Thursday, July 6, 2017

A Letter to Gay Mormons

This is my second guest post. It was written by a friend of mine who wanted to share his thoughts while also remaining anonymous. He and I met through a mutual friend about six months ago. When we first spoke on the phone I was only the third person to learn he was gay. We chatted for about an hour and at the end of the conversation I asked him what I could do to help. He said, "It'd be really nice to talk once a week." I readily agreed knowing how much I was helped by friends who were willing to talk things through with me. We have stayed in close contact since then and even though we don't live near each other we've become close friends. He's new to sharing his journey and I'm pleased to be able to share some of his thoughts here. If you'd like to contact him, you can email him at Here's what he wrote:

This is a letter to gay Mormons, especially those still in the closet, and even more especially those in denial—you know who you are. I was one of you until very recently.

Dear My Fellow Gay Mormon,

First, I want to tell you that I love you. I don’t know you, and I love you. We are in this together. We will walk this life side-by-side. God loves you, and I love you. Please don’t give up hope. There is so much joy for the taking, and we will find it together, buckets and buckets of it!

But this doesn’t answer many of your questions and problems, does it? Believe me, I could lead my own tour through your bone-crushing loneliness and ossified sense of shame. It isn’t easy to be us, is it? I’ve also cried gallons of nighttime tears, when nobody could see, thinking of the spouseless evenings and childless mornings that will reward me for staying true and faithful to my covenants. However, I have found that focusing on what I can’t have is an exercise in madness. Please join me as we walk through some of the little glimmers of good given to those who have hope and faith.

God loves you. I can’t answer for you why He allowed you to be gay—why couldn’t He have tweaked some gene or hormone in the womb or psychological reaction to avoid this?—but He did, and He hasn’t changed you to be straight (despite your prayers), so for some reason it’s His will that you remain homosexual. We may as well accept it. There is a purpose for this. I suspect it’s for the same purpose as most things, which is to give you the opportunity to serve in a unique capacity. So, take it up with the Father. Ask Him why He allowed this to happen. Go to the temple. Take a drive into the desert or the canyon or the fields. Yell at him. Rage! He can take it. I promise if you do this, you will feel His love if you’ll allow Him to show you. It will be good for you. Somehow, the Love of God can cure a lot of things, including shame and loneliness.

Remember that God is bigger than the Church, and the Church is bigger than its people. Just because a bishop or stake president or mom or apostle or well-meaning high councilor says or does insensitive things doesn’t mean that God agrees with them. It doesn’t mean it’s the Church’s official position. Remember, they’re trying their best, and no mortal’s best will ever be good enough. Return to them the charity you expect in return. You will sleep better at night.

The Brethren are aware of us. I know this personally. I recently met with a member of the Twelve and another general authority, and I can assure you: they pray for us, cry with us, and want us to have a place in the Church . They are working to set a place for us at the Lord’s banquet, which has blessings that exceed all expectations. They are actively seeking revelation on how to help their gay brothers and sisters. They know they have treated gays wrongly in the past, and they are repenting and improving just like the rest of us (Sure, you could argue that they can be a little tone deaf at times. But they're certainly not malicious.). The media and ex-Mormon community are incorrect in their portrayals of the Brethren. I am a firsthand witness.

If you, like I was, are terrified to come out, I promise this: you will be shocked at the love you feel from all the important people in your life. I hear you talk about girls and dating and marriage, always hedging around as to why someone as eligible as you isn’t married. I feel your pain of going on dates, even dating seriously, and just not “feeling it.” I’ve been there. I dated some awesome girls, too. I promise that if you come out, this huge stress in your life will disappear, and you will be instantly happier. Just do it! I waited 27 years to come out. I wish I had done it earlier. It will be good for you, I promise, and I give you that as an absolute guarantee. If it’s too hard to tell your parents and close friends, tell somebody on the periphery of your life that you know loves you. The first time is the hardest. It gets easier. I also promise that your life will change in wonderful, unexpected ways. Don’t be afraid! It’s time.

Perhaps most importantly, focus on the present. Don’t worry about the future, bleak as it may seem. Experience joy here and now! If you can be happy right now, don’t ruin it thinking about an unhappy future. I assure you—and I’m mainly reassuring myself here—that we can find happiness wherever we are and in the most unexpected places. Adam fell that we might have joy, and that means you can find it right now.

So, my dear, dear friend, my darling, my deeply-loved fellow gay: Love others. Serve God. Be happy. If you do this, you will change hearts in the Church, and you will change the world.


Unknown said...

Thank you for this. I feel like you have tapped in to something very good here. Definitely inspired!

Anonymous said...

I'm not gay, but I do struggle with pornography and everything attached to that, and a lot of the points in this article still reached out and grabbed me by the heart. Great letter.

Unknown said...

When I first started telling people that I'm gay, it felt as though a great weight lifted from my shoulders. A burden I wish I knew could’ve been lightened many years earlier if I’d been a little braver.

Also, focusing on the present has been very helpful to me on my own journey in this church. If I think that I have several more decades of living alone, without love, without a best friend & confidant, try to imagine my life once all my nieces and nephews are grown up, it’s just too depressing. But the same thing would’ve been true a decade ago, and yet, here I am, having an impact in my stake and making friends online with people similar to me. I never could have imagined that. And I hope the future somehow turns out better than what I currently comprehend

Anonymous said...

This letter is truly heartbreaking. When will you see that this sacrifice is in vain, and that the people around you will never honor what it means? That it could change tomorrow, just as it did with black men and the priesthood, or polygamy – and that those same people who asked you to suffer alone would welcome you with postured acceptance (and the lie that it was always meant to happen this way, after all)? That your words and actions will inspire others to suffer too? Can any soul live on such scant nourishment?

I have hope that one day you'll decide to live on better terms. Perhaps you'll see that cruel, arbitrary, gendered roles could never be the work of a divine being who fought for free will. Maybe you'll notice that it always comes down to reproduction and sheer quantity in God's kingdom, from polygamy to condemning same-sex couples, despite the lip service performed to quality of life. That it's somehow always the most marginalized and vulnerable people who must suffer in order to be good Mormons – never the white straight men who have spoken for Mormonism since the start. There are patterns here, if only you'd name them.

Writer, you're worth more than the sum of your reproductive choices. You are formed from star matter and molded by the extraordinary, gorgeous circumstances of sentient being. Your existence is not a trial to be suffered through. And if you spend your life believing hollow reassurances, it will be just one more life destroyed in service of the privileged.

Be happy. Be well. And whatever you decide, know that you are worthy of a joyous life already, as are all people. The only test in this life is to believe it, and to fight to protect that right for everyone.

Britt said...

So awesome, inspired! Thank you!

Stephen T said...

Thanks for publishing this Ben. I am married & just came out to my wife 3 months ago. Since then I have told my Bishop, 2 close friends and my sister. It was easier with each person. I really needed this today. Dear writer, I love you for your courage & kind words. I hope your life has continued to get better.