What Do You Say When…

In my last post someone commented and asked a few questions. While they are indeed questions that I have to find ways to answer in my real life, I have never had anyone ask me a list of questions just to see how I respond to them. I thought it was fun, so here are my responses.

“Why didn’t you go on a mission?”

This is one that I get a lot. In fact I’m pretty sure that I get it more than any other question. I can tell that a lot of people ask suspecting that I’m attracted to men and seem to be “searching” as it were. When people do that, I tell them that I had health issues. Frankly I can tell when people just care about me and want to be a part of my life and when they are just digging to find whats “wrong”. I don’t give those people the satisfaction.

Then there are the people who are actually concerned and truly care about me. I usually tell them the truth.  A few years ago I would not have done so, but in the last two years I have become more open about talking about my attractions. So I will usually just say that I am attracted to men and that while I very much want to serve a mission, I have had bishops agree that the strength of my attractions and the level of anxiety attached to my feelings would make it difficult. I have been very prayerful about it. It has not been easy having not served. BUT. I have decided to do my best to live worthy of the Spirit and serve in my everyday life. I feel that the Lord accepts my personal mission and has guided me in my efforts to spread the gospel and help others learn of and come to Christ.

“Why don’t you date?/Will you go out with me?”

I’ve sort of written about dating before. It’s tricky. I find the normal excuses for those I’m not comfortable talking about my attractions with. “I’m not interested in anyone here” or “I don’t feel a push to date right now so I’m just focusing on school/friendships” and such like that. When I sometimes get asked on dates though, things are different.

I find that I am nice to all women and that sometimes I might show friendship and openness to females who don’t always get that level of attention from men. Because of this,I have found that sometimes they think that I am attracted to them. It’s a hard line to walk. So when I am asked on a date, if it is clearly a date, I will go out with her once and have a good time but try to make it clear that it is a one time thing. Sometimes I am asked to spend time with a girl, but she hasn’t made it clear that it is a “date”. I try and be excited to “hang out” and say “Oh you know, this person and that person would love doing that! Let’s invite them!” and that usually diffuses the situation. I feel like it’s the nicest way I can let a girl know that I am fine with spending time with them, but dating isn’t going to happen. Thoughts? I am definitely open to feedback on this.

“Are you attracted to me?”

I actually had a friend ask me if I had ever been attracted to him and I said no. He paused and asked, “Really? Not at all?” I assured him that I had never been physically, emotionally, intellectually, spiritually, or otherwise romantically attracted to him. I just enjoyed his company and cared for his well-being as a friend. He said, “Ok. Cool. But…really? Not at all? Ever?” I realized that he was doubting me because at some level, I think I hurt his pride by not being attracted to him. I still have to laugh about that from time to time.

To my heterosexual friends: no. being attracted to men doesn’t necessarily mean that I am attracted to you. You are attracted to women, but you aren’t attracted to all women are you? Didn’t think so. Just like you, there are certain types of guys that I find I am drawn to, and for different reasons. I’ll let you believe that you are God’s gift to women if you need to think that so you can sleep at night, but come on. You aren’t God’s gift to everyone.

“Are you ‘out’ to your friends?”

As I talked about in a previous post, I don’t like to use the terms that are associated with a  gay lifestyle, lest someone become confused about the life I want to live. I don’t like to say that I am “out”. I am open with many people about my attractions though. In fact, lots of times people who care for me will ask questions about me and it just kind of comes up. Some people straight up ask, but more often than not I can tell that they are trying to be polite and not ask. For clarity and the sake of the conversation, if I feel like the person cares for me, I just tell them. Several people in my small branch know already. A good amount of my friends know that I am attracted to men.

As I said earlier, this is a big change for me. I used to be super private and almost paranoid about my attractions. I was terrified that people would find out and use the information against me in some way. I have thankfully gotten over that. The result has been wonderful. I have found that opening my mouth about my attractions has helped me become stronger in the gospel as well as help others understand same sex attractions. I often correspond with people about this topic, whether they have the attractions themselves or are just close to someone who does. Either way, I feel that I am able to serve and help those around me, and it is worth the “risk” (it really isn’t one) of sharing this part of my life with others.

I hope these answers are satisfactory. If you have any others, I would love to hear them. I am more than happy to answer just about anything. I want people to understand this subject. Those who struggle need to know that it is indeed possible to live actively in the LDS faith and enjoy it. And those who are LDS but don’t know much about this subject need to learn about it so they can better help those around them and live as the Lord has asked us, specifically in bearing one anothers’ burdens and uplifting those who are downtrodden. Anything I can do to help, I am willing.
-M&G

Advertisements

Feedback Time!

My dear readers,

I know that there aren’t tons of you, but I am very grateful for those of you who do read my blog regularly. I thank you for that. This blog is mostly just good for me to write, but I also feel good knowing that I am sometimes uplifting someone else.

At this point, however, I want to hear your thoughts. What do you like about my blog? What do you not like about it? What can I improve on? What do you wish I would say or talk about that I haven’t? Or if you think it is just great, please tell me why! I want to be able to feel like I am connected with those of you who read.

Now, I know that some of you may read my blog, but don’t necessarily want the whole world to know that you are reading it. Understandable!  Any time you comment, you can choose your own name,  and you don’t have to leave your email address. But I suggest that you do leave it for two reasons:

1. You can get emails alerting you when someone has replied to your comment, therefore making it easier to establish a dialogue.

2. Only I can see the email addresses, so no worries people won’t find out who you are if you don’t want them to!

Happy reading to all. I hope that in some way I am able to help bless your lives. This blog has truly blessed me and I am grateful for those of you who take the time to read a bit. Please, let me know what you think!

-M&G

Church Responds to Supreme Court Marriage Rulings

Salt Lake City — 

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints released the following statement today regarding the decisions announced by the United States Supreme Court on cases involving marriage:

“By ruling that supporters of Proposition 8 lacked standing to bring this case to court, the Supreme Court has highlighted troubling questions about how our democratic and judicial system operates. Many Californians will wonder if there is something fundamentally wrong when their government will not defend or protect a popular vote that reflects the views of a majority of their citizens.

“In addition, the effect of the ruling is to raise further complex jurisdictional issues that will need to be resolved.

“Regardless of the court decision, the Church remains irrevocably committed to strengthening traditional marriage between a man and a woman, which for thousands of years has proven to be the best environment for nurturing children. Notably, the court decision does not change the definition of marriage in nearly three-fourths of the states.”

marriage

//

“…because thou hast not murmured.”

I often wonder why I meet so few men who are in my situation and want the same things that I want. Recently I spoke with my friend Peyton and he remarked that I was only one of two men with same sex attraction whom he has met who are still active in the Church. While I have met several more men who are active in this past year, it seems that the majority of the members whom I have met and have homosexual feelings (at least in my experience) are not active in the church.

Not only that, but in conversations with some of my close friends, it seems that homosexuality is a big stumbling block for more people than just those who struggle with it. I have had several friends leave the Church over things like this. What is it that makes them turn their backs on the Gospel? I often worry that maybe I am letting myself think some of the little things that might lead me away. What can I do to prevent that?

Well today I had an interesting realization. In Priesthood we were talking about coming unto Christ and how it is our choice to do so. I was reminded of this scripture in the second chapter of 1 Nephi:

16 And it came to pass that I, Nephi, being exceedingly young, nevertheless being large in stature, and also having great desires to know of the mysteries of God, wherefore, I did cry unto the Lord; and behold he did visit me, and did soften my heart that I did believe all the words which had been spoken by my father; wherefore, I did not rebel against him like unto my brothers.

From reading this verse, it would seem than Nephi had some of the same doubts that his brothers had. And why shouldn’t he? He was a human being just like anyone else. He too had to learn line by line, precept by precept. He specifically says that his heart was softened and he therefore did not rebel like his brothers. But here is where I find something interesting; what he did do was pray. Both he and his brothers were unsure of the truthfulness of the things their father was saying, but Nephi chose to pray and ask as opposed to murmur as his brothers did.

The result? His heart was softened so that he might believe. It gave him the strength to support his father. Laman and Lemuel’s murmuring only served to push them farther and farther from their father (and therefore his teachings) and eventually they were unable to believe anything that their father or brother said. They had sign after sign, and even heavenly visitors, but it was not enough to counteract the damage that their complaining and ill-speaking did. Later it was said of Nephi “Therefore go, my son, and thou shalt be favored of the Lord, because thou hast not murmured.” (1 Nephi 3:6) Powerful stuff.

I shared this in priesthood to point out that in coming unto Christ, we all have a choice. It is up to us to make the decision to do the right thing and seek truth. As I re-thought about this message, I saw how it applied to my life. A few years ago I struggled very hard to know what the Lord wanted me to do with my life. I knew that I was attracted to men and that the feelings were very real and didn’t seem to be going away anytime soon. So in order to understand his will, I prayed about it. Was I really supposed to live the way the Prophet and Apostles were telling me? Was I still loved by my Heavenly Father?

The answer was yes. I didn’t understand why, but I knew the right answer. More and more as I have lived it, I have learned a why or two, and that has helped encourage me and keep me on the right track. What I now realize is that the Lord softened my heart to His teachings because I was willing to pray and ask. Now, that is not to say that those who leave the church are not asking. But I will say, most of those I know who struggle with feelings of same gender attraction and have left the church have been people who have murmured long and hard against the Church. I believe that they prayed. I am sure that they did. Some of them I know prayed about it. However, keeping that angry, murmuring place in their hearts took its toll and eventually poisoned them against what they once held sacred and dear.

This also stands true for those I know who don’t struggle with homosexual feelings. My friends who have left the Church behind did so after a long time of increasing antagonism toward the teachings of the gospel. Again, I know not everyone does this, but I have sadly seen many people drive a wedge between themselves and God. Murmuring, complaining, and attacking the church will not allow you to feel the spirit and will not bring peace. The Holy Ghost is a spirit of love, not contention.

For those who are struggling in your testimony, I invite you to let go of your anger and pray. Ask for help. It will come, but only as you are willing to let go of the contentious feelings and not murmur about your leaders and the principles of the gospel. No, the members of the church aren’t perfect. And no we shouldn’t seek to obey blindly. Ask questions. Seek answers. But do not expect to feel love for people and ideas which you constantly attack. If you honestly believe in the truthfulness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, you will not allow any action or any social standard come between you and the Lord. If it makes you feel like you can’t take the sacrament or attend the temple, it needs to go.

I am grateful for the example of Nephi. I am imperfect and I often have questions and concerns about what the Church does and how it does it, but as I seek guidance through prayer and resist the urge to speak ill of that which I love so much, I am strengthened. You can be strengthened in the same way. I promise it works.  “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28) Come to the Lord with your troubles. He will soothe your soul and bring peace.

-M&G

Exodus International and the Baby in the Bathwater

Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater; Prov. Do not discard something valuable in your eagerness to get rid of some useless thing associated with it.

This saying kept running through my head as I read the apology that Alan Chambers wrote for Exodus International, a group seeking to mobilize “the body of Christ to minister grace and truth to a world impacted by homosexuality.” He was apologizing for all of pain, doubt, and self-hate that he had helped cause through Exodus International, especially through “sexual orientation change efforts and reparative theories about sexual orientation.” (I want to say that I have no issue with Exodus International. I think they are good people doing the best they can to help others.  For some reason as I re-read this, the quotation marks I use seem somehow…sarcastic? The point is, I don’t want them to be. they are just quotes from the website.)

Chambers says that he thinks that reparative therapy is harmful and does not work. Frankly, I agree. I know friends who have gone through it and it has only seemed to worsen their guilt and often to deepen the rift they felt between themselves and God. But If reparative therapy doesn’t work, does that mean that it is impossible to change? Again, hold onto the baby…

I once had a conversation with someone who is LDS and who said that I should be wary of anyone or anything that says I can change. All I could think was, “So you are telling me to be wary of Jesus?” I decided to take his words with a few grains of salt,  ’cause if I learned anything from Norman Greenbaum, it’s that “I got a friend in Jesus!”

But in all seriousness, I was shocked to have someone say that I should be wary of change. Isn’t the gospel of Jesus Christ a gospel of change? Isn’t that what repentance is about? Elder Dallin H. Oaks teaches us that

“The gospel of Jesus Christ challenges us to change. “Repent” is its most frequent message, and repenting means giving up all of our practices—personal, family, ethnic, and national—that are contrary to the commandments of God. The purpose of the gospel is to transform common creatures into celestial citizens, and that requires change.”

It was with this quote in mind that I kept hoping that Alan Chambers wouldn’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. Just because reparative therapy wasn’t the answer, I don’t think it means that change is impossible or bad! And he seems to agree. While he apologized for the pain he caused, he explicitly states that he would not apologize for what he believes. He will support and help anyone no matter their beliefs, but he is happily married to a woman and will not take it back.

It was so refreshing to hear! It rang true with me and what I believe. The issue that I see with reparative therapy is that we are using man’s methods and man’s timetable to bring change in sexual orientation, and I just can’t see that working. But through the Savior, all things are possible, because his is a gospel of change, and he asks us to change while simultaneously helping us to do so.

On the website Mormons and Gays, Church leaders and members come together and teach that change is possible. For some it may come earlier that others. Some may find their attractions diminishing and that marriage is more and more a possibility, while others seem to have no change in their orientation at all. We are all different. The point is, that through Christ, ALL things can change. And it we want them to change, we must endure to the end. Not to the end of the therapy session, not to the end of our year’s goal, but till Christ welcomes us into his arms and says “well done thou good and faithful servant.” (Matt. 25:21)

Over the past five years, I have seen major changes in myself. Things I thought I would never understand or accept are things that are now some of my core beliefs. What was the secret? I endured. I kept going. Just because I didn’t understand doesn’t mean that it was wrong. I trusted in my Redeemer and I found that I can change and become like him. I can live the commandments and live worthy of the Atonement of Jesus Christ and be happy while doing so.

In short, I threw out the bathwater and kept the baby. Worth it.

-M&G

Why I don’t use the “G Word”

I am often asked why I don’t refer to myself as gay.  It is simply a matter of personal preference. But I have a few reasons. When I hear the phrase “I’m gay,”  I think of a couple of things:

#1) You are attracted to the same gender.

#2) You associate with/relate well to and prefer to be with people who feel the same way.

#3) You are supportive of a gay lifestyle and most likely want to have one yourself.

Now I know that there are people who don’t think this way, but I think most people do. Look up the definition of the word gay.  Most definitions today will only briefly reference the original definition, which referred to being carefree, happy, or bright and showy. Most definitions today talk about a lifestyle and attractions. We hear about gay rights and gay pride and gay marriage. I believe that most people will agree that what comes to mind is a homosexual relationship. That is just what the word gay means these days.

To be honest, that’s ok. I’m not all that terribly attached to the word. I don’t mind if it means that. But I do mind being called that. You see, I don’t see myself as gay. I don’t want what gay people want, I don’t think and say what they think and  say, I don’t do what they do0. I don’t see myself as a gay man.

I do see myself as a son of God. I see myself as an imperfect human struggling to qualify for the forgiveness of my Savior. I see myself as a man who happens to be attracted to other men, but that is just a part of me. It is not my life and my identity.

The only reason I use it in the title of my blog is because it is something that many people can see on sight and understand. If you notice, the rest of the time I talk about my same sex attraction, or my attractions. But not “me”. It isn’t me.

I don’t mean to disrespect those who are gay. I have many gay friends. Some are in committed gay relationships, some are in between such relationships, and others are just enjoying dating and meeting like minded people. I love and respect them and don’t push my views on them, but our views are different. I think this is why even the Prophet and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles refer to members who have these feelings as those who feel attracted to the same gender. I feel that they see a distinction; that there is a difference between feelings and actions.

I live my life very differently from my gay friends. I want to do so. I believe firmly that I have the opportunity to become like my Heavenly Father and His son, Jesus Christ. Sometimes people tell me that I am being untrue to who I am and that I should just be happy with who I am. But why? Why be content with who I am when I could be more? I have the chance to grow and constantly better myself. I believe that I am living in a way that allows me to be close to the Holy Spirit, and that companionship brings me great joy and happiness.

Don’t think that I don’t like who I am and that I just want to be un-gay. I am very happy with who I am! Honestly…I’m pretty great, and my friends will tell you that I know it. Those who know me know that I love who I am and that I am grateful for even my feelings of same gender attraction. They have taught me so much about life and how to be a good person. I don’t reject it. Rather, I use it to help motivate me to be closer to my God.

As I say on my about page, I don’t think I will have these feelings for forever, so why live like I will now? Nothing can compare to feeling close to the Spirit and its source.  It may mean a live of self denial, but self denial brings discipline and strength, and that I welcome wholeheartedly. So no, I am not gay, and I love every minute of it.

-M&G

//

Father’s Day

I know I am a day late on this, but I was traveling this past weekend and wasn’t able to write it when I wanted to.  But I have been thinking about this for a while and now I have a good reason to write it.

My father is for the most part a quiet man.  Around the family friends he jokes and has fun, but he happens to have the loudest most rambunctious children in the world, so he is just about always in the background. And it is what he does while in the background that is so amazing.

We have a big family. My dad never went to college, and so finding a career as opposed to just a job is something that was hard to do. He got married and got jobs doing what he could. For several years he was an exterminator. Killing pests is not something that I imagine could be very fun, but he did it anyway, knowing that he could make enough money to support his family. Eventually he got a job as an engineer (something that I still don’t understand, seeing as he didn’t have a degree, but hey…kudos.) That job made it so that he had to stay the week in another state and would come home on weekends. Yes he was able to support the family, but he hated being so far away. So, he set up an office at home and worked from there so he could be near us.

He has always sacrificed to make sure that we had what we needed, and often what we wanted. I remember him staying up late one night to help make some pretty cool Halloween costumes for my my sister and me. Sure he had to be up early the next morning, but that didn’t matter. He wanted us to enjoy the consumes and know that we had something special.

He often worked outside in the cold fixing a car that was having issues. I used to think that he loved fixing cars. Apparently he doesn’t. Now that I know that, I think on all of the hours that he had to endure in the heat or rain or freezing cold. But it was worth it to him. He knew that it would allow us the opportunity to go where we needed when we needed to. Or just that we would have a car to take to a friends house so we could hang out.

I could go on and on with stories like this. The point is, he has constantly sacrificed and done all he could to make things wonderful for us, and not once have I ever heard him complain about it. He has always done what had to be done and took pride in his work, knowing that it made our lives better.

My parents and I have had our rough spots. I think my dad took things pretty hard when we talked about my attraction to men. He probably didn’t mean to, but not long after the “big talk” I felt a distance grow between us. I felt like he was ashamed of me and embarrassed by my homosexual feelings. Eventually we talked about it, and I have noticed a big change. He has made an effort to let me know that he loves me and that he is proud of my accomplishments. Yeah, sometimes it’s a bit cheesy. But that’s my dad. And I appreciate that he had done what he feels he needs to do to fix this.

He is a hard worker and a good man. I am grateful to have him as an example. You guys don’t even know how jealous you should be right now. For real.

-M&G

%d bloggers like this: