26 January 2011

PE: Learning to Love

Today I realized just how much I've changed in just a short time.
"Love thy neighbor as thyself."
When thinking of that phrase, we often forget the "as thyself" part. Before coming to terms with being gay and learning to accept and love myself, I didn't express love very easily. In fact, I'm not sure how much I felt it. Saying "I love you" was pretty much reserved for my immediate family. But at the time, I hated myself. I didn't love myself, so how could I love others like myself?

That has changed now. And the way I feel about people... it really is love, and I know it. I feel it. It is different from the way I felt towards people before. It isn't conditional. I guess it is charity. I think I've just learned a little more about what it means to have charity.
"Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away."
I would have never thought that to have charity, you must first learn to love yourself. Love yourself with all of your flaws, your imperfections, and your mistakes. In the end charity is the only thing that can be counted on. Just like the scripture says... eventually your knowledge will fail you and God will surprise you. Sometimes prophets, although inspired, err in their prophecies. But real charity never fails. Not even when it turns out your son or your brother or your friend is gay.

Today I can say I love you comfortably to friends and even sometimes strangers, and I am being completely sincere. Just five months ago I would be uncomfortable saying those words except to a handful of people. I love you.

THT: Sometimes I'm embarrassed by my blog

It's true. I feel like this is almost unavoidable if you are being true and honest. I think it is true for any art really. I suppose writing these posts is kind of an art. The thing with art is that it makes the artist vulnerable. He/she is allowing the world to look inside at a snapshot of something personal. And just like an actor might blush when one of the first films of his career are brought up in conversation or a photographer might laugh when she remembers the photos she used to be so proud of, I sometimes cringe when I think of some of the things I have written here and thoughts I have shared.

These posts really are like snapshots. They reflect my feelings and thoughts of that moment. They are a product of my experiences and circumstances leading me to that point in life. I try and resist the urge to go back and re-write history. I remind myself that it is okay to be completely authentic. Now that family and friends have the address to this blog it is a little bit unnerving. The anonymity helped me be pretty straight forward and transparent in my description of my life until this point. Its got the good and the bad secrets.

One thing I try and keep in mind is that all the secrets will be revealed and shouted upon the housetops eventually... so I suppose I shouldn't feel too ashamed if it is inevitable. Don't get me wrong... I don't get on here and divulge every detail of my personal life, but I share what I feel is pertinent and important in helping people understand where my crazy thoughts and ideas come from. In the end I can't fear the judgment of men- only the judgment of God.

So as you continue to read, remember that I am imperfect and have very little knowledge or experience and many of the things I think and feel today may very well contradict the things I think and feel tomorrow. I can already tell you that my feelings toward religion, God, and especially the church have changed drastically over the last 4 months. The initial anger, bitterness, and feelings of betrayal have been mended with understanding, love, and hope.

As always, I invite you into my life... even into some of the most personal and quiet parts that we hardly ever get to step foot in when it comes to the minds and lives of our fellow humans. I do it in the hope that my openness and honesty will somehow be of some benefit to someone. But it also forces me to visit those quiet and personal places in my mind and heart and really take the time to contemplate and review. Please do not find offense here. There is always a good chance I've said or done something wrong. But I will always strive to make correction where I find correction is needed.

PE: Coming out to friends

As I've mentioned... I've kind of come out in waves since August 2010. First it was a few close friends who were immediately part of my life. They saw me through the hell I went through as I waged war against myself, praying to God it wasn't true. Then it was my immediate family. Then it was my extended family. Now it is friends who I feel have either been a significant part of my life at some point or who have left very significant impressions on me as genuine people. Everyone included... I'd say I have now informed around 200 people by letter. You know, it doesn't matter how many times I've done it, or how many people I tell... hitting that "send" button or having that conversation is always begun with eyes closed or a deep breath. There is always the sad fear that tomorrow I will have one less friend. But then I remember the reasons why I am telling people and I realize that those reasons are far better than any reasons I have to say nothing. Here is the text of the latest letter sent to friends:

To My Friends:

I don't typically write updates to everyone on my life… perhaps I will start, but 2010 was a big year for me and there is quite a lot to tell. If you are reading this, it means that I truly value your friendship and although we may be separated by land or sea or years of silence, I will always be grateful for the part you have played in my life. I hope we will always maintain our friendship and that eventually we may cross paths again one day. You may have been a friend from childhood, from school or from church. I may have met you in this country or another. But please know that you have touched my life in significant ways.

I graduated from Brigham Young University at the end of 2010 with a degree in film. It may seem late to some of you since many of you have already gone further in your education, but I did take a 2-year break from school to serve a mission for my church in Korea as many of you remember. I worked on several student projects while at school, the most well-known to date being the promotional ad that I worked on with 9 others for the BYU library called "New Spice."

For now I reside in Utah in Salt Lake Valley where I do freelance work. My biggest job right now is producing commercials for a Utah craft store chain, but I am also working with a new social media site to produce video content. Since I am just starting out earning my living as a filmmaker, I will be working another job to provide stable income while I start building a clientele. I am excited to start life after college and am looking forward to all of the challenges and curve balls it is sure to bring.

As good as the year sounds, 2010 was also the most emotionally, spiritually, and mentally draining to date. In fact, I almost didn't make it past August. The truth is, the first three quarters of the year was pretty much hell and in August I had made the decision and assembled a plan to take my life and you would have been receiving a very different letter. But don't fret. I am still here and I am happier than ever! Surely you expect me to explain myself and the reasons I became so hopeless.

Some of you already know… others may have wondered, but the truth is, I am gay. I always have been and always will be. I almost extinguished my life rather than to accept that. For some of you, this revelation may not be a big deal. But for the majority, it is huge. I grew up Mormon. My whole family/extended family is Mormon. I served a mission. Went to a Mormon-owned University. Mormons don't look to happily upon gay people. This was why it took me 25 years before I could accept it. I didn't want it. I didn't believe it. I thought I could ignore it, hide it, and even hate it out of me. The result was very dangerous. All I succeeded in doing was hating myself.

I thought that if I were good enough. If I could prove to God that I was good that he would "cure" me. So I tried. I did all the right things. I did what I was supposed to. I tried dating girls. But the cure never came. Years passed. Instead what happened is I became disillusioned with God and religion. I was angry at him. What more did I have to do? What more could I do? Did I not deserve a blessing? An answer? Was I THAT repugnant? When I realized that there was no miracle for me… no God who would answer my prayers, I saw very few choices:

I could continue living as I had been. Denying part of myself… hating myself… slowly killing my emotions, my spirit, everything that brings any sense of life to the body. But that is exactly what brought me to this point in my life.

I could abandon my beliefs and my religion. My family and my friends. Live my life as a gay man but live believing I would go to hell for it. Sure, maybe it wouldn't be so, but it could be. I had already spent enough of my time that year in hell to know that I didn't want to risk that.

I could kill myself. The last choice I'd ever have to make. Maybe it was a bad decision… but it was only one decision. One sin instead of the multitude I might rack up living as a gay man… and surely better than the living hell I was experiencing.

But guess what? I did get my miracle. My answer came. in those last black moments of my life, I found the peace I had been begging God for my entire life. It just came with an answer I was never willing to hear before. I am not broken. I am not ill. There is nothing wrong with me! The love I feel and yearn for is real and meaningful and GOOD and God loves me for exactly who I am and how I love! Oh how I wish I had been able to hear this sooner.

For some of you, this will be enough. For others, you may need more explanation. See… I am in a peculiar position. Mormons want me to abandon being gay and gays (and gay supporters) want me to abandon Mormonism. Here's the thing. I can no more root out the Mormon from me than I can the gay. I am both. It took me awhile before I realized that the war I was waging on myself… the war between faith and sexuality… is completely man-made. Mormons believe in Christ and his teachings. Christ is the center of all that we believe. Yet Christ did not once speak on the matter of homosexuality. In fact… the gospels, and the three volumes of scripture unique to Mormonism (Book of Mormon, Pearl of Great Price, Doctrine & Covenants) are all SILENT on the matter.

I have come to this conclusion: Homosexuality is natural. It is found throughout nature among all different species. I don't need science to tell me that it is not a choice because I did not choose this. I gave everything I could, even to the point of being willing to offer my life, so that I could be straight. It was not a choice for me. Despite the natural occurrence, homosexuals are still a significant minority. An estimated 5% or so among humans. What does history tell us about how we tend to treat minorities?

Of course you can't understand how the feelings you have for the opposite sex are the same feelings I have for the same-sex. Of course you cannot fully understand how when I am trying to be romantic with a girl it is as unnatural feeling as a straight boy trying to be romantic with another boy. It is outside of your experience. And since I am a minority, I must be weird. Perverted. Twisted.

The fact is, every man and woman, no matter how inspired, is heavily influenced by the time, environment, and the circumstances surrounding him/her. The cultural biases and prejudices of today make even the word "gay" wrong in today's church. However, ALL people necessarily have limited understanding and experience (including prophets) and therefore their concepts of what is good and true are fallible. Each person can only envision a part of our shared reality. Such partiality, when presented as the totality, can severely limit the lives who embrace it as truth.

I do not accept the idea that homosexuality is inherently evil. In fact, I know for myself that it is not because of my own experiences and the amazing good that has come into my life since embracing my sexuality. When I was doing all I could to try and deny myself and do what I was taught to be right, THAT is when I was driven furthest away from God and closest to spiritual and physical death. Accepting my sexuality and allowing myself to love and be loved has reversed that. I have grown nearer to God, more aware of his love and more full of life. Comparing my life before and after coming to terms with my being gay is like comparing night to day. I know which one a loving God would want for his son.

This intent of this letter is not to persuade you. I would never be able to manage that. I barely managed to come to grips with it myself, and I am the one that experienced it. If you are interested in anything I have to say about anything concerning sexuality or religion, please feel comfortable emailing me. I also have a blog that I have written many of my thoughts on. Feel free to visit it here.

I have met so many good gay Mormons. Many have been abandoned by their families. Many are too scared to tell anyone. Others never will and choose instead to take their lives as I almost did. This is not a rare story. These are good people with honest hearts who are suffering needlessly. I am doing all that I can to help them. Ask me if you want to know how I am doing that. All I ask is that you keep an open heart. The more I learn, the more I realize how little we understand of God. The more I experience the more ignorant I realize I am. We don't have all the answers.

I sincerely hope I haven't offended or embarrassed anyone reading this letter. I will always respect your opinions and beliefs and would hope you will show that same respect toward me. I will always consider you a friend and would love for you to continue to be a part of my life. However, I will understand and respect any decisions you make to end ties to me. That, however, will be your decision, not mine.

Many may wonder why I feel the need to tell people about this. There are several reasons. I am an honest person. I don't like to feel as if I need to pretend of lie to someone or put on an act just to stay in their favor. In the end, that drives a wedge between relationships because I am not allowing you to be involved in my real life at all. Now I can talk with you and answer questions truthfully and plainly. You also have heard this news from me… not from some mutual friend who thought he/she heard that Jonathan's sister said that blah blah blah. It is out in the open. I am not ashamed. You can talk to me about it if you want. It doesn't have to be talked about in hushed voices. There is a lot of ignorance surrounding homosexuality. If I stayed silent and never told people, I would only be supporting that ignorance. You know me well enough to know that many things that have been said about gay people are false.

I hope that is sufficient to help you begin to understand why it was important to me that I write the letter. I wish you all the best this 2011. Lets live life to its fullest and always strive for goodness!



19 January 2011

ARG: Elder Oaks & Elder Wickman on SGA - Part 9

PUBLIC AFFAIRS: A little earlier, Elder Oaks, you talked about the same standard of morality for heterosexuals and homosexuals. How would you address someone who said to you, ‘I understand it’s the same standard, but aren’t we asking a little more of someone who has same-gender attraction?’ Obviously there are heterosexual people who won’t get married, but would you accept that they at least have hope that ‘tomorrow I could meet the person of my dreams.’ There’s always the hope that that could happen at any point in their life. Someone with same-gender attraction wouldn’t necessarily have that same hope.

ELDER OAKS: There are differences, of course, but the contrast is not unique. There are people with physical disabilities that prevent them from having any hope — in some cases any actual hope and in other cases any practical hope — of marriage. The circumstance of being currently unable to marry, while tragic, is not unique.

It is sometimes said that God could not discriminate against individuals in this circumstance. But life is full of physical infirmities that some might see as discriminations — total paralysis or serious mental impairment being two that are relevant to marriage. If we believe in God and believe in His mercy and His justice, it won’t do to say that these are discriminations because God wouldn’t discriminate. We are in no condition to judge what discrimination is. We rest on our faith in God and our utmost assurance of His mercy and His love for all of His children.

ELDER WICKMAN: There’s really no question that there is an anguish associated with the inability to marry in this life. We feel for someone that has that anguish. I feel for somebody that has that anguish. But it’s not limited to someone who has same-gender attraction.

We live in a very self-absorbed age. I guess it’s naturally human to think about my own problems as somehow greater than someone else’s. I think when any one of us begins to think that way, it might be well be to look beyond ourselves. Who am I to say that I am more handicapped, or suffering more, than someone else?

I happen to have a handicapped daughter. She’s a beautiful girl. She’ll be 27 next week. Her name is Courtney. Courtney will never marry in this life, yet she looks wistfully upon those who do. She will stand at the window of my office which overlooks the Salt Lake Temple and look at the brides and their new husbands as they’re having their pictures taken. She’s at once captivated by it and saddened because Courtney understands that will not be her experience here. Courtney didn’t ask for the circumstances into which she was born in this life, any more than somebody with same-gender attraction did. So there are lots of kinds of anguish people can have, even associated with just this matter of marriage. What we look forward to, and the great promise of the gospel, is that whatever our inclinations are here, whatever our shortcomings are here, whatever the hindrances to our enjoying a fullness of joy here, we have the Lord’s assurance for every one of us that those in due course will be removed. We just need to remain faithful.


ME: I absolutely hate that being gay is compared to someone who is physically or mentally handicapped. Why is this always the comparison made be leaders? The only answer could be that they view being gay as some "glitch." It is some sort of handicap. Let me just say, loud and clear, THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH ME. I am not paralyzed... I am not physically or mentally unable to seek a companion and then build a complete and loving relationship with him. Let me make an analogy with what Elder Oaks said:

People who are born left-handed are not in any unique position. They can't write with their right hand... that is their lot in life. But think of the people that were born without right hands.... or whose right hand has been permanently injured! They have no hope of using their right hand in this life. Of course using your left hand is wrong, and is not acceptable. If you are left-handed, you will simply have to make do with your right hand until you are made whole in the resurrection.

This is exactly like what Elder Oaks is saying. Of course it seems absurd because we all know that being right-handed is perfectly fine. You can be left-handed or even ambidextrous and that is perfectly acceptable. But wait... was it always this way? No. Words associated with the word "left" in different languages are/were: evil, unlucky, awkward, sinister, clumsy, adultery, infidelity, wrong, illegal, bad. Words associated with right: correct, proper, better, legal, righteous. Think about the associations made in the scriptures... if you are righteous, which side do you stand on? "The right hand of God."

Needless to say, with society and language attaching such negative meaning to "left," being left-handed wasn't always acceptable. Not long ago, children were punished for using their left hand. They were forced to use their right hand. Taiwan, until very recently, continued this practice. There are obvious disadvantages to being left-handed. There are less tools made for the left hand. Desks are made with right-handed people in mind. But does this mean that left-handed people shouldn't or can't write? No. They are just as capable of writing something profound as their right-handed friend. Their writing is just as legible. Ideas are just as expressible.

There are obvious disadvantages to being gay. There is a significantly smaller pool of people from which you can find a companion. You cannot reproduce naturally. Most the stories and songs and art out there are about heterosexual life and love. But does this mean that gay people are unable to love? Does it mean that they are any less capable of raising children? Does it mean that they are unable to build significant meaningful relationships? Does it mean they cannot have families of their own or experience happiness? NO. Gay people are just as capable (physically, mentally emotionally, and spiritually) of finding and loving a companion in this life as any physically and mentally healthy heterosexual person! I have no handicap preventing me from being with someone!

We can't judge when something should be called discrimination Elder Oaks?? Should we have never granted blacks freedom then? Should we have never decided that we were discriminating against them? We are all given the light of Christ to help us know right from wrong. I would argue that we are very capable of knowing when we are discriminating against someone. You are right, God is no respecter of persons and he does not discriminate. Why then do you?

As for Elder Wickman's statement, well this isn't about whose cross is heavier to bare. I am not claiming that being gay is the most difficult thing a person could possibly have to deal with. I am by no means trying to argue that my trials are greater than anyone else's. Is this what you would say to Martin Luther King Jr.? "Stop your complaining! Stop being so self-absorbed! Stop thinking that your problems are any greater than other people's problems! Think about other people for once! Think about my handicapped daughter!"

Being gay may not be the most difficult trial in the world, but it has definitely been my most difficult trial. Am I not entitled to speak up when I feel that the trials I experience because of my sexuality could be resolved? Being gay doesn't have to be a trial at all. Just like having dark skin doesn't (and shouldn't) have to be a trial. But if no one speaks up about it, it will continue being the cursed thing that society and religion have made it and I WILL NOT STAY SILENT.

Finally, being gay is not an "inclination" or a "hindrance" or a "short-coming." Just as you have said, Elder Wickman, orientation is indeed a "core characteristic." And according to the scriptures we both believe (Alma 41):

"And now behold, is the meaning of the word restoration to take a thing of a natural state and place it in an unnatural state, or to place it in a state opposite to its nature? O, my son, this is not the case; but the meaning of the word restoration is to bring back again evil for evil, or carnal for carnal, or devilish for devilish—good for that which is good; righteous for that which is righteous; just for that which is just; merciful for that which is merciful."

So it sounds to me that whether or not being gay is evil or good, it will be restored to me. Now if God is no respecter of persons and he does not discriminate and being gay isn't a choice... but is in-born, does it sound correct that it is evil, and therefore evil will be restored to me?

Elder Oaks apparently didn't want to live the last part of his life alone after his first wife died. Why? Why did he choose to remarry? I'm sorry if I don't believe that these married leaders really, truly understand what they are asking of me.

17 January 2011

PE: Blood thicker than water

Last night I went to a family dinner with extended family living in the area. If you recall, I just came out to my extended family with a newsletter I sent. It is always scary to face people after they know. You wonder if they are going to look at you different or treat you different. You wonder if they will simply avoid the "elephant in the room" sorta speak and pretend nothing new is known, or if they will ask questions. You wonder if they feel like they are walking on eggshells, suddenly very aware of what they say as to not offend you. A little awkwardness is unavoidable.

I have an amazing family, through and through. All the responses and replies, phone calls, and facebook messages have been full of love and support and free of judgment. Something that has happened as a result of my coming out to family kind of threw me off guard. It happened when I told my immediate family, and it seems to be happening with my extended family as well. Coming out and sharing this part of me seems to result in more openness and togetherness. It has caused my family to grow closer. I'm not exactly sure why... perhaps it is only my family's relationship with me that grows closer.

After sending out my newsletter I had cousins adding me on facebook, family members just telling me they love me, uncles and aunts telling me how proud they are of me, everyone making sure I knew I could always talk to them if I ever needed an ear... the list goes on. I also am able to hear the testimonies of family members and know their unconditional love for family. It is almost as if letting them into this very personal aspect of my life is rewarded with a deeper personal relationship. I think perhaps it is because it is refreshing when a person shows you they are vulnerable.

We are so used to putting on our game face. So used to acting on our stage. But when someone takes off their mask and reveals that they are not exactly as they seem, all of a sudden others start to want to take their masks off. The act is hard to keep up. How are we to bare one another's burdens and mourn with those that mourn if we never let anyone see that we hurt? When we stop pretending "all is well" and realize that we are all a little broken and hurt, that is when we can rise together in love and support.

I am so grateful to have a family who really does love unconditionally. You really can't say that your love is unconditional until it is tested. Many of my friends have learned that their family's talk of unconditional love was only talk. As soon as family knew they were gay, they were treated different... as if they were dangerous. Dangerous to what? Their reputation? Their dream of what a perfect life looks like? It makes me so sad that the majority of Mormon families that I know of react this way.

I know that some of my family doesn't agree with my choice to live as a gay individual. I know that some of them view this as a trial that should be overcome. But guess what?? They respect me and my life and my choices. They love me because I am family. They welcome me into their homes and support me. They do not judge me or take it upon themselves to tell me I am wrong or weak or evil, even if that's what they believe about homosexuality. Instead they have reached out to me to make sure that, above all else, that I know they love me and want me to continue to be a part of their lives.

14 January 2011

VID: More About Me

PE: OMG- I just came out to my future boss

Some of you know that I am interviewing for a job I can work as I start getting my film stuff going. Well, I had an interview for a management position at a certain place with the district manager. We talked for probably and hour and a half at least. It was insane. It went really well, and I am pretty sure I have the job (once I clear my background check).

Well, over the course of the interview, there is a part where she asks some questions. One of the questions was something along the lines of "what was a time when you've had to make a difficult decision?" Well, I knew there were lots of examples of that in my life, but I couldn't look past the big one staring me in the face. Coming to terms with my sexuality was FULL of big, difficult decisions. After trying hard for a few moments to think of something else to talk about, I just gave into my thoughts and said, "okay, this is really personal, but I will share it with you..."

So then I tell her I am gay and how I just came to terms with that recently and what kind of difficult decisions were involved. I was so relieved when she said she had a best friend who was gay and then she started asking me about the church and their stance on the issue. She grew up Mormon, but went inactive. She tried to come back to church with her boyfriend of 10 years and with her kids, but people in the ward kept pressuring them to get married. She felt like the people were ashamed to have an unmarried couple with children coming to church. But she and her boyfriend were determined to return to church. Eventually it was too much for them though. They didn't like the pressure they were getting and the vibe that people were uncomfortable with them.

So yeah- in my interview, we talked about things you should NEVER talk about in an interview, sexuality and religion. haha. But, I just kind of followed my gut and felt like it would be okay to talk about that with her. That is the vibe I got, so I went with it. I find out if I passed my background check Wednesday... I'll let you all know ;)

13 January 2011

PE: Afraid of touch

I have read a few blogs where gay Mormons have talked of this fear of being touched. I used to be the same way. It makes me wonder what is going on in our minds as we try to suppress our sexuality. What is it that causes us to fear touch or closeness? Friends could tell you that I used to flinch when I was touched. It was that bad. I hated hugging or being close to people.

Since coming out and finally coming to terms with my sexuality, however, it is amazing how much I crave it. I am no longer afraid of touch. I love hugging. I love just holding onto a friend's arm or even holding hands (in a purely platonic way). It feels so good to finally be able to let people in. To touch and be touched. Little things like this that I used to overlook make me realize the extent of the damage caused my suppression and self-denial. I finally feel free to express love... whether it is romantic or not. It is a wonderful thing.

12 January 2011

VID: Choices for A Gay Mormon

I know I've already talked about this in my blog here... but lets face it, some people don't want to read. I won't normally post videos this often, this is just to start off. Please visit my channel and submit and vote on questions that you'd like me to address in videos or submit them as comments or via email. Also, sorry the video is so long. I think that making these little you tube videos is kind of an art... one that I haven't mastered yet.

ARG: Jonathan loved David- My name in the bible

This is extremely long, but it is well worth it, I promise. I owe this post to the labors of other scholars but have added my little bits. A few Sundays ago in Gospel Doctrine, we were reading in Samuel about Jonathan and David. If you aren't familiar with the story, I encourage you to reference it. Many scholars argue that the relationship between Jonathan and David was more than just a platonic relationship. "That's blasphemous!" you might think. Well, perhaps. I do not know what the correct answer is, but I thought I'd share reasons why many believe this was an intimate homosexual relationship. These scriptures go on and on about the love these two righteous men had for each other. You can decide for yourself of course.

Now, one reason I am so interested in this story is because of my name. Guess what my middle name is? David. Jonathan David Adamson (son of Adam). Don't worry... I'm not claiming that all this was written in the stars, I am just pointing out one reason it peaked my interest. Anyway, on to the scriptures:
"...the soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul"
1 Sam. 18:1
In Genesis 2:7, as written in the original Hebrew,  it describes how God blew the spirit into the body of Adam that God had formed from earth, so that Adam became a living soul. This means that "soul", in the ancient Israelite times, represents a combination of body and spirit. Thus the the interpretation can be argued that the two men appear to have loved each other both physically and emotionally.
"And Saul took him that day, and would let him go no more home to his father's house."
 1 Sam. 18:2
David left his parent's home and moved to Saul's where he would be with Jonathan. This is a strong indication that the relationship was extremely close. It echoes the passage marriage passage in Genesis 2:24: "Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh."
"Then Jonathan and David made a covenant, because he loved him as his own soul. And Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that was upon him, and gave it to David, and his garments, even to his sword, and to his bow, and to his girdle."
1 Sam. 18:3-4
Whoa there... so the made a covenant with each other because of their intense love for each other? And then Jonathan stripped?? Since people in those days did not wear underwear, Jonathan stripped himself naked in front of David. That would be considered extremely unusual behavior (then and now) unless their relationship was sexual in nature.
"And Michal Saul’s daughter loved David: and they told Saul, and the thing pleased him. And Saul said, I will give him her, that she may be a snare to him, and that the hand of the Philistines may be against him. Wherefore Saul said to David, Thou shalt this day be my son in law in the one of the twain."
1 Sam. 18:20-21
Saul's belief was that David would be so distracted by a wife that he would not be an effective fighter and would be killed by the Philistines. He offered first his daughter Merab, but that was rejected, presumably by her. Then he offered Michal. There is an interesting phrase used at the end of verse 21. It would seem that David's first opportunity to be a son-in-law was with the older daughter Merab, and his second was with the younger daughter Michal. The KJV preserves the original text in its clearest form; it implies that David would become Saul's son-in-law through "one of the twain." "Twain" means "two", so the verse seems to refer to one of Saul's two daughters. Unfortunately, this is a mistranslation. The underlined phrase "the one of" does not exist in the Hebrew original. The words are shown in italics in the King James Version; this is an admission by the translators that they made the words up (that's what words in italics means in the KJV). Thus, if the KJV translators had been truly honest, they would have written:
"Thou shalt this day be my son-in-law, in the twain."
In modern English, this might be written: "Today, you are son-in-law with two of my children" That would refer to both his son Jonathan and his daughter Michal. Since the first daughter rejected the proposal, the Hebrew original would appear to recognize David and Jonathan's homosexual relationship as equivalent to David and Michal's heterosexual marriage. Saul may have approved or disapproved of the same-sex relationship; but at least he appears to have recognized it. Once again, the KJV (the translation the Mormon church believes is most correct) highlight their re-writing of the Hebrew original by placing the three words in italics.
"Then Saul’s anger was kindled against Jonathan, and he said unto him, Thou son of the perverse rebellious woman, do not I know that thou hast chosen the son of Jesse to thine own confusion, and unto the confusion of thy mother’s nakedness? "
1 Sam 20:30
The "choosing" (bahar), in this case, may indicate a permanent choice and firm relationship, and the mention of "nakedness" (erwa) could be interpreted to convey a negative sexual nuance, giving the impression that Saul saw something indecent in Jonathan's and David's relationship. But if you know the story, Saul was the evil one and Jonathan and David were righteous.
"...David arose out of a place toward the south, and fell on his face to the ground, and bowed himself three times: and they kissed one another, and wept one with another, until David exceeded."
1 Sam 20:41
Some translators could not handle the thought of two adult men kissing, so in other versions of the bible they mistranslated the passage by saying that the two men shook hands! This is somewhat less than honest. The original Hebrew text says that they kissed each other and wept together until David became great. The word which means "great" in this passage is "gadal" in the original Hebrew. The same word is used elsewhere in the Hebrew Scriptures to refer to King Solomon being greater than all other kings. Now, I am not saying I agree, but some theologians even interpret "gadal" in this verse as indicating that David had an erection. I am not enough of a linguist to really try that one on for size.
"I am distressed for thee, my brother Jonathan: very pleasant hast thou been unto me: thy love to me was wonderful, passing the love of women."
2 Sam 1:26
Powerful stuff huh? Ask yourself, would a straight man ever think of his love for any man greater than that of a woman? No lets look at their society. In the society of ancient Israel, it was not considered proper for a man and woman to have a platonic relationship. Men and women rarely spoke to each other in public. Since David's only relationships with women would have been sexual in nature, then he must be referring to sexual love here. It would not make sense in this verse to compare platonic love for a man with sexual love for a woman; they are two completely different phenomena. It would appear that David is referring to his sexual love for Jonathan.

Some also point out that the relationship between the two men is addressed with the same words and emphasis as other love relationships in the Hebrew Testament, whether heterosexual or between God and people ('ahava').

Jonathan was willing to betray his father, family, wealth, and traditions for David. Is there any person you would be willing to do that for that is unrelated to you besides your romantic love interest?

This is one of three stories that scholars believe may reference homosexual relationships in the bible. The others are Daniel and Ashpenaz as well as Ruth and Naomi. Really quickly I want to just point out a couple things about this last relationship for my lesbian sisters:

Did you know that one vow commonly used at heterosexual marriages is one that was exchanged between these two women?
"And Ruth said, Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God: Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried: the Lord do so to me, and more also, if ought but death part thee and me."
Ruth 1:16-17
Beautiful isn't it? I would love to meet Ruth. And ironic that this passage is used in so many heterosexual marriages of our day. Ruth 1:14, referring to the relationship between Ruth and Naomi, mentions that "Ruth clave onto her." The Hebrew word translated here as "clave" is identical to that used in the description of a heterosexual marriage in Genesis 2:24 referenced above.

Now, while it is obvious that this same-sex friendship was very deep, there is no language in the scriptures to suggest it may have been a sexually active relationship as there seems to be for the story of Jonathan and David, but nevertheless, I think the language is very strong indeed... especially in a volume that hardly references women.

Take from this post what you will. What do you feel/think when you read about these relationships? What does the language suggest to you? Perhaps all you can take from this is that there is just as much reason to believe that the bible speaks well of homosexual relationships as their is reason to believe it speaks against it. And I suppose that can only help us realize how ignorant we really are... and how little we understand. Thank the heavens that it is God's job to judge and not our own.

11 January 2011

VID: Introduction & Why Come Out?

First of all, can I just say that I HATE watching myself or listening to myself?? This is going to take some getting used to. Anyway, please leave questions on my channel or blog that you'd like me to consider addressing in these videos. Also, I am a much better writer than speaker, so forgive me.

PE: Coming out to extended family

So tonight I am sending out a newsletter via email to aunts and uncles on both sides of my family... there are 12 total, but I don't have everyone's email. It doesn't matter how many times I've told someone about my being gay, it is always scary. There is no way of knowing how people will react or how it will affect your relationship with them. It may be the last I hear from some of them. I may never be invited over again. I don't know. It could spark debate within my extended family... arguments even.

Can you understand why so many choose to never tell their family? The church talks about homosexuality as if it is the cause of the destruction of the family, but that frankly isn't the case. The only reason why this issue divides families if because members feel like they have to choose between the church or their loved one. If you took the church's stance out of the equation, there would be a lot less families divided over the issue.

The only reason I have waited until now to tell them is the fear of how they might react. I had to wait until I graduated just in case they decided to take matters into their own hands. I know lots of gay members who, after telling family, were reported to their bishops and kicked out of BYU. Of course their family member thought they were doing what was best for them, but that just drives me crazy. Well, now that I am officially graduated, that isn't a concern. Plus, I plan on talking to a bishop in the next couple months anyway. I am not seeking to live a double life at all. I will be straight-forward and honest with everyone.

ARG: The Family- A Proclaimation to the World (Part 2)

Okay, this is the second installment of my thoughts on "The Family: A Proclamation to the World." I will discuss the first two paragraphs of this document:

We, the First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, solemnly proclaim that marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God and that the family is central to the Creator's plan for the eternal destiny of His children.

All human beings—male and female—are created in the image of God. Each is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents, and, as such, each has a divine nature and destiny. Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose.

Remembering that this whole statement is considered a "guide" and not a "revelation" by modern-day prophets, I will still approach this document as if it held weight as for reasons people believe homosexuality is bad.

In the first paragraph, it says nothing about homosexuality. It does say that marriage between man and woman is ordained of God, but it doesn't say that marriage between man and man or woman and woman is evil. It also says that the family is ordained of God, but does not specify what that family looks like. So I would have to say I agree full heartedly with those two statements.

Having said that, consider this: Say a woman was deceiving her husband during their time dating. Lets say that she led him to believe that she was a committed member of the church and believer in Christ. In fact, however, she never intended to stay in the church or raise a family in it. He, on the other hand, believed that she was on the same page and, like himself, was fully committed to the gospel. They get married in the Temple. A few short weeks later, the wife informs her husband she is leaving the church and doesn't want her family to be raised in it. They divorce. Now this was a man and a woman, married in the temple. Was it ordained of God? This is a true story. It is the story of one of my mission companions.

Another short story: A child grows up in an abusive home. His parents are a danger to his life. In order to survive, he literally has to run away. But his mother and father were his biological parents.  Do you think that kid will smile at the news that he can be with his family forever?? No. Not a chance. That would be his hell.  Was this family ordained of God?

My point here is that just because it states that marriage between man and woman is ordained of God and family is ordained of God doesn't mean that EVERY marriage and EVERY family is ordained by him. With the same reasoning, I would argue that just because it says that these two institutions are ordained of God, it doesn't mean that others are not.

Okay, now the second paragraph. First of all, I think that the wording is interesting. All humans- BOTH MALE AND FEMALE- are created in the image of God. Does anyone else find that interesting? How can both be in the image of God? I mean, we obviously have different parts right? Hmm... just something to think about, but I have no argument with it. Nor do i have a problem with the idea that God loves all of us.

One argument that is used against homosexuals that bothers me A LOT is a phrase within this paragraph. That phrase is "Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose." Okay. That is fine. Being gay doesn't mean that I want to be a girl. I recognize and accept that I am a man and that it is part of my identity. I am in no way trying to reject that. So I have no argument with this either (when it comes to myself).

But now lets consider some people that don't fit inside this box we've so easily divided in half, females on one side, males on the other. What about those individuals with nondescript genitalia? What about those with both? How do you determine their gender? Does it need to be determined? Can you imagine being one of those individuals and reading this statement? Where do they fit in? What do you tell these people? In this document we are saying that gender is an essential characteristic, yet there are many who cannot be classified into male or female.

So my point is, first this idea of gender being an essential characteristic isn't any reason to justify the idea that homosexuality is inherently wrong. Second, obviously this document isn't all-inclusive and leaves out some individuals who God loves just as much as the next person.

10 January 2011

PE: Gay Friendly FHE

For those of you who don't know what FHE is... it stands for "Family Home Evening." In the church, families are encouraged to meet together on Monday nights and have a lesson, activity, or other type of family togetherness. When you are away at college, wards form "families" of students where they can carry on this tradition.

Well, I have an awesome family of friends. We weren't assigned to be together and we live in different cities, but we all enjoy our family nights together where we teach and learn form the scriptures as well as enjoy the company. There are over 10 members. There are a few more guys than girls. At one time we had two "dads." The guys are mostly gay... a couple of them are bi. We've served missions, some of us attended BYU. Some of us have boyfriends. The girls are our friends. They are straight, but are just awesome.

So the reason I am talking about this is because it is so awesome to be involved in spiritual discussions in an environment where we can all be open and honest and comfortable. We can talk about how the gospel really relates to our lives. We choose to do this. But wouldn't it be great if places like this were encouraged and even set up by the church? Instead they would have us break all ties to one another.

I love hearing the testimonies and insights and experiences of my "family members." They are spiritually strengthening and serve as a reminder of why I believe. The gospel is still every bit as applicable to the gay individual, if only the church saw fit to administer it to us.

PE: Acting Straight

It is impossible to detail all the daily struggles a Gay Mormon experiences when trying to repress their sexuality. If I were really to write a detailed description of my lifelong struggle to scrape the gay out of me, it would fill volumes... and I've already written a 9-part "My Story" series. But sometimes I feel like if we could really explain these daily struggles, maybe it would help people realize what kind of life a repressed gay person lives. For those of us who know first hand, it is second nature... we don't even realize that it isn't normal. So I will attempt to describe a couple examples.

I remember talking to a friend about another mutual friend who had mannerisms that were "gayish." This friend said, "kind of like you." I demanded right then and there to know what I did that seemed gay. Apparently the way I stood and the way I used my hands to talk were a bit "gay." Well, this was before I had accepted that indeed, I was gay. So I immediately determined to re-teach myself to talk and stand in a more "straight" way. Not using my hands was impossible, so for the next few weeks, I just worked on talking less. I would just sit back and listen and only talk in a bored, disinterested manner when I did. It was so hard. I'd watch how guy friends sat and stood and walked to try and mimic them better. I wanted to rid myself of any trace of gayness. Basically I wanted to become someone different.

Growing up I never allowed myself to really express my love for things that were "girly" or "gay." I would take straight guys' lead. If they said something was gay, then I definitely didn't like it. But in all honesty, I loved it. I loved Spice Girls and Brittney Spears. I enjoyed reading about Edward in twilight. But I could never allow myself to express my real likes. The only way I got away with reading Twilight was because I read all the books out loud to a dyslexic friend of mine who wanted to read them but couldn't. So that way, it was just because I was such a nice guy, a good friend. I was probably more interested in reading the next chapter than she was. I'm pretty sure she would have been happy no matter what I was reading. But I could never admit that I was actually into the books.

Then after all my hard work... after trying so hard to make myself as straight as I could, every once and awhile, friends would still ask, "are you gay?" Seriously... can anyone cut a guy a break??!! I was trying SO hard and somehow everyone saw right through it. Eventually that is the question that finally broke me. A person can only react defensively so many times. Eventually I had to consider it for real... as much as I wanted to deny it.

Well, let me just say, it is such a relief to be gay and be okay with that. I can like gay things all I want. What is the worst someone could think? "He must be gay?" SO what? I AM! I can blast Brittney Spears in my car, I can say when I think a guy is hot (like that guy on Burlesque/Twilight OMG), I can buy all the chick-flick DVDs I want, I can decorate my room, dress with style, get highlights, watch Glee every week... the list goes on and on. It isn't that I didn't like these things before. I've always liked them. I just could never allow myself to appear as if I liked them. So I got really good at lying to myself. It is so refreshing to be honest with myself... even before the great feeling of being honest with others. I can finally let myself enjoy life and be unashamed about it.

08 January 2011

PE: If I could freeze time

I have officially graduated from BYU. It is such a great feeling. I am so glad to be out of there. Don't get me wrong, I had some really great classes and met some really amazing people and I value the things I did learn there. But for some reason I feel like the chains have been broken. I'm no longer stuck. I am free to progress in every way. As great as that feeling is, today I was thinking back on the last year. I asked myself, "self, if you could freeze one moment in time from last year to take out and live again and again, what would it be?"

The answer actually came really easily. Last year was crazy for me. It was full of the lowest lows and highest highs. As many of you know, I came to terms with my sexuality in July/August. So basically before mid August, the year was very painful. Self-hate, confusion, disillusionment, suicidal thoughts and plans... it really was a miracle that I survived it. But soon after I told my family in August, I was finally at peace. My family's positive reaction was helpful of course (amazingly helpful), but that peace was really rooted in my own view of self. I had finally stopped hating myself. And that changed the way I saw the world.

Now, that was a process. One that has probably been going on for years and came to a climax last summer, so what was the one moment I would choose to freeze? Well, soon after I returned home from visiting my family for the first time after telling them, I met Brig. My first and only boyfriend. After the first date we were practically inseparable for the 3 weeks we had before he had to move back to California for school. Those three weeks were full of new and wonderful feelings that I had only heard about in love stories, but never got to experience. But the moment I would choose wasn't in those three weeks.

We did the long-distance relationship thing. Luckily, we got to see each other every 2-3 weeks until now. The first period of time we spent apart was the longest. Some friends of mine and I drove down to a popular beach city that was fairly close to his school to go camping on the beach. We were going to celebrate his birthday which was just a few days prior to our visit. He drove down from school to meet us at the campsite. When he called I drove out to meet him. And here comes the moment I choose from last year...

Seeing him get out of the car and then embracing for the first time in weeks sent feelings through me that surprised me. I was not expecting to feel that way. I was so happy... as if light had filled my body. A smile could never do that feeling justice. I remember not wanting to let go. I wanted that moment to last forever. Just standing in the street hugging. It seems like such a simple thing... but it felt like a miracle. Was I really feeling this? Love? Me?

My friends were waiting and dinner was done, so we had to go. But after dinner Brig and I took a walk on the beach and continued that moment. We just stood holding each other for, I don't know how long. We both wanted that to last forever... it was like everything was right in the universe. But that walk on the beach was really meant as a distraction so that my friends could put together his birthday surprise, so I had to convince him that we needed to go back.

I mentioned in a previous post that we decided to take a break just before New Years. It was something I decided. All these feelings are so new and I don't know exactly what to do with them or what they mean. Was that amazing feeling because I was finally allowing myself to love a boy or was it because that boy was Brig? Am I unsure about it because there is a faint ghost of that person so used to denying myself these feelings hanging around me still? Not allowing me to fully embrace them? I don't know. I hope that I can figure it all out. I want to do the right thing. Now that I know happiness is out there for me, I don't want to screw it up.

07 January 2011

THT: Why would God do this to me?

This isn't a post about Elder Packer's talk given last conference, there has been much said about it already. But when he did say "why would God do that to his children," I immediately thought of all my gay brothers and sisters out there who were probably on their knees just the night before asking that very question. I know that I pleaded with God on a number of occasions to reveal to me why he would let this happen. Why me? Elder Packer was certainly not the first to pose that question, though his argument was that God wouldn't make anyone this way. I know for a fact that isn't true, because I exist. And if I exist, and God didn't make me, who did? That used to be a very depressing question. But I know that God did make me. And he made me like this for a reason. I'm not sure the exact reason, but here are some things I've thought about:

To provide a loving home for children who otherwise wouldn't have one. Think of all the children who have no parents. Those who live in foster homes, orphanages, even those who are homeless. Gay people cannot naturally reproduce without the aid of science. This 5% (or whatever the real percentage is) could make wonderful homes for many of these unwanted kids. Not only did God make me so that I was attracted to men, but he put me in a Mormon home. I believe that I am very capable of raising children with another man in Christ. I can teach them the same moral lesson a heterosexual Mormon can.

To be another lesson to the world about love. What does it really mean to love everyone, despite their choices or their lifestyles? Perhaps we can learn a little more about how it is to love unconditionally by opening our hearts to our gay brothers and sisters. I know that gay people, who have to deal with rejection, prejudice, and misunderstanding, often become less judgmental about people because they know what it feels like to be judged. Some just get bitter. But perhaps there is something to learn about what love is made of. Gay people have surely had to try and articulate why they are attracted to the same sex to try and get heterosexuals to understand. It isn't simply about lust. There is substance to it. There is meaning.

To cause hearts and minds to open. When barriers break down and people realize how ignorant they had been about homosexuality, it opens eyes to a lot more. Who is to say that because a person smokes or has an abortion, gets a divorce, or steals food from a grocery store, that they are bad people? It is not our job to judge. We don't know the circumstances that led to their decisions. Only God can know. Who is to say that homosexuality is inherently evil? Are you gay? Do you know what it feels like? Let me tell you, I am gay. I also know what it feels like when I am doing something wrong, don't you? Living according to my feelings has NEVER felt wrong to me. Before I started living that way, I certainly thought it was wrong, because that is what everyone said. But when I started dating guys, it couldn't have felt more RIGHT.

To give women men who understand them. Let's face it. Women love to have a gay friend to go shopping with and get their hair done with and other "girly" things. Gay people are like the missing link between heterosexual females and males. They kind of understand a little about both sides. We are a great resource in my opinion (of course I am biased). Plus, there is no conflict of interest. Gay guys are interested in other GAY guys. So I'm not gonna steel my straight friend's girl and I can't steel a girl's straight guy (even if I wanted to), so we are the perfect safe friend.

To bring more music, theater, and other art into the world. I know that not all gay people are artsy. There are gay guys that have "manly" jobs who are engineers or whatever, but there is a very high percentage of gays in the arts. I wouldn't feel it is a stretch to say that if you took a random sampling of gay and straight men, the percentage of gay men in the arts would be incredibly higher than the percentage of straight men. Dancers, singers, actors, so many of them are gay. I don't believe that the arts are what make people gay either. I think that gay people just tend to be more emotionally expressive for whatever reason.

To tear down the traditional roles our society assigns to gender. Boys play sports and girls cook. There has been a lot of progress so far, but there is still a ways to go. What if a girl doesn't like barbies? What if a boy likes dressing up? Why would we ever feel that we have the right to tell any person what to like or dislike? Well, we do. It is the fear that if a boy likes something "girly" (say the color pink) something is wrong that needs to be corrected or else he is going to turn gay. When we begin to realize that, #1 people don't "turn" gay, and #2 that there is nothing wrong with being gay... all of a sudden, that fear that a little girl prefers trucks over barbies and sports over cooking disappears. That little boy is free to be himself and like pink if that's his favorite color.

I do not claim to know the mind of God. Who knows the real purposes for putting people like me on this earth? All I know is that there is a purpose in it. There must be. And that brings me so much comfort, to realize and understand that this was not some freak accident. It was intentional. And if God only chose 5% of the population to give these unconventional feelings and emotions to, then I count myself extremely lucky. I feel I understand some of the reasons why I am gay. It has helped me grow. It has helped me know God. It has helped me love. But someday I look forward to asking God himself what his purposes were. And after he tells me, I will embrace him and thank him for such a calling.

05 January 2011

THT: I Had The Atonement Wrong

For most of my life, I misunderstood the Atonement. I'm sure i still have a lot to learn, but now that I have felt the effects of it, I at least know I am on the right track. A friend of mine put this into words that spoke what I felt and so I reference his note on facebook.

I fully expected that the Atonement would change my sexuality. I mean, Christ can reverse death right? Surely he could reverse orientation. The miracle I prayed so often for was that I would be made straight. I believed that if I was just good enough, worked hard enough, God would see my righteous efforts and change me. Well folks, he didn't. And now I realize that it isn't a matter of can He do it... it is a question of will he do it.

The idea that the atonement will change your sexual orientation is a dangerous one. Why? Because thousands of members are counting on that to happen. When it doesn't, they become disillusioned with God and religion. They become angry with God. I did. For awhile I was so angry. Was I not good enough? Did I not do everything I was asked? Did I not serve? Why won't you answer my prayers God? Is my request not a righteous one? I had to conclude that a loving God could not exist if He would not answer the prayer of a dying soul. I could not imagine a loving person knowing how much pain I was in and remaining silent. And so, I was done with God. Perhaps I just wasn't cut out to be a son of God. There must have been some flaw that could not be overlooked. That thinking was destructive, and it led to the decision I made to take my life. I was unloveable and unable to love. I hated myself. Why go on living life that way?

But I did survive. And though I would have never believed I could ever count that experience as a blessing, today I do. Why? Because it was only through that torment that I could know happiness today. When I found happiness, I began to understand that the atonement was primarily to heal our spirits. Christ's greatest miracles weren't about the physical healing (though that is often what we think of), it was the spiritual healing. My miracle wasn't that my sexual orientation was changed. It was that I finally realized that it didn't need to be changed. That God loved me for who I am and that I could love myself. It was the first time I could really accept God's love into my life. I punished myself for so long by denying the idea that God could love me. I knew he loved everyone else... he just couldn't love me.

I credit the atonement for the change that occurred in me. I obtained a new view of God and self. I could finally see myself with God. And THAT is how I know that my decision to live as a gay person was the right one. Because all those years of trying to change, trying to suppress it, trying to pluck it out of me drove a wedge further and further between myself and God. He became so distant that I could no longer see how He could possibly exist. But the minute that I accepted my sexuality and decided that I would move forward doing the best I could as a gay man, living honestly with myself and others, God was in my life. He was all around me, and I was suddenly enabled to be a tool in His hands.

I'm not perfect. I make mistakes. I don't fit in with the heterosexual majority. I am gay. But the atonement is there because Christ knows that we cannot return to God alone. Because we will always fall short. We are asked to do the best we can with what we are given. If we do that, we can have faith that the atonement will make up for anything we couldn't do ourselves.

I have been given the curse, and the blessing, of homosexuality. I don't know the purposes behind it. I don't know why God saw it fit that some people were gay. But I will no longer deny the gift I have been given. It may not be the ideal gift, but it is a gift. If it wasn't meant for me, GOd would have taken it away. But he didn't. So instead, I will move forward being the best gay Mormon I can be. I will strive to become more like Christ in this life and have faith that in the end, his grace will be sufficient for me to return to my God.

PE: Lehi's Dream and Me

After surviving the internal battle I had been fighting inside myself for so long, I experienced feelings very similar to the language in Lehi's dream found in the Book of Mormon. Let me explain:

In this vision, Lehi found himself in a "dark and dreary waste," in which he "traveled for the space of many hours in darkness." In the distance, he saw a tree "whose fruit was desirable to make one happy." It was a struggle to get to that tree. He had to navigate through mists of darkness, the taunting and ridicule of others. Many did not make it. But Lehi did.
The life of a Gay Mormon who is trying to figure out how to reconcile two seemingly opposing parts of themselves is nothing short of a dark and dreary wasteland. Happiness often seems like a dream meant for anyone but themselves. Many spend hours pleading with God to grant them a solution so they can be happy. They spend their lives in fear of all the people who would mock them and reject them. Unlike Lehi, however, there is no happiness offered to gay members of the church. There are no happy options. The only answer is celibacy... to be alone for life. There is no tree with fruit that makes one happy presented to this class of people.

Well, I promise that even though it isn't presented to you, it exists. The mists of darkness are just too thick right now to see it. I know it exists because I found it! I found happiness as a Gay Mormon! Now listen to what Lehi did when he partook of this magical happy-fruit:

The first thing he desired after realizing how much joy it brought him was that his "family should partake of it also," because it was the most desirable fruit in existence. So he looked for them and "beckoned unto them."

The first thing he wanted to do was share it with the people he loved. And guess what? That is EXACTLY how I felt after finding happiness for myself. I immediately began looking into ways I could reach out to the countless people out there who are waging a war on themselves. A war that doesn't need to be fought. In the beginning it was almost unbearable for me to imagine how many people there were out there like me going through the hell that I had been through. I know what kind of pain that is. I know how close to death it can bring a person. And I also know that there is a tree with fruit full of happiness out there that is waiting for those people to find.

04 January 2011

ARG: Elder Oaks & Elder Wickman on SGA - Part 8

PUBLIC AFFAIRS: Is heterosexual marriage ever an option for those with homosexual feelings?

ELDER OAKS: We are sometimes asked about whether marriage is a remedy for these feelings that we have been talking about. President Hinckley, faced with the fact that apparently some had believed it to be a remedy, and perhaps that some Church leaders had even counseled marriage as the remedy for these feelings, made this statement: “Marriage should not be viewed as a therapeutic step to solve problems such as homosexual inclinations or practices.” To me that means that we are not going to stand still to put at risk daughters of God who would enter into such marriages under false pretenses or under a cloud unknown to them. Persons who have this kind of challenge that they cannot control could not enter marriage in good faith.

On the other hand, persons who have cleansed themselves of any transgression and who have shown their ability to deal with these feelings or inclinations and put them in the background, and feel a great attraction for a daughter of God and therefore desire to enter marriage and have children and enjoy the blessings of eternity — that’s a situation when marriage would be appropriate.
President Hinckley said that marriage is not a therapeutic step to solve problems.

ELDER WICKMAN: One question that might be asked by somebody who is struggling with same-gender attraction is, “Is this something I’m stuck with forever? What bearing does this have on eternal life? If I can somehow make it through this life, when I appear on the other side, what will I be like?”

Gratefully, the answer is that same-gender attraction did not exist in the pre-earth life and neither will it exist in the next life. It is a circumstance that for whatever reason or reasons seems to apply right now in mortality, in this nano-second of our eternal existence.
The good news for somebody who is struggling with same-gender attraction is this: 1) It is that ‘I’m not stuck with it forever.’ It’s just now. Admittedly, for each one of us, it’s hard to look beyond the ‘now’ sometimes. But nonetheless, if you see mortality as now, it’s only during this season. 2) If I can keep myself worthy here, if I can be true to gospel commandments, if I can keep covenants that I have made, the blessings of exaltation and eternal life that Heavenly Father holds out to all of His children apply to me. Every blessing — including eternal marriage — is and will be mine in due course.

ELDER OAKS: Let me just add a thought to that. There is no fullness of joy in the next life without a family unit, including a husband, a wife, and posterity. Further, men are that they might have joy. In the eternal perspective, same-gender activity will only bring sorrow and grief and the loss of eternal opportunities.

ME: Why is this response so long? Yikes. The first difficulty I have is again with leaders not taking any responsibility for what has happened. "..apparently some had believed it to be a remedy, and perhaps that some Church leaders had even counseled marriage." Why does Elder Oaks talk about this as if this might have happened unknown to the leadership of the church? It most definitely happened, and it happened a lot. Leaders are all instructed by the Handbook of Instructions in very specific ways in how to deal with every issue imaginable. There is an army of men that were counseled by stake presidents and bishops across the country to marry a woman to cure their homosexuality. There is no room for anyone to speak of it as if it may or may not have happened or that it is just some rumor.

Then the second remark Elder Oaks makes about the exception makes it sound like any truly valiant and faithful person would marry a woman. "persons who have cleansed themselves of any transgression and who have shown their ability to deal with these feelings or inclinations and put them in the background, and feel a great attraction for a daughter of God and therefore desire to enter marriage and have children and enjoy the blessings of eternity — that’s a situation when marriage would be appropriate." Blessing of eternity certainly can't be enjoyed without marriage to a woman right? And what about the many many gay members who have nothing to be cleansed of? Who have never acted on their homosexuality (like me up until the last few months)? Would I have been considered to be appropriately "dealing" with my feelings? How do you measure that? How does one "deal" with these feelings? Is it simply by "putting them in the background?" Never knowing when they might surface? To me, it sounds like Elder Oaks is saying, "no, marriage is not a cure for homosexuality, but faithful members with these feelings should get married." Which is it??

Oh Elder Wickman... has your life felt like a "nano-second," really? Of course we can say that in the perspective of eternity this is a short time, but that is not what our current perspective is. We have no concept of eternity. We cannot imagine it. We can however wonder how 10 minutes can seem to last for weeks. What? you have to pee? Just hold it. This life is just a nano-second. It isn't that much to ask is it?

Also.... WHOA! Wow... when was THAT doctrine revealed? I must have been asleep during THAT Sunday School lesson. Homosexuality did not exist and will not exist beyond this life? What about heterosexuality? I don't recall any scriptures or prophets speaking on the matter. I've already spoken my feelings about this subject in this post.

Finally, I agree Elder Oaks. Men are that they might have joy. And in my experience (which I cannot deny), same-gender activity has not brought me sorrow and grief or the loss of eternal opportunities. But guess what did? Those years of repression and denial of who I was. Instead, my dating experience has brought me more joy than I ever thought I'd experience. I'm pretty sure that things that bring true happiness in this life will be still bring true happiness in the next life because it is TRUE.

I feel bad. I would never speak this way in person to a General Authority. But these are my thoughts, unedited and plain as day. In person, or in a formal letter, I would of course word all of this more respectfully, but I'd still address the same points. Unfortunately, there is no way they would grant me an audience or even take the time to read, consider, and respond to a letter. So sorry if my tone offends you. It is only because of the deep emotions that are attached to statements like these.

THT: How Would You Interpret These Facts?

I read a blog post by Lionheart that I thought was extremely effective in demonstrating the situation gay Mormons find themselves in. I want to address the same things that were addressed in that post and perhaps elaborate a bit on them. But please read the post I am referencing.

The Church has been wrong on the causes of homosexuality. Leaders have taught that bad thoughts, masturbation, and selfishness lead to homosexuality and that homosexuality leads to unimaginable crimes such as bestiality. Leaders, both past and present have suggested that it is a choice and not inborn. However, the Church has recently reversed many of these claims due to the solid evidence against such teachings and now suggests that causes are unknown. Leaders have also begun to acknowledge that homosexuality may not be reversible or curable.

The Church has been wrong about solutions to homosexuality. Praying, fasting, being more righteous, trying harder to suppress feelings have all been suggested as cures for homosexuality by the church. Shock therapy, ex-gay programs, and other forms of intense therapy were not only suggested but required in many cases by leaders. Up until recently, heterosexual marriage in the temple was suggested as the cure for homosexuality, and worse, to keep that information about their "struggles" hidden from their wives. President Kimball even said that cures were often just a few months away. Due to the complete failure of these supposed "cures," the Church has reversed its opinion and no longer offers any solution to homosexuality.

General Authorities were wrong about blacks and the Priesthood. Leaders of the church holding positions as high as president of the church made racist, bigoted remarks about black persons. They proclaimed the color of their skin to be a curse and taught that blacks would not receive the Priesthood in this life.

The Church has tolerated unequal treatment of women. Before 1978, women were not permitted to say a prayer in Sacrament Meeting. Women did not speak in General Conference from 1930-1984. There are still many issues regarding women in the church that have yet to be resolved. Women are still largely defined by their husbands despite their own personal education, callings, or careers.

Church leaders have spoken out against interracial marriage and evolution. Both these ideas have been condemned using quite strong language by prophets, yet we are free to believe in evolution and marry a member of another race.

The Church offers no real solutions for homosexuality. The Church currently gives two suggestions for help: counseling and spiritual encouragement. Counseling can help in two general ways: 1) It can help homosexuals understand themselves better including their feelings, and 2) It can reduce destructive behavior, such as risky sex and drugs. After accomplishing these two goals where applicable, counseling reaches its limitations.

Spiritual counseling is good for any type of struggle. However, spiritual counseling alone is inadequate for nearly all gays. Imagine a cocaine addict simply being told to “pray and have faith and everything will be fine.” Or imagine a bishop suggesting only faith and prayer to a person who is bipolar. Certainly, spiritual counsel is not sufficient for these trials. Why is it okay to suggest that spiritual counseling is sufficient for gays?

The “fruits” of the Church policies towards gays are very negative. Most gays go inactive. Suicide rates are higher for gays than straights. Divorce rates are high. Families are torn apart as they choose between gay love ones and the church. The Church's involvement in Prop 8 has brought a storm of bad press and negative publicity for which the church is trying hard to re-cooperate from by inviting hi-profile gays to the Mo-tab Christmas concert for example.

If the Church’s support towards gays was sufficient, then activity among gays and straights would be equal. We would expect to see a fair number of older adults who are active and still gay. Given that at least 3% of the population is gay, where are the elderly gay members who have lived a life of celibacy and remained active? The Church’s fruits relating to this issue are embarrassing.

To summarize, the Church has been wrong about the causes of homosexuality, the Church has been wrong about solutions, Church leaders have been wrong about other issues such as blacks and the Priesthood and women, the Church offers no unique solutions now, and the fruits of the Church’s policies leave much to be desired. How do you interpret these facts?


Many non-members or people who have left the church may look at this list and say, "this is easy... just leave the church!" Gay people generally feel no pity for Gay Mormons because in their mind, we are insane masochists. But keep in mind some other facts that many Gay Mormons have to consider:

Testimony of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Many still have strong faith in Christ and in his teachings and still seek to do his will and share his message with others. They seek to use their talents and means for good, righteous causes.

Testimony of the Restoration. Many cannot deny their feelings about Joseph Smith and the restoration of the primitive church. A large percentage of them have served missions for the church teaching people about this restoration and baptizing them. They believe strongly that God speaks today and can guide and teach us.

Testimony of the Priesthood. Many have seen the priesthood work in their own lives, in their own homes, even by their own hands. The believe in it's power and ability to heal, comfort, and perform any work commanded by God. They believe in the restoration and application of this power.

The culture in which they were raised. These people grew up in Mormon communities, in wards and stakes. Mormonism has informed much of their life, their values, their goals, their dreams. They cannot simply strip off everything that was affected by their upbringing because it has become so infused with who they are.

The history within their families. Many come from long lines of Mormons. Their grandparents, their aunts, their uncles, cousins, brothers and sisters all look to them to be an example. These loved ones who give Gay Mormons a sense of belonging and family all have expectations and hopes and dreams for them. Gay Mormons don't want to be the one disappointment, the one failure, the one that is cast out.

This isn't an easy fix. It is very confusing and frustrating and can even be earth shattering. Are you surprised that people in this situation have suicidal thoughts? What would your conclusion be?

RANT: Not a Choice?

So this is the third post today... but I can't sleep and my mind is going. Bare with me.

The Church no longer claims that homosexuality is a choice. It no longer claims that change is possible or even recommenced. So here is my question: if it isn't a choice, and the church is beginning to recognize that, why does it continue to condemn it.

If we teach that God says it is evil to be born without legs, and then someone is born without legs, what is that person to think?

Now, the Christian heterosexual might then say, "well, it isn't evil to have homosexual feelings, it is only evil to act on those feelings." Okay. Lets switch that around then. Pretend that churches taught that acting on heterosexuality was wrong. I know... it is hard to imagine, but please try. Don't worry, it is okay for you to feel those emotions... but it is evil to act on them. The churches recognize that you didn't choose to have those heterosexual tendencies and feelings, but that doesn't excuse you from not acting on them.

Really put yourself in a gay person's place. If you are married, there must have been some burning desire within you to date and find "the one." There must have been something powerful driving you to do that because, let's face it, marriage is hard. Now take that burning desire and stop it short. You are not allowed to do anything about it. DO NOT date. DO NOT hold hands. DO NOT kiss. DO NOT flirt. DO NOT even associate with anyone else who shares these heterosexual desires. That is what you are asking of me and of every gay member of the church. Yet you expect them to feel welcomed and accepted and supported and loved. Would you stick around if the church asked this of you?

ART: Prayers For Bobby

If you haven't already seen this movie, it is beautifully done. It is a true story and I think it is SO applicable to the Mormon community.... or any conservative Christian community. This speech, made me bawl the first time I watched it. I literally called my mom crying. I get emotional when I hear people that are not gay say such kind words. It is really weird because I don't usually get visibly emotional. But when I hear heterosexual people talk positively and kindly about homosexuals, for some reason it strikes right at my heart.

PE: Confessions of the Heart

The last few days have been a bit rough for me. My boyfriend and I have decided to take a break. Well, I decided it would be best for me and so he had no choice. It sounds so selfish. Relationships are weird that way. They should be selfless, yet you need to pay close attention to yourself. I mean, you have the relationship to think about (which involves two people)... but also how you personally fit into that relationship.

Anyway, I decided to do what I thought was best, not what was easiest. I felt that I needed this... despite the hardship and heartache that would accompany it. He was my first boyfriend. I won't get into the details. The point is, the last few days have been hard.

So on my drive home tonight from FHE (family home evening... something I'll need to blog about soon), I was just thinking about my situation, my thoughts, my feelings, and then a thought occurred to me that made me so happy! I thought, "You are so lucky to be feeling this right now." It sounds insane, I know. But my whole life, I have always fought against the thing I wanted most. Another guy to love and be loved by. The thing I wanted so bad, was the thing I could never have. I lived a life trying to force myself to want what everyone said I should want while living with the reality that I couldn't have what I really wanted in life. I couldn't even allow myself to dream about having a guy one day.

This sounds so ridiculous, but knowing that I can hope for and look forward to the day when I can come home to the man I love is like a piece of heaven! Nothing is stopping me anymore from obtaining that dream, or from dreaming that dream. I can finally allow myself to love and be loved they way that I have wanted all along! Unfortunately heartbreak comes with giving your heart away... but I am so grateful that I now have the ability and freedom to give it away.

It is so weird to finally be feeling all those emotions that I heard about on movies and in songs and from friends about love and heartache. I've never felt it. I never had a real crush, a first kiss that electrified me, a broken heart, the yearning to be close to someone, the feeling that you never want the day to end... or the fear of sleeping because you don't want to miss a moment next to the person you love. I never felt those emotions until 4 months ago. I never understood why people would hold hands or kiss. None of the feelings accompanied those actions when I tried them with girls. It is just so liberating to finally allow myself to feel that whole range of emotion that I have missed out on for so long. And now, to think that I had been so thoroughly convinced that it was wrong for me to feel them is so maddening! But I my eyes have been opened, and it is nothing short of a miracle. It is just a different miracle than I thought God would send my way. It wasn't the miracle I had been praying for and fasting for and hoping for for years and years of my life to be made a "normal" heterosexual. It was the miracle that helped me finally see that there was nothing wrong with me and that I could love myself and be loved.

02 January 2011

RANT: Gay Marriage

I honestly don't understand why churches fight so hard against gay marriage. Especially my church- the LDS church. Why is it that they are fighting against the most chaste, worthy, admirable thing that this group of people want? I mean, these are two people that want to make a commitment to one another, to be true to each other, to support one another through good and bad times. It is the most worthy goal that these people wish to attain and yet it is struck down by people in the name of God.

These same churches insist that homosexuals are a bunch of sex maniacs who go around sleeping with anyone that happens to pass by. But if it was all about the sex, why would any gay person in their right mind want to marry? Sex comes easy if that's all you want and marriage is hard. But these churches (who say that they support the family unit and chastity), rather than help those gay individuals who do want committed relationships to be granted the ability to marry, fight against it, forcing this group of people to dwell in the gutters that they despise.

Sure, maybe homosexuals don't live the life that you think is ideal. Maybe living a gay life with a partner is just not what God would want according to your beliefs, but does that mean you have the right to take away the ability for these people to live the "right" life as best they can? Think about it. Lets take a conservative number and say that 5% of the population is gay. That means there are almost 700,000 gay members of the church. Why do we not support those members by encouraging them to stay chaste until marriage. To apply the law of chastity in their dating habits just as we do the habits of heterosexual members? Instead, we call this core characteristic wrong and evil and fight against the opportunity for them to enter into a committed relationship with the person they love. We give them no hope of an appropriate relationship that they can wait for to begin sexual expressions of love. We simply say that to live like a gay person is wrong and if that is what you are going to do, you might as well sleep around and be promiscuous because it isn't any more wrong than being gay in the first place.

And then these "Christians" point to how dirty the "homosexual lifestyle" is and use it to maintain their condemnation of them. It is a catch-22. Christians refuse to allow gay people legitimate relationships, but then attack the community for not having legitimate relationships. It makes me sick. I just don't understand the thinking behind it. I don't understand where Christ's teachings are being applied here. We are all sinners. And guess what.... even the LEAST sin will keep you from the kingdom of heaven, so why do Christians insist on rating sins? Maybe it makes some people feel better about their own sins if they can point and say that this or that sin is the worst one.

Maybe my family can't look exactly like yours... but why wouldn't you want me to have as close an equivalent as I can? Why would you wish anyone to be alone their whole life, unable to enter marriage and begin a family within a committed, loving relationship? Why is it so bad that I want a family within which my partner and I can grow and learn, raise and teach children, and build a Christ-centered home? How is making that unobtainable helping anyone?