Tuesday, June 30, 2015

A Walk in My Shoes

If you go back to my very first post in 2008 you'll see that I originally started this blog for my friend Joleen.  I was moving away from Utah and she was bummed that she wouldn't get to hear my stories anymore so she said I should write a blog about the funny things that happened to me.  I often still have Joleen in mind when I write a post.

On Saturday I got a text from Joleen that said: "I've been waiting for a blog post from you about yesterday's Supreme Court rulings... is there one in the works?"  I told her that I wasn't planning on writing anything because so many people were sharing opinions and I wasn't feeling compelled to add my two cents to the growing sea of opinions.  She also asked if people had been asking me what I thought and no one had (which legitimately surprised me).  So she asked me what I felt about the ruling and I sent her what I had written in my journal on Friday night.

Now that a few days have passed I feel compelled to write something.  And so, Joleen, here's what I think about the Supreme Court's ruling last Friday.

On Friday I had a lot of trouble figuring out how I felt.  A lot of people said they felt so happy they cried.  I didn't feel that.  A lot of people were angry and worried.  I didn't feel that.  I did, however, feel happy for the people who can now marry the person they love.  I felt happy for the two men in their eighties in Texas who have been together for more than 50 years who got married on Friday.  I felt like marriage equality was inevitable and so I wasn't too surprised or shocked or moved.  Frankly, I was surprised by how little I was emotionally affected by the news.

I think the reason I felt so few emotions is that the ruling doesn't affect me personally.  The three states I've lived in already recognized same-sex marriages (one by popular vote and two through judicial rulings) so I could have already gotten married to a man.  And then over the weekend I kept reading Facebook posts and blogs and news stories and I finally felt something personal.  I felt sad.  And it was my friends and fellow Mormons who made me feel that way.

Dianna and I at Costco buying food for a
church activity.  At this moment neither
of us was aware that I would be coming
out to her in a few hours.
A few months ago I went to a conference in Mesa for gay Mormons.  I told my friend Dianna I was going and before I could invite her she said, "I want to go.  Can I go with you?"  I wanted to reach out and hug her in that moment.  Not only did she want to support me, but she wanted to understand what it was like to be me.  While we were at the conference listening to presentations she would lean over to me and ask, "Did you feel like that?" and I'd say, "Oh yeah."  A few minutes later, "Can you relate to what he's saying?"  "For sure."  On the way home she cried in the car briefly.  It was one of those rare times when instead of making me feel awkward the tears felt like a gift.  She said that she loves the church and its doctrines and that she supports our leaders who teach us of the eternal importance of marriage between a man and a woman.  But she also said that she cares about me and just wishes that I could marry who I wanted to marry.  I don't expect Dianna to support same-sex marriage.  In fact, I'm sure that she's a staunch supporter of traditional marriage and I'm totally cool with that.  But what I love about Dianna is that she cared about me enough to walk in my shoes and really try to understand what it's like to be gay and Mormon.  Precious few people in my life have done that and I'm so grateful for the ones who have.  Dianna earned my love and respect that day and to me she is an exemplary latter-day saint.  I wish more of my LDS friends were like her.

As I read comment after comment on Facebook I just kept thinking, "They don't get it.  They don't understand what it's like to be gay."  I feel like too often we defend our church and our doctrines (which we most definitely should do), but forget to reach out to the people who are affected by them.  So let me tell you what it's like to be gay and Mormon.

As a gay Mormon I have four options:
1. I can marry a woman
2. I can stay single and celibate
3. I could get a gay Mormon boyfriend and have a platonic, nonsexual relationship
4. I could leave the church and marry someone I'm attracted to

I have seriously considered each of these options.  I've been on dates with dozens of women including 27 blind dates (it'd be difficult to find someone who's tried harder than I have to get married).  I've considered leaving the church a number of times.  I also went on a date with a nice gay Mormon boy, but that just didn't feel like the right thing to do either.  It's a terrible predicament that we gay Mormons are in.  We love the church and we want to stay, but we also long for a committed relationship with someone we're in love with and attracted to.  It's a heart wrenching Sophie's choice as we struggle to decide which of the two things to give up--romantic love or our faith.  For me, the church is just too important.  I believe it too much to leave.  Being Mormon is who I am and I feel that by choosing to remain active in the church I am being my authentic self.  So I'm sticking with option two.

I've heard a lot of people say, "Choosing to be single and celibate isn't that bad.  It's just like any of the single women in the church who have never gotten married."  But it is not the same at all.  A single woman can get on her knees every night and plead with Heavenly Father to send her a righteous husband.  And if she ever did get married her congregation would throw the biggest celebration for her.  What about me?  What am I supposed to pray for?  What are the gay members of the church supposed to hope for?  Am I supposed to pray to not be gay?  I did that for years and years.  I eventually stopped praying for that and prayed that God would just help me find one girl, just one girl that I could love.  And that led to me feeling uncomfortable and making a few girls cry.  I have not been actively dating for the last two years.  You can tell me that I gave up too easily, that I should have had more faith, that I should keep trying, but I have felt so much happier these last two years.  I have felt so much more like me.  And I have no doubt that I'm living my life in a way that is pleasing to my Heavenly Parents.

I read a number of comments on Facebook that said things like, "There's just so much we don't understand about this issue."  That annoyed me a little.  It's okay to not understand everything, but we must be actively seeking to understand as much as we can.  In my coming out post I shared an essay I wrote about bearing one another's burdens.  We need to understand what others are going through instead of flippantly disregarding what they're experiencing as an incomprehensible mystery.  Talk to people!  Carry their load!  Walk in their shoes!  Learn what if feels like to be divorced, or have a miscarriage, or to come over from a mission early, or have a mental illness, or have a wayward child.  The Lord defines Zion as a people that is of one heart (Moses 7:18).  To me, being of one heart means that we empathize with everyone and strive to feel what they feel.

What would you do if you were me?  What would you hope for?  How would you cope with being a member of a church that teaches that marriage between a man and a woman is eternally essential and knowing that you just can't live that teaching?  Would you leave the church?  That's what more than half of our gay members do.  And I can totally empathize with that decision.

Here's how I handle being gay and Mormon.  Earlier I said that I chose option two, but the truth is that I really choose secret option five.  I see five possibilities.  The last path is one that I can't define and that I'm not even aware of.  Paul wrote: "Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God has prepared for them that love him" (1 Cor 2:9).  And Joseph Smith wrote: "Ye cannot behold with your natural eyes, for the present time, the design of your God concerning those things which shall come hereafter, and the glory which shall follow after much tribulation" (D&C 58:3).  To me it is clear.  We just cannot conceive of what is to come with our natural eyes.  My life is a testament of this.  The best things that happen to me are things that I never could have predicted or planned whether it be my current living situation, random awesome jobs, sudden trips abroad or unexpected friends.  I could share dozens of stories of things miraculously working out and working out in completely unexpected and perfect ways.

Paul continues in the next verses to teach that while our natural senses can't understand these things that God makes them known to us through His Spirit.  Now, I'm not going to claim any great revelations, but I have felt time and time again that remaining an active participant in the church is the right thing for me.  And even though I live alone and eat dinner by myself most nights, I feel so much joy and happiness.  My life is good.  It is really good.  It's not the kind of life that I was taught to want, but it's the life I have and it's good.

I have an assurance that really great things are going to happen to me in my life.  Things that I can't even imagine.  I have a conviction that if I stay true to the principles that I believe that all will be well.  I know that great things are coming because so many great things have already come.  I try to live my life according to this verse penned by Joseph Smith: "Let us cheerfully do all things that lie in our power; and then may we stand still, with the utmost assurance, to the see the salvation of God, and for his arm to be revealed" (D&C 123:17).

If you walked in my shoes for a day you would see me eat my meals alone.  You would see me text and call people that I care about.  You would see me listen to podcasts to keep me company.  You would see me turn on music and dance while I put my dishes away.  You would see me go to work and then spend time with friends in the evening.  And you would see me come home alone and sit on my futon in silence.  And even though I spent my entire day with other people, you would watch me feel sad that I was alone in my house.  Then I'd pull out my scriptures and read a chapter or two and then sit and think about something that touched me.  And then I'd sit on my bed and write in my journal and shed a tear or two as I write about how good my life is and how blessed I am.  And I would mean every word.  Then I'd slide off my bed and kneel on the floor and thank Heavenly Father for all the good things in my life.  And you would watch me plead with Him that He would send us further light and knowledge and create more of a place for me and other gay Mormons in His church.

This is the reaction that I had last Friday.  I wished that more people would walk in my shoes.

148 comments:

Amy Smith said...

Thanks for your post Ben! I love reading your blog. Your writing is so genuine, and I feel all peaceful and tingly when I read it. And I giggle at the funny parts. I really like what you said. There are members of the church all over the world who live in countries with governments that rule in a way that conflict with gospel principles. These members of the church are living the gospel the best they can, and succeeding. We could all do better to walk a mile in other's shoes. Thanks for sharing your story :)

Bergie Berg said...

I was going to say "Maybe if you weren't so tall, more of us could walk in your shoes." And then I started looking at some To Kill a Mockingbird quotes; I get distracted easily. Here are some good, applicable ones:

“Sometimes the Bible in the hand of one man is worse than a whisky bottle in the hand of (another)... There are just some kind of men who - who're so busy worrying about the next world they've never learned to live in this one, and you can look down the street and see the results.”

“Atticus, he was real nice -- Most people are, Scout, when you finally see them.”

“People generally see what they look for, and hear what they listen for.”

"Atticus was right. One time he said you never really know a man until you stand in his shoes and walk around in them. Just standing on the Radley porch was enough."

Emily M. said...

Thank you. This was excellent.

Zinah said...

Excellent! I have felt a lot lately as I have gotten to know various people with various trials - there is no one who has lived the ideal life. Every single person has or will have their own cross to bear in this life, and we never know what it might be. I have definitely developed more compassion as I've gotten to know others and their respective trials. Our trials are made for us, and us alone, and wishing we only had someone else's trials (I think I could handle HER problems!) won't do us any good. But having that eternal perspective, that somehow it will all work out in the end, that's so important.

I didn't post anything on facebook about the supreme court decision, because I don't feel like I need to go shoving my beliefs about marriage in everyone's face when it's something that most people are genuinely happy about. I felt much the same as you. Not surprised, not thrilled to death, but not upset either. It was obviously coming, and we can't force the world to believe as we do. What's to stop someone doing what makes them happy if their belief system doesn't tell them they can't do such and such a thing?

I think there is so much power in the statement that Christ made on the cross, "Forgive them, for they know not what they do." Doesn't that apply to all of us in so many instances? I think Christ is so merciful, and he knows it's hard to have an eternal perspective, and if we are trying our best, but we still make a mistake and stumble based on our earthly weaknesses, he's willing to forgive us, knowing that we didn't really know what we were doing. I don't know if any of this rambling makes any sense. But honestly, I think I gay person in a same sex relationship has just as much a chance of making it as the rest of us do, if they are a good person, trying their best to live a good life. We get stuck on the fact that the church teaches us to strive for the "ideal family life" and sometimes we have to be content with the fact that we won't get there until the next life. And we have to realize that those "perfect Mormon families" we all see around us....probably aren't so perfect. I once had a friend tell me when I was a teenager that she wished she was a part of my family because we were the perfect family, and I nearly burst into tears, because she had no idea how frustrated I was at my families utter IMPERFECTION. I mean, we had ISSUES that you just didn't see from the outside. I don't think we understand how much love Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ have for each of us, and how much mercy they are willing to give. To everyone. Regardless of beliefs or actions.

Wyatt said...

Ben, I'm so glad that you're my friend. You're a really good person and make me want to be a better person. Thank you. I will try to be more empathetic with people.

Anonymous said...

Hi, thanks for your honesty. There really isn't anything in this world that can allow us to fully empathize. We can try to understand by listening, thinking, praying, learning, etc. but there really isn't anything that will help us to "get it". Being open and being a friend is a definitely a good start, and I agree that all of us should do that.

I'd be curious to hear from you regarding the mind of God. Does our Savior really understand what it's like to be Gay, or to experience Gay feelings? I feel like there are really only two things that he cannot fully empathize with: What it's like to repent, and what it's like to be gay. What do you think? I know he can speak peace to our hearts, and we believe that the Atonement covers everything.

Why do you think he allows for this particular challenge? It seems extreme, and almost unplanned, and I'm trying to wrap my head around the 'Why'.

I will continue to pray for further light and knowledge, and pray that it will come quickly to those that need it most.

Take care,
L

Tyler said...

Hey Ben! I really appreciate your comments. You are a great example. I can't say that I understand but your stories definitely help. And if you're ever in Utah, let me know and you won't have to eat alone!

Also, have you ever thought about getting a pet? We have struggled to have kids but our cat feels like part of our family :)

Crystaljoy said...

Ben your amazing. I'm not sure if you remember me much at all, but i was in the Everette singles ward for a while. My brother is living in the same kind of shoes you in and i have been trying to learn more and more about gay Mormons. I admire them so much for the faith they have. I'm so grateful for the spirit that has taught me and i want to thank you for your blogs. If you don't mind, i would like to email this one to my brother. Thanks Crystal Peters (my maiden name is Orberg).

Joseph Ballstaedt said...

I went to law school recently, so gay marriage has been a big issue in my legal world for some time. At first I was very fascinated with the issue, but I have grown tired of this issue. Not many people seem to say much that is meaningful or productive to the debate and to our lives. This post, however, has been the best thing that I have read for a long time. Thanks Ben.

Paige said...

I appreciate this post, thank you. I'm glad that you realize that there's a future 5th option of some sort (and since it's from Heavenly Father, we know it'll be a good option. a best option). The saddest part of this story isn't for you...it's for those who don't know there's a 5th coming. Those who haven't had enough experience with Heavenly Father and know to trust Him...they only see those four and that is so sad and hopeless. I pray that they'll have experiences that can help them to be more like you...and that you will continue to find the positive in your life. You are an inspiration.

Ben said...

Thanks for your comment, L. I do believe that the Savior understands everything we go through, even what it's like to repent and what it's like to be gay. As it says in Isaiah 54, He "has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows." And as it says in Alma 7:11-13, Christ took upon Himself our pains, sicknesses, and infirmities so that He would know how to succor us. I believe that part of the atonement was His experiencing all that we experience so that He could truly empathize with is.

That said, I realize that it is impossible for any one of us to really "get it" and understand what it's like to be other person. But just because we can't fully "get it" doesn't mean that we shouldn't strive to put ourselves in other people's shoes and try our best to understand what it's like to go through what they're going through.

As to the why, I don't think I can give you a good answer. My thoughts on why I'm gay have evolved and changed throughout the years and I'm hesitant to put that into writing right now as my views will likely change again. I think it's very important to try and figure why things happen or why things are the way they are. However, I think it's more important to ask "now what?" For me the why I'm gay isn't as important as accepting that fact and then trying to live my life the best I can in that reality. What is the mind of God? I don't know. His ways are higher than our ways. I don't know why I'm gay, but I do know that God loves me and He wants me to be happy and I can find a lot of happiness as a gay Mormon.

Joel Frost said...

I don't know you. I found this blog from a facebook friend who shared it. All I can say is, you are awesome. What a great, insightful post. I wish that your voice was louder. I have had many "they don't get it" moments this week. You are awesome. Thanks for sharing!

Late Night Movies with Robbie and Ashley said...

I don't know you personally and I found this through Facebook actually. But I just wanted to let you know how much this touched me. I can't stress how right you are. That God has a plan for you and it's going to be better then you could ever imagine. Those that know you personally are so lucky to be surrounded but such a positive force of energy. I hope life continues to give you everything you are looking for. I hope those lonely moments become further and further in between. You seem like such an amazing person and I'm so happy I found this today. Best of luck with everything. When you have God on your side you have nothing to fear!

whitney said...

I don't know you, but I really admire your faith and conviction. Thank you for writing this and being the person you are. I have a lot of love for you and the things you go through. Thank you for sharing!

rozanny said...

Thank you for sharing! You are praying for the right thing. That God will let you know that what you are doing is right and is enough for now.

LeAnn said...

Thank you for sharing your feelings and thoughts. I found them simply beautiful. I have found comfort in Elder Neal A. Maxwell words when he said "faith in God includes faith in his timing." <3 <3 <3

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed reading your post. It does help me understand. In fact, even though I'm not gay, but married with 3 kids, I can really relate. All my life, I've been taught: grow up, get married, have kids and that is the way to happiness (I even added in graduate from BYU and go on a mission too)....honestly though, after 10+ years of marriage, I think marriage is highly overrated! I married someone in the temple who I knew I received an answer to marry, but there has been no happily ever after. I pray hard for option #2 b/c I'm weary of trying really hard to find some kind of peace in being married. I'd rather be alone than around someone where there is always tension. People don't turn out to be who you thought they were, raising kids isn't a joy but stinking hard and frustrating....I don't know...it's disappointing that life hasn't turned out how I thought it'd be and now I have no hope, either, of it ever. Everyone who I really know, enough to know what's going on in their marriage feels the same or close to how I feel. I guess I just need to learn from you and accept that life isn't going to turn out even close to what I expected and try to find a different way to happiness.

Lu said...

Thank you. I do not know you, but I am so grateful a mutual friend shared your post. I have a few friends who are in a situation similar to yours,and they are the ones who have been filling my mind the last few days (years, really). My relationship with them has completely changed my paradigm and made me reflect, seek answers, wonder, ache, cry,and so many more things. I feel like I have made zero progress in the answers department, but lots of progress in thr understanding and love department. I so appreciate your transparency and your perspective. Thank you for being genuine. I am certain you are blessing more lives than you can imagine with your sharing.

Rob and Marseille said...

Hi Ben Schilaty! Its been a long time! You are such a good writer!

Drew said...

There are some major flaws with this article, but here are just a few:

1) This DOES and WILL affect everyone, whether or not you live in a state that already allowed SSM.

2) You have [at least] one other option: Do as the Gospel directs, repent, put off the natural man, and overcome your homosexual attractions. Thousands of people have done it, it is absolutely possible.

3) The life you're choosing to live is not the life Jesus Christ suffered and died for, and you're making yourself out to be a victim that just has to ride it out and hope things happen to you, rather than learning to apply the ALL-ENCOMPASSING power of the Atonement.

Anyway, there are other things, but that's just what came to mind when I read this.

KG Bauer said...

Hey Ben, Thank you for your thoughts. Frankly, I appreciated your response to "L" about the Savior understanding you most of all. You are a good man, with a magnificent future ahead. Brother Bauer

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing this. It sounds like you have reached a level of happiness and a relationship with Heavenly Father that few (straight or gay, in relationships or single) attain in this life. I hope we could all move through our individual trials we face with stalwart love and dedication to Heavenly Father to attain this type of joy within our own lives- and hope that when I face my life defining moments/challenges can have this kind of love and stalwart dedication to remain faithful. Thanks again for opening up your life and struggles to us as it is an example of the hope we all strive to attain.

Brittani Keller said...

Thank you so much for sharing! I found your blog via a friend on Facebook and I appreciate your insight, thoughts & feelings so much! I greatly admire and respect you!! Thank you for holding fast to what you believe! You are a priceless example to me (a pearl of great price)!

AmyJo said...

Thank you so much for sharing this so I *can* try to walk in your shoes and have a better understanding. And, thank you for the example. As a single sister that has never married, and had lots of crazy, unplanned things happen the past few years, I have also chosen hidden, secret #5, and I can now share that with others since you've found a fun way to say it. Thank you!

Anonymous said...

Truly depressing words. I can understand to a point. I have a happily ever after marriage, not in the cheesy ride into the sunset happily, but the we're just happy, enjoy, and love each other. I hit the husband jackpot. Eternity will be a blast!

It's the kid department I can get. We dated for a long time, did a financial spreadsheet to make sure we could afford marriage, got married in the temple (eternity with him still makes me feel happy after 13+ years), worked and got through a majority of school, THEN added the kids. I ate healthy, took my vitamins, didn't smoke, drink, or do drugs, did it "all right" and somehow ended up with HARD kids that have litany of mild problems. They are absolutely nothing like the young women lessons portrayed. I felt punk'd for many years. Then I felt mad! We had 6 in 9 years. Nothing would stop them from coming. Three of them have mild neurological disorders that are flaming hard to deal with. One of the three also has a birth defect the is 50% fatal. We're learning miraculous survival comes with continued struggles. They look "normal" but don't think, process, or act normal. We just look like crappy parents despite the years of therapy, early intervention, constant work on coping strategies, THOUSANDS of dollars we've paid out of pocket for things they've needed. I was not feeling any joy in parenthood. It's like we live in a special ed classroom but never get to go home and get a break at the end of the day. I've just recently come to terms with it not being what I thought it would be. I'm fiercely devoted to giving them the very best shot at productivity as adults despite what ever sacrifice if costs on my part. I've virtually given up a career with a fantastic rate of pay, my wardrobe averages 9+ years, and my body will forever have motherhood etched into it, but I'm trying with every fiber of my being to help these little souls grow to their full potential. It's not an enjoyable endeavor, and we've just had to accept it. It's hard! It stinks! We can do it! We really can! Young women lesson books are in serious need of revision! Doing it all "right" is no guarantee.

Wendy said...

I think the hard part is so many people chalk up being gay to a choice. I wish more members would understand that this is just simply not so. You are born this way. I love the gospel but I find the culture of the church challenging, at best. I wish more members would leave their fears behind and embrace the gray areas of life. You said it beautifully--walk in another's shoes, that's what the Savior wants of us.
Also, futons are made with hate. (Jim Gaffigan said) this could improve your life a great deal to get rid of that.

Anonymous said...

I would like to say this non-anonymously, but I don't want to be publicly castigated, so here I am, anonymous.

Marry your friend, Dianna. Is she already married? If so, find another one like her. She is a gem among women. I'm sure you love her. No, perhaps not romantically, but definitely platonically. There are men and women who are in loveless marriages who live their lives alone and lonely. They are people who stay "together" because it's what's expected. They are alone and lonely and have no one to whom they can go, except, as you do: the Savior.

If, in your loneliness, you find a gem like your friend, you would be better off than most, if not all of those poor souls. You would have someone to live with, laugh with and you'd have a temple marriage. Is it the same? No. Would it be worse? I don't know. Would it be better? I don't know. What I do know is this: You taught me a lot today. Thank you.

Peace

Trevor said...

Hi Ben, I loved how thoughtful your post is. Frankly, we don't deserve to have such amazing people stick with us in the church when we treat you so poorly.

So here's a shout out from the corner of the Internet, from a random stranger, hoping to give you some kind of support somehow. I'm doing what I can to make the church safe and welcome for you. Best wishes.

Drew said...

I've now three times tried to post an honest and rational response to this blogpost, and it has been three times denied. I think it is truly a shame that you are unwilling to allow another point of view to even be heard, especially one that is so thoroughly in line with the teachings and mission of Christ. My comment expressed an unpopular (even among LDS, amazingly) and politically incorrect but nonetheless absolutely doctrinally true viewpoint. I truly hope you find your way to allowing His Atonement to change your life, and not let your weakness define yourself. "Gay" is a pattern of thoughts and behavior, not an identity. You can choose. You have hope. People can change. I have seen it firsthand.

Drew said...

P.S. Please, for the love, people, quit spreading the completely unfounded "born that way" myth. It is simply not true, and people spout it like science when there is zero evidence.

Ben said...

Drew, I posted your comment last night. I also went to your blogger profile and sent an email to the address posted on your blogger profile. I'm happy to have a conversation with you about this, I'd just rather not do it in the comments section of my blog. If you didn't receive the email I sent you last night, please send me an email. My email address isn't very inventive: benschilaty@gmail.com

Anthony Bell said...

Put away your lusts and ask God the father to cleanse u inside and out your story sounds nice but Jesus blood can wash you whiter than snow if you want it. Have you repented of your sins ? Or have u only emaphized amongst yourself... Have you sought out the holy father ... If my people which are called by my name would humble themselves and pray seek my face turn from there wicked ways then they would hear from heaven God says and I will heal
There land. You must be born again or you will not make it amongst Gods number. Being a Mormon doesn't buy a ticket to heaven ... Walking upright before God does.

Britt said...

How nice and though I want to read your conversations I respect your privacy. ;)

Javier said...

A pesar de que no podré entender realmente lo que has pasado te puedo decir que tu artículo ha sido una inspiración para mi. Veo en verdad que eres un gran hombre y me das una muestra clara de lo que es la verdadera fe... Te deseo lo mejor y espero que algún día podamos volver a vernos, por lo menos después de esta vida. Gracias por mostar lo que es la verdadera fidelidad a uno mismo y al Señor.

Pd. Una disculpa por escribir en español, mi inglés es muy malo.

Javier Ramos (uno de los Elder Ramos en Chihuahua).

george said...

I love secret option 5! I have also struggled with a lack of understanding. My friends/family, who are gay, have genuine feelings that God understands. He knows, loves and has a plan for for all of his children. While, I don't have His understanding, I do want to see everyone have a life that is as rich and full as possible and I know this is His desire too. I celebrate your courage and I pray that understanding will come forward.

Jill said...

Seriously, Anthony? This is where the church stands (according to the church run website mormonsandgays.org): The experience of same-sex attraction is a complex reality for many people. The attraction itself is not a sin, but acting on it is. Even though individuals do not choose to have such attractions, they do choose how to respond to them. With love and understanding, the Church reaches out to all God’s children, including our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters.

Again, let me restate it in case you missed it, having same-sex attraction IS NOT A SIN, acting on it is. So this man has nothing to repent of. He is doing everything right. Maybe you should consider trying to "humble yourself and pray" about it. I hope it brings you greater enlightenment, understanding, and compassion.

Mrs. English said...

Jesus Christ descended below all in his atonement for our sins. You bet He knows what we are all going through. You take God out of the picture with that point of view.

Alyssa Witt said...

Thank you so much! This was beautiful. I hope I'm like Diana. I loved that you said this: "My life is good. It is really good. It's not the kind of life that I was taught to want, but it's the life I have and it's good." What an inspiring statement. I always feel like I have to fit inside a mold and I just can't, so I hope I can have a perspective more like yours. There really is no mold anyway.

Thank you for taking the time to write this. I truly appreciate the insight I gain from reading your experience. I read some of these comments and some are encouraging, and some are discouraging. I went to BYU and I know there's a stigma around that at times. I graduated just a year ago and I want to say... the people I met there are some of the most open & loving people I've met. I know that's just my experience, but it was my experience. And it gave me great hope for the world & myself and I just want you to know that you are loved!

Thank you for the life you lead. You are a blessing to all of us! I can't wait for when we really know who we are and how much God loves us. And someday we'll get there.

Crystal said...

Thank you so much for your thoughts. I know it's not easy to talk publicly about personal feelings on a controversial matter, but it's made a difference for me.

Tatia Sanchez said...

Thank you so much for posting this. I never thought about life from your perspective before. This made me cry. Thank you for realizing there is even an option 5. This is my first time reading your blog and I am so glad I did. You will be in my prayers and I will try to be more mindful.

Anonymous said...

I am so glad you wrote this post! It totally spoke to my heart and made me want to look at the world and all my brothers and sisters with more empathy and love! You are filling a great need in this world by gracefully caring a burden many of us can't understand but you make me want to try harder! This post has blessed me and I hope it will help me to be more loving to bless others by showing them unconditional love!

Anonymous said...

Dear Ben. I don’t know you. But I just wanted to say, option 5 is—the Bomb . Though it may seem the least concrete to some, it is (to me), the most real for everyone. It makes me think of the precious, chosen children of Isreal living for centuries under Mosaic law. A lesser law. Yet, the highest command of God at the time. And, though they struggled & labored under it, they were also blessed in their obedience to it. It was later fulfilled by further Light (Jesus Christ) who ultimately lifted them from the burdens of it. I believe what is being asked of LDS gay people is, in some form, a lesser law. It’s not fair. As lesser laws tend not to be … But, in the mean time, Grace (the enabling power to continue in good works we would be otherwise unable if left to our own unaided effort) powers us through. Gives us His presence. And, gives us wonderful people like you, to bump into on the internet :)

Linda said...

A wonderful insight into what has become a subject of high interest ..... thanks for allowing me to walk for a few minutes in your shoes .... this has definitely given me food for thought. May you be blessed with all the good things you so richly deserve. Thank you for sharing.

ladyshanae said...

I have been trying to verbalize my feelings about last week for a full week with no luck. You don't know me and I am not gay, but you have summarized my thoughts perfectly. I cried reading this and I want to give you a great big hug. Your faith is inspiring. I can honestly say that, we're I in your shoes, I don't know I'd I could make the choice you have made to stay. What conviction and love you have for the gospel and what faith you have of further light and knowledge. I hope for it as well because I want you to have all the joy possible in this life and in the life to come. Thank you so very much for sharing your thoughts and feelings.

Karin Alfaro said...

Ben, thank you for writing this. I'm touched and cannot imagine what it's like day after day for you, but your faith and hope that one day God's promises will be fulfilled strengthens me. I have wondered many times why people are born gay. And I know it's not just something you change like you change a habit. I have had friends and family members want to be straight, but it's not something that comes naturally. I'm very scientific and thought that there must be some connection in the actual make up of someone that can explain why a kid, who has no way of judging the difference, can already show certain preferences. I took a human biology and genetics class that described the various outcomes of a 46th chromosome alteration, including hypogonadism, and for the first time, I saw a scientific connection. I'm not suggesting there is an easy answer to why babies are born this way, but I just wish there would be more scientific research because no kid chooses to be this way and your post describes a real struggle, one that many dismiss as an easy behavior to change, when in reality, is how your chromosomes were created while you were in the womb. Clearly, the hope of resurrection is there, the hope that one day, that perfect body will have no genetic deviations like the many seen today in age, but until then, imagine if there would be a better way to cope besides just hoping? Please share any scientific research you've come across as the topic is most interesting. And thanks again for sharing.

Janettehardy@gmail.com said...

Hi Ben... I don't know you, but I too am gay and was raised LDS. Your words were inspiring and hit so many points on the head. I am impressed by your conviction. I am one of the gay LDS members who left the church years ago because I could not wrap my head around spending my life alone. I truly did not think the Lord intended this for me since he created me this way. I have since questioned the religion and my own testimony which I never thought I would do. I suppose this is exactly what Satan had hoped for, and I am well aware of that. Interestingly, although I have tried hard to find someone to spend and share my life with, I haven't been able to do it. At this point, I'm not sure what the answer is, but I am considering the things you have written. I am originally from Tempe, AZ. The I might have enjoyed the conference you spoke of.

Allyson said...

I am awed by your faith.

Megan said...

Thank you for sharing this. Walking in your shoes was eye-opening for me and I'm really grateful I read this (and now many of your other posts as well!) and I know that now that I've read your perspective I will respond differently--better--to gay members of the church. Thank you for sharing your testimony. The world needs more people like you!

Anonymous said...

I am deeply touched by your story. Thank you for your honesty, your courage, and your faith. You willingness to share and help me understand my loved ones is a blessing to me and so many unknown others.

Anonymous said...

I am deeply touched by your words. Thank you for your honesty, your courage and your faith. Your willingness to share and help me understand my loved ones is a blessing to me and so many others. If we were in the same ward, I'd want you to sit by me!

Anonymous said...

Ben,

Thank you for a well written post. Your impassioned writing had me.... right up until the very last sentence where you say, "...and create more of a place for me and other gay Mormons in His church."

I do not doubt for a moment that you struggle with what has been labeled "same sex attraction". There are soooo many ways to struggle in this life. Soooo many things that entice and entangle, distract and derail. Satan is well versed in all of them.

We, all of us surely struggle with many and varied trials in this mortal live. Seemingly, some much more than others. However, we cannot, we must not, no matter what our appetites or passions or trials in the flesh are, ever, ever, ever, expect God to bend his will to fit our carnal nature, whatever flavor it be. It will simply never happen. It is just not in the plan. If we really believe in Christ, yes and even believe Him, we must always pray to our Father as He did, "... not my will, but thine be done...". We must all continue to do as Alma taught and "...bridle your passions...". God will make all things right in the life to come if we are faithful and strive always to "...let His will be done..."

May God bless you with increased faith and strength brother!

daveharperdesign said...

I really appreciate your comments. As you've touched on, empathy is key for everyone whether LDS or not. Having empathy will bring us closer to each other in love and support. Thanks for writing this!

glo said...

I would love, love , LOVE to support more of everyone. Please to anyone reading this - tell your stories. Come to family wards so that I can teach my sons about the vast ways that human beings can be. And if you choose to enter a homosexual relationship - still come - because people WILL grow and love.

On my mission, we taught a lovely transgender couple who came faithfully. The change that wrought in our ward was amazing. Did church policy change? No - but we all learned to love and respect.

As a Mormon, I feel trapped in a bigot box. I'm assumed to be hateful. And that's wrong. I'm not in charge of church policy and its not my place to speak for God. I want to love and support. I want more friends of all kinds. So please come and share. Let me know your story. I want to be there for you.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Ben! Please don't listen to the few that say hurtful, awful, untrue things. Most everyone has only love for you. There were a few comments that made me almost throw my phone, they were so offensive. Pay them no mind. Thank you for who you are!!

Anonymous said...

I cried when I read this my amazing husband has struggled with being bisexual since he can remember there have been people who have loved him and others that have hated him. Some times its hard when he looks at a man and I see that face that says he is hot but knowing that at the end of the day he is my husband and is the most amazing man that I have ever met. Most people in the church are judgemental and think they know him but they dont they will never understand his trails the way I do. Man who do their best to do the lords will be blessed one day and have all of the happiness that the lord has promised. The lord knows your trails and will always love u always may the church come to a point where we understand all of our brothers and sisters in and out of the church. Thanks for the faith, hope, and understanding for the future. May you find happiness and not feel as alone as you do now.

Steven Hamby said...

Hey Ben. I think it is great that you are sharing your thoughts and feelings as this is absolutely an awesome way to be. I would like for you to know that I am LDS and that I do not judge you. I would have to take a long look in the mirror if I were to try and pass judgement on you or anyone for that matter. I definitely feel your choice of action is without a doubt the right course to take. Some I know have found the love of their life and for one reason or another Heavenly Father has called one of them home and the other lives the rest of their life alone with only memories to hold to. They live with the same promise you stated in your blog that only Heavenly Father can understand the glorious blessings in store for us. I believe you are truly pleasing to Heavenly Father and he looks upon you with pride in your determination to live according to his principles. Hang in there Brother :) as I am saying prayers for myself, I will remember you in them as well. Strength and courage to carry on!!! Take care and thank you for sharing.

Taralyn said...

Drew - how are you even OK with the words you spoke??? This Man lives as far as the article say a good clean close to the Lord life!!! That's all our Heavenly Father asks of us of us!!! Our best and to lean on him in all things!!! I believe he is doing just that!!! Shame on you for shaming him!!!

Anonymous said...

I love that response.

Julie Pullman said...

Hi, Ben. Can you help me? I really want to find a way to "create more space in the church" for our brothers and sisters who feel SSA. What does that look like?
Knowing doctrine won't change, what could be done to welcome you more? I have a few ideas: remind everyone that 1- SSA is not a sin. 2- don't push answers 1-4 on people. (I believe that if living an authentic life while following doctrine means you cannot marry in this life, God will bless you for your incredible obedience in other ways and take care of the marriage thing somehow in the next life.) 3- ? What else?
If I ever hear bigoted comments, I shouldn't be silent. But I haven't heard any that I can remember. I think (in the wards I've been in) that people would actually be welcoming. I think there are a lot more people that would be loving than most people assume. (Not all, of course, as evidenced even by comments here.)
Are there specific things that a single member can do or that a ward could do that would support our friends in the ward who are finding themselves in this incredibly difficult situation? Even when we don't know it?
Thanks for sharing your personal feelings and choices in how you are trying to follow the Savior. My own opinion doesn't matter much in terms of judgement, but I feel like you've found the best of this in option #5 and I hope you are blessed with many other forms of joy and peace and fulfillment in this life.

Alice W. Gold said...

Beautiful thought provoking post. I'm on your side. I'm on the Lord's side, so of course I'm on your side. I cannot even begin to tell you how much admiration and respect I have for you!!

Ben said...

Thanks for your comment and questions, Julie. The best answer I have for you is to follow the Spirit as you strive to be Christlike. If you do that then I think you'll know what to do. But let me give one specific example that has made me feel more a part of the church. Before I moved to Tucson there were two things that I prayed for. I wanted a good group of friends and a second family that would take care of me. I got to Tucson on a Saturday night in August and the only person I knew in the whole city was Amy (the first person to comment on this post) and I hadn't talked to her in five years (but now we're way tight). I arrived at my new house and met my roommate Kevin. The next day he invited me over to his parents' house for Sunday dinner and I gladly accepted. His family knew nothing about me except that I was new to town and far from home. They took me into their home just as the Savior would have. "For I was hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger and ye took me in" (Matt. 25:35).

They continued inviting me over for Sunday dinners and I became part of the family, especially after I introduced Kevin to my friend Allison who later become his wife. I really do feel like I'm part of the family. I refer to Kevin's family as "my Tucson family" and Kevin's dad refers to me as his third son.

A year and a half ago I was having a really tough day and I just felt like I needed a father's blessing, but my dad was 1,600 miles away. Kevin's dad is the closest thing I have to a father in Tucson so I texted him and asked if I could get a blessing which he was happy to do. He listened to me as I unloaded all my problems on him and then gave me a beautiful blessing. I hugged him afterward and through tears I thanked him and his family for always being there for me. I left the house and cried on the way home. Not because I was sad, but because I was so grateful. I felt so grateful to have been welcomed into the their family. I'm grateful to always have a place to eat Sunday dinner, to never have to wonder if someone will make me a birthday cake, and to know that even though I don't have my family in Tucson, I'm cared for and watched over. And my friends are just as amazing and they include me in everything. I don't ever feel lonely at church. The only place I feel lonely is in my home.

In church I often hear people comment, "All people need to brighten their day is a friendly smile and hello." Yes, I suppose that's true, but a smile just isn't going to cut it. Single church members need to be part of a family. Maybe not everyone wants that, but it's what I wanted and it's what I got.

I don't want to "steady the ark" and tell church leaders what to do, but there are some small things that I feel would help and since this is already too long I won't elaborate on them. Single men can't be hired by CES to be Seminary and Institute teachers. My dream job has always been to be an Institute teacher, but I can't be hired because of my marital status. Unlike single women, single men can't serve multiple missions as adults. That's an option I might like to have in the future. Also, I don't know if this is broad policy, but I know of at least one temple where single men over 30 are not allowed to be ordinance workers. These are just a few ideas. But what's important for you, Julie, is to continue pondering the question you asked me and the Lord will help you know what to do.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your comments Ben. My Granddaughter sent this to me and I feel I need to thank you. This is a situation I've pondered a lot because my son is gay. He has left the Church and lives the homosexual lifestyle. He is an incredible person and a wonderful son. I love him just like I love all my children. I don't know all the answers either, but it helps to have some first hand knowledge from someone living with a situation. Someone commented that they feel the wards they've lived in would be welcoming. I feel our ward would too, but there are always people who have a hard time understanding anything that is different from the way they live, but that's people, not the Lord. May the Lord bless you and help you be happy as I'm sure you've helped many people. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Drew simply doesn't get it because he hasn't walked in shoes other than his own. For that reason I pardon him. But holy cow.... He simply missed the point. As for me, I have come to know that the Lord allows us to experience certain things, usually not understood by others, for our own growth, and for the growth of those whom we love and whom love us. For that reason, I'm thankful to Him for trusting me to experience this, as you do. Agreed: it's not easy. Agree: there can be lonliness, but even in marriage one can feel lonely. Agreed: empathy instead of judgement from others would be preferable, but going it alone helps one to better understand/appreciate the Savior. So you contine being happy, kudos for you, and you continue keeping on, there is great valor in so doing. And then you simply dismiss, as I do, the lack of understanding from those who do not get this. They never will. So I no longer give them place in my mind. Rather, I reserve that place for the balm of Jesus Christ, His love, understanding, and acceptance of me. Hang tough buddy. At near 60, I can tell you that things work out, staying true to the Gospel as you are, works out. Keep dancing while you put the dishes away too.😊

Anonymous said...

Ben thank you for your thoughts. I greatly admire you for your obedience.
I have a daughter that is gay. She was in her mid-thirties when she told me. I took her in my arms and we wept together. I told her I would always love her. She told me that since she had finally acknowledged to herself that she was gay she felt at peace with herself for the first time in her life. I pleaded with her to not leave the church but she had not felt welcome in church for many years and at that point in her life she had already left.
She is a very good person that loves and is loved by many people and especially her family. Our family has been very accepting and the love we have for one another has only gotten stronger over the years since she told us. She still has not come out to the rest of the world and fears her career would suffer if she did.
My perspective of same sex attraction has gone under a lot of scrutiny and I have found myself advocating in my ward for more tolerance of everyone that has challenges in their life that are not in accordance with church teachings or policy.

I must admit that I do not know how to help my daughter other than to love her and help her feel welcome in our family. She is very active in many good things and seems very happy in her life, though she also admits to being lonely when she is home. She doesn't see any benefit to being involved with a church that she believes is anti-gay and rebukes any suggestion to return.

Any suggestions by you would be prayerfully considered.

Anne DeArmon said...

This is beautifully written and well thought out. I have a feeling that you have done a lot of soul searching and experience for you to come to this place you are now. I applaud your choices and your eternal perspective. I hope you do get your light and knowledge from the Lord.

Emma said...

Ben—I don't know you, but I sure appreciated this beautiful post. I don't necessarily understand how God's plan will work out in my own life, and even less so in the case of my (several) wonderful friends with same-sex attraction, but I know there is great happiness awaiting you. (Sometimes it's a pity that we can't see exactly how that will work out). Thanks for your example and best wishes for option 5!

Eric D. Snider said...

Drew said: "2) You have [at least] one other option: Do as the Gospel directs, repent, put off the natural man, and overcome your homosexual attractions. Thousands of people have done it, it is absolutely possible."

You know who's always so sure this is possible? People who haven't done it.

Ben, thank you for your post. It expresses more or less how I feel about my own situation.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for posting this. I am straight and have no idea what it must be like to deal with same sex attraction. I also don't really know how to be supportive to the person dealing with it. This was very helpful in my quest for understanding. It is so easy to say throw off the natural man and stop being gay but I don't think it is that easy. So thank you for your words that have helped enlighten me and helped me to be more Christlike.

Stephanie said...

I don't know you personally but I feel so much love and respect for you as I read this. God bless you.

Anonymous said...

I know this isn't what you intended, but your column might be among the final straws that influence me to resign from the church. Though I'm more or less a lifelong member, a few years back I became a non-believer in the church's foundational stories. I believe God does act through Mormonism, because I believe God will manifest Himself where He will. Still, it's hard to take any of it too seriously when President Hinckley said the whole thing rises or falls on the first vision, which I believe was something other than what we've been taught all these years.

So where this gets to you is that it pains me to see someone so good choosing to live as you will do, based upon what I see as a fraud, that is the church claiming to be the "one, true church." If this false dogma is influencing someone as good as I believe you to be to accept a life that is less than what you deserve, then maybe the church does more harm than I was willing to admit.

I'm staying anonymous because I want to consider my decision free from pressure from the Strengthening the Members Committee.

April said...

I clicked on this post because a friend shared it on FB and I thought she had written it. But I'm so grateful I stumbled across this. Thank you for your faith and testimony, Ben. I believe in your 5th option, too. I wish you courage and strength to always choose that option. I, meanwhile, will try harder to put myself in your shoes. I would like to hope I've done a fair job of that so far, but I want to make an even greater effort to always do that. Thank you. God bless you.

Texas Girl said...

I have read article after article after the SCOTUS ruling came out, trying to make sense of my own feelings, experiences, and views on this subject. Everything has left me feeling pretty down in the dumps until I came across your blog post on facebook. THIS is what I have been searching for. THIS is what rings true to me. We all need to take a step back and take a walk in someone else's shoes. It would do miracles for our compassion and empathy. Thank you for sharing your insights on such a personal and controversial topic.

i'm jackie. he's doug. said...

I've been a fan of yours as long as I've known you. I read this when you first posted it, but I've been thinking about it a lot since then. In fact your words encouraged me to talk to one of my dearest friends from college about what it's like for him to be gay with an LDS upbringing. I'm trying to be better about putting myself in his (and your) shoes.

xoxo

Melanie said...

This post really touched me. I come across so many well-written blogs bashing my beliefs, but this is the first one that has reaffirmed them so beautifully. I'm so glad you have found contentment and a place for your personality in the LDS church despite your personal life; it strengthens my faith that I will find a place for mine as well. Thanks so much for writing.

Ashley Sullenger said...

Thank you for sharing. I'm new to your blog and found what you wrote very insightful. I'm from a small town in Idaho, and don't know any gay members. The only experience I have, is with my uncle. He left the church, moved to LA before I was born and rarely comes home. I've met him only a few times. I see his life style, and reading about yours I see its very different. I think by choosing #2 you are demonstrating a lot of courage. I know it has to be hard. I hope by staying actively Mormon, following what you feel is right, you are blessed with happiness, because I honestly see the predicament you are in. Thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps some people were just so attracted to their significant other that they decided to get married. But for me a testimony of marriage came first and after that I really wasn't too concerned about who I married. Not that I threw my standards out the door, I just found someone who I could trust and made myself available. Sounds unromantic, but I doubt a servant picking Rebekah to wife for Isaac was very romantic either. And no one who has remained chaste really knows how their bodies will react on wedding night. I don't think finding those who could fit in your shoes all that difficult. I think sexual problems are more prevalent than just homosexuality. The entire female gender is less sexual as a whole than males. Childbearing can shutdown all sexual desire and yet women still have to perform. Not only that, many, many women have experienced sexual abuse. This can shut down not only their desire, but make them have an aversion all together for intimacy. 1 out of 5 women have been abused! And likely more than that if you start asking. Thoughts like, "He only desires me because he can't control himself" can be very hard to combat. I've been married 10 years and still cry that I'm "broken." Do I regret being married? No. Does my husband regret marrying me? Well he tells me he loves me several times a day, so I'm pretty sure not. Is it dang hard every day to be married, you bet. Just wait till kids come along. Sexual preferences go right out the window then because you barely find time to say hello to each other. The mom is up all night and the dad is gone all day. The perfect relationship or perfect sexual relationship is never going to come around. Everyone. EVERYONE has to work at. Probably unsympathetic sounding, but everyone has their problems or will. It is tough. Yet the general council remains the same, promote the family. So that's what we do, one family at a time, generation after generation.

Anonymous said...

Joseph Smith also said,

All your losses will be made up to you in the resurrection, provided you continue faithful. By the vision of the Almighty I have seen it.

That gives me a lot of comfort.


Karen @ The Food Charlatan said...

Thank you for sharing this.

Richard said...

Wow.

Well said brother.

Jen said...

I love how you used those two scriptures, especially D&C 58 (one of my favorites for a long time), it really rang true with me. I also like in Psalms: Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, lean not unto thine own understanding. In all they ways acknowledge him and he will direct thy paths.

I don't know you personally, but I know you are my brother. Thank you for being a covenant keeper, for being faithful when it's tough; I love you for it. I love you because I know that when the day comes that the Lord will call out, and I reply, "Lord, here am I", my voice will be a part of a chorus and I will turn and look and I will see you, I will see my family, I will see my friends and I will see that I, indeed none of us, is alone. Every companion I can find on this path is so precious to me. Thank you.

I have so many feelings and testimony to express, but it's too hard to write it without writing a small novel. I will sum it up in this: I believe that the current climate of society regarding homosexuality is as much a part of God's plan as was the English translation of the Bible. He is constantly working for our eternal life. Great things will come to pass through the hands of His servants, like you, who help the world understand faith in God, keeping the commandments, and personal testimony on a whole new level; it adds strength to the message of the restored gospel like never before. And I believe this strength is needed more than ever due to the moral decay of society to show others, those who are searching for God, that He is there and He is there for everyone.

Thank you for sharing your thoughts and feelings. Thank you for letting me share mine. God be with you till we meet...again. :)

Rex Block said...

My dear friend Ben,

Maybe you will see my comment, maybe not. We have never met and I am not a Mormon, I am a Baha'i who is gay. The teachings of my Faith are exactly the same as the Mormon Church when it comes to homosexuality. Your story is my story except for a few details. My search for obedience led me to my first, short marriage and 2 children. When that failed, I became inactive in my Faith. I had a lover for 10 years but realized that wasn't what God wanted of me and we broke up. I, too, chose the path, the struggle for, celibacy as have many gay Baha'is and Mormons. And, like you, I prayed for God to lead my life.

Hold true to your statement, “I have a conviction that if I stay true to the principles that I believe that all will be well.” That was certainly true for me. I was prepared to live the rest of my life alone, hopefully in service to God and mankind when, after about 3 years, he led me to a wonderful woman who became not only my best friend but my spouse. We have now been married 21 years. We have weathered the battle of each of us having a mentally ill son (although we were unaware of that when we made our commitment to marry). It’s hard to imagine surviving this challenge without my wife.

I’m not saying God has the same solution in store for you but you are without doubt a highly spiritual, loving being and I have no doubt God has great things in store for you. And age cures all. As I approach 70, I now know that our sex drive, so critical in our youth, is not the driving force of old age; it’s companionshi; the sharing of our faith with our best friends, male or female. I wish you much joy and happiness in your life, not that you need my wishes. It appears you are well on that same road to your spiritual destiny.

With love and peace in my heart,
Rex Block

Anonymous said...

Drew, you're kind of being a jerk-face here. Ben is an incredibly courageous soul, doing his best to be faithful and accept his lot in life and what that means, in reality. He's made a choice to do something most wouldn't be able or willing to do. Try to walk a mile in his shoes, and then you'll have something worthwhile to say!

Anonymous said...

As a person who was molested as a child, I am suspicious of everyone's path to adulthood and I know a lot of interfering with nature can be done. I do also believe there are just those who were born that way, I grew up with them. So.. I'm angry about the Supreme Court ruling. However, I support my friends who SSM on an individual basis. I don't like the gay agenda. I really enjoyed your post. I think you are AMAZING. Just as you have to have faith, I have to have faith that humanity is not going to the crapper due to this ruling.

Sherri said...

Thank you Ben.I knew you from the MTC volunteer work. You are an inspiration to all of us and I thank you for your post. Today it is almost impossible to not know of a friend or family with gay members in it. I guess the important this is to not label and just regard us a human beings with all that goes with it.
We are all dealing with issues but I thank you for your beautiful way of helping us walk in your shoes.......many shoes. I hope to see you again soon. Sister Clark Serving in Sicily, Italy.

Anonymous said...

@Anonymous

"The entire female gender is less sexual as a whole than males."As a married mormon woman, I find teaching this kind of idea very damaging. Women are sexual creatures, just as much as males. Saying that women inherently have sexual problems is not helpful either, because that isn't true. Even though I've had to deal with some heartbreaking sexual problems, I would never dream to tell a gay man that he should just go for marrying a straight woman because most marriages struggle sexually anyway. Physically not being attracted to your spouse, not even a little, would be so hard. Imagine your husband not feeling any sparks towards you, even being repulsed by being intimate with you and visa versa. Although some can do it, I would not write it off so lightly. It's insulting to suggest he, or any other gay person, should just marry a straight person because all of us straight people encounter problems too.

Also, I disagree with, "The perfect relationship or perfect sexual relationship is never going to come around." It can though, it really can. I had a type of sexual dysfunction when I was first married that literally made intercourse impossible. It was heartbreaking, but I worked at it. My husband supported me. I went to physical therapy, and after a few months of hard work, I'm sexually healthy and our relationship is very close. I don't take sex for granted, and I've grown to love my husband even more. I don't think you can ever call anything perfect, but if I were, I would call my wonderful marriage the closest thing to it.

Pinspots said...

I don't know you, but I love you! Your beautiful words were exactly what I needed to hear. Charity, the answer is always charity. I'm sending my gay, active LDS, older brother a link to this post.

Victoria Hanson said...

I am bisexual. Things are a lot easier for me because I am still attracted to men. I understand your struggle and realize that it's not the same as mine. But I still had to make a decision when I was baptized to not act on the attraction I felt for women. These days it's easy to put it behind me, but as I prepare for a mission, I have to receive extra counsel from my priesthood leaders regarding my sexuality. I, like you, believe that the church is true and I feel happiest when I follow the Lord's commandments. That's what I focus on.
But the best thing I ever read that gave me hope was Matthew 19:29 "And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name’s sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life." You can assume that if ye have forsaken husband, as well, you shall receive an hundredfold. The scriptures also say, "Who am I, saith the Lord, that have promised and not fulfilled?" (D&C 58:31), and Jeremiah 29:11, "For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil..."
I love your attitude that Heavenly Father has a plan for us even when we can't see it or don't understand. I know exactly what that feels like. I hope you can receive guidance from God and continue to run towards him. Heavenly Father is with you and has not forsaken you!

Debby said...

Just wanted to thank you for your honesty, and I wish you a future filled with happiness abd peace. Thank you for sharing, and I know it has made me want to strive to do better, and to truly show love not just give lip service and call it enough. Thank you

Ang said...

Thank you so much for sharing. I appreciate knowing a little more about someone in your situation. I want to understand, and I do pray that you'll be able to continue feeling that Heavenly Father hasn't forsaken you! So beautifully written!

KimE said...

A friend reposted his friend's posting of this on facebook and I am so glad I found it. It confirmed many things I've wondered about gay Mormons. I'm 38, single, and have heard that ridiculous single sisters argument many times before. And you were spot on. I have hope in this life that my status will change AND that it's what the Lord wants for me. I know how hard it is to be celibate. But I can keep my fingers crossed daily that it will change, dang it!
My father was a gay man who married my mom (who was aware) in the early 70s because he was told marriage would fix it. He eventually gave up - left our family, his family, the church. He was not happier for it, but that had more to do with his selfishness than his orientation. My stepdad has a gay brother (not a member) who was in a committed relationship for decades until his partner recently died.
My teenage nephew made a recent comment about not understanding how people can be gay ...and I told him what I learned for myself a long time ago. Imagine if you woke up and the world, society, culture, AND the church told you that you were supposed to be attracted to men. It was your destiny, your identity, your eternal journey. And everything in you rebelled against this totally foreign idea. Imagine how difficult that would be. Everyone deserves love and as much understanding as you can give them, because you can't know how hard their life is. As a church, I think we'll get there. I have hope we will. Know that a stranger in Idaho has wept for your pain and also felt joy through your testimony. Thank you.

Unknown said...

You don't know me. And you may be getting far more attention than you wanted. But thank you for this Ben. I'm glad you decided to write it. In that increasingly turbulent sea of opinions you mentioned, it is, for me, "the light shin[ing] in the darkness."

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your insight. Your article was thoughtful and inspiring. I also gained from some of your comment replies. You are an example of living a joyful life despite trials and obstacles in your path. I have learned from you today, including the message to love and care for others and try more to understand (walk in others shoes).

Anonymous said...

You're my hero. We have to be curious, ask questions, and try to better understand each other... When comments are made in church, I will be more vigilant to remember our important duty as latter day saints to love each other and bear one another's burdens.

Kiersti said...

Thank you for this! Beautifully written. As a straight Mormon I have really struggled with all I've seen on Facebook from all perspectives. This is the first thing I've read and felt good about. Again, thank you for sharing this.

Jarad Matau said...

There are very few articles or blogs that I read. After someone linked your article on facebook, I didn't even take a second glance at it. But it wasn't until my brother sent it to me, and asked for my opinion on it. So I read the article. And I was surprised. You know, a lot of the things you mentioned, are the same things I had to deal with as a young man, growing up in the Mormon faith, and being gay. And while we've gone through some of the same struggles. Praying not to be gay, being the one that stuck out to me. Though I find it interesting how our views differ from one another. My brother wanted my opinion on this, and this was my response to him:

"I can’t help but feel a terrible loneliness, when I read this. Even though he says otherwise. I try to see myself in his shoes, and I have to tell you that I would feel an incredible loneliness, if I lived my life as he does. It seems unnatural that someone should have to live alone, because everything around us, even our inner most natural state of man, says that one should have a companion. There is a soulmate out there for everyone, so why not him? Why not me? Loneliness can be paralyzing, and awful. And I have felt this loneliness, and I cannot even begin to think of doing that for the rest of my life.

And I don’t think that God would want his son or daughter to have to go through life alone like that. But that of course is only my opinion. At the end when he went through his day, even though he is surrounded by friends and people he cares about, I feel alone. Because everyone else he is surrounded by are able to enjoy life to it’s utmost fullest. And here he is, living only parts of life. He’ll never know the companionship of another, and I really feel bad for him."

Please keep in mind, this was not in any way meant to offend you for your views. This was just me trying to envision what it would be like for me, to live in your position. And towards the end of reading this, loneliness is the main thing I felt. Though that could be my own feelings being projected here. I am in no ways saying that I am right, or wrong. These are just my opinions on the issue. I think it's wonderful that you have managed to live your life as you do, and be happy. And I think by voicing your opinion, and putting it out there in the world, some other youth will come across your blog, and find a comfort in knowing that there are others like them in the world.

Kind Regards,

Jarad M.

Jennifer said...

For reasons I'm sure you understand much better than I do, I have long felt that members who are gay and choose to stay in the church are the very bravest members I can think of. It is not an easy thing. (And I don't want to imply that those who leave are somehow less.) I hope you continue to find peace and joy in your life. Thank you for sharing your voice, I pray lots of members will listen.

Anonymous said...

Jesus Christ knows exactly how we feel because he felt it all during the Atonement in the Garden of Gethsemane when He bled from every pore for each one of us. In Alma Chapter 7 Verses 11-12 it says, "And he shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people. And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities."

Anonymous said...

I found your post through Facebook and I am so impressed and in awe of your perspective. You are absolutely correct in every point. I too have been more sad about what my fellow Mormons have said in the last few days than about the decision itself. I knew it would come, I wasn't surprised, but I was sad to hear the judgements and ignorance in some comments. I am with you, we just do not know what is to come and what the Lord has in store. Your strength is inspiring and I can see all 4 of your options being an option that some take at one time or another. Its not my path and not my struggle, my job is to be supportive. I am not a gay mormon, but I was married to one for 15 years. He has now gotten married,left the church and we co-parent our 2 children. It has been an incredible journey- very hard at times, but I have learned more about myself and what it means to be compassionate and to show unconditional love than I could have in any other way. I have no answers to this question, I just can lend my love, support, compassion and keep my opinions from hurting others. You are brave. Amen Brother!

Anonymous said...

Drew,
Christ was perfect. That does not mean he did not have weaknesses, just no sin. He was still a man. I like this article - https://www.lds.org/ensign/2015/04/it-isnt-a-sin-to-be-weak?lang=eng, it explains it well. The atonement does not take away weakness. We have weakness to ensure that we continue to use the atonement so we can be made strong through Christ. It's a beautiful thing. I feel that what Ben is doing is putting off the natural man. He's making choices that to him feel what God would have him do instead of leaning on his own understanding. There's not a lot of love in your post my friend.
I feel it is naive to say that this ruling won't effect us. There is cause and effect to every single thing. We just may not see it now. But something can effect you but not have an affect on you based on your own perception. This is how I see it as well. I don't feel this ruling will affect me. I choose to be happy because I know that it's my thoughts that cause pain and not actual things. That brings me peace. I hope peace finds you, Drew.

Christy said...

Thank you for this. I cried a little for you, and for myself and all others who have any sort of problem that has no real viable solution. Thank you for words of empathy and love,words of patience and faith, and words of joy. Every member of the church should read this and try harder to understand. I hope you continue to have a beautiful life.

Andrea M said...

I think we all have a secret option 5 to consider.

Kimberlee said...

The best blog post I've read concerning the LDS faith and the court ruling. Really. I can't thank you enough for allowing the world to get a glimpse of what life is like from an active mormon who is also gay. I will be praying and hoping for more of a place for you in our faith! I'm so impressed by you!

Susan G said...

Thank you for your insightful post. It was devoid of bitterness and full of love, very instructive and inspires me to be more like Christ.

R.B. Garrison said...

Your writing ability is wonderful. I wish everyone who feels or has felt out of place in the church could read it. I have tears in my eyes as I think about how most of us need to communicate better to be more Christlike.

I have seen great improvement in the church meetings and lesson materials over the last 34 years. It's amazing how the church changes without actually changing. Hope you continue in faith because we need you in the church!

Marianne Lowrance Power said...

Thank you for sharing this. I love your perspective and I also love your option 5. Yes, we can't conceive of the blessings the Lord has in store for each of us. Thank you for the perspective in bearing each other's burdens. This is true Christianity!

Erin said...

Wow did I need this today. I was just on the phone sobbing to my husband not three hours ago saying "The Lord doesn't answer my prayers" I know everyone has their own battles, reading your post and many of the comments that followed is a testimony of that, but when a trial lasts for the entirety of this mortal life...It Sucks!!! Yes, I have so much to be thankful for, but at the end of the day do I read my scriptures, write in my journal and faithfully get on my knees and pray? No! Thanks for the reminder that we can't always have our answers now, and I need to keep on going. You are loved.

Anonymous said...

I can only say thank you...but I wish there were more powerful words to express my gratitude for your faith and your example.

Brenda said...

Thank you for writing. I'll need to go back and read your other posts. I wish there was a way to say, "Like" or "Me too" to some of the excellent comments people have made. I'm a straight married Minnesota Mormon. I'm a grandma and WAY older than you are. Yet, if you need a friend like me, I'm here. I give great real hugs, but my cyber hugs could use work.
I don't understand what you're going through. But I'm trying to understand, or emphasize or whatever the right word is. I know the Church is true, but I struggle with some aspects of it too. Not that I'm saying that that compares to your trials. Whew! Trying to write to be understood is hard! I pray the Spirit will help.
Thank you for writing. You have helped me. God bless you. Really.

Beatriz Killpack said...

Anonymous I am sorry about your disappointment about marriage. We cannot control how others act but we can control how we act and how we react to things. I really don't know your situation but have you considered marriage counseling? Communication is very important in a relationship, sometimes we don't communicate our feelings and desires in a positive way. And sometimes we really need to sit down and count our blessings. Last but not least follow the basic counsel of family prayer, scripture study at a level you can do with your kids or even individually and going to the temple as a couple. You are right that marriage is no walk in the park there are definitely highs and lows. Like anything else you have to work at it, it's not just going to happen. Good luck to you.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for being so straight forward. You have answered many questions I have wanted to ask bout being gay in the church. Thank you for not blaming those of us who just don't understand. I don't know what to say about the option you have chosen other than I commend you for not lying about your situation and also finding the good in your life. Everyone could learn from that.

Kira said...

I was extremely moved by your post and your thoughts on walking in another's shoes. Thank you so much for sharing your perspective.

Anonymous said...

What an amazing testimony. I was very touched by your article. I want you to know there are many Mormons who want to understand our brothers and sisters with same sex attraction and who have love and kindness to share. I think like anything else sometimes the more negative voices are louder. Don't give up. Give us all a chance to prove that we do want to be like our Savior.

Becky said...

Ben, I'm another Facebook reader of your blog. A sincere thank you. Thank you for having the faith to live what you know to be true. Thank you for having the faith to share what is most personal to you. Thank you for your example. Thank you for making me realize and want to stop, step into another's shoes, close my eyes, feel their pain and joy, and then accept and love them as our Father in Heaven does. This is such a hard topic for so many, but what I know is that each and every individual on this earth is genuinely and wholly loved by our Heavenly Father. It is something I try to feel more than say.

Christi Billquist said...

Finally a perspective I can get behind. I will be sharing this left and right. I LOVE your option #5. It would do well for all of us to look and hope for that. That is the true definition of hope, faith, and giving our will over to Him. thank you!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Hi,
Your story/blogg has traveled to Sweden, I am an active member and want to say thank you for your post. It was touching to read and I love the scripture D&C 123:17 -I used the same verse in a talk just recently.
God loves you and I will pray that your happiness continues in your life, thanks for being a good example of how to treat each other in the world.

Anonymous said...

WOW! This post was absolutely beautiful and words seem inadequate to describe how I felt reading this. I am LDS. I live in a predominantly LDS community and don't personally know anyone that is gay although I know of about a dozen or so people that are. I have always tried to stand firm in my beliefs while still showing love and compassion to others. This post made my heart fill with love for others. My heart aches for those who face any struggles while living God's word whether those struggles be with their sexuality, with addiction, with anything really. And, it reminded me that there are many people, including this blogger, who rise above and live a life that is amazing and inspiring. Reading this strengthened my desire to be better, do better, and live the gospel better. Thank you so much for touching my heart and my spirit today! May God bless you on you journey back to Him.

Jan McCleery said...

I loved your post. Years ago I read the letter to Elder Boyd Packer, then President of the Council of the Twelve, from David Eccles Hardy, a multi-generation Mormon from famous parentage. The letter was concerning Hardy's gay son. He listed similar choices his son had and it was that letter that really made me take this issue to heart. http://www.lds-mormon.com/hardy.shtml

I was raised Mormon in Salt Lake City. I am not gay. But I am white and at that time (the '60s), blacks were not allowed to marry in the temple. It didn't even affect me personally - I didn't have any black friends other than one girl in junior high who was told she couldn't ever get married in the temple, which of course devastated her and me, as one of her friends. That prejudice so gnawed at me over the next few years that I ended up leaving the Church during college. Then in 1978 there was the revelation that blacks should not be excluded. Some years ago my niece married a wonderful black man in the temple and they have two amazing children.

There is a rapidly growing number of people in the country who are recognizing the truth about being gay. Although some commenters won't yet accept it, that doesn't make it not true. It isn't a choice and you deserve to be as happy as the rest of them. Would the Church excommunicate you if you did marry? I realize currently it couldn't be a temple marriage, but could you stay in the Church? The Church does not excommunicate people who drink or smoke. I ask because I believe the time will come when gay marriage is accepted and you know in your heart that being gay was God's choice for you. It's sad having to wait, alone, for the minds of men to change.

The Church has changed. Years ago they preached that being gay was a sin - and it was a sin even stating you had those feelings. Now they are telling their members to love people with, as they say, "Same Sex Attraction." Not judge, but love. They used to preach being gay could be "cured" and did terrible things to young people to try to "fix them." All of that is now long passed. They are making progress. Just not fast enough.

You have my utmost respect. Great blog! Blogs like yours will, over time, change the heart of the Church.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous... Thank you for your frank, sincere comment. I am with you. I, too, try very hard to do everything right but ended up with an kind alcholoholic husband and two very sick children who have basically eaten up any kind of retirement savings. All thirty-two years of our marriage I have tried with all my might, mind and soul to give everything I can to the four people in my immediate family, but now at 53 years of age, I am tired and worn out, not to mention heavily depressed. Prayer, scripture study, temple attendance... nope, nothing helps. They usually make me feel worse. I don't have any advice for you, sorry. The only thing that has really ever helped me is knowing that there are others out there who have it worse. So, thanks for sharing your story, it has helped. I do hope you have small triumphs everyday that help you to endure.

Anonymous said...

I agree whole-heartedly with Drew! This ruling is the beginning to the end. Having this 'gay's are special' attitude and showing any kind of mercy is just plain wrong. It is tom-foolery and people are getting sucked in. Have any of you been to a gay-pride parade? The most vulgar, disgusting thing ever. Eating alone, so what. Listening to podcasts and music to keep company, so what. etc. Many, many people do this. Grow-a-pair and find a wife if you are so lonely.

Rebecca Curtice said...

Ben, thank you for putting into words the feelings I can't seem to. I am not gay but I had some of the same feelings as you on that friday and days since. I loved how you worded it. Again thank you!

Jen Reil said...

Thank you for sharing your story. I appreciated your beautiful testimony.

Tara Griffiths said...

I don't even know how I stumbled upon your blog, but I'm so glad I did. I'm a married Mormon mother of four, so our situations are not all that similar, but I'm so grateful to have read this. I'm sorry that you're getting so much negativity on this post, but I appreciate you putting yourself out there to help the rest of us understand a little bit better. Thank you so much.

Anonymous said...

I wish I could just give you a hug, im so glad that youre sticking with christ, and i too am very sorry for the loneliness that you experience, but at the same time i have a testimony of gods plan of salvation. I know all things are made right in christ- and I will pray for you (: keep being amazing!

Jenny said...

I am a better person for taking the time to read this. Thank you for your honesty and sincerity. If we could all have a heart like yours, I'm convinced the world would be a better, more celestial, place.

Anonymous said...

This is the first time I have read your blog. Thank you so much for your willingness to open up and be so transparent with your feelings and emotions. I have really struggled as an LDS member to know how to approach this and knowing where the line is with tolerance and love and standing up for your beliefs. I want to be a "good" member of the church in my actions and thoughts but I am human and don't always know the best way to do this. I appreciate how you laid everything out and it reaffirms to me the need for us to love those around us and to look for ways to serve and uplift those with any trials, struggles, whatever, whether it's depression, learning disabilities, financial stress, unable to have children, etc. If we are followers of Christ, we follow his example of love. I am sharing this on my wall so others can feel the spirit I felt when I read your post. Thank you so much. Also, I love your scripture you posted in D&C 123 and am adopting it for our family scripture this next school year.

Lisa Marie said...

I'm another random internet user. Thank you for taking the time to address this issue from your shoes. It was an insightful and gracious post that gave me an idea of where I need to improve in addition to giving me a window into your world.

I am LDS, not gay, and a staunch advocate of traditional marriage, but I also feel very strongly for members of the LGBT community (LDS or not) who desire to love and be loved. In my mind, that is only natural as a child of God. I also hurt every time I witness or hear about bullying or judgement as a result of sexual orientation. I don't think I will ever truly understand, but I do hope that I am welcoming and accepting of people from all walks of life.

I think I am joined by a number of other commenters in asking how someone can be more tolerant, accepting, and loving of someone who is gay (again, in and out of an LDS community). I generally just try to treat LGBT people the same way I would treat anyone, but is that enough? As homosexuality has been a hot topic this last year in politics and the church, people have been more interested in pushing or fighting the human rights aspect of the issue and have too often passed over the loving and accepting part of the issue. I would be interested in your thoughts.

Kellee Burnham said...

Thank you! I felt the spirit very strongly as I read this post. Especially when you talked about how you know you can be happy :) Thanks for helping me understand more what it is like to be Gay and Mormon, but most especially how you have used the atonement through your trials. You inspired me and I hope I can be as strong as you someday! I know you will be greatly rewarded for your faithfulness.

Nancy Alemany said...

Ben, Thank you for posting this, I can probably just say "ditto" on all of the positive comments. What you shared was exactly the answers to the questions I had floating around in my head. I've been struggling to understand what the difference is between a single woman in the church and someone who is active LDS but is attracted to the same sex and you laid it out for me. The sister can pray the Lord will send her a husband but what do you pray for? Thank you for letting us see what a walk in your shoes might be like - it really helps me understand better. We really only have one job in this life and that is to love one another. May God continue to bless you and help you stay strong.

Anonymous said...

Hi I found your bog very insightful, as a former gay member of the church I chose option 4, to which I am very happy and can't imagine my life without her. but I miss church, I have my faith but it's hard to go every week, which I still do once in while but I'm constantly shamed or called to repentance. Which is awful being "asked" to leave the love of your life. I just wish I could worship the Lord with my 1 sin the same as everyone else as no one is perfect, and all sin is equal if I remember right, so the ones judging me and and looking down are themselves sinning but they this they're are right..... Sorry I'm venting.

Basically I love the church, I miss it wish I could have both in my life but alas not to be..... Good luck to all who can

Anonymous said...

There are so many posts I'm not sure you'll read mine but, we have this really great friend. He's a BYU graduate, lives in Mesa, AZ and his name is Jimmy Hales who is LDS and gay and plans on living a celibate life. He has that really famous youtube video "Gay Mormon" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dnhsDuj285c&safe=active, He is a great guy and I know that when I go through hard things, it easier when I have friends going through the same thing, or a blog to read to feel like I'm not the only one. Here is his blog: http://www.jimmyhales.com/. Anyway--he is a great guy and it might be worth reaching out to him if that's something you're comfortable with. You can never have too many friends. :)

-T

Anonymous said...

Thank you is so inadequate but I don't know better words. You've strengthened my testimony and my hope. I don't know you but wish I could and look forward to the time when option 5 comes to fruition for all.

Jamie said...

The answer is simple for your struggle is a struggle being struggled in vain. You are torn between being yourself and the church that you love, but the church that you love isnt the church that you wish and pray that it were. Unless you are able to be yourself within that church, then i'm afraid the thing you are so afraid of having to give up was never there to begin with. I say do what feels right for what you know is your true self... If the church really is all that it promises to be, then it will eventually catch up. Not being able to be what you feel you are in order to stay would negate the entire experience. It would be a loss for yourself and a loss for whatever fulfillment you hope to have gained. It would not be authentic unless you are authentic.

Alexandra said...

Thank you for your honest post; I really loved reading it. Also, I think I was one of your 27 blind dates at BYU (don't worry--I haven't spent the last 8-ish years wondering why it didn't work out). I wish you all the best!

Beckie Taylor said...

Thank you so much for your post. Our family has encountered this situation, but with the unfortunate 6th choice that you failed to mention. Our amazing brother chose to end his own life as a result of this trial. As a firm believer in the lds faith he felt that it was too hard to continue in this life alone without eventually choosing a same sex partner, but knew he could not break God's law of traditional marriage. Unfortunately this resulted in tragedy for our entire family. It is now hard for many of us to know how we should have done things differently before, or how we should now react to things like the scotus ruling. I would love to talk to you more about this. Thanks again.

taa said...

Thanks for your post. As many have said you write well and your sincerity is clearly evident.

Although I agree with much of what you wrote, I do find myself unsettled by what I view as a recurring and common idea in the LDS same sex attraction (SSA) discussion generally. I find it in your post to a minor extent, but primarily in the numerous positive comments your post generated. It is the idea that those who speak out against homosexuality and gay marriage are somehow unkind, unloving, and judgmental of the gay community. As a rhetorical device labelling them as such can be effective if the goal is to silence them, much like the labels homophobe and bigot do when used in the broader discussion in society at large.

For example, take Drew’s comments to this post, which were widely derided. But, rather than engage the substance of his comments, many of the readers, ironically enough, judged him for judging you and proceeded to say unkind things about him. It seems their goal was to shame him into silence, rather than address the substance of his comments, which in my view are worthy of consideration. Certainly Drew could have expressed himself better. But, be that as it may, he too is entitled to respect and courtesy? And looking beyond any deficiency of expression some might see in his comment, what about his primary idea: the role of the atonement in addressing the trials of mortality, be it SSA or anything else.

As to the substance of Drew’s comment, I offer a few questions and thoughts. Can application of the atonement in our lives remove trials such as SSA? Many, with first-hand experience, would and do say yes. But others would say no, or at least not necessarily in this life. But I think all within the LDS community would agree that the atonement can give us strength to endure any trial. Is SSA merely a pattern of thought and action (Drew’s words) that can be overcome and mastered? I’ve often heard, both inside and outside the Church, that a person may not be able to control a thought or feeling coming to them suddenly, but they can control how long it remains, how long they dwell on it rather than replacing it. Does this apply to SSA? If not, why not? Is SSA a special and unique trial unlike any other such that those with SSA are deserving of special treatment, love, and understanding? Through the atonement can we be happy and find joy despite our trials? I definitely think so, and I felt your post supports this conclusion.

It seems to me that the real issue has less to do with how much empathy is needed for those with SSA (the primary focus of this and the vast majority of other LDS SSA posts), than with an effort to gain a proper understanding of what SSA is and the role of the atonement in addressing SSA. Rather than judge each other, we need to know what the Lord expects of us individually, and then with that understanding we can judge ourselves and make appropriate changes in our own lives.

Again, thanks for your post.

Carlie said...

Thank you for an excellent post (you made me tear up!) I don't personally know you, but I just want to say I'm sending lots of love and admiration your way. Keep up the great work! I'm so impressed with you.

Anonymous said...

I haven't read through the comments, so I apologize in advance if someone else has said what I am about to say. My first instinct is to tell you to leave the church. I've been an ex-mormon for almost 20 years and I can tell you that there is fulfilling life outside of it. But I'm not going to do that. Because I don't think that's what you want to hear, and I don't think you're ready to leave. And that's okay. You can be a good person in or outside of the LDS church.

Since I read this post a few days ago, you've been in my thoughts. Like I said, my first instinct is to tell you that it's okay to leave. But the more I thought about it, the more I turned it over in my head I think what you need to hear is that the church is by design a changing institution. They believe in a living prophet. You believe in a living prophet. Right now, the church has not caught up on how to treat their gay members. But I believe that they will. My reasons for this are probably much more cynical than yours, but I would like to remind you that the LDS church did not allow black men to hold the priesthood until 1978.

We've already seen it start to happen as more and more families see the effect that church treatment of gay people has on their families. Suicides, depression, runaways and more and more terrible stories that LDS members are personal witness to when they have a gay family member. Church leadership is not made up of monsters. They will come to see that they were on the wrong side of history, and they will change because they believe in living scripture.

So. I'm going to suggest another option. Date gay men. Don't sleep with them. Stay true to what you believe, to your testimony of Jesus Christ and save yourself for marriage. Find a man who will accept this about you. Then get married and build your life. I know plenty of people who did not have a temple marriage, but were later sealed. Continue to be a member, you might be excommunicated, but you might not be. And even if you are, there is nothing that is going to stop you from continuing to practice your faith. And even if you are, even if the church doesn't change it's mind about this in your lifetime, eventually they will. And your relatives will joyfully perform your temple ceremony after your death and you will have eternity with your husband. You deserve eternity. You deserve to find someone who will love you for you in this life.

I'm not going to give my name because I don't want to get into flame wars or arguments or make my still Mormon family a target. But I am rooting for you, you are in my thoughts, and I wish you happiness and joy. If you wish to privately message me to discuss this further, I would not mind that.

Anonymous said...

Oh wow. No, no, no. There are countless talks by the brethren that say this is a real issue. Go to lds.org and type in homosexuality and read a few conference talks from recent years. I have never heard an apostle say to just overcome it. Yes the atonement is used to help with the burden, but not necessarily to overcome it. Being homosexual isn't a sin. It's a struggle for sure feir those who want to stay active members of the church, but you (hopefully) wouldn't tell someone who has lost a child that the atonement will help them to not feel those feelings of sadness anymore. The atonement will help, but that doesn't just go away. Please reference ALL of the many many talks recently about loving everyone. ESPECIALLY when they are trying their hardest. This comment just broke my heart.

Anneli said...

Thank you for sharing. I really appreciated your perspective an openness. I learned a lot from this post and it brought tears to my eyes. Thank you!

Vaughn Wright said...

Thank you for the post ben. I would have lunch with you if I saw you sitting alone. I wanted to share this from what we know now was President Packers last conference talk which he stated was what he felt one of the most important truths he had learned in his life:

We do not always know how or when blessings will present themselves, but the promise of eternal increase will not be denied any faithful individual who makes and keeps sacred covenants.
Your secret yearnings and tearful pleadings will touch the heart of both the Father and the Son. You will be given a personal assurance from Them that your life will be full and that no blessing that is essential will be lost to you.
As a servant of the Lord, acting in the office to which I have been ordained, I give those in such circumstances a promise that there will be nothing essential to your salvation and exaltation that shall not in due time rest upon you. Arms now empty will be filled, and hearts now hurting from broken dreams and yearning will be healed.

Candice Lee said...

Have you ever thought about the apostle Paul? From what I read, I think he was gay. "This thorn in my side." "People like me should never marry" However you choose to live your life, I'm sure you will live the way you think the Lord wants to live. Gay or straight, Paul lived the way he thought the Lord wanted him to live.

Kait said...

I so loved the Ben Schilaty that I knew freshman year at BYU. You were so magnetic and I loved being around you, for your humor and deeper insights on life and the such. After reading this post, those same feelings came back to me. I love Ben Schilaty. This was a great post to read. I have so much that I feel right now, but at the same time am at a loss of words. Your outlook is a beautiful one and is so inspiring. Sending lots of hugs from an old friend.

Kaitlyn Whitenight

Kristin C said...

Love this. :)

jadzia77 said...

I love this post you've made!

A friend of mine from church is gay and decided to just quietly go inactive, though he says he still has a testimony of the church. He actually told me of a revelation he had where he knew that God and Jesus would help him, which is what gave him the courage to come out to his parents... they didn't take it so well.

Anonymous said...

I'm glad I stumbled on your blog. This issue came to our family recently. It is new territory for us so we are struggling to figure out how to deal with this new aspect of our lives. Thanks for sharing.

The only part of your post that I disagree with is single sisters who never marry. Yes, they can pray for a husband. However, there are many single sisters who never find a husband no matter how much they pray for one. There comes a time in their lives when they have to accept that and be true to themselves. My sister is one of those. When she stopped praying for a husband, she started really living and appreciating life as it was for her. Does she still wish she could have a husband and family? Yes, but she is happy with where she is right now.

brittneyboucha said...

Hi Ben,
I am taking your friend Sister Fraser's family relations class at BYU-Idaho. She shared your blog with us. I read your post tonight and was so touched. Thank you so much for taking the time to share your thoughts and feelings. You really opened my eyes to how to be a more Christ like person and to truly try to love and support people of all trials and difficulties by trying to walk in their shoes. You really touched my heart. Thank you so much. I truly hope you know what an incredible example you are of Christlike love and compassion. I hope you continue to feel blessed, comfort, peace, and happiness in this life.

brittneyboucha said...

Hi Ben,
I am taking your friend Sister Fraser's family relations class at BYU-Idaho. She shared your blog with us. I read your post tonight and was so touched. Thank you so much for taking the time to share your thoughts and feelings. You really opened my eyes to how to be a more Christ like person and to truly try to love and support people of all trials and difficulties by trying to walk in their shoes. You really touched my heart. Thank you so much. I truly hope you know what an incredible example you are of Christlike love and compassion. I hope you continue to feel blessed, comfort, peace, and happiness in this life.

Jill Freestone said...

This is beautiful, thank you so much for sharing!