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.