Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Grateful to be Gay?

I have been thinking about the subject of this post for some time, and Thanksgiving seemed an appropriate time to commit my (current state of) thoughts to paper in the form of words and images.  (By the way, in case you’re wondering about the above picture, it is meant to be part of the Thanksgiving theme, evoking the image of Squanto, friend of the Pilgrims … What?  You don’t believe that?  Okay ...  Okay ...  So I liked the picture and couldn’t resist using it.  Satisfied?)

I was going to title this post “Grateful to be Gay?,” then had second thoughts, realizing that there are indications that there are many guys in the Church who experience same-sex attraction (SSA) but do not consider themselves “gay” or “homosexual” (or queer … “peculiar”, maybe, but not any of the foregoing).  I therefore chose to use the term SSA, in part out of consideration of these brothers, but also because this is a term that all of us have been subjected or exposed to.  But then, I had third thoughts, and changed the title back to “Grateful to be Gay?” (partly because of the alliteration).

When I first really and truly came out to myself and my sisters and my wife (was it only last month?) and started reading every blog I could find about being Mormon and gay, I occasionally ran across a comment such as this one, written here by Warren Cory: “I never thought I would reach a point in my life where I would thank God for SSA rather than seeing it as a curse. But I don't think it is a curse. I think it is a gift!

When I first read that, my initial response was:  How in the world could anyone, particularly an active Mormon serving in a bishopric, thank God for SSA?  And beyond that, how could anyone possibly think of it as a gift?!

I have pondered these sentences for weeks now.  And I am still at a loss.  Therefore, I have decided to throw the following questions out to anyone who reads this blog, and I would really, truly, genuinely, (desperately) appreciate your comments.

 Questions for discussion:

1.   Warren’s first statement presupposes that God “makes” some of his sons and daughters attracted to people of the same gender as they.  To paraphrase an infamous question recently posed in General Conference, “Why would Heavenly Father do that?”

2.    Warren’s second statement goes further, and presupposes that, not only does God “make” certain of his children gay, but that gayness is a “gift,” implying, as Warren so states, that SSA is not a curse, but rather a gift.  How does one come to make such a statement?

 3.    If one accepts the fact, which I do, that one is born gay, how does one (particularly he who is steeped in the Mormon faith and culture) come to celebrate his gayness rather than to feel shamed and cursed by it?  Specific instructions would be appreciated.

4.    Moving beyond question #3, how does one come to view it as a gift from God? 

5.    I am perplexed by Warren’s statements because he is an active member of the Church who currently serves in a bishopric.  (My intention is not to “pick” on Warren, but simply to use him and his statements as a basis of discussion.)  He “honors” his priesthood and lives his life as a heterosexual priesthood holder living “the plan of happiness.”           

Therefore, if gayness truly is something to be grateful for and a gift from God, how does he/one reconcile the dichotomy between living what one truly believes one to be by divine grace [Oxford: “the unmerited favor of God”] versus living the “priesthood path” (straight, married, father, church service, etc., etc.) as taught by the Church?

I’m going to be honest.  I know I was born hard-wired to be gay.  But I don’t know why God would do that, when most of his children are apparently hard-wired to be straight. 

I would like to be able to view my homosexuality as something that can be celebrated, but I frankly find that difficult to do, particularly living as I do in a mixed-orientation marriage. 

I would love to be able to view my gayness as a gift from God.  But I’m not there yet. 

Happy Thanksgiving everyone.  I hope yours is spent with those you love, and in between the traveling and the turkey and the movies and the football games, I'd really appreciate your comments about the questions I have posed in this post as we think about what we are grateful for.



  1. Dear Invictus Pilgrim,

    I have been reading your blog for a while now, and am still impressed with your courage, dedication, and ability to express your feelings so elaborately. So far I have not felt like responding, since your followers have been doing an excellent job on that. But right now on this Thanksgiving eve I will add some of my thoughts. I am also impressed with the enormous amount of support you are receiving through this blog, from complete strangers as well as of those closer to you. For what it is worth, let me first state that I'm not gay, and I don't attend any church. I was raised in a liberal Roman Catholic family and currently I consider myself an agnost. Also, please note that in no way I am opposing to any form of religion in my reply.

    I sense in all your questions the fear of being recognized as a gay person in the non-gay-friendly (is that a word?) community that you have been a part of for a long time in your life. I think an important thing to realize is that you need to be able to differentiate between God and the church as an institute. God has been around forever, while churches are a human invention and relatively new in the global history. In my opinion, God loves everyone, no matter what they look like, smell like, where they live, what they do or have done, or who they love and sleep with. We are all humans, born with our own unique characteristics - you can consider that as the 'gift' that was used in the quote.

    I would like to end (I may write more at a later date) with a few lines from the song 'Power of the Gospel' from one of my favorite singers, Ben Harper:

    Gospel on the water,
    Gospel on the land.
    The gospel in every woman,
    And the gospel in every man.
    Gospel in the garden,
    Gospel in the trees.
    The gospel that's inside of you,
    Gospel inside of me.

    For me this is the essence of spirituality and each individual's connection with God. It will never change, no matter who we are, what we, and how we worship.

    Happy Thanksgiving to you as well.

  2. 1. Would our Heavenly Parents "do this" to someone? I choose to tell myself no. They didn't do it, but they may have allowed it to happen. I don't think they "curse" children with Downs Syndrome or being born into abject poverty either, but they allow it to happen. But if you don't stop something, you might as well cause it, right? Oops, I've answered your question with questions, sorry.

    2. For me it happened because I came up with the imagery that this is a gift which is wrapped in challenges and problems. But I choose to see those as wrapping paper rather than as the gift itself.

    3. I guess it's like a lot of things. If you have an open mind and you're seeking to find the positives, you can find them. I love the story of the twins who each get a pony as a gift, but they enter the barn when the ponies are out of sight, grazing in a field. One says, "Some gift. All I see is a pile of horse dung." The other says, "With all this dung, there's gotta be a pony somewhere." Specific instructions:
    a. list your obvious blessings
    b. list your greatest challenges
    c. draw lines that connect any of the above
    d. if that doesn't work, draw random lines
    (hint: use colored pencils or markers or highlighters. Have fun with color. Look for rainbows. lol)
    e. look for the relationships
    f. do all of the above with a sense of wonder and discovery
    g. give it some time, place this "annotated inventory" in a journal or notebook where you can revisit it from time to time

    4. It is a process. I have only suggested a few ways you might discover it. Your mileage may vary. Be open to revelation. Talk to others who do see it as a gift. Try to understand their perspectives.

    5. Being a married father engaged in church service is not the opposite of being gay (or in my case bisexual). I know others besides Warren who are in Bishoprics and bring a needed perspective (i.e. share their gifts) with leadership. I would put myself in that category as a former Executive Secretary and Clerk who the Bishop went out of his way to affirm, "I consider you one of my counselors. I want your opinions, I want you to speak up, I value your perspective..."

    Well those are some starter ideas. Think of them as kindling. You've still got to place the kindling under some more substantial fuel. You've still got to ignite it and tend it. I hope you're successful and enjoy a roaring but safely enclosed blaze. Oh yeah, a fireplace might be a good idea, too. ;)

  3. As a parent who recently had to parent a coming out teen, I think I can say I was grateful to be something more than straight (no I don't think I qualify as gay, just slightly bisexual or a heterosexual with noticeable, undeniable homosexual inclinations). "It" definitely helped me to understand him and made things easier for everyone.

  4. I have to say that I don't believe that God made us this way or that our sexual orientation is a gift from God.

    1. If we are made by God, then I don't think he picks and chooses which sexuality to give to each person: I'm going to make this one this way and this other one that way. What a cruel and excruciating process to go through! I think we come into this world with our biological and genetic make-up, we discover our talents or hit hiccups, but

    2. I believe that our sexuality is a great gift that humans can enjoy fully which is part of one's identity. So, I don't believe that one's "gayness" is any more of a gift than one's "straightness". Why do we need to explain our differences as a "gift"? To me, this entails a certain perspective of needing to feel better than someone else, like a competitiveness. That's not what I think life is about.

    3. I think the question you ask if a person can live one's gayness, be married and be active in the LDS church is only one that you can answer. Do they all go together for you?

  5. Invictus Pilgrim,

    to quote those annoying AM radio callers... "I am a long time reader, never called in."

    i am married with children and very, very gay. i've decieded to stay in my marriage for various reasons but I continue to balance myself.
    I have enjoyed reading your blog and have very much enjoyed you pictures.

    i find so much in common with both your thoughts and ideas. You write so well.

    however, what pushed me to comment today was simply the "native" picture. WOW! it took my breath away!

    Thank you.

  6. Saffron des Indes - Thanks for following my blog and for offering your thoughts and comments regarding this post. To you and Libellule, it is extremely helpful to have your perspective as persons who live outside the Mormon experience. I appreciate very much your insights.

    Ned - Thanks for the "kindling." Much food for thought there.

    Quiet Song - Always appreciate your comments.

    Sean - Glad you chimed in. I appreciate your compliments, and hope that you will comment more often, given our similarity of circumstances. Glad you enjoyed the picture. I agree, it is amazing.

  7. My thoughts are here:

  8. I'd like to paraphrase and add to some comments I left on Rob's blog in response to his thoughts.

    In the time that has passed since I published my post, I have pondered the questions I posed. Several thoughts have come to me. First of all, I agree with Rob that one must examine premises and how the questions are framed. Elementary logic, my dear Watson - but how often are we influenced and (mis)guided because we fail to question a statement's premise or the basis upon which it is framed?

    Secondly, I think have realized (this sounds terribly naive) that there is a spectrum of "same sex attraction" among those persons referred to as "MoHos", i.e., Mormons who have acknowledged (at least to themselves) that they experience some degree of attraction to persons of their gender.

    I think perhaps this level of attraction can frame how one answers the questions I posed. A MoHo with a "lower" degree of attraction (or perhaps a bisexual person) can, theoretically, have little problem functioning within the church and views their attractions as something ancillary to their main identity.

    Others (and I would include myself in this group) identity much more strongly as being gay and recognize such as being a fundamental element of their identity. To such persons, the answers to the questions I posed can be very different.

    In posing my questions, I used a statement made by Warren as a basis of discussion. He is obviously in a different place on the spectrum than am I, and his answers are different than mine, and indeed his "worldview" appears to be different than mine. My intent in using his statement was not to judge in any way where he's "at", and I certainly did not intend to imply that where's he's "at" is invalid. My words in that respect were a reflection on me, not anyone else.

    So, thanks Rob, for your comments.

    ~ The Pilgrim

  9. I have begun to see my gayness as a blessing because it is part of who I am. For the longest time, I prayed and wished that God would take it away. Oh, I wanted that more than anything.

    But lately, I've begun to see that God really loves me. And he loves that part of me too.

    Does God make someone gay? I really don't know what the "causes" are. And frankly, I think that's pretty irrelevant.

    But because of my gayness, I have a different appreciation of the world. I'm more masculine than femmy, but I love and appreciate art and music so deeply, and I love making it as well. I think that all of that is part of my "gayness" as is my sensitivity to my kids and my involvement with them.

    It's true that my SSA could lead to the end of my marriage, but I have lived with so much self-loathing over the years because of it, that I have slowly reached the much healthier position that it doesn't matter. I am an incredible person with a lot to contribute to the world. And part of that is because I am gay.

    My ability to sing is a blessing. My ability to draw and paint and create things is a blessing. My ability to make other people laugh is a blessing. My optimistic outlook on life is a blessing. And yes, my being gay is also a blessing.

  10. Utahhiker - Thanks so much for your all of your comments. I appreciate you sharing your thoughts, particularly since our situations apparently share a lot of similarities.

    I especially appreciated your comments about your SSA possibly leading to the end of your marriage. It sounds like you have come to have a really good, positive feeling about yourself (which I am still working on). Congratulations!

    I just wanted to ask a clarifying question, if I could: Is the healthier position you refer to a feeling that it doesn't matter if your SSA leads to the end of your marriage? I ask because this is a very relevant question for me right now. If you'd like to reply privately, my e-mail is

    Thanks again for sharing your thoughts!