I really don't know how to start this post. Words just seem to fail what I'm feeling. I hope that, in the end, they will convey what I want to say.
In the past few days I have been reading "Prayers for Bobby." It is a story all too familiar for those of us within the paradoxical society of gay Mormons. It follows the life of Bobby Griffin, a young boy raised in the seventies and eighties, and his intense internal battle between his faith and his sexuality.
This book pulls from his diaries, which were his only consolation during the intense and painful battle he fought. To read of the intense self-hatred he felt, the despair at having failed God for not changing, and the darkness he inevitably sunk into breaks my heart. This young man was in pain, searching somewhere for hope and for peace in a life that was intent on torturing him. But he never found it.
Early in the morning of August 27th, 1983, Bobby Griffin leaped from a bridge into oncoming traffic.
His story is one of tragedy. Not because of his sexual orientation, nor because of his efforts in working with it. It is a tragedy because of the misery he experienced. Because the only escape he could find was death. It is a tragedy because of the way he could never find goodness in himself, because of his intense self-judgment. Because he never learned to love the amazing person that he was. He never felt like he was enough. He never felt that he was anything of worth. And he simply couldn't fight it anymore.
I ache as I read this story. I ache because I have been there. But more so because I know that thousands of young people are going through the exact same thing. They feel rejected, hated, and worthless. They fight to find some happiness, but it escapes them. There are so many. And so many don't know where to turn for help.
I don't know how many people will read this post, but I need to send my own message to those that are fighting their own internal battles. Especially to those who are gay members of the church.
First, please know that you are not alone. There are so many of us who are in the same situation. We are willing to talk and to help.
But even if you don't believe it, God is there for you too. Part of you says, "No, he's not there. He won't be there until I can make myself straight, until I can overcome this challenge." But that's completely false. God doesn't work that way. We don't have to wait until we're perfect before God sends us help. Grace means that God sends us help now, even if we don't deserve it. So accept his grace, his unconditional love.
Know that you are not a freak. You are not a perversion of nature. You are endowed with gifts and abilities that make you a magnificent creature. You are of infinite worth. And your attraction does not change this. In fact, in my opinion, it simply increases your worth.
As I made my own way, working to understand how 'gay' and 'mormon' can coexist, the one message that I got from God without fail was that he loved me. And even when I begged for other answers and he chose not to respond, he always let me know that he loved me. And he loves you.
God does not condemn the homosexual. He looks on the heart. He sees us for who we really are and for what we truly desire. I know that he does not condemn me for my orientation, nor for my relationship. He rather wants me to improve my life and the lives of others around me. If we are constantly busy guilty ourselves about being gay, spending all our time and energy trying to change it when God never promised he would, then we miss the chances to truly make a difference in the lives of others. We miss the chance to connect with those who would break us free from our obsessions. Freedom lies in working to liberate others from their own sorrows.
Life is not an easy road. And we won't always get the answers we seek. Sometimes the path seems so overcrowded that we don't know which way to turn. But we are not alone on this path.
As a final note, I want simply to say that as I have come to accept and appreciate my orientation I have come to be truly happy. As I have come to love myself, and appreciate who I am as a human being, I have found inner peace.
But this acceptance doesn't mean I have to leave the church. It doesn't mean that I have to lead a promiscuousness or partying lifestyle. I can be a good, complete person with a happy and productive life. All of us can.
And all of us are worth it.