Mormon and Same Sex Attracted

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???
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Mormon and Same Sex Attracted

Post by ??? » 12 Apr 2009, 20:06

Long, mature content, and somewhat rambling…

Just looking for some thoughts and perspectives to the following. I have posted elsewhere on the bloggernacle and DAMU but am not comfortable posting about this elsewhere. It’s impossible to recount everything and the all the epiphanies I’ve experienced.

I’m single, 29, RM, attractive, successful, and same sex attracted. I’ve been disaffected (though moderately active) from the church for a little while, largely because of unanswered and unsatisfactory responses to my questions, both practically and philosophically, when it comes to homosexuality. Being gay or same sex attracted in the church sucks. On the advice of my then bishop for mild porn issues, I started therapy and through my work there, I voluntarily and eagerly pursued reparative therapy with a Mormon oriented group of therapists. Don’t worry, I haven’t been physically shocked or emotionally abused. It’s been a very helpful and positive experience.

I’ve never been completely convinced of the biological/genetic cause theory. The developmental cause theory at least highlighted many of the correlations that occur between gay men and their emotional development. Most of it rang true. At last I learned that it wasn’t my fault I feel this way. I cried for several hours as I mentally replayed my life, hurts, and disappointments. Like most, I initially viewed my therapy as a gift of grace from God. Therapy has inspired me to change the things I can change in my life and develop myself in ways I would not have otherwise. But therapy allowed me to assert myself and truly speak my mind and not give just the church approved answers. As I continued in therapy, it became more and more apparent that my disconnection from the world around me, even within the church, originated from the church and my young, naive, hardcore approach to Mormonism. Church service stole my father from me for my entire adolescence. Regardless of which causation theory, it feels like God has broken my leg and asked me to run a mile in 6 minutes. I don’t have the words to express the level of anger, rage, frustration, hurt, disappointment, and abandonment I feel toward the church and God. In one psychodrama session, a fellow member represented God and my therapist asked me what I wanted to tell God. Choking up and crying, I softly said, “F--- you.”

As I continued in therapy, several things bothered me:

•An over-representation of Mormons in the group
•An apparently low success rate of changing orientations
•The church only treating symptoms and not root problems
•The growing realization that I will always be same sex attracted, just like those who have been working on this for years
•The realization that my attractions will always wax and wane and isn’t in indication of a shifting orientation
•The private confession of Elder Oaks to my therapist that the church does not know how to handle the issue
•The public statements, past and present, of the church inciting feelings of shame, stealing hope, contradicting each other, and offering impossible solutions
•The recidivism of the married gay men I met
•Fleeting and inconsistent peace, even among the most faithful.

In my disaffection, I have explored the more difficult aspects of Mormonism. I’ve been on the DAMU and I enjoy the debate, but sometimes the bitterness and criticism gets petty and over the top. I’ve learned that many of the traits and behaviors, by individuals and institutions, are demonstrated equally by the DAMU and TBM. I’ve come to accept that some things are just the natural result of social interaction, leadership and organizational behavior. I’ve learned to see the good the church has and does provide me. I know the church can’t be everything to everyone. I’ve been able to forgive the leaders at a high level, knowing that they have tough jobs and make mistakes. If there is a merciful personable Father God that requires my faith in exchange for grace and I hope to receive it, then I imagine those leaders are hoping for the same grace and lenience for their mistakes.

I think in the last two years, I’ve said maybe 10 personal prayers. I bless the food and say family prayer when asked, but it’s usually pretty cursory. I stopped praying because God’s silence was deafening. I got sick of acting on the emotions and physical sensations that I had always associated with the Spirit, just to be left worse off than when I started, especially when it came to seeking guidance on my sexuality and dating girls. I have experienced those some feelings if I affirm myself as gay or if I ask if Joseph Smith was a false prophet. It seems that those feelings can be summoned as a response to a wide range of scenarios.

In my work, I’ve been exposed to what is termed healing touch. It’s a method of receiving intimate, non-sexual touch from your same gender. The idea is that what you really want is close connection, not sex and that non-sexual touch is a basic human need. When I asked the person who introduced this to me what the difference was, he said that sex with a guy just messes with your head, but the healing touch was real and authentic. I had always been touch adverse, but as I submitted to this, I found it very arousing, connecting, authentic, and beautiful. I couldn’t get enough of it. Up until this time, I had never had any sexual experience with anyone – male or female. My trepidation of dating women and marriage had been founded on my apparent inability to conquer my attractions, as well as extreme feelings of inadequacy compared to women. In my work, I’ve seen and heard about too many hurt wives and girlfriends and I didn’t want to be “That Guy”. Additionally, it felt like acting out with a guy was more a question of “when” and not “if”.

It happened a couple weeks ago. I introduced a very close friend of mine to touch work a few months ago. We originally met in one of my therapy groups. He is also same sex attracted, and Mormon, and in the beginning stages of disaffection. I knew my curiosity would eventually beat me and I figured it was better to experience it now than later when married. I let my boundaries down, as did my friend. [content moderated] I’m not sure if my love for my friend is romantic or platonic, but I’m glad that my experience was with a person I care about and not some stranger. However, I was overcome with fear that I ruined our friendship. I love all my friends deeply and I realized that I would rather have his friendship than engage in a sexual relationship and eventually lose him. I bleed Mormonism and that behavior will never been accepted by Mormons in my lifetime. I learned that for me to realize some of the benefits of family and church that I truly enjoy, I can’t have a secret or public sexual relationship with my friend. I don’t want to live a secret life. If it were public, I will lose other relationships that are just as important to me. Additionally, I don’t want to cause problems for him and his other vital relationships. And even if we had an ongoing sexual relationship, I know at some point he would move on and try to settle down in the church and I would be left older, alone, hurt, and abandoned.

The next day when processing all that happened, I went to his house and we discussed how we were going to move on and still stay friends. Fortunately, it appears that it will happen as long as family, church and therapy don’t condition our recovery/progress on severing contact with each other. He doesn’t fault me, nor I him. We agreed that since our friendship has been based on so much more than this one experience, that we just need to maintain healthy boundaries and move on. I asked him to hug me and I just cried in his arms because I feel so trapped, tired, and conflicted. It appears that no matter what path I take in life, I will never achieve everything I want and value. Mormonism didn’t give me the promised lasting peace and appears to have exacerbated my attractions. Spiritual guidance from the Holy Ghost and leaders has been shaky at best. I’ve tried everything my therapist has asked and as I’ve accepted, affirmed, and developed my masculinity and relationships, I’ve grown in sexual attraction toward men. The experience with my friend showed me the heavy price I would pay for not remaining celibate. The things I want most in life are diametrically opposed to each other and always will be. My attractions will never go away. I don’t even have a hope that they will in the next life. I love my birth family and want to stay connected to them. I love all my friends. I am less certain about the church, but I love many aspects of Mormonism and am not willing to trade down. I love the hymns, realizing your potential, family, friendship, transcending our humanity, revelation, and a loving Heavenly Father.

Any thoughts, suggestions, and advice and navigating Mormonism as a disaffected gay/SSA man would be appreciated. I have been happier as I’ve stepped a few feet back from Mormonism, but I can’t leave it completely. I’m a conflicted, confused, tired, sad, broken man.

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Re: Mormon and Same Sex Attracted

Post by Curt Sunshine » 12 Apr 2009, 21:42

I can't offer any advice from personal experience (other than years of discussions with gay and lesbian friends), but I can mention the following:

1) The Mormon Blogosphere Aggregator (http://mormonblogosphere.blogspot.com/) is the most comprehensive one for Mormon-themed blogs of which I am aware. On the right-hand side of the listing is a category entitled, "Liberal/Fringe Elements". (Yeah, it's not the label I would have preferred, but at least it's there.) Within that category are multiple blogs of gay members. You might want to check them and see if they can offer any assistance from their own experiences.

2) Personally, I don't think there will be ANY sexual activity in the hereafter, as we know it now, regardless of sexual orientation. That's just my opinion, not doctrine, but it makes total sense to me - especially since we mortals already have reached the point scientifically where we can imagine being able to create life outside of the standard biological process that has been the exclusive process thus far in mortality. Since we have NO idea of how "intelligences" are turned into "spirits" - and since (at the risk of sounding blasphemous or irreverent) I have a hard time picturing God, the Mother, waddling around pregnant throughout the eternities - and since removing sexual relations in the afterlife would IMMEDIATELY alleviate almost all of the angst over polygamy and sexual orientation in the afterlife - for all of these reasons, I personally believe sexual orientation and activity is a part of mortality and only mortality.

3) If that is the case, much of the despair associated with mortal homosexuality would disappear (even if the current restrictions remain in place) to be replaced by the "normal" difficulty of having a physical / biological / neurological / physiological tendency that is deemed to be destructive in some way. I know that still is "worse" than what is required of a heterosexual member in theory (since that heterosexual member at least has a hope of sexual activity in this life), but when a single Mormon woman (for example) reaches 50 or 60 without marriage and previous sexual activity most of them really have "given up" any hope for this life. Remove sex from the afterlife, and a single gay man or lesbian woman is in the exact same situation as a single straight man or woman.

4) I believe the Church's most recent statements that homosexuality is NOT strictly a learned behavior but in many cases IS a genetic, biological aspect of self (no different than heterosexuality) opens all kinds of possibilities to begin to see homosexual activity in many cases as transgressions rather than sins - again, even if the current restrictions don't change. That is a critical and wonderful shift, imo, since transgressions can be seen as covered by the Atonement of Christ in important ways.

Finally, there are a couple of threads from Feminine Mormon Housewives that I think you should read that deal with these basic issues:

A) "Gender: A State of Mind" (http://www.feministmormonhousewives.org/?p=2249) - a repost of something from The Faithful Dissident's blog (http://thefaithfuldissident.blogspot.co ... -mind.html) - There are some great comments by some people with first-hand experience with inter-sex biology that are fascinating and illuminating, imo.

B) Modesty, Chastity and Human Bodies (http://www.feministmormonhousewives.org/?p=2387) My first comment is #19, and my follow-up explanations are in comments #28 and #40.

The only other advice I can give is to pursue personal spirituality outside "The Church" but within the scope of Jesus' teachings. I am pursuing it one particular way (viewtopic.php?f=5&t=82), but regardless of the format you use, I believe strongly you need to separate what the Church can provide (a community and general theology) and what you need to gain on your own (a personal relationship with deity).
I see through my glass, darkly - as I play my saxophone in harmony with the other instruments in God's orchestra. (h/t Elder Joseph Wirthlin)

Even if people view many things differently, the core Gospel principles (LOVE; belief in the unseen but hoped; self-reflective change; symbolic cleansing; striving to recognize the will of the divine; never giving up) are universal.

"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." H. L. Mencken

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Tom Haws
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Re: Mormon and Same Sex Attracted

Post by Tom Haws » 13 Apr 2009, 08:55

Usually the straight truth is most helpful as we seek answers. I was taken aback by the simple, innocent, clear, and frank definition of "gayness and lesbianism" at a site I visited oriented to young people. According to that site, "you are gay or lesbian if instead of fancying the opposite sex, you fancy those of your own sex". That is a very clear-cut definition that is in an entirely different world from simple "same-sex attraction", which could happen to anybody for any reason at any time.
----
Unfortunately, LDS Mormonism lacks a tradition of appreciation for holy celibacy. Marriage is seen and expressed consistently and unequivocally as the irreplaceable pinnacle. Gratefully, as the LDS Church begins compassionately and honestly to listen, members and leaders will gradually come to appreciate, respect, and reverence the spiritual stature of those who by love withhold themselves from what, for them, would be a selfish and harmful offense to society, namely marriage.
Tom (aka Justin Martyr/Justin Morning/Jacob Marley/Kupord Maizzed)
Higley and Guadalupe
Gilbert, Arizona
----
Sure, any religion would do. But I'm LDS.
"There are no academic issues. Everything is emotional to somebody." Ray Degraw at www.StayLDS.com

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Tom Haws
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Re: Mormon and Same Sex Attracted

Post by Tom Haws » 13 Apr 2009, 09:56

Ray Degraw wrote:2) Personally, I don't think there will be ANY sexual activity in the hereafter, as we know it now, regardless of sexual orientation.
I agree. I understand Union (Onement) in Heaven to be non-sexual and not gender specific. Like "gaining a body", marriage as we know it is firmly associated with the mortal school. The spiritual results and effects of marriage and body endure eternally.
Tom (aka Justin Martyr/Justin Morning/Jacob Marley/Kupord Maizzed)
Higley and Guadalupe
Gilbert, Arizona
----
Sure, any religion would do. But I'm LDS.
"There are no academic issues. Everything is emotional to somebody." Ray Degraw at www.StayLDS.com

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Brian Johnston
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Re: Mormon and Same Sex Attracted

Post by Brian Johnston » 13 Apr 2009, 14:10

This is such a difficult challenge to sort out for people. My heart goes out to you. You are welcome to explore this here in our community. There are a lot of people in your same situation. I personally would love to find room in "the tent" for you in the LDS Church.

The idea that came to my mind when thinking about advice is this: focus on your direct connection to God and Jesus Christ. You are fully loved and accepted by them however you are. That is absolute. Don't feel unworthy to seek them. Your problem is very similar to all of our individual problems on a certain level -- we just don't fit the mold. Some of us can't believe some things. Some of us see things different. If you work on purifying your heart, filling yourself with humility and acceptance for what God has in store for your life journey, and seeking guidance from the Spirit, you will learn what you need to learn.

Take from mormonism what nurishes you. I believe there is a lot there for us. I believe in the richness and depth of our open theology (even if it isn't presented often as open by traditional members). Be a "gay mormon" if that is what God has in store for you. Deny your inclinations, if that is what the Spirit tells you is right. Be open to the possibilities. Have faith. Work on growing close to God, and don't worry so much about fitting into a specific cookie-cutter shape. I think that will lead to a resolution of your heart and soul. We are happy when we fill the measure of our creation. So what is that measure? We must find out.

I hope you feel welcome here. Like I said, this is an important question for our times. Many brothers and sisters out there have this question to ask themselves, and they are looking for an answer that is right for them.
"It's strange to be here. The mystery never leaves you alone." -John O'Donohue, Anam Cara, speaking of experiencing life.

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Re: Mormon and Same Sex Attracted

Post by Gabe P » 17 Apr 2009, 16:56

I am sorry. I wish you could have a little more peace.

I hope the more optimistic posters here are right, but I think the Church will always despise homosexuals. We need cultural whipping boys. No ingroups, no security: no outgroups, no purpose. I feel the Church's recent liberalization on this issue is due entirely to the need to retain some credibility: if they keep selling the Faust circa 1995 line about genetic causes of homosexuality being completely incompatible with the gospel, anyone who can read will r-squared them into oblivion.

So they've reinvented homosexuality as a temptation that must be resisted. That's not a surprise since we have the biblical injunctions and the need for an outgroup. It's also not surprising since we teach that gender is eternal. I guess I'm not being much help.

I'd love to offer reassurance and I'd love to offer a suggestion that the Church might change, but I don't think it ever will. I second what Valoel said. I wouldn't worry about trying not to be gay: you are gay and that probably isn't ever going to change. I believe God loves you and I believe you're no second class citizen to him. See what you can do in the Church while acknowledging your sexuality, if only to yourself. Don't let them make you feel like you need to be in therapy because you're gay. I'd encourage you to read this little snippet from the American Psychological Association:

http://www.apa.org/topics/sorientation.html#whatabout
All major national mental health organizations have officially expressed concerns about therapies promoted to modify sexual orientation. To date, there has been no scientifically adequate research to show that therapy aimed at changing sexual orientation (sometimes called reparative or conversion therapy) is safe or effective. Furthermore, it seems likely that the promotion of change therapies reinforces stereotypes and contributes to a negative climate for lesbian, gay, and bisexual persons. This appears to be especially likely for lesbian, gay, and bisexual individuals who grow up in more conservative religious settings.

Helpful responses of a therapist treating an individual who is troubled about her or his samesex attractions include helping that person actively cope with social prejudices against homosexuality, successfully resolve issues associated with and resulting from internal conflicts, and actively lead a happy and satisfying life. Mental health professional organizations call on their members to respect a person’s (client’s) right to selfdetermination; be sensitive to the client’s race, culture, ethnicity, age, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, socioeconomic status, language, and disability status when working with that client; and eliminate biases based on these factors.
I'm really sorry to speak so strongly, but as one who's had a little bad therapy and a lot of good therapy, you need to fire these guys, because conversion therapy is borderline malpractice.

As far as the Church: you've served an honorable mission. You've done your best to contribute to the organization. Just do what you feel OK with and leave the rest. I wish you luck on your journey and I hope we hear more from you.

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Horatio
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Re: Mormon and Same Sex Attracted

Post by Horatio » 18 Apr 2009, 05:56

??? wrote:Regardless of which causation theory, it feels like God has broken my leg and asked me to run a mile in 6 minutes. I don’t have the words to express the level of anger, rage, frustration, hurt, disappointment, and abandonment I feel toward the church and God....
You break my heart.

God loves you. The Church loves you -- at least those leaders and members who understand the teachings of Christ and are not blinded by politics and bigotry. There is a place for you in the Church, among those members who will accept you as a child of God, and not try to turn you into something you are not. I hope you can seek out and find those members.

I can only imagine how you feel. I believe that Black people felt (and feel) many of the same things when reading past statements by Church leaders saying that they bear the mark of Cain, were not valiant in the pre-existence, etc.

I recently stumbled across an address given by Elder McConkie a few months after the revelation allowing Blacks to fully participate in the Church. It has given me cause for hope as I have struggled with my "issues" with the Church.
Forget everything that I have said, or what President Brigham Young or President George Q. Cannon or whomsoever has said in days past that is contrary to the present revelation. We spoke with a limited understanding and without the light and knowledge that now has come into the world.

We get our truth and our light line upon line and precept upon precept. We have now had added a new flood of intelligence and light on this particular subject, and it erases all the darkness and all the views and all the thoughts of the past. They don’t matter any more.
I pray that someday an Apostle will give a similar talk about those attracted to their own gender. Until then, I hope you can focus on your own relationship with Heavenly Father and feel his love and acceptance.

Curt Sunshine
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Re: Mormon and Same Sex Attracted

Post by Curt Sunshine » 18 Apr 2009, 10:04

Slight threadjack alert:

Horatio, I compiled a bunch of quotes from modern prophets and apostles about the justifications for the ban into one post for easy reference. If you want to read them, they are at:

Repudiating Racist Justifications Once and For All (http://thingsofmysoul.blogspot.com/2009 ... -once.html)

I actually have hope that the official statements of the Church will continue to move toward inclusion for homosexual members. It will require patience, but I believe I will see it in my own lifetime, assuming I live a reasonably long life.
I see through my glass, darkly - as I play my saxophone in harmony with the other instruments in God's orchestra. (h/t Elder Joseph Wirthlin)

Even if people view many things differently, the core Gospel principles (LOVE; belief in the unseen but hoped; self-reflective change; symbolic cleansing; striving to recognize the will of the divine; never giving up) are universal.

"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." H. L. Mencken

???
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Re: Mormon and Same Sex Attracted

Post by ??? » 01 May 2009, 08:40

Thanks for your thoughts and suggestions.

It seems that regardless of one's position on homosexuality, everyone (including outside this board and pro gay groups) has told me to focus on my personal relationship with God. In fact, my mother, who is aware of my attractions, prays for this everytime I join in family prayer.

I don't know what that is, feels like, or looks like. I have never consistently felt like I was loved or accepted by God. I feel guilty saying that because my life is awesome, I have so much going for me, and there are people who suffer a lot more than I do and still believe. Previously, I've had a hope of such love. But it was fleeting. Occassionally when I hear a hymn or sermon touching on the topic, the hope is somewhat rekindled. But its just a teaser.

Since I last posted, I've fooled around a couple more times with my friend. We mutually agreed that we cannot and will not do anything to get even remotely intimate again, so no more touching. I truly value his friendship most of all. I understand and accept that going further will alter and eventually destroy our friendship.

But I hurt and ache for him in a way I never I have for another person. It was overwhelming so I decided to give prayer a shot. I didn't pray for God to fix/change me, change the church, or tell me the church/BOM/JS are true - I just simply prayed for God to help me feel that He is there and loves me. Silence. The most basic principles I taught as a missionary are completely lost on me. I don't recall anything in the scriptures or doctrine that says that worthiness is a prerequiste for an answer to this simple prayer and starting point of the Gospel. This recent prayer experience was very disappointing and reinforced the idea that it might be foolish waste of time and a pipe dream to pursue the love of God.

How can I run this race if I can't even get off the starting blocks? How can I feel that love and engrain it on my soul? How do the rest of you know and feel it? How come so many others are able to experience that, but not me?

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Tom Haws
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Re: Mormon and Same Sex Attracted

Post by Tom Haws » 01 May 2009, 09:18

There are things that inspire and uplift you. Do them more.

As this becomes more and more a life-consuming crisis for you, you will naturally offer more and more to Heaven as a "willing sacrifice" in hope of a break-through. With each letting go comes more break-through. As long as you keep believing in and cherishing your highest and deepest dreams through the darkest of your crisis, the other side will be good and peaceful and loving. Please don't give up. We believe in you.
Tom (aka Justin Martyr/Justin Morning/Jacob Marley/Kupord Maizzed)
Higley and Guadalupe
Gilbert, Arizona
----
Sure, any religion would do. But I'm LDS.
"There are no academic issues. Everything is emotional to somebody." Ray Degraw at www.StayLDS.com

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