Today's letter to one of my beloved advice columnists, Dear Margo, is written by a gay Mormon who is struggling to come to terms with his sexual identity within a religion that is not accepting of gays, but that he still believes to be true. Sadly (or maybe comfortingly), he is not alone in this struggle. Here's the letter:
Poor guy. But he's not alone; there are actually quite a few gays out there who still identify as Mormons. In fact, one of my good friends from high school is a transgendered lesbian Mormon. I never had a problem accepting her sexual and gender identities (in truth she makes a lot more sense this way), but I never could understand why she remains faithful in a church that thinks the very core of her identity is sinful. She once explained to me that to her the core teachings of the Mormon church are true, but that the church is run by imperfect people who bring to it their imperfect prejudices. I believe the words she chose were, "I LOVE Mormonism; HATE Mormons." Good for her that she has found a way to reconcile the divide that to me is just too stark to ignore.
10/24/2008 – DEAR MARGO: I am 18 years old and have recently come to terms with the fact that I am gay. The enormous issue with this comes from the fact that I am of the Mormon faith, which famously takes a strict stance on homosexuality. I attend a church school in Utah, and living in a hostile, homophobic environment is taking its toll on me. I am trapped in feelings of self-loathing and doubt, and I wish for nothing more than to have heterosexual feelings. On the one hand, I do believe in the religion and know it has done great things for me, but I also feel like I can't stay a member of the church being who I am. I am afraid that if I live as a gay person, I will be sent to hell in the afterlife, but if I remain celibate in the church, I will be completely miserable. This issue has caused intense bouts of anxiety and depression. I feel trapped with nowhere to turn.
--- BETWEEN A ROCK AND A HARD PLACE
DEAR BE: This is just a guess, as I am no statistician, but there have got to be more gay Mormons than just you. I would posit that you could find a liberal Mormon psychologist who might be helpful to you. It would be a shame to give up a religion you feel has done a great deal for you, but conversely, you are who you are, and it is my understanding that one's religion should not cause him pain, anxiety and guilt. As for wishing to miraculously have heterosexual feelings, you might as well wish for eyes of a different color than you were born with: It's not going to happen. Granted, no one has yet come back to report, but I am highly skeptical that gay people go to hell as a group. I hope you find either a religious or secular counselor who can help you and the Mormons coexist. You might try this site, as well: http://www.affirmation.org/about/.
--- MARGO, FAITHFULLY
I believe, as Sov has recently opined, that eventually, maybe in a few decades, as gays become more and more accepted as normal in widespread culture, there will come a Mormon "revelation" that being gay is not a sin.
Until that day, I don't think I'll ever understand gays who choose to be Mormons.