My post today was going to be something humorous to kinda contrast how serious I’ve been lately, but right now I just don’t feel humorous. No, I’m not feeling down. I’m actually feeling really good. Very peaceful. I was just privileged to listen to a beautiful draft of the North Star Voices podcast about the Voices of Hope Project, which I contributed to. As such, I don’t feel that a humorous post would be appropriate with how I feel right now. (As a side-note, I’ve heard that the Voices of Hope website will be launch around Christmas day with the first ten videos, which were filmed back in August; I’ll do a post about that when it goes up).
Maybe just a bit of reflection then. Like I said, I listened to the podcast today and, in addition to that, a few days ago I dug back into my mission email and found the email I’d sent to my parents on August 23, 2010, telling them for the first time about my same-sex attraction. I’d like to share an excerpt from that email:
“Friday night, I was talking to Elder Call and the Spirit was guiding our conversation and it came out that I was gay. To my surprise, Elder Call told me that he already knew. He said he'd known for a while, because of promptings of the Spirit and small things I'd done/said. He'd been struggling for a while trying to figure out how to talk to me about it. We were up until 3 AM talking, but we established that I am going to overcome this and Elder Call is more than willing to help me overcome it in any way that he can.”
Back then, “overcoming” my same-sex attraction to me meant having the feelings go away completely and to never be attracted to another man again. These perfectionistic feelings were a driving force in the anxiety that ended up having me put on medical leave from my mission three weeks later. Just after I got home from Toronto, someone I knew with SSA who I wasn’t close with (let’s call him Thomas) was talking to me about his struggles and as I talked about wanting to “overcome” my SSA, he refuted the idea, saying that he didn’t want it gone. It was part of what made him the compassionate, loving person that he was proud to be. I didn’t understand how he could want to deal with same-sex attraction. Wouldn’t ANYONE want it gone so that their lives would be easier?
Over the past couple months, however, I’ve felt a paradigm shift. As I mentioned in my last post (“Grateful to be ‘Gay’”), I’m grateful to be attracted to men! Two years ago, when I had that conversation with Thomas, I would have NEVER thought that was possible. EVER! Now, I would consider myself to be a lot closer to where Thomas was two years ago. I can see what he meant and if I could decide right now to never be attracted to men again… I don’t know if I’d take it. Honestly, I don’t mind being attracted to men. Sometimes it’s kind of fun (but we’ll discuss that when I do my humorous blog post). Would it be nice to have the temptations gone? HECK YES! But that’s mortality! We all get tempted! Even the Savior was tempted! Even if I was no longer attracted to men, a different temptation would inevitably take its place!
In fact, I’m grateful to have SSA because it’s repaired my relationship with Thomas. I’ve known Thomas my whole life, but we were NEVER close. But in my journey to learn about my SSA and learn to deal with it in a healthy manner, my conversations with him have brought a brotherly love into our friendship that I will forever cherish.
To finish off, I want to share another part of the email I sent to my parents in August 2010. This part, I can tell you, hasn’t changed. I still very much believe this:
“Having ‘come out of the closet’, I feel so much strength now. I'm not alone at this anymore. I have Elder Call and President Brower to help me. I have your prayers to help me. Most importantly, I have the Savior to help me do what I can't do on my own.”
The past two years have been the biggest learning curve of my life, as I’ve learned about my SSA and found healthy ways to deal with it. It’s been hard (and I have the emotional scars to prove it) but I have come closer to the Savior because of what I’ve gone through and because of what I’ve learned. As always, as I close, I want you to remember one thing: Through the Atonement, it gets better.
(me and Elder Call, about a month after "coming out" to him)