A common thread that seems to run through the psyche of many gay Mormons is a sense of “aloneness:” the fear (or reality) of being ostracized by our brothers and sisters in the gospel for being gay. And, the anxiety of being criticized and condemned by the larger gay community for our devotion to a church that, admittedly, has caused much strife in the lives and families of gay individuals—irrespective of faith.
Intellectually, I know that I am not alone in my quest to integrate my sexual orientation with my faith. Yet at an emotional level I, too, am haunted at times by this same sense of aloneness, which, over time, leads me to feel defeated in my purpose to create change for what I feel is right.
Typically for me, this happens most frequently when I learn of senior or local church leadership making comments that make my journey more difficult; when I am criticized for speaking out or told that what I’m trying to accomplish is futile; or when another gay Mormon—especially our youth—takes their own life over this very issue.
I am not without my critics, nor did I expect to be when I began to speak openly about the challenges of being a gay Mormon. Still, it stings when I’m told my passion for this work is pointless, that I am nothing more than a modern-day Sisyphus for struggling to create change within the Mormon Church. It stings when the words of my Savior, whom I dearly love, are used against me to try to demonstrate that I—and my work—are reviled in His eyes. It stings to watch other human souls suffer—or die—because of their sense of isolation and hopelessness.
Yet, time and time again, when the feeling of being defeated encroaches on my spiritual peace, I am blessed to touch the life of another, and through this service, renew my commitment to the change I seek. The letter below, from a 14-year old boy whom I will likely never meet, is one such blessing. He expresses gratitude for the courage he sees in me for telling my story; and I wish to express mine for his. Learning that my struggles can ease the adversity of another reignites my passion for this work, and reminds me that my sense of aloneness—my sense of being defeated—is an illusion.
Maybe I won't succeed in softening the hearts of those who fear or misunderstand our LGBT brothers and sisters overnight. But I will succeed in letting people know that they are not alone--and that, in and of itself, is success.
The game belongs to those who remain on the field—and my feet are firmly planted on the field.
And there they shall remain.
I am a 14 year old boy who is an active member of the church and has been all of my life. I am very vigilant in keeping up on my scripture study, make sure I’m living righteously and worthily for future temple ordinances, and try to set good examples for my younger siblings.
You’d say that I am living a very good religious lifestyle but I fear that I may have the same problem as you but less severe. I have had homosexual attractions for as long as I can remember and I have been very confused with what I should do.
I have just recently decided to act upon this challenge through fasting by asking what I should do. I have not told anybody about this before and this is the first time I have disclosed this information to anybody. Reading your story has enlightened me with the fact that me having these attractions is not the end of the world. You are a hero in my eyes. Thank you so much for telling your story.