Category Archives: Favorite

When Your 15-Year-Old Son Says “I’m Gay”

The boy looked extremely young in the video that was streaming over YouTube.  In it, he said that he was sixteen and that it was about the year since he told his parents he was gay.  He heartbreakingly tried to hide the pain on his face as he described how his father pretty much dismissed and ignored the issue and how his mother grew mean towards him – even calling him a “faggot” in an apparent attempt to shame him into straightness.  I wanted to reach through the laptop screen and give the poor kid a hug.  While my family always showed love and support for me, I definitely remember the loneliness of what it is to grow up gay.  Even worse, while he showed remarkable maturity for his age, you could see small seeds of bitterness sprouting towards his parents.

I didn’t really come out to my parents until I was much older, but if I had been around more gay people growing up, I imagine it would have happened fairly early like the kid in the YouTube video.  Kids are coming out much younger these days because society’s growing approval of homosexuality makes them feel safer and less ashamed.  This is actually a good thing.  The sooner a kid can acknowledge his sexuality and deal with it, the less “closet time” they have to endure – even if they never decides to publicly come out.  Closet time is not productive time…at all.

So what do you do when your 15-year-old son tells you that he is gay?

Things To Do Immediately:

  1. Give him a hug
    Immediately.  Kids (and, well, grow-ups, too) can be terrified to tell you that they are gay.  Even if you have shown nothing but love in the past, in their mind this changes everything and there is always the possibility of rejection.
  2. Tell him you love him no matter what
    Be as clear in this as you possibly can and use that “What I Say Is Absolute Law” face that only parents seem to possess.  This is no time to assume that “he knows how I feel”.  This is game time, people.  Time to step up to the parenting plate and take control of the situation.  By letting your son know that no force under heaven or hell could make you stop loving him you are adding stability to his world which is in turmoil and setting a foundation of love that he is really going to need in the coming years.  Your home needs to be a refuge for him; he has already been hit with a thousand different voices arguing over his situation and that is just going to get worse.  You really need to establish yourself as a person of safety for him.  That starts here.
  3. Put your own feelings on the backburner
    You might not have any gay friends or really have had any experience with gay people.  Honestly, it may creep you out a bit.  You may also be overcome with sadness for the pain that your son has already felt (and will yet feel) because of his sexuality.  Your world has probably been turned upside down along with his.  Why your son?  All that will have to be addressed later.  Your son will be hyper sensitive to any level of discomfort that you express.  If you have to keep repeating in your mind, “he’s still my son, nothing’s changed”, do it.
  4. Talk about it (once the crying stops)
    He might not say much in the initial conversation (or he may talk for hours), but he probably hasn’t really discussed it much with anyone.  Especially if you’ve had a safe and loving household in the past, you are likely to be the first people he has come out to.  Talking allows him to express himself in a way that he likely has never done before, but also shows that you aren’t scared of the issue.  If you feel you cannot discuss the issue without showing signs of discomfort, then tell him that you don’t have to talk about it then (not that you don’t want to talk about it), but you will tomorrow (or Sunday, or whenever, but there should be a definite time and it should be soon – this will help him feel as though you aren’t avoiding it).
  5. Go for ice cream
    Or to a movie or mini-golf or whatever you like to do together.  This will let him know that life goes on-your family-goes on and as far as your relationship goes, nothing has changed.

Things To Do In The Next Few Weeks:

  1. Talk
    You should probably have a couple of conversations in the next few weeks.  Ask questions and don’t be scared to ask personal questions if you feel it is appropriate.  This will help him once again feel like you aren’t uncomfortable with the issue and therefore aren’t uncomfortable with him.  It also encourages honesty.  Be honest in return…but tactful.  Encourage him not to dwell on his sexuality, but make it clear you are always available to talk if he wants to.  Always.
  2. Suggest counseling
    After the initial conversation, there is a bit more flexibility in your dialog with your son. It’s now okay to admit that you don’t know and understand everything when it comes to homosexuality and may need professional help in finding out more.  If you feel there may be a need for counseling (even if only to encourage dialog), suggest it.  Make sure that your son knows that you aren’t suggesting counseling in order to “fix” him (especially if he mentions feeling “broken” or “messed up”).  Counseling probably shouldn’t come up in the initial conversation so he doesn’t feel like you are going into “damage control”.  Suggest going as a family (parents+him).
  3. Suggest talking to the bishop, if necessary
    If your son reveals any sexual transgression, recommend that he talk to the bishop.  Do so gently, but firmly.  Make it clear that his sexuality does not exempt him from keeping high standards or obeying family rules.  This shows that you don’t equate his sexuality with sin and neither should he.  In the next few weeks, it would be appropriate to reaffirm the Law of Chastity in an “it applies to everyone, even you” way.  Be careful and find out all the facts, however, in order not to equate any possible sexual abuse experienced by your son with sinful behavior on his part.

Things Not To Do…Ever:

  1. Don’t say “you’re too young to know” or “it’s just a phase”
    If he is talking to you about it, trust me, he knows.  He has already spent years (I know, he’s only fifteen, but still, years) dealing with the questions and confusions.  Even though I didn’t allow myself to think it until I was in my late teens-early twenties, I first had the anxiety-filled suspicion that I was different before puberty and by sixteen the thought of it would send me to the bathroom to vomit.  Trust me, he knows.
  2. Suggest that anything “made him gay”
    This includes playing with dolls, not playing sports, not being there for him, being too smothering, tv, friends, movies, soy, etc.  This places the thought in his head that his sexuality could have been prevented and the guilt-trip that this will send him on will be Trans-Siberian (i.e. big-time guilt).
  3. Call him names
    Ever, ever, ever.  What the crap was the matter with that woman?
  4. Talk to other people as if he is straight
    You by no means need to broadcast your sixteen-year-old son’s sexuality on the internet, but the minute you respond to your nosy neighbor asking why your son doesn’t date much with “he hasn’t found the right girl yet” you are sending mixed signals.  You may be trying to respect your son’s privacy, but likely he’ll feel that you didn’t believe all that business about loving him no matter what and that you are actually ashamed of him.  Trust will be lost.  Discuss with your son how to address the issue.  Maybe the most appropriate answer to nosy neighbor ends up being, “mind your own business”.
  5. Fail to stick up for him
    Sure, you son may be in drama club, choir, cheer squad, and dance club which makes you wince as polish your football state championship ring, but your kid should never hear you belittle his talents or interests to others.  I wasn’t the most athletically inclined growing up, but I often heard my parents praise my academic accomplishments or “creative abilities”.  They encouraged my talents, even if they weren’t necessarily the talents that were valued by others in the community.

What if it is “too late”?  What if your son came out years ago, ending in a huge fight with everyone getting it wrong, big time?  The good news is that there are very few things on this earth that you can’t recover from – and this isn’t one of those things.  The longer the time has passed, the longer it may take, but you can still let your gay son know that you love and accept him, which will make sure that fewer and fewer videos like the one mentioned above appear on YouTube.

Note: Most of the time, I write specifically about homosexuality as it relates to gay men.  I do this simply because that is the perspective with which I am the most familiar.  Most of what I write applies to gay women as well, but I don’t have any lesbian friends (that I know of) and I am uncomfortable to speak for a group that I have so little experience with.  So, I guess what I am saying is, if I am ever off base, Samantha, feel free to bust me on it.  K?

Off The Fence: 6 Months Later

It’s been about six months that I hopped off the gay/church fence on the side of the church after years of going back and forth (and back and forth and back and forth and oh-my-gosh-I’m-getting-seasick).  There have been ups and downs, but I generally maintain the feeling of peace I had when I first decided I was going to stay in the Church.  There have been a few breakdowns, but except for a nuclear meltdown soon after the decision were made, my relatively few emotional dips have lacked the edge of despair that they used to have back on that old rickety fence.

I have learned a great deal in the past six months and have spiritually grown a lot (I think, anyway).  There are areas in my life where the need for improvement is glaringly apparent, but I feel I am making progress, which is the first time I’ve been able to say that in years.  It has been interesting as I have directly confronted issues in my life that I was too scared to approach before.  I feel like I am more honest with myself and with those around me.  As I have done this I’ve made some observations that I thought were surprising:

Sometimes Faith=Procrastination
Right after I made the decision to stay in the Church, I knew that I wasn’t strong enough spiritually to handle all the doubts and questions that I still had, so I basically put off dealing with them.  I knew I was going to have to work them out one day, but I couldn’t do it right then.  As I have progressed, sometimes I have taken some of these questions out and have taken a look at them.  If I am able to make progress with them, I try to resolve the concern.  Otherwise, it goes right back in the mental procrastination box.  I see this as an exercise in faith in the same way I view my initial concerns and then testimony of the prophet-ness of Joseph Smith to have been an exercise in faith.  Sometimes working spiritual stuff out takes time.

Lying To Oneself Is Never Good

You might say, “um…duh,” but how often do we lie to ourselves in order to make ourselves feel better about our situations?  I think we all do it.  For example, there may be some official ideas of the Church that sometimes bother me…a lot.  In the past, I would probably try and immediately talk myself into thinking that I agreed with the Church on every issue, but I’ve found that that weakens my testimony instead of strengthening it.  Now I try and openly acknowledge to myself if something bothers me or if I don’t agree with something.  If I find a potential solution to my dilemma, I try and work it out.  Otherwise I toss it into my procrastination=faith box for sorting out later.  Interestingly, as I have tried to maintain this attitude of honesty with myself, I’ve found the need to toss stuff into that box to come much less frequently than I anticipated.

I’m Still Gay, And I’m Cool With That

While I never expected the Lord to remove my attraction to men and give me the hots for the womenfolk (He hasn’t, btw), I find it interesting how comfortable I am with my homosexuality.  Okay, most of the people at work don’t know and I don’t foresee telling them, but I usually don’t feel weirded out when I realize that other people think of me as gay, because, well, I am.  I also have discovered that I still want a relationship with a man and, while the intensity of that desire isn’t the overwhelming thing it once was, I still sometimes see a gay couple holding hands in the park and still feel that pang of longing.  Instead of burying that feeling, I allow myself to feel it for a bit.  I do this because I have no intention of ever running from my sexuality again.  I allow myself to want a relationship with a man for a few moments and then I move on.  Because I have things to do.

I Choose “Peace” Over “Happiness”
I have chosen to live according to the doctrines of the Church – potentially alone for the rest of my life.  Why?  Because there is a peace that comes by knowing you are living your life in harmony with your core beliefs – it is a peace you can feel even in the midst of unhappiness.  This isn’t to say that I am generally an unhappy person, but as I have said before, I remain one-hundred percent convinced that I would be happy living in a monogamous relationship with another man.  Sometimes I am unhappy directly because of the choice I have made, but even through the unhappiness, I can still feel that peace.  True, my sexuality is part of my core, but my spirituality runs even deeper.

It’s been a big six months.  I’ve decided to stay in the Church, came out to family and ward and world, and openly write about being gay and Mormon on the Internet.  Who knows what the next six months hold./?/!

“I’d Like To Bear My Testimony”: Why I Came Out To My Entire Ward

You know there is always that one testimony every month that makes everyone feel really awkward, avoid eye contact and makes everyone shift uncomfortably in their seat?  Well, I decided to get that one out of the way early this month.

I just wanted to let everyone know why I am here.

My entire life, I’ve on some level known that I was gay.  Growing up gay in the church was really hard.  Living gay and active in the church can be really hard.

But no matter what I want to be true, no matter what I hope to be true, no matter what I think to be true, I know that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is true.  It’s a knowledge that is impossible to take away from me.  (I’ve tried.)  I know President Monson is a prophet of God.  I know the Book of Mormon is true.

I don’t say all this to solicit pity (although I do enjoy a good pity party), guilt, or to shock.  I say this because no matter what our individual situations, the church is amazingly, frustratingly, inconveniently, wonderfully true…so what else matters?

In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

I walked passed the bishopric and the stake president (of course he would happen to be there) and down the aisle to my seat back in the chair section.  A third of the way there, I realized that I was looking down.  “Hold your head up!” I forcefully told myself, “You are not ashamed!”  I held my head up as I walked back to my seat.  When I slid into my chair, one friend put his arm around my shoulders, another smiled at me through teary eyes, and another turned around and gave me a smile and a thumbs-up.

So why did I out myself to my entire ward yesterday?

  1. To let other gay Mormons know that they aren’t alone.
    I don’t know if there are other gay members of my ward, but if there are, I wanted them to know that there are other gay members out there, doing our best to live the gospel.  Loneliness and isolation are the kryptonite of the gay Mormon.
  2. To help remove some of the stigma associated with homosexuality.
    I didn’t plan on it, but I was asked to help bless the sacrament yesterday.  I wanted to be the first one to bear my testimony (rip off the band-aid) and before I went up, I realized the significance of what was going to happen.  I was going to stand up from behind the sacrament table and, in front of the bishopric, the stake president, and my ward, reveal that I was gay.  I wanted to help dispel the myths that if you are gay you are a sinner (well, no more than anyone else at least) and unworthy of participation in the church.  I wanted to show that gay people aren’t disgusting pervs.   I wanted everyone to know that you shouldn’t be ashamed, and I am not ashamed, of being gay.
  3. To raise awareness.
    I’ve had people tell me that they thought I might be gay but dismissed the idea because I was active in the church.  I wanted people to know that gay Mormons are out there.  It’s a lot harder to hate a group of people when one of them is sitting next to you in Elders Quorum.
  4. To bear my testimony.
    I wanted to come out in testimony meeting because I wanted everyone to know what I believe.  Plus, a lot of my testimony was built while I was sorting out my sexuality.  It is a part of my testimony like my mission, youth classes, and everything else in my life.

Oh, and by the way, my real name is Clint.

How To Support A Same-Sex Marriage Ban Without Coming Across As A Tool

I know I said that I avoided this subject, but well, whatever.  The Mormon blogosphere has been quite abuzz lately over the California Amendment.  With the Church’s urging of people to express their views online it seems that both sides have come out in full force.  Unfortunately, however, the tone that a lot of these conversations take can be very damaging for gay members of the Church.  Discussions too often come down to mudslinging, name-calling, and personal attacks.

This morning, I read a post on a friend’s blog where she supported the ban on same-sex marriage (she doesn’t know that I am gay).  My issue was not over the fact that she didn’t support same-sex marriage, but that her writing was so cold and close-minded.  In my relatively short experience, being open-minded is a virtue and doesn’t involve what you believe, but how you respond when faced with things that you don’t believe.

I know a lot of members of the Church want to show their support of the prophet and speak out for their beliefs and I applaud their efforts.  What I warn, however, is that if you aren’t careful, you can alienate the members of the Church who are gay and striving to live the commandments or even those members who aren’t gay, but are struggling to resolve their faith and personal political views.

Here are some suggestions for when you are writing your blog post or having your conversation at church:

  1. Vinegar just ticks people off.
    Suggesting that people who support same-sex marriage or are unsure of their position are “stupid” or “apostate” isn’t productive.  I assume you are writing a post or comment because you are trying to change someone’s mind or sway their opinion.  Personal attacks never change someone’s mind, but usually solidify it further in their opposition to you.  I had a roommate of another faith who moved out after my sexuality became too much for him to handle.  Now, every time he talks to me he preaches to me about how I need to come to Jesus (he doesn’t believe the LDS Church is Christian).  I found myself reacting so strongly against him that I eventually decided that he was impeding my progress in the gospel and I had to stop contact with him.  I know his intent was to convert me to the “true Jesus”, but his heavy-handedness  was starting to push me further away from God.  If he truly wanted to convert me, he should have tried being more understanding and loving.
  2. Talk about what you know.
    The strongest and most understandable argument for supporting a same-sex marriage ban is that the Lord has a prophet on the earth and that that prophet Thomas S. Monson.  As the Lord’s mouthpiece, he has counseled us to support such an amendment.  State your testimony of his calling and guidance.  If you try to talk science or politics of which you only have a vague familiarity, your arguments starts to lose validity because a lot of gay Mormons know the studies, science, and theories probably better than you.  We can tell if you are talking about something you are completely ignorant of.  It can be like hearing protestant churches talking about what Mormons believe, even though it is obvious that their information came from completely inaccurate sources.  Please, please don’t base your entire knowledge of homosexuals on “that one guy in high school who I’m pretty sure is living with some guy in DC now”.  “I know not save the Lord hath commanded me” (Moses 5:6) is a valid argument.  Your testimony of prophets is your best bet.  Stick with it, unless you really know what you are doing.
  3. Listen.
    I posted some comments on several blogs that had very active discussions about same-sex marriage.  They mostly pointed out the existence of gay Mormons and urged people to think about them as they made their statements.  My comments were largely ignored (interestingly, I was only acknowledged by the person making the most ignorant statements about homosexuality).  I was rather annoyed.  It was pretty clear that I was probably the only one in the discussion who was gay, but people were so busy arguing with each other, that the one person that this issue actually affected personally was disregarded – by both sides.  I briefly came to the conclusion that gays were just pawns in a Mormon political battle.  While I admit now that part of my frustration was due to a bruised ego, realize that these are people and not just principles that you are arguing over.
  4. Imagine that everyone in the room is gay.
    It is possible, even likely, that someone in the Church meeting where you are expressing your opinion is gay or that a gay Mormon will be reading your blog.  You may be concrete in your views, but they may still have questions.  This doesn’t mean that they don’t have faith or a testimony –  they are just still unsure of some things.  Is your statement going to help or hurt their faith?  Imagine that your father/brother/husband is gay.  Could you say the exact same thing to their face without feeling uncomfortable?  No?  Then maybe you should sit back and revise –  not necessarily the end result, but the path to getting there.

The point of all this is that there are real people that are caught in the middle of this debate.  This isn’t an “us” vs. “them” debate because some of “us” are also some of “them” and while it may be easier if they were just “weeded out”, we need to remember that we aren’t the weeders.  The Lord does the weeding.  We are the caretakers.  Everyone is responsible for their own actions, but if we, through our actions or words, make it easier for one of the Lord’s beloveds to leave (regardless of the issue) or serve as a barrier to entry into the Kingdom, we will be held accountable for that.  Doctrine is doctrine, but as Joseph Smith taught:

“No power or influence can be or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood, only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness, and meekness, and by love unfeigned.

By kindness, and by pure knowledge, which shall greatly enlarge the soul without hypocrisy, and without guile-

Reproving betimes with sharpness when moved upon by the Holy Ghost; and then showing forth afterwards an increase in love toward him whom thou hast reproved, lest he esteem thee to be his enemy.”
D&C 121:41-43. (emphasis added)

What Gay Mormons Need

“I believe that gay politics will be one of the main forces in near-future years that will weed out the goats from the sheep within Mormonism—not just those who allow themselves to become gay, but also those who sympathize with their politics.”

Bigelow’s Rameumptom

I became saddened this week while reading some Mormon blogs that were discussing California’s same-sex marriage situation right now.  My issue wasn’t over the fact that they were opposing same-sex marriage, but that it was obvious that some of the people writing the blogs have never met a gay Mormon in their life.  At least, I hope they haven’t because if they have and still maintain their antiquated views, I’m concerned by the lack of charity among the membership.

Last week, I sent an email to my family telling them about my “situation”.  The response was almost completely positive.  It was obvious that one of my sisters was unsure what it all meant, but she still made it clear that she loved me.  I got several “we feel sorry you’ve dealt with this for so long without us”-type responses and, to be honest, I was mildly annoyed by that.  I knew what they meant, but in actuality, telling them is going to be a lot of work on my part because for several of them, I’m basically going to have to “train” them on how to deal with me.

In the past, if you found yourself gay and in the church, you buried it, married some unsuspecting woman, and white-knuckled your way though life.  Unfortunately, repression like that has side effects.  If you are trying to bury gayness, the guilt and shame guarantees that sexuality is going to rule your life.  It messes with your head.  When you are constantly trying to force the thought of men from your mind, you are constantly thinking about the men around you…every man around you.  Your sexuality becomes an emotional problem that you self-medicate with pornography and other sexual addictions.  That is what homosexuality used to be.

But times are changing.  I’m not saying that the gay community doesn’t have its “dirty little secrets”, because it certainly does, but as homosexuality and gay marriage enters more and more in the mainstream (which it will), it is going to become more of an appealing option for those who find themselves struggling over which path to follow.

I’m not suggesting the church change doctrine, but as society forces guys to face their sexuality earlier and earlier, the church is going to lose even more gay guys to the world than they are now (and trust me, it’s already losing more than it is retaining).  Most teenagers don’t have the firm testimony necessary for seeing them through a crisis of sexuality and while in times past, sheltered upbringings (like mine) allowed guys to “put off” issues of sexuality until later, that is going to become less common.  In order for these guys to grow and gain the testimony that they are going to need to see them through the rough times ahead, they are going to need to feel that the Church is a safe place for them to figure all that stuff out.

And right now, it’s not.

The current attitude among members, which is reminiscent of “don’t ask, don’t tell”, just gives the message that this is something that we need to hide and that it is something that we should be ashamed of.  Policies like, for example, counseling that we shouldn’t maintain close relationships of the same sex just gives the message that, because you are gay, you can’t control yourself and are naturally predisposed to sin.  Such attitudes don’t foster a safe environment that is needed to foster faith and testimony.

Faced with that atmosphere, guys are going to look at the message that the world offers that with gay marriage they, too, can have loving families (which is what we want, hard as it may be to believe).  Then they are going to leave.

Here is what we need in order for the Church to be a safe environment for gay members:

  1. We need to feel accepted for who we are.
    Feeling that being gay is something that you never want us to talk about with makes us assume that you will only tolerate us if we don’t “go there”.
  2. We need it to not be assumed that we are participating in grievous sin simply because we are gay.
    The general attitude in the church seems to be that you assume worthiness unless proven otherwise.  This should apply to us, too.
  3. We need to feel needed.
    We have talents, just like everyone else and we want to serve.  We don’t want to be the ones you “just don’t know what to do with”.
  4. We need to not feel pressured to enter into heterosexual relationships.
    The Church is getting better about this, but a lot of bishops still maintain the attitude that if you haven’t acted out on your feelings you aren’t completely gay and you can still be swayed back to heterosexuality by dating and marriage.  Also, alluding to number 2, don’t assume that we don’t want to get married because we don’t feel like we could control ourselves.  I don’t forsee getting married not because I worry that I will start toe-tapping Senators in bathrooms, but because romantic relationships with women don’t feel normal, natural, and above all, honest to me (this is even assuming the woman knows that I’m gay).
  5. We need you not to criticize us if we decide to date and marry.
    Some guys feel that they can enter into a marriage and make it work.  Their marriage will have enough hurdles without everyone assuming that it is some sort of sham.
  6. We need to stop hearing hate-filled statements at Church about gay people.
    When you talk about how “gross”, “unnatural”, and “weird” gays are, you are saying the same thing about me sitting next to you in Elder’s Quorum.  Taking a stand against immorality is hating the sin.  Talking about how you would rather your son be dead than gay is hating the sinner.

It seems to be a popular thought that the issue of same-sex marriage is going to separate the Church from the world and I agree.  Some even forsee a wave of persecution aimed at the Church for our stance on the issue.  What I’m worried about is that in their zeal to separate themselves from the world, the members of the Church harden their hearts to the faithful gay members doing our best to live the commandments.  Living the Gospel can be hard enough (for everyone).  The last thing we need is to make it harder for each other.

Also “those who allow themselves to become gay” is one of the most ignorant things I’ve heard in a while.

Intelligently Designed Personal Evolution

I was on my knees next to my bed with my face buried into my mattress.  Thoughts raced through my head and my breathing was uncontrollable.  I clenched my eyes shut as I fought what I would later recognize as a panic attack.  Inaudibly, I repeated over and over again, “I’m not gay.  I’m not gay.”

No matter how many times I repeated the words it didn’t change anything.  My stomach tightened into a rock.  I would have probably felt better if I threw up, but I knew I wouldn’t be able to.  I was too tense.  I just felt like laying on the floor with the hope that if I was there long enough I would be completely forgotten and eventually cease to exist altogether.  I was sixteen.

I had been watching a music video over our dial-up connection to the internet.  It was a one hit wonder that six months later would be forgotten by nearly everyone, but I would remember it for years, because as I watched I caught myself looking at the male lead singer.  I realized that I wasn’t just looking, I was looking.  I freaked out and ran up into my room, closing the door behind me.  Had it been the first time, I probably would have been able to write it off as curiosity, something, anything, but I knew that I was facing something that I had been trying to run away from for years.  I was gay and I knew it.

Still, I tried to bury it.  I told myself that it was “one of those things” and that if I didn’t think about it, it would just go away eventually.  For the most part, I was successful.  Throughout most of my mission, I was able to put away thoughts about my sexuality as I focused on serving the Lord.

Soon after I got off my mission, however, I found my old fears reclaiming their dominance in my mind.  I dated several girls, but I was never able to think of them as more than friends – anything more felt dishonest to me, even when they knew about my situation.  It was hard to see those around me getting married, having children, and continue on with their lives as I felt trapped behind.  I soon sank into a deep depression and I started to feel angry with God for placing me in what I felt to be an impossible situation.  I could date men and feel normal (which is how my attraction to men felt) but I would be at odds with God and my religion.  If I dated and eventually married a woman, I would feel a measure of satisfaction knowing that I was following His plan for me, but I also felt I would likely grow bitter and even angrier than I already was.  The third option, to live a life without a “significant other” was terrifyingly lonely to me.

Years passed as I was pulled back and forth between two choices that I didn’t want.  A change came when I was in a new city.  After wrestling with the issue that had been in the forefront of my mind since before I knew what  “gay” was, I felt God give me a nudge by, well, not giving me a nudge at all.  In a moment of revelation I felt that God loved me no matter who I was and what I did and that He truly understood my situation.  I didn’t feel the anger and the hatred from Him that deep down I had expected.  He just let me know that the decision was mine and no matter what I chose, that He still loved me.  I recognized that there would be positive and negative consequences on both sides, but knowing that He loved and supported me allowed me to truly make a decision that was mine and not motivated by fear or self-hatred.  I decided to stay in the Church and not act upon my attractions.  Even though my future was uncertain, I felt peace in having made a decision that I knew to be the right one for me.

I’d like to say that it’s been easy since then, but it hasn’t.  Sometimes it’s been downright miserable and there have been times that my resolve has been shaky at best.  I’m not perfect and sometimes my personal outlook can get pretty grim, but as soon as the dark moments pass and the leaves on the trees become green again, I still recognize that I am on the path that I want to be on and it is the one that I chose.  I now try to look at my life as an opportunity to help those around me in a way that I might not have been able to do had things been different.

Today, I’m thankful for my friends that laugh at my dumb jokes and ignore my really dumb jokes.  That jam with me on Rock Band and barely cringe when I scream along to an Emo song.  That indulge my overly introspective IM sessions and sit through the latest foreign film that I am infatuated with.  That brighten my day with emails detailing their latest adventure.  That put up with my moodiness.  That watch horrible 90’s teen dramedies with me.  That send me a text message saying that they miss me and make me feel needed.

I’m thankful for family that talks with me on a phone for an hour when I am bored and strolling around the park.  That thinks of me as “cool” when I’m feeling very lame, indeed.  That thinks I can do just about anything when I don’t feel like I am very capable at all.

If you are one of those people or if you are a part of my life in some other way, I thank you.  Even thought I don’t recognize you enough, you are appreciated more than you know.