First of all, the LDS church doesn't like us calling ourselves gay, preferring us to use terms like "same gender attraction" (SGA) or "same sex attraction" (SSA). The concern being that some people have preconceived notions of what 'gay' means and often associate it with the, so called, 'gay lifestyle' or 'gay culture', (which they believe to mean promiscuous sex, drugs, etc.).
I, however, believe that there is more to being gay besides having sex with other men. I believe that there is a non-sexual aspect to being gay. I am married and I'm 100% faithful to my wife. But, the truth of the matter is, in personality and interests, I probably have more in common with other gay men than I do with most straight men. I will probably blog more about this in the future. For now, suffice it to say that I would probably feel more at home if I were to join a gay mens chorus than I would playing basketball with the brethren from church.
Speaking of the LDS churches position on homosexuality. Being the good Mormon boy that I am, I make extensive use of the resources that can be found on www.lds.org. On one such occasion, I searched all Ensign articles (which includes most conference talks) that contained the word "homosexual". I extracted each paragraph that mentioned the word and organized them in chronological order. After studying this list, I made the following observations:
- In the period of time of 1971 to 1986, homosexuality was often associated with words such as: perversion, inspired by the devil, seldom happy, encourages promiscuity, harmful, morally wrong, a vitiating disease, abominations, gross sin, unholy transgression, heinous sin,
- During that same time period (1971-1986) homosexuality was also linked with other things such as: alcoholics, drug abusers, fornicators, adulterers, murderers, abortion
- Although, interestingly, even as far back back as 1971, church leaders condemned “persecution of homosexuals”.
- In 1977, J. Richard Clarke blamed homosexuality on lack of a “normal, loving father-and-son relationship”.
- In 1980, we start to see statements against “homosexual marriages” as part of the opposition to the Equal Rights Amendment
- In 1980, Steve Gilliland stated that “individuals tempted with homosexual or other abnormal tendencies can, with patience, commitment, and faith, control such desires and permit normal desires to awaken and take precedence over the abnormal”.
- In 1982, Bruce C. Hafen reported that “American Psychiatric Association recently voted to remove homosexuality from its list of disorders” and then quoted a study stating that “that 50 percent of the male homosexuals surveyed in one American city had had at least 500 sexual partners and 28 percent had had 1,000 partners”
- Starting in 1988, there is a softening of the rhetoric against homosexuality by using terms such as: homosexual behavior, homosexual relations, homosexual inclinations or practices, homosexual tendencies, homosexual or lesbian susceptibilities or feelings, homosexual difficulties, homosexual attraction, homosexual struggles, homosexual activity, homosexual lifestyle
- Although, it is still considered an “addictive behavior” (Spencer J. Condie, 1993) and a “perversion of God’s plan of happiness” (Joseph B. Wirthlin, 1994), “homosexual relations are sinful” and “homosexual relations, fornication, and adultery are grievous sins” (A. Dean Byrd, 1999), “abuses of the sacred power to create” (M. Russell Ballard, 1999)
- Starting in 1995, we start to see statements refuting claims that homosexuals are “born that way”, “is inborn”, “acquired by birth”, “determinative”, “caused by genetic inheritance”, “innate and unchangeable”, “biological or physiological causes”
- In 1995, Dallin H Oaks condemns “gay bashing”
- In 1995, Dallin H. Oaks also counsels “… words [like] homosexual, lesbian, and gay are adjectives to describe particular thoughts, feelings, or behaviors. We should refrain from using these words as nouns to identify particular conditions or specific persons.”
- In 1999, A. Dean Byrd concedes that “homosexual attraction may not result from conscious choices,” and quoted President Hinkley as saying “Marriage should not be viewed as a therapeutic step to solve problems such as homosexual inclinations or practices,”. He then says “When homosexual difficulties have been fully resolved, heterosexual feelings can emerge”
I know that there are probably other Mormon's who disagree with my decision to call myself 'gay' while remaining active in the LDS church. On the other side of the coin, there are gay people who cannot fathom why I choose to remain active, as a gay man, in a church that is largely homophobic. The 11th article of faith in the LDS church states:
We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.I believe this extends to gay people as well. Although I choose to remain gay celibate, I allow everyone else the same privilege to live their life as they see fit and only ask the same from them. And, I hope, we can all be friends.