Saturday, October 20, 2012

Same-Sex Attraction

August 20, 2010 – Brampton, Ontario – Heart Lake Apartment
I was just a greenie missionary at the time. My trainer, Elder Call, had become a very fast friend of mine, which I was not accustomed to having. That night, we were retiring to bed after companionship prayer and personal prayers. As usual, as we lay in our beds, we started talking. I don’t remember how we got on the subject, but we ended up talking about same-sex attraction. Somehow, in the conversation, I felt a push from the Spirit to tell him something that I had never told another person before. For the first time in my life, I had told someone that I dealt with same-sex attraction. Now, by saying that here, you know too.

Since that fateful day in Brampton, which changed my life forever, I have told many more people, including my immediate family and many close friends and roommates. There are many reasons I have decided to write this post at this time, which means I’m “coming out”, a decision I can’t take back. I’d like to start with a very simple one: hope. Hope is actually the thing that I want to get across the most here. Recently, I’ve been reading a book called “Voices of Hope”, which was compiled by Ty Mansfield (PS: The YouTube video on this link is Ty Mansfield talking about his book… it is so powerful).

Voices of Hope
In the introduction to “Voices of Hope”, Ty talks about how the stories of those who are living the gospel and living with same-sex attraction get lost amongst all the conflict surrounding this issue. In the media, we hear of gay pride and rainbow flags on one extreme. On the other extreme, we sometimes hear of individuals who are so ashamed of how they feel that they choose to take their own life. Only a page into the book, I knew that I wanted to stand up and be a witness of the truth… of living the truth. So many people are deceived into believing that because God loves them (which I know He does) that they are free to act on their sexual urges towards members of their own gender. It breaks my heart to hear of that, especially when it involves those that have the truth of the gospel.

As I’ve read stories of others who live with same-sex attraction, I am inspired to live a better life. Their examples truly bring me hope. It also has been a blessing in my life to have friends who also live with same-sex attraction, who know how I feel. Before this summer, I didn’t have any close friends with same-sex attraction (I knew of two people, but I wasn’t close to them). However, I prompted to join an online support group for those who struggle, called North Star. Through North Star, I was able to learn about a support group that meets in my area on a weekly basis. As I started going to meetings each week and as I began to spend time with the men there, I began to feel a sense of brotherhood. In ways that my “straight” friends couldn’t, they understood me. I felt less alone. I felt like I belonged.

I’ve also been blessed to be the one to give hope as well. While a friend of mine (let’s call him Benjamin) was visiting me, he told me that he dealt with same-sex attraction. Almost with a laugh, because I hadn’t seen it coming, I reciprocated and told him that I had similar trials. Benjamin is a convert. Having previously been in the gay community, that’s what he’d been exposed to. He didn’t know (or thought he didn’t know) any members of the church that lived with same-sex attraction. Just the fact that he had a friend who also dealt with same-sex attraction was a powerful means of him feeling hope. Hope is powerful and just the knowledge that you’re not alone in the world can give you such a great amount of it. Knowing that there is someone you can turn to when you’re family, friends, priesthood leaders, or counselor don’t understand (despite their best intentions) can be a life saver (for some people that can be taken literally).

Next month, I will be participating in filming for a project that North Star is doing as an extension of Ty Mansfield’s book. The Voices of Hope Project will include hundreds, maybe thousands, of testimonies of men and women in the form of video or written essays. I’ve decided to participate in order to give hope to my brothers and sisters. As Ty Mansfield quotes on the page linked above “they that be with us are more than they that be with them.” (2 Kings 6:16) The world has powerful voices coming from it, but we have the Lord on our side. We have the gospel. We have hope from the Atonement.

I feel bad for the people who feel the need to define themselves by their sexuality. After telling one of my friends (let’s call him Tim) about my same-sex attraction, he told me about his sister. Tim’s sister had her records removed from the church so that she could pursue a relationship with another woman. He told me that she let her sexuality define who she was. I like what Tim said after that. He told me not to let my sexuality define me anymore than he lets his sexuality define him. I don’t know heterosexual people who make it a point to define themselves as straight. However, it seems commonplace for homosexuals to define themselves as gay or lesbian or bisexual, in a way that it controls who they are.

I’m putting myself out there by writing this post, but I don’t want same-sex attraction to control my life. Sure, it is an aspect of my life and who I am, a big aspect maybe, but not the only aspect of who I am. I don’t like the term “gay”. To me, it denotes acting on those attractions. Regardless of labels, these attractions are only part me. I am a writer. I am a student. I am a friend. I am a son. I am a brother. I am an uncle. I am a returned-missionary. I am a Mormon. I am a follower of Jesus Christ. I am a child of God.

In the end, I believe that only those last two labels matter: I believe in Christ and I am a child of God. Recently I went to a fireside about same-sex attraction. At the fireside, one of the speakers said “God has already labeled us His.” I found this statement powerful. The most powerful, perfect being has claimed us. His is the only label we need. We are His children. We are His saints. And if we are willing to take a step of faith and do what He asks, He will do amazing things with us.

This is a Gift
Maybe this seems contradictory that something so difficult and controversial could be seen as a gift, but it’s true. I think I have begun to understand what Paul meant when he said that “when I am weak, then am I strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:10) Sure, it’s still hard to live with same-sex attraction sometimes, but I have noticed some of the blessings it has given me.

For example, I noticed recently how I am able to connect with other men on a deeper level than “Sup, dude?” Granted, there are straight men that are able to connect with other men too, but they are rare. I feel that because of my same-sex attraction, which came about because of my desire to connect with other males, particularly my peers, I am able to connect with my guy friends more.

I am just beginning to understand what the Lord meant when He said, “And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.” (Ether 12:27) Just a month ago, I called same-sex attraction one of my weaknesses. Now I also consider it ones of my strengths, which has taught me and helped me to learn about myself.

The Atonement
I want to finish off this “coming out” by talking about the Atonement. In “Voices of Hope”, Ty Mansfield references President Packer in saying that “any truth not connected to [the Atonement]…is insufficient.” I have seen and heard other media on the internet about homosexuality and the church and it disturbs me when they do not mention the Atonement of Christ. Alma taught that “[Christ] will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people.” (Alma 7:11) Even the Savior during his mortal ministry said, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30) Shortly before His crucifixion, He also said, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” (John 14:27)

I know that the Savior died for me. I know that through His Atonement I can find peace and comfort in the trying times of my life. Though I may deal with anxiety, depression, autism, and same-sex attraction, none of them are too much for the Savior and the Atonement to handle. I have accepted that I may not be healed from one or any of them in this life, but that’s okay, because I know that as I live righteously, I will be blessed with comfort through the Holy Ghost.

I have one last request before I finish off (I know this has been a long post already). If you know someone who is struggling (with same-sex attraction or with any trial) please share this. I want my testimony of the Atonement to help as many people as it can. You are not alone and even your bad experiences can be used for your good. Have hope in the Atonement and “let us cheerfully do all things that lie in our power; and then may we stand still, with the utmost assurance, to see the salvation of God, and for his arm to be revealed.” (D&C 123:17)

Thank you for sticking with me through this long post. Remember that through the Atonement it gets better. I say this in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.


  1. Wow. Very beautifully written. When you told me you were writing this I wasn't sure what to expect, but I can see your honesty and your strength in this article. I believe that you will be able to help many people with this article and others in the future. Not only will you be able to help those who have same sex attraction, but you will be able to help others to gain a glimpse into the mental, emotional, and physical struggles of those that do and hopefully to understand. Thank you for sharing this with us.

  2. Inspiring, Spencer. It takes enormous courage to admit something that is misunderstood and attacked so often. I'm proud of you, and I know you're working with this the right way. I add my testimony of the Atonement with yours; I know that the principles you talked about are true. God does love all of His children. Christ is strong enough to help anyone with anything, ever. Thank you.

  3. Spencer,

    Thank you for being courageous enough to share this part of yourself! Your example will help other people in need find their way to the Savior and His Atonement. I think you really hit it on the head when you said that the only label that matters is the label of Christ. I commend you for your courage and strength. I am glad that I have had the chance to meet you recently. God bless you friend!

  4. Spencer, you are so amazing- ever since I came into our ward, you have been a wonderful friend. I think this post is beautifully written, and I really admire you for your desire to serve Christ and the example you have set for everyone around you :)

  5. Posting this took a lot of courage. Thank you for sharing your experience. I do not understand fully how you feel because my challenges are different than yours but I know there are many people out there who benefit when we fight against the stigma of same-sex attraction. Everyone is a child of God, everyone deserves love and acceptance. You are doing great things and although I don't know you well, I feel like I know many people who love you and support you. God bless!

  6. Thanks for posting this Spencer. It takes so much courage to speak up about this topic. You are amazing! And such an example to so many people!

  7. Wonderfully said. Thank you for your courage to share your trials and your lessons with others. This challenge is so misunderstood, so often in the church unfortunately, but I don't think you could have approached it any better. I truly hope that your voice and the voices of others who know what you know may help focus our beliefs and actions more on love than judgement or condemnation.

  8. Awesome Spencer! We barely met once, but I admire your courage greatly!

  9. We don't know each other, but my friend Shelby shared this. Thank you for your great words and testimony. Have you read this blog? He has some great things to say.

  10. Spencer, You are a very brave man. It is something that takes courage and I am glad that you are willing to accept and try to change. I know that through the Atonement of Christ, you can overcome this challenge.
    God bless.
    -Bryce Spencer


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