Monday, October 31

Tis a Gift to be Simple

Last night I had a conversation with a guy that made me think a lot about who I am and why I'm here in life. He and I have a lot in common, and the circumstances under which we met were incredibly serendipitous. In talking with him, I was hoping to see a mirror of myself, a pattern to learn from, a form of good and bad and better choices to apply in my life. I wanted answers to some of the questions I've had in life - an understanding of how he's learned to cope with the problems that I face. But, while I could see myself reflected in a few of the things he said, as the conversation progressed, I realized that our problems and trials have far less to do with each other than I had ever expected... and there would be no easy answer by the time we said goodbye.

In the hours since, I've wondered about who I am, what exactly I'm supposed to be doing here, and the destiny that I have waiting on the horizon. I've always had the feeling that life was going to get much, much harder for me in the future... from when I was little... and the feeling persists even today. This is only the tip of the iceberg. And so I wonder exactly what the Lord has in mind for me. My patriarchal blessing talks about sharing the gospel, and about being a father, healer, missionary, teacher, counselor, and leader. It doesn't talk about living with same-gender attraction, or fighting depression, or navigating the paths of learning to be a friend. It doesn't talk about abuse, or fear, or how to develop lasting friendships by becoming more vulnerable in relationships when I already wear my heart on my sleeve and put everything in my life on the table.

And it makes me wonder how some of the people in the scriptures felt during points of their lives. Don't misinterpret me. I'm not a prophet or an apostle or even anyone with authority in the Church. But I wonder how Moroni felt when he was alone, running from the Lamanites... how Paul felt on his missionary journeys, how John the Beloved feels as he serves among people who never truly become his friends. And how Christ felt when He alone understood what it was that He was called to do.

It makes me wonder if this is just part of my gift - if I was just supposed to learn sublime principles from feeling alone, or if it's supposed to inspire me to action, both of which have happened many times. If I had tons of friends, I would never have started this blog. I probably wouldn't have cared as much about people suffering in the world. I wouldn't have the time to respond to personal emails, text, chat, and meet people to help us come closer to Christ... But because I've been able to watch people change, it has been worth it. It will always be worth it.

I don't know what the future holds... whether someone will feel the call to be my friend, or I'll develop the abilities that elude me, or I'll go through life as a missionary - making intense, short-term connections with people all over the world. Thankfully, if I do my best, the Lord will take care of me - in the short and long term. He cares about me and is involved in my life. And that makes life a whole lot more simple.

Sunday, October 30

Epic Fails in Friendship

For most of my life, I believed I could do anything I wanted, well. So did others... and experience supported that belief. Now I realize how incredibly wrong I was.

I may be good at athletics, academics, music, or internalizing church doctrine. But in the things that really matter - developing long-term meaningful relationships with others - my track record is a long list of failures.

Ability to make and keep friends from elementary school? Fail. Friends from any other school? Fail. Friends from work? Fail. Friends from the mission? Fail. Friends from past wards? Fail. Friends among extended family members? Fail. Friends in the dating world? Fail. And friends as part of a physical support group - people I can turn to when I'm having a rough day? Epic fail.

I honestly think that this - my inability to develop meaningful lasting friendships - played a role in exacerbating same-sex attraction... and that seems to hold true with some of the things I've discussed with other guys who are moving forward - as they are able to develop more meaningful non-sexual relationships with men and women, living with same-sex attraction gets at least a little easier. I'm not sure if it's because friends create a social network and support system, or if there are emotional needs that are met through friendships that, unmet, masquerade as SSA. I don't know because, despite my attempts, it never happens. Something about me destroys relationships with a perfect certainty... and that knowledge probably only further accelerates the process.

Take a recent example - I had a guy I was helping to come back to Church, change his life, and learn to be happy. He didn't have SSA. We spent a ton of time together, and over the course of a few months he was able to change. But as soon as that change happened, life pulled us apart and I haven't had a conversation with him since. I invited him to half a dozen different things, but as the relationship atrophies I feel powerless to stop it, and it doesn't seem like he has any interest in knowing me anymore... so I drop it and move on. And that's the story of my life. Meet people - men and women - feel a desire to be involved in their lives and a desire to be accepted by them... if I get close to them, they usually have massive, painful, life-changing experiences... and then they disappear.

The end result is that I've never had a group of friends to go do stuff with, or even one friend that stayed on for the ride. When I want to go running, it's always alone, even though I know a hundred people who love to run. They just would rather not run than have me running with them. I know - I've tried. When I go hiking or biking, or attend the temple, or go to a museum, or do almost anything, it's alone... I have short-term friends, for a few weeks or sometimes even months, but each of them eventually disappears or consciously walks away. They each had logical and plausible reasons for not pursuing the friendship... and I can't blame them.

Sometimes I wonder about the irony of pulling both the same-sex attraction card (which means I have a rough time with romantic relationships) and the difficulty-making-friends card (which means I have a rough time with non-romantic relationships). The end result is that I have a rough time with all informal relationships - everything that doesn't involve structured roles like student-teacher or mentor-mentee. I'm grateful that being alone taught me to turn to God, but sometimes I wonder if I'll ever be able to overcome it and be able to rely on people in my life. Right now, I look at relationships as opportunities to help other people. I walk into every environment with the question, "How can I help this person come closer to Christ?" But at the same time, I expect it to end when they're done with me. I'm never someone's only or best friend, even if they're mine... and eventually that friendship will disappear - sometimes suddenly - in the course of 5 seconds - and sometimes over weeks. But none of them last, and inside I don't believe they will, simply because they never have.

Wow. This post was longer than I intended. And probably more depressing to people on the outside. This isn't a sob story or an account intended to engender pity or emotional grief. It's just a thought from my mind, and maybe it will help put into perspective some of the choices I make. Everything I do is based on the precept that I'm going to be alone for a long time - surrounded by friends in the short term, but constantly breaking ties and having to make new ones. From experience I've realized that no relationship can ever thrive longer than a few months, then my investment in people has to be front-loaded, and I'm far more willing to do things that will help them in the beginning, even if it jeopardizes the relationship we have. That's a good summary of how it works in my mind. And changing this has proved far more difficult than any temptation with same-sex attraction.

Saturday, October 22

LDS Temple Marriages

Mormon weddings are amazing. The wedding party is small - usually just close family and a few friends - and the ceremony itself is only a few minutes long. And in those few minutes, a boy and girl go from best friends to eternal companions.

Sealing ceremonies, for me, have always been a bit bittersweet. They're incredibly happy, but for a long time I wasn't. I thought that I was. At the reception, I smiled, helped, and gave my own personal congratulations, but inside it was all I could do to keep from crying. And on the drive or flight home, I usually did.

I realize now that the root of my pain was fear. Fear that happiness would never really find me, fear of the unknown future, fear that I had done something to deny me of blessings eternally. But all the fears surrounded one - fear that God wouldn't fulfill His promise to me, and to all His children, to grant me every blessing if I am faithful.

I knew the gospel, and I could recite the promises by heart. And, to the outside world, I lived by its every teaching. But I didn't believe it. I hadn't been willing to trade my fear for faith... and because of that, the gospel didn't work for me. It didn't bring me happiness.

Weddings are still bittersweet. They still highlight the greatest blessings of the gospel, and by so doing, highlight the fact that I'm not married... and that I'm not even attracted to girls in the first place. But instead of making me believe it will never happen, or that happiness is conditional upon fulfillment of my own desires, temple weddings now highlight the miracles that God does in everyone's lives. In every story of husband and wife, there are miracles - proof that God is in details. He's promised that if I'm faithful (and do absolutely everything in my power), those same miracles will happen in my life.

So now I smile, give my congratulations, and then go home and give thanks. I'm just waiting for my turn.

Thursday, October 20

"Learning Experiences"

Yeah. Sometimes "learning experiences" is a euphemism for tough days and rougher trials. But sometimes, even though the underlying trials still exist, experiences really are all about learning, and less about pain or anything else. And, in that case, the attribution still holds true.

I had a handful of experiences over the last few days that could have easily been classed as trials. Miscommunication with other people. Frustration with colleagues. Difficulties with friends and family members. Stress from Church and life in general. In each case, I had the conscious thought, "So how am I going to respond to this? How am I going to classify it when I tell others? And how am I going to experience and view it now - in the moment?"

I tried to view them all as "learning experiences" - to see the investment of time and money as an investment in learning (since in most cases the actual investment in material things or experiences proved fruitless). And it was amazing what I actually learned. Focusing on learning good things in life can make an otherwise awful experience actually enjoyable. It can give purpose in doing things that seem useless. And it can help me understand people, even when they seem to be doing things that, from my limited perspective, seem totally irrational.

And so it all eventually made sense. Instead of feeling victimized, I felt curious. Instead of frustrated, more aware. In each case, I learned something that will help me in the future.

I think that's one of the keys to my thriving (not just surviving) in the Church - I look at experiences in life the same way. So I'm not attracted to women. Why? Where does it come from? How transient is it? What impacts or modifies it? How does that impact my relationships? What can I learn from it? How can it make me a better person? What do I need to be careful of? How does it affect who I really am inside? How does it interplay with all the rest of the problems in my head? How does it affect the reality of the Plan of Salvation and its application in my life? How should it affect my goals? How does it affect my relationship with God? How does it affect my testimony and my faith?

Maybe that's a secret in life - realizing that every experience is designed to help me learn to be happy. I think it is. And, from that perspective, as long as I'm doing the right things, my life will always be perfect. Difficult? Yeah. Painful? Probably. But still perfect - full of one learning experience after another.

Sunday, October 9

We're Not Alone

For most of my life I honestly believed that no one in the world understood me. When we talked about temptations that people have in Sunday School, being attracted to guys was definitely not one of them. And while there are stories in the scriptures of men who repented of adultery, murder, and tons of other sins, the scriptures never share that type of story about men like me. At the same time, the population of anti/ex-Mormon gay voices is becoming more predominant... and the message they share is usually very clear: the Church was not a hospitable place for us.

Together, those circumstances made me think I couldn't exist... or at least that my ideal self - being happy, fulfilled, and faithful - would be impossible. That living an active life in the Church would incur huge amounts of pain - or at the least, would require me to "deny who I was" and "live without love" for the rest of mortality.

But I was wrong.

One of my key flaws was thinking I was alone in the fight - like President Monson in his story about boot camp in the Navy, I thought that I would have to stand alone - me against the world and every statistic that claims happiness isn't possible. But, like in the story shared in General Conference, as I made my stand I realized that there were men right behind me who felt the same. Men who knew who I was, and who had walked in similar paths.

Today I look around and see the shroud of hidden darkness beginning to disappear. Film studies about men who are faithful and LDS. Books written and published by Deseret Book. Useful and relevant topical research guides on homosexuality at And a commmunication network that unites us all in brotherhood.

The truth is, there has always been Someone who understood me - God Himself. And when I wondered if life was even worth trying to live, He knew what it was like. Christ suffered all things - including my struggles, like feeling alone with SSA in the Church... and because of that, He is always at our side. He understands us and wants us to grow, keep the commandments, and find happiness and peace in doing what is right - becoming like Him. He will never abandon us. And because of that, we are never alone.

Saturday, October 1

We Are All Enlisted

It's time to lift up your voice in defense of truth and virtue. We are all enlisted... and no matter who you are, today you are called to rise up and share the gospel as it applies to you... to open your mouth and be heard... to speak in the language of your life... and to change the world.

When I first began writing here at (Gay) Mormon Guy, a priesthood leader counseled me to not be a leader - not to form an army or take leadership of people in a place or role where I had no formal authority. But as time has gone on, I've realized that my story isn't enough. At first I thought it was a problem with publicity - maybe if people simply knew about (Gay) Mormon Guy, and read my story, it would help them in some way. In some cases, it does. But in other cases, I can't communicate with people who need help. There is still a huge need for increased exposure to this topic in the world. But even if I were able to write perfectly, and if every LDS guy and girl with SSA read my blog, and everyone else in the world as well, it wouldn't be enough.

The Church, and the world, needs more soldiers of faith - men and women who are willing to do their part to share their stories with the world. It doesn't mean you have to blog about the most personal parts of your life... but if you're a blogger, and you can speak from experience, then maybe you should. It doesn't mean that you need to talk with everyone. But if you're a social butterfly, and you can see people's needs, then you should. You have within you a calling - a place in the Plan of Heavenly Father that will enable you to bless and change and inspire the lives of His children - whether one at a time or en masse. And today you have been called to serve in that capacity by living prophets.

Come, join the ranks of men and women who aren't afraid to share the gospel in everything they do. Who wear their religion on their sleeves and let it shine in their eyes, because it lifts and lights the world. Come, join the ranks of men and women who have personally experienced the power of the Atonement and would do anything to help a brother or sister in need... and as you serve, you will find the true joy of the gospel - not just living a righteous life and having your unmet needs filled by the mercy and grace of God - but the joy that comes from enabling, lifting, teaching, inspiring, helping others to achieve lasting happiness in their lives. God's joy is shared with us when we engage in His work - the work of changing lives, healing hearts, and saving souls.

We are all enlisted. Make the commitment to join, today, and do what you can to serve... because both you and I have a place in the Plan that only we can fulfill.

Twitter, (G)MG, and General Conference

Listening to Elder Bednar's talk today in General Conference prompted me to try something that scares me a bit. He said that we've been trained to text and to tweet... and so I've decided to share my thoughts on General Conference, realtime, as Mormon Guy, with the world. I know that isn't really unique (since it's already trending), but it's unique for me. My Twitter name itself is unique. But maybe it will help me find people who need the message of hope the gospel brings.

If you don't have a Twitter account, you can sign up for one at

Once there, you can search the hashtag (a term used to identify and sort messages/tweets) #LDSConf for the conference discussion, and watch for my posts as @GayMormonGuy. Wow. Wish me luck.