About three years ago, my wife and I were at the Utah Arts Festival where they were showing various independently made short films. One was a documentary that explored how members of the LDS Church dealt with being gay.
As it started, my wife asked if I wanted to leave, but I told her no, I wanted to see it. The topic can obviously be sensitive to her given our situation.
The film looked at a few individuals who decided that it was more important for them to live true to their "inherent" nature. As a result, those individuals basically left the church and accepted their gayness. It wasn't necessarily an easy thing for them to do. It broke my heart when one young man submitted his paperwork to go on a mission and received a letter back from the Church telling him that they would not call him on a mission. He described it as the worst day of his life. (According to the hand-book of instructions, anyone who has had homosexual relations cannot serve a mission. This wasn't in the film, but since I'm in a bishopric, I'm familiar with it.)
The second group of people interviewed for the film were people who were dealing with "same-sex attraction" and yet made the decision to stay in the church and live according to the expectations and covenants of the church. They expressed firm testimonies that they were living according to God's plan, and that despite the difficulty involved with denying some deep desires, they firmly believed this was what they should do.
And lastly, they spoke to a young man who was beginning to come to terms with his SSA. At this point in his life, he was trying to decide whether or not he should live as the church taught or if he should accept that he was gay and move that direction.
The film was impressively well-balanced. As we all know, it could be easy to use that forum to trumpet one position over another, but it was very sympathetic to everyone involved and did not express any type of judgment for any of their decisions.
As we left the theater and drove home, it made for interesting conversation with my wife. She made an observation that I would not have dared bring up to her. She said, "Did you notice that the people who accepted that they were gay seemed happier than those who struggled with it and stayed in the church?"
She was right. And being one of those who has struggled with it and stayed in the church (so far), I see that as well.
People often use the phrase "living the gay lifestyle" as a pejorative term for someone who has decided to leave the church and embrace the fact that they're gay. My wife has even said that she is concerned that if we split that she doesn't want our children exposed to "the gay lifestyle."
"First off," I asked her, "What kind of guys do you think I'm attracted to? Rainbow-flag waiving go-go boys?" I'm attracted to guys who are like me; clean-cut, down-to-earth, often returned-missionary types.
And the other question I have is, What does "gay lifestyle" even mean? There are enough closeted gay men who are married, that it should meet the definition of a gay lifestyle, but that's definitely not what those who use the term mean.
Are they referring to guys who go drinking and clubbing every weekend and have sex with multiple partners? Sure, some choose to do that, and hopefully they grow towards more stability before their lives fall apart, but that's not everybody.
A good friend of mine from college has been with his boyfriend for at least 8 years. Is that the "gay lifestyle"? Or maybe they're referring to having a well-manicured lawn and a propensity for spontaneously singing show tunes (seriously, any song from 'Yentl' gets me. How is that not a universal reaction?).
There is no more a "gay lifestyle" than there is a "straight lifestyle." People who use that term are being dismissive of those who are different from themselves.
There is no "lifestyle"; there's just living.
And if that means falling in love with another man, or getting my heart broken, or having a crush on a cute guy at the gym who I can barely bring myself to talk to, or waking up in the morning and just staring at the guy I love who is still sleeping next to me, or wanting a future where I don't have to be afraid of my feelings, then that's what I want.
If someone chooses something different, I completely respect that. But don't dismiss those who disagree with you as choosing the "gay lifestyle." It is a simplistic, reductionist view that ignores the deep complexity involved.
If the natural man is an enemy to God, then I guess I'm glad that I was recently labeled as being "unnatural." Because if you misapply mathematical principles to that sentence, an unnatural man is *not* an enemy to God. I believe He loves and accepts us the way we are.