Saturday, June 4, 2011
To young gay men--"It is not good for [a gay] man to be alone."
Yesterday as I was skimming my in-box for an interesting post, I happened on one by Andy, a BYU student struggling to reconcile his faith and his nature.
Andy recounted a recent visit he had had with his elder's quorum president, his desire and commitment to do the right thing, and his overwhelming sense of isolation and loneliness. Specifically, Andy told the EQP that he had confidence there were other gay men in the ward; he just wished he knew who they were so he could meet them, talk to them and perhaps enjoy their support.
The elder's quorum president responded that it was good for Andy to avoid other gay people, that forging his way alone was the right thing to do, and that he admired Andy for his strength to resist.
My heart broke for Andy. Just like so many well-meaning, but misguided leaders of the Church, Andy's EQP believed the best way to help Andy and other gay members of his quorum was to isolate them, keep them away from one another, ensure that they had no contact. This in his mind controls the contagion, keeps it from spreading, and maintains the moral integrity of the Church.
The tragedy is that Andy and others like him continue to feel disconnected, lonely, and different. Despite tremendous effort and commitment, they fail to discover their divine nature and instead wrestle futilely with their "unnatural" and "deviant" desires. Eventually, they all too often slip into despair and depression, their despair becomes hopelessness and they begin to wonder if their lives are worth the struggle.
I couldn't help but respond to Andy's post. I wrote:
"My heart breaks for you, Andy. I was once where you are and I know all too well the ache that grieves you. It does get better.
"I, too, am still active in the Church and try in many ways to stay true to the orthodoxy of my younger years. I have, however, realized that as a gay man I'm not broken. I'm not suffering from an illness like drug addiction or depression. My nature is not deviant nor are my desires unnatural.
"I am a child of God who is made in his image. He loves me because of who I am, not despite what I am. I am good and whole and at peace.
"Because God loves me, he has prepared a place for me where I might rise to my potential and ultimately find joy--both in this world and the next.
"And he doesn't mean for me to be alone. He doesn't intend for me to travel this world by myself, without a helpmeet.
"Elohim said,"It is not good for man to be alone." His prophet said that we are that we might have joy. As you only too clearly know, there is no joy in loneliness.
"It's a tragedy that so many straight people prefer us to remain alone--isolated from those who are like us, those who can best help us find our way.
"Whether its a partner or a friend, we need companionship to ultimately find peace in our lives. I'd encourage you to do just that--find companionship with good men who are like you and me.
"God bless you, my friend, on your journey. I hope your suffering ends soon. If I can do anything to help, let me know."
There are too many Andy's in the world struggling to find their way. They all need someone to take their hand and direct their footsteps. They need a friend, a guide, a support.
At the same time, there are too many straight people promoting and encouraging isolation. This is not good. This is not God's way.
The fact is, we were not made to live our lives alone. Despite what well meaning straight people might say, Heavenly Father is clear that it is a solitary and lonely life without companionship that is actually "deviant" and "unnatural."