Voice(s) of Hope

The Book

"The book has six chapters, each focusing on a different theme. Each chapter begins with a doctrinal essay by some noted LDS authors (including Brad Wilcox and Robert Millet). After that, each chapter has three or four stories by someone whose life has been touched by SSA (either personally or because of someone they know that struggles). Some of the ones I found especially powerful were written by Kirk Reidman, Tyler Moore, and Jeff Bennion. One of the things I loved about Kirk’s story was the intensely personal message of hope and how he found hope in this life, despite his struggles with same-sex attraction. Tyler’s story was one that I found particularly intriguing. His story is entitled 'Being My True Self'. He talked about his journey, arriving at the point that he came to understand that being true to himself did not require him to live a gay lifestyle, as many believe, because the gospel was more important to him than his sexuality." (taken from my post "Voice(s) of Hope")

The Project

"As an extension of the book, Voices of Hope: Latter-day Saint Perespectives on Same-Gender Attraction, this site is a growing repository of video and written essays by Latter-day Saints who experiences same-sex attraction who desire to more openly share their journeys of faith and hope." (taken from Voice(s) of Hope homepage)

Blake Fisher

"I met Blake back in August and his testimony has been strength to me throughout the time I’ve known him. A major theme I could relate to was how his plans for his life didn’t work out. That one I can relate to. It would be an understatement to say that my life hasn’t turned out as I planned. I especially liked his experience in feeling that the Lord would take care of him is something I can relate to. Recently as I’ve dealt with a kind of culmination of dealing with Aspergers, anxiety, SSA, school, and financial problems, I’ve found that that’s something the Lord wants me to learn too. No matter how many experiences I have… No matter how many emotional breakdowns I have, I always have this sense that the Lord will help me and keep me safe." (taken from Preview post)

Cedric Phan

"A lesson that Cedric learned, which I wholeheartedly agree with, is that being a real man is becoming a Christ-like man. I loved that he talked about how much he has grown and learned from being in the church, because it would DEFINITELY be easier to leave the church at times. At BYU, it’s really hard to feel hounded with the marriage and dating talk. Sometimes it feels like it’d be so much easier to not go to church and not deal with that lecture again. However, I keep going, because I know that I can find immeasurable strength there. To close his video, Cedric quotes a song, 'Broken' by Kenneth Cope. This past week I have felt broken, so this song brings me hope and peace: 'God loves broken me. Praise His name; my God loves broken things.'" (taken from Part 2 post)

David and Peggy Matheson

"I remember the feeling that David had growing up, where he felt more comfortable with girls than with boys. I was teased and excluded by the boys in my class, but I was able to find solace with my female friends. The feeling of being different from the 'masculine' is not a rule, I suppose, for SSA guys, but it is a trend, for sure. There are many, many men with SSA that I know who do not feel masculine, who do not feel like other men, and who feel thoroughly isolated in their gender.

"What I find interesting is that his SSA seemed to flare up after he got married. He felt a large desire to connect with other men. The desire to connect with other men in a non-sexual way can be such a crucial need for men with SSA that, if left unchecked, will come out 'sideways', in the form of pornography or acting out. I’ve felt that way before. The times in my life when I have the strongest desire to throw in the towel, the thing that has helped me the most is feeling connected to men who I see as my brothers." (taken from Part 3 post)

David Peterson

"I loved David’s analogy of life to a cooking recipe (in fact I’ve used it twice in elders quorum because I thought it was so good). When cooking, you don’t put flour in the recipe because it tastes good. You put the flour in because it mixes with the baking soda, the yeast, the sugar, etc. in order to make a delicious, soft, fluffy loaf of bread. I liked the analogy because it helps put in perspective better my favorite scripture (Words of Mormon 1:7). I get upset and go into crisis mode, but God looks at is going on with me and knows that the experience is a necessary ingredient that will mix with my other experiences to make me a better man." (taken from Part 1 post)

See also: David's blog "(Gay) Mormon Guy".

Ed Hayward

"His daughter Eri was born a boy who they named Eddie. Over the years, Eddie had crushes on boys and thought he was gay, finally coming to understand that he was not gay, but transgendered. The heartache and struggle that Ed and his wife went through in accepting the struggles of their son going through the process of physically becoming a woman. These stories always hit me differently. I don’t understand transgendered feelings much. Last before this last year, I didn’t know anything about it at all until one of my childhood friends told me that he was going through hormone therapy to become a woman. I admit that I still don’t understand. It has taught me a lot about how I suppose straight people feel about SSA, not understanding how it’s possible or how it could possibly feel, but still sympathizing as best they can." (taken from Part 2 post)

Jeff and Tanya Bennion

"I loved what Jeff said about sacrifice. On a daily basis each of us make the decision between what the carnal body desires and what the Lord assures us will make us happy. Though maybe not consciously, each day I make the decision to sacrifice acting on my homosexual feelings in order to feel the blessings of the gospel and submit to the will of the Lord. From what I know of Jeff and Tanya’s story, I really admire their AMAZINGLY open communication. Even just the fact that Tanya was able to ask Jeff if he ever wanted to live in a gay relationship is powerful. Though I do think that Jeff’s perspective on the question is just as powerful, basically telling her that a better question is 'Do you wish you weren’t married to me, so that you could be in a gay relationship?' to which his loving answer was a simple 'No.'" (taken from Part 2 post)

See also: Jeff and Tanya's stories in in the book.

Josh and Lolly Weed

"I’ve met [Josh] twice (at the Evergreen Conference fireside this past September and at the AMCAP conference weekend in November). He and his wife actually filmed their video later the same evening that I did mine. I remember hearing them discuss with Ty about “What more can we say than we’ve said?” After having been on television and all of that, you’d think they’d have told their whole story. Not quite. This project allowed them to touch the spiritual aspect of their story, something that the world doesn’t understand about their story. One of the first things that impacted me—that EVERYONE should remember—is that there are NO lesser saints. Every child of God has the potential to become like our Heavenly Father. Every one of our brothers and sisters is capable of attaining the highest degree of the Celestial Kingdom." (taken from Preview post)

See also: Josh and Lolly's blog and Josh's story in the book (under the pen name "Jason G. Lockhart")

Joshua Johanson

"When he talks about the bullying he experienced, it resonated with me. Very little of the “bullying” I felt in my life was other boys directly being rude to me or teasing me (probably because they knew they wouldn’t get away with it, because I’d tell someone) so instead it was exclusion and cowardly anonymous attacks. The exclusion and the teasing made me feel different from the boys and made me feel like something was wrong. His words about finding wholeness, peace, and support resonated with me, as I’ve learned (and am still learning) to do the same. His story of getting to a place emotionally/mentally/sexually where he was able to get married inspired me to keep myself in a place where I will be able to be worthy of the same blessing." (taken from Part 1 post)

Katharine Matis Adams

"Both her brother and her husband dealt with SSA. The love and care that she shows for her brother and for her husband and their terribly rough experiences with their SSA is powerful. It hurts me to hear her say that her brother’s bishop gave him permission to stop attending church, that it was so bad. There needs to be a place in the church for people with SSA. We are doing SO much better now than we used to, in my opinion. However, there is still much we can improve on. Later, Katharine talks about when her husband [Christian] went to Journey into Manhood, which is when he really began to love himself more. After all I’ve dealt with and all of the scars that I still have from growing up with brothers who tease and classmates who make fun, making me believe I was worthless, this makes me excited to go and experience Journey into Manhood for myself. I hope to find that greater love for myself like Christian did." (taken from Preview post)

See also: her brother's story (written by her parents) in "In Quiet Desperation" and her story of her and her husband in the book.

Pret and Megan Dahlgren

"[Pret's video] resonates with me a lot. The loneliness and fear he felt. The fear to just be oneself is, in my experience, one of the most traumatic things I’ve ever experienced. It’s debilitating. It’s left me not really knowing who I am. Only recently have I really started learning who I am again, because I spent so long unconsciously (not) wanting to be what others wanted me to be or not wanting them to see who I was out of fear of them learning my big secret.

"I almost find it kind of funny how Pret brings up in his video the 'pray the gay away' mentality, for a couple reasons. First of all, that is (to a large degree) why I came home early from Toronto almost three years ago. Three weeks before I came home, I told Elder Call about my SSA. Over the course of the three weeks that followed, I was convinced, like Pret, that if I put all my energy into missionary work (1) I’d see miracles in my area -- which I did -- but also (2) that my SSA would go away. As a result of #2, I started beating myself up for it whenever I would feel attracted to another man. Whenever I had the desire to look a little longer. I was so paranoid of even just being touched briefly by another man during a game on P-Day that I drove myself crazy."  (taken from Part 3 post)

Sarrah Groves

"The first thing I loved about Sarrah’s story was that she says from a young age she knew she was a child of God and it was that valued testimony that she made the choice to pursue in her adult life, because it was more important to her than her fulfilling her sexual desires. Another thing I got was that for her peace came when she stopped needing all the answers of why it happened, but instead immersing herself in the gospel. That being said, it didn’t just go away. Like she says in the video, you may work at it your whole life and that’s okay. I loved one of the things she ended with, because it’s something I struggle with: Take it one step at a time. Pick yourself up when you fall and then keep going." (taken from Part 1 post)

Spencer and Mary Thompson

"[Spencer's video] resonated with me a lot that he wished he could have had any other trial besides SSA. However, like he says, there is a purpose in having SSA. I love that the answer he got to his question of 'Why do I have this?' was 'Spencer, I have given you this trial to teach you how to love.' I was once talking to a friend of mine about my SSA. She’d had a roommate with SSA and she was able to say that her roommate was one of the most loving people she’d ever met. That’s something that I’ve learned from my SSA (and something I’m still striving to learn), how to love.

"I love Spencer’s words about change. The change he talked about was not about changing his sexual orientation. It’s not about becoming totally straight. It’s not about no longer being attracted to men. It’s not about being healed from it. It’s about 'finding my real self', as Spencer put it. How he put it was perfect for me: 'It’s about being healed through the process of coming to know yourself. Coming to know the real you.'" (taken from Part 3 post)

Stephen Rex Goode

"One thing I’d really like to touch on with his story is the way he’d tell himself he wasn’t a 'real man'. He would tell himself that, even when he had evidence otherwise (he was a scoutmaster, he worked out, etc.). In fact, when he mentioned that to his bishop ('At one point in the meeting, I said that I often did not feel like a man.') his bishop was in tears, blown away by the absurdity that he’d heard. I loved how his essay ended, realizing that self-esteem is a gift of the Spirit. And like any gift of the Spirit, it takes prayer and true intent to obtain. I would also add that in my experience being a 'real man' is about being like the Savior, not about being what society defines as masculine." (taken from Part 3 post)

Stephen Larsen

"Like him, I can say that if it wasn’t for the gospel, I would not have made it through the lonely years of third grade through the end of high school. If it wasn’t for the gospel, I would not have survived at BYU as a 19-year-old and later a 20-year-old RM.Like Stephen, a lot of my peace has come through having support, having brotherhood, and having friends. I loved Stephen’s affirmation that it’s okay if he, if I, or if any man or woman cannot get married in this life. Singleness is not the end. One of the things I try to work on is the concept of being happy regardless of whether I’m currently interested in any girls (which I currently am, I suppose), whether I’m dating someone, or whether I’m married. I’ve been told (and I believe it) that if a person isn’t happy single, they won’t be happy married either." (taken from Part 2 post)

Steven and Alison Frei

"One of the things I loved the most about their video was their relationship. At one point Steve says that after telling his wife his concerns he said, “What happens if I mess up again?” to which she responded, “I guess we'll start over again.” Nothing judgmental or extreme. Just “we’ll keep going”. I also loved how they said that this struggle will not always be turmoil. I like that they mention that every marriage is tough and takes work. If it’s not SSA, it’s something else. Steve also said that, though it’s not the only problem a person may have in life, it is good and it may be necessary to continually do maintenance or inventory on it. They also mentioned focusing on the things that bring you joy and bring you closer to the Savior, instead of focusing continually on your problems, which I know I’m guilty of." (taken from Part 1 post)

See also: Steven's story in in the book.


"Behind the Voices" Podcast

"A couple weeks ago, I was asked for some input and reflections about the Voices of Hope project, which I was filmed for on November 16. A little while later, after the podcast was released, I listened to it. This episode of the North Star Voices podcast was about the filming of the project, the feelings and impressions that those involved had on that day. I figured the podcast would be spiritual, but, like the filming of the project itself, I didn’t expect it to be THAT powerful." (taken from my post "Behind the Voices")

Listen to the podcast

See Also:
      My Voice(s) of Hope Playlist

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