You knew what I was

JD grew up in the church in an area he affectionately terms “Zion Lite.”  He served a mission in a country with police with semi-automatic weaponry and weird fatty foods, went to BYU, did more than enough graduate school, and still goes to church.  Look around this Sunday, he may be sitting down the bench from you, possibly wearing fantastic socks. He could really use a friend there.

I am a gay man in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  I battle despair daily, even though “to despair is to turn your back on God.” [1] I can understand the feelings that lead someone to consider suicide — the feeling that the Lord in this church has no plan of mortal happiness for me.  

But I desperately hope the Lord does have a plan of mortal happiness for me. We still need to be actively seeking further light and knowledge, and the testimonies of God’s LGBT children are key.  

Right now church leaders still echo President Packer’s strong feelings, that Heavenly Father would not create someone like me without the inherent ability to have “the very key to the plan of happiness.” [2] “Satan tells his victims…that perverts are…born ‘that way’…This is a base lie.” [3] [4] [5] More.  My friends (celibate and not) have been compared to alcoholics and pedophiles and kleptomaniacs when they sought guidance from their priesthood leaders, this year, even in Salt Lake.  It is easy for leaders to keep repeating such perceived prophetic pronouncements, when the only counterweight is silence, vague mentions of mistakes, or quiet admissions that being gay may be a “core characteristic” of an individual.  [6]  

What have I learned in my situation, officially labeled a “trial of mortality”?     

  1. “All these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good” (D&C 122:7).  

Being gay has forced me to persistently, agonizingly seek divine direction.  I used to strictly believe that when the prophets spoke, it was a blessing to receive their words without equivocation.  But my scripture study through the years has given me specific and consistent impressions that seem to contradict the words of Priesthood leaders. Temple attendance has brought feelings of joy and peace, particularly when contemplating the ideas that “it is not good for man to be alone” [7] and that “every living thing should fill the measure of its creation.” [8]

While repeatedly pondering in the temple the direction of my life, I have surprisingly had very negative feelings regarding the path of celibacy.  When I felt strongly prompted to ask directly about a relationship with a man – an honorable male partner – I felt peace.  This was not license to leave the Church and lust it up, but to seek a loving and respectful relationship. That pursuit makes my life harder, not easier.  Just like Jodie Foster’s character at the end of the movie Contact, I fully recognize that I could be wrong. [9]  Considering the position of the church, the fact that I consistently and persistently feel differently about my attraction while searching the scriptures, in prayer, and in the temple distresses me greatly.  Is God really this messy?

  1. Does God give false promises regarding his LGBT sons and daughters?  

How many times has D&C 1:38 been explicitly used to encourage receiving priesthood counsel as if it were the direct voice of the Lord?  Aside from over a century of demonstrably damaging general authority talks on the matter, I have heard story after story of direct, explicit, divinely attributed promises from bishops to prophets ranging from:

  • Encouraging reparative therapy (often using “therapeutic” heterosexual pornography)
  • Encouraging marriage as a solution (since the honeymoon night would “fix” the problem)
  • Directing the man to withhold talking about “same-sex attraction” from anyone including his prospective wife.  

I wish my patriarchal blessing were filled with positive platitudes instead of the explicit promises of and relating to heterosexual marriage in the temple, the relationship I will have with my children, and my personal family in this mortal life. It just feels like another in a long line of false promises.  For me, persistent promises rendered meaningless by subsequent innumerable interpretations or countless counterexamples engender neither trust nor faith.

  1. If those directives and promises are not from God, then the leaders of the church are simply earnest, mortal individuals on this issue, doing the best they can.  

Leadership roulette on all things LGBT is very real.  A majority of leaders still admittedly don’t know how to handle counseling gay members — some still encourage reparative therapy.  Other leaders implore us to “try heterosexuality again” as if it were simply a weekly flavor of ice cream.  Many bishops have told my friends that they would be forced to initiate church court proceedings even if my friends just went on a fully chaste date.  Depending on where I live, I’m under suspicion for church discipline whenever I’m seen with just one other male.  I’ve seriously wondered whether, whenever I spend time in public with a male friend, to avoid the very appearance of evil, I should wear a sign that says “No Homo.”

  1. I have few paths available to me

Celibacy.  Even apostles have recognized the untenable nature of being celibate, such as when they remarry after the death of a spouse.  Their actions indicate that non-childbearing marital companionship is vitally important. This makes it nearly impossible to listen to them counsel the opposite for me.  If God actually knows us and has individual plans for each of us in mortality, then is there a divine reason why that companionship must be denied me this life? Did I already pass off the marriage merit badge in the premortal existence?  

Heterosexual marriage.  I have absolutely no desire for any type of intimacy with a woman beyond friendship.  (I recently learned several women friends at BYU actually thought I was dating them! LDS women have the WORST gaydar.  I am SO sorry!) All of my desires point very squarely and strongly to a man. I have several close friends who made valiant attempts at marrying a woman and ended up suicidal trying to make it work.  While possibly not wrong for everyone, the Lord has made it very clear that a heterosexual marriage is the wrong path for me. It would deeply harm a woman I otherwise respect and love.

Double life. Living a double life has never appealed to me.  I know gay men who bounce between obsessive church obedience and rampant anonymous sexual behavior.  I know other gay men who hold church callings openly during the day and hold their boyfriends secretly at night.  Rampant gay pornography use, secret sexual encounters, and other obsessive behaviors are consistent confessions in faith affirming groups and message boards.  I know those who are married to women but feel it necessary to attend support groups for LGBT church members which endorse cuddle sessions in order to get “male healthy touch,” sometimes including naked cuddling.  Others engage, sometimes even with their wife’s full knowledge, in emotional and sexual affairs or open marriages in order to “make it work.” My heart breaks for any wife who supports these side affairs because she feels “called to be her husband’s handmaiden.”  

The November 2015 policy change officially enshrined same-sex marriages as apostasy which requires the convening of a church court.  One direct consequence of this is that for gays within the church, illicit promiscuity feels less costly than visible commitment and fidelity.  That can’t be the plan of the Lord for His LGBT children.

Leave the Church.  Is my only option then to leave the Church, to abandon my beliefs?   I want to believe that “happiness will be found through obedience within the church.”  But I am not happy in celibacy.  I’ve tried to follow the counsel of leaders, but they come from a position of admitted incomprehension.  Their advice, counsel, and promises are historically and presently still wildly inconsistent. [10]   Each agonizing question and each difficult life interaction I’ve listed above is constantly juxtaposed against the personal feelings of hope and comfort I’ve received during scripture study, prayer, and temple worship. These persistent personal experiences continually chip away at my testimony of divine guidance in this Church on LGBT theology.

What choices do I have?  Where shall I go to find the Lord’s personal and practical direction for my life?

Footnotes

[1] Anne of Green Gables, Marilla Cuthbert.  This quote is totally only in the movie, not in the book.  It’s a really good movie, even for just being made for TV. Creates an enjoyable “alternative family” narrative, particularly in combatting that book’s era’s strong prejudice against a group of people who also didn’t choose their circumstances – orphans.  

[2] Boyd K Packer “The Plan of Happiness” General Conference Saturday Morning Session, April 2015

[3] Spencer W Kimball, Acting Presiding Apostle “New Horizons for Homosexuals”, church-published pamphlet, 1971

[4] Boyd K Packer “To Young Men Only” General Conference Priesthood Session, October 1976.  (“There is a falsehood that some are born with an attraction to their own kind.”)

[5] James E Faust “Serving the Lord and Resisting the Devil” First Presidency Message Ensign Sep 1995 (“There is some widely accepted theory extant that homosexuality is inherited…if it were so, it would frustrate the whole plan of mortal happiness. The false belief of inborn homosexual orientation denies to repentant souls the opportunity to change.”) Many Many More

[6] Church Public Affairs Interview with Dallin H Oaks and Lance B Wickman, August 2006

[7] Gen 2:18, and elsewhere

[8] Patricia T Holland “Filling the Measure of Your Creation” BYU January 17, 1989, and elsewhere.

[9] Contact, Testimony Scene.  Admit it – you can totally see her saying “every fiber of my being.” Having a Bishop like James Woods would make a pretty intense testimony meeting, don’t you think?

[10] 19 Mixed Messages to Gay Mormons, Wheat and Tares, March 20, 2018

Comments

  1. Hi JD.
    My mom-heart just aches for you.
    You shouldn’t have to choose one or the other.

    Honestly, I think the church is dead wrong here, and that the GOSPEL of Christ it big enough to support all people. Rich, poor, black, white, gay and straight.

    I don’t know you, but I love you. I wish there was an answer.

    Don’t give up.

  2. Bro. Jones says:

    Couldn’t say it better than Morgan. I too wish things were different. I hope you are able to find happiness and fulfillment somehow.

  3. Single Sister says:

    I believe that like other issues in the past (ie: Blacks holding the priesthood), this too will change. It will take a great Prophet like Spencer W. Kimball was to fix it, but it will be fixed. Maybe not in our lifetimes, but I know that it will be fixed. In the meantime, feel the love of the Lord for you and keep on keeping on. As a single older, never married woman in the church I know (some of) what you are going through. Who knew I’d never marry or have children? I sure didn’t!! It’s been hard, but in the end, as Morgan says above, the GOSPEL of Jesus Christ is what keeps me coming back. Big hugs for you.

  4. I can feel the wrestle within your soul. It is real and a hard place to been. Never give up…hold on. Feeling much compassion and respect for what you are going through.

  5. Mama Dragon says:

    Thank you for writing this. I hope you know how much love and support so many are willing to share with you. I pray the church policies change soon, as I’ve seen so many wonderful people hurt by them.

  6. Roy Schmidt says:

    Dear JD, I want you to know I love you. I do not doubt that God loves you too, and wants you to be happy and fulfilled. I would like to suggest you consider visiting your cousins in Community of Christ. We are a fully welcoming congregation. I am not suggesting you abandon your church, but you may find comfort in worshiping from time to time with people, many of whom have stood where you now stand.

  7. Tiberius says:

    A couple points:

    1) But I desperately hope the Lord does have a plan of mortal happiness for me.

    Would we be willing to equate the unmarried state with depression and unhappiness if we were talking about a heterosexual confirmed bachelor or satisfied, unmarried career woman who’s tired of being lectured about the importance of marriage in Church? There does seem to be a bit of a double standard here.

    2) Sister so-and-so can’t find a decent man who wants to marry her but can find a guy who’s willing to have a sexual relationship for her (an occurrence probably more common than a gay man in the Church). Should she be “condemned” to a life of celibacy? That’s fine if you don’t believe so, it just seems that the absolute theological right to sexuality regardless of life circumstances would have a lot more implications than people realize. It can’t just be easily welded onto the existing sexual theological framework.

  8. Shy Saint says:

    Why would you subject yourself to the judgment and negativity? How can it possibly make sense to be part of an organization that is inflicting the kind of pain you’re experiencing on vulnerable young people who may not have your resources to withstand the negative onslaught? Does it actually make sense to you that straight kids should be forced to choose between the church and their gay parents?

    You don’t have to put up with it. There are churches that won’t make you take sides between the nature you were born with and your relationship with god. The Community of Christ will do it with a Book of Mormon foundation.

  9. Obviously members of the Community of Christ Church keep their eye on this website for potential members. That alone is fascinating. Things can get worse so….”Keep on the Covenant Path.”

  10. Dylan Hansen says:

    Along the same lines as Shy Saint, it’s important to remember that you can leave the Church WITHOUT abandoning your beliefs. The Church doesn’t have a monopoly on Mormonism.

  11. Thank you Tiberius. Although situations may be different, others also suffer for lack of the perfect fulfilled life. Even though days may be filled with emptiness, the gospel plan is still the best place to be.

  12. Shy Saint says:

    John, you may or may not be right about members of the Community of Christ keeping an eye out for Mormons who feel pushed out of the CoJCoLdS but I wouldn’t be evidence of that. I’m not a CoC member and never have been. I just can’t understand why people like JD would subject themselves to the sometimes toxic atmosphere of the CoJCoLdS.

    I will admit that “toxic” is a hard word. But I’ve witnessed at least a decade of evidence that the teachings of the CoJCoLdS are pushing some vulnerable members to suicide. Suicide. Is there another word that can describe what pushes people to suicide?

    And I have to wonder if even sins of a sexual nature can be worse than the brazen cruelty of pushing people to suicide. I would rather anyone who feels vulnerable find the right religious community to keep their bodies and their souls intact and then answer to Heavenly Father than be thrust into despair and have to answer for taking their own lives.

    Meanwhile, what is the pain that they live every day with that makes death a more attractive alternative?

    In any case, a different church seems a much better alternative don’t you think?

  13. Kristine says:

    The comparison of gay members to single members fails on multiple levels; we should all stop making it immediately. There is a world of difference between not having a partner now, and being told that even your desire to ever have a partner is evil. The fact that so many Mormons can’t extend the modicum of empathy required to see the difference is damning evidence of our failure to care for our gay sisters and brothers.

  14. I think they just call it “Community of Christ,” not “Community of Christ Church.”

  15. Comparing the gay Mormon struggle to the single Mormon struggle is the “all lives matter” of gay Mormons.

  16. Rexicorn says:

    I’ve heard the argument that homosexual celibacy is the same as heterosexual people who don’t marry, and I just have to disagree. When you’re hetero in this church, you still have the *hope* of a fulfilling, committed relationship. You can go on dates. You can have crushes on people that aren’t riddled with internal guilt. You can fantasize about a fulfilling relationship without worrying that even that is wrong. Imagine if every time, from the time you first started to develop romantic feelings for other people, you had to bludgeon those feelings back and remind yourself that what you want *cannot* happen. Not just won’t, but can’t.

    I don’t mean to minimize the plight of people who remain unhappily single, but there’s a real, tangible difference between the hetero version of that and the LGBT version of that in the church. It’s got an added dimension that fosters despair on a very deep level (and from the beginning).

  17. JD, I know that years of church advice and counsel has not helped gay people and shows a definite lack of understanding of gay people. Really bad advice (like try to be heterosexual, get married, you weren’t born that way, etc.)
    I do have a question about how you think this advice might have helped some people. I am not close to people who are definitely gay, but as time goes on I know more people who have discovered or told me they are “not straight.” Many of the “not straight” of older generations managed to live life with this counsel. The “not straight” of the younger generation are figuring out that they are not straight so early (middle schoolers here toss out that they are aware of the 32 different kinds of sexually or some such) and in a welcoming environment and they discuss their same sex crushes easily. With this set of children having choices I am not sure that their choices necessarily make them happier. Someone who is heteroromantic and asexual nowadays, is more aware of this, whereas they could have easily felt normal before. Someone who is biromantic but heterosexual could easily marry and feel happy.
    I wonder if the advice/counsel worked for some sets of people. Even the people giving it may not have been 100% straight, so for their experience as a heteromantic bisexual it was sound advice, or their experience as a pan romantic heterosexual it was helpful advice for dealing with their confusing feelings.
    I appreciate you sharing your experience with people. These are important stories to understand. The younger generations are dealing with their sexual and romantic feelings and defining them at such a young age and sharing with their parents their experience at very young ages nowadays. It is a difficult thing for both parents and children in our church when they discover that they are “not straight” yet they are still a child and religious life and social life and daily life structure is based on activity in the church. We need better ways to talk about it and more hope for mortal happiness for those kids.

  18. Anonymous Mormon gay #653 says:

    As a gay person living a double life, feeling more and more trapped every day, all I can say is, get out now. If you want to find a faith community that accepts you for who you are, you can do that. It will be a much easier thing to do than get any help whatsoever from the LDS church. I regret my choice to stay every single day.

  19. We have several scriptural examples of the church “going astray” or veering away from what’s correct (even based on over-adherence to tradition, in fact). What are members of a misguided church to do in that situation? In the scriptures – and in venerated history as with Martin Luther and Joseph Smith – they typically leave and start their own offshoot. I can’t think of many examples of internal reformers who didn’t eventually cause a schism and continue on their own.

    Obviously there’s lots of personal study and spiritual guidance involved here, and if you really feel that the church is the right place to be then this conflict will continue. But I do believe that there’s a faithful foundation for seeking out other churches.

  20. “Someone who is heteroromantic and asexual nowadays, is more aware of this, whereas they could have easily felt normal before.”

    Sure. And Adam and Eve probably felt “normal” without the knowledge of good and evil. Feeling “normal” is beneficial only if you’re not interested in progression or growth. It is true that lots of people have persevered in unhappy marriages throughout the centuries. And maybe some of them eventually became happier. But I don’t think Mormonism is (or should be) especially interested in supporting lives of quiet desperation.

  21. Wow, JD — this is not only a really powerful and succinct description of your struggles and, by analogy, the struggles of many other LGBTQ+ members of the church but also a really good overview of the issues and past counsel given (that apparently is still routinely being given) as the much needed “pastoral care” to many of our members. So very tragic. Thank you for this post!

  22. Speaking of leadership roulette, when I was in a position to give advice (decades ago, in a different life) talking with someone who sounded like you, JD, in this OP, the words in my head were “go somewhere else; you will not be nurtured the way you should be in this Church in this generation.” I didn’t say them out loud. I regret that.

    If I am ever pressed for reasons for my own very light connection to the Church, that experience, and others like it are my answer. They fundamentally challenge the exclusive-plus-universal stance the Church takes for itself. Too many times for too many people the Mormon church has not been the answer, not enough, not the way.

  23. Heptaparaparshinokh says:

    But I don’t think Mormonism is (or should be) especially interested in supporting lives of quiet desperation.

    I’d say “quiet desperation” is the default condition for a lot of Mormons, although it has to do more with reproducing beyond the earning ability of a single breadwinner than with sexual orientation.

  24. @Tiberius April 16, 2018 at 8:25 am
    Thank you for your comment, internet sir.
    (or madam or human, since it is sexist of me to assume that a Tiberius is automatically male. :)
    But I WANT to imagine that you are William Shatner, a la Captain James T Kirk, but you don’t have pauses in between every three words, so you probably AREN’T him.)

    1) I never want to establish a double standard, but there are certain similarities and differences.
    Regarding a heterosexual confirmed bachelor or satisfied, unmarried career woman, much of the difference is choice and future path. One comparison that may be helpful would be if both your given examples sincerely desired marital companionship, regularly met and fell in love with individuals who matched them and would support them in this life, but consistently had to heartbreakingly reject those individuals. Elder Christofferson has said explicitly that there is not much hope for LGBT youth in the church. I feel that certainly equates to potential depression and unhappiness. It’s hard to turn off something that we are taught since primary to work towards, and reminded about nearly weekly.

    2) Pres. Packer’s statements regarding LGBT individuals repeatedly seem to reveal his own belief in a “theological right to sexuality” – a theological right, in THIS life, to heterosexuality. His multiple statements that such all-encompassing marital companionship is the “very key to happiness” as well as his repeated disbelief that our Father would create anyone inherently without such ability reveal his strong stance that a marital relationship is vital in this life. Now you and me and others may certainly disagree with Pres. Packer on these two statements, but we then must engage with that issue practically. What does it mean when we have a Heavenly Father who creates people without the “inherent ability to have ‘the very key to the plan of happiness'”? Whether an individual is gay or is denied marriage in this life by a myriad of circumstances? Does it perhaps mean that the nearly weekly pulpit messages about the absolute importance of marriage and the family have practical consequences for those in the margins? Since those in the margins are not going away, practical engagement on this issue is vital. If we believe that God knows us individually, and has personal plans for each of us, then we know that God has planned that some of us won’t have marriage in this life. I’m a practicalist by nature, and honestly, one step would be a simple regular statement from apostles all the way down to bishops – “Some of us won’t get married in this life – and that’s just fine!”, followed by a practical ways in which singleness is embraced and welcomed and not infantilized in the church. Right now i fear that leaders hesitate to put any outright positive spin on singlehood since they are worried that marriages will decline even more. There is much that can be discussed on this, more than a comment can supply.

    Along those lines, one issue that I consistently discourage is the tendency to simplify/refer to “the gay” as just “sexuality.” I’m not sure that is what you are actually saying, but the phrases “theological right to sexuality” and “a guy…willing to have a sexual relationship [with] her” may imply such a simplification. Gay relationships are as all-encompassing or as fickle as the range of heterosexual relationships. I will push back on your comment a bit – if you were to change the situation to “Sister so-and-so can’t find a decent LDS man who wants to marry her in the temple, but can find a decent agnostic man who is matches her and wants to build a life with her” then I feel that is a much better comparison for the situation. A realization that this involves so much more than a sexual relationship – it involves, love, social companionship, emotional/physical/social/spiritual/familial support is key to more fully understanding the weight of such a choice.

  25. “Contact, Testimony Scene. Admit it – you can totally see her saying ‘every fiber of my being.’ Having a Bishop like James Woods would make a pretty intense testimony meeting, don’t you think?”

    Having a bishop like James Woods would make me want to leave the church, lol. You don’t have to look at his Twitter for very long to realize he’s not a very good person.

  26. @jks April 16, 2018 at 9:56 am
    Thank you for your comment, internet human. :)

    I’ve defintely debated interally the path of my own life – would i have made different choices had I been raised in a similarly supportive environment as today? I really don’t know that answer. I am proud of the choices that I made in my formative years.

    1) There is actual research on your question, with Dr. Bill Bradshaw, an emeritus professor of biology at BYU. He often gives presentations in the SLC area regarding the evidence for the biologic basis of homosexuality. Similarly, he has participated in a group in evaluating the success rates of relationships with individuals who are “not straight” – essentially all over the sexual spectrum. One non unique finding is that sexuality is fluid – with females more statistically likely to experience changes in sexuality than men. Another finding was that the success of the marriage often related to two factors – how the individual was classified on the Kinsey sexual spectrum, and their level of libido/sexual desire/romantic interest. (A wikipedia search for Kinsey scale may assist if you are not already familiar with his research.) Essentially, While a correlation between relationship success and where the individual on the gay-straight scale seems straightforward (pun not intended), it was often mitigated based on the libido relative score. (e.g. a gay man with a low libido would have a potentially higher statistical chance at success within a relationship with a women.)

    2) Your other point regarding today’s environment and the choices of youth today is so key to this discussion, thank you very much for bringing it up. I personally feel that the Saturday’s Warrior song still applies here –
    “Line upon line…precept on precept….other schlocky lyrics, that is how one makes a great stage show…great stage SHOW!!!”
    My silly aside aside, I think the Lord today is saying “Hey guys, the gay is real. You have a generation growing up knowing this. Elder Christofferson realizes (and the rest of the General Authorities I hope as well) that there is very little hope for these youth in the church. What you do now practically makes a difference.”
    Hugh Nibley stated that:
    “The Lord has often pushed the Saints into the water to make them swim, and when our own indolence, which is nothing less than disobedience, gets us into a jam, He lets us stew in our own juice until we do something about it. The most impressive lesson…is how little we know about these things-and how little we have tried to know.”
    While he as specifically responding to research on scriptural racism and blacks and the priesthood, that statement is surprisingly cogent to LDS+LGBT issues today. I strongly feel that this is one of those “scrubbing the tobacco-stained floor in the School of the Prophets” moments. What we do going forward makes all the difference.

  27. Thank you JD for sharing, it helps me to have more compassion and understand better what LGBT members face. We all struggle with something, I don’t say this to minimize what you face each day (I doubt I could carry your load more than a few inches), I say it so that you may not judge the rest of us too harshly. If you were in my ward I may not speak to you, not because of anything about you but because of my own sense of not being good enough to be a good friend to you. I pray that you will find the answers you are looking for but in the meantime don’t give up on the rest of us.

  28. Kevin Barney says:

    Thanks for the post. I have occasionally pondered what I would do were I in your position, with that menu of very limited options, and I have concluded I would leave, basically based on the thought experiment asking what I would do were I in a church that regarded heterosexual experience and identity as contrary to the will of God, and I would definitely leave that Church.

    Which is why I was distraught when the Church came down as so absolutely anti-gay marriage. I thought when gay marriage was legalized that was a great moment the Church could have seized to provide a life path for its gay members. But our leaders didn’t see it that way and declared a legal and lawful gay marriage as apostasy per se. I view that as a strategic mistake on the part of the institution.

    I like Roy’s idea about checking out the CoC if there’s a congregation near you, if for no other reason than to see what it’s like to be accepted by a church in the LDS tradition.

    (An additional thought on the comparison between gay people and unmarried hetero Mormons: beyond the thoughts already expressed (with which I agree), another point to add is that LDS can marry non-LDS and remain active and accepted as Church. If a gay person could enter a gay marriage and be given that level of acceptance in the faith, I’m guessing they would jump at such an opportunity.

  29. Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you…

    Whatever life hands out the solutions is found in the scripture above. It takes faith and certainly isn’t easy, but it is worth it. Unlike Kevin, I would press forward with faith in Christ and do the best I could and rely on grace found in Christ.

    I have found grace is real and obtainable with the mortal challenges I’ve been called on to bear. I hope JD will find it as well. Don’t give up!

  30. Just kind of a side note here:

    It’s a bit of a problem to speak of ‘celibacy’ within Mormonism. In the Christian traditions that practice celibacy, there’s a whole theology built around it. One of the recurring themes you’ll come across if you read (usually Catholic) explorations of the idea is that celibacy cannot be successfully lived as a means of running away from one’s sexuality. It is not a negative, a matter of not doing. It has to be lived as a positive good in itself. There is no space that I can see in the Mormon theology of salvation for this. Mormonism, speaking in this sense, has no “celibacy.” Mormonism has “not married yet.”

    To speak of celibacy in a Mormon setting is to fail to recognize what a big deal Mormon singleness is. There are Singles Wards precisely for the eradication of singleness, precisely because there is, ultimately, no place for the unmarried in the fullest expression of Mormon salvation.

    A friend of mine once described the experience of attending an Over-30 Singles Ward as “the closest mankind can come to experience Outer Darkness in this life.” While tongue-in-cheek, it was not without a point.

  31. Jenny Harrison says:

    Thank you for the post. The only thing I can say is that you have to live an authentic life. To do anything else will bring you pain and grief. If the LDS church cannot see that you are deserving of all of God’s blessings, then it is time to leave. The church leadership likes to believe that they hold the power to bless and to curse, when in reality it is God that has that power and he will use it as he pleases. Run JD, RUN.

  32. Thank you JD. I am a (mostly) closeted transgender bishopric member, I feel a parallel connection with many of your comments. As I increasingly come to find that I can’t keep up the façade of presenting as a male, I fear for the effects on my family, my children my flock, but I do not fear for my standing with God. I have felt the power of God in the church and int he temple, and also have felt that he accepts me as a (admittedly trans-) daughter, even though the church does not. I remain closeted primarily out of concern about social effects on my children (see what we mean about hiding and suppressing sets up all sorts of difficult possible damage that could have been avoided), but I do not fear for my soul. I do not want to leave the church, but I also want to continue to live. If those competing imperatives become increasingly contradictory, I am going to chose life. I will not leave the church, it may leave me, I hope not. One more brief question, if the same type of celibacy requirement that homosexual individuals are forced to endure if they wish to remain in good standing in the church were foisted upon the heterosexual majority… how long would the rest of them stay “faithful” to that requirement? Hmmm.

  33. This is a difficult and personal subject for me, for reasons that I’m not going to disclose.

    For me, I stay because it’s true. That’s not to say that it’s always right, but that I know it’s God’s Church, as imperfect as it is, and it’s where God wants me to be. I’m fully aware that it’s not the choice everyone will make, nor should it be. Where you stand with God is between you and Them (God). The Church can be useful in building your relationship with God, but you have to be resigned to the idea that it may never change.

    Single isn’t a good comparison, for the many reasons others have gone into. The comparison I’ve seen (and is likely used by some in the Church) is to those who are in some way disabled, it going away when the body is discarded. Personally, I don’t believe some of the things that I believe are part of “me” are “defects of mortality”, but it’ll take the final word of the afterlife to get many (especially in my family) to believe.

  34. Paul Ritchey says:

    The celibacy idea ought to be far more problematic that it is made out to be (and, as JD says, most folks already admit that it’s fairly problematic). Particularly, “celibacy” is never clearly defined: Define it as “no sexual relations,” and you’ve got to say that one can be celibate and still hold hands, kiss, etc.. Define it the way Catholics do, and you’ve got soul-crushing hopelessness (though, to be sure, the prospect of a lifetime of “everything but” is not that much better). The point is that the celibacy “solution” ought to serve as a mirror for the Church’s actual position on homosexuality: if sex is the sin, why aren’t open, non-sexual relationships tolerated? If the sin is broader than sex, why aren’t heterosexual couples held to the same standard?

  35. Cleophas says:

    JD- I wish I could offer some consolation; your situation is so, so difficult.

    My own journey through mortality has led me to a few conclusions of my own:
    1) Mormonism’s theology of sexuality is all sorts of messed up. Even for faithful, hetro individuals like me, the Church’s teachings on the subject frequently do more damage than they fix. For singles or married, gay or straight, sexual frustration among Mormons is rampant, and so is sexual dysfunction.

    2) I’m not sure that God cares about our happiness in mortality. Sure, he loves us, He wants us to grow, get a body, and prove ourselves. But none of that is a guarantee for happiness. In fact, all of our “scripture heroes” had tough lives with near-constant adversity. Nephi. Moses. Moroni (either). Paul. Joseph Smith. Seemly insurmountable trials are guaranteed. Happiness is not.

  36. You have experienced much I have not. Suicide is not the answer. There is hope, but only in realizing your potential as a son of God.

    Your procreative powers are designed to a purpose that will echo eternity. Those here who would disagree either do not understand this, or if they profess to know it, haven’t received a vision of who our Father and Mother are, and what you will become (and to what purpose) if faithful. I know this from personal revelation, and I know the prophets and apostles know it.

    It’s a glorious reality that I hope you can endure, even if it seems impossible in mortality. Please don’t trade your birthright for a mess of pottage. Please don’t accept as wisdom any advice within or without the faith suggesting your Father in Heaven has a different plan for you as one of his sons (or daughters for sometime else).

    Yes, often when we make analogies, one half of the analogy misses the mark. The phrase don’t throw the baby out with the bath water exists for a reason. Sometimes the bathwater needs to go. Sometimes the whole tub. But the baby is certainly worth keeping. A point can be gleaned from examining one aspect of a circumstances, even if the rest is incomparable.

    Your purpose and destiny before God will never be to enter a martial relationship with the same sex or gender, however you’d prefer to phrase it.

    God is not messy, but you might say the process of becoming like him is. The choices and experiences we go through are certainly refining and create a deeper capability to empathize and eventually despair over sin. Do you not know that God your Father went through trials as we now endure?

    From a purley naturistic perspective, the sex drive and feelings of attraction are powerful and confusing enough. Our bodies are designed to procreate with very powerful urges. I do not reduce every feeling you have to raw emotion, but my point is that the desire to act on feelings outside of marriage (between man and woman) is a problem faced my many and your struggle to keep the commandments is an additional dimension to that.

    The people who would tell you that a lifetime of enduring is a lie, themselves are lying. Your feelings will not always be as intense regarding attraction or relationships and seeking to follow such feelings will not bring God’s will into your life. Your life will have purpose when you come to know what God wants of you through personal revelation in a way that is fully supportive of what he and his prophets are teaching.

    Parsing their words and using your intellect in a way that isolates certain sentences of phrases in a way to heighten their offense or even merely your present disagreement with them is a mistake that will not build faith.

    Seeking to understand them and harmonize them with God’s will and desires for you we’ll bring meaning. Enduring to the end is not easy for any of us. You might have an easier time of some commandments and a harder time of others.

    The most important things you can do are follow the prophets, keep the commandments, love God, and strive to love and serve your neighbor. Keep staying in that path.

  37. JD – you are funny. I wear regular white guy business socks to church, but I would love to sit next to you in SS or EQ and crack jokes. Look for me.

    L-dG – “not married yet”, and “not married right” if married to a non-member.

  38. Rexicorn says:

    L-dG, good point. Maybe “abstinence” is a better word. Though that doesn’t encompass the expectation to refrain from romantic relationships altogether. I’m not sure what the word for that is. Does anyone know?

  39. Papa johnson says:

    Guest
    Life is too short and will be over in no time at all. Do not risk major transgression. Yes, a man lying with a man is major transgression. Do not listen to the voices of this world.

  40. “Life is too short and will be over in no time at all.”

    Yes, the “don’t worry, you’ll be dead soon” approach has been a rousing success among LDS methods of ministering to their gay members. The more you say it, the sooner it’s true! Kudos.

  41. @LM April 16, 2018 at 11:17 am

    Thank you for your comment. I know that each of us have struggles. Don’t feel that you have to “be” something to be a good friend to me – initiating a conversation and simply saying hello goes miles. Ministering socially without evangelizing makes a definite difference.

  42. Does BCC plan to moderate this discussion and remove comments like those from Papa johnson that advocate a fatal solution to this problem, or would the blog prefer to leave them up as a real-time example of the toxic, noxious culture within the Church that creates so much heartache among the righteous, young gay members of the Church who are trying so hard to find their place in life but can’t see their way ahead? It’s bullying at its most insidious, pretending to speak for God.

  43. I’m a gay woman who spent most of my life in the church. And coming from that perspective, can I say that I find the line of reasoning, “single women have to put up with enforced celibacy, so what’s the big deal if gay people have to do the same?” incredibly frustrating. The point that the two aren’t really comparable situations is an important one, and I’m glad to see it’s been made. But here’s another piece of why I so dislike this particular argument. My experience has been that the situation of single women is not one been that has been taken remotely seriously by the church. And yet it’s an incredibly difficult position to be in. So to see people who don’t seem to have ever given serious consideration to the damaging effects of the marginalization of single people (largely women) suddenly hide behind the existence of those singles as a way of justifying what the church is doing to gay people—honestly, it’s infuriating. Just stop already.

    To JD, all my best to you. After sticking it out for decades, I recently joined a church where I’m accepted as I am, which has been an amazing experience. I finally concluded that religion had to offer me something more than “it will be better when you’re dead” for it to be something I could stick with. But I’m not saying I think that’s the right decision for everyone; navigating these questions is such a personal matter, and I rather doubt that God calls us all to follow the same path. I wish you peace as you go forward.

  44. @E.C. April 16, 2018 at 1:42 pm

    I feel that you are heartfelt and earnest, and I genuinely appreciate your zeal. Let me give you an internet hug while I “beprove with sharpness.” Please accept this in the way that it is intended – for I have seen this line of thinking time and time and time again, and it is never successful.
    Your response represents about 85% of church leadership response on LGBT theology. That response also represents a majority reason why generations like mine are significantly leaving the church, and other religious traditions in general. We are millenials – when encountering practical problems, we don’t accept “PR prepared platitudes.” We agree with what Elder Ballard stated in regards to CES- that the time for simply bearing testimony to answer deeply held concerns is over.

    Even though this is a comical scene, this actually represents a great deal of the responses I (and we) get when presenting these problems.

    I have seen it repeatedly with my friends – earnest problems are met with a leadership wall of certainty, or even deflection. Yet when the leader is questioned on it, they have not done any research on the topic themselves. The Lord has stated many times in our recent history that He is displeased with this approach. We have to be willing to do actual research on the subject before we can even begin to “study it out in our mind.” If you’d like, I’d be happy to share with you the myriad of research regarding the biologic basis of homosexuality, the practical and statistical implications of the available paths, and the thousands upon thousands of testimonies of LGBT individuals, so that you may also personally study it out in your mind, as I have done. Again, please don’t make the mistake to simplify “the gay” to “sex drive and feelings of attraction.” Until you equate these feelings to your entire range of feelings toward a spouse, there will be an disconnect.

    Finally, don’t imply that I am parsing the words of the general authorities on this matter. That is patronizing and dismissive of the years of research and seeking and praying, and studying, and temple worship, that I have done personally, as well as the thousands of others like me.

    I encourage you to dig deeper in responding to this issue. Which situation of my alternatives is the correct one? Again, practical advice.
    Is the answer to follow my priesthood leaders? They have an abhorrent track record of leadership when counseling LGBT sons and daughters of our Heavenly Parents. Even apostles have stated that they “don’t know how to handle this.” Would you invest all your money with an investor with such a record? Would you jump on a surgeon’s table with a similar operating success rate?
    Is the answer to search, ponder, and pray? To do what we have been taught since primary, to approach the Lord with study and prayer, seeking for further light and knowledge? I’ve done that. Many of us have done that. To reject someone else’s desire to seek personal revelation for one’s life simply reveals a belief that we don’t feel the Lord has an individual and specific plan for us in mortality – related directly to our circumstances in THIS life. If we really don’t believe that the Lord knows us and directs us individually, then there are plenty of other churches that I can attend – many with better snacks.
    Again, I appreciate your zeal in the Gospel. Let’s work together to better minister to our LGBT brothers and sisters.

  45. JD, I walked that road before and it was indescribably lonely. Others think they know what you’re going through and try to relate but they have no idea. Leaving was the best choice I’ve ever made. Put that burden down and stop walking life alone.

    Good luck.

  46. Kristine says:

    JD–you’re much more gracious than I would have been.

    We’ll leave E.C.’s and Papa Johnson’s comments for now, as examples of the problems JD is pointing to, but I don’t think we can stomach many more of their ilk.

  47. @Papa johnson April 16, 2018 at 2:40 pm
    and @A#4 April 16, 2018 at 3:07 pm,
    and @L-dG April 16, 2018 at 2:53 pm indirectly

    Thank you for your comment. This represents a significant portion of the feelings of the membership on this, so it is a valuable discussion to have. Oddly enough, this was one of the first things that my mother said to me when I came out to her. Fortunately, I had been independent (emotionally and otherwise) long enough that it did not affect me as negatively as it could have, and I accepted her comment with the earnest concern intended. I shall do the same for you, internet sir.

    However, “time makes ancient good uncouth.” This verse from James Russell Lowell (titled “The Present Crisis” oddly enough) exemplies the idea that that when we know better, we must do better.
    This line of thinking “life is too short and will be over in no time at all” encourages suicide. Full stop.
    There are many reasons LGBT individuals may commit suicide. I wouldn’t dare elucidate all of them – HOWEVER:
    (Suicide Sensitive Subject Matter Below)
    Some individuals feel that suicide is a preferable “sin” than any same-sex relationship. General authorities have drastically softened their talks on suicide, and only increased their talks on the “sin of same sex sexuality.” I confess that initially, the possibility of suicide was regularly on my mind. I evaluated the possibility that it would be better to be dead than to fall in love with someone, since that is repeatedly and explicitly called a “grievous sin.” Please read the story of Stuart Matis for another testimony of this way of thinking.

    Again, I echo my previous calls for practical solutions. Dig deeper. Let’s not rest on our “couches of certainty” but work together to better practically minister to our LGBT brothers and sisters.

  48. @Rexicorn April 16, 2018 at 2:00 pm

    I confess I find the word “abstinence” to be too soft. One excellent example is the situation at BYU. While the honor code has been softened explicitly in regards to “the gay”, it still represents a double standard. “Any expression” that could be interpreted as gay romantic is forbidden – meaning that while “abstinent” straight couples may hold hands, hug, etc. gay individuals are forbidden from such chaste displays of affection. Our very obvious lack of parity in our application of the principles in the “For the Strength of the Youth” pamphlet is another reason why my friends leave – lacking respect for leadership. When the statements repeatedly include “It is no different for you than for your straight friends” but then list the above exclusions in the same sentence, it is hard to take that with a straight face.
    (This time, the pun may be PARTIALLY intended. If anybody laughs, then yes, fully intended.)

    The idea of “celibacy” vs “abstinence” is a fascinating larger discussion. In other religious traditions, they feel that celibacy is a divine calling, that the individual must 1) feel called to and 2) personally voluntarily accept. Any outward calls for celibacy towards other individuals is soundly rejected.

  49. Further to the idea of celibacy, and apropos of Lynette’s comment, traditions that have a tradition of celibacy also have roles and spiritualities associated with that calling (e.g.: a monastic observance in which, free from typical familial responsibilities, the cultivation of those relationships is formally repurposed toward a life of praying for those who cannot take the time to live as full a prayer life, and radical hospitality toward strangers that others might be unable to carry out). Outside of sort-lived missionary callings, what callings or roles apply in Mormonism to celibate members particularly? Over and over it is emphasized that the most important callings (and the only eternal ones) are familial. Single members are in a perpetual state of waiting for the opportunity to fulfil that calling in a marital state, they’re forever lacking what they are told is paramount. It is no great balm to be told that, if it doesn’t happen in this life, God will sort it out when they’re dead. For gay members, the problem is compounded, knowing that they probably have to give up hope in this life altogether.

  50. @ Frank Pellett April 16, 2018 at 1:30 pm

    Thank you for your comment. Through my “wrestle with God” on this issue, the more and more I agree with you – that “Where [I] stand with God is between me and GOD.

    I agree that single isn’t a good comparison. The comparison with a disability is understandable from a LDS theological standpoint, but fraught with peril. Honestly, if the leadership feels that that is the BEST way to minister, then they should proclaim and stand by that line of thinking. Either the comparison to a disability is the best way to theologically approach and minister LGBT individuals or it isn’t. My suspicion is that most people realize how potentially icky such a comparison sounds, and they aren’t willing to consistenly vocally proclaim it, more than the couple talks that already used that comparison.

    A larger discussion is our exitence within the afterlife. This is another example of the “couch of certainty” that we so often like to take religious naps on. We proclaim a whole bunch about what things will be like in the afterlife, but we really have very little knowledge. Much of our statements are conjecture based on our theological interpretations. I, too, do not know what parts are “me” or “defects of mortality.”
    This relates to my point about my seeking for personal guidance in the temple – God has a plan for ME. He isn’t surprised by me being gay. Or by my friends being gay. Therefore, if his plan is singleness, then we need to drastically alter our organizational messaging and ministering approach.
    “Being single is great! Let’s build Zion! And drink milkshakes!”

    Or, if marriage is actually one of the great teaching mechanisms in this life, perhaps we need to expand our minds to include the possibility that the “Restoration is an ongoing process” and allow people the possibility that the Lord does indeed have an individual plan for them. I ultimately agree that it will take the final word of the afterlife for many things. One of my science faculty in undergrad regularly humorously stated that he looked forward to the afterlife and the great lecture from Christ on “The Creation of the Word: How I did it!” He was planning on running up, grabbing E. McConkie and Pres. Joseph Fielding Smith and dragging them arm-in-arm to the front row so they could sit together and all learn.

  51. @L-dG April 16, 2018 at 4:34 pm
    This comment his the nail on the head, thank you very very much.

    Outside of our temporary missionary service, we do not have a tradition of celibacy. Nobody likes to be told that their life is a consolation prize.

    Gay people are NOT supporting characters in this, our mortal life.

  52. JD, thanks for this post. I find it (and the comments) informative and insightful. My apologies in not having any words of comfort or practical suggestions.
    I can understand why LDS leaders probably suggest the “just try a hetro lifestyle, you’ll like it” approach. They’ve probably encountered someone on the sexual spectrum who was more in the middle, and after time they were able to live a happy hetro lifestyle. And the leader see that it worked for somebody, therefore it must work for anyone else, if they just try hard enough. If only leadership had a good track record in discerning between the different shades of the spectrum.
    I imagine you find this to be a precious part of your identity. How much does anyone want their identity to change after resurrection? This post makes me ask myself, “Is there something equivalent in what I believe makes me me? Is there something about myself that God wants me to change, to the point where I might not even recognize myself?” I’m terrified that there is something, but because it’s not as in-your-face as sexual orientation, that I’ll miss that fact, until it’s too late.
    I feel sorry for the situation you’re in.

  53. JD,
    Someday, you and your beautiful family will sit next to mine in sacrament meeting, and my husband will happily gossip with yours during the high councilwoman’s talk, and we’ll roll our eyes at the pair of them. And it will be so normal, and our kids just won’t even fathom how it could have ever been any different.

    And until then, we are failing you. And that sucks. And I am sorry.

  54. pconnornc says:

    I am always impressed by those who testify of the joy of the Gospel, when obedience does not bring them promised blessings or joy. Those who tithe and struggle financially, those who obey the WoW and have poor health, those who pine for marriage or children with no fulfillment and especially those who pray for relief or redemption from sin, but never feel the power of the atonement.

    I am not equating all of these challenges, I am comparing the ability to testify without receiving the blessings themselves.

    If testimony, belief and conviction were all predicated upon guaranteed blessings tied to obedience, there would be no faith in this life at all.

  55. @jader3rd April 16, 2018 at 5:21 pm

    Thank you for your comment and concern. Honestly, while some people feel that this is inextricably tied to their personality, their very being, I actually do not. That does not mean, however, that I don’t find it a “core component” of my current existence. It just means that I don’t feel that my personality, abilities, or gifts are directly related to my desire for all forms of male intimacy.

    I am concerned that you may be implying (intentionally or not) that God wants us to “change” this component. I agree that He wants us to deny ourselves “all forms of ungodliness” however, in general, it is as inapropriate for someone to exhort someone else to “change” from being gay as it would be for me to encourage you to “change” from being straight, and disavow your associated family.

    Again, since I’m a practicalist at heart, and I strongly feel that God cares about us in THIS life as well, and so we must decide what is important in this arena.
    Is marriage and family an inherently good instituation, able to sanctify us through devotion and fidelity?
    Or are we actually going to engage with what the church leadership currently feels, but it regularly seems too hesitant to fully embrace – that the Lord has designed that some of us will be single in this life, and that’s great!
    Simple regular repetitions of that phrase would at least be a start, followed by practical solutions to minimize the infantilization and further marginalization of adult singles within the organizational church.

  56. @Leona April 16, 2018 at 5:25 pm
    Thank you for your kind thoughts. I (and many of my LGBT generation) have had consistent, repeated, vivid impressions on this exact thing during temple worship. I look forward to that possibility.

  57. Thanks, JD.

  58. @pconnornc April 16, 2018 at 5:33 pm

    Thank you for your thoughts. I appreciate the testimonies and faith of all the saints. When explicit promises are in play, this paraphrase is important to remember.

    “A God who will not keep His promises in this life will not likely keep them in the next.”
    (Paraphrase of Pres. Joseph F Smith)

    In order to fully emotionally engage with this on a practical level, to better minister to our LGBT brothers and sisters, I encourage you to do a simple task for me. I encourage you to find someone in your history, or if you don’t know anyone historically, find someone currently, that has repeatedly not followed through on promises, someone who is consistently unreliable in that way, someone who when questioned obfuscates the issue and states that they simply “didn’t know any better” each repeated time that it happens. Are you inclined to trust them to follow through with further promises? To trust them with anything precious, your life savings, your social security number, your children?

    That is the situation that I deal with daily. That is the emotional agony that drives our LGBT brothers and sisters out of the organizational church. Fortunately, when they counsel with inspired leaders, with inspired apostles, they are told that whichever path they choose, to “stay close to the teachings of Christ.” Many of them are successfully able to do that. They rely on Christ to succor them, and not the arm of flesh, no matter how earnest that arm.

    To your point, an immediate guaranteed set of blessings based on actions would indeed destroy the concept of faith. Faith is belief in things that are true. And we are instructed that “by their fruits ye shall know them.” To bring your comment back to a practical evaluation, if we aren’t prepared to consciously and practically evaluate the “fruits” of this situation (really, this pun is NOT intended) then we aren’t prepared or truly willing to minister to our LGBT brothers and sisters, aren’t prepared or truly willing to receive desperately needed further light and knowledge from the Lord on LGBT theology.

    Pres. Joseph F Smith succintly stated:
    “Not a man in this Church, since the Prophet Joseph Smith down to the present day, has ever asked any man to do as he was told blindly. No Prophet of God, no Apostle, no President of a Stake, no Bishop, who has had the spirit of his office and calling resting upon him, has ever asked a soul to do anything that they might not know was right and the proper thing to do. We do not ask you to do anything that you may not know will be a blessing for you to do.”
    I echo that statement. If we truly follow this AND Brigham Young’s exhortation to gain a testimony of all things, we must respect the right of other individuals to do similarly, particularly when receiving counsel from those with admitted incomprehension on the issue. To imply that an individual simply lacks faith when they have brought their concerns to the Lord and received consistent impressions is to deny the spirit of personal revelation entirely.

    Dig deeper! Together we can improve the practical ministering of our LGBT brothers and sisters. Thank you for your zeal in the gospel

  59. I share Leona’s vision and yearn to experience the reality! This must be how Anna felt as she waited for the Savior. Hasten the day!

  60. @Morgan, Bro. Jones, Single Sister, John, Mama Dragon, Roy Schmidt
    Thank you so much for your kind words.

    One practical thing that has been of great help is associating with the group “Mormons Building Bridges.” Their mission is to learn how to better minister to our LGBT brothers and sisters.
    Additionally, having people invite me to go to church with them has been wonderful. I’ll repeat a phrase I find important: Ministering without evangelizing works wonders. The spirit testifies far better than we ever could. Just be there. Thank you again.

  61. @Anonymous Mormon gay #653 April 16, 2018 at 10:01 am
    I empathize with your position. If I can be of any assistance at all, I would be happy to help.

  62. @Rexicorn April 16, 2018 at 10:06 am
    The odd thing is that I actually DO feel like i’m in the right place. I haven’t shared everything that I’ve experienced in the temple when pondering the direction of my life, but I have felt both an encouragement to stay close to the church AS WELL AS the peace I feel when contemplating an earnest marital relationship with a dude. This is why I wonder if God is really this messy. If He really does give unique journeys to individuals in this life, then I am irritated with the organizational church. But if He doesn’t at all, then I have no faith in personal study, prayer, and temple worship, because these impressions have been nothing but consistent for years whenever I approach the Lord on this topic. I really have no desire to follow a God who jerks me around. One consolation is Joseph Smith’s belief that “by proving contraries, truth is made manifest.”
    And so I keep moving forward.

  63. @Kevin Barney April 16, 2018 at 12:00 pm
    Honestly, parts of me wonder why I stay involved all the time. I really think much of it stems from the fact that I obstinately feel that “this is my church too.”
    And I have in fact visited many other churches. Like Krister Stendahl, I “leave room for holy envy.” I try to incorporate anything that I find praiseworthy into my own worship. Additionally, I find that I enjoy our church as a weekly reminder to consider and love others who may not think like I do. I want that regular reminder that learning to love others is both my challenge and opportunity.
    Yes, I know so many individuals who would love to have that level of acceptance in the faith. However, more and more of my friends have succumbed to attrition, stating “it just becomes more and more apparent that they just don’t want us.”

  64. JD – Thank you for your reply. I am very concerned about LGBT youth in the church. One young Mormon “not straight” person I know well decided she didn’t believe before she figured out her sexuality so when this young person confided in me it actually made me feel relieved that she wasn’t trying to reconcile the two. But I am close to two other younger people who are in active families and are active and are in the process of figuring out their “not straight” orientation and I worry for them. Can their lives be happy if they stay in the church? Can you teach the gospel and personal revelation and hope that they can use personal revelation to know their own path, and that the Lord might encourage a less strict path than the handbook chastity section?
    There have been millions of people in less than ideal situations in the history of the world. Esther married out of the Jewish faith to a murderous kind of king, Sarah’s maid probably didn’t have a choice she just had to be a handmaiden, make the best of it and get abandoned. Most people (especially women) have had very limited choices (sometimes no choice at all) about who they marry and bear children with. Our marriage and family relationships on earth are far messier than our families are forever doctrine lessons seem to address. Does the Lord tell us there is always a right and a wrong, or does he sometimes expect us to choose the best out of the limited imperfect choices?
    As a “TBM” I think you might like these quotes that I think apply to you.. Richard G. Scott quotes Pres. Benson about working mothers.” “……unusual circumstances where, out of necessity, they are required to work for a period of time. But these instances are the exception, not the rule.” (Ezra Taft Benson, To the Mothers in Zion, pamphlet, 1987, pp. 5–6.) You in these unusual circumstances qualify for additional inspiration and strength from the Lord. Those who leave the home for lesser reasons will not.” ” I believe that you (and others) in your unusual circumstances qualify for additional inspiration and strength from the Lord.
    Elder Packer said (quoting a woman who he said was inspired) “We will take care of the rule first, and then we will see to the exceptions.” I admire your patience as you wait for better answers for the exceptions like you. https://www.lds.org/general-conference/1998/04/the-relief-society?lang=eng

  65. The idea that one can be classified as an exception seems just a step away from being classified as an acceptable casualty. Homosexuality occurs at a rate of about 3-7%. Will ninety and nine forget them? Transgender occur perhaps at a rate of less than 1%, are we also an exception or an acceptable casualty? The truth is that Christ knows each of us, even though the Church, essentially has no place for LGBT people unless it is in a painful closet or in the dusty corner of exception. I myself remain in the church closet, but I stay in it because I have felt Christ’s power here, not because I would be welcomed. Ironically there are also exceptions to that dynamic, both my bishop and stake presidency counselor know I am transgender, and love and minister to me honestly, but my standing in the church is predicated on staying in the closet and not being the person I was created to be. But Christ knows how to succor me. I hope to have the courage to move from the closet to the light and air of a corner, confident that Christ has built a home for me one day. For him I am not an exception, but we all know that the church has to catch up with Christ on a number of counts, I just pray that it will. Thanks again JD.

  66. So difficult. And yet I find JD’s sentiments and approach here extremely charitable. In the purest, most Book of Mormon, sense of the word. That we approached our lives and our challenges with such intentional grace. Your declaration of belief, but also your desire for understanding and fulfillment and . . . happiness . . . , is honest and fair. I wish I had the answers to your questions, JD. And while I remain ever confident that God does have those answers, I sympathize with the despair that you battle. I can imagine that a belief in prophets who declare God’s will, coupled with a lived experience that refracts that will in a very challenging way, creates one of the most–if not the most–unrelenting hardships that any member of our Church can face. I take solace in Christ’s promise of peace. A peace not of or by this world and to which I pray you find access. Cold comfort I’m sure. But I do.

  67. @christiankimball April 16, 2018 at 10:31 am

    Thank you for sharing that experience. On regret:
    Growing up I said and did so many things that were heterosexist and unkind in nature. Now looking back, I deeply regret those things – oh, how I wish I had known better. But I was comfortable in the sense of “rightness” of my position, cloaked in adolescent “righteousness”, so it didn’t matter at the time. “The gay” was evil. The gay was short shorts on a pride float, the gay was drugs, the gay was promiscuity, the gay was a choice made by wicked people, bored with righteous sexuality. It was Adam & Eve, not Adam & Steve.
    Now I know that the gay is uncles and brothers and fathers and sons and aunts and sisters and mothers and daughters. The gay are your new neighbors, hoping that this neighborhood won’t include slurs written on their cars at night. The gay is your high school son, dying inside each seminary class reference to the disgusting “sin of Sodom.”
    The gay is me – just a kid still growing up, still not fully understanding why he feels differently inside than all of his peers, but unable to talk about it in adolescence since “we don’t talk about sex.” Unable to share childhood concerns with his parents because “the gay is a choice.”
    The best I can do today is, now that I know better, do better.
    Doesn’t fix my own sense of regret, but it does help me keep plugging along, trying to do my best.
    On a side note, I’ve appreciated your thoughtful comments on here through the years. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

  68. @Talon April 16, 2018 at 1:45 pm
    I seriously read your comment so many times wondering “Why in the world is this guy wearing white business socks to church? Who even MAKES white business socks?! Did Michael Jackson start a posthumous sock line that I wasn’t aware of?”
    It wasn’t until today that my brain processed it correctly. I would thoroughly love to join you in SS/EQ. If not me, statistically, most wards have gay guys, at least until they self select out of the church. For me personally (and the gay guy possibly in your ward), ministering without evangelizing is always helpful.
    I think i’m taking that phrase and marketing it. Anyone have connections to the “ponderize” people to sell things to the church membership? ;)

  69. @rd April 17, 2018 at 6:48 am
    Thank you for your kind words. I am definitely not always charitable. As a gay Mormon guy, I’ve had enough eye-rolls after conference talks, and PLENTY of profanity laced prayers to Heavenly Father.
    My core conundrum is this – do we believe that God knows us individually and has a personal plan for each of us? On my mission I certainly shared that message. I fully believed that the Lord would guide His children practically, that prayer could help individuals in their daily lives.
    The alternative was espoused by the dominant religion – a nebulous distant deity. Most people did not trust God or government. Knowing what they lived through I definitely don’t blame them.

    Knowing what I am living through I fully understand why others in my generation don’t trust the church or even God. I don’t want that to be the lesson I’m learning though. I want to know that God has a specific plan for me. in the end, if we don’t believe in an individual plan, then why bother? On this note, reading the letters of Mother Theresa aren’t very heartening. She lamented the lack of God’s presence in her life. In the end, my hope is similar to hers:
    That the desire for God in her life…WAS God.

  70. JD, I read your piece and all the comments and for the sake of the members of the church, I selfishly hope you stay. Your thoughtful testimony and life experiences help people like me become more empathetic and understanding. Hopefully as members gain empathy and understanding, along with Christlike love, our church communities can become more vibrant and diverse and be a place where all people feel at home. I have a firm conviction that the gospel of Jesus Christ is for everyone and not just people who fit neatly into the Mormon stereotype.
    You need to do what is best for you and follow your convictions. But please know that I value your contribution to our church and I know it is a better place because you are in it. On a very glib note, in the very least because you have good taste in socks. I will admit to imagining sock makeovers during ward council.

  71. JD – Lol!

    I would buy those MJ socks in a minute if they came with a matching sparkle glove.

  72. @Cleophas April 16, 2018 at 1:41 pm

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts. On your second point, I often feel that I agree with you, that notwithstanding “Men are that they might have joy” happiness in life is mostly irrelevant from His standpoint. My practical concern, parallel to that one, is that trust is nonexistent. Since faith is belief in things that are true, it does us no good to double down on belief in something specific that is simply a “tradition of our fathers.” It does us no good to tell someone to have faith in something specific that is simply not true from His perspective. This relates to me specifically, my patriarchal blessing, and the myriad of priesthood blessings through the years. This relates to the thousands of LGBT individuals who have received explicit divinely attributed promises that were simply false. Are we saying that God is a slick used-car salesman, or a wily politician, artfully stating after the fact that he never actually promised anything?
    Now I know that in mortality, even all our leaders “see through a glass, darkly.” But still in this case, specific apostolic, prophetic, and patriarchal promises become so untrustworthy in this LGBT scenario as to be essentially irrelevant.

  73. David Doyle says:

    I don’t know who wrote this, but he expresses all my thoughts and feelings perfectly. Apparently he and I have been on the same journey and received the same answers.

  74. JD,

    I thought I would chime in with some thoughts. Do I believe it is part of HF’s plan that opposite-gender couples unite and procreate—yes. Do I believe that HF expects all of his children on earth to carry out this plan—no. Do I believe that a same-gender relationship can be part of Heavenly Father’s plan for some of this children—yes. How does it all fit in with earthly and eternal blessings…I don’t know. I think you will benefit most by following the admonition in D&C 9:8 with the emphasis on studying it out. I wouldn’t recommend relying on your Bishop for information—or even confession. Pastoral functioning is not usually a Bishop’s day job, it is a moonlighting function. The issues of finding a divine pathway for sublimation of your hearts desires in accordance with God’s will in this circumstance is beyond the expertise of a Bishop. For a Bishop to really understand how you arrived where you are now, how your social interactions shaped you, how your core personally needs to be defined by your feelings would take hours of discussion—if he even knows how to ask the right questions. Bishops are on a tight schedule and need to wrap up their pastoral work in order to go home and be husbands and fathers—as they should be. Most Bishops are well intentioned and concerned, but their role in matters like this is often best to point to you which scriptures will be your best pathway to personal revelation. And if a Bishop DOES want to discuss this with you and ask a lot of personal details for hours, it would probably concern me.

    My situation involved 10 years of dabbling in the waters of gay relationships secretly. I visited gay clubs and bars around the country, went to gay theater events, watched gay cinema, went to gay resorts and outdoor meeting spots, went running with Frontrunners, and went to a bunch of sex clubs. I wasn’t convinced that I wanted to give up my lifelong dream of having a marriage and family in the example that my parents gave to me and my siblings. I had faith that such a relationship would bring me the most happiness in life. But homosexual attraction was strong and I had many hookups and eventually a long-term relationship for which I thought I was ready to give a lifelong commitment. But, I got ‘dumped’ and my heart broken.

    I never really felt comfortable in gay gatherings to tell you the truth. I felt like I was in high school again and didn’t wear the right clothes or have the right hairstyle. I didn’t like drinking, of course, as it was counter to my experience, but it seemed like if I wanted to fit in with a group, I had to drink. I got caught up in the emphasis on youth and physicality and tended to look at men as pieces of meat first and relationship material second. When I did have serious conversations with partners about living in the closet, the advice to me was frequently that I just needed to ‘come out’ and I would be happier and more free.

    But reflecting back on this now after being married to a woman for 15 plus years and having kids, I am—and this is for me and me alone—glad that I didn’t. A gay blogger that I greatly respect once described gayness as a core element of a person’s identity—down to their artistic views and sense of humor. I learned after much introspection that my core identity is that of a straight man. I find fulfilment in doing straight things with straight people and it is ego syntonic for me, in spite of having strong homoerotic responses. Though I found limited enjoyment socializing with other gay men, at the end of a day or week, I wanted the straight nature of my LDS-based life. That is, except for the long-term relationship. While I was seeing my partner, spending time with him was number one and I imagined I could make it work. Maybe with the right partner I could have, but that relationship was doomed to flash and die out. My partner wasn’t looking at “I love you’s” and “I want to spend the rest of my life with you” in the lenses I was socialized to see those commitments to represent.

    Nevertheless, that experience of unrequited love opened my heart and was a turning point in moving back to a straight relationship, and the timing was right for me to find someone who turned out to be perfect for me. I was, however, aware from an early age in life that I had attraction to females, but I was given extreme music and visual talent and had a photographic memory. I was a gentle, non-aggressive kid and was excluded from the boys who formed the more masculine group and became part of the non-athletic, geeky, or sissy group. The passage through the middle school years was very emasculating with this change. I also had a shaming interview with a Bishop as a deacon for having viewed straight pornography and also being asked about masturbation. The guilt of these activities shaped my over-achieving LDS resolve. At the same time, we had a locker room culture of forced male nudity and there was never any bishop shaming from looking at other boys in the locker room. I assume if they told you not to do it, they might inadvertently suggest that you do. It was expected and, by default, encouraged. That triggered a response that was not defined as a negative in my youth.

    So I find myself now identifying as Bisexual, though with acting out gay desires and keeping heterosexual activities off limits, it was a very repressed part of me. I am not suggesting that this is right for you, for my story and socialization was unique and different, as is yours and every other man looking through these lenses. I try to close out those activities from my life. It’s like Christopher Reeve in “Somewhere in Time” where he sees a penny and realizes his life that he has achieved can fall apart with just a thought. I don’t want to be in discussion groups or raise my relationship up for public scrutiny. I just want to live it quietly and happily.

    If I was going to give you advice though, I might suggest that instead of leaving the church, you take a break from it. Move away by yourself. Tell people you are having trouble with the ‘historical issues’ of the church or any other reason that they might allow you to have time and space to ‘study it out in your own mind’ by experience. If you find a relationship that becomes number one in your life, then everything else may drop down your priority list. If you miss the safe harbor that the traditional church brings to you and the attempt to be an LDS man in a gay world is ego dystonic, then come back. What I don’t see being productive is the attempt to harbor the attitude that the church is changing on gay issues and that a man can expect to see a relationship with a man sanctioned in the near future. Tyler Glenn’s famous attempt at doing this speaks for itself. Good luck!

  75. I heard a news clip of Pres. Nelson in India yesterday say: “The gospel of Jesus Christ has only one purpose: to make life better for people, and that’s what we’re going to do.” He’s talking about standard of living, I assume. He didn’t say “Things will work out for you poverty-stricken in the next life” or anything like that. He said, “Let’s make *this life* better.” And if he wants to make life better for all people, they’ve got to make the church LGBTQ friendly.
    I am so tired of the doublespeak surrounding the issue. Thank you for your articulate post and responses, JD.

  76. @Jaramiah April 18, 2018 at 11:55 am
    Thank you for sharing your experiences. I am so happy that you found someone who was perfect for you, and that you have built a life on that. That is wonderful!
    I fortunately don’t harbor practical illusions of immediate change on LGBT theology within the church. I DO however want to be anxiously engaged personally with my faith. I want to seek out the Lord’s will for me. To posit a direct thought, if this is indeed the Lord’s church on the earth, then He has a specific plan for me. I am daily using the tools taught in primary (search, ponder, and pray) to find it.

  77. Corbin Mcmillen says:

    Something thats never discussed is the toxins that cause homosexuality.
    Mercury being the biggest.
    Vaccines and mercury in the mothers teeth.

  78. @Corbin Mcmillen
    Oh, wonderful. The pseudoscientists have arrived, everyone.

  79. it's a series of tubes says:

    Corbin, I know! Prior to vaccines and dental work, there were no gay people. Isn’t that crazy?

  80. I wish the Niblets were still around. That comment ^^^ by Tubes would sweep the field.

  81. Well, obviously we know that vaccines and mercury cause homosexuality. An incredibly reliable source informs me that our water is capable of turning the freaking frogs gay.

  82. Jaramiah says:

    JD,

    I believe with you that He has a specific plan for you and that seeking out the Lord’s will for you will succeed in personal revelation on which you can build your future life. jaramiah@gmail.com

  83. @ Corbin Mcmillen April 22, 2018 at 7:23 pm
    Shucks. I’ve worked with vaccines, fluoride, mercury amalgam, and radiation.
    I was hoping for Captain America, but I ended up gay.

    (I guess I still AM hoping for Captain America… ;) )

  84. In the post, I didn’t even TOUCH ON things that have been said about me personally and collectively regarding other theories of reasons why the gay exists.
    “He must have been abused as a child.” Nope, never once. And research does not support this collectively.
    “If his parents followed the teachings of the prophets on how to “encourage heterosexuality”, this would never have happened.” You couldn’t have more of a traditional LDS parental structure than my parents. Dad worked, Mom was a homemaker. Primary, Boy Scouts, Family Home Evenings, including the old included lesson clips with that creepy-voices water pump in the middle of the desert. “You should have primed the well!”
    “Homosexuality is caused by possession by female spirit followers of Satan. This is why you have desires towards men.” Ummm, yeah. Somebody actually told me that. With a straight face.

  85. your food allergy is fake says:

    That water pump movie is trippy! I hadn’t thought to approach it with a sexual interpretation, now it’s even better.

  86. Rebecca Jensen says:

    Outstanding. You are on the right track. I have distanced myself from “religion” to gain more “spirituality” Forge ahead. I am so thankful for being raised in the Gospel. Now I am at a point in my journey where I gratefully receive what I need and leave the rest behind. I have also taken great comfort and found answers in the book/movie “Contact” by Carl Sagan. Specifically Jodie Foster’s beach scene with her father and closing remarks in the courtroom, as you noted. Small moves, Ellie. Small moves.

  87. Rachel E O says:

    I know I’m coming to this a month late, but after reading through the comment thread, I just had to post and say, JD, wow, your responses on this thread reveal you to be one of the most exemplary ‘internet humans’ I have ever encountered. Consistent, longsuffering grace, courage, humor, fairness, boldness. You engaged thoughtfully and productively with all of the commenters. You even took time to reply to comments that I think anyone could have reasonably expected you to ignore, and you did so with abundant patience and generosity. You never became defensive, never dismissed people’s comments with vitriol or sarcasm (okay, except for that response to Corbin but even that was delivered with good-natured humor). And you responded with admirable grace to all of the well-meaning but sometimes patronizing advice given in response to the concluding questions in your OP, which questions were probably intended to provoke thought and introspection and empathy as much or more as to actually solicit advice that you have already considered at great length and in some cases acted upon (such as exploring other churches). Thank you for your example to me of how to stand as a witness.