Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Haunting


So, yesterday I received a tip from a really great guy that there was a blog post written by a highly suicidal young man. The guy who tipped me off said that he himself has commented on my blog before, and that he often disagrees with me, but that he prayed about how to help this young man and felt directed to bring the post to my attention.

Coincidentally, I had just seen a tweet from Jenny Lawson about a suicidal comment on her blog and I absolutely loved her helpful approach, so because that was in my mind I knew exactly what I should do. I posted a comment on the kid's blog, and then I posted on my blog's Facebook page and let people know that there was a kid who was deeply suicidal, and that he needed to know that he was loved and not judged.

And boy did you guys take the cue. Messages started pouring in, and within 24 hours, there were at least 45 heartfelt messages (from varied sources) letting this young man know that he was loved, that he was needed, that his value wasn't dependent on his decisions in life--that he was amazing and had a place with us no matter what. That God loved him and that we loved him. Stories about depression and making it through the darkness. Stories about loss. Real people telling real stories about pain and about recovering from pain. Telling this young man that he is loved, and that things will get better, and that he has a community that loves and supports him no matter what.

It's been 24 hours since the message flood began, and there has been no response from him.

The post went up last Thursday. He sounded deeply, deeply suicidal. Suicidal to the point that he was seriously contemplating ways to die constantly.

This kid was at incredibly high risk.

There are many reasons we might not have heard from him yet. Maybe he doesn't check his blog every day. Maybe he felt so much pressure at having so much attention that he doesn't know how to react. Maybe his family went on vacation. Maybe he attempted to take his own life but was discovered in the process and now he is hospitalized, being nourished by those he loves, being shown the love and care he so badly needs and deserves.

Maybe.

But maybe all that beautiful love and support, which truly touched my heart, showed up too late.

Maybe we lost another kid.

Another one.

This isn't fake. This isn't propaganda or agenda-driven. This is actually happening. We might have just witnessed it. And I am truly haunted by the implications and the loss.

What can we do to make sure that our support for our gay youth doesn't show up a day too late?

If you choose to comment and share ideas, please resist finger-pointing and blaming. If we have lost someone, we are all in this together, and, in the spirit of the original commenter who disagrees with much of what I say but felt comfortable coming together with me to help try to save a life, let's all come together and brainstorm ways we can be of help to those who need us.

What do you personally commit to do to help make sure this doesn't happen to our gay youth and loved ones anymore? What can I do? What can we all do?

Let's help make change happen.

105 comments:

  1. Great thoughts. I honestly don't know the answer beyond those of us who are LDS embracing our covenants to love as Christ does. This means we are careful about what we say and always act and speak in a spirit of love. Not easy, but with that attitude it would take us far. Well beyond petty judgements.
    www.conservativemormonmom.blogspot.com

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  2. Hey my friend, need I remind you that YOU are the therapist here. Help us out. ;)

    That's all I have. You know I wonder about the same thing for different reasons. I sure don't know the answer.

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  3. I could not think of one better thing for you to say. This really touched my heart, the fact that you took a step forward and asked for other people that this poor boy doesn't know to share those thoughts with him about how loved is, is definitely a way I think most people should approach situations like this. Thanks for being an example. Hopefully he is well and that those comments mean the world to him!

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  4. Haunting indeed. I applaud your efforts, Josh. You did the right thing. We may never know what happened, but at least we know we tried to talk him back from the edge.

    What can we do? I think the most important thing is to have a dialogue - to keep the conversation that has been started alive. To speak up when we see bigotry or ignorance or hate. And to encourage love, empathy, tolerance and understanding.

    And we're up to 56 posts...

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  5. Just keep the conversation going. I know that for myself, as a young mom of two little boys, your story has opened dialogue in my home, in my ward, and with my friends about homosexuality (in a loving light). I am already thinking about how I would react if one of my children became gay; before your coming out I didn't think about homosexuality as anything beyond Prop 8. Ignorant of me? Yes. Thus, I'm grateful for this dialogue.

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    1. Sarah, we need more people like you, preparing themselves for the possibility of having a homosexual child. That being said, I would ask you to not think of it as becoming gay, because for me, there was no process of becoming gay, just one of me realizing I was. It hurt me deeply a few months ago when I was talking to my father about it, and he said he thought it was something I chose. While becoming and choosing are different, I don't want you to ever look for reasons why, to blame anyone, or to say anything, even unintentionally, that would make one of your children feel like any less of a person if(/when) they do realize they are homosexual. In third grade, when most of the boys started having crushes on girls,that didn't happen for me. I was naturally just more curious about and attracted to boys. When puberty hit, it became apparent that I was definitely attracted to guys. A decade including various callings and a mission later, things haven't changed. It's a difficult choice to do so, but I've decided to live the Gospel the best I can, even if that means being single and celibate. Actually, that choice is easier for me to accept than it is for others to do so.

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    2. Just to take that dialog a step further. I don't want to take away from the importance of this post, but part of understanding why church-raised gay people commit suicide at high rates is the weight of people telling them to change something they cannot change. Accept that they cannot change it. Their only choice is how to live with it - out and proud OR mixed orientation marriage OR celibate. There are no other options.

      None of your existing children will become gay. Either they are already gay because they were born gay. Or they were not born gay - they could be straight, could be bi, could be trans gendered. I'll agree that any future children may or may not become gay, but the 'becoming' will happen in the womb if it happens at all.

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    3. Thanks for your comments! Very enlightening, and I didn't mean any offense in what I wrote. I don't know that I believe that someone is born gay but neither am I saying it something someone chooses--quite honestly that is something I am still pondering and studying. But regardless, please know I will love my children no matter what! I will teach them what the Mormon church says about homosexuality BUT I will teach it hand in hand with the doctrines of love and "an eye for an eye" (basically, don't judge!).

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    4. Hi Sarah, Second anonymous here. I know you don't intend to accidentally cause any offense. I was in your place once. It took me years to ponder and study. In my defense, it was pre-internet so the information, testimonials and blogs that we have now were not accessible - all we had was the occasional printed tract or magazine article... sad days! Hopefully your journey can be a lot faster than mine was. I came to see verses in different contexts. And I lived through a mixed orientation relationship (MOR) then 2 decades of watching my ex ex-gay ex (not a typo) and others we had met on the path attempt to pray away his gay. Didn't work. Isn't going to work. FWIW, the MOR option is no more an option for the majority of gays than marrying our female BFF would be for you or me.

      When I first read Josh's blog, my life experience told me to not believe him. But I have learned again and I do believe him now. I still don't believe that an MOR is a real option for the majority of gay and faith filled men or women. Most of them are like my ex 'tried with every determination and prayer but just could not be with a female'.

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    5. Clearly many gay people feel they had no choice in the matter. Similarly some (like Cynthis Nixon) have expressed that they have exercised choice, at the very least over their lifestyle. I am not sure where gayness starts and bisexuality begins. Is that explained by the Kinsey scale?

      I have read of a study which shows a lesser incidence of 'gayness' among people who have watched a family member die of AIDS which might suggest a subconscious element of choice. (And no I am not suggesting that only gay people get AIDS). I have no idea of the academic rigour of that study or whether it has been verified or discredited. It was in the book Freakonomics if anyone wants to check it out.

      I think it is probably as misleading to say ALL gay people were born that way as it is to say ALL gay people have a choice. I don't think it has been sufficiently proven that sexuality is determined only in the womb.

      That said, by the time an adolescent is experiencing exclusively homosexual attraction I doubt anything is going to change and, as this young man's blog post and many other accounts have shown, this is terribly traumatic for many youths, religious or not. What Josh's story has shown us is how much that trauma can be alleviated by having unconditional love and acceptance shown by both family and friends. THAT is our responsibility.


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    6. Gemma, Second Anonymous here. I just dusted off my copy of Freakonomics. The authors are very clear to distinguish between sexual behavior and sexual identity. As Josh is.

      Our behavior can be scared into having less casual sex and we may want to change our sexual identity, but our real sexual identity (as opposed to our self declared sexual identity) is still what it is.

      This may seem incredibly hair splitting to you, but as a survivor of the ex gay movement, I have had my life messed up by leaders who claimed they were ex gay while still falling of the celibacy wagon themselves. It's not theory to me. It's how my 20's were hijacked. And FWIW, I'm not gay. I was the straight partner who got caught in the cross fire.

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    7. Thank you for that clarification. It was a while ago that I read it.

      DOn't worry about the hair-splitting. I understand the difference between sexual behaviour and sexual identity. After-all, that is what Club Unicorn is all about. The Freakonimics article is therefore further testament to add to Josh's that there can be a disconnect between the two.

      However here I must apologise for getting the discussion off track because this isn't particularly useful to the dialogue Josh is inviting in this partiular thread. Josh was very quick to say that his course is not for everyone and we still need to know how to more fully express love and eliminate judgement as we deal with young people struggling with depression and identity. I am not one of those people blessed to always have the right words but I know that I am better prepared to deal with any such interactions having been a part of this discussion.

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    8. Gemma, I think it IS helpful. This post is all about the reality of how to help one of many thousands of young people deeply conflicted between their love and commitment to their faith, and the reality they know within themselves. The more we understand about both parts of this conflict, the better we are likely to be able to help.

      When I was still old me, who believed an orientation was learned, and could be changed, I thought it very helpful to say 'Jesus loves you. Keep praying'. Or 'We love you, we just don't love what you are thinking or what you are doing'.

      As I learned more, I learned better. Now I am more likely to say "Hmm... I was where you are once. I could not resolve the conflict between what I thought my faith said and the way some of the people I loved the most were born. It took me a while to figure out but I am at peace with it all now. Do you want me to talk more about how I found a place of peace?"

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    9. Anonymous 10:37, I LOVE your last paragraph. I (and I'm sure a lot of other people) have felt so lost at times, trying to say the right things. I think we need to remember that it is not our job to "fix" people's lives--that's between them and our Father and our Savior. Our job is to love them and be there for them, and I think your last sentence ("Do you want to talk more about how I found a place of peace?") does SUCH a good job of not judging (not even saying that YOUR way is the RIGHT way) but still offering support.

      I'll be using it, if you don't mind. Thank you!

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  6. Um, I don't know how to say this...but for some reason I just wonder what is really going on here. I don't mean to take away from the larger issue, but a Bishop can't ex-communicate a Melchizedek Priesthood holder, which I assume he is based on saying he'd been on a mission. That would be done with the Stake and a committee and a long process with lots of support. Maybe the blogger just left out lots of details. But I guess the lack of them leaves me questioning a little bit. Sorry, I know it seems heartless. I read his post and read the comments. I guess I just don't know enough. And I certainly don't wish suicidal tendencies on anyone. Just maybe wish I knew how to help...And I agree its a very good thing to keep this dialogue open. We are ALL loved by our Heavenly Father.

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    1. Bobi, I don't think you are heartless. But I do think that perhaps you don't realize that this issue (suicidal young gay menl....within and out of the church) is a huge problem. I think that is what Josh is refering to: helping all those out there that are hurting.

      And I'm sorry to say...you can't assume lots of support. I have a family member in this situation and he has absolutely not felt supported. I have not felt supported either...my issue is different i.e. healing from child abuse...but I swear it has made me an emotional leper, invisible, and unsupported.

      THAT is what this conversation is about. No one should feel alone and abandoned in our church, but I assure you there are some of us who do.

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    2. Bobi,

      I think it is important for me to comment on your post. The larger issue is the most important issue here - not the question of whether the bishop could excommunicate him or if there are parts of his story missing; what we should look at is that there is a young man that is contemplating suicide or that has already committed suicide over feelings of abandonment, not fitting in, and not feeling loved. There are no other questions to be asked here about his story. We have read the beginning of his book and now have possibly seen and read the end. So you ask how you can help? What you can do is stop asking the unimportant questions and look at the larger issue, which is that there is a young man in need here who needs love and support without attaching any judgment to it. Step out of your box and just love.

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    3. Leslie and Isaias, I'm pretty sure Bobi wasn't commenting on the suicide issue at all, but questioning whether the blog Josh linked to is "for real." There have been heartwrenching, genuine-seeming blog posts and even entire blogs that were later unmasked as hoaxes, so I can understand where she's coming from.

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    4. Third try at posting this comment...

      Leslie and Isaias, I think you two are misinterpreting Bobi's post. I don't think she's talking about the suicide issue, just questioning whether the blog post Josh linked to is "for real." There have been other heartwrenching blog posts, even entire blogs, that turned out to be hoaxes, so I can understand why she would have that thought.

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    5. I don't think it is wrong for Bobi to ask questions to help her ascertain whether the blog entry is genuine or not. I agree that there are elements that don't really add up. The voice comes across as very adolescent while the author must be in his 20s. The blog itself is very new. While it may very well be genuine it is not beyond the realms of possibility that it is a hoax. Obviously we would all rather it was a hoax but for the sake of what may be a highly vulnerable young man we must proceed as though it is real. Crucially Bobi did not post anything on his the original blog which could be hurtful or negative. Here, surely we can have a fuller discusson.

      So Isaias, while I disagree with you and think that there are questions that can be asked about this particular story, I do agree that there is a bigger issue which goes beyond this one particular man. It is the question posed by Josh at the top of this page. "What do you personally commit to do to help make sure this doesn't happen to our gay youth and loved ones anymore?"

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    6. I agree with Isaias that the greater issue of suicide is being overlooked by parsing this young man's statements. Not that it matters, but the blogger did not say the bishop had excommunicated him; he said that the bishop advised me to write a resignation letter to the Church. The young man apparently did so and received a letter back saying that his records had been removed. The young man even says that "excommunication" was not the exact wording in the letter from the church, but that that's essentially what he felt happened to him. So, really, I don't see any holes in his story.

      But all that is beside the point, in my opinion, because what I do see is a guy who's obviously in a lot of pain and feeling hopeless and suicidal. Having been there myself and having known many gay people, both in and out of the Church who have felt the same way, I frankly have little reason to believe his story is a hoax. It reads to me exactly as what I feel it is: a desperate cry for help from somebody who feels lost, alone, and unloved. And the sad, sad truth is that this particularly blogger's experiences are no exception. So many gay youth feel this way, and I think the more important questions we should be asking ourselves are exactly the kind Josh ended his post with: "What [can we] personally commit to do to help make sure this doesn't happen to our gay youth and loved ones anymore?" How can we stop stuff like this from happening? How are we treating our gay youth? What are we doing that might make them feel the way this young man apparently does and how can we help them to not feel this way? Those are the questions we should really be asking, in my opinion. I just think it's important not to miss the forest for the trees.

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  7. What I'm about to say, Josh, is not finger pointing but simply reality. I realize you may delete this but at the very least, you will have read it. If a young person, male it seems, is gay and Mormon, chances are very good that that person will try and commit suicide. I don't say this to make people defensive or angry. It's just a fact. It's is truly great that the Mormon Church is becoming aware of this and is starting to deal with it. But at the moment, it is too little, too late. As you write, it is actually happening and continuing to happen. Unless the Mormon Church and therefore Mormon followers make a dramatic turnaround and completely stop with the preaching of homosexuality as sin, this will not change. Look at that fellow Moroni at the Compassionate Cause conference you attended. Watching the video of his courageous speech, it was obvious to me that he is very possibly on the brink of suicide himself.
    And yes, other religions too do this.. But there are Mormons on here so i refer to Mormonism.
    Anything short of a complete turnaround on the idea of living a gay lifestyle as sin will do nothing to stop these suicides. Is that ever going to happen, Josh? how many more kids have to die?
    Again, I'll understand if you delete this.

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    1. Yes 'love the sinner, hate the sin' is the first lie to put behind us. "Love you, hate your face. Love you, hate your skin tone. Love you, hate your nationality of birth." All of these are hating something that no one other than Michael Jackson can change about themselves. Oh, wait... why did he change his face and his skin tone... because he knew people hated it? Real love means real acceptance. Of the whole person. Who he or she is, which includes the fact that they are gay. Accept them accept it.

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    2. You know, I was a young gay Mormon boy once, and I was the most closeted kid you ever met. I had two big fears. One was that if I came out, I might get forced out of the church by some unreasonbly strict priesthood leader. The second fear was that if other gay people knew about me, they might try to pull me from the church and the faith that I loved. I ended up never having an outlet for my pent up emotions. I would have found your intolerance for my faith a bigger reason to try to keep everything inside. I'm lucky, in that I don't have a personality prone to depression. But try to be more sensitive to those who do. Stop judging someone's faith. I don't think that telling a suicidal kid that it's all his religion's fault is going to help if the kid loves his faith in that religion. I love the fact that Josh is trying to let people know that there are always options. There is always hope. There are always people who love you. Nobody should be telling someone else what they can or can't believe, but we can present what we believe as a valid option, and express love to others.

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    3. Very interesting thought Who Me. I feel that really adds another dimension to this conversation. The feelings of not belonging anywhere are really the hardest.

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    4. Thanks Who Me for giving us another important perspective to consider.

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    5. I agree. It comes down to people, not just "sides." We want them to feel accepted by everyone (or by as many people as possible), not feel like the rope in the middle of a tug-of-war.

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  8. All I have to say is that I thought I was a more open person. However after following this blog, I realized that I need to change my ways. When you wrote, "just love them", you changed me. I thought that I was doing okay, but now I have seen that we just need to love. We don't have t
    o agree. We don't have to have the same opinions to love someone. You are changing my world.

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    1. I think you are right...Don't judge, just love is my motto.

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    2. I agree. As I said below, the way the church behaved in not loving like Jesus. I have "Love, v." (love is a verb) tattooed on my arm to remind me--love is everything.

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  9. So I read this right before going to bed and now I cant sleep. So., thanks for that.
    But really, I feel strongly about this sort of thing, about the stigma that i think the church has on depression and even suicide. But at the same time, I am at a loss of what to do and how to make it better... I am going to post on that boys blog, but please keep us all posted on the situation as well. Thanks

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  10. This boy's post made me so sad. I'm glad you brought it to my attention, though. We need to be doing something about this and I think it lies more in loving people than anything else.

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  11. Just another thought for the LDS community, but anyone I guess. I have been contimplating lately how many women have come to me in the last year seriously worn down mentally with the pressures of life. I have also been there....the days when you are on the floor and can't make breakfast for your sweet kids or do much else but cry because life seems to be crushing down on you. Too many women have come to me with this.

    It made me wonder what can we do, and I think my thoughts are applicable to this situation also. I cannot take away people's trials. I can not fix their money problems. While there may be days that I can hold and hug them, they still must wake up each morning to face pressures most people don't know they face. In the long run, the only person who can help them is Christ. As I've thought about this, I realized that what I can offer them is the assurance that Christ loves them. I can let them know that they are not forgotten and help them to reach out to him also. I can pray with them and for them.

    Man is human. We make thoughtless and unmeaning mistakes. However, Christ knows our pain and it is to him we must help people turn to.

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  12. I sincerely hope this young man has been able to read these comments and is just speechless at the thought of so much outpouring of love and support that he just hasn't been able to articulate where he's at right now. I hope that him posting about it meant there was still time to answer his call for help. Praying for him and everyone in his life.

    As far as what we can do...I think remembering that at it's simplest form, religious doctrine teaches us what to do and how, and yes we have teachers to help us learn for ourselves what that means and what the lessons even are. But also that we are not to judge or condemn people for any reason whatsoever, that is Heavenly Fathers job and his alone. Why? Because He is the only one who will see our whole life, He is the only one who has been through everything with us. He was there screaming for joy when something amazing happened and He was there crying with us when things were bad as well. And I truly believe that too many people are at this point where they feel like they need to tell people when they're doing wrong. But people can be unforgiving and misunderstanding...this is why it's Heavenly Fathers job, not ours. No one on this earth is perfect, we were created in His image but we were sent here to learn and fail and continue to learn. That's why we have repentance and why Heavenly Father is so awesome and loving, yes we screw up and yes we may do it again, but he knows we have the best of intentions, we're just working on getting the strength to overcome. And no, I'm not saying we have to overcome being gay or anything else you can't control, I'm just saying...in general.

    I think with the church telling young single adults to go on a mission and then all single adults to get married and have kids and to get to the Celestial Kingdom, that's a lot of pressure. Now I've only seen this pressure and heard of it, I joined the church right before marrying my wife. But some places and people put more emphasis on it than others. But what's happening is you have kids and young single adults and single adults who are gay and they have no idea what to do. And if they feel they have no one to talk to...well that's how we get people who are depressed, they sit on these thoughts and what if's and never talk and it just eats them away. I think talking about it as an entire church and country is really helping. The only way to change the people who judge at all but also too quickly and harshly, is to talk about it. But even then to say the only way into the Celestial Kingdom is by marriage, well what does that say to someone who's gay?

    I think if people were to be more understanding and encouraging towards prayer and less judgmental it would really help. Once people step out of their comfort zones they will realize that we're all people, we're all made in His image and we all have struggles. Just because someone is gay does not mean their struggle is less difficult or that they're less of a person than anyone else. And once that happens I believe people will be able to get past that and get to know people on a more personal level, maybe even find similarities with them and gain an awesome new friend. And that person who happens to be gay just earned another advocate and person to call on when things get too rough but also became a rock for them as well.

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    1. I just think that with someone who belongs to any church that says marriage is between man and woman, they're going to feel like an outsider. That someone who is gay knowing that they love their church but this is what they say which incidentally means you may not ever fall in love and be able to share that love with the other person, with yourself or with children is incredibly daunting. I don't even know what to say to someone in that situation. Some people may not know more struggle than something that can be moved on from down the road. But people who are gay have to deal with something in one way or another thei entire lives. While I know Heavenly Father only gives us that which we can deal with through Him or on our own...that's still really heavy.
      My other thought is that the kingdoms may be something people are "racing" for here on earth, but in Heaven I can't imagine people comparing or being compared. If we're all perfect will the kingdom we're in really matter? And I think that may be one of the few ways to reach out to a gay person in the church. Even if they slip, there's still a place for them in Heaven. If they never marry they may not be in the Celestial Kingdom but they'll be in Heaven, they'll still know people there that they did on earth, and they too will be perfect. And I think that's a good thoight for marriage hungry members as well.

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  13. I went through a serious and deep depression when I was between the ages 19-23 or 24, including mental health misdiagnoses. I'm fine now, but even after all of that, I feel helpless in how to help others, aside from giving them resources, like you did in his post, and understanding without judgment. I served a few years on the Board of Directors for a local mental health residential and rehabilitation organization, but it still doesn't feel like enough.

    It saddens me that the church didn't consider the affect its response would have on this young man and his (forced) choice to leave the church (or, did it, and he didn't say that?). Did the bishop offer him resources, counseling, support options and resources to deal with the situation? I believe that the church has an obligation to help young men and women like this young man deal with what it could mean to them to have to leave a church they love and want inclusion in--if it's going to drop them as members like that. It angers me greatly, actually.

    That is NOT loving like Jesus.

    - Sarah, Seattle

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    1. Side note, not to start a big thing...let's all remember that any church disciplinary action is not meant as a punishment, but to remove someone from the position of condemnation that results from not keeping covenants one has made.

      Yes, I understand that is is generally treated and viewed as punishment, but realistically it is not. And again it comes down to how each of us treat one another. Yes, I've been there.

      -shelli, AZ

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  14. Fourth try at posting this comment – if I actually posted four times, please delete the first three.

    Leslie and Isaias, I think you two are misinterpreting Bobi's post. I don't think she's talking about the suicide issue, just questioning whether the blog post Josh linked to is "for real." There have been other heartwrenching blog posts, even entire blogs, that turned out to be hoaxes, so I can understand why she would have that thought.

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    1. Thanks, but I understood her perfectly. And I still say that is not the point. Suppose it was a hoax, the larger issuee still applies. The issue of suicidal young gay men...in and out of the church...is a huge problem.

      We are not discussing one person here but a larger issue.

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    2. Shayla and Gemma and anyone else,
      Guess what? I answered God's call. I am the one who contacted Josh about this young man. The truth is we must take any talk of suicide seriously. I contacted Josh because I felt like the Lord was leading me to do so. Josh and I truly have different opinions about things, but when God is calling me to do something, I do it. I don't ask questions. Josh has a calling in his life, and that is to help people. I believe I have done the right thing by asking for his help. In the end, if we find out that this is a hoax, there is still a great thing happening here. We are no longer just talking about Josh marrying a woman, but we are having dialogue about how we can come together no matter what background we have and bring light into the darkness of young people who are dealing with this issue in and out of the church. What further questions can we ask about suicide? We all know it is a needless act and that thousands of young people die each year because of it. Josh asks the question, "What do you personally commit to do to help make sure this doesn't happen to our gay youth and loved ones anymore? What can I do? What can we all do?" So this is what I did: I read the post. I took it at face value and didn't question if it was a hoax or not. I then thought about it and asked God to guide me, and with that, I was led to write the administrator of the Moho Directory as well as Josh Weed. That's what I did. I answered God's call without question, and that is when I made the commitment by sitting down and writing people who could possibly lend help to this young man. So today I would like to publicly say "Thank you, Josh Weed, for stepping up to the plate and answering God's calling in your life by sharing this post with your blog followers so they could share their love and light with someone who may be deeply lost in the darkness." We might wish to believe that this is a hoax, but even if it is, the sad reality is that this happens every day across our country in homes of faith and non-believers. We must find a way to come together to prevent young people from feeling the way this young man seems to feel.

      So in closing I would like to say this ,,, Thank you blog followers for making the steps to save a strangers life, and remember that if the time comes when your are personally effected by this same thing that you do the same to those you love .
      Josh , thank you again for taking my hand as we make the steps to impact someone life with the Light , Love and Wisdom that God have given us .
      Even though we both walk different paths in life, we have been brought together in a time of need because of God our creator.
      I love you Brother .
      May God continue to bless us all as we go on life's wonderful journey.
      The never Anonymous
      Isaias Hiram Urrabazo
      Singer , Artist , Costume designer ,Public Speaker
      Gay Christian man

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    3. You certainly did the right thing, Isaias. If by some chance it turns out to be a hoax, the responsibility is on the hoaxer, not on you.

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    4. You certainly did the right thing, Isaias. If by some chance the blog should turn out to be a hoax, the fault would be on the hoaxer's part, not yours.

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    5. You certainly did the right thing, Isaias. If by some chance the blog should turn out to be a hoax, the fault would be on the hoaxer's part, not yours.

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  15. I get pretty frustrated when people label me as being intolerant because I am a member of the Church who believes that breaking the law of chastity is a sin. I think it's that label that often causes more of the anti-gay stigma than what the Church actually teaches or how Church members actually act. I strongly support measures to protect traditional marriage, and I strongly believe that acting on any unchaste desire is a sin, including acts of homosexuality. But do you want to know how it all went down when my boyfriend told me that he struggled with homosexuality? I held him tighter than I had ever held him before. I just listened. I just loved. Not any sort of lust or any sort of thought of what I would get or not get out of our relationship, but a pure love for this young man who was struggling. I don't know why it is so unfathomable to so many people (both in and out of the Church) that you could really believe in God's laws and commandments and really believe that there is a right way to live, but at the same time you can love those around you who either sin or struggle with incredibly difficult temptations to sin. Frankly, it drives me nuts that people think the issues of bullying, depression, and suicide are only found in the context of homosexuality. That's just simply not true. I've personally struggled with being bullied (including death threats from high school seniors when I was in middle school), untreated depression, and thoughts of ending it all. None of that was related to homosexuality. A lot of the bullying I experienced, and the accompanying depression resulted from the actions of Church members. None of what I have faced is the fault of the LDS Church or its doctrines. And yet, there's still a really big need to make sure what happened to me and what I've experienced doesn't happen to anyone else. EVERYONE needs to be nice to EVERYONE else. And it's unfair and only perpetuates the difficulties for those who suffer when people label entire groups as bigots or intolerant. The reality is members of the Church are flawed, just like the rest of the world. The doctrine of Christ that the Church follows is not. And if you attend a Church meeting, listen to General Conference, or study the scriptures you'll find that the message is clear. Christ loved us so much that He suffered for our sins. We all sin. We all need repentance. We need to love each other like Christ loves us. It's that simple. This is not a PR issue. This is an individual issue that will only be changed when we stop finger pointing and allow ourselves to believe that Christlike kindness and love must begin with us, but that they do not mean the absence of sin or right and wrong.

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    1. Well... the difference between your future and the future of your gay BF is this...

      - Your orientation gives you the hope and prospect of love and marriage, personal touch and deep connection.

      - So long as his church keeps its current doctrine, his orientation gives home the prospect of
      a) Celibacy,
      b) A mixed orientation marriage (Josh is making it work but most of us just.could.not.)
      c) Leave the church to live 'out and proud' when he has been told all his life this is wrong.

      How would YOU feel if those were YOUR choices? He can't pray away the gay. These are the only choices.

      Personally, I was fine with chastity for a few years. I'm straight, so I hoped it was just that 'a few years' with love, companionship, marriage and intimacy at the end of it. If my husband was disabled tomorrow and we could never have full sex again, I'd still have him - the love, companionship, touch and trust. But love, companionship, touch and trust are not currently available to gay people in the church. Most gay men want to marry and be with a woman as little as you or I want to. Josh is a minority within a minority.


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    2. Amen to first poster that is

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    3. Anon 10:41, I agree. Especially with your last two lines. This not about PR, and the finger pointing is not helping. Change begins with each one of us becoming more loving and more Christ-like. I think it helps also to be more aware, and having a dialogue like this is a good step.

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    4. Anon - 11:57, I completely agree with you. And Josh is most definitely a minority within a minority - and the more that his story is used in the way he didn't intend it to be used, suicides won't be stopped. This is not about feeling that one's religion is being attacked or not tolerated, this is about gay kids, mainly males, killing themselves because of what the Mormon Church preaches. And it is from the top down - it has to change from the very tippy top of the Mormon hierachy and then trickle down. Until that happens, the suicides will not stop. This ultimately has nothing to do with labelling groups of people bigots, intolerant, etc. That is actually irrelevant. The only thing that will ever work to stop the suicides is to get the top brass of the Mormon Church to change their doctrine. Until then, it will be impossible to change this situation, no matter how nice individuals are. This is not about offending people, this is about saving lives.

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    5. I know many, many Mormons. I know quite a few gay people. I know a small number of gay Mormons. I have known personally one person who commited suicide and one who attempted it. Those people were neither gay nor Mormon. I am not denying any links. I am also not belittling the issues of depression or suicide. Clearly they are serious issues which must be taken seriously. However, I am curious about this repeated suggestion that the suicides of young gay Mormons is practically an epidemic. What evidence do we have for this?

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    6. These aren't stats but a list of some gay Mormons who have killed themselves: http://www.affirmation.org/suicides/
      No idea if it is possible to get stats on gay Mormon youth who have attempted suicide.
      Josh himself wrote that this isn't fake or propaganda. Maybe he can speak more to the young gay male Mormons attempting or committing suicide.
      I too have only ever known one person who has committed suicide but this doesn't make it untrue about gay mormon young males committing suicide any less real. I completely understand the need to have it not be real because it is a painful thing. But denying it isn't going to help those who are suicidal.
      Again, maybe Josh will speak to this at some point.

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    7. Anon 11:57.


      I am a mormon who has seen miracles in the LDS faith, and miracles in other faiths that oppose homosexuality. You can't unwind our doctrine from our miracles. Christ taught that as we keep his commandments we know of his doctrine. If you strip chastity from the doctrine of our churches-- which is likely the end result of accepting gay marriage-- you strip the churches of their power.

      Christ himself taught the way out of homosexuality or any immoral act when he said "For it is better that ye should deny yourselves of these things, wherein ye will take up your across, than that ye should be cast into hell."

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    8. Jason, I used to quote that myself. As did the gay man who was attempting too make it work in an MOR with me. He / we could not make it work. And FWIW, we were indeed chaste. Then I came to realize... My chastity was a temporary state... I had every reason to expect it to end in marriage. But for him? He tried so hard to relate to women but it was not happening. His life choices within the church? Celibacy or celibacy. How would you like it if that was your only option? For ever?

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    9. Reply to Anonymous August 22, 2012 10:01 PM

      I am very sorry that your relationship didn't work out. I feel for you and your situation. I don't know all the details, but it sounds heart wrenching.

      I still have to take issue with how you are applying that experience to others. Telling others that there is no hope is not helpful. Saying that all gays (or at least almost all gays) are just like the gay man in your experience is not helpful. Telling people they have no options or opportunities is not helpful. Depression can make it feel like there are no opportunities, no options, no choice will matter, no hope. But it's not true. There are always opportunities. There are always options, and choices that matter. There is always hope.

      While I think that the church could do better with how they approach diferently oriented youth, they cannot be solely blamed for the hopelessness that many gay members feel. The gay support community sending messages that there is no hope in the church for happiness, there is no hope in a mixed orientation relationship, those who try are all doomed to fail, and other such messages do not help either. There is plenty of blame to go around. And the cure is easy to describe (but hard to implement). We need to Stop It.

      We should be showing love and support for each other. We should not be judging but caring. Every parent knows that it is possible to love someone with whom we disagree ("but I need that candy, Daddy!"). We don't have to all agree, but we have to learn to show respect for each other even if we are different -- especially if we are different.

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    10. Is celibacy too high a price for the kingdom? I submit not.

      You still haven't showed me how the doctrine can change without the miracles changing. For me, those are linked.

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    11. I submit then, Jason, that you be celibate for life. Be a role model.
      To postulate that allowing gay people to live, well, gay lives is going to stop miracles is interesting, I'll say that much.
      Not sure how that is all related though to helping suicidal Mormon GLBTQ people. Saying "if we allow you to live your gay lives, then miracles from God will change and not for the better." In your way of thinking then - God = will only do miracles if gay people are not living gay lives.
      Please explain how this helps suicidal gay Mormon youth.

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    12. Who Me - I really liked one of your other posts on this page - it reminded me and taught me that a large part of the conflict is because the gay youth LOVE their church so much. As they love their parents. It hurts to be in conflict with the church and parents and they don't want to be gay or in conflict.

      But this particular post? <> What options and what opportunities? Please elaborate. Praying away the gay does NOT work. Casting it out, Fasting it out, Will powering it out does not work either. Exodus recently backed off their claims they could change orientation., They have now down pedaled to 'live with it'. The Mormon church seems to going to the same place with North Star.

      To which I will come back and say "Great! Better than the years you all spent telling me and my ex that a miracle would work for us". It did not, But exactly what DOES that leave gay youth? I maintain a)Celibacy, b)MOR c)leave the church and live out and proud d)suicide

      I am delighted for Josh and Lollie that heir MOR is working out great. I did not believe them at first but now I do. But there seem to be wayyyy more of us for whom it did not work. I do not believe Josh is praying more or living better than we were. I do believe there is a bigger element of bi in him that he can tap in to than we had available to us. Now that's just my opinion, not a fact I can verify.

      Please - show me the miracle changes of orientation... I have been around this ex ex gay world for 25 years and I am not seeing them.

      I do NOT want to sell the false hope of a miracle orientation change. BTDT, lived the disappointment. I do believe there is a bigger chance the church will change their doctrine. After all, there are PLENTY of documented doctrine changes but no documented and validated orientation changes. So which is more likely?

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    13. Jason, My ex felt that celibacy was a worth while price. He grit his teeth and tried. It's not just physical celibacy from sex, but emotional celibacy from flirting and dating and genuine close relationships. Anyone can be celibate for a few days, weeks or months. Most of us can grin and bear it for a few years. But for decades? For ever? All the ex gays I knew in my 20s were emotionally starved and off the wagon by our 40s. And I knew a few, from all those meetings and support groups... IMHO, people are born that way and the doctrine is wrong. That is the hope that I offer. Remember, we have had way more doctrine changes than orientation changes... so which is more likely to happen?

      Good Luck if you are trying it... a life time is a long time...

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    14. A lifetime is a very long time, but forever is longer.

      I personally have no experience with orientation change. I've never given much credence to that idea. When I was young (think Jr High age) I hoped and prayed that it was a passing phase, but that idea didn't last all that long. I never identified as gay because I didn't appreciate the culture that arose in the gay community. (I think the term I used for myself was homosexually attracted.) In an interesting study back in 2000 by Edward Laumann, 3.5% of married men report being attracted to other men. That would translate to millions of married men. The sad stories we see anecdotally are those for whom their relationships did not work. But we don't see success stories, because they don't talk. It's dangerous to talk because people will call you a liar, or tell you that your marriage is doomed or you are somehow being unfaithful to your wife. It is assumed you are living in some unsatisfying purgatory, when for me, nothing could be further from the truth.

      I was prepared for a long life of singlehood after my mission. I had always dated a whole lot, but not being attracted to my dates, it was just for fun. But I defined myself by other measures than my orientation. So imagine my surprise when I met the girl of my dreams. I was not prepared for that opportunity. I talked with her at length almost daily for about a year before I could even convince myself to kiss her. Our relationship took time to grow. It was not like I had a crush on her. I've never had a crush on a girl. But I wanted to be with her forever. I did not get married because I was trying to change myself or trying to hide. I got married because I wanted to spend eternity with this wonderful daughter of God. I wanted to raise a family with her. I've been married longer than Josh and Lolly, and I've never been more in love with my wife. If I had the ear of LDS youth who are homosexually attracted like I was, my message would be that they don't have to define themselves as others demand. If we do what we believe is right and just hold on, we never know what opportunities may present themselves to us in our futures. Our Heavenly Father loves us more than we can possibly imagine. His love is unconditional.

      I definitely would not suggest that anyone get married as some kind of therapy or attempt to change orientation. That sounds doomed to fail. But I also don't think giving up your values because you are attracted differently than others sounds all that great, either. I think both of them are messages of fear, and would rather send out messages of hope.

      I don't for one minute think that just because it happened this way for me, means it would happen the same way for someone else. They are not me, and are not in my situation. But I have faith that if someone wants to stay in the church, they can find happiness and joy and fulfillment. It will not always be cheeriness and sunshine, but that is an unrealistic goal for anyone. There is always hope. There is never a need for suicide. Hold on -- the clouds will always eventually pass.

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    15. Amen to the points you just made, Who Me. Thank you. My bottom line belief is that you either choose to abide by principles and covenants or you choose not to. Many single LDS people live celibate lives because they make that choice. The differently oriented (acceptable term?) have no corner on celibacy being difficult, and no orientation exempts anyone from the law of chastity. That's the bottom line.

      We all have different loads to bear. The celibacy thing gets easier with age and fluctuating hormones. I think the law of chastity is the biggest stumbling to several generations now, gay or straight.

      I so admire Josh's views and understanding of real love and true intimacy. It's not about sex. Those views he shared are so mature, and what everyone on earth would do well to learn. I probably will not now have the opportunity to experience that kind of real love and true intimacy...I am sure I took too long to learn it, and missed my shot...but I can tell you it doesn't come from sex or setting aside covenants.

      What does need changing is how we treat and love one another. I completely agree with everything said in that regard.

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    16. Who me - Thanks for the response. I am truly delighted for you that opportunities fell into place and you found a marriage that is working for you. I think it is great for you that you were able to date and able to marry. There are some who just cannot.

      TDPU - I think that the differently oriented do have a far greater load to bear with celibacy - as a straight person when I was single and celibate I had every reason to believe it was a temporary state. If I'd been staring down another 70 years of loneliness I'd have had a very different view. And I do not believe it is all about sex. If we were 'injured out' of sex tomorrow, I would still have the connection and every other good part of my marriage.



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    17. the dirty pink underbelly - you should choose to be celibate to be a role model. I think in your lifetime the Mormon Church will change its stance. The bottom line will change and those the Mormon Church have enslaved will be set free.
      Being gay, as being straight, has zero to do with fluctuating hormones. It continually stuns me how people who are so uneducated about what being gay really is so so easily demand lifetime celibacy and postulate how everyone has burdens so that it is ok to do this. No, it's not. But eventually, the change in stance will come from the top of the chain and trickle down, no matter how deeply some dig their heels in.

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    18. dirty pink underbelly - read some of your blog. had i read it before, I wouldn't have posted the above comment. Not because I agree with what you are saying but because of the immense struggle you are going through. My mother was operated on for colon cancer 3 years ago, last year had surgery for spread into her lung and more chemo that nearly killed her. Now it's back, all over her body. It's a horrible thing. I'm actually happy to see that you are strong enough to make comments on a blog. Your comments may make me crazy but i wish you luck with your fight.

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    19. Thank you Anonymous. BTW my comment about hormones was pointed at age. I wish I had understood at 35 what I came to believe by 45.

      Committing to religious beliefs and covenants IS to stare down 70 yrs of celibacy, if that's what it takes, male or female, gay or straight. It's not easy. Many of us falter. But to say "I'm a man, I can't possibly be expected to be celibate", or " I'm gay, I can't possibly be expected to obey the law of chastity " is a cop out and an excuse.

      Many many women in the church assume that their stint with celibacy will be temporary, that they will eventually marry and find love and companionship. That eventuality is just NOT a reality for so many. Gays do not have a corner on this either. The choice for anyone in this circumstance is keep covenants or don't, stay in the church or don't.

      My mind is open to learning, and I think you may be right that change is on the horizon within the church with regard to homosexuality. If it does come about, it won't be due to social pressure or popular opinion. And don't hold your breath on the idea that the law of chastity will be revoked, or changed to a mere guideline for those who find it easier to follow.

      Changes need to come, and small changes have come in what is believed about the whats and whys of homosexuality. Unfortunately not everyone is educated and on the same page. The first thing we must do is love all our brothers and sisters, and stand up against bullying and against being judgemental, and reach out to those feeling lost and unloved, while the rest catch up and get with the program of unconditional love.

      I don't know how I feel yet about some things, or about some potential resolutions. But I want to NOT leave young people feeling so judged and alone that suicide is an option. I have a cousin who is a returned missionary and gay, and another cousin who is lesbian and Christian in a committed relationship with her partner. They are good people. I love them. I don't consign them to hell. and I speak up about judgment and our responsibility to love and not judge when Sunday School discussions turn judg-ey and condemn-ey.

      It's a very difficult situation in the church and in the world. I try to do my small part while remaining true to the faith.

      Thank you for looking at my blog. I'm sorry to hear that your mother is going through recurrent cancer as well. This is not easy.

      I hesitated to speak up on this post for fear of being torn to shreds, and that's what we're all against, isn't it? Thank you for your comments.

      Editing when doing this on a phone is difficult ...I hope it all posts coherently.

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    20. P.S. I am single and celibate, but I'm nobody's poster child.

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    21. TDPU, I visited your blog too and I am really sorry about your situation.

      Well... the single and celibate straight person may fear that they are headed for 70 years of loneliness, but they do not know it, there is always hope for them... The single gay person who does not have enough bi in them to brace for an MOR marriage KNOWS that keeping the covenant means all the loneliness of celibacy.

      As I have said before, turning away from sex is a part of celibacy but not the whole of it... The bigger loss is never being able to respond to a first glance, grow close, have love, have companionship... Yeah - I know there is church love, family love etc but we all KNOW that does not replace spouse or partner love.

      And on the subject of hormones... both hormones and religious fervor run high in the 20's. By the 40's, both have usually waned, but the desire to just live an authentic life and be who you really are is on the ascendant. Which IMHO is why we see MOR marriages breaking up after years.

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    22. Anon@10:10...good and valid points that can similarly be applied to any relationship, any orientation.

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    23. I think hope in Christ is the thing anon@10:10 is missing. It is that that is more powerful than the sex drive.

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    24. Thank you Jason. (I appreciated your earlier posts as well.)

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  16. The worst thing anyone can do is to make someone feel unloved, or unwanted. To do it purposefully, to show they're angry, or to spite them, or whatever it is. THAT IS NOT OKAY. No matter what anyone says is taught in their particular ward, or even what they interpret from the Bible or the Book of Mormon (speaking as an active member of the LDS church), it is never, ever right to treat someone like this. I am actually having a hard time typing right now. This just makes me so mad. And this is seriously no time to be angry. This a time to be loving, and supportive. So I am going to put that behind me.

    It is hard to know what to say, in a situation like this. For me, I look back on all the dark moments I had in high school, remembering how there were days I would just collapse on my bed after school and stare numbly at the wall, unable to bring myself to get up and interact with the outside world. My family had nothing to do with it - I am so incredibly lucky to have amazing parents who I know will always love me and support me, no matter what struggles I have. Back then, though, that didn't mean much to me. I couldn't even think of why anyone would love me. I felt like a waste of space. When that boy mentioned no one really being worse off, if he was gone, I remembered feeling that exact same way.

    I don't know what would have happened, if I hadn't forced myself out of it. If it weren't for my mother, who pushed me forward that entire time I was walking through that dark tunnel. She has always reminded me of all the reasons life is worth living. I don't know what I would have done without her.

    Not everyone is blessed with wonderful parents and a supportive family. We need to step in, and take their place. We need to boost them up that stupidly steep hill, remind them that dark times never last forever. I know this all sounds rather melodramatic, but I can't help it. I (ineptly) wax poetic when I get really passionate about something. And you know what? I love that about myself.

    I hope and pray that this poor boy is okay, that he saw all the support, saw how much he was loved, even by strangers. If not.....all of us can take this, and remember it. So that if we see someone who struggling through this hardship, we can do everything we can to help them before it's too late.

    There are a lot of my kids my age and beyond who struggle with this, both gay and straight and everything in between. They need to be reminded of how much they are loved. They need to know that there is always hope. They need to know that they are worth saving, always.

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  17. Myself? I'm not sure. Be there would be a good start. I try not to judge when people tell me personal struggles. It helps to see myself as much as possible in them. Have not I also made terrible mistakes? Haven't I struggled with my own list of demons and worries and concerns? Have not I also felt like an outsider? Have not I felt like I could talk to no one, that I was alone? Many of those things don't have a significant place in my life anymore. But I remember those feelings and my own struggles to remember that I'm no superwoman. I'm no (catholic version) saint. I'm human. They're human. So I don't react when people tell me their hardest secrets. I just accept them, ponder them, and carefully ask questions based on reaching understanding not on judgement.
    I'm not perfect at it, but I certainly try.

    What can you do? Keep talking about it. I think it's important to talk and make a space for dialogue.

    What can we do? Talk about it and come to an understanding that God loves us all...not as lip service but as a philosophy to help us see one another. My professor once talked about how some of the continuing social problems exist because we have and us/them mentallity. WE the good citz of the world would not do what THEY do or feel. When we remove ourselves from the problem, then it makes it ok to never look within ourselves or the system...whatever occurs. This most poignantly happened for me with my grandfather. I wrote him off as dead years ago. He was the type of man that no one ever blamed me for hating him. Then he actually died. I was a missionary at the time and couldn't figure out why I felt so sick at heart for a man I hated. One young missionary, gave me a piece of advice that changed how I viewed him. He asked me, at the end if I saw my grandfather along in the celestial kingdom would I welcome him. I said no, knowing full well that i was wrong. Because Christ would have. He loved him. My grandfather had deeply hurt Him because He loved him. It's changed my perspective. Instead of wondering about gramps and how he should change (he should've changed), I begain asking how must I change? How can I love those that we consider unloveable and outside ourselves? I think by reevaluating how we truly see differences of all shade and aspects and honestly looking as to how Christ in His infinite love and mercy would treat them. How can our actions exemplify this?

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  18. I recently entered into a discussion of a daughter's sexual preferences with her. She has identified as gay since she was an older teen, but had never openly told *me* about it.

    I've known about as long as she has. I respected her privacy, and continued to love her because she is my daughter, and because there are so many good and wonderful things about her. After a decade, I finally got tired of the elephant in the room, and approached the subject with her.

    It was, perhaps, the best thing I have ever done for her. In practical terms, it changed nothing. But she can now see that the continued love and support she has had from us was not a result of our ignorance, but of our love.

    So, in answer to your original question--what can we do to make sure our support for gay youth doesn't show up a day too late?--here's one thing (of many) that can and does make a great deal of difference:

    We must do the same thing we do for our straight youth, our husbands, wives, mothers, fathers, daughters, sons, friends and associates of any persuasion. We must learn to value what we find in each individual around us. And then (here's the imporatant part) we must--MUST--learn to verbalize the things that we see that are of value in each person.

    As I have watched people of all kinds, the greatest emotional need I see in them is to be *valued.* Not simply "accepted," but valued.

    When I look at my daughter, I don't see "gay." I see generosity, compassion, determination, politeness, tidiness, a sense of humor that brightens up my life, an intellect that is quick and witty... and the list goes on.

    These are the things that I absolutely must convey to her. Never mind that our opinions diverge on what is morally acceptable. She knows that, I know that, and she can live her life as she sees fit. We don't have to agree. What she and I and every other human being needs to know is that there are many wonderful, incredible things about us that someone values.

    People aren't mind readers. Sometimes we think we are, but we inevitably get it wrong. We filter every word and action of others through the distorted lens of our own insecurities, and we distill the worst possible message from them. We need to be told what there is to value in ourselves.

    It took me years to become comfortable with this simple concept. At first I felt like I'd be considered a smarmy little phony, verbalizing what I felt would look like "flattery." Except that it wasn't phony and I wasn't after any personal gain. Watching the light in peoples' eyes and the expressions on their faces as they heard me honestly and sincerely tell them things like, "You handled those kids amazingly... did you see how engaged they were? That's quite a gift!" made me a convert.

    It is a behavior that has changed my life. It has bettered the outcome of our family relationships. It has saved a couple of my kids from I know not (and don't care to guess) what. And to hear a grandson parrot his mother now, and say "Gamma, you told that story soooo coool!" is all the reward I could ask for.

    It's not easy. We humans are so "glass-half-empty." We're too inclined to point out the things we disagree with or dislike, while leaving all our better thoughts and impulses unsaid. In the words of a great man, "Stop it."

    There's my .02, in way too many words. It could be summed up much more concisely: look for things to value, verbalize your appreciation, and leave the negatives unsaid. It's just one of the many things we can do to make sure nobody, gay or straight, old or young, gets support a day too late. Just one, but I think it's a good one.

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    1. Thank you! I had my own struggles when I decided to leave the LDS church in my twenties and find my own path that was very different than what I had been taught. I kept so much of my life separate from my family fearing what they would say. But in the end they love me. They want me around even when they know I'm making choices they believe are sins. sometimes they let me know their opinion and I do too because none of them are perfect people either. But they love me, my husband and all of our children regardless of our religion or life choices. I underestimated them in the beginning and want willing to talk about how I was feeling but over the years we've been able to have real discussions about our different beliefs. I'm so grateful that I didn't have to give up my family when I gave up their religion. I think that's what we can do. Love anyway, let go of what we don't agree with, unless its harming another person, and let people exercise their free agency knowing that we love them just as much.

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    2. Hooray for you and your family! Yes, that's just what families should do for each other. And as you say, it goes both ways. They love you no matter what, and you do the same for them. Excellent. :)

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    3. Schmetterling ... Just absolutely beautiful!!! Just like the lovely, winged creature you get your name from!

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  19. I think something Josh did was smart-- telling his parents early on. That helps.

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  20. You can call the Sacramento police or social services.

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  21. Ni una mas. Not even one more. There should be no LGBT person, mormon or otherwise, that commits suicide because they are not loved by their own family, they don't feel safe in their own home. There should be no more gay children turned out into the streets by their parents or forced to leave.

    This isn't about pointing fingers. It's about looking inside, especially as members of the LDS faith, to how our actions and our words are contributing to the suffering of God's childrens. Or conversely, how are actions are helping God's children to reach their divine potential.

    I hope he's ok. And my heart goes out to him if he's not. I've been there, and it's scary and terrifying. The pressure of being Mormon and Gay is incredibly intense, and it feels like one has to give.

    Many people feel that neither one can give. They go through extreme means to not be gay, or not be Mormon. And while one is a religion and the other is a (mostly) biological fact, they are nonetheless important elements of identity.

    I pray he can resolve this conflict. And that we can learn to love each other without judgment or strings attached, whatever our orientation or life choices.

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  22. Hi, Josh and Lolly. Thank you for this post, and for asking these questions. They are important.

    I apologize if someone already brought this up, and I missed in in the comments. But these exact questions have been addressed by world-renowned researcher Caitlin Ryan, and her work has been tailored directly to applications within the LDS community. It has been award the prestigious "Best Practice" honor for suicide prevention by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. It is not guesswork. It is not something we need to invent. It is the product of empirical research derived from large-population studies. I can't recommend highly enough that anyone who cares about this topic please read, internalize, and share the Family Acceptance Project's educational document written for LDS families.

    http://familyproject.sfsu.edu/supportivefamiliesbooklet

    Thank you.

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  23. I said a prayer for him. I'm not sure on any answers except to just keep doing what you (we) are doing... talking about it. There is strength in numbers. So as long as it keeps being talked about it - it helps those those are struggling with (unwarranted) feelings of shame to shed some of it and make room for hope to bloom.

    Sidreis

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  24. Josh - we haven't met yet but I have been very glad to read of your story - EVEN THOUGH we might not be considered "in the same camp". So many have so much to say. I just want to let you know that as an ex-BYU professor, someone in my 50s, someone who has a profound belief and respect in personal revelation, in Joseph Smith's extraordinary life and the possibility of further revelation at the top end, (and who is now remarried, this time to a wonderful man, for over a year now) I applaud your call to "come together" and do all that we can do for this young man and all the ones that will surely follow.

    I think we have an urgent calling - all of us - to put aside our differences and simply step up to the plate and organize on this - with no agenda! Let us begin to build such common ground. Let us start meeting live in the year to come. Let's get on panels together at Sunstone in a year. We can do this. Through our prayers, our tears, our frustration, our wills, with an eye single to the purpose of CHOOSING LIFE. And beginning to work out what that might mean. As gay Saints. As brothers and sisters in Christ.

    I think it would be almost similar to the story many of us learned along the way about the British and German soldiers during WWI who put their guns down and all sang carols together that Christmas morning. This issue HAS to be our Christmas carol. And it has come time. . . Hope to meet you soon. Martin

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  25. Anon at 10:24 - I believe it is very likely that the church will change its stance on homosexuality. oh there will be screaming and people leaving the church and hysteria but in the end, it will change. When is the question though. when will it change? Not fast enough to save this generation of youth unfortunately. the educating of people on this blog is awesome but it is not enough. It needs to be, as I've written before, from the absolute top to all of the members.
    As a side note, I think that every single person who suggests celibacy for the good of the kingdom should choose to be celibate themselves for their entire lives, even if they are not gay to be role models that this can actually be done.

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  26. You cannot honestly tell someone that G-d loves them unconditionally when you believe G-d would deny them te right to marry, to have children, to be a leading religious figure, etc. it's impossible, as much as some of you want to pretend otherwise. And kids/teens are smart enough to realize that.

    What can we do to save these kids? We can stop abiding by ancient rules and start embracing love. We can stop trying to peddle this nonsense of "some are more equal than others" and start demanding civil law be truly equal. Most of all, we can stop pretending that many churches are not damaging these kids and start getting real about radical, truly unconditional love.

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  27. There was a comment above about church discipline. I know that a church disciplining doesn't seem bizarre to many because they have grown up with it or been around it for so long that it doesn't seem at all disturbing. For some it may seem incredibly comforting to always and forever have parental like figures. But ultimately, it is a form of control. Disturbing. And a church disciplining someone because they are gay is akin to disciplining someone because they are left-handed, which used to be done. And I echo completely what Fresh Hell says - the pretending and defensiveness needs to stop before so that eventually the church will stop damaging kids. All of the defensiveness on here is only so much denial.

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    1. There is no church policy to discipline someone because they are gay. If any bishop is doing this it is not at the direction of the church.

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  28. HE IS CURRENTLY SAFE. A member of the Feminist Mormon Housewives Society brought him cookies and a note full of love from people who'd heard his story. He lives with his family and they have confirmed he's currently alive and physically well, psychologically not so. He has made efforts to make his name unknown publicly so I am respecting that, and I ask that you all do so as well, for those who know who he is. I will send his name and location to Josh.

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  29. Josh while I think its admirable that you're trying to help this young man, I don't think you're helping. I'm gonna be blunt about it; you're gay and you're married to a woman. Do you have any idea what this is saying to that young man? Its saying he can't be himself. Believe it or not, while depressed, you do look to complete strangers for an example. Maybe that was just me when I was depressed, but the mere fact is; hes gay and Mormon. Hes afraid, and depressed. You marrying a woman sends the wrong message to these youth.

    Its saying hey you can say you're gay, you just ya know can't be with a woman. These kids don't want to be with a woman. They know this, I don't speak for all youth I'm sure, but the majority out there want their future partner to be of the same-sex and your example is not helping. What may work for you is not the best choice in this world. The mere facts of gay men marrying straight women is astronomical and show its the wrong path the majority of the time and yet you advocate this. You can say you don't but actions speak louder than words hun. These kids look to others for examples and if they wanted to hear words, they'd go watch a few It Gets Better videos. They want examples of happily married gay couples, couples with kids, couples who have been together for years, and frankly Josh Weed, you are not helping.

    Sincerely,

    A concerned LGBT adult

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    1. There is not ONE solution that is right for everyone. Some will agree with you, hun, but there are also many that have told Josh here on the blog that his sharing HAS helped.

      I am not gay and not in a mixed orientation marraige...but I have been suicidal and from my experience...having many people reach out and assure you that there are people in the world that care DOES make a difference.

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    2. I was angry and I didn't cover that. I apologize, but I stand by my statement of Mr. Weed not helping LGBTQ youth with his example. I can already tell you; as soon as this kid is fine and bandaged up psychological, the hatred continues ok? No one seems to get this. Oh you're there for him when hes suicidal, but after that, you're back to your oh its a sin ways. This is not directed at you, but everyone who is like this.
      Anyone who told this kid that God loves him better damn well not condemn any LGBT people for being in loving relationships because by saying that God loves them, you're accepting LGBT people and acknowledging their relationships. Its fucking hypocritical and needs to stop. You're either against us or with us. I'm tired of this two way street. All of these kids hear Oh God loves you but then from the same exact person after they're fine and no longer suicidal well God doesn't endorse your relationship. No fuck that! Enough is enough! I'm sick and tired of this honest to God lies and hypocrisy.

      I won't be responding again either.

      And if anyone asks, you want to know how I know all this? Because Ive fucking experienced it. Ive had a suicidal friend before and as soon as he was ok, his parents went right back to you need to not live like this. He ended his life five years ago. Thats why its about fucking time things changed as I'm well aware apparantly that this seems to happen a lot!

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    3. I wish you could see that you and Josh are on the same side. Did you read his coming out post? He counseled people to accept their LGBT family members and to let them make their own choices. He is encouraging people to be more loving.

      Just because he has chosen something you don't approve of does not make him the enemy. He did not ASK to be anyone's role model. He simply shared HIS story, on HIS blog.

      All this finger pointing is not going to help young people who are hurting and suicidal.

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    4. Leslie, I think that you're talking to deaf ears no offense. C.B has his mind set it seems :/ I'm not certain how he feels about Josh Weed but the point being made is this; Josh is being used as an example. Ive seen a multitude of anti gay sites and others use him as an example of what gays are to be. Which is wrong.
      And C.B. has a good point; what about after they're not sucidal? Ive never seen a person who was suicidal or the aftermath, but unless those people who do indeed say God loves that child, they better be ok with gay relationships. Otherwise, they may as well be quiet or mum. Its too simple to sit there and say, "Well he was suicidal so I told him God loves him. Oh now that you're ok I can tell you how I feel about gay relationships."

      That's what leads to these kids being sucidal. And yet the cycle always continues. Its just stupid and should end. Christians "should" accept LGBT relationships. I'm not saying you should go out waving a rainbow flag, but honestly, if you can't say anything nice about LGBT relationships, then don't say anything at all. Seriously, your own child might be gay when you say that those who are in such relationships are going to Hell. Yeah way to go mom/dad of the year right there. My point is one's child won't come out and say they're gay, especially if the parent has said such things. ANd then they wonder why their child is depressed. They'll go I never said such a thing or they'll stay quiet about it. Yeah, fuck up world we live in.

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    5. good points, Lee. Unfortunately, when people have convinced themselves that God only sanctions a woman and a man being married or in a relationship, nothing will change that. Well, unless of course the prophet changes his mind, then that would be a go.
      and of course Josh Weed's story is being used all over the place in ways he didn't intend - as I've said before, he's the great gay-but never act on gayness - hope. He says repeatedly that his story is his alone but no, people still use it to say well his story is one solution. Until Josh says that gay relationships are 'okay' this misuse of his story will continue. And he's obviously not ever going to say that.
      It's great that his story has helped some people to realize that gay people actually exist and that people are committing suicide because of the way the Mormon Church has and continues to demonize (literally) gay relationships. But I think the other way his story is being used far far outweighs its helpfulness. It's nice that he is able to be out and, er, proud, now but the collateral damage from it is growing. nothing to do with free speech, speak loud, speak proud! I say but be aware of the damage you are causing, Josh, no matter how lovely a person you are.

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  30. CB has a point there. I figured from the start of all of this that LGBTQ youth would be told to look at/would find Josh's blog and then in many cases (not all) would feel even more despair because they want to be partnered with someone of the same sex. These young people need role models of, as CB said, happily married gay couples, etc.
    Kids are smart - even though it is never explicitly stated on here that Josh married a woman because he believes being partnered with a man to be a sin, it is easy enough to figure out. And now, on top of that, he role models the mixed orientation marriage, so there is even more pressure on the youth who are told to/find this blog. Better they should find a website that is about being gay AND being religious - http://www.affirmation.org/ and that the two are not mutually exclusive. I note that they are having a conference soon in Seattle - hopefully some LGBTQ Mormon youth will be able to find out about this and attend, if they live in the area.

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  31. There is one solution - it's quite simple. Let people be who they are, whether they are gay, straight, bisexual or transgendered. Whether or not it feels unnatural to you, whether or not a particular interpretation of the Bible has been taught to you - just let people be.
    Leslie, your whole first paragraph sounds defensive. Frankly, that seems to be the go-to response for lots of LDS people on here - not all, but many. And I get it and I say that sincerely. Proof is being laid out that shows that the LDS's official response to LGBTQ people is not only deeply flawed but causing irreparable harm many. As such, that foundation is starting to crumble. Scary but necessary if we really really want to save lives. not so necessary if the greater concern is keeping in tact what no longer works.

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    1. With all due respect, the new definition of defensive seems to be "anyone who disagrees with me."

      You say "let people be who they are", but don't extend that to others.

      First you made assumptions about me. FYI, I have many friends both straight, and gay (both within and out of the church). I have gay friends that are in mixed orientation marraiges, some in gay relationships and some are single. I don't base my friendships on people's sexual orientation.

      Have you read Josh's Unicorn post? If so, perhaps it's time to read it again...because he said the same thing you are saying. "Let people make their own choices." And yet, because you don't approve of HIS choice, he's wrong (according to you.)

      Can't you see how defensive and hypocritical THAT is?

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    2. Josh has never once said or written that he believes that the choice to live as a gay person is a choice that he considers a perfectly okay choice. Not once has he said that. And so I extrapolate from that and from his decision to live in a mixed orientation marriage, that he does not believe that living as a gay person is an acceptable choice for Mormons.
      I never said Josh's choice is wrong, not once. I don't think it's wrong at all, although that is the assumption that is usually jumped to. Because if you can 'prove' that I am hypocritical, than you can ignore what i am saying.
      It's awesome that you know gay people.
      And sadly, CB is right - the LGBTQ Mormon youth may well be loved and cared for to help them not be suicidal but the core of what has made them suicidal will not have been dealt with. They will still be told in a million ways that who they are and how they want to live is wrong.
      And if josh doesn't want to be a role model then perhaps he should stop doing interviews, documentaries, etc. His choice of course and no I am not trying to shut down his free speech as i know that will be thrown at me. He should keep it on HIS BLOG as you say. Otherwise, he's the gay-but you don't have to live as gay - poster boy. Which is fine. But it's nnot doing a thing to reduce pressure on LGTBQ youth.

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  32. as a gay 25 year old man, if Josh's ''option''' had been presented to me when I was a teenager, I would have felt like I had no hope. Obviously just my experience but since some on here are emphasizing how this is all just Josh''s experience, I think individual experiences are quite valued on here. I needed - and found - role models who were leading successful and proud lives as out gay people in gay relationships and I found them.
    I actually find Josh's story confusing in the sense on the one hand he seems to say that we should respect everyone's choices but on the other hand he has never come out, as it were, and said that living as a gay person is a valid choice. So I'm not sure where he stands.
    In my opinion, if you want to provide real hope to young gay people, then you be a role model who is living a successful gay life. To me, otherwise, it feels like just more pressure.
    take from that what you will. It is almost lika a bait and switch - we love you even though you are gay on the one hand and we love you but don't ever act on who you are on the other.
    Being gay is not a sin, it is just who you are but i can tell from comments on here that most people on here don't want to believe that. and that is what leads to suicides.

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  33. perhaps something in reformed egyptian will help us to know what to do.

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