Monday, March 26

Prepare for General Conference.

I don't think that my blog is really worth writing during the next few days. Instead, I'm taking the time to read and listen to each of the sessions from last October's General Conference. It's located here, at

During Conference, you can follow me on Twitter:
Follow @gaymormonguy
Hash tag #ldsconf

Thursday, March 15

The Mask of Anonymity

Elder Cook gave a CES Fireside a few weeks ago that caused me to take pause. I was live-tweeting the event with some of my Twitter friends, using the hash tag #CESFireside. It seemed like it was going to be a good fireside. And then Elder Cook started talking about anonymity. 

The tweet I wrote says, "Elder Cook tells us to avoid any pretext of anonymity. That strikes home. I'm anonymous." And it only began to outline the thoughts that raced through my mind.

Elder Cook's talk focused on how anonymity could give people a mask behind which they could hide their identity... a mask that falsifies their persona and makes it seem like "no one else will know." It's the mask of pornography, of online chat rooms, of nameless hook ups, and one night stands. A mask that turns people into demons. And, in order to combat the issue at hand, he asked us to unmask.

Within the hour, I saw his counsel begin to be applied in the social world. A handful of Twitter accounts changed names to be real ones instead of pseudonyms. Avatars changed to match real people. It's telling that I even noticed; I don't follow anyone on Twitter.

I found myself wondering what this talk meant for me, and, at large, for all of us. Elder Cook did say, "Don't wear your heart on your sleeve or be superficial," but I still found myself wondering if it meant I had to drop my anonymity, if only because I didn't want to be someone who rejects the words of the prophets simply because I don't think they apply.

Before I went to sleep that night, still somewhat distraught, I prayed for guidance... for the ability to understand what Elder Cook meant, and the Lord's will for me.

In doing so, I had to honestly take stock of my emotions. Would I be willing to open my heart and soul and name and family to the world? One part of me could see huge benefits in doing so. It would be far easier, at least if everyone knew... but there's the problem of having to tell people who didn't get it the first time. That's awkward. And being open with the world would make it easier to take a more visual stand for faith. There are a dozen things I can't do anonymously. I could use my experiences, and the faith and testimony I share here, to build my own family and those around me. The more I thought about it, the more I could see pieces making sense... and I realized that, even with the stress it would place on my family, I'd be willing to do it if God asked me to.

But there are also positives to staying anonymous. The ability to help people who've never met me and value anonymity. A better ability to relate to readers can put themselves in my shoes because they aren't distracted by my age, where I live, or what I do each day. Peace in my family's life. I already get enough hate mail; it's nice that I'm the only one who gets it. And the ability to leave my trials behind when I go through my day. I sometimes go days without thinking about this blog, even if I keep my email open to check if someone has a pressing question. And it's awesome that, in most cases, attraction doesn't cross my mind. And no one, obviously, ever brings it up.

I prayed for guidance, listened, and then fell asleep. I've been listening ever since, waiting for an answer to confirm or deny the decision that I made... to keep going forward with faith, in the same path the Lord had already made for me. And then, a few days later, I was listening to some music and "Because I Have Been Given Much" came on.

The words of the song are amazing. I can't quote the whole song here because of copyright issues, but this is the phrase that I had been waiting for:

I shall divide my gifts from Thee
With every brother that I see
Who has the need of help from me.

My gifts from God comprise everything He has given me in life. God only gives gifts (only good fruit comes from a good tree, and good water from a good fountain), and He gives them with the intent that we will do good. But not just haphazardly... according to His design.

That was my answer. Who do I share my gifts with? With every brother that I see who has the need of help from me. I don't need to shout my trials and blessings from the mountaintops. At least not now. I just need to share them with the people I can touch, and God will do the rest.

Elder Cook was speaking to me, and warning me of the dangers of anonymity. Explaining the demons that anonymity could bring. And in the same tone, the Spirit affirmed that the mask that I have on is a different mask. It doesn't make me likely to do or say things I would regret among the people I know and love. I wouldn't cringe to share everything with the world or tie it to my name. And I feel confident that I'm at least trying my best.

Saturday, March 10


There's a song I heard once that I really didn't like. It was something like "God Loves Broken Things." I didn't like the tune, the word choices, or the way the guy sang.

But the song has stuck with me, even though I can't remember the tune or any of the words, and I still remember the feeling I had when I looked inside and realized that I was broken... and that was okay.

Broken can mean a lot of things. It's the feeling of abject despair when total and absolute depression sets in - the real kind they make medication for, but doesn't always respond, no matter what I try. It's the realization that all the work I've done over years can't open the doors I need to move forward, or yet another full batch of relationships gone wrong. Dreams shattered, life in oblivion, and an apathy towards reality that pulls me from society and pushes all but those closest to me away.

I used to feel like I had no right to be powerless, no right to be depressed, no right to be broken or despondent. The sheer reality that I was, made life even worse - a cycle that pulled me deeper and deeper, until I finally let go.

Being broken has some interesting physical correlations. When I run a gazillion miles, eventually my body runs out of energy completely. At least, in the moment, it feels that way. It's sudden, and, in an instant the simple act of walking or running or biking or whatever is like pushing through mud or molasses. From all outside respects, it looks like there's really no hope unless I go eat something with a whole lot of sugar. I'm broken. But, inside, opaque to my perspective, a miracle is happening. When my body runs out of energy in the form of glucose and glycogen, my muscles switch fuels. Glucose is replace with ketone, and proteins are broken down into emergency glucose for indispensable nervous functions. Even my brain switches. And, as soon as the adaptation is over, life moves on.

I feel like the Lord is often trying to teach me something when I hit the wall spiritually and emotionally. When I feel like I've been run over by a Mack truck, or like the world is going to cave in on me... because at those times, I'm forced to look at my life and refocus on the Lord. Sometimes the rope that I'm holding on to, hoping that it will pull me up, is friendship. Sometimes it's my own will. Sometimes it's just stubbornness.

But in most cases, the rope I was holding on to wasn't a rope that would ever pull me up. It would only pull me down... and when I learned to accept reality, to be okay with being broken, that gave the Lord a chance to help me see where I needed to change.

Right now I'm broken. Physically, emotionally, socially, professionally... I feel like everything is shattering around me in every facet I can dream. Every facet but one. I know God loves me, that I'm giving my best, and that, no matter what happens, He will be with me.

And maybe that's why I'm broken - so that I can learn to better rely on the Lord instead of everything else in my life. To help me see that, when nothing else can, He has the power to bring me from the depths and do more than just fix me. From the broken pieces of my life, He creates something better than before... if I'm willing to let Him. And then I move on, until it's time to be broken once again.

Monday, March 5

My Trials Are No Different

I used to think that living with homosexuality was the worst possible trial that God could give someone. Level one trials were like having a bad day at work. Level two trials were like having a bad job in the first place. Level three, breaking up with a girlfriend. And so on, up and up the ladder of my brain until you reach the pinnacle of mortal trials.

I would have traded my life with anyone, because I honestly thought that I had the worst life in the world. Any trial would have been better. Cancer? At best, you live and are cancer-free. At worst, you die early or live a long, drawn out, painful life. Starvation? Same story. Abject poverty? More of the same. But nothing compared with my life. In my mind, no one could really understand or empathize because, in my mind, their trials were mundane.

And they had so much more help. Support groups, foundations, scholarships, 5K races, public service announcements, government programs, Church programs, charities, and a network of people who have been where they had been and could answer their questions. Name a problem, and there was a system put in place to help people overcome it, or at least find hope.

I had nothing, and my trial seemed impossible where nothing else was.

But I was wrong.

The realization came slowly, as I began to find meaning in my life and learned how I fit in God's Plan. Taken as a whole, my set of trials was different - as every trial is. But taken apart, I saw how the feelings and "micro-trials" I faced each day really weren't all that different from people all over the world.

When I feel confused about my place in God's Plan, I join millions of people looking for truth and seeking God's direction in their lives. When I feel frustration with dating, part of that frustration mirrors that felt by every other young single adult in the Church. When my mind wanders, I exercise the same willpower needed to overcome addictions. The hopelessness from fearing I'll never get married matches, in part, that felt by singles everywhere, but even more closely, those with severe physical or mental disabilities... and the same comparison happens with depression, needs in friendships, trouble understanding doctrinal applications, choosing direction in life... and every micro-trial that makes up same-sex attraction.

Every trial in life, in fact, is made up of micro-trials. I looked at everything the people around me were facing, and saw easily how decomposing their difficulties into the smallest pieces suddenly meant that I could relate to them... and that gave incredible meaning to the scripture I had read in Corinthians but never really believed.

13 There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it. (1 Corinthians 10:13)

I had never believed it because I didn't understand what God meant. He didn't mean that someone else in the world was experiencing the exact same set of major trials that I was. My life, and its trials, were probably unique. But if I looked closely enough, I could find people everywhere who had individually lived, suffered, and overcome the micro-trials that composed my life...

And with that realization came another: my trials had been specifically chosen for me. God had a clean slate to send me into mortality. He could have sent me here with anything. But He didn't. He didn't send me with cancer or to struggle with alcoholism. He didn't send me to Africa or the Middle Ages. He created my life perfectly with the trials and blessings and talents and gifts that I needed to return to Him. And for that I am grateful.

I used to believe that my trials were impossible to understand. That no one could relate or give me useful advice. But the Lord taught that, looking closely at life, there hath no temptation [or micro-trial] taketh you but such as is common to man. Every temptation and trial can be overcome.

My trials are no different.

Saturday, March 3

To Be (Gay) Or Not To Be (Happy)... That's The Wrong Question.

Wherefore, the Lord God gave unto man that he should act for himself. Wherefore, man could not act for himself save it should be that he was enticed by the one or the other. (Book of Mormon, 2 Nephi, Chapter 2)

The enticement that Lehi described is a curious thing. Sometimes, before we are in the midst of trial, it's easy to just think, "Well, choose the right when a choice is placed before you," but the reality is that, with many choices, both sides have valid arguments. And choosing the right then means being able to see through the mist of darkness and know the will of God. Otherwise making choices would be easy.

Same-sex attraction is no exception. Following are two comments I recently received; I post them here because they represent, in my mind, two of the common thought processes surrounding same-gender attraction... and two of the ideologies that I see perpetuated in others.

First Comment:

Hmm, while you are living your life celibate and doing everything in your power to control your same sex attractions that you weren't apparently born with, I will be spending my life with a man that I love and enjoying what life has to offer while still believing in God. A different God I might add. I feel sorry for you that you think you are doing the right thing and remaining celibate and faithful to church. There is so much more to life, and if you honestly believe that these homosexual thoughts and feelings are immoral and wrong, you my friend are in for a life of loneliness. Sure you'll have your friends, your familys, those that support you, etc. BUT, you know why they support you and remain around you? Because you chose to stay within the church, but just for that reason. Do you think those same people would really give you the same love and friendship if you chose to be an acting homosexual? No. I wish you could just see the bigger picture. And you know what? You can say the exact same things to me and thats just it...Theres nothing I can really say that you can't turn back around. I will leave you with this, you're not a bad person for chosing to embrace your the gay life-style per say being with a man. Everyone deserves to be with someone they are IN love with. It's how life was designed. If God put you on this earth to go through feeling what you do know to be rewarded in the after-life or to overcome these tempations and reign forever, you're mistaken. Getting married to a woman, fasting, praying, therapy, none of that will work in the case of being made whole and getting married. Take a stepouside of the box and see what happens.

Second Comment:

I find that you are a bit off base here. I really respect you for choosing your own path in life... but the situation you write about with the women talking about how they don't want to marry a gay man is real. I have lived it first hand. Trust me that what these women (and all women, especially in the church) are saying here, is not that they think less of you because you are gay, but that they know that deep down you could not make the connection THEY need. 

Love is a two way street, and both ends have to have interest and physical chemistry. Don't overlook sexual attraction in defining love, it's the cornerstone. 

I tried to live a life you are seeking. I got married to a wonderful woman that loved me back, we had so much in common, lived the gospel, tried EVERYTHING, and it didn't work. Deep down, a gay man is a gay man, doesn't matter how hard he tries to not act on those "feelings", it is who you are. And a women can tell, a women needs to see you desire her in your eyes and touch, if not it will feel fake and empty to her, like going through the motions.

Just don't shut out the arguments from "the other side", we're not all out to get you. I truly hope you can find peace with who you are someday, and know that you are loved for you.

The truth of the matter is that both of these experiences are real. Both men wrote to me with the hope that they could influence me to avoid pain that they themselves felt, and find peace that they've found. 

On the one hand, I could be like the first commenter - fall in love with a guy, choose to believe that is the will of God (a different God), and in that belief find pleasure in life, meaning, reconciliation, and companionship. Men have found that.

On the other hand, I could be like the second commenter, and try to do everything right, try to stay strong in the Church, and still fail - even after marriage - and experience extreme heartache and disaster, ripping apart families and leaving chaos in its wake. It happened to him.

Be gay, or be unhappy.

And, in the minds of many of the men I've met, those are the only two options. Stay completely and fully faithful in the Church and be miserable and full of self-loathing, or appeal to "spirituality," claim that the Church isn't true (or at least its teaching on homosexuality), and live an open, self-loving, and free life.

Faced with only those two choices, it's not striking why many men choose to trade the Church's stringent and clear teachings on chastity, faith, and perseverance for something else. 

I found myself choosing between those two choices just a few years ago.

I was doing everything right. I had gone to Seminary, learned my scripture masteries, served a faithful mission, and done everything according to the plan. I read my scriptures, paid my tithing, attended the temple, prayed, and I thought that was enough. So when life gave me only pain and sorrow, I found myself forced to choose between two options. Either the gospel and the Church doesn't really have the power to bring me happiness (and I should choose to follow commenter 1), or I'm simply not good enough and even if I try, I will fail (and my life will be like commenter 2). 

I turned to God for help, and realized that there is a third choice - one that promises far more than any other, but entails a whole lot more work and time as well. In my darkest hours, I learned that if the gospel is not working for me, it is because I'm not using it right - not because I'm not good enough or because God or His teachings are incapable of bringing me peace.

The reality is that Christ came to save all men, and that God has given all men the power to overcome their trials and find true happiness, joy, and peace through living according to His will.

But what does that mean? For me, it meant that I was going to need a whole lot more than 100 memorized scripture masteries and some cliche phrases from the mission. I was going to need much more faith than I was getting from my prayers, and far more guidance than what I was finding in the scriptures. And that makes sense. The Lord gives each of us, if we are righteous, Abrahamic trials - obstacles so massive that they require us to rise to the same level of faith that Abraham did. And he definitely didn't just have two years of mission experience and call it good.

And I'll be honest. For years, I saw only pain in my future. I knew that I was doing the right thing, but nothing seemed to work.

And I don't know exactly when it happened, or when the process began... but my frustration and despair slowly turned into perspective and faith... and today, I can truthfully say that I live a happy life. Yes, I'm nowhere near perfect. But I can see the light shining, and it is finally reflecting in my soul. And I have everything I could want. Fully a part of the Church, fully acceptant of who I am and what faces me here in life, and fully in control of what happens in my life. Life is amazing... and I wouldn't change anything, except to keep going.

Would I love to be married and have a family? Definitely! My goal is to fall in love with a woman, be physically attracted to her (read that last statement again - some people seem to not get it: be physically attracted to her), get married in the temple, raise a family, and work together to make our home and lives a part of heaven on earth. But I've met so many people and had so many experiences that I wouldn't have had if I were married. Maybe there's more that the Lord wants me to do. And in the meantime, the Lord is able to fill my needs - He is omnipotent, after all. It just took me a while to really believe it and learn how to benefit from that power.

So that's the decision I face. Work harder than I ever have, rely on God's grace, and determine how to use the Lord's omnipotent power to bring about happiness and salvation... or give up on reconciling Church standards with my attractions... or try really hard and give up when, after 10, 20, 40 years later, I feel like I'm still failing.

The beautiful promise of the gospel is that no matter who I am, there is a way to make it work for me. The gospel works. If it's not working for me, I'm not using it right. For everyone that seeketh shall find, and unto him that knocketh, it shall be opened. The Lord God is no respecter of persons, which means that if His gospel can bring peace, hope, and joy to anyone who learns to use it in their lives, it can bring those same blessings to me.

And that's the option I choose.

Thursday, March 1

Gay Marriage and Anti-Gay Discrimination

Having same-sex attraction as a part of my life has meant, for me, that I honestly care for others who have same-sex attraction as much as everyone else... and maybe even more. I feel a kinship to them. I think that's normal - I feel connected to people who have lived lives similar to mine and faced the same mountains to climb.

I also know that acting on that attraction, like every other action, is a controllable, personal choice. Homosexual activity is not an inborn trait. 

I have no problems with laws that forbid discrimination based on inherent attraction. It actually shocked me when I first realized that situations like that existed - where I could lose opportunities simply because I feel an attraction to other men, regardless of my choices or actions in relation to that attraction. 

And there is definitely still work that needs to be done in that respect. Even with laws, discrimination still happens on a far more personal level... a level that doesn't ever really see the light of day in the modern debates and protests.

I overheard a conversation between a few women who were talking about guys they knew... and one remarked that a guy she had dated was really into fashion. The response to her comment made me catch my breath: "You have to be really careful. Some of those guys are gay... and you definitely don't want that!" The conversation then drifted to stories of family members who had been abandoned by unfaithful gay husbands or fathers, and the frustration and betrayal they had seen.

I've heard those stories before. I know some of them personally. But, perhaps naively, I had never turned them back on my own circumstance. Each of the women in the group made a clear assertion that she didn't want to marry a man who was gay; and, from the tone of their conversation, it was apparent that gay meant not only those who acted on their attractions, but all of those who only had the attractions in the first place.

That would mean that I, by simple nature, would have already been cut from their dating pool... without ever having a chance.

I wonder how widespread that kind of feeling is in the world. 

I definitely don't want to marry an alcoholic, or a drug addict, or someone who doesn't keep their covenants. But would I be willing to marry someone with major trials and baggage, even if they matched me, I was in love, and they had done everything they could to choose the right? Are there things that I would never want in a marriage that, in reality, are just prejudices without substance?

I think the error there comes from the assumption that having same-sex attraction is the same thing as acting on same-sex attraction. But there is a big difference between discrimination based on inherent traits and discrimination based on action. Choices based on action are the core of what I see as society. I choose employees based on their past actions. I choose to serve customers or not based on past actions. I choose which employers to pursue, which restaurants to frequent, which candidate to elect, which church to attend, which people to befriend, and every other social and relational choice based on actions. 

I believe what is outlined in the family proclamation: that the sacred powers of procreation are reserved only for expression between husband and wife, legally and lawfully wedded. Anything outside of that - adultery, homosexual behavior, whatever - is a violation of the law of chastity, and I don't support, condone, or endorse sin.

Some of the laws and rulings on gay marriage include protections for religious institutions. But none of them include protections for me... and on that count, society fails to make a major distinction. If I'm a photographer and refuse to photograph a same-sex wedding because I believe same-sex marriage is inherently wrong and do not wish to support it with my time, creative effort, and indirect stamp of approval, today's judges will tell me I'm discriminating against people with homosexual attractions when, in reality, I'm discriminating against homosexual behavior. 

There are plenty of other things that I can legitimately refuse to photograph, but this one is somehow different in their eyes. The same if I won't open a party room to a commitment ceremony in my restaurant, or a guest home for the same reason. Along the same line, I could be relieved of my license to place children through adoption if I refuse to consider homosexuals... and the list goes on. 

I'd be happy to photograph men or women with same-sex attraction. I take pictures of myself already. But not in a circumstance that endorses or condones immoral behavior. I'm happy opening up a restaurant to anyone who supports actions I support, men and women with same-sex attraction included. I'll even place a child for adoption with a husband and wife if they both had same-sex attraction, as long as they were good parents. But I will not condone or endorse immoral behavior, and that has nothing to do with attraction. If asked to place my approval on anything that I don't agree with, I treat everyone and everything exactly the same, regardless of sex, race, gender, religion, or any other trait - because I would not be willing to endorse their actions.

Today's debates gloss over that. Ultimately, they're not talking about the issues that I see as central - the relational discrimination that is still happening, against people regardless of their actions, and the impact of laws on gay marriage. And, if it keeps moving the way it's moving, people will still discriminate against others in their personal relationships, and I'll be the next target of discrimination - the guy with same-sex attraction, who, unlike churches with legal protections, will be barred from practicing or asserting my beliefs about same-sex attraction... because of my faith.