Recently I was asked by a friend to give some advice. He asked what I would say to a gay Mormon man contemplating the prospect of leaving the closet. He was particularly interested in my perspective, having passed through the transition as a married man with a strong commitment to the Gospel.
To be honest, I can't remember the advice that slipped easily from my mouth to his ear, and I'm sure my comments were superficial without much substance. Regardless, his question has remained with me since and led me to ponder what I would actually tell someone thinking about making the most profound and life changing decision a man can face.
In the end, I decided that there are five things that every gay Moho should know.
First: God loves you and will always love you.
Your decision will impact your relationship with your wife, your children, your friends, and your business associates, but it doesn't have to impact your relationship with God. While there may be a tendency to separate yourself from the Church because of feelings of unworthiness, lack of understanding and support, or simple loss of faith, it is critical that you maintain your relationship with your Heavenly Father. Jesus Christ spent his time and love with those who failed to measure up to the orthodoxy of his time. If he were here today, he would be doing the same with the gay and lesbian saints who yearn for the peace the Gospel provides, but are "unworthy" of the blessings of the Church.
Second: Coming out feels great.
As I've written in a previous blog, coming out, though perhaps terrifying at first, is amazing, exciting, thrilling, enervating, motivating, enlightening, astonishing, liberating and so many other wonderful things. I spend most of my day with my head in the proverbial clouds thanking God that I have finally broken the shackles of fear and can now bask in the light of freedom!
I HAVE NO REGRETS! WHY DIDN'T I DO THIS YEARS AGO?
This sense of elation is derived, I believe, from finally being able to live honestly and openly about what and who I am--a blessing that most people take for granted. By casting aside the cloke of duplicity and despair, I stand naked and unafraid having left the twin terrors of shame and stigma behind.
Third: Take your time.
There is no reason to rush anything. Whether its deciding when to come out to the family, when to discuss divorce, or when to begin your first serious gay relationship, be thoughtful, prayerful, considerate and systematic.
It might be best for you to leave your family and begin a new life at an early age. On the other hand, it might be best to remain with your family until your children are grown and on their own. There is no right approach for everyone. There is only the right approach for you.
If you rely on the Lord, he will guide your footsteps at the proper pace. The worst thing you can do is jump in water that flows at speeds that exceed your ability to swim.
Fourth: A support group is essential
As you begin to crack the closet door, look for friends who have similar values and are facing similar issues as you. By breaking into the gay world together, there is a much greater likelihood that you will be able to avoid the perils and pitfalls that inherently accompany the process of learning the ropes of an entirely new, yet beguiling culture.
Friends will also help you limit the impact of the infamous "second adolescence," the temptation to engage in unrestrained, meaningless, mindless, unprotected sexual activity. This second adolescence, though common, often leads to heartbreak, embarrassment, and occasionally incurable sexually transmitted disease. It's wise to have friends that regularly remind you that any behavior on your part carries consequences. They help you pick your behavior wisely.
Fifth: Get involved.
Regardless of your interest or proclivities, there are men like you looking for friends like you. By getting involved, you will be able to share of yourself and receive ten fold in love and support in return.
As I've written this post, I've thought of another dozen things that every Moho should know, but I'll let this list suffice. If you have something you'd like to add, I'd love to read it.