Wednesday, August 31, 2011

To Young Men Only - One Gay Mormon's Response

The words “to young men only” probably mean any number of different things to different people.  This assumes we are dealing with a diverse group of people from a variety of ages, backgrounds and faith traditions.

To Latter-day Saint men of a certain age, however – say anywhere from 30 to 60 – this phrase would probably immediately bring to mind the talk by Boyd K. Packer delivered in Priesthood Session of General Conference in the fall of 1976 (don’t bother looking in the church’s online database for the talk; it isn’t there) and was subsequently made into a pamphlet that every bishop in the Church for the next two decades and beyond no doubt had a supply of, tucked away in his office.

I have written about this talk a couple of times, most recently here.  Yesterday, a man who self-identifies as a gay Latter-day Saint, wrote a lengthy comment to this post, and I wanted all who read my blog to benefit from his (very slightly edited) story, his testimony:

I grew up with the words "for young men only" echoing in my mind. These resonated through my youth, from the time I did my mission, and when I got back home as a Returned Missionary "to get married".

As many others before and after me, I have tried to be heterosexual. However, at the time I thought to myself "I'd rather be condemned to eternal damnation by my own doings than destroying the lives of a wife and children.” So I never got married to a woman.

I made my decision, and I prayed to God, and I felt that He loved me for who I AM and not for who I was pretending to be. I am a Latter-Day Saint, I am Gay, I am man who loves another man, I am happy in my relationships, I am a son of God, I am worthy of His Love and Eternal Salvation, I am definitely following the path for MY salvation, and I have my own family now with the man I love and we have been together for 14 years since I returned from my mission.

However, the only regret I have is not having the right advice back then to give me some psychological stability. All I had were the myths and assumptions of some church leaders, who know nothing about homosexuality, yet they proclaimed to know that being gay is an abomination. No it isn't!!!

Sexuality is a continuum, and we all find ourselves shifting within this continuum. For, any man who comes to me and says that he has never (at least once) felt attracted to another man, even in a platonic way, I will call him a liar. This includes the President of the LDS Church, too.

To all Young Men out there struggling with their sexuality, I say “Struggle no more.” You can be who you are and you can get married now with another man, if that's what you want, and build your own family.

A New Age Mormon

Thank you, Miguel, for your testimony.  Voices such as yours truly help show the younger generation the possibilities that lie before them and – I am convinced – give at least some of them the hope and perspective that they need to embrace who they are, believing that in doing so they enjoy God’s full blessing.


  1. When I was in my 20's I worked as custodian at the chapel and came across as a church publication for local leadership concerning homosexuality. Of course, this really interested me. It advised branch presidencies, bishops, etc. to recommend to those with these "problems" to get married and that the problem would be resolved.

    It also made some statements about the natural progression from masturabation to exhibitionism and homosexual behavior.

    Have you ever seen this publication and would you know where I could find get a copy of it?

    The information in this publication was the advice I got as a young man. I have told my wife that I was counciled in this manner and would appreciate some proof.

    I followed some of this advice, which put me where I am today, married with grown children, still active in the church, but still struggling with the conflicts of who I am and and my decisions and commitments (read covenants) that I have made to my wife and family. It's not that I regret my decisions, of marrying my wife and having my wonderful children. It's just very complicated.

    If I only knew back then what I know now. I would have made my life decisions with knowing who and what I was. I wouldn't still be in the closet at least.......Adrian

  2. I don't know how to get a hold of this document, Adrian, but it sounds like it pre-dates Packer's talk in 1976. I'd love to see it as well. Your story substantiates many others', viz., that they were counseled to get married and the "problem" would go away.

  3. There are several similar comments in multiple LDS documents, one of which is the Crime Against Nature chapter in Kimball's "Miracle of Forgiveness." All known pre-1980 anti-Gay LDS pamphlets are posted on my online history of homosexuality and Mormonism:

    You could check there to see if one of them rings a bell as the one that you found...

  4. Good ol' Boyd K also had a 1978 address (I think it was from a BYU multi-stake conference) turned into a pamphlet called "To The One". It seems to have also (thankfully) vanished down the rabbit hole of Mormon history. Years ago when I was YM president I came across a stack of the Packer pamphlets in the clerk's closet... I threw them all out.

    If you haven't read the David Hardy letter for Packer regarding "To The One" you should:

  5. Sorry but I gave the wrong URL for historical LGBT LDS documents; it is at:



  6. I admire your conviction and powerful voice in t words of Enya. I believe that you have done what is best for you. LDS men who have followed the outdated advice of the past leadership have destroyed countless lives in unknown ways. If you still believe in the Atonement, as I believe you must, then we just need to trust that all the pain and grief caused by these admonitions is already atoned for.

  7. Thanks, Connell, for those links. We're all grateful for the tremendous amount of research and writing you've done in this area.

    Brett - Yes, there's a link to that (even worse) talk on my blog homepage (see "Boyd K. Packer on Homosexuality"). Thanks for throwing away the pamphlets! :)

    Anonymous - Thank you for your comforting thoughts.