by Guest Blogger: Tiffany
I have a friend who I love very much. He is one of my favorite people in this world. He’s funny - the kind of funny that makes me laugh so hard I can barely breathe. He’s smart, kind, open-minded, and passionate. He’s also LDS and gay. But I don’t know if he will ever let that part of himself be known, at least not while he’s still living in Utah. That breaks my heart, because he’s amazing, and he should be able to be himself without fear of being rejected by his family, his friends, or his church.
I have another friend who recently confided in me that she is bisexual. She’s afraid of telling her family because she doesn’t know how they’ll react. She’s had some heated debates with her very conservative brother about homosexuality, and the threat of him rejecting her and not allowing her to be around his children is a very real thing. Ridiculous, in my opinion, but that’s how he feels.
I think about these friends quite a lot, and I think about the questions they have to face. If they’re true to their authentic selves, and open about who they are, will they lose their families? Will they face disciplinary action from their church? If they keep their real selves hidden and try to live heterosexually, will they give up any chance of falling in love and having a meaningful romantic relationship? Should anyone have to decide between their sexual identity and their spiritual identity? I don’t think so.
I used to be part of the group who believe that having homosexual “feelings” is not sinful, but acting on those feelings is a sin. So as long as a person can stifle any hope of love and live a celibate life, they’re good. And somehow in the next life all of that pesky gay attraction will magically go away.
Then I started to think. I thought about my friends, who are some of the best people I’ve known in my life. I started reading blogs (like this one), and listening to story after story of people who spent their lives trying to change themselves and be straight. The stories I heard broke my heart because I could see how painful it can be to be told that there’s something wrong with who you are, and then to be given impossible choices if you want to stay in the church. The more stories I listen to and read, the more strongly I believe that people are born gay or straight (or somewhere in between, in some cases). I cannot believe that it’s a choice, or any type of infliction or temptation. I see sexual orientation as an inherent part of who we are, and not changeable.
I thought about all of this in the context of my perception of God as a loving, compassionate parent. It doesn’t make sense to me that a loving God would ask his gay children to give up love and relationships.
As I’ve looked for information to help me understand my friends better, I’ve found many, many Mormons who feel the same way I do. Any like me, they can’t reconcile their personal beliefs with church doctrine. Not yet, anyway. I don’t have a lot of answers, but I think that’s okay. I think that homosexuality is something that the leaders of the LDS church don’t understand well enough, and I’m hopeful that in time their understanding will increase and attitudes among LDS church members will change. It may take a long time, but I see signs of change even now.
In the meantime, I know how I feel. I love my friends. I cannot believe that they are any less loved or valued by God because they happen to be gay. No one should have to choose between their spiritual identity and their sexual identity. No one should feel “less” because of who they are, or afraid to be themselves.
It’s much harder to generalize or put people into stereotypical boxes when you know someone personally. My friends helped me re-evaluate my old beliefs, and because of them I changed. If I can change, others can change. So keep blogging, and being open and honest. Keep breaking the silence. You never know who might be out there listening.