Friday, April 20, 2012


The day before I left for college, I talked to my dad and it went really well. He too expressed that he'd suspected for awhile (don't tell me that everyone in the world already knows and they're just waiting for me to confirm), but that he was glad I trusted him with the info. I felt bad when I told him that I'd already talked to mom and almost everyone else, but he seemed to take it okay.  He expressed love for me and then asked where I stood with it. When I told him that I was trying to make it all work within the context of the church, he encouraged me and said I could do it if I wanted to.

As I suspected, he's pretty ignorant to the whole situation. He asked if it meant I couldn't serve a mission and asked if it meant I wasn't going to be able to get married. I told him about Ty Mansfield and how he's married after doubting his chances, then alluded to someone he knows who is in an mixed-orientation marriage (without giving him away, of course). He was surprised to learn that some of us are married and have kids in spite of it all.  Then we talked about sex (about 12 years too late on that one, Daddio) and how it's really not the most important thing. He asked about my therapy sessions and why I started and why I stopped, and then encouraged me to start again, just to have someone local to be accountable to.  He gave me a hug and I went on my way.

I was expecting the ignorance he showed, but I was blindsided by the way he asked questions and tried to learn about the situation. He seemed very humble and teachable, which isn't something I was expecting. And he was unconditionally loving.  It was a great experience and it feels good to be open about everything with my family. Phew.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Can I Bear His Cross?

One of my best friends wrote a very beautiful musical fireside presentation that was performed tonight.  It was about the Atonement of Jesus Christ, told from the point of view of some of the "supporting characters" from the Gospels. People like Mary of Bethany, the Roman centurion who understood Jesus' divinity, Joseph of Arimithea, and Pontius Pilate each had a story to tell through beautiful music.

One song absolutely cut me to my core. Simon the Cyrenian, a passerby during Jesus' burdensome walk to Calvary, was compelled to carry the cross for Jesus by the Romans. My friend told his story through the most beautiful song I've heard in a long time.

Can I Bear His Cross?
Lauren Woodbury

I was only passing through, unaware of the reason for the throng,
But something in me knew as I walked along.
And then I saw the man, bruised, wearied and tried
And I didn't understand why he was to be crucified.

Suddenly they pulled me from the crowd and laid his cross on me.
I was compelled to follow this Jesus on the road to Calvary.

And as I struggled to stand, I wondered,

Can I bear His cross? Can I ease His pain?
If my will were lost, what would be the cost and would He complain?
And when this burden has passed, who will keep the stain?
Can I bear His cross? Can I ease His pain?

I was only halfway there, stumbling under the weight of my load,
Following his footsteps with care as we walked up the road.
And then I saw the place. Gratefully I fell to the ground,
Looked up and saw His face, and in His eyes I found

The anguish of a thousand souls was deeply written
In expressions of determined love and mercy never hidden.

And as I looked on this man, I wondered,

Did I bear His cross? Did I ease His pain?
If my will were lost, what would be the cost and would He have complained?
And now this burden has passed and He keeps the stain.
Did I bear His cross? Did I ease His pain?

Then they seized Him, He was cruelly driven
To that dark hill where His fate was set,
And they raised Him as He raised His voice to Heaven
With pleading words that I will never forget.

For if we're only passing through, unaware of His suffering that day,
We won't know the pain He knew and we won't hear Him say,

I will bear your cross. I will ease your pain.
When your will is lost, I will pay the cost, and I won't complain.
And when your burden has passed, I will keep the stain.
I will bear your cross, I will ease your pain.

Even if no one ever reads those lyrics all the way through, I am glad I wrote them here. I am glad that in writing them, I relived the moment in which Simon of Cyrene sang the last verse. 

My cross, while something that I know I can manage with the Lord's help, has been feeling heavy lately. I'm struggling with some pretty intense loneliness and a case of unrequited love from both the girl I think could be the one and the straight best friend that I just can't help being attracted to. On top of that, my beloved and underinsured car was stolen just a few days after I spent 12 hours and 1000 dollars fixing it and I've been having trouble signing up for classes, finding a ride back to school, and getting housing that's close enough for a recently-carless individual.  I don't mention these things to complain (much), but instead to show how much relief I felt at hearing this song tonight.

Jesus is bearing my cross right now. He knows how much I love my best friend and He knows how hard I want to make it work with a woman.  He knows that getting on a mission is hard and that I'm trying, but failing occasionally. He knows about my collegiate stress and my unfortunate loss of a car I patiently and lovingly restored. He knows my money woes (of which I have little and shouldn't even complain about). He knows how nervous I am to uproot myself yet again and move to a new city, leaving behind family and friends, some of whom I'll likely never see again in this life.  

Christ has taken all of that and willingly put it upon His shoulders.  His Atonement and grace are sufficient to bear me up, even when the trials seem too difficult to bear. He's leading me until I stumble and can go no further, and then He's picking up the cross from off of my back and carrying it the rest of the way.

This Simon the Cyrenian was right. Jesus' burden wasn't the cross, it was the knowledge of each of our pains, sicknesses, sins, and sorrows. And that burden which He willingly bore so long ago is what now enables Him to lift us up and bear us home when we feel like we can take no more.

I have such a strong testimony of that and I am so grateful for the knowledge that I have that, by trusting in Jesus Christ's grace, everything will work out alright.

I'm filled with emotions tonight, some happy, some sad, and some bittersweet, but this life is good.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

One Down...

Well, last night I told my brother, and as I suspected, he already knew. I guess he'd walked in our shared bedroom one night and I'd fallen asleep reading a book about managing same-gender attraction and as he walked over to turn off my desk lamp, he saw the book.

Last night, he told me something that melted my li'l heart: "From that moment, I thought to myself, 'I love him. He's my little brother and I love him and nothing will change that.'"

That sums up my brother pretty well.

I wanted to talk to his wife in the same conversation, but she was out of town on business and I didn't want to bother her with a conference call.  I guess he told her already, which doesn't bother me in the slightest. According to him, she fasts for me pretty regularly.

That sums my sister-in-law up as well.

Geez, my family is great.  Dad's next. Wish me luck.

Monday, April 9, 2012

I Think it's Time...

This was a big week for gay Mormons.

BYU hosted a panel put on by the student group Understanding Same-Gender Attraction wherein members of the openly-gay community at BYU (estimated to number around 1800) answered questions and gave prepared statements on what it's like to be a gay member of the LDS church. Read that article linked; it's pretty fascinating.  I suppose the general overtone of the article is that many avenues are open to gay members. Marriage is a very cautiously advised option, as is celibacy, and there's always the agency to enjoy a same-gender relationship, either with or without partial fellowship within the Church.

Next, the same group made this video for the Trevor Project:

The It Gets Better movement is a project I haven't quite made up my mind about yet.  Obviously, I am absolutely in favor of supporting teens who suppose their only option is suicide or self-harm, and life really does get better.  I love that it engenders awareness about the bullying of homosexuals or other "different" people and seeks to bring the numbers of those bullied down. As a hopefully-faithful member of the LDS church, I shy away from things that normalize and encourage homosexuality, but on the whole, the Trevor Project is doing good things and I appreciate that.

The video that was made by BYU USGA is great. I love the message it shares that we as a gospel culture are capable of becoming more understanding and more loving, which is exactly the message I wanted to send with my guest post at Modern Mormon Men (read it if you haven't!  I'm so proud of it!).  Additionally, it reaches out to members of the church who may be struggling with coming to terms with their sexuality and the seeming contradiction between what feel like natural attractions and what feels like an all-encompassing testimony. I also appreciate that it acknowledges that for the majority of us, it wasn't a choice. And I also am grateful that the video shows the danger in bargaining with God to take away this attraction through over-righteousness and obsessive stifling of the offending thoughts.  That bargaining can burn a person out, and I know from experience.

However, I fear that the video might send mixed messages to the world regarding our church's stance on homosexuality. In the video, none of the students address how they live with or deal with their homosexuality.  It's never mentioned or alluded to, but a reasonable person might make the assumption that these courageous people are living homosexual lifestyles and that the school is okay with that, which obviously isn't (or shouldn't be) the case.  What could have been a great opportunity to tell the world that religious and spiritual fulfillment can be more valuable than physical and emotional fulfillment was instead spent in moral ambiguity.

Another minor concern I have with the video is that it might be glorifying that particular challenge over another's. For example, most drug abusers don't strut around saying that they would love to do lines and smoke bowls and shoot up, but instead are following the path of the Gospel.  I know it's a clunky metaphor and that the video does lots more than highlight the challenges of same-gender attraction, but the argument could be made that the students featured in the video are glorifying their challenges.

Still, I would never be audacious or misinformed enough to call USGA's efforts a waste.  They are highlighting that, in spite of the compelled anonymity in which some of us live, there are so many of us out there and we are doing our best to act on what we know to be true.  I'm so grateful for their efforts and I feel more and more inspired by their courage to do more to reach out to others as best I can.

Sidebar (although it probably deserves its own post): I think I'm going to tell the rest of my family. I have a dad and two brothers who don't know, at least not officially, and I think it's time to let them in on everything.  I'm excited and only a little nervous, which I think is a good sign that it's the right decision, perhaps one that should have been made years ago.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Easter Sunday

I have about a jillion things on my mind today, but I'm going to save them for later.

Today is about Easter.

I love holidays. That's not news.  However, I treasure Easter for a great many reasons. The food is always wonderful. My mom is a maverick in the kitchen; her cooking is always good and her baking even better. Dinner's good, dessert's great, every single day. 

The day always seems a little slower than most Sundays as well. There's the requisite Easter basket hunt before church, followed by a good breakfast and a hot, slow shower. Church passes and is followed by a nap and a big dinner with family.  We retire outside for a some conversation and, if my nieces and nephews are around, an Easter egg hunt. Finally, we watch an uplifting movie, a musical, or reruns of Music and the Spoken Word and then it's bedtime.

But foremost, Easter is a time of rebirth. I love this time of year anyway, watching the tulips and violets and lilacs bloom around my parents' garden.  Seeing the grass wake up and watching the trees' new leaves pop from tiny buds is the perfect backdrop to that ultimate rebirth, the resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

So said the angel to Mary Magdalene and Mary of Cleopas, "He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come see the place where the Lord lay."  As Jesus promised, His terrible, yet vital Atonement was followed in just three days' time by the peace of His resurrection.

Last year, I wrote in my journal about an experience I had performing in the choir during BYU-Idaho's production of Savior of the World. The characters Mary Magdalene and Mother Mary sing a song in Act II wherein they shout alleluias of praise and joy for the Savior's resurrection. Here are my favorite lyrics:

Angels brought the joyful tidings,
Fear not, Christ is risen this day.
Heaven came down to tend his body.
Why I grieved I cannot say.

Why do we grieve?  Why?  Mary Magdalene grieved following the Savior's death and then was perhaps sheepishly reminded that He promised to return three days hence. It's the same for us. We have been promised that as we enact that marvelous, enabling power of the Atonement in our lives, we will be returned a zillionfold everything we sacrifice in the name of discipleship.  That is a promise, a binding covenant the Lord makes with us when we enter at the gate.  And, for those with the faith enough to believe, the Lord has a great track record of keeping His promises.  And yet, we doubt. We wonder and fall and think that there's no way it could possibly be worth it. We grieve the loss of our spiritual well-being and yet do little to regain it.

I also acknowledge that grief is a necessary part of being human and recovering from sad events. It's unrealistic and unjustifiable to expect followers to wander around in a borderline-medicated joyous stupor even in the face of hardship.  

I also am intimately aware that I have fallen (and continue to fall) victim to that soul-sucking despair to which I alluded earlier.  But this life need not be sad.  Our sorrows will come and go, but they can be punctuated with that hope that everything will turn out alright in the end. Our hardships and heartaches, if viewed within the proper perspective, can be invaluable sources of strength, not only in this life, but in the life to come as well.  And all will be restored to us.  The Lord won't leave us wanting because we followed Him.

Happy Easter.  Christ was risen this day and the literally earth-shattering ramifications of that miraculous event continue to be felt today.  We can "press forward... having a perfect brightness of hope" that as we obey and love and serve our Heavenly Father and his son Jesus Christ, we will receive of their glory.  I testify that He is risen and continues to advocate for us and lift us as often as we will ask him.  I love Him, He loves you, and I love you too.  

As always, if you need support, love, a shoulder to cry on, or a punching bag to abuse, e-mail me.  Address in sidebar.

Watch this video!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Guest Post Over at Modern Mormon Men!

Hey everyone!  A few weeks ago I wrote about that study in which I participated. At the end of it, I was asked to write a letter to a religious leader in my community (but not necessarily send it) about what it's like to be gay and religious. I decided to submit that letter to Modern Mormon Men as a guest post and they liked it!  It went live today; wander over there and give it a read, and maybe contribute to the comment stream.

Also, someone found my blog by searching that they need someone to talk to. If you ever need someone to talk to, without fear of judgement, my inbox is always open.

Monday, April 2, 2012

General Conference- April 2012

They say that to get the most out of General Conference, you should enter with a question or a concern in mind and listen for answers.

With all due respect to whoever "they" are, that's never worked for me, or maybe I'm just asking the wrong questions.

For the last few years, I've watched and listened for answers on lots of things about my struggle; they've ranged from practical (how do I live my daily life without being too consumed with same-gender attraction) to spiritual (what should I learn from same-gender attraction and how can I teach that to others) to borderline-blasphemous (does it really matter whether I marry a guy or a girl). But in the end, the answers that came were thin and barely-pertinent and I was left feeling let-down and disappointed that I didn't get to unlock some of the secrets surrounding homosexuality and same-gender attraction.

This conference, I decided to do something different. I did very little preparation in the way of study, prayer, and fasting, outside of what I normally do every other day. I consciously tried not to think about homosexuality while watching and I tried not to view every principle discussed within the crucible of my experiences. In short, I tried to take the me out of Conference and just listen for what we were being commanded and admonished to do.

It was a beautiful conference.  There was peace and hope in every message.  I wasn't so consumed with seeking answers that I was able to gain a lot more knowledge on a wider variety of topics.  There was one moment in particular during President Uchtdorf's talk on Sunday morning when he admonished us to cease being judgmental and withholding forgiveness towards others and towards ourselves when I almost got sucked into a spiral of self-pity, but the overarching message of love and compassion towards others shone through brightly enough to keep me up. Through both his talk and Elder Cook's talk on Sunday afternoon, I felt a great sense of duty  to be more loving, less self-absorbed, and more hopeful than before.

Not that I'm recommending being less invested in Conference, but for me, stressing out about getting a specific answer seems to work counter to what General Conference should achieve. I'm grateful I did it the way I did it this time around and I look forward to doing the same thing in six months.

God loves you, reader. If you don't believe me, let me talk you into it. gaymormonpioneer at gmail dot com

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