26 December 2010

THT: Choices for a Gay Mormon

Being an oxymoron, the choices for a Gay Mormon aren't really a decision between "good, better, and best." The choices presented to people like me are really a decision between bad, worse, and worst. It wouldn't have to be this way if I was only one and not the other, but I cannot deny that I am gay or Mormon anymore than I can deny that I exist. So here are the choices I have:

Live a Heterosexual Life in the Church

The Church used to prescribe marriage to a woman to guys like me as a cure for their gayness. Now however, Church policy is to not recommend marriage to homosexual individuals. Why? Because it didn't work. What happened instead is that men got married in good faith that their leaders told them the truth and that their homosexuality would go away, but then it didn't. Some became disillusioned with the church and even with God because this promise wasn't fulfilled. Some ended up leading double lives, one to maintain their good, happily married, heterosexual Mormon facade while meeting up with random guys in the night (just look at craigslist in Utah if you don't believe it... better yet, don't)... this is option #3 below. Others, upon realizing that their orientation was not changing, have made the difficult decision to divorce and lead a life true to themselves.

I am not about to enter a relationship with a woman when I know that it is almost guaranteed to not work out. I am not prepared to go for a "test drive" to see if I can do it. How selfish is that? I hold other human beings in higher regard than that, especially ones that I love. I am not about to ruin another person's life because I am trying to see if I can become the mold that society and religion wants me to be. On the other hand, doing that would allow me to participate in the church, hold callings, and be esteemed by the Mormon community.

Live a Celibate Life in the Church

Be alone my whole life. Just wait for death to bring me company. This is not the same as not having the opportunity to marry. I am perfectly able to find someone I love and be with them for life. But even if I find the person I love most in this world, I am to never enter into a romantic relationship with him. I would never know what it is like to have to find a way to make a long-term relationship work. I would never get the opportunity to be the person someone depends on when they have a bad day at work or loose their mother or father. I would never know what it is like to raise a family.

But I would be worthy according to the church. Worthy on paper. Not worthy in practice. Single members of the church don't really get called to all the positions a married member does, so their capacity to serve in callings is still limited.  Members will always ask if you are dating anyone, try to set you up, wonder why that boy isn't married. Plus you are taught in Church that marriage is required to reach the highest level of heaven and that having children and raising them is the "greatest gift" God could ever give a person... to entrust you with his children- what a blessing.

Live a Gay Life in Secret in the Church

This might work for some people... but not for me. Actually I don't think it would work for most people. The guilt would be too much. Pretending to be someone you are not isn't fun and it definitely isn't in line with what the church wants of you... though it may be more comfortable for everyone if you lived this way. Many would rather only see the facade and pretend it is real. But to sit in church and pretend that you are being true to your covenants and truthful with your leaders is a quick way to spiritual death. Once the church finds out about this double life, you'd be excommunicated.

Live a Gay Life Open to the Church

In this case, I would go to my bishop, tell him that I am gay and that I do not plan on living alone, nor do I plan on trying to be heterosexual and be totally open with him and ward members. This way I am true to myself and to the church. I can embrace my orientation without shame. The problem then is, I will be called to a disciplinary court where it will be determined that I should be excommunicated. I will have less opportunity in the church than a non-member. I would not be able to say prayers in meetings, give talks, serve in any capacity, etc, etc. I will basically be cut off from the church I have devoted so much of my time and resources to.  And while I am welcome to attend, I wouldn't be surprised that I would be mostly ignored and avoided.


So what would you choose? Does it sound like a choice between good, better, and best? Many would say, "well just give up Mormonism- why bother!" That is a lot more difficult to do than to say. Perhaps even impossible. Remember the phrase "people can leave the church, but they can't leave it alone?" Why is that? Because being Mormon means so much more than having your name recorded on the membership records. It is a culture, a way of life, a way of thinking, a lifestyle, a tradition. I cannot take the Mormon out of me any more than I can take the Gay out of me. So am I consigned to unhappiness? Is there just no good option for me? Maybe not. We don't all get dealt the best cards in life, but we do all get to choose which hand to play. I can't play the full house most Mormons can. The wife, the kids, the level of involvement in church, the acceptance and praise from community. Those cards weren't dealt to me. But in playing the hand I can choose with the best attitude I am able to manage, the best way I know how, I feel that I can get just as much satisfaction from life.

You may not like it. My bishop might not like it. My friends and family might not like it. But I am determined to live a happy life on my terms with a clear conscious before God and everyone else. I will not go back to crying out to God and asking him to make me someone I am not. I will not bury the person I am. I will not pretend to be someone I am not.

In case you are wondering which option I choose, it is the last one. I will be posting my first video by Jan. 1st. I will be choosing a ward to attend and talking to the bishop. I will go through the required processes as outlined by the church handbook. And I will be telling you all about it.


Ty said...

I have been thinking about this a lot over the holiday break, and I really believe that the reason that most gay members leave the church is because it offers them no real solutions. The popular one that they suggest right now is to live celibate, but that's no life. It's less even than an average member who simply doesn't find the right person. That suggestion is a life of loneliness. And it's simply not enough for most of us.

That's why I keep waiting. It just doesn't make sense to me that this is God's ultimate answer for people like us. Just live alone. There's no joy there, no growth there. There has to be something more.

And so I agree that we need to find joy, and stay true to our faith as well, as seemingly impossible as it may be.

I really respect you for your courage, and I look forward to your future posts! :)

Andy Foree said...

Wow. I really look forward to your posts. I hope all the best for you. I hope that you are able to find happiness in this life.

Someone said that living a life alone is essentially damnation--it's stopping us from progressing. I mean, if we're consigned to live a life alone, then we're damning ourselves to a life of happiness with another human being.

I'm trying to figure out what I want to do, too. So, maybe your experiences can help me out.

devin c. mitchell said...

These words help me so much. It explains exactly all of my feelings with the church. I am 17 years old, and I have been trying to deal with this same problem. My bishop knows along with my parents but I feel like they have tried to forget or pretend it isn't happening.. I was accepted to BUY idaho, where I wanted to go since, well birth... I really look up to gay members who still respect the church as much as I do and I truly look forward to reading more of these posts :)
-D Mitchell

bradcarmack said...

I'll be following with great interest. I think you'll be very interested in reading my book (http://bradcarmack.blogspot.com/2010/10/homosexuality-straight-byu-students.html). There is a small likelihood that distributing may book may get me kicked out of BYU and/or church discipline.

Gay Mormon said...

@Devin- Sadly the way many choose to "deal" with it is to pretend it doesn't exist. It sure doesn't help anything though. Congratulations on getting accepted to BYU-I. If you ever need to talk, feel free to send me an email.

@Brad- You know me. I've read your book. You actually quoted me in your book. But yes, I do need to read the latest version. Thanks! =)

apronkid said...

I'm excited for you! Ultimately, being openly gay and being a member of the Church is my ideal too.

Like you said, being Mormon is a part of your identity. I agree with you; you can't root out being Mormon anymore than you can being gay. If we were talking in good, better, best terms, I'd say your choice to be openly gay and to be honest with your bishop and ward is as close as it gets to choosing the "best" option.

Just give them time, and some patience and love. You might get some intolerant, hateful, or just plain weird reactions, but the way you respond to such reactions are really important to making this work! Anyway, that's my little bit... Good luck!

Steven Lester said...

There is another alternative. One that takes into account the fact that this mortality is NOT the end-all existence that you are acting out at the moment. There actually is something so great and long-lasting waiting for you after you die, that preparing for IT is so much more important than just the passage of a few years lived on this miserable planet. Why do you do that? You act as if your inevitable death ends everything. Dude, it does not!

You also act as if your sexual identity, or rather your body's, will somehow continue beyond the grave. It will not! Once you die, there goes your gayness and all you will have are your memories. Indeed, once straight people die, there will go their straightness also, and all they will have are their memories. Sexuality is of the body entirely. It is not spiritual. It is, instead, bestial...God arranged, perhaps, but bestial none the less.

As I have written before, and which you no doubt dismiss because it might give you pause from grinding your beast whenever you feel like, if Christ has any validity and reality at all, his Sacrifice not only conquered death but also allowed the resurrection of all of our bodies into their perfect form when our time for this comes. That resurrected body will be perfect in its form and substance and it will be straight without question. Our gayness is temporary. Read that again. Our gayness is temporary.

So, it is still possible to be sealed to a woman in this life while being perfectly honest about your sexuality, as long as you both understood that the differences between you were only temporary during this lifetime. Then, your friendship with her and her's with you could grow as much or as little as you both are comfortable with. Children would even be possible through the test tube if in no other way and they would be as acceptable to the Church as any derived by the old fashioned way. Granted, such women do not grow on trees, because most of them have been trained by society to expect something else, but I think a few, if granted an understanding of the realities involved, would see the advantages of this arrangement and agree to it.

Look man. Either what the Church says is true or it isn't. By acting as if it isn't might be kind of dangerous if it actually was true. I think you are making a big mistake here, Mr. Gay Mormon. A mistake you will regret after you die, if not before. That is, if any of the Doctrine is ACTUALLY true. I'm glad you were born in the Church and that your family is cool and loves you even though you have some brain cells which aren't quite right, but you are acting as if what makes you a Mormon is false and stupid and possessed of no wisdom at all.

Please be very careful, my friend. If ANY of it is true, well, do I have to finish the sentence?

Anonymous said...

I like the perspective Steven ^ offers... whether you agree or not, there are many that Believe and have Faith and it doe work for them.

Too Hard Headed to Give Up said...

Wait, did I get that right? Do you write two blogs?

The last few paragraphs of this were amazingly touching and beautiful. I have no idea how your bishop will handle your honesty with him, and you might be surprised.

I had two different bishops tell me to stop coming to church. They gave other advice that went against everything I had ever been taught, but these two men saw ME, and gave counsel that was helpful (and right on) for me. (It took two bishops, because I fought the first one. He got released and the next one after talking to me for a few months repeated the same thing.)

I believe we cannot choose or control how other people will react, and we have to be honest and true to ourselves. And accept whatever consequences come.

Steven, your posts seem to be irrational, not well thought out, and offensive. I could absolutely agree that we don't understand everything. I don't believe perfection is anything close to what you believe perfection is. Mostly, the way you say what you have to say disgusts me.

Joe Conflict said...

Wow--you've sparked a fair amount of debate here. To Steven--I'd say you don't really know what you are talking about. Meaning--where has it been definitively written in scripture or first presidency pronouncement that our sexuality ends with this life. I think you also have to remember that Brigham Young and other early prophets of the church had a great time speaking out against monogamy, calling it a terrible thing etc..... So--believing all that the church says is true requires you to determine which version of the church. 1847? 1880? 1950? 1980? or Today? Take your pick.

Gay Mormon said...

@apron kid- Thanks! I agree that being honest with everyone is the best choice for me.

@Steven- You must have misunderstood me. In no way do I think this life is all there is. I fully believe in the afterlife. I also believe in and try my best to live by the doctrine of Christ. If I thought Mormonism only offered me negative "gifts" I would leave it. The fact that I intend to keep the church in my life as far as I am able to should show you that it is important to me and my life. If you are suggesting that I will go to hell because everything that has ever been said by inspired leaders is unequivocally true, then so be it. But all we have to do is look at history to tell us that this is not the case.

I also do not believe that sexuality is simply a mortal aspect of our person. Even if it is only linked to the body, what happens after we die? Eventually we receive our bodies again. By saying that sexuality will not exist in the afterlife, you are in effect calling it dirty, sinful, and unworthy of God. This goes against our doctrine.

I'm not sure where you find the teachings that back the idea that sexuality will not exist in the afterlife, but I'd be interested to hear them if you can reference them for me.

Furthermore, just because I disagree with the churches stance on homosexuality (which has changed a lot in the past 30 years) doesn't mean I reject everything the church teaches.

Gay Mormon said...

@Lucky Jake- I didn't mean to make it sound like it never works. But I do believe that it is the extreme minority based on what therapists and counselors (even within the LDS community) have told me. The fact that the church no longer recommends marriage to members with "same-sex-attraction" is also evidence that it is more harmful than helpful. I know that it would not work for me. That doesn't mean it doesn't work for you.

Furthermore, if you are suggesting that I don't believe and don't have faith, that is false. I do believe and I do have faith. I disagree with this one issue. I don't feel that the way it is being handled in the church is right. You can say the church will never change all you want, but it doesn't erase the huge changes in policy on the issue within our lifetime. My personal revelation and conviction is far more important to me than anyone else's revelation or convictions.

I'm glad that things are working for you. I don't think you are wrong. I don't judge your actions. You are entitled to living your life according to your own conscience and I reserve that same right. You may very well living the life you should. But that doesn't mean I am not living the life I should simply because it doesn't align with your ideas of "rightness."

I hope this doesn't come off disrespectful or attacking at all because I really do respect people like you who are consciously trying to make things work in a heterosexual relationship. I wish you continued happiness!

Gay Mormon said...

@Too Hard Headed- Nope, just the one blog. I changed the name due to my graduation, but it is the same blog. I agree that I can't control how others react, but that I can choose how to handle things. I will go forward being open and honest. I think that is the best way for me.

@Joe- Thanks for your comments

El Genio said...

I think what you are doing is extremely brave. I have chosen a path similar to yours, except I have no plans of letting the church know about it. I even tried to deliberately have my records stay at church HQ. In some ways, it's kind of like I'm living in a gray area, but for now it's the best compromise I can come up with.

Anonymous said...

I like the comments posted above. @ Gay Mormon, I value that you recognize your faith but want to be true to yourself. I have a close friend that is gay and as a member of the church it was a blow to me ( and still is) to reconcile this with church doctrine. However, I have prayed and I have found answers to my questions. I invite you to do the same. I think the hardest thing for people with same-sex attraction is the intolerance and predudices that are prevalent in and out of the church. Some of my bishops were great to talk about this issue, when i counseled with them about my friend. Some bishops are less aware. Coming out to you bishop will not necessarily put you in church disciplinary action. You have great potential to be a source of strength for others in the church. I'm a girl and haven't had a boyfriend in over 5 years and I'm 28. I am not saying my situation is the same. However, in the same way we all have to find our testimony and place in the church. there is a place for all of us. He has made such a place.

Gay Mormon said...

@El Genio- I have considered that option as well. Just live as a nomad... traveling from ward to ward, never transferring records anywhere and never having a bishop's interview. In fact, that is the way I have been living this last semester I was at BYU. I did it because being kicked out of school with one class left and having my transcripts and diploma withheld was not an option I was going to accept.

The thing about that though is that I never have any connection with the ward. They don't know me, I don't know them. It makes it easy to not go to church when you never know a single face there.

So, now that I am graduated, I am ready to settle into a ward. Try and find a ward family where I feel I belong. Maybe I will be cast out and rejected, but I want to try.

@Anonymous- thanks for your comment. I wish I could explain how much I have gone to God, how much I have pleaded with him in the past for answers. I have not taken God out of my life. At one point I was so angry with God for staying silent. I became disillusioned with him. But now I look back on that as a blessing. I don't think God answers our every question. Sometimes he just wants to see what we do. He trust our choices for our lives.

I hope I won't be exed. I would be fine living a chaste life the way the church expects out of heterosexual members. But that doesn't mean that I won't date, kiss, hold hands, etc, with other boys just like "chase" heterosexual members would. I will still be looking for a companion and when the time is right, I will commit to him in the highest level available to me. Sexual relations within that commitment are something I look forward to. The church won't stand for that.

Trev said...

I love your blog! You are truly an inspiration to me. It is only because of this that I feel to make occasional comments that seem nitpicky like the following:

"I am not about to enter a relationship with a woman when I know that it is almost guaranteed to not work out. I am not prepared to go for a "test drive" to see if I can do it."

You say this as though it's a bad thing. Whether it "works out" is unknown on the entering of any relationship, straight or gay. I think "test drives" at some level are natural and help to progress and clarify a person's sexual development.

I only say this because I am very much confused about my own sexual orientation right now. Until now, I have been very afraid of initiating any sort of relationship (and I'm rather old to be feeling this way--I feel like--which doesn't make it any easier) for fear of it failing, but I'm realizing as I continue in this limbo that I have to try, or I'll never know.

Anyway, that comment was a pep-talk to myself, but I still hold that your above-quoted comment is not very fair because of the uncertain nature of relationships; what I believe at this point to be a spectrum of sexualities among different people that we don't necessarily allow for as we should; and because "test-driving" is necessary for realizing one's sexuality and is natural. Anyway, I'm not saying you're making the wrong choice for you, but if people want to test-drive or try to have a relationship, they should, by all means--as long as they do it honestly (i.e. not prolonging it when it obviously isn't working and do hurt the partner)

Trev said...

Oh, I forgot to mention that I love the stretching of the dealing of life cards metaphor.

Gay Mormon said...

@Trev- Thanks for your comments! I guess I see a huge difference between "test driving" a relationship and "test driving" my sexuality. Of course we try relationships with people and try and see if they can work out, and of course we never know for certain if they will.

I've tried dating girls. It didn't work for me. It was uncomfortable and unnatural. So for me to take it a step further and try marrying a girl anyway so that I can live a more socially acceptable life is irresponsible in my opinion.

I don't think you need to marry a girl or even date them to realize that you are gay. Dating helps you know I guess... but deep down you already know. It is just scary to admit it to yourself. I don't think that straight people don't realize they like girls until they date them. It is just something you know. It is inside you.

I don't believe that orientation is something you should have to "test." Now, on the other hand, if you are bisexual or have some feelings for girls, maybe for you it would make a lot of sense to see if that works. But in my head, if you are bisexual, it is not even about gender, and solely based on relationships and finding the one that works- whether boy or girl, it doesn't matter.

I am gay. I have never daydreamed or even dreamed at night about girls. I have no desire for an imitate romantic relationship with a girl. I don't get remotely excited or interested in the talk about "lady parts" or in any opportunity their may be for me to see them.

It sounds like we are at different stages. I have come to the point where my sexuality isn't a struggle. You are still struggling to make meaning out of it. And that is perfectly okay. When I was in your shoes, I would have done anything to convince myself I was straight, and if not straight, at least bi, so that I could live a life accepted by others. But eventually, all the trying so hard to be heterosexual added up and became pretty solid evidence that I was not. And when that evidence was enough for me, I cracked. That was really hard.

Maybe you feel that there are still things you need to do so that you are sure. That is completely okay. Just try and keep in mind the reasons why you are struggling. I'll right a post on this today.

Anonymous said...

Many seem to forget that something very important is missing between married gay men and their wives. I'm not sure what you would call it but it's a very strong emotional connection or component: that little something that makes two people really connect emotionally and sexually.

Anonymous said...

Pres. Hinckley said that life should be enjoyed not endured and I agree completely with that, but I was wondering if you ever felt robbed of experience or happiness while being at BYU?

Tann2r said...

@Steven yeah it is still possible to be sealed to a women, but why would you do that to a person if you don't truly love them. That's wrong on so many levels. And what you said about sexuality being temporary? If a man and women get sealed for time and all eternity, why would anyone want to do it if your attraction ends after death?

Annie said...

I'm the mother of a wonderful gay son and I'm LDS. I just want to give you a big old hug. I have just found your blog, and will follow you. I hope your parents are supportive. If not, I'll be happy to be your other mom. Good luck to you. You are brave, well-spoken and a valiant son of Heavenly Father. This is a great challenge for you but I believe all will be well.

Polly Olga said...

i think there are more choices than that. i think you can date, as long as you're honest with your bishop. as an adult, i have always been open with my bishops about dating girls. maybe i am lucky, but my bishops have always been supportive of me and kind to me. sometimes i could hold callings, most of the time not. and i haven't been able to take the sacrament for years. but i've attended church nearly every sunday and most of my friends are mormon. many of my social activities are with mormons. i feel connected with the church and love going to church and being around mormons. i lived most of my adult life thus far with the attitude that there is time in the future for me to make difficult sacrifices and truly commit to the church.

Anonymous said...

I commend you for your courage. This all needs to be discussed openly. I have been living with this "secret" for more years than I care to count. I married a girl whom I love dearly. We have children and grandchildren. As with most older couples the intimacy has dwindled over the years, not my choice. The more it dwindles, the more my gay tendencies are coming back to the front. We have been LDS for a long time. I confessed the situation to my first bishop and was told to discuss it with my wife. I did that but there was no reaction from her. Just silence on the subject which continues to this day. I love the church and my Savior. I want to stay close to both. There is only one women in my thoughts - my wife. Most sexual thoughts include men. Somehow I have felt, and I know you will disagree, that thinking of men does not violate my vows with her. Some days I would just like to walk away from everything because I feel in such a trap and want to stop living a lie. So far, I have been unable to do that. I know that most people think this is a problem just for the young. Believe me, it is not. I have not discussed my situation with my current bishop and would be very reluctant to do so. There is too much at stake. You have given much thought to what you say so I would really appreciate your insight.

Char said...

Wow... None of those options sound so good. :( I tried option 1. I tried going to the Bishop and repenting of all of my homosexual sins and deciding to live a completely straight life... But I have a problem. I'm in love, and it's hard to be straight when you're still in love with someone of the same sex. And that problem makes the second option hard too. Because I want to get over her and I want to start a new relationship... Leaving option 3... I want to go to the temple so bad... But if I make the choice to be gay /and/ happy, like you said, I'd probably get exed... Life is hard. Gay life is harder. It has always been my dream to be married in the temple... It still is. It is sad to think that I never will be. I've considered writing President Monson a letter, but heck knows how much good that'll do... I'm 16. Would they excommunicate a teenager? I don't know. I hope not. I love young womens. I love the temple. My family would be devastated if I was excommunicated. You're so brave for just telling the bishop how it is... It hurts my heart to think the church would excommunicate someone because they love differently. :'( I don't want to be straight. I don't like guys. I don't want to be gay. I love my church. I don't want to be mormon. I love women. It's so hard, but in the end there's only one decision. To be happy, or to be miserable. What do you think?

Anonymous said...

Good bless you and hope the best for you. Your sincerity is felt through the words that you speak, I praise you for continuing to uphold the values and principles of the mormon church and strive to become a better person regardles of your attractions.

Anonymous said...

You are beautiful. Thank you for your courage to articulate and endure our shared struggle. I too have pondered the same ugly bucket of four pissed off cobras for a long time. I have yet to feel the desire to pick one up and cuddle with it. I raise my mug of steaming hot lesbian herbal tea to your brave gay spirit. MUAH!

Anonymous said...

a cobra is a cobra...they all bite.

Chris Jones, FL said...

Just came across your video and read your posts. You are a beautiful person inside and out. I am glad you have found piece within yourself and happiness to share. It is always a shame that we must give up our faith to be who we truly are but we are stronger having been through the fire. Keep your held high and your heart open. We will all be judged in the end and I truly believe it will come down to the way we loved our fellow human that will make the difference.

Thank you for sharing your story.

Anonymous said...

What do you feel about being excommunicated from the church? Would you still be as active as possible with out being able to be a part of the church fully and the lose of priesthood?

Ain He Key Saucedo said...

Today was the first time that I heard about these four suggestions of a gay mormon lifestyle, and, as someone who just recently came out, all these options already crossed my mind but not so distinctly defined.
Each case is a case, and depending on what your situation is, some options may be harder than others. Bottom line for me is that keeping the eternal perspective and realizing that this life is the time for us to simply show our loyalty to God, and it shall also pass. Once this life gets to an end, we will all rest from our labors and sorrows. I have my personal opinion that, for those who were "born with it", as is the case of probably most of us, this is our exaltation jeopardizing trial. Understanding the premortal life and what happened there, we received trials proportional to our potential. I don't struggle with pretty much anything else when the subject is commandments: I read my scriptures daily; Never drunk alcohol, and never got tempted to break the word of wisdom. Anything. But my biggest trial is the one that, if I fall, my exaltation is at risk. I congratulate all of you who are still holding there. Discipleship is about sacrifice, where the reward awaits us in the end. Just hold on, and stay with Him. Hold on to Him as you go. You guys rocks. Thanks, Jonathan.

Jonathan Adamson said...

@Ain He Key- I disagree that this life is just meant for us to suffer and simply accept that we won't be completely happy until the next life. I disagree that being gay is just our "mortal trial." It is part of what makes me the person I am. I would be an entirely different person if I wasn't gay because it affects the way I view myself, others, and the world. It affects the types of relationships I have with others. It affects my beliefs. It affects pretty much every aspect of my life. I do not believe it is simply a temptation that must be overcome. It is a core part of who I am.

I have never regretted leaving the church. I am much happier for it and a much better person. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

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