It can be relieving to have conversations with friends who simply understand me completely: the gospel part of me, the part of me that likes guys and the part of me that attempts to tie it all together and make sense of it. Sometimes, we talk about our heartbreak at seeing people leaving the Church or making choices that may lead to that effect. Of course everyone has agency and their own path to pursue. Of course there are legitimate, understandable reasons. They're not lost on me. Yet that doesn't mean we don't still have our own feelings to process and work through. Whenever something happens politically, or a church leader says something unpopular or possibly inaccurate about the experience of same-sex attraction, whenever someone has a negative experience that gets blown over the media about the Church's "horrible treatment of gays," the anticipated backlash always wears on me and people like me.
Elder M. Russell Ballard's talk, Stay in the Boat and Hold On!, has been one that keeps resurfacing for me. I guess from where I stand, I can see where some of these possible deceptions are: doctrine vs. culture, "hate" vs. truth. Add to that politics and "human rights," which platforms sound very compelling! As ironic as it sounds, when I experience the heartbreak associated with all this, it just increases my desire for closeness and connection with people who will stay in the boat with me. The imagery in my mind is us holding on to the boat...and holding on to each other. I made the joke of a "cuddle party on the Old Ship Zion." It's becoming old hat for me, but apparently that screams "immorality" for some people. Saying "cuddle" and Zion in the same sentence is like a horrible abomination. I guess I understand that perspective, but there's more. I guess you'd have to "be me" and have learned what I am learning in order to truly understand.
But what I really mean...and what I think is far more important than word choice...
I imagine a band of brothers arm in arm as part of a greater whole, the entire body of the Lord's Church, staying in the boat together; brothers who are more concerned with really keeping covenants, following the Savior and sustaining the prophets than they are about pleasing others with the "no touch, no homo, avoid the appearance of evil" mindset.
I no longer feel like a part of the LGBT community. I was wrong to think that my beliefs would ever be seen with high regard in that segment. Even "gay Mormon" doesn't ring like it used to. I honor that I am a son of God. I feel more commonality among other members of the Church. But at the same time, it doesn't mean I don't feel what I feel. I know I can't do it alone. It's wonderful to have brothers who understand me completely. But I know I'll need the fellowship of other followers of Christ as I try to offer the same. I don't always know what that will look like (except for hugs), but for now, just sit with me, love me and stay in the boat with me.