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.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Yearning to be Understood

Tuesday, August 20, 2013 3
I'm relatively new to my single's ward in Provo having just changed apartments, so I'm not too well known. However, I have a couple of friends that I have made and one of them was apparently watching me during a Sunday School lesson in which we were shown a MormonMessage about the "Expressions of Love". She said I looked 'uncomfortable' or that in some way was in disagreement about the film (the thought of the expression I must of had while watching this film makes me laugh--especially if it was so pronounced that she could see it in a dark room). She asked me after the video why I was having some strange aversion to a relatively simple video of people showing that they love each other. I told her that was a long discussion, probably not suitable for a mid-Sunday School chat.

And it's relatively difficult to explain myself. How do you just drop on someone that as other people are watching this and thinking, "I can't wait to have this kind of relationship!" you are just wondering, "This is something that I may never have." That whole lesson was on "Eternal Marriage" and I was bombarded with statements like: "This is the most important thing you could ever do to show your love to God and your spouse." and "True discipleship includes marriage in the temple."

Well, that's just awesome because I'm gay and that's not allowed.

Being gay brings a whole new meaning to this picture.
Now, I'm not discrediting that Eternal Marriage, especially as the LDS Church understands it, is not one of was I left out of the Plan of Salvation? While logically I know this as false, my heart still questions it often. I firmly believe in the gospel and I understand the value and purpose of eternal, heterosexual families. But then I'm gay and I yearn for something different.
the core practices of the gospel and makes up quite the important chunk of the Plan of Salvation. I mean: Families -- Isn't it about...Time? However, sometimes it leaves me wondering:

More basely, lessons like this leave me wondering: if there was a man that I loved, even if I never broke the law of chastity with him, I would never be able to talk about our love like this. We wouldn't be accepted in the church community, the thought of holding hands in a sacrament meeting is laughable, and trying to tell my parents or ward members would be something to be put in the best drama movies because it would not end well. Could you imagine living in a world where you had to keep all affection to someone you loved hidden? Something that your social circle still believes as heinous or outrageous? 

I've had friends tell me that all single people feel loneliness and frustration of being single in a church that emphasizes family life and marriage (at a relatively young age). Let me just say that I'm sick of hearing that. While yes, they may find it frustrating and uncomfortable with the thought of being single, when they do find love it will not be shameful. It will not be condemned. They won't have to hide. They'll be able to tell their friends and neighbors, through parties, and even have a reception in the church. And they should be happy, that's awesome! Yet, as someone who is not attracted to the other sex, that seems as such an impossibility.

I doubt that many people in the church would think about that as they prepare a lesson on eternal marriage. It is quite the difficult lesson to sit through as a gay Mormon and raises far more questions than inspirations. Am I part of this plan? Can I find love that is approved? Will I ever be able to share my "expressions of love" with another person? I'm not pressing for a revolutionary change in teaching the material or hoping that the church will curb their whole Sunday School lesson plans for me, but, we all yearn to be understood and for our perspectives to be taken into account. 

So, to my friend: yes, I was a little uncomfortable. I'll get over it of course, and I'll encounter it many times in the future. But there you are.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Living Acceptance

Wednesday, August 14, 2013 0
This post will be more of a reflection piece of some thoughts I've been mulling over during the past week.

One of my friends came over to visit while I was sick and told me that, apart from being sick, I looked so much more at peace with life than ever before. Apparently I was radiating "happiness vibes" and she simply asked if I had any insight into what changed from when I was struggling with my reconciliation of the church and my sexuality.

Nothing has really changed, at face value, of how I feel about homosexuality and my religious beliefs. I still live in this strange gray world between the two that takes quite a bit of give-and-take. I still have doubts about where I'll be in 5 years, I still get mixed messages from friends telling me to either "be true to myself" and forget about the religious constraints of Mormonism or to "be true to God" and forget that I'm gay. Throughout this whole issue, I've always wondered: "Why can't I be both?" Why can't being true to myself coincide to being true to God? Why is there still this myth of a black and white world where homosexuality is incongruous with Mormonism (and many religions). I heartily believe that this is possible.

When I reached that conclusion a couple of months ago, I was finally able to tell myself that I was "ok" with being gay and Mormon. However, telling myself that never made it true. I still struggled with what it meant to accept my "complete me". As I would attend church I would still feel lonely, misunderstood, and ignored. Meeting with some gay friends left me confused and worried that I still didn't understand what was going on with my sexuality.

Finally, I decided to start meeting gay guys in person and developing relationships with people who understood what I was going through. By meeting them, I wasn't trying to probe into understanding how they dealt with their sexuality, but I wanted good friends and just hang out with other guys who "got it". These "pseudo-dates" (from what they seemed) led to some great relationships and better friends. It was at this time that I started pulling myself out of this confusing dichotomy of Mormon and gay.

I realized that accepting my sexuality was not just in my head: I could do something about it. I can have relationships that stays within the bounds of the Mormon Church's delineation of chastity. Last month I met my best friend that has really helped me through a lot and through it all we have confirmed our commitment to the gospel as explained by the LDS religion. We are two gay guys hanging out, hiking, camping, playing games, watching movies, and more: but, we get each other.

Now I'm in a place where I'm living my sexuality and my religion. Being in this relationship has helped me feel more comfortable in every situation. I'm no longer confused and angry about the world. I've gone to church and felt the Spirit again. It's become easier to read the scriptures and pray to my God. It's become easier to focus on work and school and activities.

Interestingly, when I was trying to "subdue" my sexuality by abstaining from it completely I actually distanced myself from my religion and the rest of my life as well. By living my acceptance of my sexuality, I have actually been able to accept myself completely--everything that I want to live true to: religion, music, school, work, etc.

I'm not going to advocate this as the solution for everyone. However, for me, it was time to stop saying "I'm ok" and to start living that I was "ok". We all need to find that balance. Is it really enough to say "I accept who I am"? For me, I needed more. I found that establishing relationships with other gay guys was my way of living my acceptance. So the question is, how have you lived that acceptance (or how will you live that acceptance)?

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Trust Issues

Saturday, August 3, 2013 0
I was reading the book Insurgent today by Veronica Roth (part of the Divergent series) when I came across a little gem that helped me understand a little bit about my situation and described well what I've heard from other gay Mormons. The context needed is simple: boy tells girl that he wishes she trusted him enough to tell him some of the terrible things that have happened to her. She responds with:

"I do trust you, is what I want to say. But it isn't true - I didn't trust him to love me despite the terrible things I had done. I don't trust anyone to do that, but that isn't his problem; it's mine."

I realized that all throughout my life this was one of the excuses I gave myself for not addressing my sexuality and talking to people about it. I do not trust others to love me or continue to be my friend if I told them this "dark side" of my life. Even though it was something that I had no control over and was not my fault, I could not trust them to be open-minded about it. Now, I think this goes two ways: I think, as the quote says, a lot of it is my problem: I need to be more trusting. However, I think there is more that everyone can do to earn that trust. I mean, when talking about things this sensitive, no one wants to end up like this:

As said, both sides can improve upon their trust issues, but I think society has done a lot over the past couple centuries of fostering such a negative stereotype of homosexuality to create a difficult atmosphere of discussing it. When I was growing up, "gay" was used as a derogatory term to depict something as stupid, useless, or something unwanted (in fact, some of my friends still call things "gay"). My family frequently spoke of homosexuality as "clearly a choice" rather than part of who someone is. I remember even myself echoing their opinions and arguing that maybe a small portion of gays can't control their feelings, but that it was scientifically improbable for that many gay people. Irony comes in the best ways, doesn't it?

This was just entertaining to me...

That said, I've been thinking about the people that I talk to about my sexuality. Few in my life know the whole story (in fact, maybe only one or two people) and these as well as the rest have been chosen quite selectively. Here are some reasons that I've told people. Maybe this could lend insight in how to be open to people around us so that they will feel comfortable in sharing their difficulties instead of letting them fester inside of themselves.

* Be aware of their hard times and be responsive. When I was first considering the implications of living as a gay Mormon a little over a year ago, a best friend-mission companion-long time roommate noticed me becoming reclusive, depressed, and just different than how I normally am. I'm sure other roommates noticed, but this one actually sought me out. When he'd notice me leave late at night to go on my "ponder drives" he would text or call me to make sure I was doing okay and letting me know that he was there for me. He was actually the first friend I talked to in person about this because of his persistence in trying to be supportive. It made all the difference in the world to talk to someone regularly about it.

* Avoid prescribing solutions or fixing them. The second roommate I told was a God-send. I mean this quite literally. The whole time I knew him, he was very open to listening to anything I had to say and always tried his best at asking questions to understand how I felt and understood. I noticed this whenever I would talk to him about dating, friends, the ward, or whatever. He rarely judged me or made suggestions on how to fix things unless I asked him. When I was making illogical conclusions, he would tell me I was being an idiot, but always in a way that showed that he cared. So, I knew that he would be a safe place: someone to converse with and discuss the issues rather than always talk about how to "fix me".

* Keep working on relationships with people. With all of the people I told, I had a strong relationship with them for quite a while. However, despite the time I knew them, what was most important was how much they were investing in keeping our relationship strong. They showed that they were willing to sacrifice their time in being with me, and to me that meant a lot. Some of the first girls I told (and that was more uncomfortable for me) were ones that had always been trying to stay in contact and were always checking in on me.

For every person it is different. In talking to many friends about this, the motives and the explanations are as diverse as the experience itself. One friend said he told people so that he could feel genuine around them. It was a cathartic need and exposing his sexuality came from an inner desire to be himself. Another friend told his bishop and mission president first because he felt that his soul was at stake. Then he told people that weren't super close to him because it was "safe" and he was testing out the waters to see if Mormon friends would still like him if he was gay.

In any case, an understanding mind and a loving heart is something in a friend that we could all benefit from as well as hope to achieve. I was shown this article that could lead a little more insight on how to help others: "Why I Can't Say Love the Sinner/Hate the Sin Anymore".

What do you think? What are reasons that you've told people?
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