I apologize it took me so long to write. Lolly says I have what she calls Post-traumatic-post-syndrome which occurs after I have posted a particularly vulnerable post that gets a lot of feedback, like last time. And then I took the post down. And then I knew I had to post this post, which is also very vulnerable, and so it's taken me a long time to get it right.
It will be divided into several parts
Part I--The same sex marriage post
Weeks ago now, I was asked, after many months of doing an exercise called Friday's Frequently Asked Question here on the blog, what my thoughts on gay marriage are.
I have a policy here at The Weed that I always answer FFAQ questions honestly and clearly--I want people to feel free to ask me anything, knowing that I'll be as transparent as possible. If I can help it, I don't ever want to shy away from a question. That week was no different. Over a year after coming out, I was finally asked about what my thoughts were on gay marriage. In response, I wrote a post that answered that question as honestly as possible, filled with caveats about how these are simply my thoughts at this moment, and that I didn't want them to be given more credence than they were due.
Within a day, that post was already one of my most popular posts.
Within 48 hours of posting, for reasons I'll explain below, I decided to take the post down.
If you've read this blog much at all, you know that I'm a very spiritual person, and I don't usually make big decisions (and yes, a post on this subject falls under the category of "big decision" for me) without consulting with the Lord extensively. The post in question was no exception.
Let me tell you a little bit about the small spiritual journey that took place for me. Hopefully it adequately answers both why I posted that post as well as why I decided to remove it. While I don't necessarily feel that I owe anyone an explanation regarding what I decide to post or not post on my blog, I do feel that this post made enough impact on enough wonderful people who wrote me incredibly heartfelt messages in response that I want them to know why it appeared and then subsequently disappeared. (Or at least, what I know about the answer to those questions, which is admittedly very little.) I'm going to get really specific about my process of prayer and receipt of personal direction from God. Feel free to skip the next few paragraphs if that makes you feel uncomfortable.
I knew from the day my coming out post went viral that the next thing people would want me to talk about was gay marriage, and I didn't feel comfortable about that fact. I feel like questions such as these end up being 1. very polarized and divisive and 2. very personal. I feel that our answers and decisions regarding politics and belief and the like are very private wrestlings, and it is important to me to allow different people to come to different conclusions. I never liked the idea of my thoughts on this matter, which are just as relevant as anybody else's thoughts on the matter and no more or less, being given extra weight by some because of my now-mildly-recognizable name in connection to gay Mormondom. Because of this, I was always a little fearful of FFAQ--I was afraid this would be the question asked, and that I would feel "forced" to answer when I wasn't comfortable.
When the question about my thoughts on same sex marriage was finally asked on FFAQ, I reacted differently than I expected. Instead of feeling an immediate anxiety and a desire not to share my thoughts on the subject as I had felt many times in the last year, I felt instead a measure of peace and a feeling that the timing was right. It just felt like it was finally time for me to talk about this subject--that enough months had passed. I still wasn't sure if I would do it, but that was my gut feeling upon tallying the votes the day of the FFAQ poll, and seeing that that question had won.
Immediately, I began praying about whether to answer the question, and how best to express my thoughts. I also began writing my thoughts in the ensuing days.
As the week went on and the post started coming together, I prayed more earnestly. Thursday evening, the day before the post would go live, I got real. I needed an answer as to whether or not to publish this thing. As I knelt down, I immediately felt an answer: that yes, I was supposed to. It was a surprisingly strong feeling, and very immediate. However, it was also different that most "yeses" I get. Often when I feel confirmation of something, it is accompanied by a profound peace, and often a clarity of thought and feeling that brings tears to my eyes. This one felt different. I felt kind of like there was... more. It was very clear to me that I was supposed to go forward, but there was something else there too--a certain... I can't describe it. It was like static. Or a feeling that the "yes" had something attached to it. I didn't understand what this meant at all. I also didn't feel peace. I didn't feel a lack of peace, mind you, but I also didn't feel that profound clarity that often accompanies affirmative answers. If I had to label the feeling that came with my affirmative answer, it would probably be urgency.
This stuff is kind of hard to describe, but I'm doing my best.
Friday morning, I put finishing touches on the post, had Lolly read it again, and then pressed "publish." And then, in the comment section, there ensued one of the most kindhearted, generous, calm, reflective discussions about this issue I've ever had the pleasure of seeing online. It was seriously remarkable. There were differences of opinion of course, but overall, there was respect and honor to others. I was blown away, and so grateful. I think everyone involved got to do a lot of thinking and exploring in a safe place, and it was really neat.
And then I started to get the messages. Many, many people who have felt disenfranchised wrote me saying that the discussion that was happening, and the post itself, was so kind and inclusive that they felt more peace about this issue than they have felt in years. Some said it was a lifeline, allowing them to rekindle fires of their testimony. Some said that they hadn't felt the spirit in years, and that this helped them feel peace for the first time in a long time. I want to thank every single one of those people for sharing their thoughts--it meant a lot to me. You are part of why I felt I needed to post that post. Of this I am 100% positive.
The next day, the post was starting to spread very quickly. It was already one of my most popular posts, and it was continuing to proliferate. When something starts to go viral, or even mini-viral, and you start seeing the numbers of shares go up by the hundred, there is such a mix of feelings. There is excitement, but there is also dread. There is also a feeling of inevitability. It's very confusing. I don't think human beings are equipped to adequately respond to having their words spread that quickly. On this day, I was feeling all of those things, dread and excitement, as I watched the numbers soar upwards. I wondered if this was why I had felt urgency when I contemplated posting this. Maybe this message needed to spread? Maybe this was something that needed to go viral?
However, that thought never quite sat right, and I couldn't figure out why. I mean, I'm a blogger. I have every reason to want my posts to be shared. The thought of this post spreading like wildfire should be thrilling. And yet, something wasn't clicking.
I listened to conference. I felt good inside. I spent the day with my family and we made delicious monkey bread and stayed in our jammies and the girls were adorable, and we felt enlightened and enriched together. The day was lovely. The sun came out, even here in Seattle. It was a good day. Yet my unsettled feeling continued.
I went to the Priesthood session of conference. It too was wonderful. The messages were very helpful, and the spirit there was enriching. And then, near the end of the session, I got the second part of the answer I had been praying about earlier that week. I knew very clearly and very suddenly that I was supposed to take the post down. The thought came into my mind forcefully, like the second half of a delayed communication. My conversation with God looked something like this (though it was almost instantaneous):
Me: So, you want me to take down the post?
Me: The post you just told me to put up?
Me: The post that helped a bunch of people? That post?
Me: Are you sure? Because it's going viral and that would be really, really good for my blog...
God: Remove it.
Me: But what will people think? What if they think weird things? What if they judge me?
God: It doesn't matter. That means very little.
At this moment, we started singing the hymn Do What is Right. I kid you not. When we got to that singsongy, simple chorus, (Do what is RIGHT let the consequence FOllow...) it was very clear to me that I really needed to do this: I was supposed to remove that post, no matter the consequence. It was right.
When my mind settled on this reality, I felt a profound spiritual confirmation that this was true. It was very powerful. This time it came with the feeling of peace I mentioned earlier--again, as if it were Part II of the answer I had received earlier this week. The post had needed to go up, and now it needed to come down.
I didn't know why I needed to take the post down (I have my suspicions). But I knew I needed to. And I knew I was going to. At that moment, I got a sequence of thoughts in my mind and I wrote them down with the date thinking "I need to be able to look back at this page, this moment, and remember what just happened."
When I got home that night, I told Lolly what had happened. We decided I should sleep on it, and if I still felt this strongly about it in the morning, I should remove the post.
I woke up Sunday morning feeling a near-panic: I knew for sure I needed to take the post down. Removing the post was the very first thought on my mind, almost throbbingly. It was already 9:00am (I got to bed late, okay? Don't hate), and could hear the Tabernacle Choir singing the opening song of the first session of conference. I grabbed my laptop, pulled up my blog, and removed the post, then felt immediate peace.
I started writing a small post explaining what I had just done. But I was also trying to listen to conference. I never finished that post (which eventually became this post, though now it's totally different.)
It wasn't long thereafter that Elder Oaks' remarks came on. And I can't tell you how glad I was at that moment that my post no longer existed on my blog. I don't even know if I can fully explain why. But I'll try.
I'm not sure how to write this part.
This is where things that have existed in my mind and heart for many years must be explained in writing, and how do you take decades of experience and turn them into a few concrete paragraphs that make sense?
This will be a pastiche and a mishmash.
I guess I'll just tell you some stories, and you can piece things together if you care to. I'm getting way personal here. If you are a rude person who wants to leave me nasty hate-grams, I invite you to consider keeping your thoughts to yourself. Start your own blog. I'll tell you right now I'm not going to allow any rude, insensitive comments about some of my most personal stuff to be posted. Sorry in advance.
Here we go.
When I was a 14-year-old gay kid living in a home where my dad was a seminary teacher by trade and in the Stake Presidency of our stake, you can imagine my life was very confusing. I wish I could show you just a glimpse of how confusing being gay as a Mormon teenager is. I wish I could mind-meld with each of you so you could see how disturbing it is to be told your whole life that family is the most important thing on this earth, and to then find yourself, somehow, horrifyingly, attracted to your same gender. It's so confusing. It's so terrifying. It's so lonely. You don't have guy friends to relate to and bond over common sexual attraction because you're attracted to guys. Girls are into guys, and your relationships with them are weird and ultra-close, but somehow not totally fulfilling. You end up feeling very, very, very alone.
Let me take you through some of my youth. Put yourself in my shoes, for a moment.
Imagine being bullied severely at school for being effeminate. Imagine being taunted daily about being a girl in a boy's body, about being a faggot, and being queer and being a pervert. Imagine people openly mocking you. Imagine being thrown in a garbage can. Imagine being pointed at and laughed at and verbally assaulted as you walk down the hall. Imagine people calling you disgusting, not letting you sit by them. Imagine close friends no longer associating with you as unfounded rumors about your sexuality spread through your school. Imagine the horror as those rumors spread. Imagine the rejection, the humiliation.
This is seventh grade. I am 12.
Imagine not being able to form any authentic friendships because most everyone you know has joined in on the bullying. Not to mention that you could never let anyone know what is really going on inside of you--especially now.
Imagine having fantasies that you know are culturally despised. Imagine having secret crushes on the guys in your quorums and your classrooms as the years pass. Imagine that as they tell you about the girls they think are hot, the only thing on your mind is how you think they are hot. Imagine how isolating this is. How confusing it is. How humiliating it is to feel normal, romantic longings and to have them be towards people who could never reciprocate--who would be utterly repulsed to know you were attracted to them. Who might even respond violently. Imagine this awkwardness--the conversations it lends itself to, the moments of going red in the face and wishing you could disappear into nothingness. Imagine changing in a locker room and being sexually attracted to everyone changing around you--how embarrassing that is, how terrified you would feel that somebody might find out. How worried you would be that you'd get your face kicked in if anyone knew your secret--but what could you do? Gym is required. Changing is required.
Imagine how isolated you would feel to know that nobody had feelings like you--that you were an anomaly. Weird and disturbed. Perverted and gross. Imagine how you'd feel as you heard teachers say being gay was "sick and wrong" and heard peers talk about how they'd beat the crap out of anyone they knew was gay. Imagine how scary that real threat feels to a youth. Imagine having nobody to talk to or relate to. No normalcy, no camaraderie, no safe place.
This was my life. This was my daily reality. This was what my adolescence felt like, day after day after day.
Now imagine having a testimony of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Imagine the peace you feel in praying and feeling answers to your prayers. Imagine feeling God's love and true acceptance. Imagine knowing, deeply in your heart through the spirit, that Joseph Smith really did see God and Christ in the grove; that the pages you read in the Book of Mormon are true. Imagine feeling that book's power every time you read it. Imagine getting confirmation after spiritual confirmation that the church is true, is where you belong. Imagine how comforting it is to know you belong somewhere, and the God really does love you.
Now I want you to imagine being this age, at this developmental point of crisis, and hearing some of the rhetoric of decades past about homosexuality. I want you to imagine reading books by prophets, or seeing pamphlets and conference talks, in which homosexuality--this thing that you already hate about yourself, and that you are already terrified of, and that makes you the target of ridicule and abuse--is called an abomination. In which you are told that it is comparable to bestiality and murder. That it is vile and repugnant. I want you to imagine reading, as I did at age 13, about how unfortunate it is that homosexuality is no longer punishable by death as it was in Mosiac law. That the fact that homosexual acts are no longer punishable by death is a sign of the moral degradation of our society. Imagine these words coming from apostles and prophets. Imagine them saying that my sexual orientation is my fault, is a perversion, is the result of my own actions, that I brought it on myself somehow as a 12/13/14 year old Mormon boy who had never even seen a rated R movie, and who grew up in a nearly perfect household with no history of abuse or trauma. Imagine them saying it was the result of selfishness, or that it wasn't real. Imagine them saying that if I just try hard enough it would be taken away, and then waking up every single day to the knowledge that, though I beg and plead and callous my knees at my bedside pleading desperately for that miracle, nothing has changed. Imagine how false those misguided words sound. How painful. How disturbing it is to read, from men I trust and esteem as prophets, that I am evil, that these attractions that I never chose, if I ever acted on them, should be worthy of death. Imagine how this compounds with all of the other trauma and abuse and harassment I am experiencing as a gay youth in this society.
I'm trying to be very, very careful as I write about this. I have decided not to include the specific, cited quotes in an effort not to disparage good men I love. Because I have chosen to do this, there will be a contingency of my readers who will say "that never happened! Those things were never uttered! Impossible." I am telling you, this happened. I am telling you, these were things that I read from our leaders as a 14 year old, coming to terms with my life as a gay Mormon. I am telling you that this is real. Research it if you must, but I promise you will find exactly what I just described. And that is not to mention the litany of horrible things said by local leaders and teachers, and, worst of all peers in the church as I was growing up--each time, piercing my heart, making me feel vulnerable and at risk and scared and horrible about myself.
There is a reason gay Mormon youth have an extremely high suicide rate. There is a reason I often contemplated death as I was growing up. And as I've stated many times before, I had it good. At very least my parents--even though they didn't know quite what to do to help me--believed me and supported me. Thanks be to God.
I'm sorry to take this post to such a bleak, depressing place, but it is in going to this place that you will understand why some of the talks we heard this conference about the issue of homosexuality, while being the current word of the Brethren of the church on this matter and therefore more important to me than any other writings on the subject (including a blog post by a gay married blogger about same sex marriage), are really, really hard to hear for some gay people. Why those words re-open old wounds. Why they feel insensitive. I'm not saying I am ignoring those words. I'm not saying they were wrong. I'm not saying I don't support my leaders. I do support my leaders. 100%. What I am saying is that it is more difficult and complex than you probably imagine for some people to hear things like that. I am saying that to hear declarative utterances about "not condoning" and "tolerance" of gay people brings back decades of trauma for many.
There is a legacy of harsh, incorrect rhetoric coming from the pulpit about this issue. It was rhetoric that caused great distress and/or false hope. That rhetoric, over time, has largely shifted and been corrected, and I'm so grateful about that. It is a miracle. However, as a gay person, or a person who supports gay family members, it can be very, very difficult to hear harsh declarative statements about anything having to do with this issue and not wonder if it is not an unfortunate continuation of that legacy.
I choose to support the brethren. I choose to give the benefit of the doubt. I choose to have faith and be believing. I choose to have patience and allow the Lord time to reveal to his servants that which they need to know. I have good reason for doing this. Doing so has brought great blessings to my life. But what I'm saying is that doing this can be a struggle for some good, faithful people at times--a true stretch--a genuine act of faith. And that's okay.
Recently I was at the gym with my friend Konrad and he said "you have to see this coming-out post of a friend of mine." He handed me his phone and I read it not knowing what to expect, but definitely not anticipating being as moved as I was by her words. I was stunned at their power. I want to share her thoughts with you as they relate to what I'm saying here.
Her name is Emily Stephens. She's in her thirties and is a writer. Her coming out was accidental. She responded to a thread on a group called Mormons Building Bridges, and didn't realize it was open to all her Facebook friends to see. Her words are powerful and very direct. In asking where the post came from, she said she was very moved when a non-SSA member was perplexed at some of the harshness that has surrounded the issue of homosexuality in the recent conference. Here are Emily's quotes below:
Jann...your post's last statement is so penetrating... "...why would the church put up a website about mormons and gays and it have loving language, but the GA's talk about it with such vileness???"
I am active LDS, served a mission, attend the temple. I love to serve in YWs! I love to pay a full tithe! And, I pray every night that Heavenly Father will be merciful and let me die. I've survived being LDS and gay for 13 years, sometimes barely. I figured it out when I was 22. The messages this weekend conveyed to me exactly what you wrote. I must acknowledge that.
I'd like to ignore those talks and only think about Uchtdorf's talk, but I heard their words. My heart has felt their words. They aren't going away. They aren't even new words. It is what has been said for years. I have a testimony of the gospel. So, I don't understand why my church hates me so much. Why do they insist repeatedly that I am vile? Why am I targeted at all? Because I "love" wrong?
I am terrified of people in my stake finding out I am gay. Though I am more than sure they suspect. In the past, I had a loving and compassionate bishop tell me that if people found out, my calling with the youth would be in jeopardy. Just if they found out I am "gay." I have never been kissed in my entire life. Never held hands. I've loved secretly and deeply in my heart, but was taught to do so with the greatest of shame.
It is often suggested that same-sex marriage is the root cause of the degradation of the family--how is that possible? If we are to be discussing vile at Conference, why aren't we talking about pornography, infidelity, deadbeat parents, addictions, abuse, the objectification of women, pregnancy outside of wedlock. And when we discuss those things which truly threaten the family, why aren't we doing so with compassion, asking "how can we help?" instead of the fearful, "how can I isolate my family from the world?"
Jann, I want to praise members like you who are brave enough to ask these questions. I want to thank members who are courageous enough to see the disparity and deeply feel the pain it causes and are willing to succor people like me nonetheless. It is brothers and sisters like you that successfully place my backside in that pew every Sunday to partake of the sacrament. It is you who gives me hope, especially in a place where being willing to see us with compassion is an insurmountable task. God bless you.
She then started being asked why, if things are so difficult as a gay Mormon, she stays in the church. This was the response, which is what I read in the gym that morning that so moved me:
For those who saw my post on Mormons Building Bridges yesterday, someone asked me why I stay:
I doubt just as many others do. I have so many reasons to quit. So, why do I stay?
I stay because I have received a witness of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon, because I believe in Christ's teachings we are meant to emulate, because I believe a 14-year-old boy's prayer was answered by God and Jesus Christ in the woods of NY. I have witnessed miracles wrought by faith and priesthood power. I stay because of the many good works I see. I stay because this goodness far outweighs the bad. I stay because of those kindred few whom I have told my truth that still love and support me.
I stay because I made a promise to Heavenly Father in the temple to keep covenants that I believe in. I stay amidst the consensus attitude of "one must be adamantly against GAY PERSONS or else one is somehow condoning the ACTS of homosexuality" because there are people who have changed and show compassion, understanding, and unconditional love no matter how a person "acts." Christ commanded us to love, not tolerate. I AM my acts. I stay because I believe in people. I believe in the atonement. I believe hearts and minds can be changed. I believe we can improve.
Lastly, I stay because I had no one like me to look up to when I was growing up--that is the loneliest of realities. I stay to give a face and a name, a testimony and sense of humor to Mormon and gay. I stay because I am equal parts Mormon and equal parts gay, and always will be. I stay for gay youth, who like me, pray every night for God to let them die so they don't have to feel this pain. I stay to make a difference, even if it is little.
Absolutely beautiful. In her words, I hope you hear what I hear. I hope you see the sweet faith of a good woman, and the profound pain of one of God's children. I hope you see why empathy needs to trump condemnation; why mercy needs to overwhelm justice; why, perhaps, my post on gay marriage resonated in so many people's hearts. Why it was important to have that post out there for a time, and might be important again at some point. I hope you see why this issue is not cut and dried, why it is rich and complex and complicated and very, very difficult.
There are no easy answers here. I definitely don't claim to have them. I have questions. I have questions and miraculous experiences of my past, and faith. That's what I have.
Part III-- Complexity: part deux
Let me try a few more things to get this very complex set of premises across.
Two more stories:
When I was 13 or 14 I decided to read The Miracle of Forgiveness. Before I "go there" I want to clarify that Spencer W. Kimball is one of my favorite church writers. Reading his book Faith Precedes the Miracle as a youth was one of the formative experiences of my life. The Miracle of Forgiveness itself is a book with a phenomenal premise--that even though we falter and sin, we can be fully rectified through Christ. In so many ways it is a beautiful book.
But, there is a section about homosexuality. And that section says harsh, unkind and in some cases untrue things about this issue. When I read the section about homosexuality I--a sweet Mormon kid with a good testimony--was stunned. It felt like a personal slap in my face. I was so hurt and disturbed by those words I actually took my copy of the book and threw it across the room in shock and horror. I remember feeling betrayed as I watched that book hit the wall. I was so wounded by the words about homosexuality. They were problematic. They made me feel horrible. They made me feel broken and unloved by God. They did not ring with the spirit of truth. This was not a case of "the wicked take the truth to be hard." I had not been wicked. I was just a kid. I wasn't trying to defend a "depraved" lifestyle. I didn't even know what life consisted of yet. I was gay, through no fault of my own. That's it.
I was disturbed to the core. This was a prophet! And he had said things that were wrong!! Things about me!! I got in the car to go to a violin lesson that day with my dad. I was angry. I felt betrayed both by this prophet, as well as by my dad who had told me to trust prophets. "How could a prophet say those things?" I asked my dad censuriously. "How does that make sense? How could he call himself a prophet?"
My dad was patient. He had encountered many things in his career in CES. "He was a prophet, Josh. He changed the world for the better and was an incredible man of God who led the church exceptionally well." he said. "He was also a man living in a culture, and that culture affected his thinking. Some of what he said about that issue was not true. He was a man living in a certain cultural climate, and he experienced imperfection as a human."
In my sophomoric mind that sounded like a complete cop-out. I thought it was balderdash. "But what about revelation?" I asked. "This kind of thing shouldn't happen." My thinking was sweetly simplistic and my faith lacked nuance. It hadn't yet been tried.
Then my dad said something that has helped me many times since then. "Josh," he said, "prophets are men. They are not perfect. And this kind of thing does happen. It has happened for many years in the history of the church and will continue to happen. Your job is to support your leaders. Let God do the job of correcting them in the rare instances in which they err. As you support them, even when they err, you will be blessed, and so will they." It was a hard truth to swallow at that young age. But that conversation blessed my life.
My first direct application of this idea came two or three years later when I told my first bishop about being gay.
My bishop was a good man, of course. Very kind. However, he did not believe what I was telling him. He would hear my words, hear me pour my soul out to him about my struggles, and he would then tell me that I was making being gay up in my head. That there was some other explanation for what was happening. Maybe I just really looked up to the guys I was attracted to. Maybe I had accidentally fantasized wrong and made my brain start to think it liked guys. He would defend his words and beliefs with decades-old remarks of church leaders--some of the same ones that had been so traumatizing to me before. I would say "No, this is real. It's... real. I'm not lying. I'm not making this up. I'm only sexually attracted to other guys. It's actually happening. I promise." He would refuse to believe me.
I can't even begin to tell you how troubling this was for me. However, I really did take my Dad's advice to heart. I knew the church was true, and I knew that my Bishop was called of God. So I went home and prayed. I told God how hurtful it was to not be believed. But I also told him that I would trust my Bishop and support him in his role as my leader. And then I asked, and had faith, that whatever miracles needed to take place in my life would happen regardless of the limitations of that man, who was trying to do his best to serve God.
Over the course of my time with this bishop I:
--was accepted into a church school even though I was open about being gay, and he chose to recommended me with reservations.
--went through the temple
--prepared my mission papers
--was called on a foreign mission even though I was open about my homosexuality in my interviews, and somebody in the process had marked a sheet saying that I was only supposed to serve state-side with the quote "think twice before sending this young man to be with a male companion for two years." (I still have my mission papers--they gave them back to me at the end of my mission--and I still have that sheet.)
Kind of huge, right?
Those things are miracles that greatly blessed my life. The fact that my Bishop had no understanding or belief in me about my situation had no bearing. As I trusted God's servant and moved forward with faith, and as that servant did the very best he could, God allowed the miracles that needed to happen happen. I often think with gratitude of the Apostle who got my mission papers in order to issue my call, saw that it had been recommended that I only serve state-side, and then felt impressed to call me on a foreign mission to Venezuela anyway. His special consideration of my case, and his willingness to listen to the spirit and trust Heavenly Father, touch me deeply to this day. It is something I treasure--the knowledge that if I trust my leaders, no matter what, God will come through for me in the end and things will be what they need to be.
Part IV--Wrap up
All right. Let's wrap this thing up.
If you were one of the people who commented and emailed me about my gay marriage post, I'm so sorry to have had to take it down. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for your support and vulnerability with me. I'm still not sure why it was necessary to remove it (I have my suspicions), but I do know that it was what I was supposed to do. Having written this out, I can see parts of why that was important. It was being taken as a credo or a manifesto, but it wasn't my manifesto.
This is my manifesto. A post filled with heartache and hope and questions and stories and no easy answers and faith. A post filled with my experiences as a gay youth, the pain those caused, the difficulties of grappling with faith and truth and revelation. A post that is complicated and long, but has some moments of clarity. A post that communicates that I, certainly, don't have all the answers. That I, like Nephi, do not know the meaning of all things, but I do know that God loves His children. That he loves all of his children, including his gay children.
This is my manifesto. This is my truth. I don't get it all yet, but I do believe I will some day. And I believe you will too, if that is something that's important to you.
In the meantime, if I had some advice, it would be this: believe. Choose to believe the brethren. Choose to allow the Lord to work through His chosen servants. Choose to believe those things, those spiritual assurances, that you know in your heart to be true. Choose to have faith that the Lord will work things out over time. Choose to believe your faith and to doubt your doubts. Choose to believe that the Lord will hear your prayers of anxiety around these issues, and that he will guide things forward correctly. Choose to believe in His timing. Choose to surrender your will to His processes.
I promise you that amazing things will happen as you do that. I know this because I have seen it happen. This very blog is an example of this happening. It is an example of the Lord working in mysterious ways to share truth. Of the Lord making extraordinary things happen to bless the lives of his children--of him making extraordinary things happen to richly bless my life.
You are part of that blessing for me. Thanks so much for reading--thanks for taking the time especially to read this post! It's such a long, complex one. If you made it through, you are a true trooper and a real friend! Thanks for being here. Thanks for all the support. Thanks for being a part of this beautiful, rich and authentic exchange. Thanks for making the hours I spend writing this blog--pouring my heart and soul and as much of my self as I can squeeze into words--so wonderful. I appreciate it from the bottom of my heart.