accept me without asking me to change who I am. One is predestination to hell, the other is predestination to heaven. Both are completely and totally false.

The reality is that I came to this world and still had a lot to learn before I could return to God. Like happened to Adam and Eve, my life became a probationary period to change (repent) and become like Christ... and the world, and my circumstances, were cursed for my sake. Cursed for my sake. Cursed so that I could learn and grow and change to become like Christ. I was not cursed. Mortality was cursed, so that I could one day be saved.

God has the power to change anything He wills. He could change my heart, heal my wounds, and take away my trials. He could calm the tensions of the world, feed the starving children, solve the crises of nations and my own personal soul. But He doesn't. And why? Because it is for my sake. He created a fallen world so that I could grow and learn, then gave me the tools to affront every difficulty, counter every attack, and resist every trial that came my way. "There hath no temptation taken [me...] but such as is common to man... but God is faithful, and will not suffer [me] to be tempted above that which [I] am able."

God created this life to be hard. Someday, I'll even die from life being so imperfect. But living the gospel, following the promptings of the Spirit, keeping the commandments, and turning to God, have always and will always be possible and within my reach, no matter what imperfections life throws my way. Life is hard, but it's really not that hard... since the deck is stacked in our favor. The Atonement really is infinite - there is no clause that makes exception for or excludes anyone from the dual gifts of justice and mercy. Which means that God is on our side. And with Him, when we follow His commandments, all things are possible.

Wednesday, May 18

Waylaying Depression

Sometimes I find myself staring out the window, crying... for no reason at all. It's a really interesting feeling - a sort of complete powerlessness over my emotions and a feeling of inability to do anything to change them. It feels so different - so strange, as if something has temporarily taken over my mind and sabotaged my happiness... and yet it's also all too familiar. I turn on music and do something productive, lose myself in something good, then find myself, again, staring out the window, feeling like I am totally lost, alone, and starting to feel the first premonitions of worthlessness.

I have two options at that point. At the edge of depression, I realize that I become desperate... and when I'm desperate, some of the choices I make aren't the best. But, in desperation, I can also find incredible strength of will... the courage to do anything that will bring me out alive.

Recently I've taken to drugging myself when I can feel it coming - in the form of adrenaline and endorphins. I grab my gym bag, an mp3 player, and go to the gym, forcing myself to pump iron and steel until sweat has mixed with tears and I know I'll be sore the next day... and I can feel the natural feel-good chemicals rushing through my blood and into my brain. Sometimes it takes a few hours. But eventually the newly induced chemistry wins out and I'm at least able to go home smiling.

That happened tonight. I was staring out the window... and thankfully, I had a gym bag already packed and no uncancellable plans.

I look back at how I felt just a few hours ago... and I'm amazed at how much my choices affect my mind and my wellbeing.

Sunday, May 15

I Told Them

I Told Them.

When the Lord told me to start writing this blog, He also gave me the injunction to never tell anyone in my life about it or about being attracted to guys. I definitely never intended to tell anyone about it in the first place.

Since then, there have been a handful of times that I've felt strongly impressed to share it with others. I never completely knew why at first, and I was scared to death... but as time went on each impression made more and more sense... and it became easier to follow the guidance of the Lord even when I had no idea why or what would come of it. Confiding in a priesthood leader who just happened to have a personal connection that tied me to other figures in the Church. Telling a friend who, for whatever reason, needed an especially difficult trial of faith. Telling others who live as I do, who needed help trying to keep the commandments and stay clean, no matter what the cost.

Now He told me to tell my parents.

So I told them.

It was a conversation with my mom and dad. After just talking for a little bit, I explained that I needed to discuss something important... even though they had already had what sounded like a stressful day... and then I followed the outline that was my last post.

I want to note here that I didn't "come out" to my family. I didn't "confide in them my sexuality" either. I just shared something that I face - an offshoot, albeit significant, from who I really am. I didn't tell them to ask for different treatment as a person. I didn't ask them to change their expectations or their hopes and dreams for me. I simply gave them a view into my soul - a glimpse of the trials I face, what I've done to learn from them, and the gratitude I feel toward God for loving me enough to allow me this trial in mortality.

They were mostly silent as I explained each facet, responding only when I asked questions to ensure they understood. When I finished, my mom's voice was subdued as she said, "Sounds like you've been carrying a heavy load for a long time..." They expressed their love for me and thanked me for trusting them enough to tell them. Then, after asking if they could read my blog (I answered in the affirmative...) they asked one question: "What can we do to help?"

I explained that I hadn't intended to ever tell them... but that the Lord had asked me to... and maybe it was because they could receive revelation on my behalf. There aren't many people in the world who can receive guidance from God for me, personally, in my life... and my parents are two of them - two people who know me well. So I asked them to be close to the Spirit and ask God for revelation on my behalf...

When my dad then made the remark, "Sounds like you need to hold girls' hands more," I hoped that he wasn't being serious. 

But he was. 

And then I realized that my parents, even though I had bared my soul to them, didn't understand the issue. They didn't understand the psychology behind it, therapies that definitely don't work and those that sometimes do, the social effects it creates... my dad didn't even realize that it meant a genuine lack of physical attraction for women.

But even if they had been clinical psychiatrists who had helped clients for decades, my parents would never be able to understand... because they have never experienced it.

But they don't need to. They just need to care, and be close enough to the Lord to know what to do in my behalf.

And so I explained what I meant by staying close to the Lord. "Before you suggest anything, take it to the Lord. Before you set me up with someone, take it to the Lord. Ask Him to be involved in the counsel you give me - you don't understand, and I don't expect you ever to really understand... but God does, and He can inspire you to do the right thing. And it might be something that won't seem to make sense. Most of my feelings, in your paradigm, don't make any sense. Which means that the solutions might not make any sense either. I have a feeling that they probably won't - at least not to you at first."

In the hours since, I don't think our relationship has changed much. They don't look at me strangely. And even though they don't understand, they care about me and want me to be eternally happy. Which makes my parents even more amazing in my eyes. They're totally different. And yet together they're awesome. And hopefully someday I can be like them... and have a relationship with my own children... and love them unconditionally and help them work through their own problems, whatever they may be.

Saturday, May 7

Dear Mom and Dad

(I wouldn't actually send a letter. Even though I write well, my parents are verbal people... and they have the important ability of being able to listen even when they're confused or frustrated or lost - a rare trait in parents or children these days. With some people, writing leaves distance from difficult situations... but I've found it works much better to sit down and talk with them in person...)

Dear Mom and Dad,

I have something to tell you... something pretty serious. Yeah, you'll want to sit down. Close the door.

I've mentioned a few times about a blog I write and how it has helped me have an impact on the world. It has been amazing - I've had the daily opportunity to touch people's lives and help them find the faith to avert suicide, fix broken marriages, and pursue lifelong dreams. I started it almost a year ago. You've never read the blog... it's actually anonymous... and it shares how I live the gospel as part of my daily life... a rare insight to a side of me that I don't share with anyone else. It's a story of pain, of suffering, but also of hope, of love, and of faith and hope and trust that the Lord will fulfill His promises.

The topic is... well, I've lived for as long as I can remember with same-gender attraction. I share the gospel through that lens. I don't expect you to understand or know anything about what I'm going through... or even what you should do or not do. There are just a few things I want you to know.

I'm clean. I'm worthy of a temple recommend and plan for that always to be the case, no matter what the cost or what I have to give up.

This isn't who I am. It's not an eternal part of me. But it's something I face today, and have faced for years.

I support everything that the Brethren teach, and I feel like I understand most of what they teach in the actual context they intended. I don't express or support anything contrary to Church doctrine or policies.

Don't treat me differently. Don't expect anything less of me, or more of another, just because I live with this in life. In my Patriarchal Blessing, it promises that I'll fall in love with a girl, be sealed to her in the temple and have children in this life... and while it will take a miracle for that to happen, I believe in miracles. I believe that it'll happen to me, if I'm doing everything I need to do on my part.

Never tell anyone. Never allude to it in conversation. Don't bring it up with me unless you feel the absolute need, and never with anyone else. You can read my blog... just Google "Mormon Guy" and it will be the first hit... but realize that my anonymity needs to be intact... because the Lord has asked me to keep it that way. He told me never to tell anyone... and so the only times I've ever told anyone was when He told me to.

And so that's why I'm telling you - because He told me to. I wasn't ever planning to tell you. I wasn't ever planning to tell anyone, and then that all changed with my blog, when I realized that I had something that others needed - the perspective and faith and hope and peace and joy the gospel brings in everyday life, no matter what trials we face.

As far as what you can do to help me, keep me in your prayers... and when you try to help me in any way, look to the Lord for guidance. The answer isn't going to come from something simple or straightforward; otherwise, we would have already figured it out - it will come as a miracle, as we look to God and follow His promptings, no matter what they are.

I love you... and someday I want my own children to trust me enough to come to me with their problems... hopefully sooner than later... and I wanted you to at least have the vestiges of understanding.

It'll be okay. I'll be okay. The Lord has made amazing promises to me and all His children, if we keep His commandments... and I'm doing that. He will bless me, and it will all work out in the end, and today, for the best.

Mormon Guy

(As the top parentheses explained, this is not a coming out letter. It's just the information I would want my parents to know... and what I would want to know if my own future son struggled with this same issue.)

Monday, May 2

Born This Way... Not Completely

I recently took the time to actually read the landmark psychological studies that claimed to have found substantial causative links from genetics and congenital (inborn) traits to homosexuality. And the results weren't exactly what I had expected.

I know just as much as the next person that I didn't choose to be attracted to men or not attracted to women. The only other option in my mind was being "born this way" - which meant that attraction would be deeply rooted in genes.

But the studies that have been published don't substantiate being born gay... on the contrary, they highlight inborn tendencies as only a part of a much larger picture that determines, over time, sexual attraction.

The first study I looked at was the twin study - conducted in 1991 by Bailey and Pillard and published in the Archives of General Psychology. Their study was titled "A Genetic Study of Male Sexual Orientation" and recruited gay identical twins to enter the study with their siblings, determining the correlation between genes and homosexuality. If homosexuality is inborn and caused exclusively by genetics, then twins who share exact DNA will both be either homosexual or heterosexual.

The original study found a concordance rate of 52% - which meant that 52% of homosexual twins were both homosexual. The study was picked up by the media, but was heavily criticized by the scientific community for selection bias. Bailey did another, more rigorous study in 2000 using a better methodology that avoided bias, and found a concordance of about 20% (depending on your definition of homosexuality).

When a host of other psychological factors have higher concordance rates than 20%, it's pretty obvious from the study that homosexuality is not "inborn"... but 20% is still significant since it is higher than the average rate of homosexuality... which means that it is definitely influenced by genetic factors.

There were a few other studies that claimed to have found genetic links, but each had major scientific flaws and have since been refuted by studies which tried to replicate results. There was the the brain research by LeVay which claimed that certain areas of the brain were different in homosexual men, but the study was performed on men who had died primarily of AIDS, and didn't correct for potential issues in brain function caused by habit. Brain researchers have known that the brain alters significantly based on an individual's actions, and the part of the brain studied could have easily been altered by homosexual activity, instead of being a cause of homosexual attraction. Other studies have shown the differences in the brain that LeVay found to be insignificant, and LeVay never replicated his study. There was also the genetic study done by Hamer ("A Linkage between DNA markers on the x chromosome and male sexual orientation," Science 261, July 1993)... but the findings of the study were declared statistically insignificant by the inventor of the methodology used in the evaluation - which means that it could have been caused by sample size or a number of other issues... and that Hamer and his colleagues didn't completely understand the method they were using. As added proof, another much larger study on the exact same topic showed that there was no significant link between inheritance on the x-chromosome and homosexuality (Rice, et al - "Male Homosexuality: Absence of Linkage to Microsatellite Markers at XQ28," Science 284, 1999).

All in all, the studies I read, when taken in context with other research done to substantiate or refute them, came up with a very different picture than I originally thought. Maybe it's because I've known that I didn't choose this trial.... but I always thought it was something inborn. But the research is clear. Being attracted to guys isn't something that came 100% from my genetics. The studies on twins, brain chemistry, and genetic linking prove one thing: I wasn't born gay. No one was.

Yes, there are definitely factors that are caused by genetics. I was probably born with a huge number of predispositions and preferences that, with time, outside influences, cultural impressions, and every other factor, developed into an attraction for guys. And while the non-genetic factors may have been out of my control as much as the genetic ones... the realization that homosexuality isn't just determined by genetics, but is very strongly influenced by other factors (as established especially in the twin studies, where 80% of brothers of homosexual twins were not homosexual) gives me hope. Science has shown that even deeply rooted patterns in the brain can change, even in those whose brains have finished developing, with significant changes in environment. Men can learn new languages, or overcome alcoholism, or change professions and personality traits once thought to be immutable. And it obviously happens.

I don't know exactly what it will take - if it's something that science can find or if it's a miracle that will need the help of God... and even if it's possible, I don't know if it will happen. Science has known about a lot of things that don't always work. But it's there... and I think that gives me greater hope and faith than anything. Because if those twins were born with certain inborn tendencies, but somehow took a different path and became heterosexual, even when their identical twins became homosexual, then maybe, with God at my side, I can find that path, someday, too.