Okay, here goes … I am taking a huge step. This is my first post anywhere about my SGA. But when I read this post on Beck's blog, I felt I had to. I have weighed very carefully whether to share the experience described below, but in the end, I feel compelled to do so.
A bit of background. I am Mormon, I am married, and I have struggled with an attraction to men all my life. I told my wife about this before we got married, believing that I had to be honest with her. “It” then went into deep background. “It” was and has always been there, but pushed way, way back into the closet.
Fast-forwarding, something happened to me when I heard President Packer’s talk a few weeks ago. Rather than pushing “it” even further away, however, I did just the opposite: His comments made me want to reach way back in the closet and embrace my same gender attraction. I felt that President Packer was wrong in what he said, and subsequent events bolstered that belief. I decided that I was going to try to affirm who I was and am, even if to no one but myself.
This began a process of trying to discover who the man is who has been hiding behind his extremely carefully maintained mask (false persona) all these years. This exploratory process led me online to a new world of blogs, including Beck's, and prompted me to start my own blog.
More background: I am a convert to the Church, joining shortly after I had graduated from college. Among other things, I felt the Church offered me a “way out” of the struggles with SGA – a path. I gained a solid testimony of the Church; I was old enough to pass on a mission, but wanted to go. So I went to Europe. The first four months were fine, but then I was transferred to the largest city in our mission, and temptations seemed to come at me from everywhere. Gorgeous men who attended our English class. Gorgeous men on the street. Sensuality that was palpable. An older male member of the Church who befriended me. I knew he was probably gay, but I didn’t care. Another older male member, also probably gay, who seemed to see right through my mask. For the first time since joining the Church, I allowed the genie to escape from the bottle and allowed myself to contemplate who I really was. It was exhilarating, but it was also frightening – particularly since I was a missionary.
It was after struggling with these thoughts and emotions that swirled around me for a number of weeks that I had a dream that was unlike any dream I have ever had, then or since. It was so palpable, so real, so revelatory. Without going into all the details, I dreamt that I saw a person in a large room filled with people dressed in white. His presence seemed to tower over the others. As I made my way to the front of the room, my eyes became locked with His and He beckoned me to come to Him, to take His hand and embrace Him. As soon as I did so, we were transported, just the two of us, to another place, where we sat and talked about my fears and joys, the deepest corners of my soul – and my ultimate secret. My gaze never left His countenance, and in His beautiful eyes, I saw love such as I had never before felt. In those eyes, I saw no judgment, no guile; only perfect, total understanding. His very countenance radiated such intense purity that I felt as if I would faint from bathing in such exquisite peace and love. In this setting, enveloped in love and light and truth, He told me that it was ok – my “attraction” – and that He loved me just the way I was. And that was the message I woke up with.
Although I have shared bits of this dream with others, I had never confided the core of the experience – not even to my journal – that the Lord loved me for who I AM. Shortly after this experience, I was transferred, and I continued to struggle, to one degree or another, for the rest of my mission, then beyond. I ultimately made the decision to embrace marriage and family and have not regretted that choice ~ but the struggle continued in the quiet chambers of my inner soul, behind the façade, encased in the false persona.
Which brings me back to President Packer’s talk. I rejected what he said because it was so contrary to this experience I had had on my mission. Acting on an attraction may be one thing; but I knew that being the way I was and am is ok with the Lord. As I have contemplated many things these past few weeks, the thought has occurred to me: Have you ever stopped to think that one of the most sublime spiritual experiences you have ever had centered on your attraction to men? What should this tell me?
Well, I’m not sure of all that this should tell me, but I know this: I love my wife and my children dearly and cherish our family; but I feel I have reached a point in my life where I can no longer reject and repress one of the most defining elements of who and what I am as a human being.
Thus, the journey has, ever so tentatively, frighteningly, exhilaratingly, begun …