Friday, September 26, 2008

Typically, I try not to define my experience with same gender attraction as a struggle, a difficulty, a challenge, a plight, etc. I'm bothered by the connotation of being gay in a straight relationship within the Mormon church as something bad, something negative or something that needs to be changed, fixed or resolved. But, I find it difficult not to use such terminology, not knowing really how to define or describe my experiences without saying I struggle. Being gay in a straight relationship is a very difficult struggle. I have to remain vigilant and true to the decisions I have made and in what I believe is right. Right for me, right for my family, right for my immediate and eternal happiness. So if being gay is something that I did not choose and can not change, why the struggle to do just that? I'm attempting to live a straight life, choosing not to be gay and trying to change or undo this part of who I am.

9 comments:

Alan said...

Maybe the answer is to not assume that just because we struggle with something, it's inherently bad. It might be, but it might not. Struggling to acquire a new skill or talent involves lots of self-discipline, but there's nothing morally wrong or bad about any of it. I can't begin to fathom the reasons for the infinite variety in creation, but I do know God has his purposes for each of us. Not that that makes personal struggles any easier, of course. I think the best we can do is hang on and trust that someday we'll find out the reasons and it will make a lot more sense.

P.S. Forester, your last post invited questions. Do you correspond directly with anyone or do you just respond to readers with blog comments? After reading one of your other posts I had a couple of questions for you about a professional business matter, thought they would be best taken off-line. Hang in there.

bravone said...

Forester,

I too struggle with the struggle of using words such as "struggle" to describe my situation! I don't like labels and feel uncomfortable saying I am gay because it is such a broad brush. Sometimes language limits our ability to properly describe our particular situations. I think that sexuality is a spectrum and we all are in various places within that spectrum. Some may be more gay or heterosexual than others. Those who know me, except those on my disciplinary council, would never suspect that I have same sex attraction. Yet, as I look back at my life, I can see that I am more on the gay side of the spectrum than the heterosexual side.

For a long time, I was in denial that I had any “gayness” in me. I do generally find the male physique more attractive than that of females, unless she is really fine. Now, having righted myself with the Lord and His church, I can appreciate the good that being on the gay side of the spectrum brings into my life. Many attributes associated with being “gay” have made me who I am and I am grateful for them.

The “struggle” for me is to not act out on my ssa. Having crossed this line before makes the struggle more difficult. I don’t regret the ssa. I cannot change that. I can control my actions that lead to acting out on those feelings. I can avoid people, places and things that strengthen my desire to have ss. That is my struggle and even though difficult at times, I can handle it with the Lord’s help. Too often, I allow myself to get too close to the line. I suppose I will always have to work on that. Perhaps at some point, if I work hard enough on strengthening my spirit, my ssa will remain just that – an attraction.

I know we can make it.

Bravone

Beck said...

"Struggling" to keep your marriage together (even though you are "being gay in a straight relationship") in all the good senses, is a good struggle.

"Struggling" to obtain the spirit and seek the Lord's will in your life is also a good struggle.

So, if you "did not choose and cannot change" being gay, then I'm confused when you say: "I'm... trying to change or undo this part of who I am". Though I get your words, (and for the most part I'm there, too) I wonder if I can really do what you're trying to do. I'm trying to accept the "struggle" for what it is, a challenge and blessing that is integral into my life and fiber and being, that has been given to me like any other, and doing the best I can with it.

I'm not sure I can "change or undo this part of who I am". Help me to know what you mean.

BigRedHammer said...

I've read your blog for awhile and have wanted to comment. Just a short bio of myself: I am LDS, I have a boyfriend who I love and live with, I love the Church and am in the process of coming out to my family. Most of my friends are gay.

That being said, your blog and your perspective interests me. I talk with many mixed-orientation married LDS men. I notice trends in that situation. I will try to keep this concise. I believe many gay, married men are afraid of coming out to their spouses because they are afraid of losing everything they have. That fear may be well founded too. However I think many men in this situation make a common mistake. They believe that "coming out" to anyone is something that gay people do. And since they avoid all things that they are gay so that they don't sin, they should just bear the burden alone because otherwise would be sinful.

I believe the opposite. Honesty is a godly principle. As it is godly, it can be a spiritual experience to come out to a loved one. You are bringing yourself into alignment with God's will. I came out to my brother two hours ago, the first of my family members. It was very spiritual. I had asked God in prayer to provide me an opportunity to come out to my family and He provided it *very* quickly. Honesty means de-compartmentalizing yourself and becoming whole.

If there is nothing wrong with being gay, but only in acting out on it... then why the fear of telling the person you love and trust the most? It shouldn't be because you are gay, but rather because you have been dishonest and haven't earned the trust you have. But repentance (ceasing to lie and deceive) is spiritual and godlike. God will bless you for it. He has *never* asked a single one of us to bear our burdens alone.

Alan said...

Bigredhammer, I understand everything you've said. There's one other factor which I think is a key reason married gay LDS men are reluctant to come out to anyone. I hope what I say doesn't sound too cynical or depressing, but I think it's true.

Despite recent counsel by top Church leaders to the contrary, at the local level where real life happens a majority of American Mormons still seem to privately regard the mere condition of being homosexual as repugnant, automatically fatal to a marriage, and will recoil from it without thinking, especially in The Mormon Corridor from Rexburg to Mesa. The homophobia in this area is rampant, I've seen it, I've heard it. Tolerance does seem to be increasing, but more slowly than it should.

It may not matter if the attraction is well-controlled and never acted on. An LDS woman who considers the mere existence of homosexuality as contrary to the plan of salvation may just not be able to deal if she learns her husband is gay, no matter how much she may have loved him before. Some men who've come out to their wives find an understanding, loving partner who sees things as you've described and who stays with him regardless, and God bless them both. But not all Mormon women will be capable of this.

So a married gay LDS man is right to worry that coming out could mean losing everything. How lucky is any such guy whose wife is mature and understanding and puts their family & relationship first. Unfortunately not all such cases turn out so well. Honesty is of course a great virtue but I don't know that there is a one-size-fits-all answer for this question because people and circumstances are so different. Someone once said there is no difference between a hurtful lie and a hurtful truth, because neither should be spoken. Any married LDS guy who's gay has to make his own very careful and prayerful decision about whether to come out or not.

BigRedHammer said...

I completely agree Alan with your response. A gay man could lose his entire family and his spouse. However, I think that is still a very small perspective of a much larger picture.

I imagine (and with some doctrine and General Authorities' opinions to back me up) that when we get to heaven we'll talk individually with our Heavenly Father. If I remember correctly, he'll ask us about our relationship with our spouse. And I don't think he'll be happy one bit when you tell him, "Well I lied to my spouse my entire life. She never knew me for who I really was. I never allowed her to help me."

"Why?" He'll reply.

"Well, I was afraid of losing her and after all it is *my* problem. I knew that with your help I could take care of myself."

And though I can't pretend to speak in behalf of God, he might say something like this: "In fact, you did not accept the help I sent you. Your wife was meant to help you through this trial and along the way she would learn real love, compassion, empathy, and sympathy. You denied yourself my divine help and denied her the opportunity to grow and become Godlike."

Okay, enough role playing. My point is, I can't see God being proud of any one of us because we handled a trial by ourselves and were deceitful.

I am not married and I know that a spouse is the hardest person in the world to come out to. There is nothing more difficult. I am turning 30 in a month and am just beginning to come out to my family. I came out to my brother (the first of my family) yesterday. So I can't understand by experience, but I know if you ask for the opportunity to come out to your wife, Heavenly Father will give it to you. It's a step into the dark and requires extreme faith, but God will guide you and protect you and your family.

Alan said...

Bigredhammer: A very good and thoughtful post. If a guy is lucky and his wife is spiritually mature and in tune and has her priorities right, she will react as you hope. Would that it could be so for everyone.

I've read a lot about the "final interview" thing too, and FWIW, I don't plan to be in full response mode the whole time. I have a LONG list of questions that I really want some answers to!

Forester said...

I've always said it's not a matter of if I tell my wife, but when. Let me also introduce another aspect of why I don't feel it is necessary to tell my wife right now. Frankly, being gay is not really that important to me. Weighing my same sex attractions with everything else in my life, it's less than five percent of who I am. Granted, it's not a constant five percent, sometimes it seems more like fifty. On average, five percent seems to be about right. There are days, weeks and even months where my attraction for men is merely a fleeting thought. Considering this, I have to keep things in perspective. Reading my posts it may seem like I struggle on a daily basis with being gay, but the more I progress in life with my wife and children, the less being gay has to do with any of it.

The time will come when I tell my wife. For me, telling her is not that big of deal either. But for her, it will be enormous. I know that some consider my silence as being dishonest and deceitful, but I don't feel that way. Once in a while I do something that I regret, but I move forward with the intent to learn from my mistakes and not make the same mistake twice.

Alan said...

Balance and moderation in life are crucial. Obsessing about one particular feature of one's character or personality is not healthy. Forester, it sounds like you have made the right decision for you. I understand and respect it, and think you're on the right track.

Since July 15, 2007