Tuesday, August 20
Preface: when I say the word gay, I mean, inclusively, anyone who has feelings of same-sex attraction. When I say Mormon, I mean a faithful member of the Church, temple-worthy, who believes and lives according to the teachings of the prophets and is honestly and authentically happy in life.
Gay Mormons can have dramatically different lives and circumstances. One is a grandfather with a dozen grandchildren. One is a twelve-year-old kid trying to figure out what the future holds. One is a happily married newlywed navigating a marriage, new working environment, and changed social sphere. One is a single guy who would give anything to find love, be married, and have a family. One is an actor, another a scientist, another a football star.
They can come from all walks of life - rich, poor, male, female, converts to the Church and born to parents with bloodlines back to Mormon pioneers. In nations as far flung as India, Pakistan, and Nepal, or as close to home as the neighbor next door. From broken families and picture-perfect ones.
But at some point every gay Mormon has to face his life, and what it really means.
Being gay, in my case, means that I have deep desires to be close to men. To develop friendships, but to have those friendships be more than friendship. To cultivate emotional intimacy, physical closeness, to love and feel loved. If I followed those feelings exclusively, it would push me to find a guy who honestly, truly loves and admires and pushes me, someone I can love and admire and improve in return, and spend my life with him.
That's the simple part. Being gay isn't something I have to work at, or even something that I need to really understand for it to play a role in my life.
Being Mormon is harder.
Being Mormon, by the definition I gave at the top, means living the gospel completely - being worthy to worship in the temple - believing the gospel completely, and being authentically and truly happy in life.
This is where the differences in people varies their difficulties in application.
Some people honestly believe the gospel, but struggle to live it. They live with temptation and addiction as a daily onslaught... and usually deal with feelings of deep unworthiness, guilt, and shame. Yes, maybe the addiction I had to pornography was made worse by sexual abuse just at the wrong moment, but I still had an addiction. I still felt cast out, unloved, worthless, and cursed.
Some people do everything the gospel asks, but don't honestly believe what the Church teaches. Perhaps they wait for the Brethren to announce that God has repealed the Law of Chastity, or at least made an exception for men to have sex with men... or they, more commonly, wonder if the gospel really has the power to help them be truly happy. Maybe they are part of the Church only because of circumstance or current need. Social opportunities, good universities, wanting to appease family for now. For a while I was like this. I honestly wondered if the Plan of Salvation applied to me, or if I had done something so egregious as to disqualify me from ever finding happiness in life. I did *everything* I could. My Elder's Quorum President (I was his counselor) nicknamed me "the robot of righteousness," probably because of the emotional intensity that comes from ASD and the intense zeal that came from trying to understand how the gospel fit in my life.
And some do *everything* right, believe the gospel completely, and yet, in the quiet hours of their lives, can't find happiness. And when I did this, when I honestly believed, did what I thought I should, and happiness was still out of reach, that was the wall I hit. And the wall that most people I've known who try to be gay and Mormon hit as well.
I think there's one key to being successfully gay and Mormon. Authentically acknowledging the traits I have, and honestly expressing my desires within the bounds that God has set. Finding true, honest, authentic happiness.
I think the key is humility.
Along the first scenario, overcoming addictions and putting my life in line with the will of God took humility, and faith. But a lot of humility. At one point I couldn't handle the temptation for pornography, so I cancelled the Internet where I lived, and for months could only connect on BYU campus. That was a humbling experience - to be able to say that I needed to actually do something because I was somehow in a pit and couldn't get out. But it made a difference.
Learning to believe what the Church teaches took even more humility for me. I'm an intellectual at heart. Everything is rational. Everything has to make sense. And until I was willing to submit to God, to admit that maybe my view of the truth was flawed, it was an uphill battle. Simply accepting that God loves me, truly and honestly, was hard for me to do. And accepting that He would fulfill His promises, including the promise of eternal life, marriage to a girl I'll love somehow, and being a father, while having no idea how those blessings will happen... I had to give up my pride to be willing to let Him drive in my life... to be willing to exercise the faith I needed.
And when everything seemed like it was in place, when my outside and inside lives were in harmony, and I still found... or find... myself struggling to be happy, the answer is again humility. In this case, it's being willing to let God be a part of my life, and being willing to let Him show me what happiness looks like through life. For a long time I assumed I needed to be married, or have a girlfriend, or a family, or a best friend, or friends at all in order to be truly happy. And when the dichotomy of my life presented itself - no marriage, no girlfriend, disconnects with family, and difficulty getting close to anyone - I was unwilling to be happy until something was resolved. It wasn't until I let God take care of me, in every way possible, that happiness became a part of daily life.
I honestly think that this - humility - is one of the keys to being gay, Mormon, authentic, honest, and happy. I think it's probably a major part of everyone's lives, but at least in mine it has been the deciding factor in so many things. The motivation to abandon my sins. The willingness to honestly approach God and better understand His will. And the willingness to redefine what happiness looks like from the outside, and to allow it to be a part of me... to heal the turmoil and chaos inside.
Dear self: Be humble. Be happy.
Posted by Mormon Guy at 7:23 AM