Monday, December 6, 2010

I originally wrote this letter with the intent of sending it out to my family members. I felt a strong desire to work within my sphere of influence to increase understanding about the issue. It is my hope that members of the Church will eventually be informed enough to know how to respond constructively to individuals who experience feelings of same-gender attraction. I also believe that this change is not going to happen in a "top-down" fashion. Rather as those of us with personal experience open up and share with those we know personally, compassion and understanding will blossom.

As I re-read this letter, I realized that I really didn't give any clear suggestions as to what they could do to help someone with SSA. It didn't serve the purpose for which I had written it. Nevertheless, I think there are some really good things in here. The thought came to post this on the blog, so here it is:

A segment about same-gender attraction and Mormons, aired on ABC's Nightline last night. Another piece was done on Fox 13 in Utah.

As, I watched both and reflected on them, I've had a number of feelings come to me. I've felt a need to write some of my feelings down and share them with my family. I know the email is long, so I won't be offended if anyone doesn't read the whole thing.

The first is a gratitude for the Gospel of Jesus Christ, taught in its fullness through the Restored Church. I've lived through some very difficult circumstances. These trials and challenges have had an enormous impact on who I am today. I don't know that my life has been uniquely challenging. I can only speak about my own experiences and how I perceived them. I know that the the mortal afflictions I've experienced, have had the power to bring me closer to Christ. Through them I've learned what it means to rely wholly on the merits of Him who is mighty to save. I've been taught how to be humble; I've grown in charity, towards myself and my fellow men.

I feel a need to bear testimony that Heavenly Father does love each of us as his children. He is anxiously waiting for us to turn to Him, to open our hearts to His power and his love. I know that the Atonement of Jesus Christ has the power to save us from ourselves. It allows us to grow and become more like our Father. I know that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is God's true and living church--that the men called as leaders are called by God.

Over the last three years, I have worked through issues relating to my feelings of same-gender attraction. It has been quite a journey! I am grateful that Heavenly Father has guided that journey (as much as I've allowed Him to). A critical part of my healing has been counseling with an inspired, well-trained therapist. Journey into Manhood, the weekend that is featured in the Nightline segment, also had a profound impact on me. These are some of the means God used to heal me. I know that if I had trusted in either of these resources as my sole support, they would have failed. But with a foundation of Faith in Christ, a testimony of the plan of salvation, and an open heart and a willing mind, I was able to grow, overcome the obstacles of mortality, and become more like Heavenly Father.

Like Lehi, one of my greatest desires since tasting of the peace and joy that are available through the Atonement of Jesus Christ has been to help others find that fruit. It is natural for me to wish, like Alma, that I would accomplish that through great and miraculous means--like the voice of an angel. But I'm learning that the Lord really does work by small and simple things. Like me bearing testimony to my family members and friends who at some point may in turn be in a position to help someone else.

There is so much debate in the world about same-gender attraction. Far too often the issue becomes polarized, which leaves many conflicted, confused, and lost. I am grateful for living prophets who have testified of the truth of the plan of salvation and make very clear what is right and wrong. I am grateful that they speak of foundational principles: faith, repentance, prayer, scripture reading, fasting. These principles apply to everyone and are essential to growth and progress. . I am also grateful for Apostles who teach that through these means, we are able to receive guidance through the Holy Ghost that will be individualized and tailored to our circumstances. Sometimes that guidance will come through a variety of different means, such as good books, inspired priesthood leaders, trained professionals. Which tools we use and how we apply the things we hear or read is done as directed by the Spirit.

But sometimes, members of the Church (especially those with challenges like same-gender attraction) can become convinced that these foundational steps are the entire process. Many may be like I was, and strive diligently to do everything they are taught. But if those things are done without a broken heart, without humility and a true willingness to learn, even true principles like fasting and prayer will not provide resolution to our challenges. This can be the cause of a great dilemma. Individuals may feel that they have tried to live the gospel, to do all the things they should do, and still are not happy. Most are sincere in their desperation. The conflict between what they believe to be true and what they are experiencing is very intense. Unfortunately, many find relief from that conflict by abandoning their beliefs and surrendering to the natural man. Though they cannot ever find happiness in sin, they can experience a reduction of the conflict, which reinforces their choice.

I believe that it is part of our covenant to bear one anothers burdens to help those who may struggle with same-gender attraction. The issue carries a very negative stigma with it. This feeling of shame can discourage those who need help and support from reaching out. We as a church are making great progress in combating this problem of ignorance and judgment. The General Authorities are making an effort to increase awareness and compassion. There is another area where we as members of the church can also make progress. We can be more informed about the issue and about the resources available to those who are struggling. I've come to understand that this is not the duty of the Brethren. Part of that obligation rests on me and others who have personal experience to share our experience and offer our testimonies and our support.

That's why I've typed this incredibly long email. It is my hope that you would feel of my testimony. Maybe what I have shared today won't mean anything to the majority of those who read it. But perhaps one of you knows someone who is affected by same-gender attraction who wants desperately to do what is right and be happy, but may not know how to do that. I'm very open to questions or comments. I am very willing to share more about my experiences if asked.

Thanks to the rest who still read this.

With Love,


The link to the Nightline episode is

Fox 13's piece can be found at:,0,3499131.story

These two articles are what the Church has recently issued about the issue of same-gender attraction:

Other resources for Same-Gender Attraction include

www.peoplecanchange,com (the official site of the Journey into Manhood program)
and -- both organizations for LDS members with same-gender attraction who want to live in harmony with the Gospel of Jesus Christ