Sunday, December 23, 2012

The Best Friend of a Gay Mormon (By Garrett)

That man with the goofy smile is my friend Spencer Ficiur. He’s the author of this amazing blog (not that I’m biased or anything), and I've known him for about three years now. He’s pointing to the CN Tower in Toronto, where we took a road trip together in July of this year, about 5 months ago.

We’re both Mormons. And as Mormons, we both served as missionaries for the church. I went to Chile; Spencer went to Toronto. It had been two years since seeing each other. And since I live in Michigan, a few hours from his mission, we took a road trip there to kick it like old times.

As we went around Toronto, I got to know the people he had taught, loved, and served. He had a hero’s welcome. His converts showered us with food and “thank yous.” I left a little fatter.

One night, during this road trip, Spencer and I walked and caught up on life. It was a wonderful conversation—one I hadn’t had with him in a while. It refreshed me. Then, during a pause, Spencer asked me if he could tell me something. I said sure. He then began to tell me, his voice trembling slightly, about his same-sex attraction. At first, I didn’t know what to say. I asked him what that meant to him. He said that fully intends to live the commandments and follow Christ to the end, no matter his same-sex attraction.

He has already written his side of that story. Let me share with you my side.

Spencer continued to tell me how, growing up, he felt like his whole life was a taboo. Rejection, fear, and loneliness had saturated his growing up years. I felt heartbroken for him. The first thought that came to me was, “Spencer, after all this time… why didn’t you ever tell me? Don’t you trust me as a friend?”

But then, I realized, this isn’t something you just tell someone, even if he is your friend.

I realized how Spencer’s situation puts him in a kind of cultural limbo: the idea of a “Gay Mormon” is simply unheard of. In several peoples’ minds, including mine, the idea is that you are either gay, living the gay lifestyle, or you’re a Mormon living blissfully without that attraction.

But that’s not the case, and Spencer had a dilemma: though Spencer has a strong faith and testimony, he lives in a culture that (whether saying it or not) emphasizes almost every Sunday to us young men that we need to take girls out on dates, get married, and fulfill all our other responsibilities. In addition, the people are still very ignorant about same-sex attraction, and in their ignorance may hurt him or reject him.

That’s the moment when I knew I needed to learn more.

So in the months that followed, as I attended my university in Utah this fall semester, that’s exactly what I did. I needed to understand what my friend was going through. I attended a group called USGA, a group that meets on my university’s campus for people who are Mormon but also LGBT. I attended a conference this November called the AMCAP Conference. I met the guys from Spencer’s support group, and from all over as he associates with people dealing with the same issue. I began reading Voice(s) of Hope, the book about SSA Spencer has discussed earlier.

I began to realize how big this is, and just how many people are affected by it. Spencer and his friends are really becoming the pioneers in this field, and they are already helping people who are conflicted between their faith and their sexuality. I’ve made friends with several of these people, and all of their stories are inspiring. Some have, in their attempts to defend the church, been attacked by the LGBT community. They demonstrate bravery in exposing themselves, a very controversial and sensitive part of themselves, to be able to testify of Christ and help those who may struggle with the same thing.

When I come home from classes, I have no clue if it will be a good day or a bad day when I come back. Some days, I’m excited because Spencer tells me about a person he had reached out to with his blog, or who had SSA. Other days, he is really having a fight with SSA himself. As I’ve roomed with him, fought with him against his doubts and fears, and stood by him as he started this “coming out,” I’ve learned powerful lessons about the Son of God, and about life in general that I have applied to my own life circumstances. We’re all fighting a battle of some kind, and given the size of Spencer’s battles, he is quite a fighter.

Despite all he had gone through, when I asked him about his future, he said, “I see a wife and a family there.”

Ladies, if you are tired of the same old guys—the selfish, the immature, or the non-committal kind of guys, then might I suggest you hook up with my friend Spencer Ficiur. He’s not like any other guys. He has received numerous blessings from his SSA. He knows how to relate to people on a deep emotional level. He’s not afraid of letting you know about his weaknesses; he is very up front with them. He’s a warrior, and he’s a comedian. He’s fashion conscious. Plus, he loves watching Once Upon a Time. I can hook you up with him if you’re interested.

To everyone, I invite you to get to know Spencer and learn from him what I have. I invite you to learn more about SSA, and see the blessings that can come into your life as you set aside any previous myths, misconceptions, or doubts you may have had about Mormons that have SSA.

The photo below of the two goofballs is a photo of us taken at the end of our road trip. I’m so grateful for my friend Spencer, and that he told to me his story that July. My life has been blessed since.


  1. Garrett - what a great man you must be. Awesome post, awesome friendship, awesomely big heart. Spencer has chosen his friend wisely.

  2. Garrett, thanks for sharing this side of the story! It's great to hear about what you have experienced through all of this as well. As a "gay Mormon" myself who has yet to confide in any friend in that way, I would like to ask you a follow up question, if that's okay. What do you think were some experiences that helped to prepare you to be able to provide the support and love that Spencer needed when he shared this part of himself with you? Why were you so supportive and open minded? I know it's kind of a tricky question, but if you could provide some thoughts on that I would appreciate it. Thanks!

    1. Thank you for such a great compliment! Spencer had asked me to do this, and I hope I could get the message I wanted across for everyone.

      As for your question, I'd say it was a series of things that led to me becoming accepting as a friend. But out of all of those things, I'd say my mission is what helped me out the most. As I tried to become more like the Savior on my mission, I noticed things that I struggled with that didn't necessarily go away the first time I tried getting rid of them. I couldn't even get the upper hand over them without some divine help. It may not have been same-sex attraction, but I had an issue with pride on my mission, and it became quite a battle to work on. That wonderful 2-year experience with the Savior really helped me understand that everyone was struggling together, just with different things. The fact that one person has different weaknesses than me doesn't mean either of us are worse or better than the other -- we are equal before God. What matters is if we use our agency to choose to apply the gospel, to choose to let the Savior in and help us overcome them and live the commandments. It was a profound lesson I had learned, and I can see that God was preparing me to be a better friend for Spencer during that time.

      So, I hope that answered your question. Kindof a long story, but that's the shortest way I can explain it, haha.

    2. It's amazing what a mission can do to help us develop Christ-like empathy, right? Thanks for your response. It's just a testimony that Heavenly Father is acutely aware of all of His children, and what each of us needs. He quietly directs our lives, bringing just the right people into them at just the right times. Thanks for sharing, and thanks for your voice of compassion and understanding.

      PS Don't worry about telling long stories, I've heard another blogger coin the phrase "blong-winded" for people who are long winded bloggers. I'm one of the worst offenders! :) It's good to be thorough!

  3. Totally awesome post, Garrett. I definitely fall into the 'Gay Mormon' category. After having a friend for over 10 years, I was finally able to open up to one of my best friends growing up. It is something difficult to share because of how sensitive it is.

  4. You are an amazing friend. I wish we all could have one like you!

    1. I wish everyone could have a friend like him. He knows how much of a rarity he is and it makes us sad that that kind of friend is so rare.

  5. It is sweet to have a friend's availability and support when facing any of life's challenges, but it is transformative for those experiencing SSA. It literally can be the difference between life and death.


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