I had a visit with my therapist today. After explaining how I'd been feeling, he asked me what I would like to work on. Surprisingly, my mind went blank (there had been a number of things on my mind on the drive there). He suggested that we sit down and read and article together written by Mitch Mayne. Some information on Mitch Mayne: he is an active Latter Day Saint who is openly gay, as he puts it. Here is a link to his blog: http://mitchmayne.blogspot.com/
My therapist brought over his iPad and sat down right next to me on the couch so that our shoulders were touching. I gave a small gasp of surprise, but he didn't seem to notice or care. We than began to read this article: http://mitchmayne.blogspot.com/2011/12/spirituality-and-social-justice-remarks.html Go ahead and take some time to read it. It's very well spoken.
One of his points that stuck out is that being a Latter Day Saint is more than a religion, it's more of an ethnicity. We have our own 'culture' so to speak. I really liked that point. He also spoke how teachings of the church, especially ones about family, sink deep into our spirits. It becomes part of our spiritual DNA. Or how I would put it, it awakens that part of our spiritual DNA that speaks to the importance of families.
One paragraph that struck me emotionally was under the heading 'Why the LGBT issue is of such importance to Mormons: The culture'. Take a look at the third paragraph which speaks about LDS children who experience same gender attraction and have been kicked out of their homes because of their attractions. He speaks about the deep feelings of loss that those people experience. My therapist turned to me and asked me to talk about it.
I can totally relate. I have felt, growing up, like I wasn't 'part' of my own family, like my parents weren't my own. Maybe physically I was there in a family unit, but emotionally I was not. For at least a portion of my teenage and adult years, I haven't felt like part of my family. In a sense, I've lost that.
Also, I am single. Growing up, the dream, the ideal, the want of every 'perfect' 'righteous' Latter Day Saint youth was the grow up and be sealed in the temple and then have a family. I don't have that. I don't know if words could suffice for the deep, piercing feelings of loss that brings, of having this one dream never materialized.
The second paragraph that hit me was very profound. I didn't recognize the blog post until we came to this paragraph. Fourth paragraph from the end he states this:
"I don’t want to leave people with the impression that I am changing my orientation to be Mormon. Or that I am changing my faith to be gay. Neither of those things is true. I am a gay man, and gay men are emotionally and intimately attracted to other men. That has not changed, and it won’t change. And likewise, part and parcel of being Mormon is I’ve always strived to live my life in accordance with what I understand my savior’s will for me to be, and that hasn’t changed either."
Before that, he spoke about belong to 'both' the gay and Mormon worlds. My therapist turned to me and asked me about it about the same time when the implications of what the paragraph meant. I could embrace both my religion and my attractions. I could make them work together. I could have both in my life. Then I realized that for many years I've tried to stifle, strangle, surpress, and ulitmately kill my attractions. And it hasn't worked. I've been waiting for them to magical go away after certain things occured. I told myself "On my mission, they'll go away", "If I date a girl, they'll go away", "If I go to Journey Into Manhood, they'll go away". Honestly, it hasn't just "gone away".
Finally, I feel like I've come to a point where maybe accepting and allowing the attraction to be part of me is what Heavenly Father has wanted me to do with them. That doesn't mean acting out sexually on the attractions.
The last paragraph that struck me was the final one. It says the following: "It takes a strong spirit to be gay in this life. It takes a remarkable one to be a gay Mormon. Never doubt for a moment you are anything less than remarkable. For that is most certainly how our Father in heaven views you."
As we talked about it, I realized something I've felt in myself for years. I've always had a part of me that refused to give up, a resilience or stubborness inside of me. I realize now that is probably part of my spirit. I've been through pain, heartache and loss. I've put myself through agony and fed myself lies. And yet, my spirit still continues to move onward. My therapist then compared my journey to the pioneer's. I'm going to a place that I've never seen before. I've only heard that it's a good place. He said "Where you're going, you don't even know what it's going to look like!" Honestly, I have no idea what it would mean to embrace and accept my attractions or how it will be after I do this. As my therapist said the pioneers did, I need to put my trust in the love and vision that my Heavenly Father has for me.
My therapist left me with two profound things to ponder:
- Same gender attraction may be part of my mortal experience forever.
- Women can become potential friends and possibly even girlfriends/wives, but only if I put effort into it.
In life, there are a variety of experiences I am given. Some I choose, some I don't choose. It's much like eating a meal. In order for me to be healthy, I have to have a balanced meal. Let's say I enjoy some things, but hate others. Some things are not delicious but are still healthy for me. For instance, let's say I didn't like vegetables (I actually really like most vegetables). If I didn't eat any, I'd probably risk not having my body run at top performance. If I eat them, sure, it tastes nasty for the moment but there's a long term benefit. Trials and tribulations are like vegetables, and often times, I don't get to pick which vegetable I eat. Same Gender Attraction is one of those vegetables that I don't think I picked, but it is still served to me each and every day. If I ignore it, and throw it away, I'll miss out on the growth and the strength I can receive by working through it.
It's something I will ponder. I have the feeling that exploring this new idea of living in 'both' worlds will bring me a greater sense of peace and wholeness.