I have struggled in different degrees throughout my life with understanding my place in the church and what God’s view of me is. A common experience I hear among gay members of the church including myself is that of self loathing, guilt, and shame surrounding those feelings of same sex attraction we experience throughout our lives. The rhetoric I remember as a child associated homosexuality with perversion, abomination, and one of the most sinful acts that could be committed towards God. Unfortunately, misunderstanding and lack of education has supported a dialogue that in my opinion has been harmful and hurtful towards those of the LGBT community in the LDS church.
I remember as a teenager being very confused to as why I could not rid myself of these feelings even with countless hours spent on my knees praying to God to take them away. Especially, when I was being taught that such feelings were merely a temptation that could be controlled and conquered. I took to heart the following scripture, “And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.” (Ether 12:27)
For many years I took this scripture to mean that if I had enough determination and obedience to God’s laws that my sexual orientation would change. I fully expected God to be able to do this and that he would be more than willing to do so. As time went on it became more and more apparent that I was still attracted to women and not to men even after being married to James for several years. I still would pray almost daily for God to change my sexual orientation and would be met by silence. I was hurt and frustrated that God was not answering these prayers especially when I felt his influence in so many other areas of my life. I became depressed and hopeless that the righteous blessings I desired would never be given to me and that God did not love or care for me. That I was a hopeless cause. I was confused as to why during priesthood blessings I was told that God loved me and understood the trials and challenges I had. If he understood my trials then why was he not answering my prayers! Finally, in a moment of desperation I cried out to God and asked if he loved me as I was including the fact that I am a lesbian. Immediately I had one of the most distinct spiritual experiences of my life. I felt an overwhelming comfort from God that he loved me as I was and did not want to change my sexual orientation. I also received instruction that I needed to follow the church’s stance on homosexual relations. While I recognize that this is very personal revelation I think that there is something very important that can be learned from this experience. My interpretation of the above scripture changed that day. God didn’t see my sexual orientation as a weakness. Instead, the weakness was my own self doubt and low self esteem. I had never thought that me being a lesbian could be viewed as a strength until that day but I am starting to see the blessings that have come into my life from me being gay. It’s a journey that I continue on every day and hope to be able to help others on. I know that God loves me as I am.
My hope is that members of the church will begin to truly see each of us as a loved child of God. We are all different and rightly so. I know I have learned so much from my heterosexual friends and I know that they can learn so much from those of us in the LGBT community.