Who are the Gay Mormons?

Gay Rights

This gay rights thing has got me all twisted up.

According to the Lord’s law of chastity, gay sex is sinful and unwise. It is dangerous for any society to tolerate it, and even more perilous to encourage it.

On the other hand, when we declare that homosexuality is evil, it becomes very easy to justify discrimination and ostracism of an entire class of people. Which is also dangerous for any society to tolerate, and even more perilous to encourage.

The problem is, we are only getting one side of the gay story. The loud, colorful, gay-pride side. We are either entranced by it’s vivacity, or offended by it’s unabashed immorality. And then, because it’s the only show we’re seeing, we have to assume that everyone who is gay is getting on that boat because it is the only way. And then, we wonder how God could make people Gay and then punish them by making life so dang hard to follow the nuclear family trajectory. And that is where I get twisted up, and where a lot of people in the church start to suppose that “things will have to change” within the doctrine. But there is another side to this whole issue; a quieter, deliberate reasoning with the trial of same-sex attraction.

FAIR published an article called Navigating the Labryinth Surrounding Homosexual Desire that really illuminated for me how to think about this issue and how we have not been getting the whole story. The author, Joshua Johanson, divides the term gay into three subcategories: gay behavior, which is chosen; a gay identity, which is chosen, and gay attraction, or SSA (Same Sex Attraction) which is something you are born with.  Gay behavior is the only sin.  A person can join a gay community for support and still live the law of chastity.  And hugely important: SSA is not a sin. The research he cites showed that “most men who have SSA have never acted on it”. The research also stated that 2 million men with SSA are married to women. Johanson himself has SSA and is happily married to a woman. That is a path, he admits, that may not work for all people with SSA. If it doesn’t work for them and they know it, they may choose to live a celibate life in harmony with the law of chastity. This has helped me untwist the issue of “Why did God make it so hard for gays to find happiness”. There are lots and lots of people who are dealing with their SSA in righteous and deliberate ways. And they are happy.

Johanson explained the dilemma of accepting the gay community for many LDS with SSA: “I see many parallels between how my wife views the feminist movement and how I view the gay rights movement. I too am very grateful to the gay rights movement for fighting discrimination. I don’t have to worry about losing my job or getting kicked out of my house just because I have SSA or walk or talk a little effeminately. I am protected. At the same time, I feel the gay rights movement has debased my choice to be a husband and a father and has made it more difficult for me to have and raise my family the way I want to. Worse yet, there are many political issues they assign to me that I strongly disagree with. The gay rights movement no more represents me just because I am gay than the feminist movement represents my wife because she is female.”

What I found enlightening about this perspective is that there are people with SSA literally all around us. They are married to our friends, they are teaching our kids in primary, they are giving fantastic lessons in Sunday School. We cannot know who they are because they have not chosen “gay” as their identity.  Which also means that we must never, ever use hurtful, homophobic language anywhere. You may think that demeaning comments about “the gays” are all being received by like-minded people; but the truth is, your cousin may be inwardly trying to put yet another band-aid over a wound that keeps being ripped open.

When I was in my Secondary Education classes, one of my required courses was Multicultural Curriculum. And the teacher was a lovely lady, Ms. Groves, who we assumed was hired for this class because she was black. She was great, totally multicultural and talked about how to be sensitive to other races and religions and so forth. Then we had our unit on LGBT students and some of my classmates (mostly rural Utahn farm boys) started putting up major walls. They said things like, “I don’t care if they are in my class, I just think they are sick and wrong” or “I’d have a really hard time being around them if they were gay”. They were being honest, and the teacher understood their concerns. The class didn’t have too much of an impact on their opinions, unfortunately. I think the greatest lesson that she taught was in our Final Cornerstone right before we started student teaching, where Ms. Groves was a keynote speaker. She told the entire auditorium of soon-to-be-teachers about how she was fired from a local district because she was a lesbian and the parents were too uncomfortable with her teaching their children math. I blushed from head to toe with shame and I wasn’t even guilty of saying anything unkind in her class. But I felt the shame for Jimmy and Brandon and all the other students who had said those hurtful things to her face. It was the most unforgettable lesson of my Secondary Education experience. We can never know who we are hurting when we say judgmental things, so the best thing to do is not say them. Not think them. Be loving and accepting of everyone who is doing their best to get through this life.

We’ve all got something we have to overcome–anger, doubt, fear, mental illness, physical illness, learning disabilities. Satan is trying hard to target us in our weakest spots. Our sexual natures are a big part of us, no wonder many people are being tried in that manner, and have been throughout all of history. But what a person does with their SSA is totally up to them. They can choose to self-identify as gay and join that community, or they can quietly work with the Lord to find the best fit for them in living a righteous life. Either way, they are children of God and worthy of our love and respect.

The real evil of our time isn’t that homosexuality is out there. It’s always been out there. The problem is the pervasive lie that there is only one happy option for someone with SSA: follow the path of coming out, then finding a partner (or multiple partners), and living an openly gay life in a big city. It has become so normal and accepted that kids with SSA start down the path before even knowing of the other choices. Johanson is a brave advocate of these other choices.

Now when we see that 40-year-old, still-single, totally great guy in our ward, we must not judge him. He doesn’t need a reminder that he should be married. He doesn’t need to be set up on yet another blind date (unless he wants to be). And he doesn’t need to be whisperingly labeled “gay,” because that is only a label that someone can declare for themselves. The only correct label we can put on someone who is working through their trials through faith in Jesus Christ is “Latter-Day Saint”.  Even if they aren’t gay, If they never have a family of their own, at the very least they should feel the love and acceptance of their church family.


63 responses to “Who are the Gay Mormons?

  1. I love this Jan. I’ve read a lot about SSA and I too believe Joshua to be a great example of how someone living with SSA can still follow (and feel good about) the law of chastity. This is a tricky subject in our culture and I think you’ve addressed it beautifully!

  2. I have so many mixed feelings on this. I try really hard to be subjective and try to see every point of view, and I have to remain open to the possibility that I’m wrong. I do have a few questions, concerns and comments regarding your post.

    First off, however, I just really need to thank you, fully, from the bottom of my heart. Ten years ago as I was graduating high school and preparing for my mission, I never would have dreamed, as a gay man, that I would ever read something like this that is so loving and well thought out on the issue of homosexuality in the LDS church. The Church could certainly use more members like you, truly striving for what it means to be Christlike. So again, thank you.

    It think it is dangerous to talk about homosexuality as something that one is ‘dealing with.’ Especially to compare it to addictions or mental illnesses. Most people who are gay do not see their sexuality as an affliction or something to overcome. Those that are spiritual often see it as an attribute of their spiritual creation, and those that aren’t, like myself, see it no differently than the color of my hair or eyes. It’s just part of being me.

    On the other hand, I can’t help but feel grateful for the progress I see in blog posts like this. Ten years ago I would have cried at reading something like this, from a Mormon, that was so open, and loving, and against prejudice of any kind (at least intentioned) towards gay people.

    The issue that I fear here is the problem with anecdotal evidence. The FAIR report quoted is a little misleading. It says there are over 2 million men attracted to men that are married, but almost a full 1/3 of them had had sex with a man just in the last year. I wonder how many others were unfaithful to their wives in the years prior? That’s hardly a standard to shoot for. How many broken families will that create?

    On the flip side, if you have attraction towards your same gender you could be gay (just or mostly attracted to men, or bisexual, attracted to both). How many of these men that are attracted to men are also attracted to women? If that’s the case it’s not unhealthy for them to be married to a woman, if that’s their choice.

    Sure, we can look to people like Johanson or Joshua Weed to show ‘good gay Mormons’ who are married and happy. But if that’s all we’re going to do, I can provide you with just as many examples of gay ex-Mormons who are in happy, committed relationships with men, myself among them. I bet you we can also find dozens, if not hundreds or thousands, of men who have destroyed marriages after cheating on their wives because they felt forced to get married from the cultural pressure to conform.

    All of that said, I have to leave myself open to the possibility that there are gay Mormons who are happy to stay in the church. They tell me they are happy, and I won’t do what some in the church have done to me and tell them, “You’re not really happy.” If they say they are I have to love and support them in that. My job as their brother is not to force them, or even suggest to them, to leave the church. My responsibility is to make sure they, and all other youth like them and me, know that they have the choice and that they are loved.

    There are many in the gay rights movement who would disagree with me, just as there are many in the church who would disagree with you. I would just say, in response to your comment about only hearing one voice (the loud, gay pride one), is because society, Mormon and non, shamed being gay for so long that even those staying in the church were afraid to say they are gay, even if they want to stay. That, we can see, is already changing. The gay pride movement, at its purest heart, is about celebrating and loving who you are, and not being ashamed, but being proud of yourself. The reason many are often so angry at churches and religion is because of how religions and churches have treated them in the past, which is unfortunate but understandable. I hope that helps with that.

    This is getting really verbose, so I’ll stop. I’d love to start a dialogue and discuss it with you or anyone else who reads it. Once again, thank you for your words and your willingness to engage the topic at all.

    P.S. About your tag line at the very top of your blog, “Only women can wear dresses.” I have some friends who would respectfully disagree. 😉

    • Neznem, I really appreciate your thoughtful comments. I would love to talk through some of the philosophy behind this issue, if you are willing. Because I’m sincerely curious, especially about the point you brought up that gayness is not an “affliction”. I understand that it is a central point of a lot of people’s identity, and they don’t think of it as a negative in any way. I guess my question is, will that part of you resurrect with you (what did your formerly religious self think :)? If it will, then I agree with you completely. If all people resurrect into a heterosexual form, then I would say that it is something to overcome. Sort of the platonic ideal.

      It kind of reminds me of the debate in the deaf community about cochlear implants. Deaf culture is so strong that people are refusing to intervene to enter the hearing world because they feel like it’s not necessary–it’s who they are, how they were born and they like being part of that world. Which is totally their right, and if I had a group of great friends that were all deaf, I wouldn’t want to change my life either. But the key is: their hearing doesn’t work. They have made fantastic lemonade out of their lemons, but it is still a deficit in their physical body. My view is that being gay is like that. What do you think? Because, obviously, I can’t know anyone else’s experience but my own. So I’m interested in yours.

      • I think it’s difficult to call something a defect that adds so much happiness to someone’s life. Sure, I “can’t” form romantic attractions to women, but really the only thing that I miss out on is the possibility of having children by accident. I still have a loving partner, and from everything I see our relationship functions exactly the same as any straight couple’s. We fight about the same things, we make up the same ways, and we provide each other the same support.

        Personally, back when I still believed, I didn’t know what to think. Being gay was obviously part of me – but back then “having SSA” (which isn’t actually a thing, unless you’re trying to justify why people shouldn’t be gay) was still considered to be a moral failing. I knew I hadn’t made a decision on it, so I knew that I wasn’t actually being immoral. It was just part of me. Now I don’t believe in the resurrection anymore, but if I did, my attraction to men would be resurrected with me. It’s part of me. If I resurrected straight I simply wouldn’t be myself anymore. My relationship with my partner, which is every bit as strong and real as any straight relationship, wouldn’t exist anymore. Imagine asking yourself the same question – when you become perfect, would it be acceptable to you to have your connection to your husband severed?

        I’ve always held that the most terrible thing – the thing we take away from gay men living chaste lives but not from other terminally single members – is simply hope. I can’t imagine living like that, and I hope people who advocate that type of life to gay men think long and hard about whether they’d really be okay with someone giving them the same option (as you commented to Derrick below, you wish that companionship for everyone).

        I’m not Neznem, but I’m very willing to have any discussions you might like on the matter.

      • Thanks for the article. I’m glad you’re having this conversation.

        Regarding “SSA” as being an affliction, you say ” If all people resurrect into a heterosexual form, then I would say that it [SSA] is something to overcome. Sort of the platonic ideal.”

        Will the Lamanites and the “seed of Cain” resurrect as colored or white? What color were they in the pre-existence? If the historical doctrinal answer makes you uncomfortable, then there’s hope.

  3. Thanks for thinking about these issues. You have nicely laid out a situation that I think is hugely problematic–the choice between 1) the demonstrably devastating opposite-sex marriage (which has had some anomalous instances of success, because sexual orientation is not binary, and it often requires a failry forgiving definition of “success”) and 2) celibacy. I’m a believing Mormon, and I believe that “it is not good for man to be alone.” It’s not just about a lifetime of sexual repression; it’s about a lifetime without companionship in the true sense of the word. It is certainly a trial–but it is not a necessary trial because homosexual behavior undermines absolutely nothing essential in the gospel of Christ. Trials are not good for their own sake. I know many gay Mormons who have taken all kinds of paths–those who have left the church, those who stay but who date, and those who stay and are resigned to live alone forever. As one who expects to enjoy the blessing of companionship, I have absolutely no right or interest to keep others from the same.

      • Derrick, I know. The companionship in marriage is the best part. I wish that for everyone. I think God does too–and He will orchestrate everyone’s life in His way especially tailored to each person–Gay or straight. That’s exactly why we can’t judge, we don’t know anyone else’s divine path. All we can do is follow the light we have. That is what we are accountable for. So kudos to you for being compassionate to those around you!

  4. This is my first time on this blog but I wanted to commend 1) The author on the article for the loving tone in which this post was written and 2) Neznem for his response, which was one of the most perfect examples of how to disagree well that I have ever seen. We need more dialogue like that. Both the original post and the response were filled with understanding, respect, and openness, which is rare both in brick-and-mortar life and online. Thank you both!

  5. I appriciated your blog but I do have to disagree with one statement. God does not “make people gay”. But he does allow it to happen. Just like he doesn’t “make” anyone commit murder or “make” someone a rapist. We all have our agency.

    • Stephanie, I’m curious about which of the “gay” definitions you are talking about. The SSA element of gayness, or the joining the community/becoming involved in a gay relationship? Because I think that is the best part of Johanson’s article, it articulates so well that SSA is actually inherent in people. I know several of my friends who would not have chosen to be gay, but they do have same sex attraction. They didn’t choose it. But they can choose how to act on that attraction. You should definitely read his whole article. It’s very enlightening.
      (and also, I’ve learned that most groups of people don’t like being compared to a rapist or a murderer–just for future reference 🙂

    • Well, if that’s not a rather loaded comparison… For the record, homosexuality is, by all accounts, based on a wide variety of biological and environmental factors. It’s not something that most people who identify as gay or lesbian get to choose.

      Of course, someone with feelings of same sex attraction chooses whether or not to act on those feelings – but the feelings themselves are not a choice.

      …Though you may not have intended to draw a comparison between homosexual sex and “rape” or “murder,” that’s just what you’ve done. And that kind of language is reprehensible. Rape and murder both have objectively severe and extreme consequences on both the perpetrator and the victim.

      On the other hand: Yes, promiscuity is bad and always has a variety of negative consequences – but that’s true regardless of the gender of ones partners. However, although gays do have a greater problem with promiscuity in their community, homosexuality isn’t synonymous with “promiscuous.” In the past few years I’ve had the opportunity to meet several long-term, committed gay couples that were truly, genuinely happy. Is their relationship ideal? For them… Yes, I think it is. After having met them and spent years interacting with them and seeing that their relationships with their loved ones bring them a sense of fulfillment and lasting happiness, I certainly am not going to be presumptuous enough to condemn them or their choices.

      Do I know why God makes some people who are gay and lesbian? No. But I don’t necessarily buy the “it’s a trial” thing. Do I think it’s important for people to take responsibility for their actions and to resist immoral temptations? Yes, of course. On the other hand, I’m not sold on the idea that a gay or lesbian person looking for a long-term partner of the same sex is an inherently bad or immoral thing. (Once again, I do think that being promiscuous is immoral – but not all gays with same sex partners are or were promiscuous.)

      On a personal note: I spent my 20s in a state of pretty extreme loneliness – I had some friends, but even close friends can’t make up for a lack of a partner (I’m straight, for the record.) In other words, I know the toll that long-term loneliness can have on a person’s spirit. Once I found the love of my life, my life began to improve in innumerable ways. My soul and my life felt “fuller” than it ever had before.

      Which is all to say – I’ve personally witnessed a similar change from loneliness to joy in several young gay men and women who found someone of the same gender to share their life with. And for that reason, I’m not ready to judge those who seek a same sex partnership.

    • sin is sin. Its not black white with a gray area. The Bible is very clear on the subject of homosexuality. I would compare the label of SSA to saying lying is a sin, but a white lie is OK under the right circumstances.

      God did not make you gay, create you to be gay, knit you together with intricate detail knowing every hair on your head and throw in a gay gene to make your life conflicted.

      SSA is a fuzzy bunny happy term created to justify a sinful nature, whether you act on it or not.

      our FAIR author totally failed at testifying how Jesus healed his life and delivered him from sin. God recognized the authors willingness to not rebel and his hearts desire to create a faith based family with a woman. So God put his wife in front of him, the only woman he has ever been attracted to and loved. The author should realize that God delivered him from homosexual desires.

      God does not create the gay stumbling block. Satan does. satan is a liar and his ultimate goal is to gain your soul away from God for all eternity.

      homosexuality is a spiritual oppression satan has used to mock God for thousands of years.

      • That was a whole lot of opinion that is very much not supported by anything. Not only is The Bible flimsy and full of contradictions (why is homosexuality black and white because it’s in The Bible but slavery and rape are now no-no’s though god has approved them explicitly therein?) but you’ve added your own conceptions of how Satan interacts with both the world and god that are simply your own fabrications.

  6. I’m a man with SSA. I’m also attracted to women, but not nearly as much. I have never had a relationship with a guy, because I’m sure it wouldn’t add to my happiness. I don’t like to identify myself as “gay” or “bisexual”. I’m just me, and I’m attracted to both genders. It’s just a part of me.

    Part of why I stopped going to church because of how vitriolic it was getting towards those who choose gay behavior, and by association, those with SSA.

    I have a testimony, I know my Father in heaven loves me and exists. I just cannot stand the filthiness and blatant bigotry of those within the church, hiding as wolves in sheep’s clothing. I wasn’t really offended, I…just never felt safe at church. It wasn’t a place of love and compassion any more (though there were many who did express such and followed Gospel truths) on the whole for me. A few drops of poison makes the entire soup bad (for me).

    It’s sad that so many people putting themselves out there as Saints are so cruel and hateful.

    Thank you for this article, and I appreciate how valuable pieces like this are still around, in an age of rowdy opinions and intemperate hotheads.

  7. Extremely problematic. SSA doesn’t exist, and the perpetuated myth by religious extremists that it does has lead to dangerous and and harmful “therapy” practices that greatly increase a youth’s risk of suicide and emotional problems. The church has for too long promoted (and for years) sponsored these programs that have been denounced by the World Health Organization, the American Medical Association, and every prominent professional psychiatric association.
    This article also makes a lot of scriptural assertions that simply aren’t supported by the text.
    I think the author generally comes from a place of good will, but the broad strokes used to describe only 2 types of gay people is offensive and only contributes to the discrimination and marginalization faced by LGBT people.

  8. Well put. Thanks for explaining this so well and outlining all the options. Explaining what is righteous and what is sin, and finishing with a label of “Latter-Day Saint.” Who are we to judge? We all have our own thorns. We aren’t better than anyone else because we don’t have their thorn. Thank you for being bold enough to share. 🙂

  9. First time reader, I actually started out on your babysitting post 🙂 I wanted to say how much I appreciate this ellequent, well worded, loving post. I often shy away from this topic online bc I often feel true loving emotions aren’t well portrayed through the Internet and too often harsh, discriminatory emotions are. Thank you for this wonderful post!

  10. As a straight LDS woman, I have always thought that as Christians, we should try to love others and treat them with respect no matter who they are, so loving and having gay friends has never been a problem for me. I honestly never saw what my gay friends did as anything different than what my heterosexual friends who may be having sexual relations outside of marriage were doing, and I loved them all just the same. I agree that LGBT people are born with their desires and tendencies, and that there is no sin in being born that way.

    I know that most (not all) LGBT people don’t see their orientation as a flaw. I also understand that it is hurtful to the LGBT community to compare orientation to mental illness (especially since being LGBT was officially considered mental illness-with often harmful “treatments” given-until recently). I truly don’t think being LGBT is a mental illness, so please don’t get me wrong on that. I also do not intend to cause hurt feelings to those who are LGBT, I say this with good intentions and hope that it will be seen in that light and won’t cause hurt even if people disagree with me.

    I truly believe that open, honest, loving dialog from both sides can lead to more acceptance and love from all sides of the sexual orientation spectrum. Please take these statements as honest dialog from my perspective, and not an intent to harm or belittle.

    I am married to a man who has been diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder, and 2 of my 4 children also have Bipolar Disorder. Bipolar Disorder is a mental illness of highs (extreme happiness, giddiness, bursts of energy and creativity) alternating with lows (depression, lethargy, and even delusional or irrational thinking). There are also times in between when the person functions completely normally. Up until the last 10 years or so the Psychiatric community believed that people became Bipolar sometime in adulthood after some severe mental trauma. It is now believed that people are born with the predisposition for Bipolar Disorder and it can be diagnosed in children and that it has more of a hereditary factor than being caused by trauma.

    My husband was born with Bipolar Disorder. To him having BD is normal. He has never been anything else. He sees and understands that he sometimes acts in ways or reacts to things in a way that is outside of the norm and seen as unacceptable to society. But he has a hard time separating the Bipolar parts of his being from the normal part of his being. Seeing and interacting with him from the outside I can see the difference between his Bipolar actions and those which he truly chooses to perform. Even though I can see this, it is still very hard for me to feel truly loved and happy in our relationship when he often acts in unhealthy, hurtful, and mentally abusive ways. We have been married for almost 20 years and every single day is a struggle for us to stay together, but we choose to stay together and fight for our marriage. It takes a concerted, constant effort for us to stay together. What enables us to get through is the Gospel of Jesus Christ as taught in the LDS church. The mentally ill are very often misunderstood, mis-characterized, ostracized, and treated as if they are evil both by society at large and more frustratingly by some (not all) people in the LDS Church (including those who hold authority positions). I have been belittled and judged by others for my “evil” children and been told by complete strangers that I am a terrible parent. I’ve had Child Protective Services (wrongly) called on me twice, with the cases closed due to no evidence of abuse. Even with all this, I truly believe what the scriptures say, “…men are that they might have joy.” We do have joyous moments or days, but overall our lives are a complete struggle. I often wonder why Heavenly Father causes some people to have mental illness. It doesn’t seem fair that he would put someone through this through no fault of their own. But I have been taught that we must taste the bitter to know the sweet and I have faith that through the resurrection those I love will be healed, and hope for the day when our family will rejoice in being free from those chains.

    Both the mentally ill and the LGBT community share some common struggles and I think that we can both learn from and support each other. I understand why people compare the two, even though I do not feel that being LGBT is a mental illness.

    It may be hard for LGBT people to distinguish that their orientation is an imperfection, as it feels normal and a complete part of themselves. I get it, I really do. But once it has been accepted as a flaw, the person can rid themselves of the shame of feeling that they are “less than” simply because of who they are attracted to (attraction is NOT the sin), and begin on the path to choosing to follow the Lord with what they do about that attraction. It will be a struggle to live completely contrary to what feels natural, but it can be done. I’m not advocating one solution versus another, other than not crossing the boundary sexually. That is where personal revelation, and direction from the spirit are what each individual must seek.

    Even if I disagree with some of the choices LGBT individuals may make, it will never make me love them less, and I respect their right to choose…after all agency is also part of the plan.

  11. “They can choose to self-identify as gay and join that community, or they can quietly work with the Lord to find the best fit for them in living a righteous life.”

    So, it’s one or the other? Accept your SSA and self-identify as gay OR follow the Lord for a righteous life? You imply here that self-identification as gay is choosing not to follow the Lord and choosing to not be righteous, even though earlier you stated that choosing a gay identity isn’t a sin and that “a person can join a gay community for support and still live the law of chastity.”

    “The problem is the pervasive lie that there is only one happy option for someone with SSA: follow the path of coming out, then finding a partner (or multiple partners), and living an openly gay life in a big city.”

    Thanks for the plug about multiple partners. Because homosexuals are inherently more promiscuous than heterosexuals…

    • The crux here is not self-identification, and you are right, I did contradict myself. I’ll fix it. It is the law of chastity.
      And I never said that gays were more promiscuous than straights. Don’t put words in my mouth, and before you get offended: Does it happen? Is it true? If it isn’t, I will rescind it.

  12. One sided semantics.

    You are interesting. I’ve read a few of your posts and your method seems to be to antagonize and then flip it just a bit.

    I still think that your logic is cluttered. I think you’re on the road to discovery more than you let on. For instance, you sort of imply to your readers that the only reason a 40 year old Mormon man may be single is because he either must be gay or mentally ill. You’re a very good writer, but I think you need an editor.

    As a married heterosexual, life-long and fully active member of the LDS church, like you, I used to look for evidence to defend what I had been told was things as they are concerning homosexuals. I never said “they’re sick and wrong.” but I heard a lot of it. Then I started really listening to my gay LDS friends and relatives __ as you suggest. I also started paying attention to the way they were treated. For example, even in your analysis of gay people, as is common with LDS people, you speak as if homosexuals are not in the room or even able to understand what you are saying. As if they are small children or dumb pets who need decisions made for them. It’s my assertion that this impulse exists because natural-born LDS homosexuals are not actually allowed to be part of the LDS conversation about themselves. Homosexuals in the LDS church are only permitted to speak if what they have to say is comfortable with the heterosexuals. It’s projected that everyone knows better about them than they know about themselves. We love a heartwarming story about a gay man who has forced himself to marry a woman and openly talked her into sacrificing herself for the cause so that they can seem to be just like you and me, but we don’t want to hear that their relationship is completely unfulfilled in more than one way and very painful to maintain and that the children are confused and often angry with the church and that the parents likely even use medical intervention to keep things afloat. Seems like something’s off, to me. You claim that we are only hearing the gay-pride side of the story. I claim that inside the walls of the faith we are actually only allowed to hear a very monitored opposite. The safest thing for a gay LDS person to do is still to shut up and pretend there is no such thing. And the sad reality is that they begin to believe this and I have only seen it lead them down lives that produce destructive patterns. I’ve lived in several of those “big cities” on both US coasts and will tell you that they are full of even gay Mormons who come to church every week and faithfully remain celibate. This is because they are not really welcome elsewhere, even when they are trying hard to do what they’re told. You imply that homosexuals want to live flamboyant promiscuous lives (which is a classic and pervasive rumor __ that they are a people dangerous and out of control) but the whole gay-marriage movement is actually a strong sign for the opposite. They had to live that way previously, secretly, deviantly, because it was their only option. They don’t like it. They recognize that it’s not good, it’s not healthy, it’s dangerous and unfulfilled. That’s why they hope to share the safeguarded conventions of society. You imply that it’s best for “SSA” people to not identify themselves with their sexuality, but who else behaves in such a manner? Men? Women? The church already has changed dramatically in its approach toward homosexuals in just the last five years and you’ve sort of alluded to that. It’s my logic and opinion that we have been seriously wrong about some things and still don’t know half the picture. Because of that, it’s my opinion that gay people need and deserve a voice that should be honestly listened to instead of mocked or condescended and reasoned away simply because it makes us uncomfortable.

    having totally disagreed with you, I encourage you to keep writing. Your voice is important. Our culture needs to get used to having open and honest discussions.

    • GK, I actually did have an editor for this post. Someone who is very knowledgeable in the issue. And I’m sorry you took so much negativity away from this post. I’ve heard back from many gay Mormons who appreciated it and didn’t feel condescended to in any way. Thanks for your encouragement.

      • That’s the standard for most controversial issues in the church. Leadership tells us to search, ponder, and pray, but we all know that it’s not an encouragement to read anything that directly contradicts church teachings. It generally just means “consider our side more.” See the recent letter to stakes in Hawaii – it called members to consider the issue of gay marriage and, as reference materials, read the Proclamation To The Family. It didn’t tell anyone to go talk to a gay person and find out their side of things.

        • I sometimes feel that way. I have been a member of the Church for five years, and throughout that time I have had a lot of questions about the controversial areas, and it has been a major stumbling block for me. I had a strong desire to study, ponder, and pray, but I felt like I was turning my back on God whenever I read something that contradicted a quote from a leader past or present. I also feel that not a deep enough explanation is given on a lot of subjects. But, more and more I have come to accept Church leaders as men and women in the service of God and not God Himself. I believe they are inspired, but that they do not know all things. They have limited capacities like every other human being, and I have come to the conclusion that expecting them to receive all of God’s knowledge on every subject all at once would be a little much to ask, especially when they already have so much of a burden to carry in advancing the work in the areas of missionary work, building temples and saving the dead, caring for the poor and afflicted, and so many other noble causes. I am not at all suggesting that deeper exploration into the controversial issues in the Church is not a noble cause; I am very eager for more revelation on those subjects. However, I believe now that I can communicate directly with God on that, and that I don’t need to have a confirmation from Church authority in order to feel comforted. I don’t feel discouraged from educating myself from different perspectives on an issue even if those perspectives are not popular in the Church because the result of such education has been an increase in charity for others and greater acceptance of myself. “For every human problem, there is a neat, plain solution, and it is always wrong” is a quote I have on my wall. It reminds me that in mortality we don’t see the big picture. I don’t understand how everything fits together and that is ok with me now. I have received my personal witness from God that my less simplistic ways of seeing things are perfectly acceptable, and even pleasing to Him. And because of that, I trust Him to reveal more over time. I have been blessed through my membership in the Church, and believe it is the right course back to God, even though in my personal opinion we’ve been and are wrong on a lot of things.

          From reading some of your other comments, it seems you have given up on the Church. I don’t know you at all, and I don’t suggest that in coming back you will have all of your answers. It would take a ton of courage to come back, especially if it is the tougher road to travel for you. But I would urge you to consider it and to accept the Church as true because of the doctrines, principles, and ordinances and not because of the imperfect people, overly simplistic philosophies, and common misunderstandings we all run across within it. I believe you will blessed with even greater understanding and confidence in who you are and who God is, a strong relationship with Heavenly Father and the Savior, and an abundance of joy by doing so.

          • Thank you for the the thoughtful response hmm. I’ve heard sentiments like yours from quite a few people – that church leaders and members are fallible and that this is where personal revelation comes in. My stance is that if they are inspired by god, the information they give should be accurate. Otherwise there’s no reason to think they are inspired by god, and no point to giving what they say special credence. If you can discover truth without a prophet, then why do you need a prophet?

            I’ve also been exhorted not to look at the words and actions of the members of the church, due to their fallibility, but to look at the doctrines, principles, and ordinances. Problem is I have looked at them, and they aren’t any better than the members – in fact sometimes they’re worse. None of the plan of happiness makes any sense – at least not with the attributes normally attributed to god. Jesus dying for our sins is a pretty horrible step back into a simplistic, bronze-age morality that sees revenge as justice, and justice by proxy is a concept that any moral person should be repulsed by.

            It’s a common mistake that LDS folks make to assume that they have a corner on happiness – on joy even. You do not. I am leaps and bounds more happy now than I was when I was a member, and even now I look around at my mormon friends and family and see that they aren’t one bit happier than me (or more “blessed”, for that matter). It wouldn’t take courage for me to go back to church – it would take insanity. It would require giving up on all the happiness I’ve found in my partner, my friends, and my search for knowledge in favor of something that has already proven itself to make me miserable. I’ve found a reliable and consistent way to search for the truth in reason and evidence, and it sounds like you’re on your way there too, honestly. I appreciate your sincerity, but I won’t be going back to church.

          • Just one thing in response to you the example you gave about the doctrines not making sense. I don’t claim to understand the Atonement, but it has much greater meaning to me than that. I think you have misunderstood it.

            But really what I want to do in this response is a apologize for my not-so-thoughtful response.

            You know, over the past few days I have actually really been thinking about your response. The other day I spent maybe an hour thinking about and responding to your post, so yeah, I may have put some thought into it, but certainly not enough. To tell you what you need to do to find joy in your life was ignorant and naive of me. I think the original post we are commenting on is getting at just that…trying to make a conclusion about people when you don’t know them as individuals first. I do not know you, so I can see how annoying it is to be spoken to in such a matter. Please forgive me, and know that I did not mean to sound condescending in the first place at all.

            Looking back at my response I can see how some of the things I said were contradictory. I won’t attempt to resolve those here; maybe I will post to my blog on it sometime after I have given it more thought. I do believe in this Church, I do believe in sustaining the president of the Church as the mouthpiece of God on the earth, and I do believe in a universal plan of happiness for everyone. But I will try to be more careful about my assertions…I guess to think before I speak. There is so much that I do not understand. Even as I think about it, I realize that you very well may not find as much joy in the Church as you would outside of it. I think, if you believed in it, that you would find peace in following the teachings because you would know that you were doing the right thing. I believe that God would be by your side and help you endure this life, with hope for a fullness of joy in a time to come. But you would have to sacrifice EVERYTHING. One thing that is really annoying to me that I hear from people all the time is comparing being gay to struggling with the word of wisdom or something like that, as if sacrificing an appetite for drugs or alcohol is anywhere comparable to sacrificing someone you love. I agree with you that if you do not believe in the doctrines and principles of this Church that it would be insanity for you to come back. I just meant to say that if you ever did have a desire to return to the faith, you don’t need to comply with the speculations people make. You can go straight to God and receive personal revelation that answers your questions very specifically, as they pertain to your individual concerns. While people may categorize you into a group and give you some universally applicable explanation that always ends up insufficient, God answers you as an individual, and as His son.

            Anyway, I know that returning to the Church is far from your consideration. I’m not trying to make you feel guilty or put pressure on you, and I again am sorry for doing so. I hope that all the members who you associate with, especially your loved ones, will treat with you with dignity, respect, and unconditional love.

  13. Thank you, GK Risser, John and others.

    I came to this actually from your babysitting article, like some others here. I’m torn between being irritated or being touched by your misguided love.

    I’m a gay man and was LDS. *Was* being the operative word. I wasn’t excommunicated. I, of my own volition, initiated the heavily bureaucratic process of having my name removed from the rolls of the church once I finally understood that it wasn’t being gay that was destroying my life, it was being Mormon.

    I knew at age five that I liked boys. My family are all practicing, deeply devout Mormons. My father, a bishop twice (serving currently, this being his second go round), my mother, always active in music callings. No one ever hit, raped or otherwise molested me. My family was and is the rare example of increasingly rare white picket fence stability and love. That I was different, gay (though I didn’t have the exact word yet) simply dawned on me, one day, walking home from school, chatting with the tom girl in my class, that she wasn’t mysterious or particularly interesting, but the boys sure were. That I wanted to hold hands with them and play tuxedo dress-up and have pretend weddings with them.

    I knew in Primary, singing, “I Love to See the Temple” – I knew that I wanted to get married, but that I wanted to be there, all dressed up in my little church suit and clip-on tie, with my husband-to-be. And I knew also that the church taught that it was wrong.

    At age eight, I hoped and prayed and sweated outside the Bishop’s office while I waited for my Baptismal Interview. Then the Bishop welcomed me into his office. A sweet man. I don’t blame him, I blame myself ~ though I shouldn’t. Eight-year-old’s aren’t exactly the paragon of mature perspective. I thought, hoped, that some sort of God magic would tell, let the Bishop know, that I was gay. That I would never go to the Temple someday to get married for time and all eternity. I was so scared of the shame that it would bring on my family, but was prepared to accept it.

    Except that there was no God magic. I guess since I didn’t have lisps, limp wrists or rainbows spilling from my every word, I didn’t raise any red flags. And, in my eight-year-old mind, since Heavenly Father hadn’t told him that I was gay, then Heavenly Father obviously wanted me to live this *other* life – this perfectly Mormon life where I would do exactly what the Church wanted me to, up to and including ruining some sweet woman’s life by marrying her, even though I’d never be able to appreciate her.

    Eight-year-old’s are stupid like that.

    And so I tried. I tried very hard.

    I prayed hard. Then prayed harder. When the gay didn’t go away, I simply learned to hide it. I learned to pray to die so I didn’t have to shame my family. Learned to lie to myself. To lie to others. I prayed callouses onto my knees. I served and served harder and just always knew that if I could just do that one more act of service, that one more act of faith, that this “thing,” this gayness would go away.

    This lead me all the way to a 14th floor balcony on my mission, half-way around the world, sitting balanced on the railing, contemplating throwing myself off, because earlier in the day, while tracting, we’d come across an obviously gay 20 something who opened the door. The moment that our eyes locked, he knew I was gay, I knew he was gay, and I knew he knew I was gay. It was crushing.

    Obviously, I didn’t jump (or accidentally fall). Instead, I left my mission to come home to sort things out. That took years, up until I finally understood the truth of an almost off hand quip that a therapist once said to me. “You’re gay and Mormon, so what? One is a choice, one isn’t.”

    Throughout my Mormon life, starting in Primary, vicious lies and psychological barbs such as, “There are no happy ex-Mormons,” were drilled into my head.

    But again, one is a choice and one isn’t. One is a sacred part of me, one was full of condemnation and a life of dreadful solitude.

    What my family, my marvelous family said to me after I came out, was that I looked like I had a huge weight physically lifted off me. That I walked taller; that I laughed, smiled more often; that I was happier than they’d seen me since I was a little child.

    And I was, and still am, just that.

    While I applaud the Church for moving past both “regular” electroshock therapy as well as electrocuting the genitals of BYU students “caught” being gay; while I am tremendously glad that they no longer hold to the position that a gay man just needs to get married and stick it in a woman to magically become straight and that a lesbian just needs to have it stuck in her to transform – and I do, the change in that official stance has been swift – I maintain that remains absolutely wicked to admit, finally, that homosexuality is inborn, but then to turn about and say, “Sorry friend, you just get to enjoy watching other people grow through their intimate lives.” You, Jan, write from such an obtuse, blessed perspective, your own life having been enriched and blessed by the opportunity to grow through the sometimes awkward but still wonderful chance to date and grow as you sought your soul mate.

    As to the FAIR article itself, my reaction is, “Meh.” FAIR is a well establish Mormon apologetics machine that has very little intellectual credibility outside its own echo chamber, much like FARMS in the archaeology community. And to Bro. Johanson? Genuinely, good for him. I’m glad that his sexuality is fluid enough that he found success with his wife. Science note: sexuality is fluid. It’s a spectrum. I applaud anyone for finding love in a very difficult world.

    If you actually want to hear more from real people on the topic, rather than just warm and fuzzy Mormon apologia, I suggest starting with the excellent, “Peculiar People: Mormons and Same-Sex Orientation” and then, “No More Goodbyes: Circling the Wagons Around Our Gay Loved Ones” by Carol Lynn Pearson, who incidentally wrote the lyrics to the Primary song, “I’ll Walk With You,” pg. 140 in the “Children’s Songbook.” I know that trivia both because she discusses it in the book as well as because I held the calling of Primary pianist for several years in my Ward. She has a number of other excellent books as well as some marvelous poetry.

    Currently, I’m single. Single and celibate. I make the distinction because I want to do my part to dispel the pernicious lie that all LGBT people are promiscuous. Actually, as a statistical minority of the population, we’re far less promiscuous. Heterosexuals have the dubious distinction as being far more unzipped. Have I been physically lonely during these times? Yes, of course. However, I know that I have the possibility. I have hope. Hope lights my life. Were my life to be within the walls of the Church, there would be no hope. No hope of that personal, spiritual growth and development.

    I bear my most solemn testimony to you, Jan, and all of you, that my gayness is an essential and sacred part of who I am. That I came here to live my life as a proud, gay son of my Heavenly Father and to grow and develop in that path, a path that includes desiring to find my husband and even have a family, should I be so blessed. I bear my testimony that I believe with all my heart, my might and mind that I was gay in the Pre-existence and that when I leave this life and enter into the hereafter, I’ll still be the same, gay, child of God. I believe our Redeemer and Savior’s atonement no less covers me than it does my straight brothers and sisters; that it doesn’t remove any stain of homosexuality because it is no stain; that he’ll no less be there by my side to claim me as his own when I stand before the bar of God and face my Heavenly Father at Judgment than he will for, “righteous” member of the Church.

    Once I understood these truths and embraced the sacred gift from my Heavenly Father that is this life, my life became immeasurably fuller. Clouds or darkness and despair melted away and I felt more purely the love of my Heavenly Father and my Savior than I ever had before.

    Finally, I bear my testimony that leaving the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was the best thing I ever did and wish I’d done it sooner AND that I’ll attain all the gifts and glory I ever was to, even being outside the paper realm of the Church. I wish I could go back to that eight-year-old me, give him a huge hug, and tell him he was wonderful just how Heavenly Father made him and didn’t need to live a fake life that was meant for a heterosexual, non-existent version of himself and to not get baptized.

    Despite the bureaucratic threats and reality of having my temple work “undone” and my baptism cancelled, my name “stricken” from the LDS electronic Book of Life – I bear witness that the Holy Spirit is my daily companion and lights my life. That Christ walks more closely as my companion now than he ever did as I stumbled through the thorns and darkness that beset me in my Mormon past.

    I know that you and many of your readers likely can’t accept what I’ve written as it goes against what the Church currently teaches. However, I’m not bothered by that because the Church isn’t the Gospel. The church is just people and sometimes people are wrong. Sometimes the church, being people, is wrong. Sometimes it gives blacks the priesthood, takes it away, then gives it back without any terribly rational explanation; gets involved in massacres; makes major changes to the “unchanging” Holy Temple ordinances; buys forged documents created by a crazy, but brilliant, forger, bomber and murderer. … And other real, historically truthful, unholy missteps that the faithful are shielded from by a savvy church media department.

    I’m thrilled, truly, that, just as the church has done with its garment designs throughout its existence, it is changing. I see younger gay Mormons happier and less scarred by years of official vitriol, their families embracing them instead of kicking them to the streets. I believe the church will continue to change, again, just as it always has and it is my belief that I will live to see the day where openly gay members may marry – not in the temple – yet still be able to participate as full members, holding callings and serving.

    As for me, my piano still sings every week with thanksgiving. I’m made peace with my time in the church. I recommend it to heterosexuals seeking their Heavenly Father and am happy to have been invited to baptisms. I’m happy to be invited to witness new nephews receive their naming and blessing. And time to time, if I happen to be with family and attend on a Sunday, and if it’s Fast and Testimony meeting, I get up and bear my testimony because I believe that God lives, that Jesus is the Christ, that he loves us, that he bridges our gaps between where we are and where we can be. That’s the whole of the Gospel to me.

    I’m very glad I read your piece on babysitting. I enjoyed it, it was thoughtful, funny, I agreed with many point. I’m even more glad that that it brought me here. I’ve bookmarked your site. You’re an excellent writer and I think I’ll enjoy reading other pieces by you, despite our different views.

    Thank you and good writing to you.

  14. Finally, I feel like a moderate, intelligent opinion, without judgement and condemnation is written. Seriously, you have expressed how I feel and understand things. I don’t hate those who are gay. I don’t condemn them. I do believe that God’s law is real and we have to obey even if we don’t understand why. I want those who have SSA to have support and love and I am glad there are now laws that prevent discrimination because every person should be treated with respect and live without fear. I think our church members still have a lot to learn about how to treat others and speak about those who are homosexual even knowing the doctrine about acting on SSA will not change! I am thankful you wrote this article, I wish my husband would read it!

  15. Hi! I found your blog because some friends of mine shared your babysitting post. The title of this post caught my eye. I love it. Thank you so much for such a thoughtful post on such a sensitive subject. I am also so sorry that people have sent you hateful comments about your babysitting post. Comments sections can be a dangerous place because people can hide under a mask of anonymity and they somehow get the idea that it’s okay to say very hurtful things to real people. Thanks for your thoughts!

  16. Thank you – I enjoyed reading this. You have articulated very well many of my thoughts over the past two decades.

  17. As a gay Mormon it is nice to hear something other than the usual sympathetic condemnation to a lower kingdom I normally hear from older church members.
    That being said reading one study from a highly biased source leaves one far short from the level of understanding you are purporting to have in this blog post. I understand you might have spoken with some gay Mormons before writing this article but its clear you truly don’t understand what being gay and Mormon really is like.
    Homosexuality is a dynamic issue one that you will continue to see changes in both from society and the Church. In my own twenty something years on this Earth I have seen stark changes in the policies, doctrines, and opinions surrounding it within the Church. Many members seem to assume doctrine can’t change or we would be admitting the Church isn’t true, but the fact is the situation is changing. If we as the body of Christ continue to view the situation as it was–not as it today–at some point we will be doing the wrong thing. The Lord will remember these sins we commit out of shear stubbornness at judgement, and hopefully we catch them in ourselves before we seriously hurt our gay brothers and lesbian sisters.
    The options for a gay Mormon to live an upright, righteous life are many. They are not limited to the trends and opinions of other church members, the gay community, or society. God has given to each of His children, including the gay ones, the Light of Christ–the ability to discern our path through life. The path that one that leads us to be strong, loving, charitable, happy, and ultimately back to Him will be different for each soul. For some it may be to live a life alone without romantic relationships, for some it may be to marry a woman (which the church now strongly discourages), but for some it will be forming a lifelong relationship with someone of their own gender.

  18. Very nice blog post. I would only disagree with you or Joshua Johanson on only one point, that SSA is something you are born with–I think there are environmental factors as well.
    I have two friends who have many of these issues. One, my closest friend, struggled with SSA for many years, but recently was able to start attending the temple and receive callings in the church. The other friend didn’t struggle, he simply lived the gay lifestyle for decades. But recently, he returned to the church and forsook the lifestyle and apologist movement completely, even his gay friends (he has his reasons, which I respect). He now is fully embracing the gospel and the atonement.
    I respect and admire both of these friends, and can learn from their struggles–I have my own, different struggles. I accepted them and supported them as friends for years before those recent changes. But neither one of them ever fought against the doctrine we are taught in the gospel. If they had, I don’t think there would have been much of a basis for our friendship. We can be accepting of people who struggle, no matter what the struggle is, because we all fall short of the glory of God, and need his grace in our lives. But we don’t have to accept the sin or the lifestyle or the attacks on our dearest beliefs which are sometimes leveled against us as a people or as a church.
    Thank you for opening a rational, accepting dialog on the subject. Maybe I could add, that just because you are only attracted to the same sex now, does not mean God created you that way, or that will always be the case in the eternities. The atonement of Christ is about healing us whatever our infirmities are. There is hope, that we can be made whole in God’s own time and way, and I say that as a straight Mormon who has struggles that I need to be made whole of as well.

  19. Do Mormons believe God’s law on marriage is unchangeable? Research polygamy and interracial marriage. It wouldn’t surprise me to see the church continue to change its stance on marriage and endorse at least a state sponsored gay marriage someday.

    Should members of the church try to utilize the government to force other people, that do not share the same moral code, to live in a way the church members prefer? It seems oppressive and wrong.

    Two good friends I grew up with are gay and are completely unattracted to the opposite sex, at least in their words. Put yourself in their position. Try to convince yourself that the Mormon approach to this “tendency” some here believe Satan had the ability to give them is going to lead them to happiness. It’s pretty difficult.

    I appreciate your efforts to sympathize with the homosexual community, but without empathy on this topic, I think any conclusion made about what’s right and wrong, fair and unfair will fall short in Christ’s eyes.

    Allow people to live the way they choose and use their agency to find joy how they please, and let God do the judging. The world isn’t going to hell because we are tolerating are fellow man more and embracing their freedom to choose how they live. When we do this, I’m certain that God smiles on his throne above.

    • I cannot respond on when of if the LDS church will support gay-marriage by one-day officiating one. But regarding your statement that it seems “oppressive and wrong” for members of the LDS “church to utilize the government to force other poeple that do not share the same moral code, to live in a way that the church members prefer?” suggests that you have completely missed the progression of aby country that practices a democratic government.
      How do you think the USA came to the marriage equality issue – because a group of people, got together and lobbied together and gained movement to change political and legislative policy. By condemning the LDS for participating in the process that every other group has participated in to make sure their views and beliefs are heard, suggests that you are prejudice against LDS, not people against same-sex marraige.

      • It’s fair to conclude that many of us can have a different philosophy on the role of government. Do we want to empower the government with the ability to control the populace by majority rules, or do we want freedom? Two state democracies were utilized terribly to oppress and declare war on Mormons in the 1840s. Members fled west to avoid further conflicts with governing bodies that were able to be used (in my opinion, tyrannically) by the masses to oppress others because of religious differences. These governments were used this way because the masses believed that Mormonism was wrong. My ‘prejudice’ is against anyone or anything that tries to use something (government) to control the acts of others, particularly others that don’t share the same beliefs. I think it is “oppressive and wrong.”

        The LDS Church believes homosexuality is wrong. That’s a perfectly fair belief as we should be free to believe what we want. And I welcome the members of the LDS church choosing to abstain from homosexual behavior as, to them, it is wrong. In my opinion, the Church did a similar thing as what happend to itself in the 1840s in the midwest. It is apparent that the Church was deeply involved in the proposition 8 election in California. I don’t care to discuss the level of involvment as that information is available online, previous news, and documentaries. The Church used it’s money and manpower to try to use the government to control people, that don’t share the same beliefs as them, so they aren’t allowed to receive a state-sponsored marriage license to wed someone of the same sex.

        I don’t think the government should be used as a mechanism for enforcing a subset of morals on another that doesn’t share the same morals, that’s my philosophy, call it what you want. I don’t think the government should force health insurance to be purchased by its citizens. I don’t think the government should tell it’s citizens how much soda they can drink. I don’t think the government should tell people they can’t do marijuana. I don’t think the government should tell a woman what to do with her body and the life within it. I don’t think the government should tell a human they can’t marry another human that they love. Let God do the judging of works, don’t force people to obey morals that are subjective to belief systems.

        All this said, I recognize that it’s not my government to dictate how it functions and if the majority of the populace wish to use it as a morals enforcement mechanism, I have to live with it and can accept it. I guess I asked for this by adding a paragraph about the government into my first comment. If I had to choose a primary point in my initial comment, it would be that I wish we would “allow people to live the way they choose and use their agency to find joy how they please, and let God do the judging.” This includes an all encompassing freedom for all to buy what we want, drink what we want, or marry who we want.

  20. I appreciate you looking at this issue. I am an LDS mom. However, it is my firm belief that until you experience having a child (or in my case children) who are gay/lesbian you cannot fully understand who they are or the challenges they have. My children are the most loving, kind, compassionate kids I know as are the majority of their gay/lesbian friends. Before you can philosophize what you think they are, you need to listen to their midnight calls wondering why they are the way they are because they did not choose to be gay/lesbian any more than you chose to be heterosexual. You need to be there when they finally feel joy and peace in their life, when they can share who they are and not feel ashamed by comments from church members. You will want only the best for your children. You want them to find someone who cares for them and have them experience the joy of companionship as you have in your life. I truly believe that the most kind and generous people I know are in the gay and lesbian community. They are the ones who are adopting the children that no one else wants. Yes, I am an active LDS mom, but my perspective changed the day my child came to me and told me who he was. This was also the day his former bishop father put his arms around him and told him he would love him no matter what life brings for him. I love my children and only want the best for them and I have felt the comforting spirit tell me everything will be all right.

  21. Pingback: The problem of the Gay Mormon « lucienmathot·

  22. I have two daughters. Both are happy and light up every room they enter. Their smiles are addictive and they can hold informative and meaningful conversations with anyone. They volunteer within the community and carry compassion and heart. One is 20 and the other 14. Both are equally engaging, courteous, helpful, thoughtful, fun, humourous…every great characteristic a parent can ask for in their child. One is 20 and the other 14. My 20 year old is a lesbian. She is in University to become an immunologist to help people with allergies and asthma since she watches her little sister struggle with severe asthma on a daily basis. She is not one to broadcast that she is gay. She lives her life trying to be the best person she can be and tries the best she can to contribute to her community. I see no difference in my girls. They are the best kids any mother could ask for. But I fear for my older daughter greater than my younger. Yes, as parents we fear for our kids safety and success. But as her mother, I also fear the ignorance of society towards my amazing child who I know will accomplish amazing things and even save lives. This is my fear. I can’t even imagine what she has already endured. She is quiet. She doesn’t make a big deal about things. She loves big sunday family dinners. No different from most kids. We as a society have a long way to go. One thing that has always resonated with me is that people still think being gay is a choice, but just can’t remember when they chose to be straight. The loudest voice for gays and lesbians are straight people. This has nothing to do with religion. Did I mention we are Catholic? We all grew up going to a Catholic school (Canadian) and learning the ways of God. Nothing to do with religion. We are who we are. We need to accept everyone.

  23. “a gay identity, which is chosen”.

    Seems that some disagree with this statement.

    The American Psychological Association, “Is Sexual Orientation A Choice? No. Sexual orientation emerges for most people in early adolescence without any prior sexual experience. And some people report trying very hard over many years to change their sexual orientation from homosexual to heterosexual with no success. For these reasons, psychologists do not consider sexual orientation for most people to be a conscious choice that can be voluntarily changed.”.

    The American Academy of Pediatrics, “the current literature and most scholars in the field state that one’s sexual orientation is not a choice; that is, individuals do not choose to be homosexual or heterosexual”.

    Mr. Johanson uses this quote from the American Psychiatric Association to support his argument that sexual identity is a choice “Some people believe that sexual orientation is innate and fixed; however, sexual orientation develops across a person’s lifetime.” Developing and choosing are two very different things. The quote _isn’t_ saying that its a choice. Another quote by the American Psychiatric Association makes their opinion clear, “Don’t tell patients they can change their sexual orientation.”

    Pan American Health Organization, “There is no medical indication for changing sexual orientation.”

    • I’m not saying that they are changing their orientation, I’m saying that they get to choose what they do with it. Everyone gets to choose how to live their lives. If some Mormons with same sex attraction decide that they want to live the law of chastity along the lines of church teachings, there are solid ways of doing it–ways that bring them great happiness.
      I never said that they are choosing their orientation, in fact I said that they were born with same sex attraction. What they do with it is their own decision. And self-identifying with the gay community is not a given.

      • I think this is a distinction made for the gay community simply because it’s not considered mainstream – much like the term “gay community”. It makes the mistake of seeing the gay community as monolithic, and being part of that community as a sort of conformity. It’s a dance of semantics, but be aware of how you don’t do the same dance with the “straight community”. You don’t say that someone has opposite-sex attraction, but they haven’t chosen to be straight if they’re not sexually active. Gay people are gay people – SSA is just an invented term to try and convince people that there is a middle ground in which they don’t have to be one of THOSE people. It’s an artifact of seeing being gay as less desirable. The fact is that there is every bit as much diversity of expression and thought among gay people as there is among straight people, but only with gay people to we try to separate their attraction from their identity – because we fear “gay” as an identity.

        • The reason for distinguishing between SSA and gay sex and gay identity is the law of chastity. If you don’t believe in that law, then there is apparently no reason for the distinction.

  24. Pingback: On Identity and Choice | Innerexposure·

  25. There’s already quite a lengthy discussion, so I will simply add a few thoughts:

    I would challenge your assumption that anyone with SSA can live a happy celibate life. I’m not sure the evidence really supports your statement that “There are lots and lots of people who are dealing with their SSA in righteous and deliberate ways. And they are happy.”

    I would argue that those numbers are actually quite few, in terms of active SSA following Church teachings and not in same gender relationships or seeking them. Even among circles of those that are striving, many are unhappy. ( I might argue that sexual addiction and unhealthy ways of dealing with SSA persist as well).

    You mention this idea of a 40 year old happy active single man in a ward. I would ask, where is he? If there was true happiness and support for gay single men in the Church, where have most of then gone? Yes, some marry, but the evidence supports that those marriages are risky at best. I’m just pointing out that you speak of an ideal which is rare, if it truly exists. I would argue that the happy single gay man active in a Church past 30 years old is incredibly rare, particularly in comparison to the many that have left.

    God’s greatest commandments were to love. Our theology places relationships as necessary for exaltation even. The beginning of all scripture starts out by telling us it is not good for man to be alone.

    As Mormons, we scorn other faiths with celibate priests, and yet now that we’re finally acknowledging their our people “with SSA” in the Church, and have finally admitted that we shouldn’t recommend that these people get married (man to woman), now there’s this almost unspoken expectation that people live their lives without a companion. I would like to ask, where is the doctrinal basis for that? And where is the discussion about what that means. Its all very fine and good to say don’t have, as you out it “gay sex”, but I think we should at least start talking about what this really means.

    I don’t know if you are married or not, but let’s use that as a reference. Would you be willing to give up your marriage (or hope for marriage) and all the beautiful things it entails? Would you be willing to, despite having the ability to fully love and commit to someone and raise a family, suppressing and hiding those desires? How would you feel if no one even mentioned those aspoiratiins and simply told you you ought never to engage in sex with a man? See how its a different conversation?

    Yes, there are people who choose to walk a celibate life, and I would even say there is a new generation that is open about their feelings and making such an effort. For many of them, this is how they express their faith. That’s their choice.
    There are others, who have wrestled before God and worked out a oath that includes companionship and dedicating themselves to another person, finding love, and raising a family even. You’re article is extremely dismssive of that experience, and simply adds to the very inaccurate extremely polarized and skewed view of what these issues really entail.

    …Also, the primacy source cited in the FAIR article has been misconstrued. One main point of the cited chapter was that there are not discrete binary homosexual vs. Heterosexual categories, and the specific numbers the FAIR article sites actually are reported as 44% of the male respondents who said they had homosexual desire, behaviors, or an identity, Only had a desire and not behaviors or identity. This does not lead to the conclusion stated in the FAIR article that most people with SSA have not had “gay sex” as you put it.

  26. I have mixed feelings about the entire thing. First, living with my grandparents as a boy, not having a father figure, but rather a generation gap. My grandfather was highly prejudiced. And what I learned from that episode in my life is that I don’t want to be like that. Secondly, the October General Conference statements made by apostles that we raise our hands to the square to show our support as “prophets, seers, and revelators” made it very clear on issues such as this. We heard it mentioned several times by different people. We have heard it before in previous General Conferences. And we will continue to hear it (I believe). So, while I remain friends with those who are SSA, LGBT; I will not judge them. It’s not my place, but only our loving Father in Heaven.

    But I cannot fully support them since counsel has been given, and it is the pattern that The Lord established from the beginning of times; that man and woman would be together. Family is the basic unit of the church and gospel. And family is man, woman, children. Its been that way before the world was and will continue be so. It’s almost an “agree to disagree” type of thing for me.

  27. Your comments above about all people being resurrected into a heterosexual form, I don’t think you realize hoe offensive that is. To tell someone that something so crucial to their identity is defective. That it needs to be fixed. The same ideas have been around and formerly taught by LDS leaders about black people. It wasn’t their fault, but their defect would be fixed in the resurrection and they would become white. People didn’t always recognize how offensive and racist those ideas were, some still don’t. Just because you don’t blame someone personally for the part of their identity that you find defective doesn’t mean you aren’t prejudiced.

  28. You write: “follow the path of coming out, then finding a partner (or multiple partners), and living an openly gay life in a big city”, do you mean this? It is really the only part I can disagree with logically, all the other parts are really a matter of my opinion versus yours. I guess my question is: Do you think there is a “gay lifestyle”? What does it entail? And how do you know that these three things follow sequentially?

    • I mean that there is a sort of glamor attached to coming out and joining the ranks of gay America. The idea of being in a big city and having a partner is a slice of that idea–a small example. And yes, I do think that there is a gay lifestyle and community. Not everyone joins up wholeheartedly, but there are certainly clusters of like-minded people who prefer to be together. Every group in society has their cluster that they feel comfortable with. Do you think they don’t?

      • I certainly think that like-minded people form communities. In fact, I feel like I understand what reasonable people are talking about when they talk about the gay lifestyle. (Unreasonable people are just unreasonable…..) Thanks for your willingness to respond. -Laura

      • I can’t help but this that this concept of a “gay lifestyle” is due mainly to marketing and a lack of experience with the broader gay community. Yes, people group up according to common interest, but there’s just as much variability in the gay community as in the straight one. Our interests include more than just sex with the same gender. For some the “gay lifestyle” means they hike on Saturdays with their dogs. For others the “gay lifestyle” means they’re upwardly mobile and don’t want kids. For others it means hanging out with their friends and watching sports. Yes, there is a commonly portrayed “gay lifestyle” in the media, but go figure it’s shallow, and that the only common factor that all “gay lifestyles” share is that the person living them happens to be gay. Would you say “Oh, he’s living the black lifestyle.”? No, because that’s reducing someone and their interests to their race – and referring to a singular “gay lifestyle” does exactly the same thing to gay people.

        • Wilson, you are right. It’s like a Bud Light commercial. And just like Bud light doesn’t accurately portray what college kids look like or do at a pool party, the marketing about a gay lifestyle isn’t representational of reality. But my point in the post was that the Bud Light ideal produces a magnetic draw to teens struggling with what to do about their sexuality. Really, for gay and straight teens. It’s just that straight teens seem to have more wholesome, grounded infrastructure in place to help them fight the delusion that life should be one big party–church and school seem to advocate for a successful straight lifestyle. Do you think gay teens have the same kind of support? Or is it even that different?

          • It’s getting better. In the past church, school, and parents were so uncomfortable even acknowledging that gay people exist that the only source of information young people had about what it means to be gay was from negative stereotypes passed around as insults – or through other gay people they’d meet in unsavory circumstances.

            In the “middle years” of the gay rights movement, we had so few representations of gay people in the media that there really wasn’t a way to provide a nuanced view of who they were. Will & Grace, for example, definitely put forward the image you’re referring to, of big city living and looking for love. This was problematic, for sure, but we had to start somewhere. There are gay groups, such as GLAAD, whose mission is to diversify the portrayals of gay people in the media. As more gay characters make it onto our TV screens, gay kids get a broader set of role models. Take Mitch and Cam from Modern Family. Sure, they have a few stereotypical mannerisms(we all do, including straight people), but in the end they’re just regular suburban couple raising kids.

            It’s the great irony of the anti-gay mindset. In pushing gay people to the outskirts of society, mainstream society really encouraged the gay community to become insulated and radicalized, exacerbating and outright creating a lot of the stereotyped attributes that they then ascribed to us (drug use and promiscuity, for example). Nowadays, as more kids are able to come out to supportive parents, schools, and churches, they don’t have to find a separate community in order to be accepted, and so a lot of them are fine just keeping course with their straight friends, and living lives that are just as diverse (of course even straight kids get lured to the big city to find love – however, because small towns tend to be more anti-gay, gay kids do have a bigger impetus to relocate).

            I want to point out though, before I close, that there are things the gay community learned during those years of ostracism – and because of situations unique to us – that provide straight people with a greater variety of choices in how they live their lives. We’ve helped expand the meaning of what it means to be a man, or a woman, and what role each gender is required to play in a relationship and in society. I know we part ways on this, but I don’t think there’s anything wrong with not having kids, or of life being a party, or of having multiple partners, and the gay community has blazed a trail for the straight community in those arenas. In being forced to construct our own relationship models, we’ve expanded the options for straight people as well.

          • Thanks for the thoughtful reply, Wilson. I wish I knew you for real, not just on this post.

  29. One final comment from me. I wonder if the LDS church is going to have re-write one specific temple recommend question that says:

    Do you support, affiliate with, or agree with any group or individual whose teachings or practices are contrary to or oppose those accepted by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?

    I wonder this because while the church opens their arms in love to those, the teaching still is in effect and has been reinforced that marriage is between a male and female. If one is sympathetic to them, are they in danger of their temple recommend? Am I reading too much into this, or is it a legitimate concern? Just open-ended thoughts.

  30. Pingback: To My Gay Friend | Out of This World·

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