A Group Blog

This blog's purpose is to give voice to the lived experiences of gay Mormons, because, let's face it, we are awesome. But, I'll need your help. My experiences are going to be just as unique as the next guy, so I'll need input from you readers on your thoughts, experiences, and feelings. When you want to post something, just email me your draft to anothergaymormon13@gmail.com and I'll post it for you. And feel free to comment on any post.

Saturday, July 13, 2013


Saturday, July 13, 2013
Often you will hear many individuals who are attracted to the same-gender identify with a variety of different labels: gay, homosexual, SSA (same-sex attraction), SGA (same-gender attraction), etc. Before I start this topic, I personally feel that in conversations with someone who who identifies as one of these categories that we should use the term that they choose to employ. Some people feel uncomfortable using the term "gay", understandably so. I also know many gay men who hate or feel offended by the use of "SSA" or "SGA". I always appreciate when someone asks me how I identify myself and then conform to that terminology.

I would like to go through the two main terms (SSA/SGA vs. Gay) and explain why some people use one or the other.

SSA/SGA: It's not in the scope of this post to debate whether attraction is to a sex or a gender; I'll leave that to the gender scholars. In any case, these terms themselves are used in a variety of ways. (For a fun side note, I asked google "What does SGA mean?" and I came up with economics, "small for gestational age", and an Old Irish language code.) Most of the people that I know who utilize this term or identify as such use it in the phrase of "experiencing Same Gender Attraction". For some, they view homosexuality as a mortal experience, one that will be overcome or disappear after this life. Others have told me they still can't accept themselves as gay and have even admitted using it as a cop-out to avoid "coming out to themselves completely." 

Some people feel uncomfortable being part of "gay culture" and so they use SGA to explain their sexuality without the stigma. I find this understandable as looking in modern dictionaries, gay has become used as a derogatory term. I mean, most kids growing up in the 90s (holla) can remember that if someone or something was boring, stupid, or undesirable the easiest way to describe one's opinion of it was to call it "gay". Even I would call things 'gay' as a child...oh the ironies of life! Also, 'gay culture' at the turn of the century brought ideas of promiscuity, sin, and pride parades. Today, it is a common stereotype that 'gay' folk are "artsy, creative, and colorful". Many people attracted to the same gender do not identify with that cultural sphere and so a different terminology helps them accept their sexuality, but not the cultural stigmas.

Gay: This term usually is used when describing homosexuality as part of one's being. It creates a distinction from SSA (experiencing) by owning the sexuality (I am gay). Of those who use this term that I've encountered, many do so to express that this is part of them and they have come to accept it. Many are actively involved in 'queer culture' and this is a term with which they can identify. Some ex-Mormons switched from SSA to gay as a means of separating themselves from the Church. Again, the use of this term itself can range from a simple "it's the easiest way to describe my situation" to a full acceptance of homosexuality in both sexuality and culture. However, rarely is there a connection between the use of the term "gay" and that person's sexual encounters (just FYI).

So, I have been asked why I identify as 'gay'. I don't participate in queer culture (drag queens aren't my thing and I've never been a fan of regular parades, let alone Pride). While I am quite involved in music, I'm not as artsy as the norm and I identify more with sports. So, some people wonder why I keep that term. So, here are some reasons.

1. It is far more fun to "come out" to a friend as 'gay' than as "experiencing same-gender attraction". I like to have fun in life.

2. For me, the use of SSA sounds far more clinical and diagnostic, rather than what I'm living or 'being'. Being gay, for me, is not something to fix or that can be changed. It is not something to which you prescribe a remedy, but part of who I am. 

3. My main reason, however, is that the word experiencing SSA, again, makes the situation seem temporary, like an emotion, trial, or as my therapist says: a fart (which I still don't think that is a valuable connection). I experience happiness come and go, but I don't wake up on the wrong side of the bed as a straight person. 

I've thought about this quite extensively. I've prayed to God, I've read doctrines on our eternal nature and the consequences of the resurrection. Personally, the more I understand myself as a gay man, the more I feel that this is not a temporary, mortal situation. This is just as eternal as my gender (see the Proclamation to the World). My sexuality, even though it is towards men, is just as sacred to me as sexuality that God created to create life. I not only would feel incomplete without this part of me, but I think it would change me to a large degree.

To add some humor, I have learned to not only identify as "gay", but enjoy what that entails. For me, life is much more fun as a gay man. My roommate and I took a gender class recently and we made snarky 'gay jokes' all the time. For example, we could not stop laughing when our teacher asked the class to describe what they found attractive. I just leaned in and asked him if he dared me to answer. Could you imagine a gay man at BYU explaining to an unsuspecting gender class what kind of guy was 'most desirable'. Not speaking up is one of the greatest regrets of my life, but it was still humorous. I could go on and on about the humor of being gay, but that really isn't the point of this post.

What can I say? The world needs us.
In short, everyone has valid reasons for choosing how to identify themselves. I personally find it appropriate to make others feel comfortable by using their chosen label and it is always an interesting discussion when you ask them why. What do you guys think? Why do you choose one or the other?

For some other thoughts on the subject, here are some interesting articles:
Urban Dictionary: same-sex attraction (Although the example is weird, I think this was surprisingly concise and well-done. There are obvious points that many would disagree with, but take it as an "urban dictionary" post and nothing more.)


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