Not talking about hard things: the real danger to the youth of the church

Since I’m going to be posting daily, I was wondering what to do for today’s post, and how I can set up some regular features so that I know what to post on specific days. A couple people reminded me that I’ve promised in the past to answer questions about Club Unicorn stuff, and while I did that for a while, I haven’t done so as much lately. I think answering questions is a great idea for a weekly post. I was going to wait until Friday because I’m cheesy and alliterative and want to have a weekly feature called “Friday’s Frequently Asked Question.” (I may still do this.) However, I just got a comment that made my jaw hit the floor, and made me realize that today’s post must respond to this person’s well intentioned but highly mis-informed question.

Before I share this comment,
I want to explain that there are probably many people who have questions similar to this, and I want to express empathy and understanding. You can’t know something until you know it, right? I mean, we all have blind spots–things that we just don’t understand fully because our realm of experience hasn’t been touched by such and such issue. I know I have them, and I might someday post a well-meaning question on a blog about some other topic that leaves the author of said blog so gobsmacked that he seriously wonders if the comment is a joke, and then is horrified to realize it’s not. And if/when I do that, I hope that blog author is nice to me, and understands that I am coming from a genuine place of curiosity as he gives his answer, but I also hope the answer is pointed and direct. So, let’s, likewise, be understanding of this person. At least she had the courage to ask the question which many people never get around to doing.

I sincerely hope she reads my answer. And internalizes it. And then tells all of her friends. Immediately.

Okay, here we go:

I have followed this blog for quite some time. I am a professional. I am a mother. I am also a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. While I am impressed how you have lived your life in harmony with the Gospel teachings, and feel you are doing the best you can to live a “righteous” life, I have mixed feelings on your posts for a few reasons. I have served in many presidencies within the church & have worked very closely with the youth for many years. I admire your desire to choose the right, but I feel these posts that have come public is giving those with the same struggles and open door to live that life as if being “gay” is okay. I have read many of your posts, and I have also read many comments and I am concerned about how many church members are struggling with the same tendencies that now think it is okay, because of your posts. 
Ultimately, I am not the judge…but why go publicly, why not be private about your personal affairs. The outcome of these posts may have a positive affect on peoples lives…but remember there are negative consequences as well. We are all entitled to our angency…but we have to be ready for the consequences involved. Im afraid for some youth that now will think its okay as long as they dont act upon it. I can have bad thoughts as long as I dont act on it – wrong! We will be responsible whether thought or action! Thoughts lead to actions…..may I remind you that Satan is very powerful and has strong hold of some of our stalwart youth. Take Care!


Okay, first of all, thanks for your comment and for opening this dialogue. I’ll answer your question because I’d like to attempt to clear up some mis-understandings for you as well as for others who might have similar concerns. Let’s get the personal question out of the way first, which I think funnels down to: why did you decide to share this information about yourself?

It’s a valid question. While I do answer it in the original post (which if you haven’t read it, please do–it explains a lot), I think I was able to answer it more clearly and retrospectively in this piece I wrote for The Washington Post entitled Why I came out as a gay Mormon. The basic, bottom line answer is: My wife and I got direct personal revelation that we were supposed to share this information on my blog. And we followed it. And then it went viral. And I don’t think that was accidental. (If you’re not LDS and that answer sounded strange, jump to the piece I linked to which explains what I mean in more detail.)

Having answered that, let’s get to the real meat of your comment, and some crucial misunderstandings that I think are fueling your concerns. I want to specifically look at the following snippets:

I have read many of your posts, and I have also read many comments and I am concerned about how many church members are struggling with the same tendencies that now think it is okay, because of your posts.

and

Im afraid for some youth that now will think its okay as long as they dont act upon it. I can have bad thoughts as long as I dont act on it – wrong! We will be responsible whether thought or action! Thoughts lead to actions…..may I remind you that Satan is very powerful and has strong hold of some of our stalwart youth.

Okay… where do I even begin with this?

First, I want you to know that being sexually attracted to people of one’s own gender is not a choice. I had no choice whatsoever in the matter. One day, at the onset of puberty, I started to find guys sexually attractive just like one day, probably at the onset of puberty, you (I assume) started to find guys sexually attractive. Humans do not get to choose whether or not they wish to be sexually attracted to other humans, and they do not get to choose the type of human beings their bodies are attracted to. In most cases, they are attracted to people of the opposite gender. In some cases, they are attracted to people of the same gender. There is no choice in the matter. It just is.


Second, I’m going to challenge you and say that sexual attraction of any type is not wrong, despite your assumptions on the matter. Human beings feel sexual attractions. Period. You should know this. You feel them too. People will feel them for their whole lives. It is part of the human experience. And every human being on this planet has the same exact option when they feel a sexual attraction: to act on it, or not to act on it. Sexual attractions are not “bad thoughts.” Sexual attractions are instantaneous human responses to other human beings, and neither youth nor adults have any control whatsoever over whether or not they feel them. Every person feels attractions, and no person is culpable in any way for them. A person can control what they do with those attractions. Do they choose to entertain fantasies? Do they choose to act? But they have no control over having the initial attraction.

I am not alone in thinking this. The following comes from the pamphlet “God Loveth His Children” which you can find on the LDS Church’s website. 


“…Attractions alone do not make you unworthy. If you avoid immoral thoughts and actions, you have not transgressed even if you feel such an attraction. The First Presidency stated, ‘There is a distinction between immoral thoughts and feelings and participating in either immoral heterosexual or any homosexual behavior.’” 
Therefore, I completely challenge you and say you are wrong in feeling “afraid for some youth that now will think its okay [and here I assume you mean “to be gay”] as long as they dont act upon it.” 
You have nothing to fear if youth think this way. The truth is, a person can be temple-recommend worthy, within the confines of the LDS church, and homosexual as long as he or she doesn’t act on his or her sexual attractions. 
What is the alternative you are proposing? What is the alternative to “thinking it’s okay to be gay as long as you don’t act on it?” Is the alternative you propose eradicating the gayness from the person? Having it removed through “faith” or some form of therapy or another. Ironically, I guarantee you would find that nearly every gay LDS youth at one point or another would give anything to have that happen, and most have prayed and fasted and begged and pled, bloodying their knees in prayer and supplication, to have their attractions taken from them. However, I have never, in the literally thousands of individuals I have now encountered who are gay, met one single person who has had this occur. Not one. That’s not to say it’s never happened. But if it has, it must be extremely rare.

Sometimes Heavenly Father gives us life circumstances. Sometimes those circumstances are hard. And sometimes He doesn’t remove those circumstances regardless of our faith and desire to have them gone. Have you ever known a righteous individual who died of cancer? Can God cure cancer? I believe He can and does. Does He cure every righteous person’s cancer? No. How do you think they would feel if you said, “If you had just had enough faith, God would have taken that from you.” (I am not comparing homosexuality to cancer, per se, but just examining the notion that God does not remove all things we ask Him to remove.)

I have made certain choices about my own sexual attractions. Those choices work for me, and I am thankful for their consequences every single day of my life. But life is very complex, and I will never ever judge or condemn the choices of another person, even if they look different than mine, because that is not my place in the slightest, and I will love and deeply empathize with any homosexual person I encounter, no matter what. I will champion them and love them and embrace them and support them. I believe Christ would do the same. 

To believe that sharing my story is a threat to the youth of the church is both an insult to me and to the youth of the church. If there are youth who are gay, they are gay. And if they are not gay they are not gay. Reading a blog post about another guy who is gay is not going to change that fact in the slightest. If they do happen to be same sex attracted, they have some choices to make for their future. Being educated, getting good information from people who have traversed the same path, is recommendable. Hearing myriad stories and finding paths that resonate is advisable. Silence is abhorrent and leads to shame, confusion and darkness. 

Sharing my story is not the problem when it comes to youth. When it comes to youth, a major problem, frankly, is people who–with the best of intentions–“protect” youth by not giving them information that will help them understand the world around them as they make grown-up decisions while still under the tutelage of parents and leaders. Shielding youth from information that fear-based adults find questionable is a disservice to the youth, and it leads to their shame and isolation, and in the end, to poor decision making. And that, I contend, is where Satan has his greatest hold upon the hearts of youth. I see it every day in counseling, especially among the sexually addicted. So, so, so many men and women saying “we were taught nothing about sex, and I had to find it all out on my own, and then [fill in tragic thing] happened.” 

In other words, your fears are part of the problem, not part of the solution. It’s time to do some soul searching and ask yourself what you are really afraid of. What about my story makes you uncomfortable, and why? This isn’t about youth. This is about you. I challenge you to dig deep and be real about what’s bothering you. Are you worried that someone in your life might turn out to be gay? Are you afraid of what you’d do if that happened? Are you fearful of something else entirely? What is your own relationship to sexuality? Do you find sexuality to be a fear-inducing topic, or is it something that brings you joy within the context of your own marriage (if you are married)? If it makes you uncomfortable, ask yourself why. Dig deep. Search your soul. Feel free to respond and I’ll continue the dialogue here or privately. (You can email me at joshua dot weed at gmail dot com.)

It has been impressed upon me again and again that we need to talk about hard things. We need to talk about things that are uncomfortable. You can sweep an issue under the rug, but it’s still going to be in the room with you. We don’t protect ourselves or others by not talking about hard things. We protect ourselves and others by being vulnerable and real and authentic even as we face really hard truths, and by allowing others, even youth, especially the youth, to do the same.

Does anybody else have any thoughts?



295 Comments

  1. I'm also a Mormon, married to an exceptional woman, with three kids, and I'm a gay. And I have to say that, through their publicly shared example, Josh & Lolly have helped me more than all other persons on the earth put together in this particular issue.

    Let me say another thing. I strive to make myself "a renaissance man" that knows a little bit of something about everything, in the spirit of the book "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance".

    When I look back, I could argue that one of the main driving forces for such a desire was precisely my same-sex attraction. I had a strong urge to make sense of my feelings & emotions and to put them in proper context within the universe I live in. And for that to happen, it took quite an effort to dive deep & turn every rock in my ruthless quest for the meaning.

    After gaining some knowledge about quite a few things, I'm becoming increasingly concerned that there are way too many people like this lady who do not have elementary understanding not just about "trivial" matters like homosexuality, but about some other exceedingly important issues that we are facing as a nation and as humankind. Such people, I'm afraid, are poised for an extremely rude awakening.

  2. I have a question about this statement that may also be her source of confusion:
    "Humans do not get to choose whether or not they wish to be sexually attracted to other humans, and they do not get to choose the type of human beings their bodies are attracted to. In most cases, they are attracted to people of the opposite gender. In some cases, they are attracted to people of the same gender. There is no choice in the matter. It just is."

    Are there people for whom this statement is not true?Does peer pressure ever influence sexual orientation? I love your blog and cannot imagine it ever having that affect, nor any other situation that would honestly, but I suspect it's easy for someone with her view point to lump all homosexuals into that category even as small or nonexistent as it is.

    1. Verena, your question is a very good one.

      What I believe Josh means is that there is a fundamental human treat that is in the core of each of us, which is sexual attraction to other humans naturally triggered at the onset of puberty. It is a God given treat, just as is our life or our arms and legs. There is nothing we can do about it in this life. We do not choose whether we have arms & legs.

      I would argue that we did have a choice whether we would have this life, this arms & legs as well as our sexual attraction, but only in preexistence. Once we had chosen back then, all our treats in this life are given.

      We do have some influence on these our treats in this life, though. Others too. Someone can take away our life or we can commit suicide. Someone can cut our arm or leg or we can cut it ourselves. But in order to severely modify our fundamental human treats with which we have been born, it is necessary to utilize brute force.

      Mere peer pressure of a non-violent nature isn't enough. But if someone is faced with violence or threat of violence, then some change is possible. Or better said, the damage of a treat is possible.

      It is known that people with same sex attraction used to be treated with electroshocks and with so called aversion therapy. That's brute force. Also, people are treated with violence or threat of violence by their peers. That's also brute force.

      The core one cannot be changed that way, though.

      Now, the question can be how is it possible that God would give us such a treat. Isn't that a little bit of a stretch?

      Sure, that may sound a stretch for someone who has never experienced it. But I think that the only way to figure it out is to simply ask those who've experienced it, and then make up our own mind.

    2. No one can really appericate this until they have lived thru it. I can tell you I have tried and tried to make these feelings go away and they don't, after these many years I still fight it. This is not a situation I would have chosen given the choice!!!

    3. I've felt that people over-simplify the interaction between choice and instinctive things like sexual attractions. I don't have a bibliography right here, but my understanding is that there are studies that show sexual behaviors influence future arousal, etc. And to the extent that sexual behaviors are chosen, one could argue that there is some culpability for attractions somewhere along the way in some cases. But I can understand why this is oversimplified to the absolute statement "attraction isn't chosen" or "it just is" because the minute you try to make any sophisticated distinctions you have people misunderstanding and misquoting and then influencing young people to feel horrible about themselves resulting in more suicides, etc.

    4. Coach, you have good points. The reason why I personally (over)simplify the attraction is twofold.

      First, I presume chastity before marriage. I believe that the chaste religious youth who experience same-sex attraction are the most vulnerable of all.

      Second, through my personal experience I realized that the more I would presume my same-sex attraction as given, the easier it would be for me to tackle it, to be cause rather than effect of it, and to steer it towards the outcomes that I found appropriate. This may sound paradoxical, but that's how it is for me.

      On the other hand, the more I would presume my same-sex attraction as caused by my past behaviors, the more I would feel helpless, unhappy, guilty & incapable of facing it & dealing with it.

      So by a simple try & error method, I find it more likely inborn rather than behavioral.

    5. I hate to break it to you josh but I think there are more people out there then you think that "had the same sex attraction" like me in the past (because I got myself involved in bad people and bad things)… and now "do not have the same sex attraction at all".. I know many who actually had the same thing happen. I think environment plays a HUGE role in whether someone is same sex attracted or not. I was never same sex attracted before me going off the deep end and I am not now after recovering. I am one of those that the environment did play a huge role. I was a little disturbed by the same comment as the original poster too because of my own experience. You can't just lump everything into your idea that,

      "Humans do not get to choose whether or not they wish to be sexually attracted to other humans, and they do not get to choose the type of human beings their bodies are attracted to. In most cases, they are attracted to people of the opposite gender. In some cases, they are attracted to people of the same gender. There is no choice in the matter. It just is."

      Just because someone has a same sex thought (which I am sure 99% of people have had at one point in their life if they admit it or not) doesn't mean that environment and putting yourself in situations doesn't solidify these thoughts. It's like any addiction. If you keep thinking about it or putting yourself in situations you are eventually going to think you "are" or "do". That's the nature of a human being and that the nature of why a person needs to bridle their thoughts in general. You can talk yourself into any action or idea if you are not careful, I know I did!!!

    6. I believe an extremely small population can truly be swayed–those that fall in the bisexual group on the Kinsey Scale. The VAST majority of individuals do not have the ability to be swayed, and the few that can be swayed take the path of least resistance–heterosexuality.

      Lee Beckstead is a gay psychologist who resides in Salt Lake and has done research showing that even those who place "gay" on the Kinsey spectrum can be happily married with a heterosexual partner. However, it appears that in order for this arrangement to work, the "gay" must be within a couple steps of being straight on the Kinsey scale. Thus, knowing how "gay" an individual is correlates to the success of a gay man's heterosexual relationship.

      Thus, I imagine it is also possible that a "straight" person on the Kinsey scale could be happy in a gay relationship, but it would take dedication and work and would feel unnatural at times. I don't see a social scenario where this would really happen unless a core belief as strong as the Mormon church for gay people enters the scenario.

      I rarely meet a "true" bisexual; I think those that can be swayed quietly act/choose straight. From my experience, most who claim to be bisexual, are generally just not comfortable with a gay identity.

    7. I absolutely and completely disagree. I'm gay, and LDS and everything that josh has said is completely true and accurate (for me). I'm not saying that your case isn't common either, but to assume that homosexuality is a choice is the worst thing you can do. I've spent years trying to convince myself that I was attracted to the opposite sex, only to have great despair thinking my faith wasn't strong enough because it didn't change the way I thought.

      I'm so grateful for Josh and his courage. It has helped me realize that all isn't lost, and I'm accepting the challenges that I have. (and I'm staying true to the faith and my beliefs, if your interested to know)

  3. I may be very naive, but… Personally, I appreciate your blog and candor. I have two friends who are "gay". They are amazing people and both LDS as I am. But, they do struggle horribly and had decided years ago that while they do believe and have testimonies of the gospel, it is to difficult for them because they are gay. They have tried to ignore it; that didn't work. They have both married heterosexually (to each other) and the marriage didn't work. Since becoming aware of your blog, I have hoped and prayed that they will read your blog and see that there is a way, they just need to find it for themselves, whatever that means for them, but, there is a way for them. It can be done. They just need to keep going knowing that Heavenly Father does love them.

    1. Please let's not put the word gay in quotation marks. It's condescending.

      I respect Josh and Lolly immensely, but I really can't stand a good portion of their fan base. It's the fans I want to smack with a wet fish. For you to watch an ill conceived marriage fall apart and still persist in this "there is a way; it can be done" mindset is terribly frustrating to witness. Maybe you've missed the point dear. Maybe you need to accept that while there is a way, that way is not good for your friends' mental health or well being. And it's not for you to judge. Just because there is a way, that doesn't mean it's a good or healthy way. You are on the wrong side of history and some day, 50 years into the future, at Thanksgiving dinner, your grandchildren will shake their heads and try to be patient with you as they explain to their children in hushed tones: "[anonynous] doesn't realize; she's just from a different generation and doesn't get it". Though frankly, dear, in the year 2012, your opportunity to cash in on that amount of tolerance and understanding is running out. Even for a church goer, telling gay people to marry straight, in most circles-even religious circles- is pretty dang unacceptable. But you keep going at it. If you want to be an embarassment to your progeny, keep going. It will be just like that awkward silence when my grandpa used to drop the n word at the dinner table. Wrong side of history, my dear. I strongly suggest that you choose something less embarassing for yourself.

    2. Kind of aggressive there. I don't think they were saying they have to marry straight. It was more of a desire for them to be able to fit the gospel and their sexuality into their lives, however that may fit.

    3. Bjorge Queen,

      I really think you are jumping the gun here. It would probably be wise to ask the person to clarify before going on an all out rant. I'm not so sure what is wrong with this comment:

      "Since becoming aware of your blog, I have hoped and prayed that they will read your blog and see that there is a way, they just need to find it for themselves, whatever that means for them, but, there is a way for them. It can be done. They just need to keep going knowing that Heavenly Father does love them."

      I think the friend just wants them to find a way to find peace whatever that means. Like Diddlz said; "I don't think they were saying they have to marry straight. It was more of a desire for them to be able to fit the gospel and their sexuality into their lives, however that may fit."

      These are people who are wanting to live within the gospel still and find peace with their sexuality. This friend is hoping that they will find peace someway somehow.

      So take a chill pill, and breathe. It sounds to me that even if her friends did decide to marry the same gender that she would still be supportive. She just wants them to find peace with themselves and their situation and to know that God loves them no matter what.

      At least that is what I took from it, maybe they will come back and clarify, but regardless you don't have to be so rude without knowing what they really meant.

    4. oh boy here we go again. BQ – no one on here will listen to you because a) your aggression scares them. They will simply rally against you and feel superior and b) magical thinking prevents them from seeing that their way of thinking is incorrect. They will never ever ever see that and it will all keep going around and around and around in circles. The level of ignorance and provincialism on here is absolutely stunning and it would be merely entertaining if it weren't for the fact that youth are dying. Everyone's so obsessed with the gay thing. I say, go like feed the hungry or I don't know, help someone move a heavy couch rather than spending all this energy on being obsessed with gayness. In fact, go help a hungry gay person move a couch. perfect. on a separate note, i am honestly curious how many mormon commenters on here have a college education. Josh does, does anyone else?

    5. I'm not sure what is wrong with asking people to make sure they understand people before they go off on them? If indeed the originally commentator did in fact mean that their friends should have a relationship like Lolly and Josh no matter what then that is silly. Josh has said many times that this is what works for THEM. I really think she wasn't trying to say that, but who knows. I agree the message Josh is trying to give is of loving one another and accepting each other for who we are, not of debate of the gay thing. I am a "mormon commenter" and have an Associates Degree. Also I don't think I am "superior", but like you I don't think I am incorrect. That is the beauty of opinions we don't always see eye to eye but can learn a lot from each other.

    6. ok an Associates Degree. Anyone else college educated at all? – outside of BY University. Generally, butnot always, when people hold the types of views i read here they are less educated. Not a judgement, just a fact.

    7. anonymous 8:42… lol I think you would be surprised to know that many of us have a college education. That just plain ridiculous that you are not educated if you feel one way or another. lol

    8. Actually, studies have proven this connection. I was just doing a sort of straw poll on here because my guess is that the majority of people on here are not university educated (BYU excepted)

    9. I have a BS and my husband is a doctor. Assuming that people who approach an issue from a different angle is condescending–at best.

    10. I have a BS in Mathematics, and not from BYU. Education is very important and highly encouraged in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, and a very small number of Mormons go to BYU compared to the population of the entire church.

      But we also know that the highly educated can sometimes decide that they know better than God, so there's your connection from studies. It doesn't mean that believing what we believe means we're less educated. You're actually showing your misunderstanding of correlation of information by implying that believers are less educated.

    11. Yes I am college educated (2 BAs) and they were not achieved at BYU. Although my brother, who has an advance degrees from a UC school and an Ivy league school would argue your dismissing BYU. He graduated first in his class at the UC and found his BYU education superior in many ways to others in his class. That being.said, I agree with anon9:51.

    12. How does BYU not count as a university education? My dad went there for an engineering degree and was accepted to Purdue at no tuition cost. It's as strict to get in as some of the Ivy Leagues, and even has as good of an education as many of those.

    13. I have a BS and my husband has a medical degree. It is quite arrogant to assume people who disagree with you are simply less educated.

      The "BYU excepted" thing seems particularly derogatory. It is an accredited university which meets all the educational requirements of the system. Your comment seems to indicate that you believe someone with a BYU degree is less educated than someone who attended a more liberal university.

    14. this is helpful, thank you! So about 8 people so far give or take who have a higher education. I would extrapolate that out to several more people as well. It still doesn't seem to be the majority of commenters on here though but hard to tell with such an informal poll.

    15. It is really unacceptable to not consider BYU students or grads "university educated." Sure, there are many BYU students who don't take their education as seriously as they should. That is true of hosts of students at any university. I am a BYU graduate (which apparently means I'm not educated, by your standards) and am now working on a masters degree. I have the ability to read these posts, critically think about them, and continue developing provisional opinions on the topic. Most importantly, I have done my best to maintain compassion in such situations and conversations. Many of my friends are gay and I've been nothing but supportive. Please don't be so rude as to characterize BYU grads as "uneducated." That is just uncalled for.

    16. LOL, Studies have shown this connection? If so I'd like to see them. But statistics show that Mormons are more educated than the population in general. http://eom.byu.edu/index.php/Education Your assumptions that people commenting aren't educated and your digs at BYU just serve to show your own ignorance and hypocrisy.

    17. Why BYU excepted. BYU is an academically accepted institution. The educate feature doctors, lawyers, politicians, nurses, engineers, architects and a myriad of other successful hardworking white collar professions. An education from BYU is just as valid as an education from many many other institutes, and more valid than some. I am not mormon by the way and I did not attend BYU, although I am college educated.

    18. Anonymous. Oh boy. Straw polls of your kind are kinda stupid. But, okay, I'll play because I don't feel well today and I've decided I'm doing no writing today. I'm university educated, holding my undergraduate degree from a public university in the south (but not too far south of the Mason-Dixon line). I am now in Big Ten Country, doing POST-Doctoral work. You can call me Dr. Anonymous. And I think that Josh and Lolly sharing their story is wonderful. I greatly admire them both, even though I've never met them.

    19. Anonymous at 10:03,

      Your statements boil down to this: If you disagree with me, you're stupid. (I have two college degrees, one from BYU one from University of Idaho. Does it really matter though?).

    20. LDS College Student in the Midwest –
      The 'gay' thing is important to people… Some people struggle with the 'gay' thing every day. Being gay is real, and is a real issue. Josh and Lolly have helped a lot of people by sharing their experience. Sometimes the way people can help one another is by sharing their example and giving them hope-although I'm sure if you needed help moving a couch they'd be willing to help you do that too.

  4. I'm so glad you are posting every day now! I just have a little family blog to keep extended family updated and I know what you mean about feeling like you need to have a "brilliant" post when you haven't posted in awhile. Well, I think you nailed brilliant right on the head with this one! Thank you.

  5. I fit the profile of the person who wrote to you in many ways (have worked with youth many years, etc. and fairly ignorant of the issues you are discussing so wonderfully in this blog). I agree that we need to talk about difficult things, and that we need to search out what actual church teaching is, rather than assume the way we were taught (by whatever influences) or our own assumptions are correct. Without trying to trivialize the hard things you are trying to discuss, I just want to say that even something as simple as my daughter's choice to be vegetarian has been controversial with some individuals who seem to assume that the way they have always lived and thought must be right. I think this reflects human nature more than this particular church and that working with and continuing to love these individuals is one of the great challenges of a Latter-day Saint or any individual trying to make the world a better place. One of the most important things to keep mentioning in these discussions of hard things is that we aren't going to understand everything right away. Difficult questions are sometimes ones we struggle with for years and years and years, but in the struggle is where we come to know God–as long as we are struggling with God and not just with the people around us.

    1. "I agree that we need to talk about difficult things, and that we need to search out what actual church teaching is, rather than assume the way we were taught (by whatever influences) or our own assumptions are correct."

      excellent point.
      often we members tend to express our opinions and not Gods!

      Our job is to love, be an example; not to judge and change others.

    2. I agree with what you say about human nature. My background is totally different in so many ways. But the same problems arise in my community and when it comes to hard things, the difficulty is universal.

  6. Well said.

    I am a youth leader in the church and applaud your recommendation to seek knowledge rather than shy away from the difficult. I would hope that the youth I teach learn to study, ponder and choose for themselves–learn to love and know the Lord, learn to recognize the Spirit speaking to them, learn to find answers for their own lives. And it's time to be respectful, yet direct and very open in speaking (often) about the very real challenges they are facing: sex, sexuality, suicide, peer pressure, family life. To assume that our youth 'can't handle' (or 'can't handle discussing') what's already happening to and around them sells our youth short. They're spiritually strong. They're smart. They've been prepared to be here now. I hope that as leaders and parents, we can have those frank and frequent discussions … that we can by loving stand by their sides as they learn to navigate everything of this world that gets thrown at them … and they we can help them gain confidence and faith in their own ability 'learn the truth of all things.'

  7. This is awesome and right on the money. I think I've mentioned here before that in the Church we sometimes confuse the distinctions between the gospel, which is enternal truth and never changes; the Church, which teaches the gospel and changes programs and policies from time to time to best meet that objective; and the culture of Mormonism, which sometimes has nothing to do with either the gospel or the Church. That's where judgement and exclusivity lie, for example. Places with few members and more converts have little culture, and more gospel-centered Christ-like love and acceptance. I love that. Every ward needs to learn that.

    1. "we sometimes confuse the distinctions between:

      the gospel, which is enternal truth and never changes;

      the Church, which teaches the gospel and changes programs and policies from time to time to best meet that objective; and

      the culture of Mormonism, which sometimes has nothing to do with either the gospel or the Church."

      Perfectly said. Being LDS has these three distinct components. When the culture or even the Church becomes more important than The Gospel, we are in error and it is time to stop and rethink our priorities!

    2. the gospel says NOTHING about homosexuality. Jesus also says nothing abou it. 'which teaches the gospel and changes programs and policies form time to time to best meet that objective' – I believe it was considered part of the gospel that African Americans were cursed. That changed. That Adam was God? That changed. That men (not women, darn it) can be gods and rule their own planets? Not in the gospel and hasn't changed. That women have babies for literally ever, not in the gospel and hasn't changed. Polygamy? Changed. Restored Aramaic? Never proven,hasn't changed. The need to restore the gospel even though it had never died out? Hasn't changed. That's right, the Gospel of Christ has never died out, ever. It did not need to be restored.
      Quite hard to keep up actually.

  8. As a Catholic who also happens to be gay, I'd say this is on the nose. I've been following your blog off and on since the promulgation of Unicorn, and I've been exceedingly impressed with your charity, uprightness, and above all good sense. Good work, sir, and keep it up!

  9. Josh, I think that you "coming out" is a great example for lots of people who struggle with homosexual tendencies and you are certainly not the only person who has chosen the path of being gay in a heterosexual marriage. Your example shows kids (and adults) who may be struggling with these same issues that even if they can't choose their instincts, they can choose a lot of things. And I love how you've presented your story–for what it is. You aren't trying to force your way on anyone or say that it's the only way to do things. You are just being an example of something that can be, and your example is not something that we are hearing frequently in today's world. I don't know if homosexuality has increased in the past 50 years or if homosexuals are just more vocal than ever before, but with the rise of the gay rights movement it seems like there are more and more societal pressures for people to live a gay lifestyle. I think your story helps people know that is not the only option.

  10. I appreciate this entry very much. I have a relative who is very homophobic (it's a generational mindset) and whenever the topic is brought up, she always expresses her fear about how the 'gays are getting the youth of the church,' like they're a club out to recruit a few good men and women. When she found out BYU altered the honor code in that BEING homosexual was okay (without acting on it, just like for the heterosexual students) she was downright gobsmacked. I'm rambling a bit…but I'm thankful for this entry, because when the time is right I can share a more whole perspective with her on this topic.

    1. Much like people who crapped their pants in 1978 when the church changed that racist policy. (Hi, Amy.)
      Can't make everybody happy, eh Josh? Not liberals like me and definitely not conservative fans who feel you're not doing your part to contribute to the depression and suicide level of gay LDS youth.

    2. Maquel – Bjorge Queen's sarcastic and inappropriate comment indicated that conservatives want gay LDS youth to be depressed and die, and Josh disappoints them by not helping that happen.

      Because conservatives obviously want everyone who sins* to be depressed and kill themselves.

      If only she realized that people can disagree and still love each other.

    3. That middle sentence was supposed to be enclosed with words that said *sarcasm* on either side of it, but I accidentally make them invisible with < > marks. Ugh. That's what I get for trying to be tech savvy….

    4. Elizabeth, when you "disagree" with the very essence of a person's being; their thoughts, dreams, hopes, and desires, and when you wish for them to never forget for a minute that they're not okay or that they're okay only on the condition that they're willing to live a very challenging and uphill existence that runs counter to their basic human desires, you are not their friend. They have little positive to gain from a relationship with you. Especially when that person is young. You're using the word "disagree" as a substitute for ignorance and judgment. Your "disagreement" puts young people at a higher risk for depression and suicide. Your opnions are still yours. I just want people like you to stop pretending that your opinions don't hurt people. How about this: You think you're a decent and compassionate person? I disagree. Hope that doesn't bother you though. We can all disagree! Let's go out for icecream now!

    5. I disagree *just* as much with my friends who live with their opposite-sex partner before marriage as I do with those who choose to act on homosexual feelings. But I DO go out and get ice cream with them, and we have plenty of good times together. Thus, I still know it's possible for us to disagree and get along – if we are willing to accept that we need not try to force change upon the other person.

      That doesn't mean we can't share our opinions and invite people to change, if they would like to do so.

      Hopefully, you will see that being kind and inviting really does win more people over to understand your opinions.

    6. Have you met these people personally? I am a member of the church and I know that if I am living within the teachings of the church yes I do not agree with "the lifestyle" as you put it, but I don't think they are horrible people by any means.

    7. BQ is exactly the kind if hater BW condemns: one who thinks his/her way of thinking is the only righ way, and anyone who doesn't think exactly the same is a hater. It is the height of intolerance from one who demands tolerance.

  11. MANY issues in the one posting! But about one part:
    "and most have prayed and fasted and begged and pled, bloodying their knees in prayer and supplication, to have their attractions taken from them. However, I have never, in the literally thousands of individuals I have now encountered who are gay, met one single person who has had this occur."

    I am LDS, married to a heterosexual transvestite cross-dresser.
    This is his exact situation. He was born this way. He wishes he wasn't. He has prayed for the desire to dress as a woman to be taken from him. They have not.
    I have prayed for the desires to be taken from him. They have not.
    It is not a choice. How he/we live with it is.
    When he told me about this, after ten years of marriage, I chose not to leave him. Was my choice the right one? Or should I have taken our children and left his influence?
    I won't know the answer to this until the next life.

  12. One more piece:
    The letter to you wrote: "but why go publicly, why not be private about your personal affairs. The outcome of these posts may have a positive affect on peoples lives…"

    OK, as one of those folks who hangs on by a thread to an atypical LDS marriage, I get strength and comfort from knowing about you and your family.

    I don't feel so uniquely alone out here.

    the cross-dresser's wife again

  13. That dear and well-meaning sister that posted that comment is, to use the word in a strictly literal sense, oblivious to a lot of what is going on around her. Kids are *already* talking about all these issues among themselves – but they're not talking about them with grownups (like her), because they're trying to shield the grown-ups from these discussions. My kids and their friends have never had trouble talking about these things with their mom and me, but wow, the stories they tell about their "uptight" parents …

    Rather than try to shield the youth of the church from topics like homosexuality, leaders should be open to such discussions, and prepared to participate in them. I'm not suggesting that adult leaders should plan a fireside around what it's like to be gay, for example, but I am suggesting that if you're driving a carload of youth to a campout or some other activity and the topic comes up, then the adult leaders should be ready and willing to participate in the discussion, rather than shut it down.

  14. I have a question. And I'm really not trying to be rude or ignorant. I'm just confused. You said, "But life is very complex, and I will never ever judge or condemn the choices of another person, even if they look different than mine, because that is not my place in the slightest." My question is: Why not? I've been under the impression that we ARE supposed to judge and condemn choices and courses of action (moral absolutes), but to simultaneously refrain from judging the person– to love regardless of those choices, which we may condemn.
    And please, pardon me for posting anonymously. It's not that I don't want YOU knowing who I am… just posing a sensitive question– and a genuine one– in a public forum makes me a little antsy.

    1. I judge choices and actions for myself and my family.
      Are we going to do something? Am I going to participate?
      Ex. Am I going to go to a bar for a drink? Am I going with my co-workers to a strip club? Am I going to have an extramarital affair?

      I am not to judge those that make those choices for themselves. God is Judge. I do not have to approve of the choices of others, but I do not live in their skin, know what has happened in their life that has influenced their decisions, etc.

      An easy, simple comparison:
      Beggars on the side of the road in my town.
      Some obviously appear desperately in need. Others do not.

      It is my job and calling to give to others.
      It is NOT my responsibility to determine HOW my money will be used by that person. Perhaps they will buy food with it. Perhaps they will not. Perhaps they really need it. Perhaps they are con artists.
      It doesn't matter. It is only my job to give.

    2. I believe you've asked a very good question. And there are more than one dimension to the answer.

      First, Mormon doctrine teaches that homosexual relationship is unacceptable to God. And that is perfectly okay. While there are some attempts in that direction, it would be utterly wrong for anyone to try to force the LDS church into changing that (or any other) her doctrine. It should be possible that the doctrine is either never changed or changed by revelation as prescribed. It should also be perfectly normal & acceptable for Mormons to judge, discipline & excommunicate (if necessary) anyone who engages in gay relationship & sex. However, it should not be acceptable – and that is the Gospel standard – to dislike, avoid, gossip, hate & punish those who choose to live in a gay relationship. Aside the fact that the church discipline has never been and should never be a punishment, those who discipline and/or excommunicate are not EVERY MEMBER of the church. Only priesthood leaders are called to discipline.

      Second, Joshua Weed is a professional therapist specialized in the field of sexual issues. He had chosen to accept anyone and everyone as his clients, no matter their religious affiliation. If he decided to judge & handle those who come to him for help in a way which priesthood leaders should judge members of the church, he would probably violate his profession's code of honor. Not by his words, but by his deeds he has shown what he thinks about same sex relationships and the church doctrine towards it. He undertook an incredibly difficult path for himself. And precisely because he knows how difficult that path is, as well as because he is a professional therapist, he carefully refrains from judging others the way you think he should.

      Judging only seems easy. It is actually awfully difficult. Ask that a priesthood leader who has ever been a member of a disciplinary council.

    3. The idea of "judging" is a confusing one in the church, I have heard the topic tackled over the pulpit several times, each talk seemingly contradicting the other.

      Only Christ is The Judge. We do not judge people (as you stated), and in this life we are not equipped to completely judge actions, either, as we do not know the entire circumstances surrounding a person's choice. We are commanded to LOVE.

      Only Christ, who has experienced all through the atonement, is equipped to judge. In circumstances mentioned above by FG Mormon, where priesthood leaders need to judge in the case of church discipline, they are representing the Lord in that judgement, and presumably the Spirit guides them to make a judgement as Christ would make. Most people involved in having to make "judgments" would explain that there is no black and white in church discipline, there are guidelines and the spirit.

      "Righteous Judgement" in my experience, has often been used as an excuse by members of the church (not leaders acting in an official capacity) to be condescending to those whose choices they do not approve of. This is neither Christlike nor an appropriate use of judging.

      The bottom line is, if you LOVE first, there will be no need for judgement.

    4. These are good replies, but I would like to add that even though it is only the responsibility of church leadership (not the general membership) to make judicial decisions as far as church discipline, they do not make those decisions on their own. They have been given the gift of discernment and work closely with the Spirit. I certainly don't envy anyone who serves in that capacity!

    5. These are good replies, but I would like to add that even though it is only the responsibility of church leadership (not the general membership) to make judicial decisions as far as church discipline, they do not make those decisions on their own. They have been given the gift of discernment and work closely with the Spirit. I certainly don't envy anyone who serves in that capacity!

  15. Edit: (1) the stories they tell about *their friends'* "uptight" parents
    (2) … rather than shut it down. Either way, their choice will have a long-term effect on the youth, and wouldn't it be better to have the chance to guide their learning, rather than push it underground or into hidden corners?

  16. I remember when Brokeback Mountain came out and what a stir it brought among the members of my congregation. I was never a homophobe, but at that moment I started asking myself if I was wrong not to disapprove gay population, because that is what the majority of the members were doing. Today I truly believe it was so because they didn’t know much about it. And when we don’t know something, it can scare us.
    Luckily the knowledge of homosexuality is in rise today and as Megan put it ‘homosexuals are just more vocal than ever before’.
    With Josh and other families like his we can see that there are people who strive to live with this and have a happy, successful life in total accordance with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And if we have and live the Gospel, who can say we and our homosexual spouses are not on the right path? And if we’re on the right path, then why not help those who need our help the most?

    1. *GASP* Brokeback Mountain? That's rated R!!!!!! How would any self-respecting, temple recommend holding member of the church even know about that movie?! (just a little sarcasm to add to the discussion on judging…)

    2. Of course, FG, I get that. People can be whoever the heck they want on the internet as you have chosen to do. That's fine, I'm just pointing it out.

    3. Speaking of movies, I took my 8 year old to see ParaNorman and I will admit I was a little pissed off hollywood put a gay sexual "my partner" comment at the end of the ParaNorman Movie. Why do they have to put sexual stuff in PG kids movie now a days anyways? I was have been furious if they had put a heterosexual comment in there too. Listen as much as I don't care if people are gay, hey its the new sexual revolution now a days. I care if media is indoctrinating my 8 year old in a kids movie when he is to young to even understand the concept of sex in general. You want a momma bear to come out, put sexual things in a kid movie and you will get her growling………:(

    4. We knew it was only a matter of time when we would get comments like that. But seriously, it took longer than I expected.
      And not that I need to clarify myself if I'm really Mrs. or if I'm just my husband playing two roles, but- we have decided we need to be more involved, since families like ours are not so, how to say it, vocal. The reason for this was actually Josh's post called 'Haunting', where he ends his post with
      "What do you personally commit to do to help make sure this doesn't happen to our gay youth and loved ones anymore? What can I do? What can we all do?"

      And the reason why he disappeared is very simple- we had a baby and took the time off with our family and actually enjoyed fresh air on the coast for a while, instead of being locked onto our computers all days.

  17. I really appreciate your comments about needing to talk to the youth about hard things. As a YW Adviser myself right now, I took this approach in my last lesson that I taught. I blogged about it here (http://johnsonmadness.blogspot.com/2012/08/the-power-of-prayer.html) By the end of the week I had 11 people talk to me about the lesson, most good, 2 bad. It's funny how differently people see things, and it is even crazier how mad people can get over something they feel uncomfortable about. People need to quit tip-toeing around what needs to be said! THANK YOU!

  18. I just want to pipe in and say, as the wife of a pornography addict, I couldn't agree more. I would love to take the last two-thirds of this post and just substitute pornography addiction with homosexuality.

    I used to be that woman, I was soooo afraid, but couldn't identify my fear. It was so embarassing and uncomfortable to discover my husband's "bad habit" and even more difficult to talk about. I can now say that I am grateful for the opportunity I've had to learn more about sexuality, taboos, addiction and love. I feel more prepared as a mother to talk with my children about hard things, to teach them without shame and persecution and fear.

    "When it comes to youth, a major problem, frankly, is people who–with the best of intentions–"protect" youth by not giving them information that will help them understand the world around them as they make grown-up decisions while still under the tutelage of parents and leaders. Shielding youth from information that fear-based adults find questionable is a disservice to the youth, and it leads to their shame and isolation, and in the end, to poor decision making."

    Yes. My husband and I were both those who were inadequately instructed or misled by popular media about sex, and then [fill in tragic thing] happened.

    Thanks for being bold and I hope that other parents and family members and those who influence youth can make these discoveries.

  19. So – this is almost completely off topic, but I figure this is a decent place to ask.

    My husband is a YM leader, and after coming home from a campout he told me about he and the boys had a lot of fun playing "Smear the Queer" at the lake. I asked if he actually used that name with the boys, and he had no idea why I was upset. He said the boys were the ones to suggest the game, and that "that's the name of the game" and he's never heard any other name for it.

    I also happen know that one of the boys in the ward has homosexual feelings he's struggled with acting upon. I can't say that he's gay, because he hasn't come out as gay and I don't know if he is also attracted to women or just men, BUT, I am concerned about how playing a game with such a name can perpetuate negative – and physically violent – perceptions of homosexuals. I don't believe this boy was on that campout (he's in an older group than my husband works with) but that's not the point.

    So – I figured I'd ask Josh and this community – 1)Have any of you ever heard a different name for "Smear the Queer"? (NO one in our circle of friends had ever heard of one.) and 2) How would you go about explaining (or would you) to the boys the change of name? Would you talk to the parents first and give them a heads up that you're going to say something to their boys about what the word queer has become and why they shouldn't use it? I ask that because I know that some parents would be very upset if anyone but them spoke to their boys about homosexuality (and some don't want their boys to hear about it at all). I know that doesn't make it right, but it is kind of their right as parents….

    So, not to hijack the conversation – perhaps this can be something you blog about on a differ day – but I'd really love your (or anyone else's) thoughts on this!

    1. Here it is. Wikipedia suggests "Muckle", "Muckle the man with the ball", "Kill the guy with the ball", "Kill the carrier" and "Smear the queer".

      However, although I'm personally gay, Mormon, temple married to an exceptional woman with three kids, I don't think that the name of a game should be treated with political correctness.

      Instead, I would use the name to teach the children, if appropriate, that there are people with different sexualities, and that one should be kind & polite to everyone. And then I would let them call the game as they please.

    2. Ha. Thanks! I don't know why it didn't occur to me to check the internet, even though I do that for everything else!

      In all honesty, a lot of political correctness usually bugs me, but I guess I just felt like with a rough group of boys like this, it might be appropriate to point out that it is offensive slang and can be doubly hurtful in a climate where bullying and violence are around every corner.

      Thanks for your advice!

    3. Really FG. You don't think it's good sense to teach children to stay away from bigoted epithets? How about if instead of using the term "political correctness" we substitute "compassion" or "human decency".

    4. Bjorge, bigotry is in the essence, not in the form. I like how Josh uses terms "gay", "homosexual" and "same-sex attracted" interchangeably as synonyms. He wonderfully explained the logic behind that decision in his post "Identity" on the North Star

      http://northstarlds.org/blog/2012/07/identity-2/

      I believe that we should not charge terms with meanings that they do not have. I'm pretty sure that "Smear the queer" hadn't been originally made up in order to verbally abuse homosexuals, and then later caught up as the name of a game. I'm not a native English speaker, so correct me if I'm wrong.

      Only if that was the case, than I would be against it.

    5. I find the name absolutely horrid. Sorry, FG, I am a native English speaker and I find it reprehensible to even use that name, no matter what the origins of it are. And shame on the YM leader for seeing no problem with it. Does he live under a rock? My husband is a scout leader in our ward. He has one boy specifically who is very, very homophobic (who knows why?) and this boy has been known to utter many anti-gay statements. Which my husband reminds him are NOT Christlike in any way, shape or form. I've never seen that game played where I am, but the scouts generally play Capture the Flag.

    6. Original Anon here, with the husband who played Smear the Queer with the boys. FG Mormon, the game probably really does reflect the idea of abusing homosexuals, which is why it concerned me. Queer really isn't used in American language very often unless it's as a derogatory term for homosexuals, even though it was once an innocent word – like faggot.

      HOWEVER – InkstainedPsyche, I think it's unfortunate for you to "shame" my husband when the fact is that he's so far beyond judging someone on their sexuality that he honestly didn't think of the names implications. To him, it was just the same name the game has had his entire life, and he had honestly NEVER heard of any other name for it. Like I said, we even asked our friends at church and none of the men had heard of another name for it and even the member of the bishopric who was in attendance at the campout did not object to the situation. Let us not shame people for their ignorance, let us POLITELY and HELPFULLY make them aware of the dangers of their way of thinking.

      We live in a very hot climate, so playing capture the flag isn't always an option. On cool evenings, it might be kickball if they can get a park to keep their lights on, but this game is most safely and comfortably played in a pool. (Tackling isn't nearly as painful that way!)

    7. Whether he's ever heard any other name for it is immaterial. The fact that the term "queer" is almost never used any more as a word meaning peculiar or weird, but as a synonym for homosexual (and it can be derogatory when used by heterosexuals, though I've known gays to refer to themselves by it also), should be a big red flag in allowing it be continued to call that. Because I'm pretty sure the boys know what the word means and kids that age are very, very cruel to others in their peer group, whether it be inside the church or outside.

    8. Your comment, while making good points that the name should be changed, has no bearing on the fact that my husband shouldn't feel ashamed for not being sensitive to the word. It really wasn't one that was used in our area much, and even when you know the meaning of the word, hearing it as a title of a game simply didn't make him think of homosexuality. It made him think of a fun ball game he has played since his youth that in NO WAY tied to sexuality. When I pointed out that it was offensive, he willingly asked around for another name so we could correct the issue.

    9. New Anon here. I don't think your husband should be shamed if he didn't mean to hurt anybody by using the term queer. Of course, by posting the question you agree that isn't probably not the BEST choice of word, but he clearly wasn't trying to be some jerk or something.
      I have never ever even heard of that game. Literally. I don't know, I live in Michigan, and I'm not LDS so maybe that is why. So I can't help you with the whole re-naming the game problem.
      But I would really suggesting talking to the other moms. Don't tell them that one of the boys might be gay because that would be breaking his trust, and could really mess things up for him. But just tell them that you're worried about the bullying and how that's not a great word to encourage them saying and how you want to tell them that the game is not called (new game name) because queer is not a great word.

      Unless used in a positive light. I wrote a whole blog about how I think queer is a word that should replace the term "LBGT" read it here: http://theprogressiveliberalagenda.blogspot.com/2012/08/how-lgbt-even-adding-q-isnt-really.html

      You don't have to explain all of that to them, but just say queer isn't a nice word to call someone so we are changing the name of the game. Simple.

    10. Anon, you cannot make me believe that your husband didn't realize that "smear the queer" was a euphamism for violence toward somebody perceived to be gay. And I believe it was shameful that he-the adult and leader- didn't speak out strongly against it. We need better from our youth leaders.

    11. Anon @ 8:48 American language is English – I was just referencing it that way because I know that English outside of the USA is different when it comes to phrases and sayings, and with FG Mormon mentioning that English was not his first language and reminded me I could be speaking to a world audience and not just an American one.

      New Anon @ 8:28 – I appreciate your thoughts. The boys were the ones to suggest playing the game – inappropriate title and all – and it really is a great game to play with this particular group of boys. Basically whoever has the ball gets tackled until they lose control of the ball, and whoever gets the ball does their best to hide it or run from the rest of the pack. I had never seen my husband talk so sincerely about enjoying his time with those boys than when he gets to play games with them – he's such a kid at heart! Also, good suggestion about the moms. I'm not very connected to those moms (I am way younger – like, could almost be one of their kids myself) but I should be able to approach them – though, I think my husband will just let the boys know the game has a new name because the word is inappropriate.

      BQ – While I see what you are saying, I think you are missing the point. Not everyone lives and breathes the (for lack of a better phrase at this time of night) "gay issue." My husband is not involved in social political issues the way I am. He's only recently been asked to work with the youth and is still getting his feet grounded in it all. (After all, he does this as volunteer work after working at his regular job all day.) Of course he was aware that it was a euphemism – but until I pointed it out, he had only been thinking of it as the name of the game. They were completely separate thoughts for him until I brought them together and he went, "Oh, duh," and has been on board with me ever since. There's no shame in that.

      Annnnd I'm done explaining the innocence of how the title of the game just didn't register as "bad" with my hubby. I know he's innocent, and we're doing what we can to teach the boys a better way of living.

      I appreciate those of you who provided *feedback* and did not focus on increasing shame and ill-feelings.

    12. Listen everyone… I get what the original poster was trying to say. I do grew up playing "smear the queer" and as a kid I had no clue what "queer" really meant it was just a game to me and in school. I grew up in a non LDS area (NY) and I played it with all my non LDS friends. It was just a game to us with no thoughts of a politically incorrect title. It was not until "society" informed me through experience that "queer" now refers to homosexual people, that I connected the two, but as a child I had no clue about sex let alone about different types of it. lol.

      The name should probably be changed I agree. When I hear it now I cringe.

  20. I want to start by saying I, too, am a member of Club Unicorn (LOVE the name, we should think up a motto), and I am LDS. I also want to say that your blog could not have come at a better time for me.

    As a child in middle school, I remember one time we were watching an episode of JAG as a family, and in this particular episode a condom was featured (in a humorous context, not sexual). My brother, who had been looking away at the moment, asked what we were all laughing about, so I told him. Both my parents were shocked that I even knew what it was, and your post today got me to thinking: They never talked to me about sex. I am now 23 and they still haven't. I am one of those you mention who pretty much said. "[I was] taught nothing about sex, and I had to find it all out on my own, and then [fill in tragic thing] happened." I had used my sexual attraction as an excuse to break the law of Chastity with members of the same gender. (Yes, "members" is plural.) All of this has led to the rather difficult situation you have somewhat helped me alleviate today.

    I have been dating a wonderful daughter of God for barely over a year now, and I have been very happy with her. I had been working with my bishop in order to work out my problems with masturbation and pornography so I could be worthy to enter the temple with her and have an eternal marriage. Two days ago, something may have changed.

    I updated my information on LinkedIn a couple days ago, and it asked my if I wanted to send requests to my email address book. I figured what the heck, why not? A little while later, one of my friends from Las Vegas (we lived there for 8 years) responded, accepting my request. Sounds innocent enough, right?

    This particular man, however, I had a HUGE crush on in middle school. And the feeling was mutual. I had thought I had completely gotten over this problem to what I considered was a track set in stone, but one message from him and I'm suddenly head-over-heels again. I even have some (non-LDS) friends encouraging me to dump my girlfriend for this man I obviously still have feelings for. The thing is, I firmly know it's wrong, but I'm still considering it. I really care for him a lot, and I truly care for my girlfriend a lot. Even my Patriarchal Blessing says I'll marry a wonderful mother and raise children in Zion. I just kinda wish it was more specific sometimes.

    Anyway, your post has helped me make a little bit more sense of my situation. It hasn't made up my mind by a long shot, but I know the most destructive thing to this relationship is to not talk about it. I now know what I have to do, and I thank you for it.

    1. Daniel, may I ask you something. Stick around with us and, please, keep us posted on this unfolding story. Perhaps even trough your own blog.

      No matter the outcome, no matter whether you decide one way or the other, I believe that through your story you can give all of us a tremendously important insight into the issue of homosexuality & faith.

      Of course, I would hope that you remain in the Unicorn camp, but even if you don't, I think your story is important beyond your wildest imagination, at this very moment in time, precisely because it is unfolding. So, I hope you will indeed stick with us.

    2. Daniel, I want to share a story with you out of encouragement. I was dating a young man who had a really troubled past of abuse, bisexuality, masturbation, pornography, etc. etc. I am pretty sure I only heard part of his story and it was really heavy. This young man had experienced things that were not his fault, but he had also committed sins that he was responsible for. He had repented before his mission, likely engaged in inappropriate behavior on his mission, came home and relapsed into pornography addiction. His life was really really rough, only partially because of decisions he had made, and he had little to no support from his family. At the time we were dating, he had gotten his life back together and was a temple worker. I could see how he would struggle through the week and then spend his evening working in the temple each week and it would give him the strength he needed to keep going. I could tell that he was having some pretty intense struggles with homosexual attractions and the lures of pornography even while we were dating. I could also tell that he wanted very very badly to marry a daughter of God in the temple. It was like there was an ongoing battle in his heart and mind. After a couple months of dating, we broke up. Admittedly, the weight of his struggles made the relationship pretty difficult and heavy, but the real reasons we broke up related to incompatible personality traits we both had. Things that weren't right or wrong, they just weren't compatible and they weren't going to change. I worried about him a lot after we broke up out of love for this human being who I knew could use a friend and family members who supported him. About a year after we broke up, he started dating another girl. They kept it really quiet and I heard they were really happy. They dated for quite awhile, and more than a year after they started dating, they were married in the temple. I don't know all the details of their relationship. I am 100% positive that his wife knows about his struggles and loves him tremendously. I would imagine that he still has struggles sometimes. But I know 100% that the Atonement is 100% real. I know that the Atonement can erase and change and turn around anything we've done that is contrary to the laws of God. I know that we have choices and that you have choices. I want to encourage you that whatever you decide about your current girlfriend, nothing will match the peace that comes from being worthy to enter the temple and visiting frequently. Your patriarchal blessing isn't a fortune cookie. It's a promise of what can be if you live according to God's commandments and you get to choose if that's the life you want or not. Real change is possible. I'm not talking about suddenly not being gay anymore or never feeling an undesired impulse again. I am talking about being free from the things you have been talking to your bishop about. The Savior loves you and provides a way for you to accomplish everything He asks. So if you want it, and if you want that peace, it's there and you can have it. And Josh's story isn't the only story of someone who has dealt with your challenges and made choices that are different than what so much of the world would tell you to do. There are lots of stories like that and there are stories that may even be a lot closer to yours than Josh's is. If you choose to go for this guy from Vegas, don't let it be out of discouragement or fear or anything like that. Because those are feelings Satan uses to get all of us down. Make sure it is what you really want. Not just based on what the Church teaches about marriage and family and what your partriarchal blessing says, but based on how you know you will feel based on your choice and how you want to feel. I hope that all comes out right.

    3. I would encourage you to talk about it with your girlfriend. I know this might sound crazy right now, but it will make your burden lighter and eventually it will be easier for you to deal with. Me and my husband do it this way and though it can be hard sometimes, the blessings and knowledge that come out of it are really important for our relationship.

    4. She already knows about my same-gender attraction. There hasn't been much about my past I haven't at least mentioned up until I was contacted by this friend Monday. Now I just need to find time when we aren't both working or in class (we're both in college) when I can sit down and talk with her.

    5. Daniel, PLEASE let the girl you are dating go. Free her to have a life filled with the love of a person who really loves her. You do not. She has done nothing to deserve an empty marriage. Nor fir that matter have you. Yes, she may be wonderful, amazing, understanding. None of that is in any way equivalent to you you saying and feeling"I love her, I desire her, my heart and soul resonate in her presence". Please free her .

    6. I agree that you should let her go, Daniel. You don't sound ready to make the huge decision that Josh and his wife made. My daughter married a gay man in the temple. He hadn't told her he was gay and he had no intention of abandoning his sexual activities with men. He used their marriage as a front for professional reasons. He broke her heart. I think his cruel, calculated behavior speaks to his character, not his homosexuality. I know several couples whose marriages broke up when the husband could no longer live without expressing his homosexuality. These things make me worry for the gay people and their partners who commit to heterosexual marriages, unless both parties have thought and prayed long and hard about the decision. Then, who am I to say their decision is wrong?

    7. Daniel, you need to do what's right for you. Don't put too much stock in what total strangers are saying to you on a random blog. You have the capacity to think, reason, and listen to the Spirit. And remember, your girlfriend and the guy in Las Vegas also have their agency as well. Your life isn't 100% your choice. But it isn't up for a vote by strangers either. You will figure out what is right for you and at the end of the day, it doesn't matter what too many other people think. Good luck.

    8. First things first Daniel. Honesty is the best policy… you need to talk to your girlfriend about this!!!! Immediately. Lies and deceit are your worst enemy.

      A simple question? IF you know you were attracted to this guy why would you add him to your linkedin? while you are serious with your girlfriend. If it was me and you really wanted to stay away from everything, then why put temptation in your path? It's just like anything. If you are having difficulty with porn you don't put porn on your computer and you stay away from it at all costs, if you are having difficulty with stealing you stay away from things that make you want to steal.

      Personally I would "defriend" that friend of yours until you have made your decision. I would defriend ALL people who doesn't help you. I wouldn't allow anything in my path during a repentance process. Trust me I have had to "defriend" people myself when I was disfellowshipped to stay away from the temptations I had. SO I know. This is coming from someone who sinned bigtime and had to completely abandon everything and repent. This is coming from someone who really cares and I know what it feels to be in the deep dark hole.

  21. Another real danger to the youth is what you espouse, Josh. Telling them and having them internalize (using your word there) that living as a gay person is a sin is also something so misguided that I need to write on your blog to tell you this. While it's good that you realize and advocate for the reality that being gay is not a choice, you add the caveat that one must never never lead a gay life, as that is a sin, etc. This is ultimately as destructive, if not more.
    This comment wlll be quickly shouted down by everyone on here and this may make it easier to ignore. But I will say it again: what you are advocating, Josh, is just as destructive as the comment you are commenting on. This has been pointed out to you before by the few on here who understand that – that your story is being used by many to pressure their children to be in a mixed orientation relationship or even to show that of course it is perfectly possible and wonderful to be gay but to never ever act on it. You go halfway and then you turn around again. Just as destructive, Josh. As a very small example, look at Daniel's comment above mine. He is considering marrying a woman. That poor woman, my god Josh.
    And Daniel, please please don't marry your fiancee. Please let her go, for her sake, not for yours but for hers.
    I won't be checking back on here – it is just so so disturbing.

    1. Josh doesn't actually say that living the gay lifestyle is a sin. The LDS Church does. He has only said things about not judging anyone no matter what they choose to act or not act on their sexuality. And he said specifically that others should NOT feel like his choice is the only one. Did you read his coming out post? Because he totally addresses those concerns. You can only decide for yourself, not make decisions for others.

    2. liesel, yes, Josh does not say that living in a gay relationship is a sin, but I'm not sure that he thinks it isn't. As soon as he is a faithful member of the church, I have a good reason to believe that he thinks gay relationship is indeed sin. But that does not require of him to judge, condemn, avoid or belittle those who are in such a relationship.

    3. "While it's good that you realize and advocate for the reality that being gay is not a choice, you add the caveat that one must never never lead a gay life, as that is a sin, etc. This is ultimately as destructive, if not more." -Anon (above)

      Sorry I wasn't clear before. I was just pointing out that Josh does NOT actually add that caveat that he was accused of. So arguing against it as if he had, seemed rather uninformed of "Anonymous". Whether he does or doesn't isn't the point, because he isn't voicing it here. I personally don't think he needs to voice it either, because holding others accountable to your own personable beliefs is unreasonable. And if you are vocal with such beliefs it is taken as tantamount to judging and condemning those who feel otherwise. Thus his focus on not judging or condemning others and just loving and trying to understand everyone.

    4. I agree! Just for the record everyone. As an LDS member, I am DEEPLY offended that Josh has chosen to openly "represent" the church with this coming out to share the world "Im gay". oh and "Im mormon". Very offended. I have many children. Im not trying to judge, but I wouldn't want somone who choses to be gay (and yes I think it is a choice) to be teaching my primary children, or my teenagers….etc. Very offensive! Its amazing how far people will go for publicity, especially trying to promote a business. I have read that you didn't know it would go so viral. You don't see the prophets and apostles talking about their sinful thoughts or actions at conference or publicly. How absurd.

    5. I totally misunderstood your earlier comment. Now I am just confused. Was it you who said earlier "While it's good that you realize and advocate for the reality that being gay is not a choice.." and now you are saying that "it is a choice" to be gay. Are you really the same Anonymous?

    6. To anon right above me:
      The fact of the matter is he didn't "choose" to be gay, I'm not sure how many times he needs to explain this. At puberty instead of being attracted to girls he was attracted to boys. He didn't all of a sudden one day decide liking boys looked cool and did went with it or anything like that. He JUST IS THAT WAY. Now he has chosen to marry a woman, continue to be a active member of the church, have children ect despite inborn his attraction to men.

      Why would you be so bugged by someone who is gay and teaching primary and the youth if they are still living within the teachings of the gospel and are a worthy temple recommend holder? Are you assuming because he is gay he is also a pedophile? That would be the only reason it makes sense for you to not want him to hold those positions.

    7. Anon @12:30: How can you deny anothers personal revelation? Have you any trials? If so, what are they? Did you chose them? And how do you handle them? Please share.

    8. Anon @ 12:30…Very faithful member of the church and I couldn't agree with you less. I don't want you teaching my primary kids and teenagers.

    9. OP: Don't be so presumptuous as to think I would dare try going into anything like this with blinders on either of us. My girlfriend is very aware of the struggles I face, and she is very supportive. Your ignorance is very clear in your comment, as you are putting words in his mouth and into the mouths of people around the world. He never said that is what people should teach their children, he never said anything he put on here was sacred doctrine or should be treated as such. He shared his personal story, and what he learned from his experiences, hoping someone else can get a lesson from it as well.

      As for the 12:30 Anon: You are acting like a bigoted jerk. No, same gender attraction isn't a choice. I know if it was, I probably would be in a temple marriage already. I would have been able to go on a full-time mission instead of being told I can't serve one because the risk of transgression was too great. I wouldn't have been punched across the face in middle school when a classmate was told. I wouldn't have been embarrassed my entire life because of something I literally have no control over.

      I'm not saying I have no control period. I have plenty of say in whether I entertain the thoughts that enter my mind, whether I act on my attractions or not. I don't, however, have a say in who I find attractive. I just do. By saying you don't want someone teaching your children who is attracted to members of the same gender, no matter how well they live their life according to the Gospel, no matter what trials and hardships they may have gone through because of this, you are being just as bigoted and horrible as the people who insisted Blacks live in a separate area, and that they couldn't mix with Whites in schools and public places. Same story of bigotry, and it's still as ugly as ever.

    10. I have to respond to anon, above as well. Right now, one of my sons who is struggling with various things (nothing that involves sexual orientation) has a primary teacher who could care less about him. When I attempted to discuss something with her about him she responded "I don't care". I would take a million gay members of the church to teach my kids before I would take her. I'm glad you are following this blog, and hope eventually you will find some answers and compassion.

  22. Josh, one of the things I appreciate about you "coming out" is that it clarifies one very important thing for those who are attracted to the same gender. Despite what the world tells them, they do not HAVE to act on those attractions. They can choose to live righteously, regardless of the fact that their body may be screaming the contrary. It is part of Satan's plan I believe, to make gay people think that just because they are physiologically attracted to the same sex that they must fulfill those desires or they are not being true to themselves. You have opened a lot of people's eyes to the fact that they can live morally, that being gay is not something they can help, but their behavior is something they have direct control over.

    I have two gay brothers. (I am the only member of my church.) I love them, and I love who they love. One has been with his male partner for a long time and married him during the brief time when California allowed gay marriage. I accept their love as legitimate, and I would fight tooth and nail for their right to make their own choices. I still believe their behavior is wrong and contrary to God's law, but I believe it is my job to love them, let them know what I think, and then allow them the freedom to make their own choices.

    I'm grateful for your voice! Thank you so much!!

    1. Sigh Josh himself has said that his life is not the correct life for the majority of gay people. Why doesn't anyone understand this? Its an incredibly hard life to live and 98% of gay people can't. The vast majority so quit trying to tell others how to live their lives!

    2. I think it's important to remember that Satan's devices that he uses to try to get us to sin are not limited to homosexuals. Satan tries to get just about everyone to misuse the powers of procreation, and all of us have a choice of what we will do to either combat those temptations or let them overpower us. Are there some things about homosexuality that make dealing with that challenge uniquely hard? Definitely. But as Elder Bednar told hundreds of YSAs in a meeting in New York City when he was questioned about the Church's position on homosexuality he said, "there is one standard–chastity."

    3. There is NOT one standard- chastity, by virtue of the fact that single LDS youth are encouraged to find companionship and in the mean time, they can date, kiss, cuddle, hold hands, and build dreams. Gay youth can not. So let's not try to equate the two.

    4. Bjorge Queen,

      It's a shame that you use your anonymity to tear down other people. You are claiming absolute knowledge about everything and that just isn't true. I think it would be appropriate to listen a little more and judge a little less. We are all humans. Maybe something was said in a way that didn't create the intended idea in your mind. That doesn't mean it is evil. Try to accept more and condemn less.

    5. Bjorge Queen,

      It's a shame that you use your anonymity to tear down other people. You are claiming absolute knowledge about everything and that just isn't true. I think it would be appropriate to listen a little more and judge a little less. We are all humans. Maybe something was said in a way that didn't create the intended idea in your mind. That doesn't mean it is evil. Try to accept more and condemn less.

    6. Honestly? Try to address my comment instead of resorting to personal attacks. Is what I said untrue? Don't criticize me personally because you lack a thoughtful response. (I'm less anonymous than you.)

    7. So you have a letter or documentation from General Authorities that holding hands between men is a sin? You are taking a leap. The leadership of the church never asks you specifics about your relationships. So, to say that all of those things are unacceptable is wrong. There are at least 2 ways to think about this issue. 1 is by people who condemn people for homosexuality, they are wrong. 2 is by people who defend homosexuality who say that they cannot be accepted, that as well is wrong. It isn't a personal attack. You have gone through several comments and made snarky comments and I said try to accept more and just find things to argue about.

    8. Diddlz, it does not require documentation to know that if a gay mormon was dating, kissing, cuddling with other gay men, his bishop would tell him to cut it out, get away from the edge of the cliff, and stop playing with fire. In the church, chaste hetero relationships are encouraged to lead to marriage but chaste same sex relationships have nowhere to go. It doesn't require documentation; just a small amount of time spent in the church (I have 27 years) and particularly in a singles ward to know I am telling the truth. I feel you are being more than a little deceptive in your tactics of telling me I am making leaps. Maybe you want to portray the church in a more liberated light to those who are less familiar, but come on.

    9. Coming from a mom of teenage boys. If my teenager were kissing, cuddling and were making out with there girlfriend in front of me I would tell the to CUT IT OUT too…. lol I would worry they were doing inappropriate things when I am not around. So what you say is wrong because I KNOW a bishop would put a stop to heterosexual teenagers boyfriend/girl friends if he saw it too. Have you ever been to a Mormon Youth Dance? lol My boys spend 15 minutes each dance going over standard before they can go into the dance (because they STILL have not gotten there dance card to dance hope the church dances) and if they will tell a couple to CUT IT OUT if they get over touchy feely.

    10. Edit from my previous post….

      Coming from a mom of teenage boys. If my teenager were kissing, cuddling and were making out with there girlfriend in front of me I would tell the to CUT IT OUT too…. lol I would worry they were doing inappropriate things when I was not around. So what you say is wrong because I KNOW a bishop would put a stop to heterosexual teenagers boyfriend/girlfriends if he saw it too. Have you ever been to a Mormon Youth Dance? lol My boys spend 15 minutes each dance going over standard before they can go into the dance (because they STILL have not gotten their dance card to dance hop the church dances) and they will tell a teenage couple to CUT IT OUT if they get over touchy feely.

    11. wow, I am learning so much. Dance card? Permission from the bishop? so interesting. Seriously, what a safe feeling to know that there is always someone there to praise you, to admonish you, etc. Comforting. Well, except when it devastates lives but other than that, it would be like being re-parented. Like being safe and warm and cozy.

    12. It is nice to have that comfort for me know I am sending my kids to a dance that will hold high standards and know their will be minimal sleezy stuff happening there. The dance card is a local thing (I think) because I didn't have one when I was a teenager going to church dances. The bishop will talk to them about "standards" at a dance (no grinding etc etc) and then give them a dance card so they don't have to have that same 15 minute interview each time they go to a church dance. Let me tell you there are tons of church dances going on each weekend in different areas so my teenagers will go from dance to dance over the month (some of them are 10 stake dances which are HUGE). anyways.

    13. No, dance cards are pretty standard (I'm 26 and they had them 12 years ago when I started going to dances), but the reason is fairly correct – just to show that you know the rules and will follow them, and move the line in faster instead of talking with the person checking everyone in and slowing down the line.

  23. Thank you for responding to her uninformed and misguided query in such a nice way. Shockingly I see her same attitude (or worse) all the time unfortunately with otherwise well meaning members of the (LDS) church. I am so incredibly glad for the dialog of understanding and honesty and truth that you have contributed to the much needed discussion. I would also add that the video of "It gets better at BYU" (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ym0jXg-hKCI) is very helpful for more personal examples and testimonies of those who struggle with reconciling their sexuality with their faith. If it truly is all about love, we need to still extend love for people who really are just ignorant through lack of information and life experience. So, thank you for your example in handling this in such a thorough and also thoughtful way.

    1. I have been reading the comments and decided to put in my two cents worth! First, the video It gets better was very comforting to me. I only wish I had seen it earlier. As a mother and a Mormon , whose son recently came out to me and Facebook , January of 2011, I have had my eyes opened to truth in ways I never before would have believed possible. I discovered how deep and abiding my love is for our son( youngest of five, two girls three boys)! Our family was tested to the core and I am so thankful to have finally understood what was causing our amazing son to be so depressed, hiding in his room and trying to be invisible so that we wouldn't suspect anything! His older brother, age 18 would call him names and be a mean older brother to him, and his other brother age 22 at that time, was nice to him and I later learned had suspected he was gay. His older twin sisters, who he shares a birthdate with , adored him and when they found out, one was understanding, the other confused and angry. I felt uncomfortable at church because , initially, the shock of learning my favorite child, who I admit now, I had unreasonable expectations and plans for how I thought he should lead his life…( mission, marriage etc)… I felt people were judging me as a bad mother, or that I thought, in my paranoia, that because my other two boys had quit the church at age 16, and now this " perfect son", had " turned gay" , I must be responsible. I know… Mother Martyr Syndrome! I went through a horrible depression but once I came out of it, I learned who my real friends were, what I actually believe in the Gospel as opposed to the church, and most importantly , learned that our only duty is to LOVE ONE ANOTHER! That is what the spirit told me in no uncertain terms… my job is to love my son… No matter what! I shudder to remember the closed minded remarks I said to him on occasion in the past when he was younger. I said that " gay people chose to be gay, and that it was a sin next to murder"! Shame on my ignorant self! But I was repeating what I had been taught, with out questioning. It is now October 5th and our amazing, handsome, kind hearted, loving and gentle, and extremely intelligent son is a new man! He is 18 today! He has had several boyfriends that I have grown to love, and when they break up, as any teen will do at this age, I feel sad that I won't get to see the boy again! My heart has expanded to include so many different people that I would not have looked twice at before! Now I see gay people everywhere, and literally , everyone I know has someone in their family that is gay, be it an aunt or uncle, cousin, brother or sister! My own maternal grandmother was gay, but I didn't learn that until after she died! It was a big secret. One of my mother' s cousins was also a lesbian! My mother spoke of it harshly and with no compassion. She has come A Loooong way now that her grandson is gay and many of her friends have gay kids or grand kids too ! I thank you Josh, for following the spirit and having this forum where I can learn and interact with other people! Another young man in our ward has come out this year… Our bishop's stepson! He didn't have it as good as our son… His mother kicked him out to go live with his dad! Luckily for him, he had my son to call and talk to about the Hurt and Anger he was feeling! I reached out to the mother, but she ignored my letter and for a while, wouldn't talk to me! Now when she does, she pretends nothing happened and does not talk about her son, or my letter. I don't think she is ready to deal with reality! So you just keep being you Josh, and we will keep up with your beautiful family and pray for all the youth and adults who are gay and feel that they are forgotten… Because we haven't forgotten them, and they are children of a loving heavenly father, same as the rest of us imperfect souls!

  24. Josh,

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for this post!! I'm LDS and in school now to be an MFT (isn't doing therapy the greatest? I LOVE it!). I work with a lot of LDS clients as well. I'm not gay, nor have any of my clients up to this point been gay (as far as I know), but can I just say how much this idea of "let's not talk about hard stuff, maybe it'll go away," has severely negatively impacted me and all of my LDS clients?!?!

    It's all about SHAME. Shame is in my opinion the Number 1 worst thing that can be taught to a child. And unfortunately, our LDS culture teaches it every day. (Not the Gospel, mind you – the culture; they are two VERY different things). Thank you for pointing out that having a sexual attraction is NOT A SIN! If I had known that growing up, my life would be very different right now. Because no one ever wanted to talk about sex other than, "It's horrible, until you're married; then it's great," every time I had a sexual attraction, I thought I was the worst person in the world. But I could never talk about it. I just suffered in shame and silence every day. Until I grew up, and learned that everyone else had the same kind of thoughts. It's been a huge process for me, but I've finally worked through most of the shame that controlled my life. I hope to be able to do the same thing with my clients.

    And it's not just about sex – it's about anything that we feel we can't talk about because people might think poorly of us. Where did this thought come from?! How did it get perpetuated so strongly in our LDS culture? As if not talking about something can make it go away – NO!! it makes it ten times worse!

    This shame and overcoming it is something I am very passionate about. Literally every LDS client I have and almost everyone I talk to not in therapy has problems because of shame. Because they felt they had to be perfect and that anything they did/thought/said/felt that wasn't perfect made them the vilest of sinners. No. That's not in any way, shape, or form what the Atonement is about. Shame completely takes away the ability of the Atonement to work. It drives me crazy! It has become my quest to decrease shame in as many people as I possible can – both as an MFT and as a church member. WE HAVE TO TALK ABOUT THE HARD THINGS! or we are keeping our church members from the power of the Atonement.

    You and Lolly amaze me Josh – not just because of your decisions of how you live, but because you are willing to put it out there for the world to see, if it only means you help one person. That's beautiful. Thank you for talking about the hard things!!

    1. Thank you! I was sexually abused when I was 11. I remember sitting through YW classes and feeling so much shame as I was no longer "pure, worthy, righteous". I hid the fact and then learned during my YSA years that when I told a "worthy" man I was engaged to that I had been raped as a child I was "not worthy" of him.

      I felt shame for so many years. At 43 I am still trying to overcome that shame. I finally gave up on men and the church and married a non-member. He is non-judgmental of me, was there for me during the trial (months before our wedding), helped me through flashbacks, and lives the teachings of the gospel but has no desire to become a member of the church.

      We do need to be teaching the youth of the church that there are hard things in this world. I remember hearing the saying "living in the world but not of the world". It would have been nice to learn the tools to do so instead of just the saying!

      Sorry this is jumping all over the place.

  25. This is a brilliant post. I (like many who've commented already) also work with the youth. The things they have to face every day are horrendous and despicable. Because of this I maintain they absolutely need information to help them navigate intelligently. Most of this information should be coming from parents. In fact I absolutely insist that parents need to keep an open dialogue with their children about sex, pornography, personal issues with sexual tenancies, and all other uncomfortable topics.

    The world will teach our kids these things but it will teach them in a way void of any morals and values. The youth today need us to love them and teach them repentance and that there is in fact a way to traverse this icky world with our virtue intact.

    Thanks so much for your insight and so boldly sharing it!

  26. Josh,
    Thank you for writing this post in response to that lady. I hope she reads and begins a process of love and understanding. I can't agree with you more that Christ would put loving arms around all that have same sex attraction. If your post give some youth the courage to say outloud that they are gay and they are met with understanding, love and education…the results will be better than the alternative.

    1. I don't think she is meaning to not love others, I think her response came because of the world we live in. Ther more people that portray it to be "okay" the more we will lose our youth. I agree with this lady as I have served in the bishopbric, stake presidency…etc. She has valid points. I think these are personal issues. And these issues should be discussed with a bishop not openly with opinions representing by church members just to voice their opinion.

  27. Thank you for this. I am a member who went to an arts high school, and as such, almost 50% of the population was gay. I had a really hard time getting my point across regarding this issue because if I ever voiced my opinion that homosexual behavior is a sin, I would get eaten alive as people assumed that I hated people who were gay and that if you were than you chose to and needed to have it beaten out of you. I have never felt this way! But everyone assumed that being religious meant that. I am so glad to have you articulate my feelings so well!

  28. I am really grateful for your candor and honesty. It has given me much to think and pray about. I have never been one with a need to know all the answers to all the questions. Instead, I feel very blessed just to know that God is the great equalizer, and all will be fair and just in the end.

    I look forward to reading your daily posts!

  29. Excellent article! I was taught in Seminary that "There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man…" 1 Corinthians 10:13. Then I applied the teachings of Boyd K. Packer or Spencer W. Kimball to all types of inappropriate thoughts. I taught my children not to be alarmed by any same gender attraction, but to recognize it as a normal temptation and to treat it accordingly.

  30. Annon at 8:10

    Isn't it okay to say, "I believe ______ and have based my choices on my own personal religious, spiritual beliefs. It is okay with me if everyone else makes their own choices based in their beliefs. I know that we don't all believe the same thing. And that is okay." ??

    This is what I hear when I read Josh's posts.

  31. Aaaaamen! And THANK YOU. That last paragraph is full of thoughts I have really come to understand and fully champion the past few years. You phrased it so so well and I'm ecstatic that others not only feel the same way, but those that have a platform such as yours are trying to help others understand it as well. Good on you!

  32. If anything Josh's honesty will HELP the youth who may be struggling with same sex attraction. They don't have to hate themselves, life can co-exist with the LDS faith and SSA. What a light Josh and Lolly have turned on for sooooooooo many, I know that you were inspired and directed to put your story out in the open, It's exactly exactly exactly what is needed for the youth of the church right now.

    1. What's really needed is for Mormon LGBTQ youth to be allowed to be in gay relationships. I'm not thinking the rate of suicide amongst them is going down because of Josh''s grand revelation. It boggles my mind that he can't see thi.

    2. Anon @ 8:45 Are you a member of the Mormon church? Do you understand that that will not happen? It goes against the teachings of the church. God's Will is not for us to change because we don't like it. If He wishes to change things, He will make it known to His Prophet.

      So instead of demanding that which cannot be done – try thinking of solutions that can actually happen, like opening up a dialogue to support LGBTQ in their struggles, help educate people on the difference between attraction and action. You know, like Josh and Lolly are already doing.

    3. I believe 100% that eventually, the prophet (perhaps not this one but the next) will indeed have a new revelation from God about homosexuality. If this were 35 years ago, soe would be saying the same thing about African Americans – as in God's will is not for us to change because we don't like that African Americans have the mark of Cain. Earlier than that, the prophet proclaimed Adam to be God. And on and on and on, there are so many examples of this. Now, granted the hatred of homosexuality is much much more entrenched so it will take much longer. Makes sense. But it's a -coming.

    4. The difference between the blacks and the priesthood and homosexuality is that the family as declared in the Family Proclamation (which is scripture) is a basic building block of eternity, and that will not change.

      First…anyone reading this who is LDS, please stop saying "teachings of the church". Teachings that do not change are eternal laws..teachings of God is a more accurate description. (Sorry, just a pet peeve of mine).

      Second, anon above, there are so many things you mentioned that are incorrect from a doctrinal point of view.

      Some traditions of the church are there because of social issues. It is unfortunate, but a reality, because the church (the organization) exists in an imperfect, social realm here on the earth at this time. However, there are laws that are eternal that the church, representing Christ's authority on the earth, will not bend on.

    5. I disagree. We can't bet on this obviously or keep in touch until it happens but I would bet a whole lot that this will happen. The wall will come tumbling down and people will be, to liberally quote Martin Luther King Jr. (who in his lifetime would have been considered less than human by the LDS Church), 'Free at last. Thank God Almighty we are free at last.'' I'd guestimate in the next 30 or 40 years.

  33. I love this! Not necessarily because I'm in any situation that deals with sexuality and the such, but because of the basic principle behind it. Talking about hard things.

    We all need to do that more. Pretending something isn't real doesn't make it less real. I will admit to having a reputation among my friends that includes not talking about sexuality, so when I do, they're shocked. My hesitancy isn't due to fear (mostly, I'll have to dig deeper on that) but more to avoid the world's view of cheapening it. It drives me crazy that people assume that if I want to avoid certain tv shows or movies because of how they are portraying sexuality, or the stories and jokes that go with it, that I'm afraid of talking about it, or whatever.I completely agree with this post. Well Done!

  34. I wish I had something brilliant to say to add to the discussion here, other than Amen to most of the comments, and especially to Josh's post.

    As another member of Club Unicorn, I am in agreement with the idea here of taking off the masks. Not necessarily in public, as Josh and Lolly have done. Not everybody is ready for that. But take it off for your spouse, your bishop or ecclesiastical leader, and for anybody else who could support you (or maybe won't). Be real, talk about it, face what you and your loved ones might fear with honesty. Be ready to be uncomfortable at first. I don't think it would necessarily be a pleasant experience, but no matter what has been done or not done, staying in the shadows is a bad way to go.

    I want to thank Josh and Lolly for sharing their story. As it happened, my wife brought it up as an interesting story to discuss after it went viral. I more or less tried to change the subject because I was so afraid or ashamed of my same-sex attraction. We've been married over 10 years and she didn't really know I dealt with that. I think I've been in some depth of denial myself. (I had done the fasting and the bloody-kneed prayer to have it taken from me and instead had learned how to control myself and discovered I could love–in all senses of the word–a daughter of God). Maybe she got hints here or there, but it was never confirmed. It didn't make sense that someone who loved her and had children with her could be gay. So I took courage and told her. I'm glad I did.

    Know what? All our problems didn't go away. But we acknowledged the elephant that I could clearly see in the room, and that she surely sensed. I half expected her to leave me because, to me, it seemed like such a betrayal to drop a bomb like that at this point in our marriage. But she didn't. She actually had compassion on me. I think if you asked her, the struggles we still face as a couple have nothing to do with that and everything to do with us not communicating. You'd think after a bunker-buster like that, what else would there be to hide? Why not be open about everything?

    Old habits die hard, I guess. I'm striving to have an open, honest relationship with her, but I still suck at it. I can only assume she is sticking with me because she loves me and knows my heart. Oh, and she is one of the most Christ-like people I have ever met. Ever.

    1. Oh gosh your poor wife. How fun for her to know you are attracte to men! well, hopefully you are also attracted to women.
      Seriously, why should she have to be saintly while you are gay? I gotta imagine that she is not so tremendously happy that you are gay and yet married to her. oy.

    2. Anon @11:33 AM, I am so glad that you were able to finally speak to your wife, and that she was so wonderful to you. Of course not everything will be easy, but I believe that as GI Joe used to say "Knowing is half the battle!"

      I say this because my husband has a problem with pornography. It is so much easier for me to help my husband when I know he is struggling. He hates to tell me, because he know it hurts me when he is overcome by temptation, but we both know that our marriage is better when we openly and honestly communicate when we are struggling and need help.

      So good for you and I pray your marriage will become stronger from this!

  35. These posts are shocking. Leave it to the general authorities to teach our children and educate the world. There are lots of wars, rumors of wars, calamities…etc. This is one of them. These posts sadden me. What is our world turning to. Hey everyone, here are my sins…lets talk about them so they can persuade others to sin too. Lets have a sinning war party. We have to stand up for what we believe. It is a choice. I will teach my children, our youth whats right. This is NOT right. I hope the church steps in when they realize whats happening. I don't mean to offend Josh, but what you are doing is wrong. I have witnessed recent bishops reading over the popet warning members not to be persuaded by websites, blogs, etc. Just like this one. Very disturbing.

    1. Well, actually it is the general authorities that teach us and our children. It only seems to me that you don't exept their teachings, or do not understand them…

      Same-Gender Attraction, by Elder Dallin H. Oaks
      Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
      from Ensign, October 1995

      “Some kinds of feelings seem to be inborn. Others are traceable to mortal experiences. Still other feelings seem to be acquired from a complex interaction of ‘nature and nurture.’ … Different persons have different physical characteristics and different susceptibilities to the various physical and emotional pressures we may encounter in our childhood and adult environments. We did not choose these personal susceptibilities either, but we do choose and will be accountable for the attitudes, priorities, behavior, and ‘lifestyle’ we engraft upon them.”

    2. Anon @ 12:44 PM, I'm not quite sure what you are upset about.

      If you are upset that Josh teaches us that it is not a sin to be in a gay relationship, I'm afraid you are mistaken, for Josh does not teach us that.

      If you are upset that Josh teaches us that same-sex attraction is not a choice, and that the sin is only acting upon it, I don't give hoot if you're upset.

      And yes, I'm also gay, Mormon, married in temple with the current temple recommend.

    3. Just felt I need to give a shout out to Josh here- Josh- I'm sorry you've been put in a role to somehow represent the whole church AND represent the whole gay community and then be slammed when you have some sort of impact on the youth/people from either camp. That's rough and a lot of pressure. Stay strong- we appreciate your voice!

    4. Anon 12:44…reality check, do you think it is remotely possible that Josh's leaders DON'T know? Of course they do. People like YOU, have and will make sure of it.

      Your own heart is the only one you need to worry about.

    5. Anon 12:44,

      You make me sad, I hope you open your eyes soon and come to understand what Josh is saying here.

      FG Mormon, agreed.

      Also(again to Anon 12:44) his leaders do know, come on now this thing went VIRAL so of course they know. Also I guarantee you that this blog does not fall under the blogs to be wary of unless the bishops who have warned about it are as misguided as you are on the subject.

    6. yah I am sure his leaders and everyone around him knows by now!!! and I am sure they love him regardless, although some will not or do not understand. But that just expected.

    7. of course they love him! He is the poster boy for being gay without ever having to live out being gay so our vision of eternal life where women pop out babies all day and night and mean rule planets is not damaged! Heck, I imagine they are planning a special yearly josh weed day!

  36. This is a great post. As an atheist, I feel that all religions are cons and the people that worship them have been conned into thinking that Bigfoot, God, and leprechauns are real. It really gets my blood pumping to see a comment like the one left above from a woman that believes in fairy tales and that angels are real. What a bunch of bunk. The fact that she speaks with condescending platitudes to what she believes is correct only affirms in my mind why this kind of scientific ignorance needs to be attacked and kept out of classrooms. Keep religion in the Sunday schools. If someone can offer me one shred of evidence that god is real, I might change my mind. But they can't. And therefore, everything that is written in books like the Bible and the Book of Mormon is fiction. And to persecute people based on fiction is WRONG.

    1. First off, Anon, I at least have the courage to uncloak myself. Second, if you are seeking an answer as to how people got here, it happened through evolution. Perhaps you've heard of this? You might be tempted to say "Evolution is just a theory."

      Yes, it is only a theory, but it's a theory for which every single piece of evidence we've amassed in 200+ years of research into biology, paleontology, geology, genetics, astrophysics, and countless other fields all unanimously say "FUCK YES", this is what is happening.

      If one scientifically measurable piece of evidence arose which said "Hey, look. I've eliminated all the other known forces and this thing keeps falling up" or "hey, here's a modern upright hominid skeleton discovered in the exact same strata as this ankylosaurus, and by the way, did you hear about that study at MIT disproving radiocarbon dating, and the team at Berkley who spontaneously generated a cow?" the theories would have to be dutifully reevaluated, or thrown out completely.

      But in a complete surprise to no one, THAT HAS NOT HAPPENED, and based on the generally stable and predictable nature of the universe, should continue not happening for the foreseeable future.

      So people (politicians included and probably yourself who I think is a creationist?)who deny evolution and insist that the Earth is merely 6000 years old (without producing any proof beyond their circular statement that "it is because I believe it to be so"), should be treated with the same mixture of ridicule and fear as the folks who deny the holocaust or claim that the world is secretly run by a conspiracy of lizard people.

      The sheer mountain of readily available evidence to the contrary is so staggeringly huge, that logically, we should just be able to write creationists off as loonies and get on with our afternoon without paying the matter a second's thought.

      Unfortunately, we have this natural psychological predisposition to treat two opposing viewpoints as equal, simply because they are opposite. Regardless of how weighted one side may be in terms of actual supporting evidence.
      Combine that with our culture's weird taboo about holding religious beliefs sacrosanct, and somehow immune from public scrutiny and application of conventional logic, (even when the owners of those beliefs attempt to impose their religious ideas on areas outside of personal worship).

      Anon, this is the last reply I'm going to give you. Go sell crazy someplace else. When you have an argument that's worth intelligent discussion, you can look me up anytime.

    2. Not everyone who believes in creation thinks it only happened 6000 years ago. Also some believe that yes God was in charge but could have used Evolution to do it. It is not as black and white as you are describing it here.

    3. Michael, I love the comment " If someone can offer me one shred of evidence that god is real, I might change my mind." I counter you with if you can offer me one shred of evidence that god ISN'T real, I might change my mind. The fact of the matter is you have no evidence to the contrary. The only evidence you have is that you don't have any evidence. That doesn't make truth. Did the world become round once someone sailed around it or was it always round? Just because you don't have the evidence doesn't make it not true.

    4. I'm sorry, I just have to add one more comment. I agree whole heartedly with evolution. It is a wonderful truth. And just because evolution is true doesn't mean that God isn't true. In fact, Christians believe that God created the Earth. And they believe that the earth has changed and evolved as well. People get so caught up on labeling "evolution vs. creation", but the ideas are NOT mutually exclusive. Sorry, I just had to point that out.

    5. Really Maquel and Diddlz – maybe spend time on the reddit/atheism forum and hone your arguments. This is like shooting fish in a barrel.

      First Maquel.

      Regardless if someone thinks that God created the world 6,000, or 6,000,000 or 600,000,000 years ago – the core of that is that they believe that the (Christian) God created everything. That thinking has absolutely zero evidence, and the number of years only makes it either more or less absurd or ridiculous.

      The idea that(Christian) God was "in charge" and used Evolution as a tool is a rationalization that otherwise somewhat intelligent people use to not seem like a complete idiot when presented with the mountain of evidence for evolution. You have absolutely zero evidence that God was "in charge". Again – none of that has ANY weight or credibility to it and is NOT equal to the facts of the theory of evolution. You can insert ANYTHING in the place of "God" in that sentence and it would make equal sense. Examples: Zippy the Atomic Squirrel, the Weeping Angels, the aliens from Alpha Beta 5, a time traveling vampire. __________ was in charge and used evolution to create (man,earth,the universe) and you have exactly the same amount of evidence supporting that assertion.

      Next – Diddlz.

      First comment – "shred of evidence that God ISN'T real.". You say that as if you have never actually debated the subject, or don't know the arguments against your position. You can't prove a negative, for one…and secondly – the onus is upon YOU to prove your assertion, not on Mike to DISPROVE your assertion. That's like saying, "I can fly Mike!". Mike: "Prove it.". Diddlz: "NO! YOU PROVE I CAN'T!". While the statement "Just because you don't have the evidence doesn't make it not true" may be semantically accurate, the fact that your position has absolutely no evidence and that the opposing position has bountiful evidence casting serious doubt on your position certainly doesn't make your position credible or plausible. To say that succinctly, "That which can be asserted without evidence, can be dismissed without evidence." You have no evidence whatsoever that a supernatural sky-father had anything to do with any natural process. That's simply what you A) Wish to be true or B) Are afraid is true or C) Have been taught is true and have never questioned the rationality of it. (There may be other options as well, but those are the big ones.)

      Faith is not a reason to believe in anything. If your entire belief system is based on faith, your foundation is an illusion. It's wishful thinking.

    6. yup. I'd go as far as to say it is magical thinking. Now peole can magically think all that they want but when that magical thinking starts to kill LGBTQ youth, then there is a problem. But, hey I magically think too. I magically think that those who drool over Josh's ideas will one day wake up and see how dangerous what he is doing is, no matter how nice and awesome a person he is.

    7. did I mention science? Not clear what you mean about 'not believing' in science – do you not believe in gravity type thing? Believe the earth is flat?
      Did I mention God? Did I say believing in God makes someone an idiot? Where did I say that?

    8. The Earth was always round. And God always created the Earth. The evidence is there. It's how you look at it. You choose to believe that it just randomly happened. I choose to believe that it was organized. It's amazing that people accept the idea of challenging reality in everything except religion and creation. I mean, people accomplish things every day because the vast majority of people say it can't happen. Look at history. Some of the greatest accomplishments in our history happen as a result of being told it can't happen. So, I don't really see that it's different. And why are you so angry about it? The point stands, and I will stand by it, that if you show me some shred of evidence that God DOESN'T exist I might change my mind. God will use evolution or gravity or photosynthesis or whatever other scientific process to accomplish his goals. And to think that it all happened randomly sounds just as convenient to me.

    9. MasterVodo, while your comments sure sound very smart they also show that you have an incredible misunderstanding of what it means to be human. Your misunderstanding of the power of faith will always limit your potential and that is sad.

  37. Totally agree with this post, but here's a big concern of mine as a parent in this day and age: I'm worried that since homosexuality/bisexuality is so prevalent in society that kids have to label themselves all too early and before they really have feelings one way or the other they misinterpret them.

    I'm actually really glad to have grown up without thinking much about this issue. I (a straight, married female) didn't really start liking guys until much later than most of my friends and saw relationships as purely status symbols. If I had been in middle school now or in 10 years from now I'm afraid I would have mistaken my situation for wondering if I were actually gay and then drive myself into some serious unnecessary self-torment over the issue. I'm just concerned that kids and pre-teens have to address this so early these days that they get confused and it's not so black and white as you painted sexual attraction. Perhaps that is something the asker of this question was getting at? I don't know.

    So I really and genuinely want to know: how are you planning on addressing this issue with your kids? What would you say to your 11 or 12 year old daughter if they told you they were gay?

    1. Anon 12:57 PM, your questions are very good. I believe that precisely because our society is saturated with sexuality we need to start talking about these issues more openly and straightforwardly sooner rather than later, just as Josh has suggested in his post.

      I do not find it dangerous if we have teenagers understand basic concepts of sexual attraction, because, once they end up experience it, they would know that there is nothing wrong with it. It is only through action that things could go wrong.

    2. Anon@12:57 You have described my situation almost perfectly. I am a junior high girl who has no interest in guys except, in some circumstances, as friends. I don't think I am gay, but at times I wonder. I think that if I were, I would know, but it doesn't always seem that clear. I wish I had grown up 10 years earlier. Thank you for writing this, it makes me feel better.

  38. I have to say that I 100% agree with you on a lot of things you wrote today. I know to say cancer & homosexuality are two completely separate things, but I loved that comparison, bc I've seen the other side of it. My mom died of cancer sometime ago and so many people kept telling her, "Just have enough faith and God will heal you…" I felt like that was the most ignorant thing anyone could have said to her. In the end, I think it takes a bajillion times more faith to come to terms with the trial God has given you, and to do your best, and to be ok with the outcome.

    I love my parents and feel they did the best they could to raise us kids. But when you wrote, "we were taught nothing about sex, and I had to find it all out on my own, and then [fill in tragic thing] happened" I was totally thinking, "YES! That is ME!" I don't know about my siblings, but my curiosity about sex in general started VERY early. We have some family issues that, I believe, contributed to the fact that I was so curious at such a young age (I have memories about that that go back as far as age 3 or 4). But mom & dad never talked about sex. It was very much a we-don't-talk-about-that kind of thing, so I felt ashamed about my sexuality for as long as I can remember. Since being married, I've learned that being sexual in and of itself is NOT a sin, and that having thoughts like, "I want to kiss the boy" or "I want to do [x] with him" is not unnatural. But I had to learn that through reading stuff like "And They Were Not Ashamed." That book talked a lot about the negative conditioning that goes on in the Church about sexuality, and how we're taught all our lives that sex is bad and then all of a sudden when you get married, its all good. I still, to this day, have moments where I feel guilty for being intimate with my husband (not all the time, just random times here and there). But my husband was sort of raised the same way, and we've talked about this, and how we don't want this to be something our kids have to go through. I think frequent, open talks with your children/youth about difficult things (like sexuality) should be taking place. Because if you don't tell them, someone will, and it might not be in a time, place, or in a manner that you as leaders & parents would appreciate.

  39. I think this issue is so divided by what generation they grew up in. Wonderful, upstanding Christian people who grew up decades ago very often have feelings exactly as those expressed by the woman whose comment you are addressing. While wonderful, upstanding Christians of the generation who is now growing up are appalled by her comment.

    Do you find this too? I KNOW that both my mother and mother-in-law have those exact concerns brought up by that lady- the prevalence of homosexuality concerns them. At the same time, I have wonderful friends who often go on rants against these conservative bigots, whom they cannot understand.

    I feel like I can understand both sides really. A LOT depends on how/when/where you were raised and the environment deciding what you see as normal and right. I dunno. I have a hard time making sense of it when God- who does have absolute truths- enters the equation.

    Your thoughts?

    1. I agree with your sentiment 100%. I see it in the generation that raised me. I have the concern too, but I do also see the need for it to be addressed. Not talking about stuff doesn't make it go away.

    2. the same generational thing could be made for how people feel about African Americans. Not so long ago it was thought to be fine to have slaves.

  40. As a youth in the LDS church, I would just like to say that Josh's posts have HELPED me develop a stronger testimony. Not hinder me. How could reading his inspirational story of faith, perseverance, and trust in God harm me in anyway? I think anyone who truly understands what this blog, this family, and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is about can see the benefit of having such a righteous man be so open about his trials and how he is working every day to overcome them. He isn't talking about his SINS. He is talking about his TRIALS. There is a big difference. We all have different trials and the example that Josh sets on how to overcome them is what Christ wants us to follow. Pray to god for strength, ask what He would have you do, and then do it no matter what. Josh's example helps me to be stronger and more faithful.

    1. Jenni, just forget the above Anon 8:28. I thank you for your post and I wish more people stood up for what you believe in and than share it with others. Just like you did.

  41. Im a teenager struggling with my identity. This makes me want to be gay and not mormon. I dont know if thats good or bad. But I guess thats my answer. Thanks for helping me understand that I need to be who I am.

    1. This is the most sarcastic, false, contrived reply that I have ever seen. I call total bullshit. That doesn't even make any sense at all. Written by a teenager… hah!

    2. If it is real I take it back. I do not know if it isn't for certain, but there are some pretty good clues. This post has nothing to do with advocating someone to "choose to be gay" nor about leaving the church if one is. Josh's post is in fact the opposite on both counts. Nor does it address the "need to be who I am", that isn't part of the message at all. If Anon 1:39 truly is a "teenager struggling with my identity" than I truly apologize. It just sounds very much like it is coming from a bitter small minded LDS adult who is trying to sarcastically lash back at Josh, by impersonating a teenager.
      -Anon 1:51

    3. Im 15 and Im a real person. I may be young, but give me some respect. You dont know me, so bug off. Im trying to live my life. Leave me the crap alone.

    4. Ok, I take it all back. Seriously, I was totally wrong to jump to that false assumption. I just really don't know how you came to those conclusions from this blog post though. What about this post would make you "want to be gay and not mormon"? Or are you coming to those conclusions based on some of the bitingly negative comments? 'Cause that makes some sense. Either way, I truly didn't intend to hurt your feelings. I'm sorry.

  42. Amaryah, you brought up an important question. I'm a gay, Mormon, married in temple, three kids, and I understand your concern.

    First, the concept of chastity before marriage and fidelity after marriage is very important. Among other things, it is important because it protects a person from exactly the thing you suggest as a threat. We do not experiment with sexuality outside of marriage. Period.

    Second, in Joshua's world, to be gay means to have same-sex attraction at the onset of puberty. In other words, it means to have a crush on members of the same sex. One doesn't need to think in sexual terms to have a crush. One only needs to find a person physically & emotionally attractive.

    It may sound strange, but in more than one way, a thought of a homosexual act itself to me, a person with the same sex attraction, didn't sit very well. And just for your information, I had a crush on a male friend when I was 16, and then when I was 20, and then 21, and I wasn't a member of the church at the time and would not have been for another decade, so I wasn't restrained by the church teachings.

    I believe that the whole point with teaching our youth is this. Chastity before marriage is very important. Homosexual relationship is a sin. Sexual attraction, either heterosexual or homosexual, is not. That's pretty much it.

  43. Thank you for talking about the hard things, and meeting them head on. It has given me the strength to do a sort of "coming out" of my own. I do not struggle with same-sex attraction, but with chronic depression. I recently started a blog, and am amazed at the response from my family. It something I felt impressed to do, and have been blessed by acting on that prompting. Keep up the good work. It is appreciated.

    1. Good for you Kimberly! I am also in the "let's talk about it camp". I blog about another topic that no one wants to think about (let alone talk about) healing from childhood sexual abuse.

      You keep up the good work too! I have to run, but I will visit your blog later today. 🙂

  44. Thanks for saying something I have been thinking about for a long time. I LOVE this blog. I love it. And I think the greatest danger to the church is that we are encouraged to deceive. We are encouraged to lie to ourselves and others.

    Josh, you could not exist the way you exist if you had not been honest…with yourself, your parents, and with Lolly. You are a product of TRUTH. And what does Christ say? "You will know the truth, and the truth shall set you free."

    Thank you for being honest. Your light is shining. You are not hiding it under a bushel…NO! And the comments that suggest you should…they should really think about what they are implying. It seems to me that they want you to lie.

  45. Hope you don't mind my two cents. 🙂

    "You won't know if you're gay unless you try it" reflects a heterosexist point of view – it presupposes heterosexuality until proven otherwise (no one says "you won't know if you're straight unless you try it"). The way to change this thinking isn't to pretend homosexuality doesn't exist, but to remove the heterosexist paradigm.

    Amaryah, I don't know whether any straight person has ever mistakenly thought they were gay. It may have happened somewhere, but I've never heard of a single case (I have heard of people identifying as bisexual and later deciding they were straight, and vice versa). But trust me, even in the most gay-friendly places on earth, the pressure to think you're straight and "live a straight lifestyle" are incredibly strong. Heterosexuality has no competition on the "recruitment" front.

  46. By the way, the last part of my comment applies to bisexuality, asexuality, and other minorities as well – I should have written queer-friendly instead of gay-friendly. 🙂

  47. Josh, I 100% agree with your post. I've often looked back on when I was a teenager (I'm LDS) and thought that a lot of decisions would have been MUCH easier for me to make if the leaders and adults in my life had been willing to face the hard topics.

  48. I have to say that this is my favorite post so far! I loved your last paragraph. I have found that, in the church, no one wants to talk about the hard things. If we fullfill our callings, go to church, pray and read the scriptures everything will work out perfectly and we will get married in the temple, have children, live a happy life and blah, blah, blah. We don't all live a fairy tale life, things are hard, we have not all been given the same circumstances, trials, talents.

    We talk about the hard things in my family AND in my Sunday School class. It's not always pretty but it is ALWAYS HONEST!

  49. Josh and Loll- thank you for responding with kindness, integrity and logic. I am truly impressed with your honest, well-thought out answers and fact-based reasoning. I know that I would not have had the patience to respond in such an amazing way to this person's question/concern. I am very happy that more and more people are able to talk about the hard things in life with their children, family and friends so openly and genuinely- as evidenced by this blog. Thanks again for putting yourselves out there. I know that you are reaching those that need to be reached!

  50. One of the ways Satan works is by having us keep things hidden. It could be homosexuality, it could be pornography, it could be anything! Being honest to our children and youth is really the best answer,at least then if they do have questions they then know they can turn to you.

    1. But there *IS* a line. I don't plan on telling my children that I had pre-marital relations with my boyfriend. That was a sin between me, the Lord, and my future husband (and my Bishop, who helped me understand the Lord's Will). (Which is also why I'm posting this anonymously.)

      I DO plan on talking to my children about their sexuality and the choices that come with those temptations. My daughter (4) already knows that it's okay to make mistakes, but that we do what we can to fix the mistakes. I plan to build on that foundation as she learns more about our world.

      I can understand why some people feel that Josh announcing on his blog that he is Gay is a bad thing; talking about our sins – even (sometimes especially) the ones we've repented of is simply not appropriate. But I think these people are still not seeing the distinction between being gay and acting on the feelings that come from being gay. Some of them will always refuse to acknowledge there is a distinction, unfortunately. I don't see Josh sharing his sins with us. I see Josh sharing a part of who he is with us, and that he RESISTS the temptations he is faced with.

      My point is, though, that even the Lord says that sins done in private should be dealt with in private, and sins done in public should be dealt with in public. That is why you don't have to go to your Bishop to confess every sin – he doesn't need to know! No one does! The Lord wipes that slate clean. That's why the Bishop speaks with people privately, and does not bring others into the situation unless it is needful/he is prompted to do so. That's why the Ensign withholds names on particular stories they share. The experience might be helpful, but it's not helpful for everyone to know exactly "whodunnit." And there are some stories that are better left as private reminders to ourselves.

    2. Some would share the experience of having pre-marital relationships with their boyfriend with there kids. Of course it is up to the individual and not necessary. What I am trying to say is sometimes sharing mistakes with children can bring you closer and help them understand why they shouldn't do those things. Please realize I am in NO WAY trying to tell you that you need to do that. Just pointing it out that some people share and others don't and it can really benefit the children if done in the right way/situation. I think that is what ibelaura was trying to say.

      I too see Josh sharing this as not sharing a sin, because being attracted to the same sex is not a sin.

    3. I can understand your point, Maquel, but ibelaura implied that Satan is the only one who would want you to keep things hidden, and that is simply not true. We should use discretion in our decisions of who we speak to about certain matters. Perhaps someday the Spirit will prompt that I share my experience with my children, and if that is the case, I will do so.

      I just felt that her first statement was a bit too much of a blanket. :/

  51. You are truly an amazing person! The fact that your willing to open yourself up to all this, and the amount of patience you have for people like this is truly a gift from the lord! You are so blessed for your Willingness to follow those promptings and we are all blessed because of it as well!

  52. I agree with most of what you have shared and admire both you and your wife for your courage as well as your ability to articulate SO well your feelings and approaches to your challenges.

    My question deals with something I've heard–that lots of people go through a "gay phase" when they are attracted to members of their own gender, usually in the pre-teen/early years, but that they then go on to be attracted to their opposite gender as they grow and mature. If this is true, I would worry that some teens would think "Oh dear, I'm attracted to other boys/girls (my same sex), I must be gay and I'll never change or be attracted to the opposite sex."

    Do you think the idea of same sex attraction as sometimes being a "phase" is a myth, or have you seen some people have this experience? I certainly remember preferring to be in the company of members of my own gender, and of being attracted to them intellectually, but not necessarily sexually.

    I guess this also goes along with my discomfort of someone saying "I am gay" rather than "I struggle with same sex attraction". Saying "I'm gay" seems to infer to me that someone is acting on those feelings, even though I know you don't.

    What do you think? Thanks!

    1. Anon, if you're interested in the subject, you could do a search for sexual fluidity. 🙂 A minority of people do experience changes in how often they're sexually attracted to men and women, respectively. Also, a few straight and gay people will meet that special someone of the gender that they're normally not attracted to.

      But it goes both ways, and, as far as I know, gay people aren't any more prone to this than straight people are or vice versa. And it's important to remember that this kind of sexual fluidity doesn't happen to most people, and it isn't a choice.

      I guess this also goes along with my discomfort of someone saying "I am gay" rather than "I struggle with same sex attraction". Saying "I'm gay" seems to infer to me that someone is acting on those feelings, even though I know you don't.

      I don't know anything about Josh's community, but where I live (in a different state from Josh), anyone who says "I struggle with same sex attraction" might as well be saying "I go to a church that preaches homosexuality is a sin." "Gay" is the neutral term. I am not saying it's like that everywhere, but that's how it is where I live, and in most of America, I'll wager.

    2. Anon, if you're interested in the subject, you could do a search for sexual fluidity. 🙂 A minority of people do experience changes in how often they're sexually attracted to men and women, respectively. Also, a few straight and gay people will meet that special someone of the gender that they're normally not attracted to.

      But it goes both ways, and, as far as I know, gay people aren't any more prone to this than straight people are or vice versa. And it's important to remember that this kind of sexual fluidity doesn't happen to most people, and it isn't a choice.

      I guess this also goes along with my discomfort of someone saying "I am gay" rather than "I struggle with same sex attraction". Saying "I'm gay" seems to infer to me that someone is acting on those feelings, even though I know you don't.

      I don't know anything about Josh's community, but where I live (in a different state from Josh), anyone who says "I struggle with same sex attraction" might as well be saying "I go to a church that preaches homosexuality is a sin." "Gay" is the neutral term. I am not saying it's like that everywhere, but that's how it is where I live, and I'll wager in most of America.

  53. For some reason I'm having a hard time replying to the anonymous that replied to my post September 12, 2012 12:33 PM
    There are so many youth from conservative families (lds and non lds) that feel very lonely and have little love of self because of these natural feelings (that happen to be same sex attraction) that they did not choose. It would do all of us a lot of good to open our mind and hearts and give loving words of encouragement to them. It isn't a confession of sins only for the bishop. In fact it isn't a sin.

  54. Regarding your revelation, the words "direct" and "personal" seem to me to contradict one another in that context. Even if God appeared directly in front of you, surrounded by blinding light and an angelic choir, that entire experience is mediated through YOU. And I'm guessing it didn't happen like that. You made the decision to go public about this, and I'm disappointed that you won't take ownership for it.

    We can develop our intuition, our ability to communicate with God, but it's always fallible and primarily ours. My intuition says that, while we agree on so many things, there's something terrible about your decision to communicate who you are in this way–though for none of the reasons you're replying to here.

    My fear is that, whether you intend to or not, your actions add credibility to the ex-gay movement and similar groups bound by fear and loathing. I am terrified about what you represent here, because I think the real solution for gay youth marginalized by their church (whichever one) is to leave that church and pursue an understanding of God that doesn't consider their wiring immoral. I'm aware that we won't be working towards a compromise on that opinion of mine; I'm just putting it out there to model what it looks like when you have a "revelation" from God but still take ownership for it as yours.

    I enjoy reading your writing, and you strike me as a good person. I'm aware you don't condemn the actions of others. But you do provide an uncomfortable answer to the question of what a gay believer is supposed to do–a question that is so often for young people answered answered with suicide. I do not think you have fully considered the extent to which your own perspective, shared in such a cogent way, could actually harm others; it's certainly not from telling "the truth" to the youth, and feels to me like the exact opposite problem.

    I believe I would be more comfortable with you and your message if you didn't identify as gay; you think you are, but, to me at least, you're plainly not. I understand you should have the freedom to identify however you'd like, but your actions have consequences. We have to have some consensus about what words mean or we're not really communicating. You're married to a woman whom you have sex exclusively with and want to have sex with and that's an extremely idiosyncratic manifestation of "gay," to put it mildly.

    You may remember I reached out to you several months ago regarding certainty in a clinical context. I was searching for the correct words to say it without offending you, but I kind of gave up. The gist of it is that we're never 100% certain about anything, and that your training as a therapist should give you some idea about the function and movement of certainty in the human psyche. Your "big break" reeks of false certainty, and I'm curious how you as a clinician would approach someone who was so insistent that they had no doubts.

    1. We have to have some consensus about what words mean or we're not really communicating.

      I agree, but Josh's definition of gay isn't idiosyncratic to me or anyone I know. Most of the scholarly work I've come across defines sexual orientation by sexual attraction, not sexual activity, and most people I know use terms like straight and gay in much the same way.

      If sexual orientation were defined by sexual activity instead of sexual attraction, then all virgins and celibates would be asexual, monogamous people wouldn't be bisexual, and forcing people exclusively attracted to the same gender to enter heterosexual marriages wouldn't, by that definition, be homophobic oppression because they wouldn't be considered gay unless they had extramarital sex and stopped having sex with their spouse.

      It's true that outside of academia, people do factor in other things such as sexual activity in addition to attraction in putting an orientation label on someone, but I've never met anyone who relied on the sexual-activity definition to the point of endorsing all the conclusions above.

    2. We have to have some consensus about what words mean or we're not really communicating.

      I agree, but Josh's definition of gay isn't idiosyncratic to me or anyone I know. Most of the scholarly work I've come across defines sexual orientation by sexual attraction, not sexual activity, and most people I know use terms like straight and gay in much the same way.

      If sexual orientation were defined by sexual activity instead of sexual attraction, then all virgins and celibates would be asexual, monogamous people wouldn't be bisexual, and forcing people exclusively attracted to the same gender to enter heterosexual marriages wouldn't, by that definition, be homophobic oppression because they wouldn't be considered gay unless they had extramarital sex and stopped having sex with their spouse.

      It's true that outside of academia, people do factor in other things such as sexual activity in addition to attraction in putting an orientation label on someone, but I've never met anyone who relied on the sexual-activity definition to the point of endorsing all the conclusions above.

  55. Excellent post. I enjoyed it very much. It is clear to me that you know what you are talking about. While I do not experience same-sex attraction, I do have attractions of other kinds. And my experience with them, and with overcoming the psycological gauntlet they cause, make it crystal clear that the insights you are sharing are based in reality and in a correct perspective on the matter.

    It all boils down to 2 question. What it chosen, and what is not. Our lives are not judged on what happens to us (what is not chosen), but on what we choose. Same-sex attraction is "what happens to one". Fantasizing about it and acting out on it is a choice. You have made that distinction as clear as can be.

    Also, I agree 100% with your feeling that these things should be talked about openly and with sensitivity.

    Thanks again for having the courage to act on your knowledge of what is right. It must have been daunting to open this dialogue. As a opposite-gender attracted person I had many insecurities about the topic of homosexuality. I knew how I felt about it and I truely had the same perspective on the issue as you have elaborated. However, I didn't think a single gay soul existed who had the propensity to think along the same lines. You have shattered that assumption and done so at an extremely important time. Thank you. Please carry on knowing that you have friends accross the country and the world who stand by you 100%.

    Josh

  56. Hope you don't mind my two cents here. 🙂

    Pretending homosexuality doesn't exist isn't called for if the goal is to discourage teenagers from experimenting with the same sex – many folks, including in the LDS church, discourage teenagers from experimenting with the opposite sex, but they don't pretend heterosexuality doesn't exist.

    As to "confusion," trust me: Even in the most queer-friendly places on earth, there is plenty of pressure to try "straight" sex and live a "straight lifestyle." In most queer people's lives, this pressure is huge. Heterosexuality has no competition whatsoever in the "recruiting" department.

  57. To Amaryah: not many straight teenage boys experiment with gay male intercourse unless they are in jail. Mind you, this does apparently happen in places like saudi arabia where you can't touch a female unless you are married so you go with what you got kind of thing. Amaryah, did you yourself ever think you were gay and felt confused but were actually straight. Probably not. Like you know you are straight, gay people know that they are gay.

  58. Wow, I didn't mean to post so many times. The comments keep disappearing from my computer after I reload. Anyone else have this problem?

  59. "Sexual attractions are not 'bad thoughts'. Sexual attractions are instantaneous human responses to other human beings". Well said. Valuable distinction. There is a real difference in what you feel and what you entertain.

  60. Wow. Wow. Wow. Well said!! I am so very impressed with your thorough answer to this woman's questions. I can't agree more with your attitude about addressing hard things. My husband and I talked quite deeply about your original "coming out" post. We were both super impressed with how you handled what's been given to you in your life. And you are absolutely right: some challenges we may never "get over" or have taken away from us. Earth life is a test. A test of our faith and….endurance. 🙂 You are such a wonderful human being, Josh (and your wife is pretty awesome, too!). I can tell because when you talk about this extremely personal challenge, the Spirit is behind those words.

    Anyway. Thank you for a terrific post!

  61. “No natural feelings are high or low, holy or unholy, in themselves. They are all holy when God's hand is on the rein. They all go bad when they set up on their own and make themselves into false gods.”
    C.S. Lewis "The Great Divorce"

  62. I work for a police department in a heavily Mormon area, and I am Mormon myself. My job has taught me that (culturally speaking and generalizing), we do a very bad job of preparing our kids for some of the hard bits and shades of grey of life. Keeping them ignorant of things we deem inappropriate or sinful is not the way to go, because sooner or later they are going to bump up against ideas and philosophies, actions, desires, opportunities, substances, or people who are going to challenge them and their beliefs. If the youth have not been candidly prepared for life and all it's horrible AND glorious options, life can get very frightening, overwhelming and dangerous.

    It is possible to discuss "scary" topics like sex, sexuality, addictions, drugs, family problems, mental health, etc. in appropriate ways with a gospel perspective without resorting to fear mongering or outright dismissal that these hard bits exist.

    Ignorance is not bliss.

  63. Josh, i don't want to comment too deeply on this specific blog post, but i want to tell you how much i appreciate your view that it is time for the adults in the church to open up and start REALLY talking to the youth. I know its very hard to be a gay member of the church, it is also hard to be a member who is heterosexual and feels compassion and empathy and love for those people…all people dealing with issues such as these. There are not a lot of circles that it feels safe to show that empathy, when so many around you expect you to feel different. I've known for a long time that i am not a mormon that really fits in, and it is extremely supportive to read your blog and feel confident that my concern and empathy are felt by others in the church. We HAVE to talk to our kids. I have made it a goal as a parent to always have open dialogue with my kids about the hard things. Icant see you're choice to be so forthcoming as anything other than positive!

    -Kristin H.

  64. I really loved the paragraph:

    "I have made certain choices about my own sexual attractions. Those choices work for me, and I am thankful for their consequences every single day of my life. But life is very complex, and I will never ever judge or condemn the choices of another person, even if they look different than mine, because that is not my place in the slightest, and I will love and deeply empathize with any homosexual person I encounter, no matter what. I will champion them and love them and embrace them and support them. I believe Christ would do the same."

    The message of not judging but loving the person no matter what our opinion on the matter is. We all deserve to be loved and accepted.

    You did a great job of getting to the core of the woman's comment without being rude or accusing. Excellent job.

  65. I HAVE A QUESTION FOR WHOEVER WANTS TO DISCUSS IT. I work with some youth who face unique sets of challenges. One of the therapists we work with is amazing with youth with various paraphilias, homosexuality, gender identity issues and countless other struggles. Once he made a comment that the more who works with people, the more he feels that these things are more of a spectrum than one way or the other. I think he was saying that we all lie on a spectrum of being predisposed to certain challenges and that influences, whether inherited or environmental, determine whether we will face those challenges, and to what degree of intensity those challenges will be.
    What do you think?
    Since The Weed is about being real, I'll share my real perspective on this generally taboo topic. I am a girl attracted to guys, but when I was little I thought I should have been a boy. I now know that I am definitely supposed to be a girl. Even still, though, in my dreams at night sometimes I'm a girl and sometimes I'm a boy. I can't tell you how many times I have dreamed that I am Harry Potter. Hahaha. Why can't I just once be Hermione? She's cooler anyway. And sometimes those dreams involve kissing (thankfully nothing more) and I wake up horrified. What the heck? I don't know if predispositions of sexual orientation are 100% one way or another. I'm very much a girl who likes guys, but sometimes I wonder if I could have had those struggles but thankfully don't. This sounds like I'm crazy, but I swear I'm your average good girl 🙂 Just wondering.

  66. Wonderful post. Hard topics do make people uncomfortable, and that is understandable, but it does need to be addressed. I recently read a post about a family who talks to their children about sex when they turn 8. At first I thought "that is too young. I could never talk to my son at that young of age about sex." but the more I thought about it the more their post made sense to me. It needs to be introduced by a loving mom and dad in a positive, wonderful way, not in a shameful and embarrassed way. 8 may seem young to us, but not to the world or Satan. If we teach them the bad (and the good) about sex, they can get the correct information as well of the values we hold our in our family regarding intimacy. All of this stuff is hard for parents, but who gave us the idea parenting would be easy??? 🙂

  67. Josh I want to thank you for opening up my eyes to homosexuality. I never really believed people when I heard they felt like they were born that way. I appreciate your testimony and your ability to open up to educate and help others.

  68. I love this post 🙂 I think you are totally right to share your experiences with people. I understand why the commentator would think it would be better to keep such things to yourself, but I believe it's important for you to share because people who are possibly struggling with homosexuality (especially in the LDS church) might find some comfort in your confidence and willingness to be so open about your life. I also believe that people need to be more open about topics that might be uncomfortable to discuss (again, especially within the church where things like homosexuality and sexuality in general are not discussed openly) because when I was a youth I was very uneducated and confused about these things. I found out in the worst way, through poor influences at school and online, everything I ever wanted to know (as well as a lot of things that I was never looking to learn). I feel I wouldn't have made mistakes like those had my leaders in church been open to discussion about sexuality. A lot of comments on this post express similar sentiments, that the church ought to educate youth more fully on topics like these. I really appreciate your openness and the way you are willing to calmly address concerns of your readers.

  69. Just now jumping on the comment bandwagon. And this comment is in reference to the original post. (I've not read any other comments so I may or may not be repeating here.)
    I feel so strongly about Josh and others like him sharing their story. SO STRONGLY. Why? Because I feel like so many of the youth of the church are gay and feel alone, alienated, dirty and sinful when they have never done anything wrong. And so many people within the church have the mentality that gay is a choice, and that through faith, prayer and fasting, it will simply go away.
    And so, these gay youth, as it seems, are faced with two options. 1- Live a celibate life within the confines of the gospel. 2- Live a gay lifestyle.
    Josh has presented a third option. Now, I KNOW this is not right for everyone, but I know it is not as rare as others may think. I personally am very aware of how challenging this option may be. (My Dad lived a double life as a gay man and died of AIDS when I was in my early twenties.) So, yeah.
    We, in the church, MUST be more open about this. We need our gay teens to not feel so alienated. They need to understand their options and then choose what is best for them. And then we love them. It is not our place to judges others choices.
    Because the bottom line is this. ALL of us in our private moments struggle with something. ALL of us have sinful thoughts and desires. NO ONE is exempt. What we choose to do with our thoughts and desires defines who we will become.
    We need to talk, we need to be open, we need to love and we cannot afford to just think it will go away.

  70. I hesitate to write anything more in when the topic has already resulted in so many heated discussions.

    But I will anyway… 🙂

    For me, when it comes to topics that contain a large element of privacy, like my sexuality, family life, things relating to my physical health – things about which I'm sensitive and need privacy to protect them, I have very mixed feelings about how to balance THAT need with the just as important need for open conversation and information.

    I don't think that open conversation is always such a great thing. Sometimes it feels inappropriate to me, or it feels unsafe and it would be foolish to expose my concerns in an unsafe environment.

    And then there's the question of safe adults for youth to talk to. Who are safe adults? How do they broadcast their trustworthiness? What are signs of LACK of trustworthiness that all of us, youth and adults, should be alert to? How can we best support people struggling with serious but private matters in ways that don't violate their boundaries?

    Josh himself said in his original Unicorn post (yes, it got me on board here too), that he and Lolly NEEDED those first 10 years of private family life together before they felt honestly able to cope with the consequences of that post. To open a discussion of some deeply private things in a public way without lessening their commitment to keeping their family life a protected environment in which it would continue to be safe for them and their children to express themselves (or not) as their personal family needs dictated.

    So I guess what I'm asking you to consider and to tell me is what methods work for you? What keeps you safe and still informed? What is the equivalent, for you, of those ten years Josh and Lolly needed? And Josh – what went on during those 10 years that prepared you for handling these issues in an open way that doesn't violate your integrity?

  71. I'm pretty sure everyone has more or less said everything that needs to be said, but I really appreciated this. I'm convinced that so much of the youth culture of the church taboo on topics related to sexuality has done much to increase the problems in the church with pornography and eating disorders. I also think that more subtly it's been particularly damaging to the girls, who go into marriage believing that their worth is based on their virginity and don't know anything at all about sex which makes their wedding night an occasion of terror. We teach that sacred things should be treated sacredly. When a person prepares to go to the temple, we give them literature to read. They take classes. They are taught to prepare their entire lives for that experience. We don't tell them every specific, but we do explain the principles. Why don't we do this for sex? Sex is treated as something dirty and wrong before marriage and still treated with relative taboo status afterwards. I'm not saying we need to talk about it all the time, but avoiding the subject altogether creates shame and fear, or curiosity to find answers they can't get from church leaders or parents.

    Oh, and while we're on the topic of teaching girls in the church, can we stop promoting the idea that whether or not men think bad thoughts is entirely based on your clothing choices? Girls should dress modestly because it's the right thing to do and prepares you for temple covenants, not because they hold the moral fate of men in their hemline.

    *soap box over*

    1. I'm not sure tbat idea can stop being promoted as long as we live in a patriarchal society. Hmmm, as long as its thought that the job of women for all eternity is to produce baby after baby after baby (like chattel), then really, it makes sense that here on earth women should build their lives around men and what he likes/doesn't like and what tempts him or doesn't tempt him. Men are the only ones who can be bishops, hold authority, etc. It is all built around them. Therefore, how girls dress is tailored in that direction too. Makes sense. If one truly wants to break down the patriarchy, starting with the idea that women exist for more than just producing babies might be a better start.

  72. I found this blog not too long ago. I have been extremely surprised with the clarity that Josh and Lolly have developed about Mixed Orientation Marriages (I had no idea that was a concept until now). I was raised in the church, struggled with same sex attraction, had suicidal thoughts, got a boyfriend, came out to my family, said goodbye to the church (unofficially), lived the stereotypical gay lifestyle, fell in love with a woman (I told her on our first date about my attractions), had a child with her, got married and am now going through a separation. All of that in an 18 year span. I am just now, 6 years after saying goodbye to the stereotypical gay lifestyle (unofficially), returning to the gospel. Although I still have same sex attractions, I don’t have sexual desire to be with another man. If I were in a room full of naked men and women, I would be aroused by the men and the women, but a relationship with a man no longer seems like an option for me. I say option, but I want to say I can’t picture myself in that situation anymore. I have never been disgusted by the idea of being with a woman, it has been sort of a mysterious almost taboo idea for me, as weird as that may seem. When I finally did fall in love with a woman, who loved me back, I was on cloud 9. I don’t know if all of this means that I am homosexual, heterosexual, bisexual, or what (a good friend of mine used to say that all human beings are just “sexual” no need for a prefix). I do know that it was really difficult for my wife. She ended up going outside the marriage to find what she felt she was missing because of everything the women married to SSA men have been saying in the posts on this blog. I do know that making the decision to have relationships with men not only affected my self-esteem, but also that of my then future wife. I didn’t feel worthy of having such an amazing woman, and she didn’t feel that I was sexually attracted to her. So what is the right thing to do? Give into what you feel is natural to you, or decide to do what Josh and Lolly have done? In the end, it has to be something you decide to do, but it helps to have all sides of the story. Josh and Lolly are sharing a side that I didn’t have. All I knew was homosexuality was a sin and there was such thing as the gay rights movement. There is nothing wrong in giving young men and women struggling with same sex attraction another point of view.
    Thank you Josh and Lolly for sharing your story with us.

    1. Regardless it is not your fault she went outside the marriage.. That was her problem. OurHeavenly father never said marriage would be easy and that we would be gun ho sexually attracted to each other at every moment and at all times during marriage. Heck I will be admit there has been times I myself say hmm am I really attracted or attractive to my spouse?

      I agree with you that there is nothing wrong with showing and sharing another option or point of view. And it's not wrong to feel the way they do!! It's all about personnel choice and what a person can live with or without. In the end, only our personal selves will have to face God and answer to him. No one else can do that for us. Thank you for your perspective wiledgar!!

  73. I think you are bisexual and ashamed of it because you've been taught to believe that being in a same sex relationship is a sin. You then may have shared that shame with your wife and she may have felt that you didn't really desire her although it sounds like you did and that makes sense if you are bisexual.
    If you hadn't been taught to be ashamed, I think there wouldn't have been any problems.
    Repeatedly shaming someone for who they are has devastating effects on that person. Not shaming someone for who they are but shaming them out of ever being able to truly be who they are? Equally as devastating. It's awesome when people start to realize that homosexuality actually exists and stop shaming people for it. That must feel like a huge revelation. But it's not enough.

    1. I know Josh personally and fortunately that is not the case, but I can see your concern. Just like to some the concept of being born gay is baffling, a gay man happily married to a woman seems to be also. Josh is an honest man and very well educated on many things including sexuality. So yes he is all three; gay, Mormon, and married to a woman. I honestly could never picture Josh with anyone else, male or female. Those two were meant to be together and they have an amazing relationship and connection that would be desired by any who strive to have a healthy relationship.

    2. I can appreciate what you have to say about being ashamed. When I was very young I did feel extremely ashamed for not being like the other boys. At a Boy Scout Jamboree when I was 9 or 10, we had to put a football, my ball fumbled maybe 2 feet… I ran to a corner and balled my eyes out from embarrassment. Young Men activities were 9 times out of 10 playing basketball; my basketball skills reminded me, along with all of the other young men, that I was different. My best friend in High School came out in his 5th period class one day, adding that he was in love with me. Thus causing the youth leaders to counsel me on the sin of homosexuality. So yeah, I can totally understand where you come from.
      Being an active part of the gay community, I found people who would accept me no matter where I came from. My complete and utter "unathleticism" was expected and celebrated. I remember seeing PFLAG marching in my first Gay Pride Parade and crying because my family would never be marching with them. I totally get it, but I think that it so unfair to assume that if a hypothetical situation were real, I would feel any different. Maybe you’re right, maybe you’re not, I will never know. My truth is what it is.
      I left relationships with other men behind me before I returned to the gospel. After everything that has been happening with my wife, I started looking for answers and turned to the Bible. Reading about the life and teachings of the Saviour was such a warm nostalgic experience for me that I got my hands on a copy of the Book of Mormon and started reading it. I got to 2 Nephi 9:28 and realized that I need to get back in fellowship. That scripture really rang home to me. Verse 29 is pretty good as well.
      Josh: If you are reading this… I am anxious to see what question you will answer… What is taking so long?

    3. Woops was that Anon comment to you Wiledgar?

      If so disregard my comment in relation to your story. I just figured that since the anon was posting by themselves and not in reply to anything that it was posted to Josh. Sorry about that:D

  74. and I think that is awesome. The awesomeness and the honesty of their relationship is not in question. Nor is Josh's intelligence or his integrity. I will say again, that his story is being used by others, not by Josh, to harm LGBTQ youth. No matter how defensive people get, how mocking, no matter how much in denial they are or how nice they are or how many gay people they know and are nice to, Josh's story is being used by others to harm LGBTQ youth. continually debating this point (or mocking it or putting down the commenter, etc) takes attention away from that reality but does not make it go away.
    Again, it truly is lovely that because of Josh, some Mormons now know that gay people are real. That is an excellent eye opening experience that must seem like the closest thing to a revelation ever. EVER. and maybe because of this, some will stop and think before they do whatever it is that is done to emotionaly devastate thes kids. Seriously, that's great. I say that with no sarcasm.
    But none of that changes the reality of the harm that Josh's story is doing because of its usage by some other people. Squak about my comment all you want – feel insulted, feel that I am trying to take away free speech or religious freedom – it doesn't take away the harm that is being done.

    1. Are you the anon that I replied to above?

      Like with all things it can be used for good or bad, that is up to the readers. I think Josh has done a great job of telling his story while also making it clear that this is what works for HIM. His message is of love and acceptance and if people want to thwart that then so be it, they would find a way to do it regardless of his blog. So I think the issue here is what people do with the information not the blog itself (I don't know if you were insinuating that just putting that out there).

    2. yes, and what many are doing are using Josh's story to harm LGBTQ youth. Just saying and many have) 'that is up to the readers' completely takes Josh off the hook. Several times in the comments people have said that they have seen/read/heard that josh' story is being used in a damaging way (as an example, etc). So yes, Josh definitely does have a responsibility because he knows how his story is being used. heck, some commenters have said that they have used Josh' story to show others that it can be done. He seems to have repeatedly chosen to ignore that reality. If I wrote something that I realized many are misusing to forward their own agendas, I would feel responsibility for that and do everything I could – repeatedly if I had to – to stop it. 'if people want to thwart that then so be it' – the thwarting is causing more damage so i can't be as flippant about it.
      I imagine my comment will result in the usual comments about how Josh is not responsible for it, free speech and etc. my comment above yours goes over that. honestly, really I don't know how many times the same things have to be repeated before people really get that what Josh is doing is causing damage. It may also be helping some to believe that they don't have to emotionally beat up or shame LGBTQ youth anymore, but it is also causing damage. And Josh is responsible for that.

    3. I would like him to clarify a lot – since most on here can't seem to be able to hear it – that he does not want his story used as an example for any other gay people.
      It is continually revealed on here that people do not hear that or choose not to.
      I am completely unclear on why he chooses not to do that
      That's all I would like him to do.
      That he chooses not do that is causing harm. And it is causing harm no matter the chorus of comments that will attempt to refute the fact that his story is being used by other people and it is damaging some LGBTQ youth.
      Okay, I have explained this enough I think. THere is absolutely no way I have to make this any clearer.

    4. So by sharing his personal story he is to blame for how people use it toward others even though he has been VERY clear that this is what works for HIM and should not be used as a mold for others? He has explained this all already and I am sure will continue to do so. When I said "if people want to thwart it then so be it" I was not agreeing with them or saying it was okay in any way. What I am trying to say is that Josh is sharing his message in a way that if understood correctly should not be used for harm. It is a message for all if understood correctly. If you want him to touch on the subject again then next Friday write a comment asking why he hasn't done "enough", and what he plans to do.

      I just can't seem to understand why you feel HE is responsible and not the people who use his story for their own agenda. He isn't feeding them misinformation so why is he being held responsible? Seriously bring it up on Friday, I am betting you are not the only one feeling this way.

  75. I had a coworker point me in the direction of your blog…and I am forever grateful to him. I have a teenage daughter who has come out to me. Not once have I condemned her. She is a child of God regardless of her physical attractions to others. Now, when her YW leaders caught on to this fact (unsure if she told them or someone else did), she was told that by being gay she was condemned to an eternity in Hell. Who are they to judge my child?!?!? They had no right to be so blatantly hurtful. It has ultimately served to turn her away from attending church and question the validity of the gospel.

    I've let her know God loves her regardless of her sexual orientation and that the words of these women (whom she once held in high regard) are the words of imperfect beings. That she needs to search in her heart and through prayer to find peace within herself. Most of all I let her know that I fully understood this is not a choice for her. It has opened up our relationship more than ever the last few months. She knows that I will love her unconditionally…which is what the Savior has taught us. Only He can judge us.

    For those who truly think a blog can change the sexual orientation of a teen..think again. For those who think it is a conscious choice ask yourself this…When did you consciously chose to be straight?

  76. Weed, as ever, great post, great response to someone who was taught… well, the accidental "mis-truths" that a lot of folks got growing up and which it would be easy to propagate if… well if there wasn't ACTUAL truth, such as the many examples you cited, which should be what is being taught instead. The not-truths which are cited are folks being influenced, whether intentionally or not, but the poorly laid values of the world….lots of examples out there of this, lots of folks who, self included, cannot understand from an insider's perspective and who look for answers that "make sense," without actually looking up the doctrine and truths that are given. Your explanations are the most sensible, the most intelligent and firmly most logical doctrinaly based explanations, simply because of your courage and your wife's courage to not hide while others grapple with these very things. I am inspired by your courage, and am heartened by the dialogue you welcome, even when misinformed, as we all are at one time or another….

  77. I just want to tell you that you are so brave to have come public, and I believe you have helped and will continue to help so many. And you must have extremely thick skin to be able to tolerate some of your comments. When you've made the choices you've made and are making, none of which are easy…and then to have others deride you as being on the wrong side of history or deluding yourself, etc. You are amazing, brave, and I hope that you and Lolly continue on in joy for the rest of your lives! It reminds me a tiny bit of us nutty women who prefer natural childbirth over an epidural. It's not easy, but it has many good benefits in most cases and is worth the effort. And then if you mention to anyone that you prefer going unmedicated, a majority of people gape at you like you just grew an extra appendage in front of them.

    I'm married, LDS, and consider myself straight, though at one point I might have qualified as bisexual. I also deal with some attachment issues and am in therapy for PTSD. My challenges are very different and, I'm sure most would argue, aren't as great. But who knows? Maybe our hike is similarly difficult/wonderful. Marriage (especially fraught with the stress of being a SAHM of 4) is not easy for me. But I see the greatness in my husband and children, and I love them all for it. (And even if my children were insane monkeys, which they often are, I love them because they deserve to be loved.) I choose to stay vested. And I'm so glad I do. There are dark moments from time to time when I'm tempted to run as fast and as far as I can, because these family relationships can be very terrifying (PTSD and attachment issues speaking). But I stay and invest the time and energy into prayer, scriptures, acts of love, EMDR, faith, forgiveness, etc., because this is the life I want. And I never want to stop seeing my husband and children for what incredible gifts they are everyday. So thank you thank you thank you for keeping it real. And keeping the faith even when others are deriding your choices.

  78. Maquel – I could ask it on Friday, you are right. But sadly, I think that Josh would have to clarify every single day, possibly several times a day, in order for the point to get across. Hmmm, maybe like a constant footnote on every blog post, 'I do not want my story used in a way that has me as an example to others. My story is only my story and should not be used for anyone else.'' Something like that. Otherwise, it's like this huge blind spot. I mean, why would anyone be so impressed by his story, find hope in it, etc. if they didn't think other people could 'do it too.'? Why would the story of a few other commenters who say they are doing it too lead to such rejoicing if people didn't think Josh's story is the great hope for gay humanity? why? It makes absolutely no sense. and it is rather stunning that some on here didn't think homosexuality actually existed before Josh. Whaaat? Huh? This is the kind of mentality that is in existence on here. Because of that, things HAVE to be spelled out super clearly, i.e. 'gay people exist. Please stop shaming them. And please don't use my story to shame them or pressure them in even a tiny way.'' Simple, small words, small sentences. That woman with the gay daughter above – look how that daughter was treated by Mormon elders. That will continue of people think they can use Josh' story as an example.
    Clear, concise and easy to unerstand and repetition is what is neede, I firmly believe.

    1. Do you not think that others can "do it too" if it is something they want? I for one think it can happen with others and has but like you have said his story should NOT be used to pressure or tell people how they should live their life. Only to show people who are DESIRING a life like his that it is possible. Yes that girl was wronged above, and someone needs to tell those leaders that they are incorrect. I still think you should bring it up on Friday, shoot if you don't I will so I will be watching!:D

      Also thanks for being patient with me, yes I have asked you to clarify a lot but I feel that is better than me not understanding exactly what you mean. Communicating on a blog is not the best way to convey ideas:D

  79. 'only to show people who are desiring a life like his that it is possible.'
    So his story is to be used then as an example.
    my exact point remains – either he wants it used as an example or he does not. Desperate men who have been shamed their whole lives by leaders similar to those above may desire what Josh has as an incredibly misguided way to rid themselves of shame. We've seen that in some of the comments on here even. Or youth who have also been shamed by leaders and their own parents may also 'desire'Josh's way because it means they won't be kicked out of the only community they have ever known or disowned by their families. What are the roots of people 'desiring' his lifestyle?
    And to be honest, what you have said proves my point – Josh's story is to be used as an example. Then, by all means, he should not put in a caveat or deal with the issue, since he wants it to be used as an example.
    But again, his example is being used as yet more ammunition to shame and demean people. Maquel, I have repeated this so many times that I am even sick of reading it. It seems what I am saying cannot be heard here.
    I think it is hard for you to see this objectivally since you are a friend of Josh's. And I get that by 'taking me on' you may feel that you are defending him. Which I get, I defend my friends as well.
    It's like the LDS attitude toward homosexuality needs to be gutted and started over again. Maybe diversity training? I have friends who do just that and it is apparently very easy to find trainers in diversity. My friends, who live and work in Virginia, tell me that they often have to go into businesses (at the owners' request) and have workshops to show people that they may hate someone for being gay or not white, etc, but that they can feel this way but can't actually act it out while at work type thing. i.e.' you can dislike bob or think bob is a sinner for being gay but you are not allowed to shame him for it.'' I think something that straightforward and simple might work here as well.

  80. Excellent post. I just have to point out that there are people who have been able to change their sexual orientation. If fact one of them spoke out in one of the first comments. I have seen many others on the internet. Claiming that this cannot happen does a disservice to them and in no way harms your message.

    1. See now, these are the type of people that you are dealing with here, Josh. I honestly do not know how this kind of ignorance can be dealt with other than laws that prevent these kinds of people from acting out their ignorance. I remember years ago I had a Saudi student in my class, a male. I teach English as a secon language. Now, I will say that the Saudis I have met and taught have been lovely. But this particular man was very honest. "In Saudi Arabia," he said, "we don't kill (gay men).'' "We just thow them off of a tall building." For him, this was all he had ever been taught and had grown up in a theocracy that taught him this. The commenter above and others like him/her remind me of that student. I hold no hope that that student will ever change his mind, just as I trust the commenter above never will either. Mormonism is soaked in this type of thinking. And so, hopefully there will be more laws put in place that prevent the commenter above and others like him from discriminating. I hope with all of my heart that he doesn't hold a position whee he has authority over people. I also hope he is not a parent but since he is probably Mormon, I'd say he probably is.
      I must say I rejoiced when I heard that Romney's gaffe went so public. A Mormon in the White House looks less likely now.

    2. I never said that gays should be discriminated against and I abhor any taunting or harmful acts against gays. I didn't even say that all gays can change. I have no idea how many can change, but it is clear to me that some have and it is an issue that should be investigated. To ignore such issues is ignoring some very valuable insight into the human condition. I hope you can learn to open your mind and be more tolerant. By the way, your comparison of what I said to the Saudi student was just silly.

  81. Fantastic post. I appreciate your thoughtfulness and candor in approaching what I have, unfortunately, found to be a rather common misunderstanding of sexual orientation within many religious groups. As an LDS MFT I've worked hard to get healthy dialogue started in the workshops, firesides and sessions that I'm involved with. Working with the youth of the church also provides many valuable opportunities for speaking about hard truths of many kinds, sexual orientation being just one of those.

    Thank you for being a voice of encouragement and understanding. You life many burdens just by sharing your light.

  82. I am a therapist, a YM leader in the LDS Church, a father of four children. And I say AMEN! Well said Brother Weed. You have hit it on the head! I'm glad we have your voice. I hope to be a help to those who need to feel loved, those who are isolated. There are many of us who don't judge and want others to feel accept loved and supported as they work through finding personal answers and a way to peace in the Spirit.

  83. Josh,
    I’ve read your blog from the “Club Unicorn” posting on. I keep hanging on the edge of addressing some things you say and believe where I believe you are mistaken, and where the comment that you are reacting to in this post is coming from. I don’t expect to convince you of my position, but I have finally decided that I can no longer let some of what you are putting out there go by unchallenged. Any of your readers who are living or advocating a gay lifestyle will almost certainly disagree with what I am going to say, but it is you and the LDS members who read your blog that I’m concerned with reaching.

    I am also doing the best I can to, in the spirit you have pursued, do this in an open, loving, non-condemning fashion. I may fail in the attempt, but I feel I need to try.

    In your initial “Club Unicorn” you said a number of things about being gay:

    “When I say I am _gay or homosexual or same-sex attracted (and I use these terms interchangeably, which is a personal decision)_ I refer specifically to sexual orientation. I am sexually attracted to men. I am not sexually attracted to women. It is very simple.”
    “Sexual orientation is defined by attraction, not by experience. In my case, I am attracted sexually to men. Period.”

    Here you make a very significant statement, and then never really address it, you say that the terms gay, homosexual, and same-sex attracted are the same. I can’t agree with this. Words have power; words have meaning, both connotative and denotative. By the commonly accepted majority definition of the word gay, you are not gay. You admit, proudly, that while you may be attracted to males, you have never been sexually active with one and have no intention of ever doing so. The common usage of the word gay is that a person who is gay is: same-sex attracted, believes that this behavior is acceptable or inevitable, and that homosexual behavior is something they are not averse to engaging in under the proper circumstances. You fail to conform to that definition on two of three points.

    Over and over you make the distinction between sexual attraction and sexual behavior and attitudes. Even so, you continue to say that you are gay or homosexual. If your only behavior is heterosexual, how can you continue to insist that you are homosexual or gay? You don’t fit the definition. You can, of course, say that I have the definition wrong, but if you honestly address the majority’s opinion of the definition of the words, I believe that most would side with my definition. You certainly can say you are same-sex attracted, but that is, I would argue, very different from being gay. This is not an insignificant distinction.

    — Continued in next comment.

  84. –Continued from previous entry —
    Now I want to address the related quote from this week’s post.
    “First, I want you to know that being sexually attracted to people of one's own gender is not a choice. I had no choice whatsoever in the matter. One day, at the onset of puberty, I started to find guys sexually attractive just like one day, probably at the onset of puberty, you (I assume) started to find guys sexually attractive. Humans do not get to choose whether or not they wish to be sexually attracted to other humans, and they do not get to choose the type of human beings their bodies are attracted to. In most cases, they are attracted to people of the opposite gender. In some cases, they are attracted to people of the same gender. There is no choice in the matter. It just is.”

    I have to say that this is an over-broad generalization. I believe that for many people this statement might be true. For you it obviously is, and yet there is plenty of evidence that sexual attraction is strongly affected by the environment people are in and the types of behaviors they choose to engage in. There are several other commenters on this post who have said the same thing. Sexual attraction is not like a light switch, it is not exclusively male or female. It is more of a continuum, and there are all sorts of other factors having to do with what a person finds beautiful or appealing. Your own marriage and children are a testament to the fact that sexual desire is not so simple. If you truly found all women repulsive and disgusting from a sexual point of view (an ultimate turn-off) you wouldn’t be able to be intimate with your wife.

    So, here is where I have to say I agree with the poster that precipitated this post. When you say “I’m a Mormon, and I’m gay, and that’s OK,” you contend that you are saying that you are a man with same-gender attraction who has learned to deal with it in a positive way that doesn’t violate the tenants of the LDS church. Sadly, when you say I’m a gay Mormon, most people think that you are using the more generally held definition of the word gay. In other words, what they hear is you saying “I’m a person who is a good LDS church member and who at the same time thinks that homosexuality is just fine and an essential element of my personality, that defines who I am, and in spite of that I have managed follow the tenants of my religion, even if I don’t fully hold with them.”

    You, of course, disagree that this is the message you are sending, because you refuse to recognize that when you say “I am gay” you are automatically buying into a huge amount of additional assumptions about your attitudes and behavior that go with that term. Interestingly, I saw this pointed out most vehemently (in responses to your Club Unicorn post) by members of the gay community, who are outraged that you use the term gay, and yet reject the other things that they believe go along with that term.

    This is about the message you are sending. You have chosen, by revelation, to share your story. Unfortunately, you have chosen to use terms that are easily misunderstood and misinterpreted compared the very careful way you have defined them, because your definition doesn’t match the popular one.

    One of the most disturbing things to me is that you seem to have bought fully into the idea that gayness is a defining characteristic of who you are. When you say, “I am a gay man,” you are elevating your same gender attraction to the status of an essential characteristic. Gender attraction, may be part of you or me, but it is only a part. I would hardly say it is a defining part, but those who promote the gay lifestyle have cast gayness to be an essential, immutable characteristic, much like skin color. This is a very deliberate choice on their part. They want to get sexual attraction (which is why they call it sexual orientation) turned into a protected class, so that they can then claim rights and force others to accept their lifestyle as equal to or superior to all others.

    –Continued in next entry —

  85. — Continued from Previous entry —
    Josh, I want to be clear. I very much admire what you have done and the way you have opened up this dialog. I also want to be clear that how we define things matters nearly as much as the things themselves. Being same gender attracted does not mean the same thing as saying you are gay. There are other types of sexual attraction around (in your line of work, I’m sure you know this) and none of them has been elevated to the status of defining a person (I’ve never heard, “Hi I’m John, and I’m a foot fetishist man,” for example). In the forty plus years I’ve been aware of this issue, I’ve watched the dialog shift. Being gay was once only whispered, then talked openly about, and now boasted about, daring anyone else to say there is anything wrong with this.

    So, going back to this post. I believe that the poster is concerned about your message, not the one you have carefully crafted and defined, but the common interpretation a person takes when they hear someone say, “I’m Mormon and I’m gay, and I’m still good with God.” The message they come away with isn’t what you have said, but it is most often what they believe they heard. You need to admit, that by the common definition of being gay, you aren’t gay. You may never find a woman sexually attractive, but that doesn’t make you gay as long as you never have any intention of having sex with another man. You most likely don’t agree with me on this, but I want you to at least think about it. Poll your readers if you don’t believe me. I think their response might surprise you.

    Sincerely,

    Dave Bennett

  86. Josh, thank you SO much for sharing this. I am a 32-year old wife and mother and I've been in the church my whole life, as has my husband. Homosexuality is not and has never been an issue in either of our lives, but I find that I relate to your posts in a deeply healing way. I'm seriously struggling with issues related to sexuality in general, and I believe that my confusion is largely due to what I was taught in church. The methods of promoting certain ideals are sometimes so extreme as to be counterproductive — they tend to lead to the very problems they're trying to prevent. I wish so much that the adults in my life had been more down-to-earth and open about the things I had questions about. Instead, I learned that questioning wasn't okay. I grew to feel ashamed about anything and everything having to do with my sexual desires. You can imagine what that can do to a marriage. Anyway, reading your posts has helped me feel not so alone, because you so articulately explain how you have found a place in the LDS church, in spite of everyone's highly emotional and often judgmental opinions.

  87. Speaking from experience, I think there is a whole lot of choice in these matters. Much of the choice comes from what you said about choosing to *entertain* thoughts that just come into your head without your consent. But I think choice plays a much bigger role than the gay community wants to give it credit for. Not for everyone, obviously, and not even for the majority maybe, but for a serious category of people, I think there is a choice there. Again I say, speaking from experience.

  88. Can I just say that I'm impressed? Thank you for your insightful thoughts. I've only read 2 of your blogs as I have recently been introduced to them. Though I don't have anyone extremely close to me that is gay, my heart has always had a soft place for those who are faced with hard decisions. Now that I work with the youth in my ward, I am amazed at the things they have to deal with. I've raised 4 boys, three of whom are married, one who is still at home. I also have a husband who has, for YEARS, dealt with depression/anxiety and recently because of some bad prescription drugs, paranoia.

    Your paragraph starting with: "Sometimes Heavenly Father gives us life circumstances." Was truly inspired and the above comment about discussing "scary" topics fits in with my husband's depression.

    Thankfully he has undergone ECT therapy and it has given our family a new outlook on life and all of it's possibilities… but this was a LIFETIME in coming (30+ years). We tried prayer, fasting, pleading, begging, drugs, counseling… all with NO results… or WORSE BAD results! Even suicide was considered… but that option also is not a "real option" if you have a firm testimony of the Savior and his power to heal… even if that healing comes during the resurrection… and for most of our married life that seemed like the ONLY time his healing would come!

    Opening up to our ward and family members about what we were about to do (ECT treatment) was hard, but ultimately well worth the few "stares" that we got from even considering this alternative treatment.

    Please know that God loves ALL his children, even those he who have challenges in life… and that he doesn't always "remove all things" just because we ask him to.

    Thank you again for being OPEN, honest and raw in your feelings about your life.

  89. I know I'm a bit late on this. I'm reading a few months after the inicial posting. I wanted to simply thank Josh Weed and others like him for speaking out about this issue. I don't want to get involved in some of the buzz words and politics I have seen from other commentors, but I just want to throw in a personal shout-out. I am an LDS young adult man, and also deal with same-sex attraction. I am only recently learning to deal with this issue in my life rather than ignore it and hope it goes away. I have always dealt with it 100% alone. Up until about a month and a half ago, I had no idea that this whole community of LDS individuals living with SSA while still living the gospel existed. It's very lonely and scary believing that no one else does what you want so desperately to accomplish (be true to the gospel being a same-sex attracted individual). I agree whole-heartedly with much of what you said about the need to discuss these issues more openly. I think if that had happened for me, I could have accepted this, dealt with it, and moved on years ago. But the fear and shame of being so fundamentally different has caused me to struggle in silence for years. I continue to struggle in silence in some degree, and post on sites such as this anonymously, but you and others like you have given me hope, and cast off much of the fear I had before. I love the gospel, and will live it faithfully. I love myself, and will do all I can to protect myself from the consequences of not living within God's plan. Thank you for giving me courage to do so. Keep speaking up for people like me who do not yet have the courage to do so.

  90. Once again, another person's views make my stomach clench, and I have so many things I want to say, and they are all over the map as far as subjects go(all related to gay issues, LDS beliefs, etc.), but I feel like I would need 10 pages to cover them all. I don't know whether it is a question or a comment, but I just have to state them all as simply as I can.
    1. Why do people think that a gay person is a threat to straight people? I don't understand why so many people think gay=pedophile. The latest example is the BSA's stand (and recent, partial correction) on allowing gays to participate. I don't know all the particulars, but have been told gay youth can now participate, but not gay leaders. Frankly, if I was going to vote on it, I would be more worried about gay youth than gay leaders. I would not let 2 teenagers (gay or straight) who can potentially be attracted to each other in a tent/cabin together. Teenage hormones make that situation touchy in any case. On the other hand, how many heterosexual men have abused young boys (and girls)?
    2. You mentioned that you don't know anyone who was able to "will" themselves straight, and I agree. I have a guy friend who says he is no longer gay after spending his teens-30s in gay relationships. I want to believe him, not because I don't want him to be gay, but because I don't want him to struggle with it. He says he just isn't sexually attracted to men anymore. I don't want to tell him how to feel or assume he is fooling himself, but I think he is. I just love him/support him no matter who he is attracted to.
    3. What kind of example is this woman, and others like her, when they ignore the greatest commandment of all "Love One Another"? Not "Love those who think and feel the exact same way you do". Not "Fear and shun those who make you feel bad for fearing and shunning them". When my friends and family (that happen to be gay) found love and companionship with someone of the same sex, I didn't pull out my scriptures to point out what they were doing wrong. I pulled them out to find scriptures to point out to their nay-sayers. If I was to oppose or disagree with any of them, it would be the ones who are so "pro-gay" that they breed hate and fear of church, government, etc. as a whole, in the same way this woman speaks about you and those of us who support and love you.
    I'm a single mom who is LDS, twice divorced, with an adult son born in wedlock and a daughter from a "not exactly consensual" encounter. I didn't appreciate the rights I had, until I saw people who love each other, are committed to each other, but can't marry. I am not "pro-gay marriage" but certainly understand their frustration. I think it is great that you have made the decision to marry despite your attraction, and because of your beliefs. I would like all my friends and family to find the happiness and peace you seem to have, whether it is by following your example or by a change in worldly views about gay marriage. Personally, I have my own struggles, belonging to a church that is so "family" oriented that they sometimes say things that make a single parent (or at least me) feel like just as much an "outcast" as my gay friends.I have learned that it is up to me to find my niche in the gospel despite the "haters" who see me as living a "lifestyle" that doesn't fit the "good Mormon" mold. I am doing what feels right for me at this stage in my life, and only answer to God.
    Thank you for being a voice in the darkness for those who are juggling belief vs. feelings in any way.

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