Monday, September 1, 2014

Double Standards

Yesterday I visited an old friend from my mission. We were always super close, and had great times together on our missions. He was the companion I was closest to. We were soo close that when issues came between us, all either of us had to do was say, "Hey Elder, we need to talk." Where ever we were, at home, in the car, anywhere, we would talk, and fix what ever was wrong. It was awesome to see him again, and true to form we had a great night. At the end of the night he opened up to me, and shared with me a few issues he is facing. He has made some mistakes with some girls he dated, and has spoken to his bishop. Being employed by the church, and attending a church school, he was in a tough spot. Any church disciplinary action could cause him expulsion from school and loss of his job. With that understanding, his bishop worked with him, allowing him to experience repentance without completely ruining his life. My friend kept his job and his endorsement. What a kind bishop.

As we were talking I could not help but think of what would happen to me in a similar situation. I attend a church school. I live in approved housing which is required to adhere to BYU's code of conduct. Conceivably if I fell under church discipline I could also be expelled, kicked out of my home, and left with nothing. With this realization I decided it would be a good idea to find out exactly what the honor code stated about homosexuality, and so I looked it up. I am going to summarize it, but the honor code in its entirety can be read here. To the straight BYU community the honor code states that "sexual not permitted." For the LGBT BYU community, the rules are significantly more constricting. The blanket term "homosexual behavior" is used here. Anything that "give[s] expression to homosexual feelings" is deemed inappropriate homosexual behavior. In short, holding hands with a guy, cuddling on a couch, even a gay date could be described as an honor code infringement.

Now, I want to return to the story of my friend, but I am going to put myself in his shoes. I have been on a few dates with a guy, one thing lead to another, and we ended up making out, an insignificantly minor mistake in the straight BYU community. What would happen to me? Assuming I tell my bishop, would he be fair, or would I lose my endorsement? If I had gone further than a make out session, what then? I don't believe that I would be given any leeway. In fact, there is no doubt in my mind that I would lose everything if I were to violate the law of chastity with another man. It would not be seen as an honest mistake, a learning opportunity or a slight set back; it would be Satan himself manifesting through me and would be treated as such.

How can there be this much disparity between sin? Sex is sex right? Why is chastity grotesquely stricter for me than my friend? How can a loving God allow that? My opinion is that he doesn't. This is not God, it is man. The church needs to eradicate this double standard and begin living what is preached. If the plan of salvation is universal, and the commandments likewise, then let it be so.

I want to talk to my bishop. I want spiritual guidance and direction for my life. I want to be able to ask questions and receive answers, but I am terrified of what that will lead to. Once out there is no going back. I will always be seen as "at risk." I want help not shame.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Moving along

I came out to my straight roommate a few days ago. It was a very awkward conversation. I didn't really lead up to it, except for mentioning the girl from my previous post. Then I said something to the effect, "we're not together because I am gay." Ohh the silence! It felt like it was going to last forever, and just when I was about to get up and start shopping for a new apartment, my roommate speaks.

"Wait, so she doesn't have a boyfriend? You lied to me?"

And those were the first words he spoke to me as a gay man. No condemnation, no disgust, and no searching to determine if I thought he was cute, just playful banter. After a few minutes of joking, he told me it would take a few days for him to wrap his mind around this new information. I assured him I was exactly the same as I was before.

Three days later he walks into the room and asks, "so, you're gay? No problem."

It was an amazing feeling. No negative feelings, no distrust, in fact we are closer now than ever. Most importantly though, I am free. I don't lie, cover my tracks, or hide anything. It is an amazing feeling.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

My Gay identity.

I was recently shown a video from Ty Mansfield, in which he discusses "Same Gender Attraction.(I'm not to fond of that phrase, but that's for another post.)" You can see the original video here. For those of you who do not know, Ty Mansfield is an LDS gay man who is married to an LDS woman, and has two kids. I want to say first off that I am not happy about the publicity Ty is receiving. I am truly happy that he found someone, got married and now has a family, but in my mind, the Ty Mansfield story is a fairy tale, and I have just as much of a chance to end up married as I do to meet said "princess" in one glass slipper. The cold truth of the matter is that lasting mixed marriages are not the norm, and I am afraid that the LDS LGBT community will begin to see him like the rest of the LDS community does, the model gay life.

Ok, opinions on Ty concluded I want to present to you a short discussion of the inherit complications I see in the Church and its views on Identity, particularly some of the views that Ty shared.

Firstly I would like to start with a talk given by one of my favorite General Authorities, Elder Holland, in the October 2007 General Conference. The whole talk can be found here. Before I get into that, I want to make it clear that I am not attacking the church, or Elder Holland, I am just trying to prove a point. I believe that the church is honestly trying, they just haven't quite gotten it all together yet. Maybe they are waiting on a big chunk of revelation. Elder Holland states that "If your life is in harmony with the commandments, then you are worthy to serve in the Church, enjoy full fellowship with the members, attend the temple, and receive all the blessings of the Savior's Atonement." He later states, when referring to the ultimate goal of temple marriage that some LGBT individuals "may never be free of same-gender attraction in this life." Now here is the big burning question in my mind. If it is not a sin, it does not hold us back from full fellowship and blessings in the church, and is in no way hurting anyone else, then why do we need to be "freed" from it?? Personally, seeing a cute guy does a lot to make me happy, and you know what else makes me happy? Music. Performing. Do I need to be freed from those as well to make room for my eternal progression? God has blessed the world with millions of personal differences, unique attributes that create different people, and being gay is one of mine. Why take that away from me? Why take that away from the world?

Now on to the subject of Identity, particularly assimilating a Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, or Transgender identity. In his message, Ty states that it was not until he shed his gay identity that he was able to marry a woman, and thus partake of the church's "perfect life." I can only speak for myself, but in my twenty some-odd years I have discovered the exact opposite. Accepting myself as a gay man has helped me soo much more than my 20+ years of denial. Let me give you some insight into my life, and hopefully you will be able to see where I am coming from.

 When I was about 14 I found some pornographic videos on my home computer's hard drive (Yup, we are diving right in). As the good Mormon boy that I was, I immediately closed the program, and probably even shut off the computer. For a month after, my perception of that short clip changed from disgust, to interest, and eventually I came back, ultimately becoming addicted to pornography. I eventually noticed that my tastes were not the same as my friends, but even as I actively pursued homosexuality through the internet, I would not admit to myself I was gay. I did not know much about homosexuality, but I knew it was bad. I knew the story of Sodom and Gomorrah, and though I was addicted to gay pornography, I refused to be gay. In fact, I dated a girl for over a year, holding on to her through many instances of her infidelity. In my mind, that's what a good, straight, Mormon boy would do. The pornography became my outlet, and though my internet history disagreed, I thoroughly denied my sexuality. As I continued to deny my feelings, my addiction increased. I entertained thoughts of suicide, pulled away from my family, and spiraled into depression. So, why am I sharing all of this? In my mind, all of the above were caused in a large part by my inability to fully accept myself for who I was, and who I still am. Because of the stigmas attached to homosexuality, my shame, and everything the Church had taught me, I did what I thought I was supposed  and tried to bury my true gay self. I tried my damnedest to be that perfect Mormon boy, to squeeze into a mold that just was not me, and it caused a slew of problems. It is only now that I have accepted myself as a Gay Mormon that I am able step back and get ahold of my life. I am happy again, and not ashamed. I fear for the future, but I am no longer trying to be someone I am not.

I guess that the short of this post is that I am not holding out for a miracle. I am not planning on getting married. I don't want a life like Ty's, and now that I have accepted the fabulous gay that I am, I am happy, and at peace with myself. Sure my convictions are a little shaky, and I have no idea what is going to happen to me when I die, but I am happy and secure. I choose to accept myself. I have walked the path of suppressed sexuality, and that path brought me problems and heartache. If anyone reading this is in a similar situation, please, just be yourself. Being anyone else is a hellish existence.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Leaving that Dark Closet.

At first, I did not understand coming out. A month ago I was perfectly happy hiding in my shell, hiding from the reality in front of me. I thought to myself, "no one needs to know I am Gay. It doesn't affect anyone but me, so why bother them." I would have been perfectly content hiding my true self from the world indefinitely, but then things started changing. I started talking to other gay people, discussing my difficulties and opinions with them. I started really thinking about myself, and came to the acceptance that I was gay. As these things started to fall into place, little things started to bother me.

My roommate for example, is as close to a playboy as you can get while remaining in the church. He dates often, is constantly texting different girls, and has kissed more girls this month than I have dated in my life (ok, maybe that is a slight overstatement, but the basic idea still stands). He is a very touchy-feely person when he likes you, and we are pretty close. He often shares his life difficulties with me, and is not above hugging me while I am lying in bed (His idea, I swear!).  He also wants to set me up. We met this beautiful girl a few months ago, and since then her and I have become close friends based on a few mutual interests, one of which is cooking. We have made quite a few meals together, and after every one my roommate asks me, "So when are you going to ask her out?" The question in my mind when I am with her has always been, "when am I going to tell her I am gay?" I have absolutely no intention of trying to fake it, but my sweet roommate is trying to help me out the only way he knows how, to fill the void he sees in my life, but I am sick of lying. I am tired of dodging questions. I am tired of awkward silences and uncomfortably casual assumptions. I need to be my gay self, and he needs to know it.

So where do I start? This last week I have been carefully probing his mind, steering conversations and asking questions. In short I have been trying to covertly judge his attitude towards the LGBT community, of which I am a part. I have been attempting to dodge some of his more personal physical touches. Of course, that has gotten me nowhere.  I have no idea how he feels, He could react by breaking out in song, or he might be mortified and sleep on the couch. I don't know, and I am scared, but I need to come clean. The last thing I want to do is make him feel strange, or uncomfortable. I don't want to lose him as a friend, and I want more than anything to keep our relationship exactly how it is, but it might not work out that way, so here's to my new beginning.

Monday, April 28, 2014


                I want to date guys. I want to find a guy to cuddle, to spend time with, to hold hands with and kiss. I want to love him, and feel that he loves me, but really, what is the point? What is the final goal? Even if I were to come out of the closet to the entire world, being an actual gay couple at BYU would be almost impossible to deal with.

Let’s examine this for a little bit. I see couples on campus hanging all over each other. They are in love and they are aggressively displaying that for all of the world to see. Maybe there is no visible sexual content, but these couples appear just seconds away from ripping each other’s clothing off and doing it right there in the library. It is lust pure and simple. These couples are mostly left alone, a sort of “don’t bother me I won’t bother you” mentality. Now let’s imagine a gay couple acting exactly the same way. I guarantee they would not be left alone. I also guarantee that the Honor Code Office would be called, and they would be reported. I would like to think that there would be no repercussions but honestly I am not too sure of that. Forget the people staring at them, and other problems caused by living in a hetero-central community, being an openly gay couple at BYU would paint a clear target on your forehead.

So how is it that a guy and a girl that barely know each other can make out just for fun, no commitment and no judgment, but two guys on a date is just way too much. I find it funny that the brilliant heterosexual population that brought us the Provo soak would have such a hard time accepting two men holding hands. The Mormon community sees homosexual violations of the law of chastity as much more damning and severe than heterosexual violations. Come on people, Sex is Sex, no matter how it is done or who it is between. Not everything in the church is clear, but to me, the Law of Chastity is. This double standard needs to stop.

Monday, April 7, 2014

The Atonement

I haven't posted in a long time. Over the last few months, I have come to understand my sexual identity a lot better. One thing that has particularly helped me recently was an essay I was assigned in my Religions Class. The essay was about the Atonement, and what it has done for me. This was shockingly difficult for me to do. Part of that is due to the fact that I have been distancing myself from God lately. I haven't read the Book of Mormon in at least a month. Prayers are sporadic, in short I am not doing anything to help myself out.

While contemplating the essential nature of the Atonement to the Plan of Salvation, holes started appearing in my knowledge of The Plan. We are sent here to start a family, and have children. Temple Marriage is essential. Eternal Increase. Adam and Eve. Suddenly I realized that I do not understand how I fit into this plan. How can I, someone who is not sexually attracted to women, ever create a family? How can I get married in the temple with out the constant fear that, due to my homosexuality, the union will shatter? Do I even want temple marriage? The more I thought about it the more confused I became, and the more frustrated.

Eventually I found myself awake, pondering this issue, and I was inspired to write the essay with complete honesty, telling the truth about my confusion, and coming out to my professor. I did just that, at 1 AM, and would like to share just the last paragraph with you.

"As a gay member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I have many incredibly unique challenges and struggles. There are things that I deal with in my everyday life that my mother, father, brothers, grandparents, friends, best friends, bishop and Elders Quorum President can never understand. At times I feel completely alone, a distorted island in the middle of a serene, perfect ocean. It is times like this that I am gently, of in the case of this essay, not so gently, reminded of my Savior. He does not have to go through my life's experience to know exactly how I feel. He is a God. In my darkest hour, when I feel most alone, The Man of Sorrows has been there, and is there with me. This can bring me incredible comfort. It I also through this Atonement that I have learned more about myself. I know that through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, the dichotomy within me will one day be in harmony. My faith in his Plan leads me to believe that like those who died before Christ's ministry was completed, I too will be given the opportunity to claim all of the beautiful blessings given to me as a Son of God. Though situations on this mortal earth beyond my control seem to make that impossible, I believe that through the Atonement, I will receive these sacred blessings."

More to come.