Second in a series of e-mails I wrote last year to a new friend who found me through my blog. This is my response to questions he sent me:
"Good questions and good to hear a little about you. You seem to be at a good point about all this--honestly probably a lot better than I am. Of course you're still going to have questions and worries, but the big thing is just that you can go on with life and not let this thing smother you. Sounds like you're doing that and that's sweet.
So you like girls. Lucky! Have you dated a lot? I really haven't. I've had 3 quasi-girlfriend things for a couple months each and I've really only kissed two girls... I like it ok but it creates all kinds of emotional issues.
So for whatever it's worth, I'll answer your questions.
First of all, how long have you been admitting to yourself that you are dealing with SSA?
First time I realized it I was cub scout. First time I realized it was here to stay was freshman year at BYU when I had my first girlfriend and doing mission prep and stuff. I still kind of hoped it would go away or get easier or something through some miracle on the mission. The mission was fine but I came home with raging hormones... didn't really deal with it for a year more, but I think I was admitting to myself that it was serious by then. Then about a year out, I chatted with some people online anonymously and started chatting with people in provo/orem and stuff just to get the LDS perspective. I ended up meeting a guy who was transferring to BYU and we talked a lot, I felt comfortable with him (not in love or anything) so ended up telling him my real name and stuff. When he came out here we were buddies (about two years ago). We were both the first gay guys the other had met. Meeting him is what really solidified it. Being around him and knowing he was gay and all that and everything I hated about myself but seeing that he was a really good guy made me realize that maybe I could be gay and be a good guy too and it all kind of clicked.
Second of all, who have you talked to about it? Did you talk to church leaders, family, friends? This is where you have me beat. So that guy was the first guy I talked to. We were real close (like hanging out every single day) at first then decided to not spend so much time together. I felt lonely and kept talking to guys online and got more daring and met a couple of other people, none of whom were the type I'd want to be friends with. Anyway, eventually I did meet some other like-minded individuals and I'm still really good friends with that first guy so I've told all those guys... and pretty much that's it. One of my friends' sister's knows about me and a couple of straight girls, friends of my friends. I haven't told my parents and I haven't ever told a bishop or anything. I've never had anything serious to confess and I've just never felt the time was right to talk to my parents but I know I need to tell them... Have you talked to yours? How'd you do it? Most of my friends have told their parents and they've all had good experiences. All of my friends are trying to do what's right even if they've messed up in the past or whatever. That makes it a lot easier for parents to accept. Most of my friend's parents have just kind of listened then never brought it up again or just once or twice a year and they say their relationships haven't changed... except maybe not so much pestering about marriage.. so I don't know what I'm scared of. About bishops, because the church has no clear policy on what is and what's not expected of SSA men in the church (well broadly yes but specifically no), I think it's very important to talk to the bishop to find out for yourself. So again, what am I scared of? I don't know.
Third of all, if you have talked to people about it then how many people know what you are dealing with right now. For instance, is it public knowledge to everyone in your classes and stuff. In general how has that been for you?
So pretty much no one knows, not even my roommate who is a long time friend. I act pretty straight (whatever that means) and I just try not to make a deal of it. Some people I know have made a point to tell tons of people, like everyone they trust. Some people need that. It changes the dynamics of the relationships though and I really don't want to do that. The main reason I want to tell people sometimes is just kind of to shock them and help them realize that all their preconceived ideas about fags are wrong.
What have been your biggest challenges in dealing with this by yourself (or with leaders, family, etc...or just with your other SSA friends?)
Biggest challenge-- the fact that there are just so many questions. I just try not to think about it but sometimes it kind of hits me in the face. My strategy right now is just that I don't want to act on my feelings. I would love to be able to get married eventually, so I'll just do my best. If I stray or stumble or whatever I'm always going to come back. That's my strategy....
Other hard stuff... falling in love with a guy and then finding out he likes me too and that all he wants is to mess around and he'd be willing to give up his faith and everything for a couple minutes of fun... and yeah, that's tempting.
Having friends who are depressed and suicidal. I care about them but I really just can't help them... well I can, but not as much as I'd like... especially when that friend is the one who loves you and all he says would make him feel less depressed is being able to be intimate with you.... yeah, drama. I don't know, there are more, but I'll tell you about them later.
Do you think about marriage (obviously 'yes' because you can't go to BYU and not think about it) and is it something you are considering?
Yeah I do. I want kids. I want someone significant in my life. I want a house that smells good and Christmas trees with presents and neighborhood bbq's and school plays and all that. But I also want to really love my wife and give her my whole heart.. I know it's possible but not right away. I still go on dates and stuff. One last weekend and two the weekend before but I take it slow. At this point I have a lot to work through. If I find someone willing to work through it with me, sweet. If not, I am convinced that I can be happy single for a long time.
Where do you feel like you stand spiritually right now?
Spiritually, this is sad, but I'm not too good--not bad considering, but about as bad as I've ever been. I stopped reading my scriptures sometime this semester and only really pray when I think about it. I believe in God and the church mostly but I have all kinds of doubts about Joseph Smith and everything... I've been to the temple once this semester when I used to go every week. I used to be really really good about all this stuff. I still go to all three hours of church and do my hometeaching and all the outward stuff. I just kind of adopted a "don't ask, don't tell" policy with God. I don't ask God for help with my questions and he doesn't tell me... I've been thinking about this a lot recently and wondering what went wrong. It's not just gay stuff, actually hardly at all. It's just that this is my last semester and I have two jobs (three now) and keeping busy with friends and stuff I'm just so tired. I've been slacking on everything and I guess the religious stuff is just part of that....
Anyway, I know I probably sound all lazy and dirty now... but I'm not. I have a 3.8 at BYU, my scriptures are marked like the best of them. I read the BoM for the first time when I was 12 and have read it at least once a year since. I've had spiritual experiences that I can't deny and I have an awesome family who I know prays for me and basically I just don't think I could ever leave the church. For all the questions I have and all I do to just try to forget everything I really can't. And yeah, writing this makes me realize that I should read my scriptures at least a little before I go to bed.
Ight, I'm guessing you didn't even get this far... this is mostly for me anyway. I should think of some questions for you... later. For now, write back when you can. What do you do with yourself? School? Work? Hobbies?