Saturday, June 4

Homosexuality Isn't Just About Sexuality

"Diagnosing" same-sex attraction relies on biological signs - men who are sexually attracted to other men, and not to women, and vice versa. But as I've lived and learned from my life, I've realized that same-sex attraction, especially for faithful Mormon members, is not just about physical urges. Sexual attraction only tells part of the story.

When a good Mormon guy is dating a girl, he is usually looking for "chemistry" on multiple levels. Physical attraction - which is somewhat arbitrary and often independent of any third-party assessment of beauty. Intellectual attraction - the desire and ability to understand, know, and share the mind and thoughts of another. Emotional attraction - the desire and ability to understand and share their feelings, hopes, dreams, passions, and loves.

Each desire for attraction comes out of an innate need for intimacy in each context - physical, emotional, and intellectual. But, like attraction, intimacy isn't a need that someone can just choose to fill, or to have filled. They have to fit the part. Intimacy - physical, intellectual, and emotional - is a specific need that can only be met in specific ways.

Now switch to my world. And realize that I am not only physically attracted to men... but intellectually and emotionally tied to them as well. Just as in the case above, my needs for intimacy are tied to gender. And trying to make them fill themselves doesn't work all that well.

I can stand next to a girl I'm dating, put my arm around her, run my fingers through her hair, and whisper in her ear. But when I do, I'm just going through the motions. Trying to light a fire that hasn't yet seen daylight. And eventually I have to give up, because my physical need for intimacy hasn't been met. 

I can sit on a staircase talking with a girl for hours, sharing everything about me and learning everything about her. But when the night is over, I still feel like I don't understand her, or like she understands me. I'm trying, but it isn't working. And eventually I have to give up, because my need for intellectual intimacy hasn't been met.

I can share my dreams, my passions, my hopes, and my fears with a girl. I can open up and show her the secrets in my heart - the things that I care about most - and talk about how the gospel and my relationship with God has made me who I am today... and listen to her do the same. But at the end of the night, I feel like a missionary - not a lover... and while I have come to love her, it's no different from the love I have for anyone else. I'm still trying, but it isn't working. And eventually I have to give up, because my need for emotional intimacy hasn't been met.

At the same time, I feel a pull towards other men... and doing any of the above things with them fills a void that always seems painfully empty. But the pull doesn't always involve powerful, passionate feelings of lust. Sometimes it's a powerful desire to understand their minds. Sometimes it's a desire to know and support their dreams and hopes and passions. But it's always a desire for intimacy in some way - a need that seems like it will never be filled any other way.

This is what the gay community is talking about when they say "homosexuality isn't about sex." It's the reason why some who live with same-sex attraction choose to have monogamous long-term relationships, and the glue that sticks them together when the physicality of that relationship ends. Homosexuality is about sexual attraction. But it's also about emotional attraction, and intellectual attraction - attractions based on basic needs which, unmet, have far more pressing effects than does celibacy.

Physical celibacy isn't a new thought for society, especially for religious people. The expectation from God is that men and women will practice complete abstinence outside of marriage between a man and a woman, and complete fidelity in marriage.

The ease of keeping that commandment, however, depends a lot on hormones and available avenues to righteously fill part of the need for physical intimacy. Once hormones turn on, most guys and girls can cuddle, hold hands, kiss, and look each other in the eyes and feel pretty good about their needs being met. But with same-sex attraction it doesn't work that way, at least not in today's society. To try to righteously fill my need for physical intimacy, I have to find ways to make do in everyday life. A handshake with someone at Church. Sitting next to a guy in class. Standing near a coworker at work. None of those sound at all romantic, and they're not. They're just as un-useful in filling my needs, but they're also all I have. Which is why pornography is such a huge problem among young men with same-sex attraction - even those who will never be sexually involved with men. At this point in my life, the only positive way I can think of meeting my needs for physical intimacy would be playing huge amounts of direct-contact sports.

So I'm physically celibate and lack physical intimacy. I try to choose the right and follow the directions of the prophets, which exclude most of the activities that people use to fill their need cup... They essentially ask me to keep my cup half empty. So I turn to the Lord and He takes care of me, as He has everyone who faces this. With Him, I can do it. He's asked me to. What isn't explicit in the talks given by the Brethren... but is perhaps even harder... is emotional and intellectual celibacy. Something that, explicitly, no one would ever wish on their worst enemy... but still happens as a side effect anyway.

You remember, talking with a girl does nothing to fill my need for emotional and intellectual intimacy. But most guys don't want or need emotional intimacy with another guy. They don't need intellectual intimacy with another guy. And, for whatever reason, many of them have significantly lower needs for intellectual and emotional needs for intimacy in the first place. One reader here put it like this: "You're asking for a relationship that some guys aren't comfortable having even with their wives." I can have passing meaningful conversations with guys, or try to share my dreams, but, again, it never fills the void.

And then I'm at a turning point. And, just as with physical intimacy, there are multiple options. There are other guys who have innate emotional and intellectual needs that match mine - other guys who live with same-sex attraction. But while finding a guy with whom to be intellectually and emotionally intimate might work, is it the best option? And what would be the guidelines?

I've done a lot of thinking about this topic lately. And reading. And praying. The direction from the Brethren is the same as it always has been - be morally clean... which sometimes seems like it isn't enough direction, but in reality is. It means to never put myself in places where my morals could be compromised. To never make exceptions. To stay clean. And, in my case, it definitely means that dating guys, tying physical intimacy with the intention of finding one to partner with, is not an option. I'll have to find emotional and intellectual friends the normal way, and slowly grow our friendships to find best friends to eventually and severally meet my needs. But in my case, because of other factors I won't mention here, even that won't work. Developing those intimacies hasn't worked at all - not even casually.

And so I find myself alone, without the ability to fill any of my needs - individually or severally, and yet told by the Church to be happy, for the rest of my life... with no one who understands. For a while I wondered how that would ever be possible. And then, one night in prayer, I was talking with God and I realized that, with all my pleading, I had never truly had the faith to give Him my life, say, "Thy will be done," and ask Him to help me. So I did. I asked, and for the first time in as long as I could remember... I felt peace, love, hope, joy... and the powerful mixture of feelings I'd expect would come when someone who I love completely embraces me and knows my heart and soul.

Being Mormon with same-sex attraction has far more consequences than a sexual drive directed towards men. I have specific, incredible, important psychological needs that can't be met any other way than by through a guy... and through God. But the incredible truth of the gospel, and of the power of God, is that meeting those needs, and living the gospel, and being happy, is possible in my life... even though they may never be met by a mortal... because the Lord will always prepare the way.


  1. "powerful mixture of feelings I'd expect would come when someone who I love completely embraces me and knows my heart and soul."

    I'm heterosexual. Always have been but I know EXACTLY what you're talking about there. I have a loving, wonderful, kind husband who I mostly feel understood by, and he is my best friend, but I've never felt the absolutely most powerful, all-encompassing love, as I have from my Father in Heaven. It's more real than anything else I've ever felt and it's something you can hang onto no matter what.

  2. Everything you say is true about a fair number of heterosexual men, too, except the physical attraction part. I hope you work it out.

  3. Do the comments/conversations you have with your readers ever help to fill the void? Well, as far as emotional and intellectual intimacy is concerned? I know hundreds of people write to you, spilling their testimonies, secrets, wants and un-met needs. I would have to think that empathy would cause you to feel some sort of connection to these people? Or is it just charity and concern for them? I don't think I'd be able to seperate the two. This sounds really obvious, but have you thought about having a dog? I know it in NO way compares to a partner, but in my experience mine was a wonderful companion and was very in tune with how I was feeling. Just a thought. Listening to 'Where can I turn for Peace' has also been able to help pick me up when nothing else can. Hang in there!

  4. Thanks for this, very insightful.
    I think about how hard it is for me now to go a few months without having any girl in my life who I feel connected with, physically, emotionally and intellectually and I think I understand just a little bit how difficult it must be for you.
    I also fully believe that it is easier when you're dedicated to serving the Lord.
    I know that when I was a full-time missionary that I didn't think much about how those needs were not fulfilled because I was filled with the Pure Love of Christ and I wasn't looking for prospective partners so I viewed women differently. I had a work to do and I was focused on it. It helped knowing that it was only for two years.
    Now that I'm expected to date, marry, and multiply and replenish the Earth, it's a lot harder to not have that companionship.
    I think of my aunt who died of cancer last year in her mid-50's. She was never married, I don't think she dated much after her 20's or 30's, but she was so dedicated to her work and all her friends.
    Her funeral was packed and I heard so many people I had never met go on about how she was a mother or a sister or a best friend to them. I'm sure she felt lonely sometimes, but she did so many righteous things to fill the void that I know she was happy, and I know she was the angel that so many people needed while she was here.
    Thanks again for this post.

  5. Anonymous 3:

    Yes, conversations with people definitely help to fill the void. Helping people, in real life or here, and learning about their problems, their successes, their faith, their trials, and finding ways to move forward is one of the most incredible things I've ever been able to do. At its core, it's missionary work - and missionary work brings the greatest joys of anything... except maybe parenting... which in my mind is just the next application of missionary work in the first place.

    And a dog... I haven't ever really thought about having a dog. I've had roommates who had dogs, and I could feel the unabashed and simple love... but I've never had one. I definitely don't want family members thinking that I've decided to get a dog instead of finding a wife, though. Being successful in life is already bad enough - some family members tell me that the reason I haven't found a wife is because I'm too busy with other things... when in reality it's the exact opposite. I haven't found a wife, and I'm trying to make my life worthwhile anyway. And I'm not sure I could explain why I got the dog without also trying to explain a whole lot that's mostly unexplainable.

    My life is actually about as perfect as I could hope for. This post was just an attempt to capture some of the inner struggle that comes even when I've made the decision and quarantined the temptations from physical attraction. Thanks for your thoughts.

  6. I guess I am over the word limit...Part 1

    I'm in my mid 50's and remember a time when most men in the gay community didn't know being gay was about more than just sexual attraction; that sexual attraction was just a small part, albeit an important part, of intimacy, of who one relates best to. I could be wrong but I think a lot of gay men still believe being gay is just about sex.

    Back then gay male couples were considered an oddity and there was little or no talk about love or romance; much less relationships.

    My theory is that for men physical attraction is near impossible to repress but the same does not hold true for emotional and romantic attraction and men can so successfully repress romantic and emotional attraction that it is possible for a man to be sexual active for years without knowing he has a strong emotional or romantic component to his sexuality.

    My theory is based on my own experience and while I don't want to make the common mistake of assuming what is true for me is true for all, at the same time, I have found that everything about my sexuality is NOT uncommon.

    I went from being extremely closeted to less closeted and at some point got comfortable enough with my sexuality that these romantic and emotional feelings I always had a capacity for started to surface.

    So what I am trying to say is that I wholeheartedly agree with you that being gay is about the same things that being straight is about; basically about who one best relates to and that includes intimacy at many different levels, just not sexual.

  7. Anonymous 2:

    What do you mean? That a fair number of men feel an innate non-physical attraction to other guys, built from the need for emotional and intellectual intimacy from other men? Or are you saying that they go through life without their needs really met - ie they can't find women or men or whoever to understand them? Either way, then our society (not LDS, but modern society as a whole) might have some major problems...

    Thinking about it, emotional and intellectual intimacy are probably needs that have components in both genders. That brings to mind something I read once about how some researchers felt that same-sex attraction was typified by an imbalance in needs for intimacy... and that when those needs were met, it opened up the door for the development of different, opposite-gender needs. That was totally random and not the subject of the post... but maybe it has something to do with it. What little I've read about therapists who have seen success says that they first focus on meeting unmet needs. I'm not totally sure, though, and I can't postulate on the experiences of others... only my own.

  8. Part 2

    But what I am also saying is that the price of being in the closet includes, among other things, repressing feelings of romantic and emotional attraction so successfully that one may NOT know they are capable of such feelings until they get comfortable enough to stop repressing and allow those feelings to surface.

    Check out gay literature from the 50's or 60's and one common theme is the older gay man not knowing how to handle falling in love for the first time.

    What is happening there you might ask?

    That leads to another one of my theories. That as men age that other feelings no longer masked by a sex drive in overdrive suddenly come into focus and the individual becomes aware of feelings that before may have eluded him.

    I’m glad the average time spent in the closet is shrinking. I hope I live to see the day that gay children are just as ignorant of what the closet is like as their straight peers. That day can’t come soon enough.

    Thanks for your post.


  9. GMG,

    Everything you have described in this post seems right in line with how I think and feel however we come to two different conclusions because of 1 assumption. You state "Once hormones turn on, most guys and girls can cuddle, hold hands, kiss, and look each other in the eyes and feel pretty good about their needs being met. **But with same-sex attraction it doesn't work that way, at least not in today's society.**" (emphasis added to the last sentence.)

    While yes it is difficult to find people who are okay with that I grew up with a mentality to "be the change you want to see in the world" and so I have worked to carve out a niche and expose the people who do want a relationship that goes beyond sex. I have discovered that there are more people out there who want a relationship than want just sex, its just that they think that all they can hope for is temporary happiness of sex.

    I have worked to keep those principles in my life and have seen the people around me follow in similar veins. I am friends with a gay male couple who didn't have sex with each other until after they got married in Boston which was just about a year of them dating. The society you think isn't out there really is and I challenge you to fight the assumption because you can find the same fulfillment that hetero couples find in holding hands and gazing into each other's eyes without having sex.

  10. I think if homosexuality was simply a matter of overcoming sexual urges there would be far less people drawn to that life. It seems to make sense to me that those who feel attraction to members of the same sex would feel drawn to people in the same way heterosexual couples are. It's amazing to me how much more open and honest the community at large has become on the topic. It used to be that homosexuality was considered a mental disease which was just cause for committal. Now we understand so much more about it, because we talk about it. Keep talking and understanding will come Gay Mormon Guy.

  11. Insights like these do give further depth of meaning to the injunction to fill the measure of one's creation. To do so involves much more than fulfilling the impulse to copulate or procreate or multiply and replenish the earth. It makes it more imaginable to feel that we are created as homosexual children of God meant for more than a life of celibacy.

  12. I go through the same things as a single woman, actually. I haven't gone on a sincere date (one where a single man asked me out with the intention of getting to know me in a more than friends context) in several years. Because of social norms, it is futile for me to ask a man out on a date since that usually turns men off entirely in the first place whether they'd be a good match or not. That made me feel completely helpless to have my needs met. I imagine it's similar emotionally to what a young man with same-sex attraction suffers. That leaves no other place for that social fulfillment that you were talking about except for from male friends (who in some cases I'm attracted to but could never hope for reciprocation) and other women, which just doesn't do it for me.

    Here's how it's harder for you, I think. I talk about my feelings in the past tense. I am attracted to men. One day possibly in my lifetime I will meet a man who will be able to fill my needs. I've also come to feel that even if I am single for the rest of my life, I could be completely happy. Because of that same social convention that made me feel helpless, I can drop out of it in a way. I stopped worrying about men liking me and asking me out (since I have zero control over it) and started doing things I like to do when I want to do them and embracing the single life. I probably sound anti-marriage to other people because I'm frequently heard saying, after doing something super fun by myself, "I couldn't have enjoyed that as much if I were married." As a young man, you can't really do that (even as a straight young man) in good conscience. But maybe there is another way to look at YOUR situation, too, and you just haven't found it yet. Having read here for a while, though, I feel like you are in touch with yourself and thoughtful and prayerful enough that it will one day come to you, and you will be at peace.

    I don't think this comment comes off this way, but it's not meant to make your suffering sound smaller. I just wanted you to know that the feelings you feel are not unique to same-sex attraction - they happen maybe to everyone at some point in their lives.

  13. Autumn:

    Just for future reference, my name here is Mormon Guy. The (Gay) is just the blog, and even then, it's silent.

  14. You made the comment that many guys don't seem to need emotional/intellectual intimacy, but I think it might be simpler than that. From what I've observed, the vast majority of people "split up" their intimacy needs, meaning that, for example, a "typical" man might fulfill his desire for physical intimacy with his wife, experience emotional intimacy with his kids, or be intellectually intimate with his buddies during the Super Bowl - with similar situations for women.

    Many times, for many people, sexual desire and intimacy are mutually exclusive. I think there are (a few) pros and (numerous) cons to this, but mostly I think that this indicates that we all need a lot more "training" in this area, within the Church and without.

    My personal challenge is a significant physical attraction to men, without any emotional or romantic attraction. I feel that romantic attachment to women, but have trained myself over the years not to think of women sexually at all (one of the unfortunate side effects of constantly hearing, "Respect women and girls!" at church, with no other instruction on that topic). I think it's perfectly okay to find fulfillment in intellectual or even emotional arenas with friends of the same gender, within healthy boundaries, but I often experience those same feelings as you described - I think that's part of the human experience. But, as others have said, as long as we know what is most important, we can make the sacrifices we need to in order to have joy in this life.

  15. Philip:

    While I think it is important to honestly address influences in sexuality in a safe environment when those influences come, I don't think that assuming a label really does a lot of good when, in reality, sexuality and attraction happens on a spectrum and I may actually be just fine and normal living a heterosexual life. Choosing to identify as gay means then choosing all the stuff that comes with it.

    I definitely do not share your hope that people make faster decisions or that they choose labels more quickly in their lives - instead I just want them to be honest with themselves, and accurately make decisions that will lead them to who they want to be. I realize that, in part we are saying the same thing. But you want people to come out faster; I want people to begin thinking and planning and making changes in their lives faster. What they do in the public sphere doesn't matter in my perspective - I just want them to find hope and peace in the gospel as soon as possible... And I don't think that coming out to the world is something I'll ever do.

    1. I like that you say that it happens on a spectrum, because realising it is a spectrum is the only way to make sense of the way I feel those things. No label works for me.

  16. David -

    I guess I left out a piece of a thought in my original. Or there was a disconnect. My intention in remarking on today's society was originally based on comparison to physical camaraderie in the pre-Information Era. As a society, and especially in modern American society, people have stopped touching each other, especially compared to other cultures and decades in the past. A hundred years ago, normal guys could be inseparable friends, and show it in ways that today just don't happen. I'm not talking about cuddling or looking each other in the eyes - just in the basic physicality of relationships, and the closeness of a friendship in the first place. Today's friendships are simultaneous, based on circumstance, and short-lived... based on text messages, voice mails, emails, and impersonal communications... and I feel like it has had a huge effect in constantly drained voids of intimacy in society at large. That was my intent - maybe if I lived a hundred years ago, my everyday interactions with others, working alongside other men in physical labor, would have filled my needs for physical intimacy. But today, where physicality is only part of a section of leisure and wellness... having those needs met through normal, everyday living, isn't as much of an option.

    Addressing your other point... While it may fill my need for physical intimacy, I have absolutely no desire to hold a guy's hands and fall into his eyes... or cuddle on the couch with him. Why? Because, at least for me, physical intimacy is only possible when there is already emotional intimacy. When someone shares my dreams, my thoughts, my hopes, my beliefs. There may be tons of gay Mormons, or just gay guys, out there who are willing and anxious to hold my hands, cuddle, look into my eyes, and practice abstinence until same-sex marriage... but all of them have already lost my interest completely... because I don't believe that a romantic relationship between two men is the right answer. I know you don't agree with me. But God has something better planned... something that requires that I turn to Him, completely, and rely on Him for all my needs. From my perspective, God really is asking us to sacrifice more than just physicality - He's not just asking us to give up sexual activities, but romantic ones too.... same-sex marriage, romance between guys, gay dating, and a host of other facets - whether or not they have been explicitly outlined in General Conference.

    In the end, my needs for intimacy can only really be met by those who can establish an emotional rapport with me. Which means that I'd rather cuddle with almost anything than with a guy who is looking forward to same-sex marriage or any degree of romance in the first place.

  17. KPW -

    I don't feel comfortable combining eternal and mortal characteristics in the same sentence... I do not believe that homosexuality is an eternal characteristic, nor is it a central characteristic in our spirits. I definitely agree that the Lord creates different conditions in mortality for each of His children, according to the designs He has for them and the lessons they severally need to learn... but I do not believe that this condition extends beyond death or that it existed prior to birth. As such, its application would be completely mortal in nature. Maybe you meant that, but I wanted to be clear. I don't know exactly what the Lord intended to teach me yet... how He wanted me to change from this circumstance... and at the same time same-sex attraction is not who I am. Yes, today I live with same-sex attraction. But if I die tomorrow, I'm not a homosexual child of God. I'm just a child of God. All the rest of the temporary pieces of mortality fall away to reveal who I am in the eternities.

  18. Anonymous:

    I completely agree with the statement "it's perfectly okay to find fulfillment in intellectual or even emotional arenas with friends of the same gender, within healthy boundaries..." The boundaries are what I see as incredibly important. Thanks.

  19. Part 1 - Labels are not important to me either. Labels are just shorthand for something too complicated to spell out.

    Understanding oneself is what is important and that is why I am happy that gay children on average are coming out much sooner because -and this was what I was trying to say before- it is difficult, if not impossible to understand oneself if one doesn't allow oneself to interact openly and honestly with others.


  20. I admire the context into which you're putting your feelings. Sometimes, it seems a bit unrealistic to expect the Lord to fulfill those needs for you, but then again, maybe you don't have the same doubts I do. Either way, the manner in which you put your struggles into an eternal perspective is admirable and I aspire to some day do the same. Thanks for that.

    You mentioned above that boundaries are important in seeking intimacy with friends. I suspect you may have some experience with this as well, but those boundaries become very difficult to maintain when your physical attraction is tantamount to your level of emotional intimacy. For me, the men (and very occasional women) to whom I find myself sexually attracted are usually the people that I know best. They're the people who have already let me in on some part of their lives and allowed me to become intimate with them. In fact, the only time I've ever had any level of physical intimacy with someone was with a man who I knew better than the back of my hand.

    That kind of situation is when boundaries become difficult to navigate. Sometimes, it seems easier to avoid intimacy and keep friendships shallow, to avoid the physical attraction that often follows emotional closeness. That's how it feels for me at least, and I suspect that for you, it's the same. Where there is no emotional affinity, there is no sexual attraction. And by avoiding emotional attraction, you can avoid falling in love with your best friend, as happens regularly for me.

    My ideal that I cling to is that someday, after my sex drive has waned a little, I can fill that need for emotional and intellectual intimacy with another man appropriately without worrying about it turning into something complicated by sexual attraction. Until then, perhaps the thoughts shared about filling your life with work, service, and dogs will help stay the wanting a little.

    Thanks again for your perspective.

  21. This is a really interesting thought, and I had never considered it this way. It really makes a lot of sense.

  22. i think you are an amazing person. the gospel really is one eternal round. i recently had a miscarriage and feel a void in my life, and i've also found the only thing that fills that void is Heavenly Father's love.

    good luck, i know you'll make it through and be VERY blessed for your steadfastness.

  23. It amazes me how your posts apply to my life so directly. You always post something that speaks to my most recent confusion or frustration. I know you write through the Spirit and the Lord blesses me with some peace and clarity through you. Thank you for writing this blog!

  24. Thank you for the peace and understanding you have shared today! I so desperately needed it! I have morals, I do not wish to betray them. But I also have needs, and you have helped me understand what they are. You have helped me clarify my own feelings, beyond a sexual attraction, which I can control. I need to feel accepted, acknowledged, and appreciated. I need this from both men and women. I am a good person! I love the gospel! I am trying to understand how to set honest and appropriate boundaries and do not want to set myself up to fail. I appreciate anything you have to share on setting these boundaries. How to know how far it is safe to go without stepping over the boundary. I don't think there's anything wrong with needing to connect with other people (men and women) on an intellectual level. At the emotional level, I struggle with how to have the correct boundaries that are still within Church standards. I truly love men and women in my life. I appreciate what they have to offer me. I feel loved by both men and women, it's just easier for me to connect with men, and I think that's okay as long as I recognize it for what it is. I look forward to your response, as well as further posts.

  25. I recently had a conversation with my Bishop about trying to understand SSA. I appreciate your post today so much because it states exactly what I was trying to say to him, but couldn't say it as eloquently. What I wanted to share with you was his response. (BTW, he is a very great guy!) He said, "I believe that the judgement of Christ is nothing like what even some members of the Church think judgement is, and even more so not what the world thinks judgement is. Christ has an infinite understanding of each unique challenge each one of us face in this mortal existence. Thus said, he also has the infinite understanding of all we have done to meet those challenges. He knows how hard we try. He does not measure by whether or not we won the war, but how hard we fought each battle. And more than that, He wishes to fight each battle with us. In fact, He is the ONLY ONE strong enough to help us fight our battles. He loves us, each and every one of us! He is there, just waiting to come to the aid! He will wrap his arms around you and fill your heart with hope and love! He knows what you so desperately need and will not let you down if we will just turn to Him!!!" I so completely believe this! I know he watches me each day to see how I am doing in whichever battles I'm fighting that day. He is just waiting to help, if I will just ask and have faith. The aid doesn't always come in the way I would like, but the answers come nonetheless. I know in whom I can put my trust. I love the Lord, and I know he will not fail me. Thank you for helping me renew this understanding today.

  26. I appreciate these statements: (1) Sexual attraction only tells part of the story. (2) I can stand next to a girl I'm dating, put my arm around her, run my fingers through her hair, and whisper in her ear. But when I do, I'm just going through the motions. (3) most guys and girls can cuddle, hold hands, kiss, and look each other in the eyes and feel pretty good about their needs being met. But with same-sex attraction it doesn't work that way.

    So often, the challenges of gay Mormons are dismissed as "their challenge is the same challenge as everyone else: keep your thoughts and actions clean". Not to say that gay Mormons have it worse, but such statement limit understanding what gay Mormons go through. Straight members of the Church have an outlet: dating and marriage. Gay members of the Church don't have that outlet. In a sense, they are asked to live a more strict version of the "law of chastity" to obtain the same blessings.

  27. Ryan -

    They may be the same laws, but since each person comes to those laws with different needs and difficulties, the blessings aren't equal throughout. The blessings gained by sacrifice are always greater than otherwise. And my personal relationship with God has been far more affected by this and the resultant need for chastity than if I had been a normal guy.

  28. Hmm. So... Your challenges brings with it an incease of social contact with God (ie positive reiforcement in the form of attention). Sounds like "Skinnerian psychology" to me! To refute Skinnerian psychology onthese grounds would mean "faith behavior" maintains without any sort of influence from God or from the behavior itself.... :)

  29. Ryan -

    Skinner had some things right. Or, probably more accurately, the Lord has it right. But, unlike the gospel, which claims that the answers are all perfect and universally applicable, Skinnerian psychology is probably best taken with a grain of salt. :) I don't think that behavioral psychology, and direct and complete attribution to external influences, tells the whole story. If I really believed Skinner had the gospel of psychiatry, I'd essentially be Calvinist - no control over who you are or your destiny; everything is caused by external influences... and since everyone is equally not in control, that would mean that God had predestined everything to happen as it happens - which is definitely not the case.

  30. And it is also completely possible that despite our envirnments exerting control over our behavior that we can exert control over the environment that controls our behavior. In other words, our efforts can be misguided when we seek to improve our behavior by improving the quality of our mind when it is the environment controlling our behavior. We should thus seek to understand the relationship between our behavior and environment, control the environment where possible, which then controls our behavior.

    This process has greatly improved my own emotions and I recommend this to everyone in the same way you recommend the gospel to everyone. (Despite its evil appearances, Skinnerian psychology has taught me much about God and his natural laws-- the laws of behavior are just that: laws).

  31. Ryan -

    Totally and completely agreed on that aspect. People are affected by environmental, social, and internal motivations - and often actually limited or enabled in those same aspects to accomplish given goals. When we try to accomplish change, we often focus on just one aspect instead of trying a holistic approach... and then when it doesn't work, we decide it's impossible... when in reality we went about it the wrong way. Working in a candy factory may not be conducive to breaking an addiction to sweets. So you change jobs, or move to the reception desk... in addition to the rest of the change process.

  32. Whew! That took a lot of work to find something we agree on; we're building bridges here, one brick at a time. My next undertakings: 1- convince you that our thoughts and emotions are also behavior and subject to the same laws as overt behavior and 2- convince you that our behavior is influenced not just by stimuli and circumstances that precede behavior but also by those that follow our behavior.

    This is going to take a lot of work. I'm gonna need some rest....

  33. You have so many comments obviously because you touched a lot of people! With this one blog entry. That's amazing!

    I'm just one of your many fans of this blog wanting to thank you for sharing the truth of your heart.

    I mean this in the nicest way possible but my heart breaks for you. I'm so sorry that this struggle is a reality. I'm definitely going to be praying for you!

    This topic is something that continually shows up in my mind mostly because someone I love very much is gay and I'm constantly trying to understand him. I offend him with my beliefs when all I want to do is love him.

    I'm not gay so I can't say I understand, but I feel your pain. I have no idea how I would handle it if I knew I couldn't have what my heart yearned for.

    I know times can be so difficult but you are an inspiration! That's how God is using you! Truly admirable. (I have wonderful Christian friends who struggle with same sex attraction as well. I'm not sure if that means anything but I hope it can be some motivation or encouragement even in the slightest!)

    Please keep writing! You're very talented.

  34. First thank you for listening to Heavenly Father and doing this blog. It has been a light in what can be a very dark struggle. I feel many if not all of what you stated are true. Except one: I don't feel like my need to connect to a guy is "homosexual". I have brothers and see that while they connect with their guy friends on a deeper level it's not an attraction it's a human need to connect with people who will share and support. Although I know my brothers would never put those words with their friendships. Any thoughts? I do appreciate how in depth you take each post. Very well thought out and I find you put the words to a lot of what I am thinking. Thanks

  35. As a female going to another LDS school, the appropriate physical intimacy isn't being met for a lot of us either, honey.

    There's none of that hand holding sweetness to get a lot of us by, we have to settle for the handshakes and the proximity without any of the physicality. It's horribly frustrating, believe me.

    You aren't alone in this dearie, just remember that. If you ever need someone to talk to, just ask a friend of ANY sexual orientation who isn't dating regularly :/

  36. Wow...awesome blog. Thank-you

  37. I absolutely believe it's a societal problem. I grew up in the Middle East where two men walking down the street holding hands is the norm. You see them on the beach, a guy stroking his buddy's hair while his head sits comfortably on his lap. They sit in movie theaters with their arms around each other while enjoying a film. It's perfectly acceptable and no one so much as even thinks, "WOW, they must be GAY!"

    In this sort of environment, even we as expatriates adopted some of these more demonstrative attributes in our own same sex friendships and it was awesome.

    When I returned to the US, I found male culture and bonding to be unnaturally superficial and full of all kinds of weirdness. There seemed to be a hovering cloud of paranoia between men that if they were too physical with one another, people might think they were gay, and that would be the end of life. LOL. Good grief. The whole thing made me wonder if most guys actually were gay because of the way they were so freaked out to touch each other. If they were straight, why the fear?

    The whole thing is dreadful. I don't know where it is learned, but it's debilitating to our relationships as brothers... as sons of God.

    I love my wife and she fulfills my sexual needs. But she is incapable of fulfilling the need that I (and all other men) have of feeling loved by other men.

    So, I get what you're talking about man. I often crave going back to the Middle East, where I could get something more out of my friendships with guys than that infuriating slap on the back thing we do here. LOL. It's truly pathetic and an entirely Western phenomenon. It's not like that in most Asian and African cultures either.

    My advice is to find an Arab or Asian friend who will hold your hand while out shopping for power tools! But my question would then be, are you capable of doing that without becoming sexually aroused?

    It sounds to me like you just need to be held and told how awesome you are... that it's OK... that you're loved. I think if you could find a guy who would do that with you, even if you did get sexually aroused at first, those same sex attractions would go away with time.

    I'm fully convinced that most guys who experience same-gender attraction on a sexual level, are those that are simply craving to be touched by other men. It is absolutely, positively a need and unmet needs create dysfunctional behaviors.

    Seriously, bro, try to find someone who would be sensitive to your struggle and willing to to just hold you and let you cry on their shoulder. Someone who wouldn't get freaked out if you, of no fault of your own, got an erection while doing so. If he could just say to you when you did, "it's ok man, don't worry about it, but also... you gotta let that go.... but I'll keep loving you till you can..." I think your same-sex-sexual attraction would go away.

  38. To the last guy with experience in non-western male bonding. If the Church were made up of guys like you, this wouldn't be as big an issue as it is.

  39. Reading this post, I think you have some pretty serious misconceptions about what its like to be heterosexual. In my experience, nearly everyone finds it easier to connect intellectually and emotionally with people of the same gender. I have often heard heterosexual women idly wish they were gay because their same sex friendships come so much more easily and naturally. Heterosexual relationships are work, often hard work. You have to get past the combination of cultural and innate differences between men and women. That's why there are books like "Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus". But building a relationship with someone who's mind and body complement yours rather than mirror it can be a thing of beauty, worth the work it requires.

  40. Anon -

    Then I guess I would say I wish I were attracted to girls, as my relationships with them come so much more easily. Almost all of my casual friendships and all of my more time-intensive relationships are with girls. The issue isn't being able to make friends with them, it's the problem that those relationships don't fill the needs that my brain and body express. If I were attracted to girls, and could fill my needs for intimacy with them, I'd be fine - I've spent thousands of hours in close physical, emotional, and intellectual contact with them. My relationships with girls have all been way easier than relationships with guys. My current problem is figuring out physical, emotional and intellectual intimacy with guys... because becoming meaningful friends with guys is close to impossible for me, no matter what I try.

  41. I. Love. This. Post.

    I could've have written this. As an 18 year old Mormon who also struggles with same gender attraction, I can say that I completely understand. I discovered your blog only a few days ago, but I wish that I would have found it much sooner. I've prayed, and hoped, and wished that I knew somebody who felt the things that I did. It's true what you say, one of the hardest things about dealing with SGA is the the lack of any sort of emotional intimacy.

    I so often wish desperately that I could share the things I feel with others, but because of my trials, I can't. It's hard to expose any real part of myself to another person without also exposing my greatest, and best kept secret about my attractions. And so I'm forced, day by day, to build a secondary, false self which I can then safely use to interact with others. Like a puppetmaster I sit above the stage of life controlling a puppet that resembles me only in appearance, but the other actors are real, and I wish desperately that I could jump down and join them.

    It's truly liberating to know that I'm not the only one who has contemplated this facet of SGA nearly to exhaustion. Thank you so much.

  42. Chris -

    Jump down on the stage with us. Every actor wears a costume, and the makeup on stage is only skin deep. I used to think that I had to hide myself from the world - the "Reflection" song from Mulan comes to mind - but now I realize that people love me for who I am - not the person that I try to project (since most of the time people can see through projections anyway - at least the people in my life can). So I'm crazy in love with the gospel. Some people make fun of me. Others hate me. Others realize that's part of who I am and who I want to be. I'm passionate about life, people, and everything else, and I fall in love with people easily. I treat everyone like my best friend. And some reject it - they're looking for a mask instead of a person. But the people I need - and the people you need - are real, and won't settle for a puppet on a string. They'll either pull you down, or keep walking. I'd suggest you jump first.

  43. I agree with the comments about male affection and bonding. It's important for males to be hugged and loved appropriately by males from a very young age. Same with female/female affection.

    In a different vein, I have a friend who is 41 who has muscular dystrophy and has had since birth. His brain is fine. His hormones are fine but his body is confined to a wheel chair and he does not have control over his muscles. He struggles constantly with the need and desires for physical intimacy and realizes that he will not have these issues to face when he is out of this mortal body and looks so forward to that day. This little time of suffering is so worth the freedom that awaits those who struggle most!

  44. This post has elicited a conversation of fascinating comments....

  45. Dude, I just can't imagine how difficult this must be.

    I guess it's one thing to not find someone who you connect with and live singly. In that situation, you doubt yourself and your worth, and have to struggle out of that.

    Or to be married and have that someone leave you willingly or through death and live singly. Again, you struggle with loss etc.

    But this is slightly different because you have to muster on without even searching for it in the first place.

    God bless you. I'm in awe of what you're trying to do.

  46. Your article provided me some enlightenment tonight about homosexuality. I used to believe that homosexuality was just about sexual attraction. But I realised from your well-expressed personal perspective, that it is more than that. Overall, I just admire your strong will to be a disciple of Christ and if it meant filling your cup half-empty, you would.

  47. Ditto to Mytch's comment. Thank you for sharing your experience, thoughts, and convictions. They help me better understand and be more sensitive to others' struggles. Like a commenter above, I also think that that your trials are only for the physical world; a brain is just a piece of flesh, and its connections, implastic as they may feel sometimes, are not our eternal selves. But that doesn't make it easy, any more than being in a wheelchair is easy for those with testimonies of the resurrection. If it helps, I'm in a great marriage, but in my experience, the feeling of "sharing our minds and hearts" is actually my own internal one and not necessarily experienced by my husband. I never felt "out of control in love" the way the movies show, and I distrust romance now that I've seen so many people make terrible decisions due to it. (I'm also a bit Aspie. ;) There are girls on the spectrum, too.)

  48. I've never given much thought about this topic and gay people in the church. This article really got me thinking... and my heart's aching for all the things you miss out on that I've taken for granted all of my life. You're so brave. All the best, Nina.

  49. So well said. Thank you for sharing your journey and your heart. You've touched me.

  50. I found your site from a more recent article you wrote that someone linked to on FB. I try to understand and empathize, though I know that I can only do either to a limited extent.

    As I was reading this, I was reminded of Moroni. He wandered alone for over 40 years, hiding a good portion of the time from those who would kill him. He didn't know how long he'd be doing that. It sounds a lot like your situation, to me. You run and hide from situations that could result in spiritual death. You feel alone. Like him, you turn to Jesus as perhaps your only true friend.

    I applaud your efforts and encourage you to continue. Based on the closeness I have with the savior, I believe you can get at least two of your three needs met. It certainly takes work and often seems one-sided. The easiest way to make longer strides is to constantly ask what else you should do today and then do it. Not on a given topic that you're thinking about, but to ask what you are missing, what isn't on your radar. For example, you might be prompted to talk to all of your neighbors about a topic - missionary style. Or to get a library card (what for? who knows until you do it). Or to look for a volunteer opportunity outside of church, etc. In other words, doing more of what Jesus would do. To not just work on yourself internally. I have grown to know the savior more in this way. Perhaps you already do this. This is an old post, so perhaps you've already figured this out and have made a closer and more fulfilling relationship with the savior.

    In any case, best of luck with your struggles.

  51. My son is gay and was recently married to his partner of 11 years. I love them both, and up until I read a couple of your articles, was confident that I "understood" all I needed to. Now my heart hurts all over again. The day my Son told me was the day he was to become an Elder. I wish I could have known then what (thanks to you) I know now. My prayer is that the day will soon come when all truth is restored and a full understanding brings peace to this old heart. Thank you for sharing dear man.


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