31 July 2013

Second Chances

I've had a few people over the last month or so, ask me if I would take Melissa back, if she left Megan tomorrow. The short answer is yes. I would take her back. (I can feel the glares coming through my screen right now...) I love her. I'm furious with her. And I'm hurt. She has hurt me so badly, and that scar probably will never go away. But I love her. And I would take her back. I wouldn't even pause to consider it. 

Melissa's not a bad person. She's done some shitty things. She's been a liar, an (emotional) cheater, and she's been completely inconsiderate, but she's a good person. She's kind. She's smart. She's compassionate (most of the time). She left me suddenly, and left me in the dust emotionally, but she didn't leave me physically (no... I'm not referring to sex), and she didn't leave me emotionally. Because we were engaged, and we were planning (or at least I was planning) to spend our lives together, we pooled money. My money was her money. Her money was my money. Mi casa, su casa. (Right? Me no hablo Spanish). When she broke up with me, we still continued to share finances, because it would have ruined both of us financially. She still gives me rides to work. She complains about it sometimes, because it can be an inconvience, but she has still done it. She's a good person. 

 Could I trust her? Probably not in the beginning. Not with everything anyway. Deep down, she's not a liar. Until all this shit hit the fan, I don't think she had ever purposefully withheld information about things. And if she did, then I'm just pathetic, because I didn't pick up on it. There would have to be ground rules. No alone time with Megan. Ever. I can't really set a rule that she can't ever see Megan, because they work together, but I can say that. She would have to answer her phone if I call, and if she does miss it, she would have to call me back as soon as she gets it. I'm sensitive to the excuses of "I'm just going to go for a drive", because its been proven that those drives more often than not are engineered to go see Megan. I would be able to read her texts with Megan, or at least have her read them with me. I don't need all the details, but I need something to prove that she's not going behind my back again. But eventually, I would forgive her. Completely forgive her. 

I believe in second chances. I believe that people can change, and can genuinely be remoreseful for the things that they do. I get it. I've been given second chances. Sometimes, third and fourth chances. Melissa's given me second chances. I'm not completely innocent. Every relationship has it problems. We had gotten out of the "lovey dovey honeymoon stage", it wasn't easy. But love is about making it work even when the easy thing to do is bail. Love is hard. It takes work. I was, and still am, willing to put in the work to make it worth it. 

She wasn't willing to put in the work. There's nothing I can do about it. Being powerless is the worst feeling.

30 July 2013

Gay Catholic To Gay Mormon

I've never sat down to write down my conversion story. I've told it countless times, and I still have my journal from when I was an investigator... but I've never actually written it down. My future grandchildren are probably shaking their heads at me from their little clouds up in Heaven... I can feel it.

I grew up in Defiance, Ohio and growing up I was raised as a devout Roman Catholic. Both sides of my family are Catholic, and they probably have all been Catholic since Christ declared that Peter was the rock upon which He would build His church (which, every Catholic knows is the defining moment where Christ declared Peter the first Pope, and the Catholic Church was born.)

My grandparents on my mother's side (the Romary's) consistently attend daily mass, and are notorious for attending Saturday evening mass, so Grandpa can sleep in on Sunday. My grandparents went to Central Catholic High School, and my mom and her siblings all attended one the Catholic high schools in Fort Wayne, Indiana... Bishop Luers High School, and my cousin Elizabeth is going into her sophomore year at the same school. My Aunt Julie teaches at a Catholic school in South Bend, Indiana, and my cousins Jack and Lucy attend Catholic School as well.

As for my grandparents on my father's side (the Koester's), they are devout Catholics too. I've been told that my grandma was preparing to be a nun, when she met my grandpa. My dad and his siblings didn't attend Catholic schools, but they did belong to one of the two Catholic parishes (ward's) in town, St. Mary Parish. When they graduated from high school, my dad, my Uncle Steve, and my Uncle Brian all went the University of Notre Dame, and my Aunt Mary went to the University of Dayton... all Catholic universities. My Aunt Mary is a very devout Catholic, and her kids and husband are as well.

As for me and my siblings, we didn't attend Catholic schools either. We attended attended CCD (Sunday school that was held on Wednesday nights), and we attended mass almost every Sunday at St. Mary's. My mother was a lectern who read the readings during mass, and one of my brothers was an alter attendant for a while. In high school, I was actively involved in my parish's Youth Group, and every summer, I would participate in a weekend of service called YES (Youth Elect Service) with St. Mary's and St. John's (the other parish across town). I also was able to attend NCYC (National Catholic Youth Conference) in Atlanta, GA in 2005... we celebrated mass in the Georgia dome with over 35,000 people present. It was awesome. My brother Joe now attends Marquette University, and my sister Katie has followed in my Dad's footsteps, and attends the University of Notre Dame.

In short, I grew up Catholic like most Utah Mormons grow up LDS.

When I moved to Utah, and was in treatment, my spirituality was strengthened ten-fold. While I was never permitted to attend Church (treatment is a whole other story), I had a rosary that my Grandma Romary sent to me, and I had a bible that I read frequently. I knew that I needed something bigger than myself if I was to survive those 18 months. Most people lose their faith during those months, and for good reason. But mine grew. I'm grateful for that.

When I aged out of treatment as a 19 year old, I enrolled at Southern Utah University and moved into an apartment with 5 other girls, all of whom are LDS. My direct roommate was Bailey. She and I exchanged the usual get-to-know-you questions, and then she asked me if I was a "member". I thought to myself... "A member of what?" When I realized what she meant, I told her that I was Catholic. And that was that. We existed quite harmoniously.

A couple of weeks later, I went to mass at the local Catholic Church, and I was talking to one of the parishioners about college, and just having a normal conversation. They asked me if I had Mormon roommates. I said yes. The tone of the conversation completely changed. She told me to watch myself, and that they were going to try to give me a Book of Mormon, and set me up with the missionaries any day now.

Well... they were right :)

A few days later I came home from class, and when I got to my room, there was a Book of Mormon on my desk. It had a post it note on the front that said, "Just read the front cover, if nothing else. If you have any questions, feel free to ask". I opened the book, and right on the inside, Bailey and another roommate Danelle, had written in a short testimony of the Book of Mormon. I realized that this wasn't something like a quota that they had to meet... They actually meant all of these things. They had genuine testimonies of this book. And that night I read until about 3am... and read all the way into 2Nephi. I couldn't stop. I started because I was inspired by the honesty and courage of my roommates (giving a Book of Mormon to a non-member friend could potentially blow up in your face...). But I continued reading because the Holy Ghost wanted to turn me into an insomniac :)

About a week later, I attended my first Sacrament meeting, and had my first lesson with the missionaries, Elder Lund and Elder Hill. Everything just made sense. I already believed in the concept of eternal families. I already believed that revelation never stopped. I believed in a pre-mortal existence. These were the stepping stones to my "common sense" testimony.

My biggest hangup was the need for a restoration. Catholics can trace their history all the way back to St. Peter. Logically, there wouldn't be a need to restore anything. Elder Hill put it really simply. He compared the Gospel to a mirror. While Christ was on the earth, the mirror was perfect. But when the Niacin Counsel came around, and messed everything up, the mirror was dropped and shattered. Religions have come around, and taken the pretty pieces of the mirror, and left others. He said that even if the Catholic Church picked up every single shard of glass from the mirror, and glued them back together exactly the way they were supposed to be placed, it would still be imperfect. When Joseph Smith came, and asked God what to do, it was as if Heavenly Father was having us throw out the old, broken mirror, and was giving us a brand new, perfect mirror. And that made sense. It still makes sense.

My family wasn't exactly thrilled, because I was leaving the one true faith. Logically, only the Catholic Church, and the LDS Church can truly have any legitimate claims to the "fullness of the Gospel". But for me that made it pretty simple. There was either an apostasy, or there was not. There was either a need for a Restoration, or there was not. It was black and white for me.

At this point, I had read the Book of Mormon, cover to cover. I had received all of the lessons, and discussions. I had been to Church, and I had started to form my "common sense" testimony. I wanted to believe that the missionaries were telling the truth. I wanted to believe that my roommates were all being honest. It was the moment of truth. Is this the true Church? Or am I already in the true Church? It was time to trust God. It was time to put Him to the test. I opened up that Book of Mormon, and read Moroni 10:4-5, "And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost. And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things."

I was pacing around my dorm room. Bailey was gone that weekend, so I had the room to myself. Pacing and pacing. I finally dropped to my knees, in tears (good tears), and asked out loud, "What is right? I've narrowed it down to two. If this is what you want, I will do it! But I need to know. This isn't a joke. This is my eternal salvation! Just tell me!" And immediately, I was filled with warmth, and comfort, and I had chills up and down my spine. I knew. Clear as day. That was the Holy Ghost. And that was my first experience with divine confirmation. I wouldn't have a confirmation again until a few years later, late in 2011 in the Oquirrh Mountain Temple.

When I told the missionaries that I wanted to be baptized (they actually beat me to it... they challenged me before I could open my mouth and say anything), I knew I was gay. I absolutely knew. But the missionaries said that I would be blessed. And the only blessing I could have wanted was to be straight. When I went in for my baptismal interview with the district leader, he asked me the standard question of whether or not I had participated in homosexual activity. I hadn't. And since he did not ask me if I was homosexual, I knew I answered the question honestly. I was baptized April 25, 2009.

Was a converted on that day? Yes and no. I was converted enough... I believed enough. I knew enough. But I was not truly converted until my experience in the temple 19 months ago. I may speak out, and openly disagree with the General Authorities on certain issues. I may interpret scripture, and doctrine differently than you do. I may be a little more liberal than most Mormons (no... I know that I'm more liberal than most Mormons). I may be a little too intellectual and feminist for your taste. I may speak out too aggressively for your taste. That's ok.

I'm converted. I'm in this. I sustain the First Presidency, and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. I sustain the General Relief Society, Young Women, and Primary Presidencies. I sustain the Presiding Bishopric, and Young Men's Presidency. I sustain the First Quorum of the Seventy. I sustain my Bishop and Stake President. I sustain my ward's Elders Quorum President and Relief Society President. I am in this. I'm a Mormon. A gay Mormon. I'm a little unorthodox, and I like it that way. It keeps me on my toes. It keeps me from getting comfortable, and getting stuck in a rut. My testimony is just as valid as anyone else's. My testimony is just as sacred, and just as important.

If anything... It'll keep you from falling asleep in Fast and Testimony meeting. And speaking on behalf of everyone, we all need a good dose of that.

29 July 2013


How do you cope with the loss of the love of your life? How do you cope with the sudden loss of companionship and intimacy? How do you accept that they left you and fell in love with someone else? How do you do that?

I don't have any of the answers. I'm sure that's a big surprise to all of you, but hey... the truth's the truth. I haven't written about Melissa for a while. I've instead continued to write about the "Gay Mormon Paradox". There's a couple of reasons for it. First, I think the paradox is more important to write about, and has more purpose to my community. But the second reason is what really gets under my skin... I let someone push me around. If any of you know me personally, you know that I am the very last person to let someone walk all over me. But in this case, I laid down at her feet, just to make it easier for her. About a month-ish ago, my friend (though I'm not sure if I'm her friend anymore... I offended her with some sorely needed "unsugared" honesty) told me that I was being, "creepy, sad, and embarrassing" about the situation, and I was exemplifying it by blogging about it. I got self conscious, and I stopped.

Pathetic, I know.

Well I'm starting again. It'll be a little different, because I got a request to write about how I'm coping with the loss of the love of my life... especially with the circumstances in which it happened. And I will happily oblige.

I haven't gotten over her. Plain and simple. I'm sad for her because she's making some poor life and health choices, and it breaks my heart to see her do it. She's moving on, and it breaks my heart, because I'm still in love with someone who has fallen out of love with me.

The thing that hurts the most, is that there's another woman. Melissa still insists that nothing happened between her and Megan before she broke up with me. And it's still possible that she's telling the truth, because I haven't been able to prove it otherwise. But she moved on immediately after our break up. And it eats away at me. She may not have had a physical affair before we broke up, but she absolutely had an emotional one. 

I go back and forth between being sad and being angry. I hate to love her, and I love to hate her. And I love to love her, and hate to hate her. There hasn't been a day that's gone by that I haven't cried. And there hasn't been a day where I haven't been angry. And the anger isn't always directed at Melissa. I hate Megan with every bone in my body. She's a home wrecker, and she has shown absolutely no remorse. She's polishing her trophy, and she doesn't care who she stepped on, and destroyed to achieve it. She's a poor excuse for a woman...

I feel like I can't really move on. I'm still in love with her, and I don't know when that'll change. And because I'm still in love with her, I can't go on honest dates with anyone. And even if I could, I have absolutely no desire to do so. I'm drowning. And they say drowning, and burning to death are the two worst ways to die. Figures.

So I'm not over Melissa. I'm not healed. And I haven't keeled over yet from hyperventilating, or dehydration. Death by drowning is still plausible. It's a poor start, but it's a start right?

27 July 2013

11 Reasons Why Men Don't Need The Priesthood

  1. A man's place is in the Army.
  2. The pastoral duties of men who have children might distract them from the responsibility of being a parent.
  3. The physique of men indicates that they are suited to such tasks as chopping down trees and wrestling mountain lions. It would be "unnatural" for them to do ministerial tasks.
  4. Man was created before women, obviously a prototype. Thus, they represent an experiment rather than a crowning achievement of creation.
  5. Men are too emotional to be elders or high priests. Their conduct at football and basketball games demonstrates this.
  6. Some men are handsome. This will distract female worshipers.
  7. Bishops and Stake Presidents need to nurture their congregations. But this is not a traditional male role. Throughout history, women have been recognized as not only more skilled than men at nurturing, but also more fervently attracted to it. This makes them the obvious choice for ordination.
  8. Men are prone to violence. No really masculine man wants to settle disputes except by fighting about them. Thus, they would be poor role models as well as dangerously unstable in positions of leadership.
  9. The New Testament tells us that Jesus was betrayed by a man. His lack of faith and ensuing punishment remind us of the subordinated position that all men should take.
  10. Men can still be involved in church activities, even without being ordained. They can sweep sidewalks, repair the church roof, or perhaps even lead the song service on Father's Day. By confining themselves to such traditional male roles, they can still be vitally important in the life of the church.
  11. Men don't need the priesthood. They have fatherhood.

22 July 2013

What Do You Want Me To Write About?

This blog is for you. It helps me to write it, and research for it. It allows me to do a lot of soul searching, and reflection. But in the end, it's sole purpose is to help you. Maybe you're still in the closet, and you're looking for someone "like you". Maybe you're a parent or friend of someone who just came out. Maybe you completely disagree with everything I have ever written about... I don't know. But this blog is about you. Whoever you are. Wherever you are.

So I'm opening the floor up to you. What do you want me to write about? Do you want me to answer questions? Do you want me to write about more scriptural topics? (Which I love to do). Do you want me to write about more personal experiences and opinions? I seriously want to know!

So ask me! Tell me what to write! Comment at the bottom, email me (skiutah17@gmail.com), Facebook me, message me on Google+. 

Y'all are awesome. And I love you.

21 July 2013

Gay v. Same-Sex-Attracted

I've gotten a lot of flak from a variety of people about my choice of words when I identify myself. Which is annoying, but whatever.

I identify as a lesbian, though sometimes I will use the word gay... simply because I don't believe the term exclusively belongs to gay males. I use the words "gay" and "lesbian" because it defines me as a person. It points me out as someone who's confident with who I am, and that I am open to others asking questions, and that I welcome an honest dialogue. I prefer to use it in a Church context too, because it's clear. It leaves no room for error. I'm not going through a phase, nor am I looking to enter into a heterosexual relationship. I'm confident in myself. I don't want to have a label that tells people otherwise.

On the other hand, the Church, and by extension it's leaders, will almost exclusively use the terms "Same-Sex Attracted" (SSA) or "Same-Gender Attracted" (SGA). Church leaders have stated that the words homosexual, lesbian, and gay should be used as adjectives to describe thoughts, feelings or behaviors, and never as nouns to describe people. Their reasoning is that using these words imply that a person has no choice in regards to sexual behavior. The Church has since declared that homosexuality is not a choice, but as late as 1992, the Church was still teaching that homosexual problems could be overcome "through faith in God, sincere repentance, and persistent effort." In the October 2010 General Conference, President Boyd K. Packer is quoted saying, "Some suppose that they were preset, and cannot overcome what they feel are inborn tendencies toward the impure and unnatural. Not so. Why would our Heavenly Father do that to anyone? Remember, He is our Father."

This is sending a plethora of mixed messages to LGBT Mormons. They ask, "Is it ok to be gay? Am I born this way? Is this normal? Can I change my attractions?" Since the American Psychiatric Association declassified homosexuality as a mental disorder in 1973, and the American Psychological Association followed in 1975, they would say, "Yes, it is ok to be gay. You were born this way, and it is normal. You cannot change your attractions because there is no need to change. You are wonderful just the way you are." But most Bishops and Stake Presidents will tell them to keep it to themselves, and these feelings aren't really a part of them, but simply an "earthly affliction" that they "suffer from" in this fallen world, and that upon the moment of death, this sordid affliction will be lifted in the next life, because they'll be in paradise (at least, that's been my experience in the past.)

In short, the terms Same-Sex Attracted, and Same-Gender Attracted infuriate me, and I am quick to correct anyone who uses them to describe me. I feel that they're diminishing, and demeaning. They are very clinical, and give the perception that I have a condition, that needs to be remedied and fixed. And I am perfect just the way that I am.

Let me state unequivocally... If you are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender, there is nothing wrong with you. Nothing. You do not have a disease. You do not need to cure yourself. And you are not inherently sinful. You are created in our heavenly parents' image. You don't have to accept the "same-gender attracted" label that the Church and it's members give you... not unless you want it. Your sexual orientation does not have to define you. I made the choice to have it define me, because I am comfortable with it, and I welcome shouldering the mantle of stares and judgement. I will do it, so you don't have to. If the terms that people use for you hurt you in any way, SPEAK UP! We are beautiful people, and we deserve respect.

16 July 2013

Personal Revelation

I got a lot of really good feed back about my post Journey to Gay (Part 3), both directly, and when it was published on a gay Mormon blog called No More Strangers. But I have gotten a lot of people telling me that I am wrong. That personal revelation will never contradict established revelation from the Prophet. This is my experience with talking to my (then) Stake President. 

After my experience in the temple, I went home and studied the concept of revelation. How it works, how it's "supposed" to feel. The next day I emailed my bishop and told him that I had an experience in the temple that regarded personal revelation, and that I'd like to speak with him about it. He immediately sent me upstairs to the Stake President (to this day I still wonder why he did that without speaking to me first.) I gave his executive secretary a call, and I met with him about a week later.

I went into the meeting and I explained what I had experienced in as much detail as I could. I told him everything. He sat there nodding his head, and he looked a little puzzled. He opened his scriptures and started marking things, and taking notes. When I finished, he told me very plainly, "I'm sorry, but what you have just told me is a lie. Personal revelation will never trump official, established revelation given by the Prophets." He continued to explain that it was the case partly because I do not hold the Priesthood.

Excuse me? My personal revelation was false? A lie? And because I don't hold the Priesthood?? (Which implies that no woman in the Church will ever receive revelation) No way. I believe that Satan can tempt us, but I do not believe that he can imitate the feelings that the Holy Ghost gives in confirmation. When I received this revelation, I felt the exact same feeling that I felt when I prayed about the Book of Mormon. If I had not, I probably would have interpreted it as Satan trying to tempt me. Not that it would have mattered, because I firmly believe that Satan cannot penetrate the temple to get to us. God would throw his sorry ass out to the curb. But that's just my opinion...

After recovering from the shock of his statement, I brought up the story of Nephi and Laban in 1Nephi 4. Nephi was not yet a prophet. His father Lehi was still alive and receiving revelation, as was Jeremiah in Jerusalem. He had no prophetic or apostolic authority to receive revelation for others. Therefore Nephi received personal revelation. And his personal revelation was in contention with official and established revelation from the prophet Moses. Nephi was commanded to kill Laban for the brass plates, but the Ten Commandments tell him, Thou shalt not kill. 

Nephi questions the Spirit at first (with good reason) saying, "Never at anytime have I shed the blood of man. And I shrunk and would that I might not slay him." (1Nephi 4:10) The Spirit had to tell him three times that he was to kill Laban. Finally Nephi obeyed the voice of The Lord (1Nephi 4:18), and he smitten off Laban's head with his own sword (1Nephi 4:19). He did this because the Spirit testified that "It is better that one man should perish than that a nation should dwindle and perish in unbelief." (1Nephi 4:13)

In regards to my personal revelation... The Spirit testified to me three times. I questioned The Lord; I doubted His Spirit. But I know that it was given to me because it is better that I live to see another day, and that others live to see another day, than to have the entire LGBT Mormon community dwindle and perish. And I told him this. Which in hindsight... Not the best idea...

My Stake President got a little flustered at this point... He told me that I had not been "chosen" like Nephi was. That Nephi was preparing to be a prophet (which I absolutely believe). He told me that I was bordering on being an apostate. And he told me that my communication with Satan was sinful, and that until I turn my heart back to The Lord, I would not receive "legitimate" revelation. 

*cue Todd Akin*

That day, I left discouraged... But 6 months later, when I received my patriarchal blessing, I was uplifted. Because my blessing is chock full of affirming passages to my personal revelation. Like this, "The world is in commotion. There is a multitude of opinions, motives, and desires in conflict and it is difficult for a seeker of truth to know who is right. The grace of God has given you the answer. Be grateful for the knowledge and testimony he has given you."

Am I being prepared to be a prophet? No, but my blessing does say this, "You have been reserved to come to earth in the dispensation of the fullness of times in which you now live in order that you could assist in the preparations for the Second Coming of the Lord Jesus Christ."

Are there purposes for me to fulfill? Heavenly Father says so, "You will be able to accomplish the purposes for which you were sent to earth. There are significant purposes and circumstances where you will provide very valuable assistance in accomplishing the work of the Lord."

And there is no mention of marriage. None. Which, as I have been told, is quite rare and unusual for a young, fertile woman like myself. Pretty sure that's not a coincidence.

I am including passages from my blessing, not to brag about the kick ass things I'm meant to do, but to support my unwavering knowledge that what happened that day in the temple was genuine. I only wish that I had received my blessing earlier, not just to tell my Stake President, and show him that I'm not an apostate, but for my own well being.

Since I wrote about this experience, and since it has been published on No More Strangers, there have been countless people that have told me about similar experiences. That they have had the Spirit testify to them that they are doing the right thing. Coincidence? I think not.

Let me reaffirm that I did not, under any circumstance, receive revelation for the entire, world wide Church. That is a Priesthood key that I do not hold. The only person on the earth that holds that key, is Thomas S. Monson, president of the Church, and sustained as prophet, seer, and revelator. I sustain him. And I will sustain him in every general conference for the duration of his life. And then I will sustain the next prophet (whoever he may be). 

With that said, I encourage every person, who has ever had a question about anything, to ask it. Put James 1:5 to work. But ask in faith, with no bias (James 1:6), because you will not receive an answer to your prayers when your heart is closed to it. That applies to the average member of the Church, and to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. If your heart is closed and hardened, you will not receive revelation.

Ask and you shall receive. Knock and it shall be opened up unto you.

14 July 2013

Denigrate The Body to Elevate The Spirit

I've come up with an idea. It originated with the ideas and beliefs of Joseph Smith regarding spiritual embodiment, but I've started to expound on it, and put it into a context that's not only applicable to me but to anyone who is gay, or an ally. Instead of denigrating the things of the body in order to elevate the things of the spirit, Joseph Smith always argued that it was the successful incorporation of both, that culminated a fullness of joy.

That's the theory. As a gay Mormon, one who obviously believes that there is room in the Church, and it's doctrine for gay members to be completely equal and have all of the same privileges and rights as their heterosexual brothers and sisters, I use this theory in that context.

Most people know that the Church's official doctrine and counsel for gay members of the Church is to be celibate. Simply being gay, (or Same-Gender Attracted, as the Church prefers to say) is not a sin. But acting upon the feelings, is. If you remain celibate and not give in to the "sin" of homosexuality, you will blessed, and will be resurrected in the last day.

My argument, is that the Church can fully embrace LGBT members... letting them be married (including temple marriage), and raise a family, and participate fully in the Church, just as their heterosexual counterparts do.

Devout Mormon's who are straight more often than not, will get married in an LDS temple, to achieve a celestial marriage... meaning that there is no "til death do us part", but that your marriage will continue into the eternities. It is considered an essential ordinance (similar to a Catholic Sacrament) in our journey to become like God. For LGBT Mormons, most cannot honestly enter into a heterosexual marriage, therefore they do not receive those ordinances in the Gospel.

Single heterosexual members of the Church will always have hope that tomorrow they will meet the man/woman of their dreams and they'll get married, and be able to express those physical feelings of love for their spouse. While they are still unmarried and dating, you can still hold hands and kiss... cuddle etc. but you cannot have sex. That principle applies to all single, unmarried Mormons, regardless of sexual orientation. But the straight members still have hope. If you decide to stay single and celibate, for whatever reason, you aren't "punished", there's no official Church doctrine that penalizes you. But in Mormon culture it's considered a little odd, because you have the access to the ordinance, but you don't use it. Marriage is everything in this Church... and the slightest hiccup in the process to Celestial Glory draws stares. And it's not always pretty.

Gay members? None of that. If you are committed to living celibacy, you do not have the hope of meeting your soul mate, because you have to deny yourself from looking and feeling. You cannot hold hands. You cannot kiss. You cannot have any sort of an emotional relationship. You are completely alone. And as a result, you do not receive all of the ordinances in the temple. And God forbid, if you do engage in the things of the body with someone of the same sex, you will have committed a mortal sin... one that's said to be next to murder. And that while you can "repent" of your sins, you will have on your membership records, an annotation... that says that you have engaged in homosexual behavior, and that annotation can only be erased by the First Presidency of the Church, and such action is rare. (Oh, and heterosexuals who participate in pre-marital sex, have no such annotation is permanently connected to their records.)

So I'm arguing, that you cannot say that some people are permitted to engage in the things of the body and that some are forbidden. You cannot say that the group who is permitted will be exulted, while saying that the group of people who is forbidden, will be exulted (assuming that they did indeed refrain from engaging). You cannot say that because the group who is forbidden, but engaged anyway, will be punished, and that the group who is permitted, but didn't, will be exulted, but less than those who did. It's not only a double standard, but I believe that it violates human compassion. And I believe that LDS Doctrine will one day permit the LGBT community to be fully active in the Church... despite it's current claim that it cannot.

11 July 2013

Journey To Gay (Part 3)

In December 2011, I was at the Oquirrh Mountain Temple doing baptisms. It's one of my favorite temples in the valley, and it was here, during its open house before its dedication, that I first gained my testimony of the temple. Naturally, it holds a near and dear place in my heart. I was sitting in the area where you wait your turn to go into the font. There were a lot of people there that day... I think it was a Saturday, so I had a while to wait. So I decided to do some praying.

At this time in my life... my mission call had been rescinded only a few months ago. I had moved into a new ward, and I had been given a new temple recommend. I should have been on top of the world, but was instead in a really dark place. The only thing I ever seemed to pray about was my sexual orientation... I swear I had worn out the carpet in my bedroom from pacing and kneeling. And until this day in the temple, I had only prayed for God to take away my attractions for women, because I didn't want them. I took to heart Elder Packer's words from his October 2010 General Conference talk "Cleansing the Inner Vessel", "Some suppose that they were preset, and cannot overcome what they feel are inborn tendencies toward the impure and unnatural. Not so. Why would our Heavenly Father do that to anyone? Remember, He is our Father." (this is the exact transcript from the talk given during General Conference. You can watch the talk, and read the edited talk here.) Because of this talk, I believed that my attractions were somehow a choice... and that somewhere in my soul there was a switch that I could flip, so that my attractions would change, and that I could become sexually attracted to men, instead of women. Sometimes, I would switch my wording, thinking that that would solicit a different answer. I would ask God to give me attractions to just one man. Just one man, and he would be attracted to me, and I to him, and then we could get married, and I would finally be "normal".

That's how I prayed. It's almost masochistic. And every time, I felt the same feeling. Cold. Miserable. Empty. I couldn't understand why. So that day, when I was praying in the temple, I threw up my hands, in quiet desperation, and instead asked like this, "God... is it ok for me to be a lesbian?" And immediately after those words left my "mouth" I had an overwhelming feeling of warmth. Comfort. Assurance. Love. The feeling was identical to the feeling that I had when I first prayed about the Book of Mormon. I was stunned. There was no other emotion. So I asked again, mostly to confirm that I had heard the Spirit correctly. I got the same thing. So I went out on a limb and asked, "God, do you want me to be celibate? Do you want me to be alone?" No. A very clear no. But the Spirit continued... it testified, clear as day, that I needed to get married. That I needed to prepare to have a wife, and to have a family. 

That day, I received a testimony of personal revelation. I didn't really believe that the average, everyday person could receive revelation from God through the Spirit. But that day, I gained a testimony. But more importantly, I received a testimony that I am created just the way I'm supposed to be. That God created me in His image (or should I say in Heavenly Mother's image... but my feminism is for another day). That revelation saved my life.

I want to make it very clear, that I am not claiming to receive revelation for the Church as a whole. No way. That power lies with Thomas S. Monson, the Prophet and President of the Church, and in him alone. But, I do believe that God gave me this piece of personal revelation, because He knew that I needed it. So that I wouldn't leave the Church in frustration (which I had seriously considered). And so I wouldn't feel the need to take my own life. Because for a while, I genuinely thought that it would be more pleasing to God, to have me dead in a box in the ground, with my virtue still intact, than to continue in this life living dishonorably, and unworthily. Because I still believed, that regardless if I stayed chaste and celibate in my life, I would still be considered less worthy than the straight, married woman with 5 kids, at the day of Judgement. 

I'm not alone in my thinking. While I am no longer in that state of mind, because I have finally come to accept myself for who I am, there are countless young LGBT Mormons who are going through this line of thinking. Too high of a percentage of them end up attempting to take their own lives, and too many of them succeed. We are losing my generation of Mormons, because they believe that they have no place in this Church... they believe that God would love them more if they died, instead of living a full and meaningful life. 

I want to make a difference in the Church. I want to make a difference in my community. I want to help. I want to be a resource of Christ-like love, and acceptance. Because the only "tolerance trap" that exists on this earth, is to believe that people only deserve our "at arms reach" tolerance. People deserve so much more. You deserve it. I deserve it. Your sons and daughters, deserve it. Your brothers and sisters deserve it. The young woman in your ward, the neighbors down the street, the kid in your history class... they all deserve it. 

Love one another. Treat others as you want to be treated. These are principles that every person, from any faith or walk of life can embrace.

10 July 2013

I Got To Be A Missionary Today

A woman came into my store at work today, and asked if she could ask me something a little personal. I said sure, because I'm an open book, and if she asked me something especially obnoxious or offensive, I could simply ask her to leave. She asked me if I was Mormon, and I said yes. And she asked me to help her understand what we believe, because she was having a hard time understanding how we call ourselves Christian. (She's a Southern Baptist, and I work at a ski resort so we get a lot of people from out of state, and out of the country, where the Church has a lot less presence.)

I thought about it for a second... what could I say to her to help her have a better understanding of the Gospel? So I testified of Christ. For the first time ever, I have testified of Christ. To someone other than the people in church at fast and testimony meeting. I testified of His divine birth, and His ministry. But more than anything else, I testified of His saving Atonement... because that is arguably the most important event in religious history. I told her that while we are nicknamed the Mormons, and the Mormon Church because of our belief in the Book of Mormon, our official name is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Christ is the center of our faith, and the center of our testimonies. I testified of the Book of Mormon as another testament of Jesus Christ, and that it isn't as crazy and far out as it can seem. I testified of Joseph Smith, I testified of revelation. 

She asked me to explain the Godhead, and what happens when we die. She asked me about the temple, and while I couldn't tell her much, I was able to tell her enough for her to understand. I then asked her if she was planning on going down into Salt Lake City while she's here on her vacation, and she said yes. So I gave her directions to get to Temple Square, and told her to write down questions to ask the missionaries.  

It felt a little weird... I never had an opportunity to serve my mission, so I've never done "real" missionary work. But it was fulfilling, because I could feel the Spirit. I was able to testify of truth, and I was able to help answer her questions, and help her understand what we believe. 

My missionary service wasn't rescinded when my call was taken away. My patriarchal blessing says, "There are significant purposes and circumstances where you will provide very valuable assistance in accomplishing the work of The Lord." 

Maybe this is my mission.

03 July 2013

My Grounding, My Anchor

I hate Thanksgiving. Don't get me wrong... I love the Turkey, and the Cranberry sauce, and I might even like seeing my family for the holiday, if I was ever invited. I hate Thanksgiving because it means that I need to be grateful for something. And I'm not good at it. It's not that I'm just not good at recognizing it, or that I'm too lazy to think of something to post on Facebook like the rest of the world (which I really hate). I honestly am not good at having gratitude. 

And yes... I'm aware that this makes me sound arrogant and self centered. I've been told this on multiple occasions.

Last week, I went to Temple Square. I had some time to kill after work, and I needed a little dose of spiritual enlightenment. In the North Visitors Center, there are presentations from the Old and New Testaments, the Book of Mormon, and from Modern Day Prophets. I was watching a presentation with video clips from October 2012 General Conference, and President Monson's message was to count your blessings. When you count your blessings, most normal people will start to be thankful for them. I wrote in my journal that night, counting my blessings... And while I didn't get too far, I made a little progress. Better than nothing right?

A few days later, I asked for a blessing from my good friend Jonathon. He and his cousin Garret came over and they gave me an amazing blessing. But honestly, the blessing isn't what stood out. Garret just returned from a mission to Turkey (he helped open the mission... How cool is that?!). Turkey is a nation where the population is overwhelmingly Muslim. And while Islam believes that Christ lived, they do not believe Him to be the Son of God, but just another prophet. So he testified of Christ. Day in and day out, for his entire mission. That was his message. And while we were talking, they both testified of Christ and His infinite Atonement, and His unconditional love for us. They testified of how He should be my grounding in life when everything feels like its in free fall. He needs to be my anchor; the rock I cling to.

What does it mean to live a Christ centered life? Honestly? What does it mean? You hear it all the time in our meetings on Sunday, and you hear it in General Conference, but what does it really mean? How do we live like Christ? 

To start out, you might want to invest in some Birkenstocks, because they look like Jesus sandals...

(Ok, fine... bad joke. My funny bone must be broken...)

How do you live like Christ? LOVE!!! Love thy God with all thy heart, and love thy neighbor as thyself! Feed the hungry. Give rest to the weary, and tend to the sick. Clothe the naked, and give comfort the broken hearted. Love others as He would love. That is how you live like Christ. 

Christ is my grounding. He was crucified for my sins. He knows me better than anyone. He feels my pain and my anguish. He knows the desires of my heart. He doesn't love me in spite of my shortcomings; He loves me because of my shortcomings. He loves me more than anyone in my life ever has or ever will. He will pick me up when I stumble; He will not let me fall. He will not forget me; He will not leave me behind. He will not leave me in despair; He will not leave me comfort less.

And neither will He forget you.

02 July 2013

My Purpose

My faith is important to me... You could go as far as to say that it's the most important thing in my life. And normally I keep these kinds of things to myself, because its so personal. But since coming out, and realizing that it is possible to be gay and Mormon, I've had this feeling that I need to get out there, and share it. Share it so that other LGBT people can know that religion doesn't hate them, and that there is a place within Christianity for them. Share it so that the parents and family members of LGBT people can know that their child/grandchild/cousin/sibling is still a cherished son or daughter of God, and the fact that they're gay doesn't change that. Because if there is one thing that I have a testimony of, its that God loves us. Unconditionally. No matter what.

I was unable to serve a mission, because I had priesthood leaders that decided that gay=unworthy. And for a long time I was really upset about it, because I knew that I would've been a kick ass missionary. But maybe this is what my mission is supposed to be. Maybe my mission is to be a voice. To put myself out there in the face of adversity, and spit in Satan's eye and kick him in the shins. There's a part in my patriarchal blessing that says, "There are significant purposes and circumstances where you will provide very valuable assistance in accomplishing the work of The Lord." There's something out there for me to do. And I believe that there is no bigger issue facing this Church than addressing the needs of LGBT Mormons. It'll be this generation's "ban on the priesthood".

When I have a question, I do just as Joseph Smith did in his youth... I follow the counsel in James 1:5, "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him." I study the scriptures as a daughter of God, but also as an intellectual, so that I can better testify of the truth of this Gospel. 

I'm here to do something. I'm here to make a difference.