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.