Tuesday, August 20

The Key to Being Gay and Mormon

Preface: when I say the word gay, I mean, inclusively, anyone who has feelings of same-sex attraction. When I say Mormon, I mean a faithful member of the Church, temple-worthy, who believes and lives according to the teachings of the prophets and is honestly and authentically happy in life.

That said.

Gay Mormons can have dramatically different lives and circumstances. One is a grandfather with a dozen grandchildren. One is a twelve-year-old kid trying to figure out what the future holds. One is a happily married newlywed navigating a marriage, new working environment, and changed social sphere. One is a single guy who would give anything to find love, be married, and have a family. One is an actor, another a scientist, another a football star.

They can come from all walks of life - rich, poor, male, female, converts to the Church and born to parents with bloodlines back to Mormon pioneers. In nations as far flung as India, Pakistan, and Nepal, or as close to home as the neighbor next door. From broken families and picture-perfect ones.

But at some point every gay Mormon has to face his life, and what it really means.

Being gay, in my case, means that I have deep desires to be close to men. To develop friendships, but to have those friendships be more than friendship. To cultivate emotional intimacy, physical closeness, to love and feel loved. If I followed those feelings exclusively, it would push me to find a guy who honestly, truly loves and admires and pushes me, someone I can love and admire and improve in return, and spend my life with him.

That's the simple part. Being gay isn't something I have to work at, or even something that I need to really understand for it to play a role in my life.

Being Mormon is harder.

Being Mormon, by the definition I gave at the top, means living the gospel completely - being worthy to worship in the temple - believing the gospel completely, and being authentically and truly happy in life.

This is where the differences in people varies their difficulties in application. 

Some people honestly believe the gospel, but struggle to live it. They live with temptation and addiction as a daily onslaught... and usually deal with feelings of deep unworthiness, guilt, and shame. Yes, maybe the addiction I had to pornography was made worse by sexual abuse just at the wrong moment, but I still had an addiction. I still felt cast out, unloved, worthless, and cursed.

Some people do everything the gospel asks, but don't honestly believe what the Church teaches. Perhaps they wait for the Brethren to announce that God has repealed the Law of Chastity, or at least made an exception for men to have sex with men... or they, more commonly, wonder if the gospel really has the power to help them be truly happy. Maybe they are part of the Church only because of circumstance or current need. Social opportunities, good universities, wanting to appease family for now. For a while I was like this. I honestly wondered if the Plan of Salvation applied to me, or if I had done something so egregious as to disqualify me from ever finding happiness in life. I did *everything* I could. My Elder's Quorum President (I was his counselor) nicknamed me "the robot of righteousness," probably because of the emotional intensity that comes from ASD and the intense zeal that came from trying to understand how the gospel fit in my life.

And some do *everything* right, believe the gospel completely, and yet, in the quiet hours of their lives, can't find happiness. And when I did this, when I honestly believed, did what I thought I should, and happiness was still out of reach, that was the wall I hit. And the wall that most people I've known who try to be gay and Mormon hit as well.

I think there's one key to being successfully gay and Mormon. Authentically acknowledging the traits I have, and honestly expressing my desires within the bounds that God has set. Finding true, honest, authentic happiness.

I think the key is humility.

Along the first scenario, overcoming addictions and putting my life in line with the will of God took humility, and faith. But a lot of humility. At one point I couldn't handle the temptation for pornography, so I cancelled the Internet where I lived, and for months could only connect on BYU campus. That was a humbling experience - to be able to say that I needed to actually do something because I was somehow in a pit and couldn't get out. But it made a difference.

Learning to believe what the Church teaches took even more humility for me. I'm an intellectual at heart. Everything is rational. Everything has to make sense. And until I was willing to submit to God, to admit that maybe my view of the truth was flawed, it was an uphill battle. Simply accepting that God loves me, truly and honestly, was hard for me to do. And accepting that He would fulfill His promises, including the promise of eternal life, marriage to a girl I'll love somehow, and being a father, while having no idea how those blessings will happen... I had to give up my pride to be willing to let Him drive in my life... to be willing to exercise the faith I needed.

And when everything seemed like it was in place, when my outside and inside lives were in harmony, and I still found... or find... myself struggling to be happy, the answer is again humility. In this case, it's being willing to let God be a part of my life, and being willing to let Him show me what happiness looks like through life. For a long time I assumed I needed to be married, or have a girlfriend, or a family, or a best friend, or friends at all in order to be truly happy. And when the dichotomy of my life presented itself - no marriage, no girlfriend, disconnects with family, and difficulty getting close to anyone - I was unwilling to be happy until something was resolved. It wasn't until I let God take care of me, in every way possible, that happiness became a part of daily life.

I honestly think that this - humility - is one of the keys to being gay, Mormon, authentic, honest, and happy. I think it's probably a major part of everyone's lives, but at least in mine it has been the deciding factor in so many things. The motivation to abandon my sins. The willingness to honestly approach God and better understand His will. And the willingness to redefine what happiness looks like from the outside, and to allow it to be a part of me... to heal the turmoil and chaos inside.

Dear self: Be humble. Be happy.


  1. Wow. I SO needed to read this today. Thank you for being so open and honest with your feelings and experiences - it's nice to know I'm not completely alone!

    I myself have really been trying to figure out what happiness means as a gay mormon man, and it's extremely difficult (especially being a closeted gay mormon man...no one knows the real me at all). And I've been trying to equate my happiness to having others in my life as well...and I think I really need to work on humility like you said.

  2. True humility only before God.

    More than needed humbleness to strengthen your weak friends, and exaggerated bravado to tackle your strong friends.

    Between humans there will always be the game of means vs goals i degrees.

  3. I don't think I completely understand, Questioneer. I think that humility is required in all relationships, before God and in regards to other people... and that being honest and authentic as to who I am is essential.

    I'm not sure I get the "needed humbleness" or "exaggerated bravado" you mention... or what a weak or strong friend would be. Or what the game of means or goals is that you mention. ...maybe this is one of the social norms I've never seen... Are you suggesting that, in order to be there for people, I need to be on a level of self-esteem that matches their own? I've found that simply being myself - with the times that I think I'm amazing mixed with the times I'm convinced I'm not - has been the best way to actually be there for people... and the healthiest in my regard.

  4. You are SO right, but it take us so much hurt before we are willing to go there... It's the only way no matter were in life we are. Isn't it freeing when you finally submit your will to God's? You are so wise.

  5. David, they way you are able to articulate your thoughts is amazing. I often feel like my brain is tripping over itself while trying to make sense of it all. Thank you for a beautiful post, and for the wonderful insight therein.

  6. I think this the key to everyone's trials and being Mormon. Sounds simple, but you really explained it well and helped me to understand some of the different forms humility takes. Thank you.

  7. Gee gaymormonguy you know what is really sad about your first statement is you use the word inclusive and what you said is exclusive to the point of being elitist. When somebody told me about your blog I thought it would be a place where people can come to find hope. But your description of a gay Mormon excludes almost all of the people who might want to read what you are writing. It excludes even you. I've looked at a few of your articles and you talk about wanting to go live on another planet where there aren't any people. You write about how you won't kill yourself because that would be wrong but how sometimes you would like to die. Then you postulate this black or white literal line of thinking about how the definition of a "Mormon" includes having a temple recommend and living an honestly and authentically happy life. Really? What about the years you spent looking at pornography before you finally learned how to stop? Were you not a Mormon then? Must all of the people who come here looking for a little encouragement and read what you write have a temple recommend before they can qualify to be called a Mormon? You hide behind words like bipolar so you can excuse yourself for having depression. As if you need an excuse. You don't. A lot of us gay guys who are trying to follow the teachings of the church have to wrangle with ugly things like depression. So why exclude pretty much everyone who is gay and Mormon with your opening statement? Sure I can connect the dots and see where you tried to end up with this article. But you excluded me, and yourself and almost everyone else who might read this, right from the start. So why should I connect the dots? If Mormon bloggers really want to speak for us and if you really want to give people hope, then please climb down off your rameumptoms and stop being so idealistic. You can't help people or encourage them by alienating them with unrealistic elitist rhetoric. Most gay Mormons are wrestling with real challenges that are often painful and difficult. So many aren't yet authentically happy even though they are pursuing authentic happiness. Take off the rose colored glasses and accept and love people where they really are. Including yourself. And stop pretending that the majority of gay Mormons have already achieved authentic happiness. Because from what I've observed, even the most vociferous of you are still working on it. I'm sorry gaymormonguy, from the little I've read here you really do seem like a decent guy. Your heart appears to be in the right place. So I just don't understand the elitist rhetoric. We're all in this together right? Or aren't we? Is it just the gay Mormon blog writers who get to define us? If that is the case, I think I want to vomit. Because when I read some of the most popular gay Mormon blogs most of the comments are from their friends or from Mormon housewives and not from gay Mormons. The most popular gay Mormon blogger out there, not you, writes a lot more about how cool he is than about ever wanting to make other gay Mormons feel more included or about giving people any kind of hope. If you aren't going to help people who are really looking for hope feel more included, then who is? Certainly not that guy who spends all of his time writing about how cool he is and "can you believe my kid just said this?". You have a gift for words gaymormonguy. Use them to love and understand people. Continue to encourage people with your own stories of struggle and success. Don't ostracize people with your idealism. Because that is something we can't relate to. There is plenty about you that is authentic and real. You don't need to preach perfectionism. Just keep it real. And humble.

    1. Anonymous:

      This post wasn't designed to tell people what it means to be Mormon. That's for individuals to determine on their own. I'm sorry if it appeared to be doing so, and caused you distress. The post was designed to talk about how to find happiness when pulled on both sides.

      It sounds like if I had left "Mormon" as undefined, and instead included "faithful" and "happy" as two other descriptors, it may have been a better explanation for you. Being gay and Mormon isn't hard. Most of the people here are gay and Mormon already, with no further action on their parts. But finding happiness while striving to authentically live with both parts of life - acknowledging that I'm attracted to men and also striving to be worthy of a temple recommend, and being really happy - that's the goal. I don't claim to be there, now or all the time. But the strength of an ideal is that people can look at it and find their own way to achieve it, or pull something from it to create their own.

      I'm sorry if this post seemed too black-and-white or idealistic for you. The reality is that I DO see life as black-and-white. And I'm an idealist. I realize that I'm different. But part of being true to myself is realizing that my view of the world - black/white and constantly idealistic - is valid, even if it's different.

      Welcome to (G)MG. I hope you keep reading; it definitely takes a bit to get used to the way I think... but at least I think it's still at least worthwhile.

  8. Kudos on the clarification gaymormonguy and thank you. You and I are on the same page. I attend the temple and think of myself as a happy guy most of the time. But some days are hard even for me. There are plenty of gay Mormons moving forward with great courage while sometimes wrestling with painfully difficult issues. So if you picked up on any distress it was because I believe all those good souls deserve genuine acceptance understanding and love regardless of where they may be on the divine spectrum of progress. You usually keep things real gaymormonguy. You speak openly about real challenges and real successes. That is why I challenged you. I hope you will stay real and remain inclusive with your blog. That is what helps me feel supported snd gives me hope from a brother who understands. Yes I'll keep reading. You have plenty of thoughtful ideas to offer.

  9. Hey there, its been a long time since I was here due to my own circumstances and I've spent awhile catching up on your posts. When I read this one, I finally had to comment.

    First, I'm so happy to see you have a picture up. While I respected your desire for anonymity I've always been curious, and I'm happy to have a face. One of the reasons for that is that I feel so close to you when I read your posts. Not because I deal with similar challenges, same sex attraction is thankfully not my challenge, but the results of those challenges are the same. The feelings are the same. The emotional journey to learn to lean on God for support is so mirrored in my own journey. I feel like you jump into my life and post the thoughts I'm not brave enough to post often enough. I've noticed a more gritty, humble reality to the posts I've read compared to what I was reading a year ago and I love it even more. I admit, you trust God a lot more than I do. I also tend to look at the process of the gospel, and love that and forget to let the heart of the gospel take me. Thank you for your blog and your heart.

  10. How is it possible to serve to masters?

  11. Anon:

    You can't serve two masters. Either you serve God completely, or you serve something else.

    I would definitely suggest being humble and serving God - which means subjugating all other things in life to the plan of happiness that He has revealed through His prophets. That's what this post (and this blog) is about.


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