Seeing as how I can get really sick of answering the same questions again and again, I thought it would be convenient to provide some answers to questions/comments that I have either been asked or that I would imagine someone would like to ask upon learning that I’m gay. If you think of one something I’ve missed or that seems unclear, please leave it in the comments below and I will try to keep this up to date.
Are you sure?
Yes, absolutely. Next question.
What does that mean?
I like guys. That is it. Forget any stigmas or stereotypes you may know or assume. Though some may apply to me (ex: Gaga), it would be ridiculous to apply them to me just because I like guys.
So, what happened? Why are you gay now?
I’m no more gay now than I was five or ten years ago, now I’m just choosing to be myself and love myself. The only new thing is that you know about it.
And the Church? Where does that fit into everything?
My sexuality and my spirituality are independent of each other. Whether I like men or women really has no influence on the existence or will of any sort of a divine being. As of now, leaving the LDS Church doesn’t feel like the right decision. I don’t know if I will always feel that way, but right now I am a Mormon and I am gay. As for the future? I don’t know. My crystal ball is in the shop right now. I will figure it out when I get it back.
Wait, are you gay or do you experience same gender attraction?
There isn’t really a difference at all. However, I don’t like the nomenclature the LDS Church uses (Same Gender/Sex Attraction). It makes it feel like something passing, which is probably their goal in doing that, but it just doesn’t feel right for me. I like “gay” or “queer” better. They just feel better for me. Others are free to self-identify as they will, but it is wrong to think that what works for one person is going to work for everyone. I can only speak for myself.
So was your mission super hard?
Yes, but not because I was gay. It was hard because missions are hard. If it’s easy you’re doing something wrong. Being gay had little to no influence on my mission, other than that it helped me relate to people better on a number of occasions (and not just because the person we were teaching was gay). There is the erroneous notion that gay men are just going to lust after their companions if they go on missions. For me, that is laughably ridiculous and never even entered the realm of my thoughts. It was just a non-issue. And I did talk to my mission president about it. He was an incredible help to me and helped me to stop hating myself. With all of that, my homosexuality had no influence on the decision to return home early. That was all based on my mental health.
Do you think that being closeted made your bipolar/mental health problems worse?
It’s hard to say because I don’t have anything to compare it to. Growing up in the closet sucks; it’s dark in there, but I will never know what it would have been like to grow up without it.
Though it didn’t help the situation. Much of the depression I experienced stemmed from self loathing because I wasn’t “right” according to Mormonism. I wasn’t experiencing the same feelings towards girls that I heard other guys talking about and therefore I was broken. I felt like the attraction I had towards other guys was evil, like a thick tar covering me. Worrying about other people finding out about how I felt about other guys consumed me and I wasted so much energy trying to hide it or change it. Coming out to people has always brought a good measure of relief from symptoms, but it’s always been temporary. Also, because I have a family history of mental illness (depression and bipolar among other things) and some medical tests I’ve had, I believe that the primary source of my mental health problems is biological.
There is also the question of where the LDS Church fits into the equation. It made being closeted so much worse, and made it that much harder to come out to myself and deepened my depression.
Were you ever abused as a child?
No. My upbringing was about as ideal as you could hope for. By the way, this is a for real question I’ve been asked.
But the Church hates gays.
Yeah, sometimes it feels like that, but that is part of the reason that I need to stay in it. There are too many queer LDS kids who are kicked out of their homes or abused (not always physically) or raised to hate themselves because they are “abominations.” Self-loathing, as it did for me, can create a deep seeded depression in youth (adults too, but especially youth) which can lead to other mental illness or suicide. That’s not okay and I want to do something to change it. A place has to be created for the queer community in the Mormon faith if it hopes to retain any of us. I’m not even talking about changing the doctrine, I am talking about changing the conversation to allow people like me to feel safe at Church. Because I don’t always feel safe at Church. Not that I will be physically harmed, but that someone will make some off-handed remark or otherwise make me feel like I am not wanted there. It’s time for being gay to stop being the punchline.
Clearly you just don’t have enough faith for God to take the gay away.
I spent years praying for that. Trying to make deals with God or just pleading with Him for release from this. You know what? That never brought me any peace. None. I never felt any sort of confirmation that it was even a possibility for me. I decided that maybe I was just asking the wrong questions, and instead asked Him if it was okay that I was gay. The feeling of peace and love that washed over me in response to that was surprising. In exploring my queerness I have learned so much about what it means to love someone unconditionally. About how to love those that hate me. I’ve learned how to better leave judgment to God, and to focus on the commandment to love one another.
Well, I love you and support you, but I think what you are doing will damn you. This can also be finished with “…but I don’t agree with you living that lifestyle,” or “…but I can’t support your homosexuality.” It means the same thing.
No sincere statement that starts with “I love you” can finish with a “but.” Unconditional love doesn’t end with a qualifying statement.
Haven’t you tried just not being gay?
Yes. I have. For years. I dated some in high school (see next question) and went on a couple of dates after the mission, but it only caused me ridiculous amounts of angst. Every time I felt like my eternity depended on that specific girl. Then I discovered that I didn’t have to choose between being gay and being Mormon, something I hadn’t previously considered. And in acknowledging that I found so much peace and joy. I don’t know how things will all work out, but I have faith that there is a place in heaven for queer people (and couples).
But what about Dani?
So Dani was a girl that I dated starting the beginning of senior year of high school until a couple months before I left on my mission (more or less a year and a half).
We had alot of fun together. Disneyland, Shakespeare, Doctor Who, The Nightmare Before Christmas. And Dani, if you ever end up reading this, I am sorry. I am so sorry. Not for being gay, but for some of the stuff that happened while we were dating. Also, projection much?
So pretty much you just want to sleep with every guy you see, right?
No. Unfortunately many people have the idea that all gay men want is sex (okay, not just gay men, but you know the stereotype). There is so much more to factor into a relationship than just sex. And my attraction to guys has no influence on my desire for a monogamous relationship (I want one).
Be my GBF?
Do you want to date at all?
Ever? I’m not against the idea. BYU is weird though and so I won’t say anything more about that.
Oh I see. So should I report you to the Honor Code office?
If you really want to I guess, but it would just be a waste of time. Being gay isn’t against the Honor Code (“One’s stated same-gender attraction is not an Honor Code issue“) and I have committed no violations.
What about marriage and whatnot?
Sounds fantastic. It will require further thought when it is actually legal. As for marrying a guy or a girl, all I know is that I will marry someone I love. That is my only prerequisite. There are gay men that have married women and pulled it off somehow, even having genuine feelings for each other, but I’ve heard that mixed orientation marriages are exceedingly stressful, painful, and more often than not end in messy divorces. I don’t know that I could put anyone through that (one reason I am really happy that my mixed orientation relationship with Dani didn’t progress to that point. She deserves better. And I think she got it. She is married now, and rumor has it she’s preggers). Everyone should be able to marry someone they love and who reciprocates that love.