Wednesday, October 23, 2013

This is my manifesto

This post is really long. Feel free to skip if you aren't Mormon or interested in Mormonism or interested in the gay marriage post that I took down, or if you came here for a silly, funny post.

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?

God: Yes.

Me: The post you just told me to put up?

God: Yes.

Me: The post that helped a bunch of people? That post?

God: Yes.

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.

Part II--Complexity

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.  
I stay.

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.





238 comments:

  1. WOW. I wish I could. But I can't. Choose to, that is.

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  2. *thumbs up* I think you have shown here that no matter where we each settle our minds on this issue in the end, its a personal responsibility to study it out, think about it, pray about it and make our own choices - not looking to another person (be it blogger or otherwise) to interpret the entire conversation for us. Thank you for being willing to share these raw emotions - I have learned something from your post and you have given me a lot to think about as I become more aware of how I view and treat others. Thank you.

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  3. The pain here is breathtaking. Thank you for being so open. Sending tears and hugs.

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  4. So- I am confused a little bit. Are you saying that you feel the things Elder Oaks said about gay marriage/marriage between a man and woman is not true, and one day God will correct Elder Oaks errors? Further, after his talk do you still feel the same way about homosexual marraige that you previously wrote about? Perhaps I misread your words, but that is what I gathered from your section where you mentioned him. Please clarify. Tahnk you! ...and I'm so so terribly sorry your life was so hard as a youth/young adult. Thank you for staying strong in the faith.

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    1. I agree clarification would be good, but I don't think he is saying Elder Oaks is incorrect. I had my concerns with Josh's gay marriage post and I knew something would be said - even just a sentence or two - at conference, and Elder Oaks said it. For me, I'm glad I could read Josh's post so those concerns could be in my mind when I heard the answer in the words of our prophets. It was an excellent post I could almost agree wholeheartedly with. I hope later Josh does a post comparing what he said there to new understandings gained after hearing Elder Oaks' talk.

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    2. Ditto!

      For what it's worth, I hope Oaks was a little bit wrong about in no way being ever able to justify gay marriage. Because I believe it is a civil issue, not a religious issue. I am ok with the commandments and following them, but I'm not okay with expecting the legal system to share my religious values.

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    3. Elder Oaks is just conveying the inspired message for this day and age, and I believe that this is what Josh means by "choose to believe". It means you can choose not to believe too. In fact, the church would never "dictate" what anyone can or cannot do in civil issues. The article of faith says: "We claim the privilege to worship Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience and allow all man the same privilege, letting them worship where, how and what they may." Wouldn't it be nice if everyone lived according to this rule? Why is it that people that are not Mormons or have chosen to go away from the church would want to change what the apostles of the Church would say? If you don't agree with them, you are not forced to follow. It is really a choice. As far as civil unions go, I am all for it. If two persons of the same gender choose to live together, if the civil authorities want to give them similar privileges as married heterosexual couples, that doesn't bother me a bit. Now when it comes to call it "marriage", then I would disagree, because marriage is between a man and a woman, period. It has been so since Adam and Eve. And I'd also disagree with anyone , being homo or hetero, bringing their sexual issues and explicit demonstrations into the public level, specially in front of little children.

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  5. Josh, my good friend,

    Thank you for writing about these things. Thank you for writing long, difficult posts and for making yourself vulnerable and taking on this struggle. I'm so grateful for your perspective because it has caused me to reflect and ponder and think and struggle with this topic, and I think it's changing me for the better. It has made me feel more love for all of God's children, and perhaps more aware of the struggles that we all face. I can't tell you how much it hurts my heart to think about what other kids did you as a teenager, but maybe knowing about your situation will help me teach my children to be friends to others, no matter what. Who knows how may lives your openness is touching? Thank you, Josh.

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  6. This is what I said about the post:

    "This post may trigger strong feelings or emotions. Before you comment remember this: I'm not posting this to take any position on same-sex marriage. I am posting this to show a new light about obedience to the prophets and personal revelation-- how they both work together, where one is not enough.

    https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2010/10/two-lines-of-communication?lang=eng"

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  7. Beautifully written. This post more than any other has helped me understand a gay family member who is very bitter towards the church. I have been harsh on him in the past for things he says that are cruel about this church I love so much. But now with the insight you have shared I realize that I was wrong and need to show more compassion towards his experiences. Thank you vpfir opening up so much and allowing me into something I have never been able to understand.

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  8. You are amazing. I felt the spirit reading this post and you are such an inspiration. Thank you for sharing your life in such detail.

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  9. Bless you, Josh Weed, bless you!! I have been anxiously awaiting this post and you more than exceeded my expectations in all that you so thoughtfully expressed. Thank you for being so transparent and vulnerable in order to bless the lives of countless others. And thank you for your amazing example of faith, despite facing tremendously heartbreaking trials. I admire you for your courage, your undaunted testimony of the gospel, and your unconditionally loving spirit. You are a true pioneer, in every sense of that word. I wish all the best to you and to your dear family.

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  10. Thank you so much for your words and vulnerability. It takes a lot to be brave enough to address this issue. My daughter is struggling with this issue and the church's stand on gay marriage. I tried to explain that it isn't about not loving someone. I have relatives who are gay. I love them dearly. I try to follow my leaders. Whether or not we agree there are times that we just have to say, "Because the prophet said so." I don't consider that blind faith, but simply faith.

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    1. Is it possible that your daughter can feel the difference between inspiration and 'the arm of flesh?' I know for me, while listening to conference, I could feel the spirit for the most part, but when Elder Oaks made a few of his comments, I felt my heart drop and it was like the spirit was sucked out of the room. I was left feeling empty and cold. But then the spirit returned as his talk continued.

      It's like how Brigham Young would say something amazingly inspired, followed by a horrendously racist comment. The arm of flesh is real, even in conference.

      I guess all I'm saying is that maybe your daughter is on to something. If she can feel the dissonance between, say, Uchdorf's talk and Oak's talk, maybe that's ok. It doesn't mean Oaks is wrong, but some of all the talks are just about the speaker.

      There IS dissonance in the church. If your daughter feels it, I hope you'll help her to feel okay with that. People leave the church when they learn the truth about history and that dissonance (especially if they have been told to just follow all the leaders without praying about it for oneself). If we can help our kids to be okay with that and have faith someday we'll understand it, more people will stay in the church. :) I say all this with love, by the way.

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    2. That's exactly how I felt Alesia! I'm so glad I'm not the only one. The spirit was there, and then it wasn't. I struggled for a few days after since I've never felt that way before (I haven't been a member for a long time). It was confusing and frustrating. I now see that as Uchtdrof said NO ONE is perfect and things can change.

      This was a beautiful post describing many of the things I've tried to explain to LDS friends who are not accepting of homosexuals, and I'm sorry the first had to be taken down. I still support you 100% Weeds!

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  11. First comment, yay! That took a long time for me to read and it must have taken a lot of time for you to write. I worried about you after the things that were said over the pulpit in conference. And what I said in my comment on the original post still stands. You have my admiration for being able to maintain the courage of your convictions and for listening to the spirit to guide and direct you :-)

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  12. Thank you. I am overwhelmed with gratitude for your dad. What a blessing for him to have had the privilege to raise you and you to have such a wise and loving father, and then be able to share that experience to us as a model. I am a youth leader and recently had the opportunity to correct a divisive statement presented to the youth about homosexuality. It was not a popular comment, but I hope that one day I will be there when a youth who is struggling with SSA and identity and faith looks to someone for support and compassion. Thank you for sharing your intimate experiences.

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  13. A beautiful and enlightening post, Josh. Your words do so much good.

    (One thing, I tried to sing those 'Imagine' paragraphs to the John Lennon tune but your scansion, rhyme and meter are terrible! ;) )

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  14. Thank you again for putting a face on this, putting a heart on this really, and for being willing to be so open with such tender topics. Thank you for helping change hearts.

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  15. I didn't get to read your gay marriage post before you took it down, but this post was beautiful. Thank you for sharing such deeply personal things in an effort to help others understand how painful it can be to be gay and Mormon. I also really appreciate your thoughts on following our leaders with faith even though they are imperfect, and that God will bless us for doing so. Thank you!

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  16. Josh. Thank you. You are brave, strong, vulnerable and good. The first one up the trail has to cut down a lot of vines, branches, and go it alone. It is a huge job. I admire you greatly. You are helping me to truly get it Truly, truly understand. I have never been against homosexuality and never bullied anyone, but you have taken me to a depth of comprehension with this post that I haven't experienced before.

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  17. Thank you for this post. Thanks for being vulnerable and honest and compassionate and faithful. My love and gratitude goes out to you and your family.

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  18. Josh, thank you, thank you, thank you. You are truly one of my heroes.Your post brought me to tears on three different occasions. First, as I read of your struggles and ached with all my heart for you. And then as I read your words of faith and vulnerability and realness and marveled at how the Lord was using someone I have yet to meet so intimately and profoundly in my own personal journey. I wish you could know what an answer to prayer you are for me. How deeply the Lord is using you in my life to answer some of my most intimate questions and fears. I can add my testimony to yours that amazing things happen as we choose to have faith in the Lord, amazing things such as you and your blog being brought into my life. The Lord works in mysterious ways. I wish I could give you a huge hug. I wish I could take away all the pain you have had to experience through out your life to bring you to this point. I wish I could mind meld with you (a second time) and show you what your sacrifices and vulnerability mean to me. Maybe someday. For now know that I will always see you as my brother and my true friend. I love you.

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  19. Josh, you are.... I can hardly find the words... honest and good and wise and ... just fantastic. Love love love you! But you knew that. :)

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  20. Oh, my friend. This was absolutely astoundingly beautiful. Thank you so SO much for sharing your life's heartache, fear, pain, and triumph. Having suffered from bi-polar disorder which is mostly stuck on the 'depression' end of the swing, I can relate to and/or understand (about 1/1,000th of) what you have gone through dealing with other members and leaders of the church. (I still feel diminished and slapped in the face by the "12 Steps for Overcoming Depression" written by one of our dear Prophets - a human.) Sometimes it's just easier for me to shut up and let people wonder why my husband sits alone Sunday after Sunday while I'm home in bed. Yet here you are - a veritable Times Square Jumbotron spokesman for the gay Mormon community.

    Thanks for your courage. I'm sharing this post because, although I believe we all have a gay member or two in our midst, your words don't just apply to how we should treat homosexual people. This is how we should treat everyone. God is the only one who knows each of our DNA and our hearts and hurts, but He needs all of our hands to help Him care for one another.

    God bless you and your family.

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  21. As a straight female atheist, I love reading your perspective. Thanks.

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  22. Thank you for your wisdom and insight. You amaze me every time I read your blog. You have helped deepen my compassion for my brothers and sisters and have opened my eyes to being more aware and charitable to the YW I work with knowing that one of them may be struggling with these same feelings of isolation. You are a blessing in my life.

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  23. I have just finished reading your blog (yes, the WHOLE thing) and I am flooded with images of my own youth. Many of the things you shared I sooooo relate to - feeling alone, feeling unaccepted, feeling strange or odd, wondering what I ever did to make people not want around, praying over and over to God to please take me home where I could finally feel completely love and accepted. My reasons for being unaccepted were not the same as yours but painful, none-the-less. At a very young age, I was given a life-saving miracle and that was a testimony of the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ and an undeniable faith that my Heavenly Father loved me with all my quirks and foibles and even when my peers didn't want me around, He did. I had a place down by our creek, away from our house where I would go and pour out my pain, anguish, anger, hope, forgiving, love and faith to my Father who loved me.

    One day, I was going through some old papers and other things in a box when I found a set of scriptures that were my great-grandfather's and, as I was leafing through the pages, I found an article that had been in a newspaper about the Mormons considering giving the Priesthood to the "blacks", as it was put in the title. To the side of the article, someone had written "Is nothing sacred!" and I felt a wave of sorrow at that sentiment. I am pretty sure this was before the revelation about extending the Priesthood to "all worthy male members". That sorrow was turned to great joy when the Priesthood was extended to all male members and I was thrilled that now everyone could enjoy the full blessings of the Gospel and have eternal families, etc.!

    The reason I share this is because I believe God is working miracles for his children but He still has to work through men. He still has to overcome our beliefs and prejudices before He can get us to allow those miracles to happen. For centuries or longer, those with dark skin were thought of as sub-human or unworthy and it took eons for that belief to finally change and allow so many miracles to happen. What has happened because someone of color was given the chance to show their gifts and be treated as an equal. Dr, Martin Luther King is my hero, among many, because I, too, have a dream much the same as his that we can all just be brothers and sisters in their most perfect forms and love and honor and believe in each other. People of color had no choice in their race, color, heritage, whatever and each of us, black, white, yellow, or any other color of the rainbow have good, bad, saintly, sinner, etc in us. Research is beginning to consider that perhaps same-sex attraction is also not a choice, that it may be genetically determined. Do I believe that? Does it matter? I don't know. What does matter is that I love my friends and family who are straight, gay, black, white - I love them and because I love them as my brothers and sisters, I try and extend that to the rest of the people who are in my circle and have been brought into my life for one reason or another.

    All I know is, when I die and come before the Lord to be judged, I hope the movie of my life clearly shows how I loved my fellow brothers and sisters and did all I could to show them and my Father how much I loved them. Amy Grant sings a song about wanting people to say she has her Father's eyes. Here is the chorus and what I try to make my manifesto.

    "She had her Father's eyes,
    Her Father's eyes;
    Eyes that found the good in things,
    When good was not around;
    Eyes that found the source of help,
    When help would not be found;
    Eyes full of compassion,
    Seeing every pain;
    Knowing what you're going through,
    And feeling it the same.
    Just like my Father's eyes,
    My Father's eyes,
    My Father's eyes,
    Just like my Father's eyes."

    Again, thank you so much for risking so much to put this post out there. It has helped me to examine my own feeling and recapture my testimony. Good luck and please, keep posting!

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  24. Thank you so much for posting this. I've been wrestling my feelings on this topic for years now. I don't know exactly what I'm going to do, but I've found two principles to hold on to.
    1. I believe in God and in prophets.
    2. I will seek to do no harm.
    If it turns out I've swung too far the way of kindness, then I'll deal with course corrections as they come from upstairs. But those are the two principles that I find most important.

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  25. Thanks for always being honest and respectful. I felt a lot of things reading this post, but the take-away for me was to trust God and know that He loves me. Thanks.

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  26. I really never comment on blog posts. (Now I can say almost never I suppose...) I read your whole entire post. :-) I didn't even read the post you put up and took down. And I don't even have anything that original to say. I just feel like I need to say--Way to go, Josh. Way to be vulnerable. Way to put into words what so many feel but are afraid to say. I was in tears reading the whole post. I am so grateful for thoughtful people who are willing to be honest about life and pain and spirituality. I think we grow up thinking life is so black and white in the Church. Or at least that it's supposed to be that way. But there really is a lot of grey! I have a lot to say about lots of issues, but, like you mentioned, generally tend to keep those opinions within the confines of my own home. Probably a reason I don't comment on blogs! But I just wanted you to know that I back you up! Thanks so much for posting.

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  27. So well expressed. I thought of you during general conference after reading all of your posts. Thank you for your sweet and proofound testimony.

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  28. Wow, wow, and wow! Thank you for all of this, but especially your testimony of the blessings that come from following our leaders despite their flaws, and trusting in God. Thank you for following your promptings. If the reason you took the post down was so this post could happen, then I have seen God's hand at work.

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  29. Wow. This post was truly amazing and inspired. I felt the Spirit the whole time while reading it. Thank you so much for praying and working so hard to say the things God would have you say. You are doing wonderful things. I know it, because I have felt the Spirit multiple times reading your blog the past year.

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  30. Thanks for sharing. I read the whole thing although I never read the original post. But I appreciate your perpetual desire to be honest and open and genuine in these exchanges. I am neither Mormon nor gay but I am a leader in a fairly conservative denomination so when you allow us the privilege of sharing parts of your journey as a person of faith who is also gay, it helps me understand ways that I can help challenge my church to be more compassionate and it challenges me to minister in different ways that speak to the needs of my gay members. Thank you

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  31. You amaze me. Thank you for being an example of what it means to hold on to the truth, without using it to vilify others, and being so honest about the reality of the blessings and hardships that come with such convictions.

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  32. Thank you for your post. I loved the examples of how the Lord works miracles even when the leaders are flawed. I'm so sorry for all the pain you had to go through. The mom in me wants to reach out and hug that scared young man, I'm glad you had such good parents. Thank you for showing your pain so others can learn, I learned a lot.

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  33. Josh, you are amazing! I read the first post & my husband & I (an attorney who loves discussing the legal ramification of things, including gay marriage) spent at least an hour discussing this topic. During conference I thought of you & I'm so glad you've shared your experience with conference & the process you've been going through to receive answers.

    I admit, I have a really hard time understanding homosexuality. It's such a complex thing that I can't wrap my mind around (similar to the polygamy issue that occurred in the early church). It just doesn't make sense to me. I know many good people who are homosexual & as I've had an opportunity to read your words, I've come to a better understanding of the complexity of the issue. You're right, it's not cut & dried.

    Thank you for sharing your testimony. I agree with so many others--you have an amazing dad. I hope I can be that kind of parent. God bless you & your family for your courage, your taking the time to share & articulate. Your words have touched my heart & I really appreciate the insight & perspective you offer the world.

    (also, I think your wife is pretty amazing, too.)

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  34. I agree with all these comments. As taught (again) in Conference, the doctrine is all truth and love and it never changes. The Church teaches the doctrine, at times changing policies or correcting the course to best meet that objective. Being administered by humans, it gives us all the opportunity to practice the gospel of love and forgiveness and thus grow more like God together. That is one of the deepest beauties of the gospel, in my eyes. Finally, Mormon culture sometimes doesn't have much to do with either the gospel/doctrine or the Church.

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    1. I love your comment about Mormon culture!! So true in so many ways!

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  35. James 2:13
    For judgment will be merciless to one who has shown no mercy; mercy triumphs over judgment.

    Matthew 12:7
    But if you had known what this means, ‘I desire compassion, and not a sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the innocent.

    New American Standard Bible.

    :)

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  36. I have been blessed by reading this today. While everyone is entitled to their own opinions, very few put them "out there" for the world to see. You have been brave, honest, and thoughtful in everything you have written. Thank you for sharing your thoughts from your own uniquely-special perspective. There have been so many who have been blessed and taught by your honest, spiritually-prepared and insightful posts. You are AWESOME, Josh!! And so is your adorable family!!! Thoughts and prayers with all of you!!

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  37. Beautiful. As a straight LDS woman I have been struggling with many things about the gospel for the past few years. Most telling to me was after my 10 year old son watched "42" and the topic of gay marriage came up. I asked him what he thought about it. He immediately replied that it was kind of like Jackie Robinson being discriminated against and that just because our church doesn't agree with gay marriage we shouldn't force other people to believe it too. Hard to argue with that logic. This will help me explain a little better.

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  38. Josh,
    I have never commented
    BUT
    You are amazing! You make me a better person. I am not gay, but have some friends, and often direct them or their parents to your blog.
    I know that our Heavenly father loves ALL of his children. ALL. And is saddend by the ones who cant find it within themselves to love others. The 2nd commamdment tells us to love others. It does not say we get to pick and choose who and why we love. Thnaks so so much for bringing light into the world. You make the world better.

    Kellie J
    A devoted follower

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  39. That paragraph about choosing to believe...that is why I stay. Listening to Elder Oaks' talk was really damaging to me at the time. Since then, I've had some really good experiences that have shown me that this is not an all-or-nothing. More than anything, I've had it pointed out to me that this Church has only been on the earth for less than 200 years. That is young so far as religions go, and so the opportunities to interface with world culture have been limited..the chances to develop nuance in approach to social issues isn't as evolved as it is in certain other religious faiths. I have hope that the fear-and-persecution mentality will not be pervasive forever. I have hope that groups that have not been kind to the Church (like some gay folks were over Prop 8) will not poison the Brethren's well forever. I stay because I want to witness to others that you can be OK with gay people and civil gay marriage and also be a fully active, fully worthy Latter-day Saint. Thank you for your example of faith in spite of circumstances. I am pretty sure I couldn't have done what you did in choosing to sustain your bishop in spite of his basically calling you a liar about something VERY sensitive to you. Thank you for sharing the blessings that came into your life as a result of that choice. Thank you so much for all this entry says about perseverance and endurance. You are blessing lives with your courage and candor!

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    1. As a fairly new member of the church (3 years now) one of the things I've struggled with is accepting that I don't agree with the church's stance on everything. For some reason I have felt really bad, and even guilty, about that. Now that I am a temple recommend-holding church member I have felt even worse. Reading Josh's posts ( I saw the first one as well) has freed me from thinking that I have to, a. feel bad about it, and/or, b. that I am the only person that disagrees with the church's stance on some topics (and that it doesn't make me unworthy!!!!). This particular post above, where it says that it is ok for me to be supportive of gay people (loving, kind, not judgmental), AND to feel that marriage is a civil issue and not a religious one is a relief to me (only temple marriage is "religious" to me). For years and years I couldn't put into words why I thought the gay marriage debate was so silly. Josh's post about it was the apple that fell on my head! DUH!! I'm also going to go out on a limb here and "out" myself and say that, frankly, I don't care about what consenting adults do in their own homes (gay or straight) and think that maybe fear has influenced our ancient writings on the topic of sex. Just as we believe the prophets of today are revelators but yet are still influenced by their own opinions and experiences why is it so out of the realm of possibility that the ancient writings we base our church doctrine on couldn't suffer in the same way? News flash. . . the ancient prophets were real people too!
      Josh, you are so brave. Lolly is too. I admire both of you so much for being a voice for the topic of gay marriage. I am not gay but I have a family member that is and that is going to be getting married to her partner next year. In my opinion there is no good reason for them not have all the legal benefits that my husband and I have. Keep up the great posts Josh! The serious ones, AND the funny ones. Well Done!

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  40. I was extremely touched by the post you took down and am glad I was able to read it before it was taken down. I'm also glad that I get your posts in email format so I can go back and re-read it. :) Thank you for sharing your experience!

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  41. Oh, Josh.
    Words fail. Thank you for pointing out the brokenness of this world, the way it hurts those whose sexuality doesn't fit into the "right" boxes, and at the same time, pointing out how God works through His people- broken, limited, sinful as we are, sometimes in spite of the harm we do. A friend of mine committed suicide nearly a decade ago. A few weeks after his death, a priest friend sent me a card with Julian of Norwich's words "[God says]“I can make all things well; I will make all things well; I shall make all things well; and thou canst see for thyself that all manner of things shall be well.”" This is the only answer, and you proclaim it well here.

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  42. You know, Josh, I have been reading your blog posts faithfully for a while now. And reading them became a stepping stone for helping me go "back to church," and to find the peace and hope I had denied myself for a while. But nothing had, until this point, helped with one of the main reasons I had left in the first place... I did not agree with the standpoint the Church took in regards to my gay friends (some of who are some of the best people I know), and their right (or not) to marry, just like any of me heterosexual friends. It really bothered me. Still does, to a point. And it is a very hot topic between myself and some family members. We are on complete opposite ends of the spectrum in that debate.
    However, This family member have come to a sort of understanding... we listen to each other's view points, and can respond with reflection and understanding, rather than criticism. Its helped our relationship a lot. To the point, really... I am now seeing I can apply this same sort of understanding to my relationship with my Heavenly Father, and Church leaders. And this post has really helped me to see that, while we may not agree, I need to put my trust in the Lord, and support him and his prophets, apostles, and leaders of the Church. I can see how those blessings could come, even if you both do not agree on the same thing (and I understand it is so much more than just disagreeing on this).
    I plan on getting down on my knees tonight with my daughter, and thanking Him for everything we have been given, and the insights he has given me into things. And to know that it is more than ok for me not to understand something our leaders tell us, and even more, ok that I don't agree with it... as long as I support those leaders and trust in the Lord.
    Josh, thank you so much for this post. Thank you.

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  43. I read the original post, I hated General Conference, and I found joy in this post. I don't even personally have to deal with these same issues, but the crazy Utah Republican culture and how it permeates our Church Leadership drives me batty. Your perspective is a blessing to me. I too have a testimony this is the Church of God on earth today. Grateful for it and for friends like you who carry me through the times I question whether it's worth remaining in such an unChristlike culture.

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  44. Wow, I can't believe I read the whole thing! ;) But I'm glad I did, and yes a little disappointed I didn't get to read your other post before you took it down. I'm so glad that Konrad connected you to our friend Emily - I thought of you as I read her FB posts those couple weeks ago.

    When Prop 8 happened, a friend of mine challenged me to a conversation where I would speak, in his mind, for the whole Church. "I dare you to defend this" he said. "Don't you have a say in what your church leaders do? I mean, you pay tithing, right?" he actually said. It was one of the most difficult conversations I've ever had. But it all came down to this: At the end of the day, do I believe Thomas Monson is a prophet of God? If I do (and I do) then I have to trust his prophetic words no matter what my personal issues are, no matter what the subject is. And as I said it, I knew I believed it in a way I didn't think I had in me. Yes, to choose faith is a powerful thing.

    I cannot thank you enough for being so open and honest and real about your experience. In my calling as a YW leader, your and Emily's words and testimonies are infinitely helpful; I will never know what it's like to be a gay Mormon youth, but your experience may help me to help those I serve with greater compassion.

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  45. SUCH a great post. Thank you. You don't know me, but you have my full support and warmest love. Thanks for writing all this out.

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  46. I just want to give you hugs after reading that. Big virtual hugs. Thanks for the courage it took to share that Josh. I already commented on your FB page.. but I still wanted to share here. Just to give as much support to you as I can I suppose. Being vulnerable is hard. But it can change hearts and deepen understanding. So... thanks. You're awesome.

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  47. I am grateful. Truly, deeply, grateful for you. I am grateful for your family, your faith, your courage. I am grateful for the love that Heavenly has blessed you to feel. I am grateful you know you are a son of God. One who has a great mission and is fulfilling it remarkably!! Thank you!

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  48. Beautiful, beautiful post. Your honesty and vulnerability are incredible.

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  49. I wish I had more friends like you.

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  50. Wow, Josh! I know I've said it before, but I am continually impressed by you. You have really opened my eyes up to these issues, and I respect you so much for what you are doing, and the spirit in which you are doing it. I truly feel that you are an ambassador, and are doing so much good. You have my full support.

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  51. think you have done what you can do given the situation that you are in - a gay Mormon man hearing from his leaders, who he believes to carry the word of God, that gay marriage is wrong for everyone. Your choice I guess would be to leave Mormonism or to cling to the hope that one day, one day . . . You, Josh, are strong enough to do that and I admire that. But I honestly do not know about the many other Mormon gay men and women out there, I do not know. Had you kept the post up about your support of gay marriage - that would be akin to leaving the church, would it not?
    I hope that those not as strong as you, Josh, are able to not kill themselves. Brutal butt true.

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  52. Your honestly and vulnerability are amazing, Josh. Thanks for sharing all this.

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  53. Wow! I relate to so much of what you relate here. Growing up in a conservative part of California (Bakersfield), I was surrounding by homophobic remarks at church, at school, and everywhere. I read the miracle of forgiveness and felt so confused. Why was a prophet of God saying such horrible things about me? I'd never done anything. I was just a confused 17 year old with a testimony of the gospel.

    I went on a mission and was very open with my leaders about my "same-sex attraction." I was called state-side, though I have no way of knowing if that had anything to do with my call (I suspect it didn't).

    There's a lot that happened in between, but to be brief, I got married eventually and got divorced. Once I came to a place inside that I said "I'm gay" I couldn't be with my wife anymore. And she couldn't be with me. It was difficult, but now I'm happier.

    It's been great to see your journey wrestling with these issues. They are difficult and divisive. Keep struggling with them, keep praying, and I think you'll have the answers you need.

    If you want to read about more about my story, it's at thecrazymormon.blogspot.com.

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  54. Man, Josh. It took you long enough. Sheesh. ;-)
    Loved the post. I also loved the gay marriage post, but this one is far more important. You have articulated some very important realities very clearly, and there's a great potential for opening minds and hearts here. Thanks again.

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  55. You couldn't even get through your first few paragraphs, without an obvious lie, Mr. Weed. Do you seriously think people are gullible enough to believe that after you published your original propaganda piece (carefully timed right after bigots filed petitions to force Washington's marriage equality---not "gay marriage"---law to public ballot), nobody asked your thoughts on "gay marriage" for a full year? Nonsense. Others have given first hand accounts of asking you much earlier, and told of how you REFUSED TO COMMENT. Your deception is almost as repulsive as the alleged "therapy" you inflict on young people with "unwanted sexual attractions," per your advertising copy. Disgusting.

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    1. He said in this post that he did avoid the question because he wasn't quite ready to answer it. People look up to Josh and he took it seriously and waited until he was ready. That's not wrong or a lie, its actually incredibly smart and patient. Most people throw out an answer before really even educating themselves or praying about it.

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    2. I find it very sad and surprising that someone, (Nick Literski), could read this entire heartfelt, and heartbreaking post from such a sweet, kind, and honest person (Josh) as he shares his deepest heartaches, trauma & struggles as a child and youth, etc., and then actually proceed to continue the cruel judgements, name calling, and disrespect. Some bullies never grow up.

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    3. I have been around for well over a year now and I can assure you that the gay marriage question was asked many times in the comments section, but it was never a winner of the FFAQ contest. It really didn't win. And I posted some questions and was freakishly obsessive about watching the "ditto" tally all. day. long :)

      You, Nick, might also want to find Josh and Lolly's video post about reparative therapy and how they do not support it and do not think it works.

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  56. It takes a lot of courage to put yourself on display like that. I respect that.
    I am one that has fought long and hard to preserve and strengthen marriage and families. I donated to the proposition 8 campaign to protect marriage. I have donated to other similar campaigns in other states. I have a conviction stronger than my desire to live that it is in the best interest of all, straight and gay, to preserve marriage in the form that God instituted in Eden.

    That being said, I have also fought long and hard to stand up against bullying and a general sense of "mean-ness" that so many direct at gay folks.

    I have struggles that have been extremely difficult and I empathize with the feelings of loneliness and isolation. The lesson I have learned is to listen to and seek to understand others. Everyone is coming from a place that only they know and everyone deserves respect.

    Do I believe homosexuality is sin? This is where the bulk of the debate gets screwed up. What is homosexuality? Is it attraction to the same gender, or is it acting on that attraction? The brethren have made it very clear that we are not made guilty by what challenges and tendencies we face in life. Rather, it is how we choose. Without diminishing your own personal struggle, this holds true with any number of struggles people face in life. The pornography addict is not condemned for his natural attraction to nudity. It is the choice to indulge the desire that brings the condemnation and thus the need to repent.

    Good thing we have Jesus Christ or we'd all be doomed.

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  57. Thank you so much for sharing this with me. I am not gay myself, but I have been in the arts for many, many years and have many close friends who are and who wonder about how I can believe in the church and support them at the same time. This was helpful in expressing some of the thoughts I've had but haven't been able to quite articulate.

    Even more poignantly for me, though, was the way I saw it connecting to other areas of my life that aren't really strictly related to what you wrote here. I am an adult single woman with a successful career and not a single boyfriend to my name. I'm pretty independent and find myself quite often wishing for more clarification and understanding on women's issues in the church. For example, I wasn't allowed to be endowed until I was 25. Waiting to go through the temple was one of the hardest things I've ever done in my life. I hated going to do baptisms and seeing my students there. I hated watching all of my friends go on missions (when God had told me to go teach instead) or get married and to sit patiently outside the temple while they covenanted to be together. I hated feeling like a decision that should be made with careful thought and prayer and understanding of my commitment and faithfulness was shoved aside simply because of my marital status. I never had a bishop talk with me about why I wanted to go to the temple before the recommended (but not required) age. I never had a leader sit down and really try and understand the thoughts in my heart and my intention. It was horribly hard. Since then I've been fascinated by women in the church and the role that they play. I've wanted so badly to feel more connected to women in the Bible (of which there are few) or in the BOM/D&C (of which there are even fewer) or, better still - with my Heavenly Mother. But talking about such things leads - in a similar way to homosexuality discussions - to incredibly vicious name calling. The discussion boards and commentaries on the Ordain Women movement were terrifying to me.

    Ultimately I've come to the conclusion that I know the church is true because it has blessed my life. I know God loves me because I have felt it more times than I could count. I have also learned that one of the most challenging thing members of the church can learn to do is to be compassionate to each other. For some reason we find it so much easier to be compassionate to our non-member neighbors, but we have so little tolerance and love sometimes for the people who are right next to us in Sunday School stretching what Tennyson would call "blind hands of faith" out and begging someone - anyone - to understand.

    So thank you, Josh (and Lolly) for sharing something so personal but beautiful. I have all the admiration in the world for the care with which you treat the opportunity you have to make a difference. I feel so uplifted and determined after reading this post - determined to be a better member of the church, a better daughter of God, and a better friend to everyone no matter their circumstances. There should be no such thing as the "other" in the gospel.

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  58. Josh----- If I said I Love You from the bottom of my heart--- would you think that was strange??? I have a daughter who refuses to talk to her dad and I because she struggles with the gay issue and the church--- at one point she gave me and ultimatum-- give up my membership in the church--to prove my love for her-- or her... I prayed for strength and patience but after a week she cut us both off and hasn't spoken to either of us for years-- and we miss her dearly-- I am proud of you and impressed by your strength and courage-- I can't fathom how awful your youth years must've been for you---thank you for sharing this with me --

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    1. As the mother of a gay son, I just wanted to send a quick (but heartfelt) cyber-hug in your direction. I am so sorry for the loss of your relationship. I am so grateful that my son and I have been able to maintain and even strengthen our relationship since he came out to me. I know that this is often not the case with other amazing and loving families.

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  59. I read your gay marriage post and then noticed when it disappeared. I have been waiting and waiting for your reply and so when I finally saw that you posted it I read every word. You articulate the complexity of this issue well. When my kids get a little older I will have them read this post so they can understand how difficult this issue is for people who are in the middle of it, living it. You are brave. It is easy to see that you are here on this earth, at this time for an important reason. Thanks for sharing your story, Josh.

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  60. Everything has pretty much been said by other commenters, so I will just add my own "thank you" to this list. God bless!

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  61. I read your gay marriage post and then I noticed when it disappeared. I have been waiting and waiting for you to post again and so when you posted this I read every word. (I have little kids at home so it took a long time. :) ) A lot of people in this world have a hard time trying to figure out their purpose in life, even some of us Mormons. Where best can we serve? What can we do to influence people for good? How can I make a difference? Well, it is easy for me to see that there is a reason you are here and how you are making a difference. You are a pioneer in every sense of the word and you articulate the complexity of this issue so well. I am grateful that you can help people like me understand how difficult this is. You are so brave and when my children get older I will have them read this post so that they have a greater understanding and compassion for those in your situation. Thanks for your courage.

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  62. Wow. I've never commented before even though I thought about it many times when moved by your words. But someone always had said what I wanted to say already and that seemed to be enough. It's not this time! This was so powerfully written and moving. Thank you for sharing your experiences and thoughts and feelings. They meant so much and even if I am echoing what others have said I wanted to make sure you knew this time.

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  63. I hope this doesn't count as a negative comment :) I am a life long Mormon from a family that was full of pedophiles. I have lived a not so virtuous life and have been a single mother for 23 years in a culture that makes me feel guilty about all of it. Even Emily Stephens' post brought up "children out of wedlock" as "vile". (I actually had my 1st child within the bonds of marriage, but my 2nd was a product (I hate that...product?) of my [by then ex] husband essentially raping me.) I don't know what it is like to be called an abomination, etc., but I do know what it is like to hear talk after talk about how single parent homes aren't good for the children, or how I should be actively seeking marriage, or how I wouldn't be in the situation I am in if I had been a virtuous woman who held out for a returned missionary instead of settling for the first guy who wanted in my pants. I know what it is like to sustain the very people who make me feel "less than". In a way, it is a lot like my childhood, with my parents. I love them and desperately want them to be proud of me and support me, but they don't. Having Bishops and General Authorities who I love and admire tell me that my "family" isn't "real" because there is just one parent is just as hurtful, but I love and admire them anyway. Keep up the good work, and some day (I hope) there will be a time when we all will meet in the middle, with just a Christ-like love for each person as they are instead of criticism for what we think or feel (or in some cases what we don't think or feel about these "abominations" and "vile choices").

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    1. I'm incredibly sorry for all the times you've had suffering piled on top of suffering through people's ignorant and meanspirited behavior. It's admirable that you love them in spite of it.

      I agree re: "vile"; it was a very unfortunate comment, and I hope and believe that the Weeds and their commenters don't endorse it.

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    2. You are a perfect example of how we need to be careful to not make people feel less than when we talk about the "ideal." None of us are part of everything "ideal," but there are many groups that feel particularly isolated during religious discussions. We need to all just stop it.

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  64. I've never commented here before, but I read the blog regularly. Thank you for being real, and for telling the truth about your experiences as they have been for you. I and many others support you and especially other youth in the same situation.

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  65. P.S. and about the very human Bishops and other leaders...I still sometimes have a hard time understanding why God gives them inspiration to put people in a calling when He had to have known what their weaknesses are. I knew a family that had a father who sexually abused 4 of his daughters before and while he was in the bishopric (their story is in the book "Secrets" by one of the Yorgansons). Why was he called to such a position? How did such a "wicked" person come to "power"? We may never know in this life, but one thing is for sure. We are all human, from that abusive man to Pres. Monson, and we are here to learn and make mistakes and some of our mistakes can hurt other people. Just because someone is "in power" doesn't mean they have reached perfection. At least that is what I have had to tell myself.

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    1. Its because the calling was/is NOT a revelation or inspiration. That is the simple honest truth. Don't try to justify it. Its horribly wrong.

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  66. I have been reading your blog since hearing about your coming out post. I love this post. I am a Utah mormon and I do not think gay people are bad. I think you deserve to be loved and have all the same rights as anyone else. I think every gay person should have the right to make their own decisions about life. I applaud you for sticking with your beliefs and not following what your body wants you to, but what your spirit and THE Spirit tells you to. I think that it's probably the hardest thing that gay people can do - to resist that very strong attraction. I've seen many people choose to move away from the Gospel, to follow the attraction to those of the same sex. Again, I feel that they should do what they want and it is not our place to tell them what they should do. The only time I do have a problem is when someone tells me what I HAVE to do. It was my understanding that part of prop 8 was teaching in school, forcing all religions to allow it, etc. I'm not ok with that. Even in my family, my views do not match theirs. They don't agree that gay marriage should be allowed. I say, why not? Isn't that what freedom is all about? We have become a society that forces our views on everyone else, no matter what they may be. I think it's time we all live amicably and just agree to disagree. Love your neighbor, whatever their race, sexual preference, or religion.

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    1. Melissa, Just to clarify, Proposition 8 was created by opponents of same-sex marriage to eliminate the rights of same-sex couples to marry. During the times prior to the proposition passing & after it being deemed unconstitutional, when same-sex marriages were and are recognized, there has never been any "teaching in schools" or "forcing all religions to allow it". I just want this clarified because this seems to be the general impression many LDS members who have not actually researched the issue. Same-sex marriages are now legally recognized in 14 states, and I have never heard of any of these states "teaching in schools" or "forcing all religions to allow it".

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  67. I check nearly everyday to see if you've posted a new blog post. I love reading what you write and the posts either make me laugh or make me think, really hard. I worried alot about you after you pulled the last post, and several times sat down to comment on an old post to tell you it would be ok. I didn't though...hoping you would tell us what happened. This post today was incredible. My heart aches, bleeds for you and the experiences you had as a youth. I know there are members of our church that struggle - and I wish I knew who they were so I could tell them that they had my support. I am grateful for your willingness to share. One thing I can tell you - the answers so far to this post are far more deeply thoughout and spiritually touching that the comments on the post you took down. Take care, my friend, and keep up the good fight. You have SO many friends that love and support you and your family!

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  68. This post helps a lot with a story I'm developing about a bishop and a lesbian in his ward. Thanks for sharing.

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  69. This post helps a lot with a story I'm developing about a bishop and a lesbian in his ward. Thanks for sharing.

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  70. Dear Josh
    I wish I could reach into this Internet and give you and your wife a big hug. And, wherever your dad and mom are, they deserve a huge one too. Thank you for this! I've read it all the way through, and cried a couple of times. Way to be! You are a pioneer, and I hope many will follow your example.

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  71. I've been reading your blog for a while now, and I always cry when I read of your pain. But I'm a straight female - I've never felt the same pain you have. But - the way you write, it seems to touch on all sorts of pain, and you walk so gently and tenderly through it, that it brings solace to me to see your courage and faith in such harsh and painful situations. Thank you for being so real, so loving, and so understanding of the nature of suffering that it resonates in my life as well. May you always be blessed for sharing your great gifts.

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  72. AuntSue
    Thank you. You always give me so much to contemplate. I really appreciated that earlier post, and I am glad you continue to follow the spirit. Love to you all.

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  73. I met with my Bishop as a 16 year-old, finally courageous enough to talk to him about my father's abuse and neglect. I was so timid that I could hardly share anything. What I was able to communicate was dismissed, with my Bishop using my father's personality to rationalize the neglect.
    Walking out of the Bishop's office, I was heading into a sea of dejection. However, before I could take more than a few steps, I felt a message in my heart. I could feel God speaking to me. God communicated to me that my Bishop didn't understand and probably wouldn't be able to understand, but God told me that HE knew me. He understood me and He would make things right for me.
    I cherish that experience. It has been a source of strength for me in my own personal experiences and has also helped me to seek my own level of understanding and compassion.
    With this knowledge and through other opportunities I've had for growth, I have realized that people speak to their personal experiences. I have been taught in my heart and my mind that those who speak negatively or harshly just haven't had the right experiences yet. And when I find myself disagreeing with someone else, I remind myself that it's possible that I may not have had the experiences I need yet to understand at their level.
    It's critical that we seek personal revelation and individual understanding so that we can feel the truth we are seeking.

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    1. Thank you for posting this personal experience.

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    2. "... just haven't had the right experiences yet." "It's critical that we seek personal revelation and individual understanding..." I find this profound and beautifully worded. Thank you.

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  74. The other commenters have already said it all, but I'd just like to add my own personal "thank you." God bless!

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  75. My heart aches for the young you. I cried while reading this. I've read your blog for awhile, but out of all your posts this one made me want to embrace gays more than ever. Before you were just a gay guy who suffered some teasing and awkwardness like the boy from Glee, but this post made me really, really understand what a young gay Mormon feels. I'm so sorry.

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  76. All I can say is thanks. The mind meld would certainly be more than most of us could truly bear. I understand better, and I thought I had some insight. I have a feeling there's a universe more to understand about this and look forward to further enlightenment. Meanwhile let us all love our neighbors as ourselves.

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  77. You're an amazing man, Josh Weed! Thank you.

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  78. You are doing so much good in the world, for me and for others. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

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  79. It is interesting that i read this tonight. For a long time, this issue has been sensitive to me. I left the church at eighteen and in the time i was gone, met very awesome gay people who forever battered my life. Parts of me are hesitant that it was because of the churches previous stance on this issue and all the stories of abuse these wonderful people have experienced by lds members that i have prolonged coming back. I appreciate these words more than life itself.. thank u for giving me some ability to feel respect for the church i have missed..

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  80. I was able to read your first post that you had to take down regarding your thoughts on gay marriage, and while I did not comment at the time, I found it very profound and it resonnated well with how I personally feel. And now, after reading this amazing and inspired post, with tears running down my face, I simply have to tell you something. I don't know you personally. I have never met your family. But you and yours? You inspire me. You inspire me to be a better person. To have empathy for those that do not walk in the same shoes that I do. And, most importantly to me, to choose faith. I appreciate that more than I can possibly express, so from the depths of my heart, thank you.

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  81. Oh, Josh, I just want to hug you right now. Thank you so much for sharing this- it needed to be said, definitely. Sending love.

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  82. I keep hearing that what to do about this issue, as a gay Mormon is something that I have to pray about and study on, and come to my own answer about. But I don't have an answer, not from lack of praying and questioning and studying. I wish I had your certainly.

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    1. This is pretty much exactly what my son said to me last night. I can't offer you support or certainty... but I wanted you to know that you aren't the only one :)

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  83. Well, Weed, I don't think I'll ever completely understand where you're coming from as far as sticking with the LDS church, but I feel you've explained it to me as well as anybody possibly could. I'm closer to getting it than I am before. And I hope you don't get any crap from people for not being supportive enough of the "Lord's anointed" because you've said it far more diplomatically than I ever could or would want to. I had a convo with somebody just a couple day ago in fact about how I disposed of my copy of The Miracle Of Forgiveness, but that's a story for another time. ;)
    ALL gay youth, LDS or religious or not, need somebody in their corner. Childhood bullying is a terrible terrible thing. It can seem impossible to escape the effects of it. I'm sorry you took down your initial post but I'm glad that you feel comfortable with your decision. This is first and foremost YOUR blog.

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    1. I'm a 6th grade teacher. Last year, our 6th graders were walking back from a field day we had at a neighborhood rec center. A couple girls came to me telling me their guy friends were calling them lesbians. I walked over to the boys and said, "First, these girls are your friends, so I don't know why you are teasing them and attempting to insult them. Second, there's absolutely nothing wrong with being a lesbian, so that shouldn't have any power to insult. And again, there's absolutely nothing wrong with being a lesbian."
      That was the first time I'd uttered those words in that type of setting. I have a few close friends who are gay, and so I've concluded that already. However, I'd never said it aloud like that before. It felt so powerful and so true. I'm glad I could have that experience, and I hope that I not only reached those students, but I hope that I was overheard by someone who needed to know they were loved and okay.

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  84. You are a good one Josh. I wish there were more people like you and your wife in the world because it would be a heck of a lot better! Thank you for opening my eyes to this very, very complex issue. Thank you for helping me see that I can be a faithful member of the LDS church but also support gay marriage. Thank you for helping me to look beyond the label and look to the person's heart. Thank you for being so vulnerable and allowing us into your heart. Thank you for being so brave and talking about this very heated topic because it is something that needs to be talked about. Thank you for being such an example of FAITH to me. I cannot even imagine going through what you went through as a youth in the church and remaining faithful. There's no way. I was not that strong. My life was so cushy compared to yours so it was easy for me to stay in the church. What you did and what you do every day is NOT easy. You and your wife are golden. Thank you for being such a light to all of us. You will never know the impact you have had.

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    1. I come here, even anonymously, because I don't want to imply my significant other who is not ready to come out as Josh did, to tell you there might be a lot more like Josh and Lolly out there! You just haven't heard about it because they have chosen to keep their struggles private, and that's their choice to make. I am glad Josh and Lolly are ok to post it to the world, because it might be a great example to those that are still trying to hide, be it for fear of rejection or lack of courage to face their issues openly. I just keep the faith and good works in the hope that, by the Second coming, everything will be known, open and justified! I wish I could hear more from Lolly, because sometimes I do feel alone in my struggles, and it feels like no one knows what I go through, and there's no one to talk to, since I must respect my husband wishes to remain private. It is nice to know that there are others out there. Thank you!

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    2. Anonymous - As I read your statement here "sometimes I do feel alone in my struggles" I got a lump in my throat and my stomach did a flip flop. I am also married to a man who is not choosing (at this point in time) to come out - although he is out to a few select family/friends. We have been married for 30+ years and have been through a lot (to say the least) and we are in a wonderful and amazing place in our relationship and marriage now. My heart goes out to you, please know that you are not alone and that I would be happy to communicate with you through email, etc. Just go to our blog to get my email address and don't hesitate to contact me whenever you need a friend. idefineme.blogspot.com

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  85. I don't really have anything to say that others haven't already said, except that I truly can't imagine the amount of courage it took to write *this* post and publish it for the world to read. Thank you.

    And although, as you said, it's impossible to encapsulate a lifetime of experiences within a few paragraphs, this is lovely writing. :)

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  86. One of the most beautiful and yet hardest posts to read. Thank you for being so open and honest and spiritual always. I'm all choked up thinking how hard it is to figure this all out, and wishing there were some simpler way that made more sense and included anyone. Thanks for keeping up my faith with your unwavering testimony. You are, as always, such a light in this world. Thank you!! <3

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  87. Josh, you definitely deserve to have post-logging distress disorder with posts of this beauty, vulnerability and value. I am one of those who has always tried to choose love but had no direct experience in the area. I have always been uncomfortable and spoken out when I say any sort of unkindness toward someone--and to pick on supposed sexual differences seemed particularly heinous. But for the rest, I am being educated by you and others daily. My experience (and I was a dark, race "other" teenager reading every African-American book in the library before the "all worthy males" revelation and a female teen during the "no equal rights amendment" era) is that in almost everything God seems to have these two opposites (help people, don't run faster than you can--for an inoffensive example) and in exploring the tension between them and trying to find a balance is where we develop spiritually. I am so sad when I read about the pain you have experienced. Thank you for being willing to use it for greater understanding. And I too--even as a teenage burning with 'justice for all' and confused over differing messages in a much milder way than you had to--I knew that my faith was real, that things had happened that made sense in no other way than that God exists, came to Joseph Smith and all the rest. Keep on (and if you need to take a long break after this post you richly deserve it!)

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  88. Dear, dear, Josh. Thank you so much for writing this post. Thank you for working on it so hard. Thank you for praying so much and so often. Thank you for listening for guidance. Thank you for being such a great model and teacher of how to do all of these things and more. May your life be FULL of blessing!

    I'm neither gay nor LDS. But yes, I have prayed to be a vessel of what the world needs and yes I've been perplexed about where that has sometimes taken me. The actions that I have taken and how they appear.

    Thank you for this testimony to the power and techniques of true faith. I don't know if I can live up to it all of the time, but is so great to have a gold standard out there. For all of us. Regardless of our religion, gender or sexual orientation, or, I guess, a whole bunch of other apparent differences that seem to differentiate between who we all are.

    As I close and want to thank you again, it occurs to me that my name means "to give thanks", so maybe that is an essential part of why I am on this earth.

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  89. Josh, I disagree with your sentiment that homosexual individuals should stick by the church no matter what, that they should choose to believe despite the pain. I honestly think that if the church is true but flawed because of the arm of the flesh, then God will completely understand those who leave the church because those flaws are hurting them. I think He uses people like you, who can accept and live with those wounds, to file down the jagged flaws that hurt His children, and if that's to be your life's work then truly you are a great soul. However, I think there needs to be understanding that some people simply cannot continue to believe while the flaws in the church are cutting holes in their souls. And we should not encourage them to stay and "choose to believe" despite the hurt they feel.

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    1. I think that people should do as they please to feel safe, and loved, and protected. But I think the protection and spirit that comes by living the church far outweigh the bad times. (or it should). I think if people stay close to the gospel they will find great peace and comfort, and further their relationship with Heavenly Father. Heavenly Father is the person that understands us each individually as if we are written on his hands. He knows us, he knows how to reach, us, how to comfort us, how to communicate with us, and what we each need. Yes, we can sympathize with those who leave the church because of the faults of man- but that's why they are leaving. Heavenly Father doesn't want them to, he wants them to draw near unto him. I think encouraging people to leave the church is a poor idea because then they become even more confused and slowly separate themselves from Heavenly Fathers love and comfort. I do agree that if people are in degrading circumstances, they should remove themselves- whether it be finding another ward, ect. But leaving all together only wounds the person and wounds Heavenly Father.

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    2. Thank you for saying this. I didn’t want to comment on it for fear of being presumptuous, as a nonreligious person, but the “choose to believe” message could well be used to encourage blind faith. Those who work for change from the inside deserve kudos, but no one should compromise their conscience or well-being for the sake of being “faithful” to leaders, whether in religion or politics.

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  90. My gay BFF said that Elder Oak's conference talk was "Hate Speech." I didn't feel any hate in his talk, but the comments wounded me nonetheless. How do I reconcile loving my GBFF and loving the Apostles? How do I address the issue of gay marriage as an active Mormon woman who loves gay people and loves the Family Proclamation? How do I balance my position between truth and error? I don't know. I like this the most about your post-- "I don't know" is an okay answer for now. I wish I knew, but I don't. Not now anyways. :)

    Hugs to you. I shared this post on FB. I have many staunch Mormon friends who could benefit with the compassion inoculation contained in your post. :)

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  91. Thank you. Thank you, thank you. Your words touched my heart on so many levels.

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  92. Thank you for letting us look into your heart - this was a beautiful post and helps those who haven't struggled as you have gain more understanding and empathy for those who have. God bless you and your family - you are awesome!

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  93. I, too, weep for your teen-aged self (although it is my belief that anyone who survives the 7th grade deserves applause, if not a medal, and that the horribleness of PE class is a leading cause of obesity in America today.) You have given a very egregious example, but there are other examples of people mistaking others' circumstances for their actions. I read recently that during her captivity, Elizabeth Smart was tormented by lessons she had been taught in which a girl who has lost her virginity was compared to a chewed piece of gum that nobody would want. Yet her situation was caused by circumstances, not her own actions. There are other religions that preach this sort of doctrine, but a Christian religion should not. I was a teenager in Washington, DC during the conflict over the Equal Rights Amendment. There were people at church who seemed to feel that the only way to protect young women from the evils of 'feminism' was to firmly stomp them down where they belonged. I'm still puzzled how some people can proclaim that Men will be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam's transgression, but Women should be punished for Eve's sin, and I get to help.

    From this and other experiences I draw the conclusions that 1) Mortality is REALLY hard and 2) the human race is REALLY far from perfect.

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    1. Don't forget 3) that it is amazing and wonderful how people who experienced horrible, horrible things can still come to realize that their life isn't ruined by such things, and can gain healthy self esteem, can still love others, and can still find joy in life. As evidenced by Elizabeth Smart who said "I want them to know that these things do happen, but that doesn't mean that we have to be defined by it for the rest of your life. You can move forward and you can be happy."

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  94. Josh, in my opinion, this was the most amazing post that you have written. I LOVE reading your posts and I love that you can make me laugh after a rough day, but this was the most beautiful, heartfelt, and spiritual post that I have ever read. I have my complications with God and my belief in him is nearly non existent, but when I read your posts, all of them, they come with a spiritual feeling that I cannot deny is from God. This post brought that spiritual feeling in flames. It burned so deep and it took every ounce in me not to cry (I made the mistake of reading this at work). You really did put your heart and soul into this post and I am so grateful you did. You have put this so beautifully and eloquently and had the courage to make it so personal and were able to share it with the world, to people you don't know and have hopes to touch people like me. I don't support Gay marraige, but I do support Gay people. I don't like to judge others because I know they are children of God and they go through their own trials. I know that if I were judged I'd be condemned for half the stuff I've gone through and I don't want to be seen that way, so I don't want to see others that way. I cannot imagine how hard it was for you to write this post, but I know that you have helped and touched so many people's lives especially mine. Thank you so much for writing this post and for writing this blog. You have no idea how much your words have inspired and helped me out. Thank you.

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  95. Thank you. Sending gentle hugs and much support.

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  96. Hey josh. I'm so glad I finally got to read this post. You have made me think about being gay, gay marriage, and the church more then I ever thought i would in my life. But I have to thank you for opening up and sharing. Along the way I have learned a great deal in this experience of finding truth. I thought I knew where I stood on the subject. But then I had to think again. I search and read and thought and pondered. And finally I realized that I was just a prayer away from getting my answer. It was a deeply spiritual experience for me and I did receive an answer for me. But also learned that it might not be the answer that someone else would get. But for me I knew what I needed to do. So thank you for your first post to get me thinking and thank you for your second post that just reassured me that my answer was correct for me in my life. Thanks to both you and laurel (I always called her that...I know...going against the grain). Thanks for opening up and sharing to give the rest of us the chance to be pointed back to our Heavenly Father for the answers only he understands. Thank goodness for a loving and kind God.

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  97. I'm really touched by your honesty. I can't relate to all of it, but I can relate to the honesty.

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    1. I love people who are able to find common ground as a place for conversation starting :)

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  98. Thanks for this amazingly personal insight into your experiences as a youth. As one who occasionally said careless and even cruel things about people with SSA as a youth, please know that we were also just kids who were trying to find our way in life. Many of our less sanguine actions were driven by cravings for acceptance and fear of those that might be different. Nor were we immune to harshness from our peers, since youth tend to be very unkind toward anything that doesn't fit into their understanding of the cultural norm.

    I also appreciate insight into your connection with Divinity; although, this kind of thing is very sacred and personal. The revelatory processes you describe ring true to me, especially since I can readily draw personal parallels.

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  99. Abused wives used to be counselled (and some still are) to stay with their abusive husbands because their husbands were human and inherently good and held the truth. An abused woman, on average, returns seven times to her abusive husband. Part of it is that being with her husband is all she has ever known, her core belief, as it were. She makes excuses for her husband, she rationalizes, she has cognitive dissonance. Folks accepting and excusing and rationalizing their own oppression is sadly all too common. I can imagine 40 years ago a black Mormon writing a blog post similar to yours, if blogs existed then of course. Josh, was there not even a tiny part of you that took your blog post down because you knew that you could face discipline if you kept it up?

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  100. This probably won't make it through your moderation, but I urge you re-post your article. God did not tell you to take it down, as that is the easy thing to do. Why would he urge you to take the easy way? You convinced yourself to do that and you should not discredit your own agency. As you said, humans may not be equipped to handle the idea that their words are reaching so many hearts but I think you can.

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    1. It might be generally presumptuous to tell another person what God did or did not tell him to do.....

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  101. Thank you for writing this. You are amazing.

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  102. My friend and brother, Josh,
    Thank you for being respectful and direct. Thank you for saying what you mean to say in a polite and conscious way. Thank you for asking for and acting upon guidance from our Heavenly Father. Being able to listen for the promptings of the Spirit is one of the greatest things that we can learn in this life and you seem to be doing pretty okay at it. You have such a wide influence and I am so glad to know that you speak from the heart without any hidden agenda.
    You help me to believe in a place where respect and love expand into the eternities. I can't wait to meet you there someday.
    Love and prayers,
    Anna

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  103. Truly glad that miracles happened for you. However, you probably realize ha for every miracle that happens in one person's life, there are many miracles ha are not happening in other people's lives, even people who have lived lives as well as you have lived yours. This seems to be the nature of miracles, and likely why we are told that miracles should be private. People begin to question why they do not receive the miracle.

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  104. I love what you have written and you have explained yourself very well. The only thing that isn't sitting very well with me from the post as well as some comments is that many are saying Elder Oaks was incorrect or what he said in his talk was just him as a man speaking and not from God. I believe that when an apostle speaks in general conference he is speaking as a Prophet. I felt the spirit very strong during Elder Oaks talk. I know what he said was correct doctrine I believe is coming from God. So whole I sympathize with those that are hurt, and I can feel the sincerity or your comments I do support and sustain what set Iaks taught at conference. I am not sure if your intention was to question Elder Oaks or give others a reason to believe that what he said was error coming from just a man who isn't fully enlightened yet, but that is a feeling I got while reading. The doctrine is never going to change on this issue. I guess the real question to ask is "what is the perfect course for the church to take? How do they fully include homosexual members? How can the church avoid causing the hurt you described while still maintaining the doctrine that marraige is between aan and women? What is the answer that would satisfy both the doctrine and the homosexual members? Is there an answer??

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    1. Before the blacks received the priesthood, people insisted that would never happen too. Prophets said it would never happen. God can change. It has happened and will happen again. That's why there is revelation.

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    2. God is not going to change on this issue. It would disrupt the entire purpose of the plan if salvation. It is simply not going to happen in this case. And this really can not be compared to blacks and the priesthood. This issue is at the root of gender and procreation and those are not things that can be changed. There is a difference between changing policies and changing eternal doctrines.

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    3. I'm with you :) I re-read Elder Oak's talk after reading this post, and was confused what the problem was. I didn't feel it said anything unkind or that it contradicted the church's "mormons and gays" website. I feel Elder Oaks is saying that even if the laws of the land change, we have covenanted to live according to God's laws.

      If people want to believe the doctrine on homosexual relations will change, then that's fine. But one thing is clear: it hasn't, as reaffirmed by Elder Oaks' words.

      I really do appreciate this blog as it has indeed opened up my mind to understand how those with SSA feel, and has caused me to evaluate my words and actions accordingly. It's horrible to hear the bullying that resulted from this for Josh and for others. I'm very, very, very sorry to hear that. Such behaviour is not consistent with the gospel of Jesus Christ.

      It is also very inspiring to hear the strong testimony Josh has and that the two - testimony and SSA - can co-exist. Thank you!

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    4. Before the blacks received the priesthood, we were taught in the church that they would someday be given this opportunity and I remember how the news that that day had come brought rejoicing to everyone I knew. Our faith will be
      tested by the standards of the "world" - yet we can be assured that The Lord loves every one of His children and those who love and trust Him will receive blessings greater than we can imagine with our limited view of life and the eternities. If we humbly and prayerfully follow Brother Weed's example, we too can receive answers and assurances that can enable us to move forward in continued faith until we have a more full understanding of His Great Plan of Happiness for us.

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    5. I thought the same thing while reading this. I went back and re- read elder Oaks talk and never felt any "hate speech" in his words. He is an apostle of God and while he certainly is not perfect, his words were clear. Marriage is between a man a woman. End of story.

      However, that being said, I want to tell Josh how much I appreciate him sharing his story (seriously brought me to tears!) It has made me recommit myself to loving all of God's children more. I hope everyone can learn from what he saying and we can all learn to love one another a little more and judge one another a little less.

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  105. Thank you for being willing to share such personal, heart-wrenching experiences. As an older adult, I was taught --and believed for 50 years--a very different reality. Because of posts such as this one, my thinking has changed, my empathy and compassion have increased, and I am grateful. May the Lord continue to bless you as you bless others...

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  106. Amen...as a square peg always trying to fit in a round hole this post was moving on so many levels.I too choose to doubt my doubts and remember that even though some of God's prophets and God's commands seem incomprehensible God does love ALL of His children and so should we. Thanks for the reminder Josh!

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  108. I read your post this afternoon and was moved to tears. You gave me words, no matter how inadequate you might believe them to be, that expressed emotions for me that I've been wanting to find words for since my childhood. Thank you.
    Is there some way, at some time, I could talk (or Skype) with you? I have things I want to talk about (not a confession, more like a 5th step sharing of a 4th step inventory).
    Your posts give me the hope that you would understand, or at least accept without condemnation or shame, some of my life experiences that have happened to me.
    Thank you for your posts and for your courage to make them.

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  109. Powerful stuff. You're a good person, Josh.

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  110. So beautiful. Thank you so much for taking the time to put together your thoughts for us to read and learn from. What an unselfish thing to do. I'm amazed at your perspective and your willingness to follow promptings!! Amazed! Thank you for being so close to the spirit and for being such an incredible example of faithfulness. And I'm sending so, so, soooo many hugs for your teenage years. Reading your experiences broke my heart. Know that you are absolutely LOVED. Thank you. <3

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  111. Josh, loved this post on so many levels...thank you for being so vulnerable and sharing details of your experience growing up in this culture, and the faith that you maintained with it (even when questioning things on your own). I admit, I had gotten the chance to read your original post (and loved it/found peace in it with feeling o.k. to feel the way I do regarding the issue) and during conference, immediately flinched/became upset during the infamous talk. My next thought was "I wonder what Josh thinks after he just posted about this on his blog?" (no pressure :) But guess what? That whole experience led to THIS blog post being written, and I needed to read this one even MORE!

    You may not remember me, but I was in one of your group therapy sessions this time last year with some other wives (does "panic attack" ring any bells? :)...and had some of my own experiences with a well-meaning/loving bishop that really put me off/set me back this last year. It was basically one of those talks of "YOU need to be doing this and this and this and this, oh and don't forget about THIS...EVERY DAY/month"--as if me taking on all of those items at once would "fix" the situation completely (and put most of the burden of my spouse on to me...as if my faith alone would heal him). Instead, it became too much all at once, and I've taken a year break away from church. Compound that with my own struggles in trying to understand the church's stance on homosexuality and some other cultural issues, and it's been a hard year on my usually steadfast testimony (although a good year, personally).

    Your faith and testimony in the gospel has bolstered my faith...and lit a fire under me to get back to what I know is true and that I love...the pure gospel. And that my faith will reap rewards, even when I don't understand everything.

    And as a heterosexual member, thank you for giving personal insight into the kinds of things our homosexual kids/teens/friends/family members go through...encouraging me to be even more diligent and advocate for those that I love...to stop this kind of bullying behavior, not only in the world...but in church culture (i.e. the "think twice"comment on your papers...UG).

    Thanks for sharing. <3

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  112. Wow. I'm only half way through, but wow. Thank you Josh, for your painful and beautiful and spiritual honesty

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  113. Your experience with posting and unposting made me think of something I heard recently. God will never answer our prayers as "No". He will always say one of three things: 1) Yes, 2) Not right now, or 3) I have something better in mind.

    Thank you for sharing something so personal with all of us.

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  114. You are awesome Josh. I did see your other post before you took it down, and I agreed with you.. I really appreciated this post too (yes, I read the whole thing. :))

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  115. Josh, you are a stellar example of first-person faith. To choose to believe when it is hard is so much greater than to choose to believe when it is easy. That goes for this and many other issues. "This life is an experience in profound trust--trust in Jesus Christ, trust in His teachings, trust in our capacity as led by the Holy spirit to obey those teachings for happiness now and for a purposeful, supremely happy eternal existence. To trust means to obey willingly without knowing the end from the beginning. To produce fruit, your trust in the Lord must be more powerful and enduring than your confidence in your own personal feelings and experience." http://www.lds.org/ensign/1995/11/trust-in-the-lord?lang=eng.

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  116. I was able to read your previous post and am grateful I get your posts e-mailed to me so I can refer back to it as I feel you expressed my feelings better than I am able to. That being said this post is more valuable to me.

    I've been struggling with my feelings towards people that hold leadership positions in the church. I was raised to believe that while people are not perfect God would not allow their imperfections to permeate their calling. I'm 23 and since moving out of my home and becoming a bit more educated I've come to the realization that many of my original beliefs about the LDS Church (not the LDS gospel) are wrong. I have trust issues and the only way I was able to get through interviews alone in a room with a man I didn't know was by holding on to that belief I was raised with. How can I ever trust them again? How can I trust them with my children in the future? I've also been struggling with some of the words said in general conference as I feel that they dis-empower women and contribute to the very real problem of sexual abuse this church struggles with. Friends and family have been expressing concerns that I'm losing my testimony and "treading dangerous ground" when I express these concerns, but what they don't understand is that it is because of my testimony in the Gospel and Christ that I am still here and an active member of the LDS church.

    Your experience with your bishop is comforting to me. It's comforting to think that a person could still be open to revelation despite their personal beliefs and mistaken comments. Your trust in this church's leaders is inspiring to me, and I hope that someday I will be able to be as brave/strong.

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  117. I am glad you keep being your authentic self. Can't ask for more than that. Carry on and let your light shine! It was powerful to read about your experience as a youth and I am glad that you shared. Thanks for taking time to explain your "taking down" of the past post :)

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  118. Wow. Just wow. I literally have no words. This is absolutely perfect. Thank you.

    I just had one thing occur to me which was this: the words spoken by the prophets and apostles are for the good of the general church membership. Maybe Elder Oaks' words were important for someone to hear. Maybe that particular council applied to certain members and doesn't apply to others. Because we are all so different and have such different needs, and because the Lord teaches us through human beings, the only sure way we can know which of the words in General Conference are for us, is by listening to the words by the Spirit. Maybe that's why some of the commenters felt the Spirit withdraw during parts of Elder Oaks' talk; those messages were not intended for them.

    Something I'm still thinking and wondering about...

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  119. God has used you in a way that you may never fully understand. I'm currently walking the same journey you did early on in your life, and I can only hope that one day I can be as big of a blessing to someone else as you have been to me. You and Lolly are truly two of the godliest people I have ever had the pleasure of encountering in my life. God bless your family, and God bless those who struggle!
    -Andrew

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  120. Josh, you are so awesome. Your faith is seriously incredible and encouraging. And I'm so glad to know you and Lolly and see the example that you two are. The example of love. The example of honesty. Of outstanding parenting. Of living the gospel. This post could reach and help so many people....not only people who are gay. This shows how to really have faith in your Heavenly Father...how to REALLY see the big picture. Not just YOUR big picture. I feel like so many people can get caught up in the details and imperfections of men, and this really helps move beyond that and know that Heavenly Father is guiding you. That He knows exactly what's going on...and that if you have faith, he will bless you. Thanks for this. Also, use that faith of yours to make sure Steven gets into the residency program in Seattle.
    -Kayla

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  121. I earned my Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology from BYU (and am active/faithful LDS), and I admire so much your vulnerability and heart. I sense you truly want to help others who feel as you did. A word of caution, clinician to clinician: please be careful. I can tell you recognize you're on a journey just like everyone else and your future isn't written yet, but in your eagerness to help others find joy, I hope you can also step back and evaluate how your message is being received by earnest gay men and women who find your message of great sex, emotional intimacy, and a deep, rich faith ever so appealing. And how tragic they will feel when, despite their best efforts to work and pray as hard as you have, they are still in pain and lonely. While I respect your efforts to reach out to those who are hurting, I imagine you can see how messages can be conflicting when you directly advise to support the Brethren and in your John Dehlin podcast use disease model language about gayness (weakness, issue, imperfection, struggle). You know yourself better than anyone, so I would advise you to listen to your John Dehlin podcast with an ear particularly for inconsistencies in your language and how your message might be perceived by a desperate, suicidal youth or young adult who desperately wants what you have and has been trying for years but with no luck. Or a man in a MoM who has followed your blog posts religiously for hope, but cannot achieve the same deep love and connection he feels for his wife than he does for men. Would your words, over years of disappointment, lead them to positive or negative self-evaluation? Sorry for being a shrink in the cheap seats, it is you who are doing the hard work, and I sincerely wish you well, wherever your journey takes you.

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    1. kristymoney -

      you, with your Ph.D, should know better than to arrogantly recommend, (from one shrink to another), the things you are suggesting here to Josh. I have no Ph.D., but my instincts and common sense tells me that suggesting Josh's words could possibly 'hurt' someone, while foolishly ignoring the fact that his words could possibly 'help' someone else is one sided and narrow minded. Please open your mind to the big picture here - only God will know how many Josh hurts and how many he helps.

      I personally feel that Josh is truly inspired and through his honesty is touching many lives for good, and probably saving lives as well. You are judging Josh, his words, and his choices unfairly. Even in assuming he needs 'your' advice you are attempting to limit an amazing human being who, if the truth (through God's eyes) were known, it may be that you could literally learn much from him, insights and attitudes that might help your psychology practice and you personally as well. It might be good to take a step back from your 'education' and accept the realities of life - complicated, beautiful, full of amazing people with individual things to offer.

      When a very close friend of mine committed suicide, a counselor told me that when a person commits suicide there is no one to blame - no individual on this earth has to carry the burden of blame for another person choosing to end their life. That final choice is 100% on the shoulders of that person (and only God can judge in the end).

      Personally, I believe that we, as a society, need to empower the suicidal youth, not protect them. We need to help them see that they have all sorts of options, that there is hope, that living their life, believing what they believe, and enduring to the end, IS THEIR CHOICE. Those who truly want out of their life and circumstances bad enough will do whatever they're gonna do - no matter what anyone (including you and Josh Weed and I) has to 'say'. Hopefully, with your expertise, you realize that the bottom line is in the individual's ability to cope with their life - that is ultimately out of anyone's control. I believe (IMHO) that the very best thing for a suicidal person is to know and believe that they have 'options', and 'options' is all that Josh Weed (and people like my husband & I) are offering. Just as our name here suggests, in the end each person has the responsibility and right to DEFINE THEMSELVES.

      You have recommended Josh to reread his words, but I beg that you rereaad your words as well. you said "would your words, over years of disappointment, lead them to positive or negative self-evaluation?" - I wonder, about the words you utter regularly to your patients (not to be rude), but I wonder if your own attitudes, beliefs, and opinions might also cause "positive or negative self-evaluation" as well. Ot course - certainly they will,... that is life, that is reality. I pray that you will keep doing your best and respectfully allow Josh to do his best as well.

      No one has ALL the answers - not I, not Josh, and not even you.

      PS - I say these things with all due respect for your expertise and education, and acknowledge your right to your opinion here, to me it just seems narrow minded and arrogant, --- so I 'choose' to share my opinions as well. God Bless

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    2. I Define Me, has Kristy edited her post since you replied to it? Because I feel as if we read different comments.

      I thought her words were supportive, gentle, helpful, and as far from arrogant as could be. To the contrary, therapists like Josh and Kristy are trained to do the things she mentioned: Be careful how your message comes across, because messages that help some individuals hurt others. Be aware that individuals have varied experiences and achieve discordant results. Evaluate your advice in the light of contextual factors, such as religious homophobia.

      Where did she make a judgment about how many people he is helping or hurting? Where did she say or imply that he is not doing good? She simply asked him to be careful to avoid inadvertently harm, giving examples of potential inadvertent consequences that she foresaw. Even if you disagree with her examples of consequences, it is reasonable feedback to offer anyone who publicly speaks or writes about a social issue.

      You say that offering advice is to “attempting to limit an amazing human being.” By the same logic, aren’t you attempting to limit Kristy by advising her not to offer her advice?

      It’s all well and good to say that the final choice of suicide (or another action) belongs to the individual, but the fact of the matter is that we human beings are deeply affected by everything around us, including one another.

      I also can’t see where Kristy claimed to have all the answers or to be better than Josh. Again, I’m almost wondering whether we read different comments. I thought her comment was beautifully written, and I seriously can’t imagine how she could have phrased her suggestions any more kindly.

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    3. Shayla thank you for your words of support. What you saw and see now is my original post. I have not edited anything. It's kind bloggers like you and Josh that give me hope for the future of online communication and human nature.

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    4. Shayla - Thank you for your comments and perspective. However, I respectfully agree to disagree. (No hard feelings) You said you thought kristy's words were "supportive, gentle, helpful, and as far from arrogant as could be" - I thought her words were falsely supportive, falsely gentle/helpful, while her arrogance and narrow mindedness came shining through.

      I don't want to continue here with an argument, because we obviously have differing opinions, but I will answer your question, "where did she make judgment about how many people he is helping or hurting?" ... I believe that in implying Josh's words would/could harm someone, she is failing to recognize that those same words could/would possible be helping someone else as well. I'm just sayin - let his words stand without warnings to 'be careful', because from what I see, he is clearly already thinking and praying carefully about his posts, and everything he does. Personally, I support him and his words, and I feel sorry that some individuals see fit to take it upon themselves to 'advise' him. It just rubs me wrong - that's all.

      I do, however, appreciate your use of the word 'feedback' which is possibly what kristy was attempting to give Josh. I guess I just read it as 'advice', and I am reminded of what my grandmother always said, "unsolicited advice falls on deaf ears", which is what I completely understand will probably happen to the 'advice' I in turn gave to Kristy. :) Which was really just my attempt to help her see that her comments towards Josh can easily be turned back at her.

      Also, I can understand how you felt her comments were beautifully written - if you agree with the message she is offering. I, however, was offended by what I felt was her 'kind and gentle' attempt to censor Josh from sharing the truth about his happy life & his amazing marriage, claiming that 'someone' 'someday' might not be able to live up to Josh's example, and therefore would feel so bad about themself that they might end their life. :( Seriously!? I am especially sad that so many so called 'educated' people continue to think it necessary to 'shield' suicidal youth from ANY of the realities of life. It just seems common sense to me that a suicidal person needs ALL the information they can get their hands on, and people around them should give them the respect and encouragement they deserve that THEY HAVE THE POWER TO FIGURE IT ALL OUT for themselves, and that they have every right to DEFINE THEMSELVES in whatever way they choose. There seems to be so many 'experts' on this subject - and everyone has a right to tell their story, what they believe, how they feel, what they've experienced, etc. But when the experts start telling someone NOT to tell their story, or HOW to tell their story, and even claim that they have a suicidal youth's best interest, it really bothers me - because no one knows exactly what a suicidal individual needs to hear and I believe that anyone presuming to know that is narrow minded and arrogant.

      Anyway, I am sorry Shayla, I know I get so passionate about this, and I am aware that I am just stating my opinions, commenting on others' opinions, and engaging in conversation just the same as 'the other guy'. I really don't assume that I can change anyone's mind to 'see things my way', and I do apologize for feelings that I express that confuse or offend others. I am actually an extremely peaceful and loving person (hopefully) - and I recognize that my passion for this subject gets me in trouble on occasion. :) I am probably talking circles and have left you completely confused, but I just hope that you might consider what I've said and possibly understand a little about my views.

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    5. In the end, I do realize that I don't need to protect Josh Weed from Kristy, any more than Kristy needs to protect the world from Josh Weed. - lol

      God Bless us all as we muddle through~~~~ :)

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    6. IDM - your post made me bristle. Kristy didn't come across arrogantly at all - your comment however, really did. And it seemed very defensive. Also, unless Josh has a PhD, he's not a 'shrink.' It just seemed like Kristy's comment in some way upset you and you needed to attack her as a way of shutting her down. I am thankful for Kristy' comment.

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    7. I stand corrected. My apologies to Anon, Shayla, and especially Kristy. I admit that Kristy's comments (and the attitude I heard) did upset me and I can see that I reacted defensively. I probably should have kept quiet about my opinions and feelings. My heartache and frustration as my husband and I attempt to be accepted and respected is complicated and real. I really just came here to read Josh's wonderful and inspired words, and I am sorry that I got all caught up in something I never intended to create. God Bless

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    8. Kristy, I am very confused by your comment. I didn't pick up on anything Josh said that would allow his message to be received in a negative way, besides the fact that he is married to a woman. Josh has repeatedly said that the does not condone that choice for everyone. Also, I didn't pick up on the "disease model language about gayness" in the Dehlin podcast. I've always interpreted Josh's message to be the opposite, particularly in this post--that being gay is just the way he is, and regardless of what choices he makes, that part of him isn't just going to "go away". Admittedly, I am heterosexual, so this may affect my perspective. I would like to hear the specific examples you are referring to about how Josh's "message" may come across negatively. Also, can you clarify what he says about supporting the Brethren that you don't agree with?

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    9. God Bless, IDM! And thank you for your thoughtful and respectful answers, Alexa. So true, I admire greatly that Josh says repeatedly that he does not condone his choice for everyone, and even adds that he does not want well-meaning family members or church leaders to give his story to gay individuals or his/her family (if it's a child). However, enough time has passed since his coming out on the blog that we are starting to see, despite his best efforts of caution, people are doing it anyway. They aren't listening to Josh's cautions. Even those that read his cautions may feel desperate to have a hetero marriage (or want that for their kid), that they feel the challenge is worth the outcome. Especially when the outcome (a temple marriage) is seen since primary age as the ultimate life goal, and the only way to the celestial kingdom (highest level of heaven). With that future
      hanging in the balance, who wouldn't do *anything* (no matter how hard or painful) to try making it? Those are the negative ways of which I reference his message being received.

      Here is a specific example: I counseled a gay woman in her early 30's, faithful LDS, and definitely not bisexual. She always wanted a temple marriage but could not find passion in relationships with men, even her best friend for years. She didn't have a physical relationship with a woman yet, but could imagine what that would be like. She had been emailed Josh's coming out blog post from her parents, grandparents, bishop, and friends on facebook that she came out to. It felt frustrating to her because she had tried so hard for 10 years to make it work with a man (and years with an LDS counselor back home before me) and worried constantly about her spiritual future if she didn't marry in the temple. In our time together, we talked about unpacking everything she'd grown up with knowing as absolutes (like, temple marriage is the only way to exaltation, she needs to
      obey everything church leaders tell her, etc), taking out of her mental "suitcase" and examining each piece lovingly as you would a baby blanket, bear, or old photo, and deciding what she wanted to keep with her and pack, and what she didn't feel would be good for her personally anymore. Very important to this process was feeling free to use her own moral compass again, which she had learned to turn off years ago and instead support her leaders. Over time, she decided she loved Mormonism and still wanted to be Mormon, but that she'd carve her own spiritual identity for herself that included her being true to the way she uniquely and deeply loved (in this case, other women).
      She focused on her relationship with God, and how *He* felt about her, not what her leaders thought. And I'm thrilled to report that she's happy married in New York now, to a woman who has two adorable girls she's now a mom to. And she's said she feels strongly God will work it out and they're an eternal family too. If she had only internalized the message that she needed to listen to the Brethren even if they err, and that the only way to exaltation is a straight marriage, she would not be a Mormon wife and mother now.

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    10. And finally, I'd be happy to clarify with what I don't agree about his message on supporting the Brethren, even though I'm an active Mormon: My mother was a spitfire who forged a career (also in counseling) at a time when Pres. Kimball was urging women to come home from their work and be mothers, warning explicitly that women having careers would lead to divorce. Her uncle (also her stake president) told her to drop out of UCLA and focus on motherhood. She didn't quit, she still has a great marriage, and I'm so grateful for her courage and example. I agree with Josh that prophets are imperfect human beings and can make mistakes. Where Josh and I disagree is what to do when we feel something said over the pulpit in general conference or from a leader does not square with our moral conscience. My Heavenly Father is ok with me faithfully objecting, and to live my life in a way that is consistent with my moral compass: supporting gay marriage. I view (and love) the GA's as I do my aging Grandpa: he is very set in his ways, he's anti-gay marriage, (previously, and a little still) racist, and women M.D.'s make him very nervous. But he's my grandpa, I love him, I always will. I can recognize where he got those ideas from his past. Just because I don't listen to and do whatever he says anymore, that doesn't change how much I care about him. So I would publicly advocate for gay marriage, vote for gay marriage, and support gay marriage for my Mormon and non-Mormon gay brothers and sisters.

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  122. Josh,
    This is an AMAZING post. Thank you for taking the time and expending the energy to share your deepest feelings on a subject that my husband and I feel so passionate about. Our son struggles with SSA and is trying to figure all of this out right now. We shed tears of sadness as you expressed the difficulties and hell that has accompanied this challenge.
    You so beautifully described the journey necessary to finding peace amid the storm of this conflict. We were extremely touched by the sections that you shared about the reasons for “staying” with the church. We are so blessed to have the examples of those who make the sacrifice to “stay” with the church, even amidst the difficulties and turmoil that this causes in their journey on this earth. This is what keeping an eternal perspective is all about. You put into words, feelings that I have been unable to try to explain for a long time when you said, “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.” Followed up by “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.” This is incredible. There are many leaders that are not giving this situation the validation it demands. But the way to find peace on this journey is not to kick against them and revile them, but to go forward trusting that in God’s time, HE will provide the answers that we seek and that we will be OK with those answers. I know God is acutely aware of what is happening in the world around us with this issue. I also believe that He has a plan for all of us that are touched by this difficulty. We are his children and he WILL guide us through this journey as we rely on his guidance and direction. Thank you for a beautiful post.

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  123. Big hug, from a faithful reader!

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  124. Josh (and Lolly) - Oh how we love you. Mr. IDM and I cryed all the way through this amazing and beautifully heartfelt post. Mr. IDM could certainly relate to so much of your pain, heartache, and confusion growing up. We relate to your questions and concerns to this day. And most important, we completely relate to, and agree with, your beliefs and feelings, especially your faith and trust in a loving and just God.

    We are grateful to have recieved your original FFAQ post through our email so we now have it to cherish - because it was awesome. You are truly an inspired man of God, and we support all that you do and say. Our prayers are with you, Lolly, and the girls. Just keep being 'YOU'.

    Luv Ya, Mr.&Mrs.IDM

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  125. Oh Josh, I don't know you very well, but your post brought me to tears. The pain was near unbearable and hauntingly similar to my own experience. I have to admit that reading your post also revived all the hurt, anger, betrayal, bitterness, and shame that I felt as a member of the church. Ultimately, my religious path led me elsewhere, but I am left feeling overwhelmed by the power of your integrity and courage. What can I say? You are an amazing, courageous, and deeply authentic human being.

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  126. What makes this post confusing for me is that it seems to be totally Mormon-centric. Your previous post was much more global. And, if in your mind that's what needed to be corrected about that first post, I completely respect that. You are a very expressive writer.

    As a related-but-not comment, this post was very difficult for a non-Mormon to follow. There is a lot of terminology in here that was completely foreign to me. No need to change this post (as I'm sure this post reads exactly as it needs to) but perhaps something to keep in mind for future writings.

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    1. Remember that Josh IS Mormon, so a post that is deeply personal to him will likely be very Mormon. This post is about him, about his past and present, not about the United States or the world.

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  127. This is a great post, Josh. Very thought provoking, enlightening, and inspiring. I really appreciate you sharing it bro.

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  128. I am grateful your faith has brought you through beyond-difficult life experiences to the point where you stand today. Though of course no one but God and Christ can truly understand another person's struggles, I may be able to offer a point of view that can help you further as you struggle with this lifelong trial. By way of providing background I, too, have had to struggle with a lifelong trial which has threatened my faith, happiness, and my very life and have struggled to find the logic in God's plan for my life and why He allowed me to be born the way I am.

    What the modern and past LDS leaders have been aware of and talking about is homosexuality resulting from choices, not the previously unheard-of but--as I suspect--currently exploding *genetic disorder* which I believe is most likely the result of excessive hormones or hormone-altering chemicals added to our food, water, and environment. Everything I have read from Church leaders on the subject is highly applicable and beneficial for bringing about repentance among those who have made *choices* which resulted in homosexual experimentation and, later, lifestyles. I have seen the behavioral choices of a number of friends follow the exact path Spencer W. Kimball described in The Miracle of Forgiveness, including the return to heterosexual desires. Again, this is homosexual behavior resulting from experimentation and "gateway sins."

    Critical Idea: The behavior and tendencies of those who *decide* to commit or promote homosexual acts without a physiological disorder can, through repentance, have their desires and tendencies returned to the heterosexual variety--the state they were in when they made the first choice that led them down the path of homosexual acts. The Church's current and past statements are accurate when applied to one source of homosexuality: the only one they knew had been confirmed.

    Those suffering under the second reason for homosexual tendencies--the result of a biological disorder--must also be commanded to avoid homosexual *acts* because this is a major sin according to God, but such a biological disorder cannot be "cured"/changed using the same pattern as the disorder that is created by choices. This is where I agree LDS leaders could focus more attention--making this differentiation. I personally believe leaders of the past several decades have had suspicions--but not enough information to confirm their suspicions--that we have experienced an increase in the prevalence of homosexuality resulting from genetic disorders. While awaiting greater confirmation of this theory they have continued warning against the dangers of choice-induced homosexuality while condemning the practice of homosexuality regardless of the source of the tendencies. This is, I believe, why the Church rhetoric has been slow to change to make that differentiation. The fact that militant homosexuals have made it so unpopular among medical professionals to research causes or cures (for example, through hormone and/or gene therapies) has delayed the publishing of data useful for Church leaders in confirming the "disorder cause" theory.

    Stay strong, and congratulations on being able to work out a happy family relationship despite your struggles. You are an inspiration to all of us who experience trials resulting from genetic disorders.

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  129. I am really impressed by you Josh, what you have written is incredibly personal and shows incredible strength that I don't think many people have. When I read it, it actually made me angry. Angry at a church that tells its young people that these leaders are men of God and the words that come out of their mouths are to be obeyed and adhered to and believed. And then lets those same men, under their belief that they are preaching the word of God tell these children that they are vile, unworthy, horrible sinners who have no place in the kingdom of God unless they "fix" themselves.

    Is the rhetoric changing? yes. But does that fix or repair or apologize for the treatment that occurred in the past. No. I really struggle with the idea that as a child I was taught that no general authority will preach anything false in general conference--yet these things you mention (that "pray the gay away" will work, etc.) have been taught and preached for a long time, and they were wrong (this is more than my mere belief, the church's own positions on these things have changed, therefore one of the lessons that was or is preached is wrong in the eyes of God).

    The fact that you can look beyond this and still accept the church is incredible. I am not gay and have not experienced that persecution and I cannot accept it.

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    1. If the Brethren have made mistakes about this or any other subject, I would say it was because they were acting on the light and knowledge they had at the time. As more is revealed, as they gain more light on a subject, the counsel of the Brethren may change.

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  130. Josh, thanks for being so open about your experiences. Your vulnerability is breath-taking. Blessings on you and your family.

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  131. It may indeed be incredible. And it may also give the idea to young gay Mormons that they should stay in the church regardless of any abuse they may experience from even the most well meaning of Mormon leaders. You were abused by your church, Josh, as you have laid out so clearly here. Is it brave to stay somewhere that has doled out that kind of abuse to you? There are doubtless a myriad of examples of how nice and understanding this bishop or that bishop was/is But just as we blame the president for what the government is doing, the same holds true for a church - those at the top dictate what happens below.
    I think it could be a dangerous message to suggest that those who are being abused stay because one day that abuse may stop.
    Another commenter above suggested that sometimes it is the right decision to leave and that well may be the case for many,. You choosing to stay may feel like a great relief to some others who may think if Josh can be so abused and stay, then certainly I can be abused and stay. That's a bit scary.
    And when some respond defensively - is that not how folks in abusive situations often respond?

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  132. This might sound awful, but if the church ever allows gay marriage in the temple, I will be quitting. Not because I have anything against gay people, but because the church says it is a moral issue and the bible does too. So if the church changes their stand, it's obviously not the true church, but one that changes with time. I think you are great Josh, and I am all for equal rights. I am very sorry you went through hell as a teen. You might not like to hear this, but this post made me want to quit the church. All these people talking about how beautiful made me sick. It was heartbreaking and had me in tears. I can't believe what you went through. After reading it, I went to church today, and in relief society sexuality was brought up. It made me so angry I had to leave. I can't stop thinking about how brainwashed I have been for years. Josh I was a seriously nice person in high school. I was friends with everybody, but I was a bully without even realizing it! I said awful comments about gays. I had been taught it was a choice. I read this the day you posted it, and there hasn't been a night I am not on my knees praying for forgiveness for being such an awful judgmental human being. What if someone who was gay had heard my rude comments? What kind of damage did I do? I know that your intent is to show how you love the church and have faith in its doctrine, but your posts are making me want to quit the church! I am so torn. I am so sad. I've never been so confused in all my life.

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    1. Oh, please, don't quite the Church!
      Please remember, the Atonement covers not only our sins, but our sorrows - and this means that Christ heals those we have hurt, as well as enabling us to repent and be forgiven. We many have us have old wounds, both given and received. But they're all heal-able. I was severely bullied in both 3rd grade and 4th, and less so in later years. 3rd grade was physical abuse from a peer; in 4th grade it was verbal/emotional abuse from the teacher. I also know I have said things in the past that have been very cutting, perhaps even cruel. But both are things that the Lord heals in us. I no longer hurt from the bullying, and I have learned to be kinder and more compassionate towards others. Instead of scars, I have concern. If one of the people who was unkind to me in the past was hurting now as you are, I would wish them nothing but peace and forgiveness - that is the only thing that will help anyone.
      Please also understand something about bullying: it is more than just, to use your words, "awful comments". Bullying is, by and large, deliberate, targeted abuse. Being someone who is capable of being friends with everybody means that you like people, and that people like you. Especially in high school! The fact that you now feel such remorse only shows that you genuinely care about people. Let that compassion work for your good - seek forgiveness where you need it and where you can, and then go on with kindness. Trust the Lord. You can pray for anyone who was hurt, if anyone. He know who they are, if anyone, and can heal them as surely as He can heal you. The pain you feel now is that of someone who desires to be kind, to have love for others. It can work for your good and others - by leading you closer to Christ. Don't let Satan get the better of you by leading you away from Christ.
      Please also know that there are people who care for you, and have concern for you. Even strangers. I know you were writing to Josh, but I can't see your comment and ignore it. The dark places where we can't love ourselves are horrible, and need getting out of! Remember the commandment to love our neighbors as ourselves? Implicit in that is a commandment to love ourselves! Remember, when you are so down on yourself, that you can change. It sounds like you already have.
      And you know what I realized a moment ago? Writing this to you has helped me, also.

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    2. I recognize many of Josh's horrible experiences in my own, and I just want to say how moved I am for your personal "confession" to feeling badly for things you've said about gays in the past and asking God for forgiveness. I'm not sure why this makes you want to leave the Church though. You're already being the truest of disciples by recognizing you may have hurt people and going through the process of feeling guilt and asking for forgiveness. You're not the sign of a quitter to me, you're an example of humility that the Church needs.

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    3. Anonymous- I am so sorry to read about your heartache. I understand it well. I have many regrets about the things that have happened or even been taught as a member of the Church. I have struggled with confusion and doubt because of situations like this. But the comfort that I took in Josh's words were the reminder that the Book of Mormon is true, that Joseph Smith saw God (because he loves His children and wants to bless us all), and that I am blessed through prayer, revelation, the Temples, and everything else that comes from a burning Testimony of Chirst's Gospel. I hope you can focus on those things, on the true doctrine. I also hope that with your help, and others who feel the tender hearted concern that you do, we can raise our hands and speak up in defense of those that are judged and misused and misunderstood. I know that the Lord has blessed you with a tender heart so that you can help Him in His work, and part of that is helping change some of the current culture. My heart really does go out to you, and I appreciate your vulnerability so much. P.S. I have never replied to anyone's comment before, it is not really my style, so I hope you don't mind me replying to yours. :)

      ALSO- Josh, I loved this!! I cried the whole time. You would think for as close of friends as we are, I would have known all of this. I am sorry that I didn't know. I am sorry for so many years of hurt. And I am always grateful for your Testimony and example. (and of course, include Lolly in all of this, since she is your "better half" :) )

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    4. Dear Anonymous,
      If we will be damned for saying unintentionally hurtful things as teenagers, there is no hope for any of us. I believe God judges us based on what we know.

      Our job in the Church is to learn to love and serve one another. People will be hateful and rude and bigoted, but we will love them and serve them. And as we win them with love, we will pray that their hearts will be softened. And we will pray that our hearts will be softened, too, that we will all see each other as children of God.

      The gospel is not about fear or anger; it is about love. There are absolute standards, but we are obligated as followers of Christ to love one another - not based on how we feel the "other" meets our standards, but based on their intrinsic human value.

      -Another Anonymous

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    5. As the original anonymous, I was afraid people would comment on my comment. I checked back and my stomach dropped, until I read your responses. I was so worried people would say awful things to me because of the things I once said, but instead your words were all very loving. Thank you. I feel very blessed to have read such sweet thing strangers could write to me! if I could go back in time and be more a more compassionate person I would. I hope you all realise the impact your words had on a complete stranger.

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  133. Every time I read one of your posts I have so many thoughts and feelings I would like to share with you. However, unlike you, sharing my thoughts and feelings through words is not one of my talents......so I guess all I can say is "Bravo" and I hope that with this one word you can feel my support and gratefulness (is that even a word???) for your posts.

    Thank you!!!

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  134. This post is very confusing.

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  135. Josh,
    I've interacted with you before online, but I have to say this anonymously: As a VERY closeted, happily married LDS guy with SSA that I don't act on, this post speaks to me in a deep way. Perhaps one reason you were prompted to remove your previous post on the subject is because you needed to write this one...and I needed to read it.

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  136. Hi Friend! Thank you for your honesty. I have many people whom I love deeply in my life who are gay. Their struggles with this fact and their identity within the church has caused them such great pain personally and pain within their family relationships. It breaks my heart! I love these men and women deeply and so I also struggle with those moments of declaration from the pulpit which must cut them to the core. I love them I also love and follow the prophet. So I am grateful for your willingness to share so candidly your own experiences and continued clarity. It helps me!

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  137. Maybe the reason you had to take down the post was so you could write this beautiful one.

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  138. I like to reflect on Lehi’s dream in situations like this. I think about the people on the straight and narrow path, in the darkness and fog, holding on to a cold iron rod. They weren’t 100% sure where they were heading, but they heard father Lehi’s voice shouting out, “This way, come on you can do it! It is totally worth it! You won’t believe how amazing this fruit is!” Then they looked to the side and saw this incredible floating building full of beautiful people, head to toe in designer clothes and bling-bling, sipping their Cristal and apparently really happy. You see that and realize, here you are on this boring path hoping for something good, and there they are laughing at you enjoying life to the fullest. Of course you are going to think, “Maybe those people are on to something”.
    With comments like Elder Oaks’, I think what the GAs are trying to say is that we shouldn’t encourage people to look over at that floating building. We need to encourage them to listen to Lehi’s voice and stay on the straight and narrow. It isn’t easy, and nobody said it would be. I also crushed on some of the guys in my quorums. My own brothers and sisters used tell me I would make an amazing wife one day. My dad used to tell me how embarrassed he was of me because he caught me playing with Barbies and I wasn’t any good at any sport. At 12 years old I had friends look at me with disgust in their face and ask if I was gay. At 17 my girlfriends big sister used laugh at us and ask when I was going to come out of the closet.
    And then I found a group of people that thought I was wonderful! They all wanted to be my friend and they had all gone through similar experiences. I could speak freely about guys I crushed on. I could even play with Barbie if I wanted to. So I came out to my family. I was shocked to hear the reaction of my father. He had known since I was 2, yet never thought I would be so weak to take the easy way out. EASY way out? I thought… There was nothing easy about it. I had been raised to believe that everything about the lifestyle I had chosen was wrong and evil. I was raised to be a father that provided for and protected his wife and 10 children. And I “decided” be someone else.
    Years later and I am back on the straight and narrow, trying to keep my eyes on the prize. I’ll be going to the temple for the first time in 22 days! 
    Basically, I feel that if you focus on something, it becomes extremely important to you. I choose now to focus on the gospel, and not my sexuality. It isn’t easy, but it isn’t easy for anyone. I have asked God to let me die. It is difficult for me to count my blessings. It is difficult for me to pray (I never know what to say). But I cannot deny that this is the true church. That although it is difficult for me to pray, Heavenly Father still listens to my prayers. That although I lived in sin for 18 years, I repented and was forgiven. That although life is difficult, I am happier now than I have ever been. It is a happiness that is difficult to explain, but it is real. We
    Just need to hold to the rod and have faith that all is well. Life is, after all, the most minuscule fraction of eternity.

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  139. Loved your post! I was wondering why you took the other one down and I'm glad we got this one in its place. I'm sorry for the years of pain and torment, but I appreciate that you were willing to articulate them so that I can get an idea of the pain that someone experiencing same sex attraction might be dealing with since I really have no idea, having no experience of my own.

    I always assumed that when GA's talked about homosexuality and about how "vile" it is, they were talking about homosexuality the act, not homosexuality the state of being (if that makes sense). Knowing how God loves all of us and feeling how the GA's often extend that same feeling of love (at least to me), I always assumed the denunciation was of homosexual behavior and NOT people who experience same sex attraction because it's our actions that are most important. Temptation for any number of things will always be there, but God is interested in whether we act on those things or not. I never thought about how it could be thought of as a denunciation of the person. Thanks for sharing that insight.

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  140. No harm in hearing another thank you, right? Thank you for writing this post, and thank you for your honesty and for sharing your vulnerability. I can't believe I not only read your whole post, but I've spent the last few hours reading every comment up to this point... :-) I'm compelled by the conversation because there's people I love that I want to understand better, and also I feel edified by the gratitude pored out by your readers. You truly are being an influence for good! Thank you!

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  141. Josh, the fact that so many on here seem to not have realized until reading your blog that they should not be persecuting gay people, is shocking. I find that shocking I have to say. For folks who belong to a church that professes to be the one true church to not know until reading your blog that a. gay people actually exist and that it is not a choice and b. that they should not be persecuting gay people - just wow. I understand the idea of progressive revelation but that is not what seems to be happening here. Just - wow. Keep writing I guess. What you have to say is obviously needed to be heard.

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  142. My heart breaks for all the youth that are feeling so much loneliness and torture and trauma. It is nearly impossible for me to understand how we can be so unaware of how our words and actions are so deeply affecting those around us.

    Thank for this glimpse into the life and heart of another human being.
    Thank you for your bravery and authenticity.

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  143. Mr. Weed,
    Now that I am done weeping, I would like to thank you for your insight, for the journey you have been through, for your faith and for your courage to be vulnerable. Your words have blessed me this Sunday morning. A little about me and my story to help you know about your impact on me:

    I grew up in the Church in Canada. I served a mission at 19. I went through the Seminary program, Opt taught (student teacher), was an EFY counselor, and was very much down the line in my beliefs about the church. I have a few friends who are gay. I have heard their stories. I believed Jesus when he said not to judge, as I will be judged with the same kind of judgment. I just held those things on Camilla Kimball's shelf and would take them down and ponder them from time to time (along with a myriad of other things that didn't make sense to me), then put them back on the shelf. Early in 2012, a kid I hadn't seen since I was an EFY counselor 16 years previous had killed himself. I was so sad. I didn't understand why at the time, but I was just so sad. I hadn't seen him in 16 years, but it was heavy. I then did some research and found out some of the details about his life. RM, BYU grad, worked for the missionary department, gay. I was totally oblivious about his sexual orientation. I thought about my other friends and their experiences. There was something inherently unfair about all that. The dissonance was profound. I felt I had to do something about it. I began looking into advocacy groups. I found Affirmation and others. Then Mormons Building Bridges came up. I knew I had to get involved and do something to reach out and let others know there are people out there who don't judge the gay part and are accepting to their humanity and their lives. It was perfect. So, I went. It was beautiful. Hugs, weeping, and healing happening because the Mormons were at Pride. The message was love. People who had long been gone who had stories of rejection and pain wept, embraced us, and thanked us over and over. It was an overpowering spiritual experience. I thought I should share it with others, so I shared it in Sacrament meeting the next month in fast and testimony meeting.

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  144. Part II
    I was not ready for the backlash. I said nothing about homosexuality being right or wrong, but talked about reaching out in love and that if anyone was struggling with their sexuality I would be willing to talk and hear them. I didn't want to have anyone feel like their life was not worth living. I wanted to help. The Stake President got up and testified about the Proclamation on the family and how homosexuality was wrong minutes after I bore my testimony. I think another message was sent at that time. A few months later I went to renew my temple recommend. I was told not to see the counselors in the Stake Presidency, but only the President would see me. I had said nothing more on the subject since the testimony meeting. So, the Stake President grilled me, in a temple recommend interview, for the space of an hour and a half. It would have gone on longer if he wasn't thus late for a meeting and had his counselor interrupt him. He held the recommend. I have been a year and a half without one. I have continued to be an advocate, but have also been without a calling for a year and a half as well. Church is a very lonely place. I have struggled with local authority, and certain General Authority in the church. I have had to nuance my ideas of what a prophet is. My faith is strained at times, but intact. Your story found me at the perfect time for me. I have been struggling with Elder Oaks' talk and felt it hit me in the stomach as I watched. I worry about the message it is sending to the world, and to gay LDS members. Your story, your manifesto were a validation, and a reprimand at the same time. I say reprimand, but not that it came across as anything preachy. Quite the contrary. I found for me the approach I have to take for my faith, my heart, my family, and for my life. I feel it in my soul. Thank you for your openness, vulnerability and honesty. God bless you Mr. Weed!!

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  145. Thank you for sharing. I am so sad for all your aloneness as a youth. That hurts. As a mom of sons, it hurts. As a person who loves people, it hurts. No one should feels so alone. I got to read your first post because it was on my feedily still. I din't even know you had taken it down when I read it. But when I read it (I admit I never heard Elder Oaks talk) I was thrilled. I want to be a good member of the church. And I want to NOT CARE about gay marriage. I want to love and support my fellow human beings. I don't want to judge them about something two consenting adults are doing. I read the manifesto post in it's entirety and it was beautiful. Thanks for sharing and giving insight. I support you.

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