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.