Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Dear Ann Lande... Brother Thompson

Dear Brother Thompson,

My 18 yr old son listened to me talk with a relative about her relationship with a man she had kept a secret from her mother for over a year. I explained that she should tell her mom about him. It is extremely painful when parents are shut out of the things that are most important in their children’s lives. On the ride home my son highlighted those comments, and used it as an opportunity to tell me what I have known about him for years: he is attracted to men.

He was a little taken aback at my response. No shock, tears, or anger. I had to laugh a little and explain that I have been aware for a long time.  My son said he was a little uncomfortable with how well I knew him.  That I knew what was going through his head and heart before he did. I tried to reassure him that I can’t read his mind, but that the Spirit has always been a strong guide -- not to mention that I am his mom and I love him fiercely.

My husband has several brothers and in the past 2 years all his brothers had one child come forward saying they have same sex attraction. Only 1 of brothers handled the announcement maturely. My husband is the only one of the 5 brothers that remains active in the church. I have been helping my husband over the years prepare for this day. 

This is Abby from Dear Abby. There is no
resemblance whatsoever.

When first married he had very rigid views and had little tolerance for homosexuality. He is no longer the same man in that respect, and I am eternally grateful the Lord has softened his heart and opened his mind. I am not worried at all about how that conversation will go when he returns next week from being out-of-town.

Let me tell you my son’s hopes and and maybe then you can help me with resources to support him. He has always been grounded in the gospel, his faith unwavering. He always wanted to serve a mission, until yesterday.  He still wants to hold the priesthood and have a temple marriage. He wants to follow Heavenly Father’s plan. He recently spoke with one of his gay cousins, and friends at school. He was discouraged with their reactions because they want him “embrace” his feelings and live freely as a gay man. He said he doesn't feel happiness when he thinks of that life.

I asked many candid questions and this is what I know:

-He no longer feels “worthy” to serve a mission, although he has not acted on any of his feelings. He states being with just men for 2 years has not been a concern to him.
-He wants to have an eternal marriage with a wife and children, but feels that a woman could not love him if he is attracted to men, and that he could not give her the love and security she needs for the same reasons.
-At this time, he is repulsed by any type of intimate relationship, male or female. He can’t imagine being that close to anyone. I tried to reassure him that when he finds the right person it will be much easier.
-He has gone on dates with a few girls, but never had a “girlfriend”. 

We live in an area where being LDS is a minority, and the gay and lesbian community is well supported and accepted. We purposefully chose to live here many years ago for multiple reasons,but one was to give our children exposure to multiple cultures, lifestyles, and to help them become more well-rounded and tolerant of differences within all people. 

I don’t believe his environment made him, I knew this about him before we moved 8 years ago.

I have tried to liken his situation to alcoholism. Some members of the church are really attracted to alcohol, but they choose not to partake to keep their blessings.

I also had him watch the dinner scene from The Family Stone. When I watched it for the first time many years ago I was a hot mess and cried long after the movie was over. I knew then that I had to be sure to tell my son that he IS NORMAL when the day came, and I did. I also reminded him that the trials he has been given are no more difficult or easier than anyone else's, just different. 

I asked if he would like to trade trials with me, and without hesitation he declined, and we laughed. I reminded him that the Lord has made his faith strong and that he was given this because he is so faithful. What others view as a weakness will be his strength. Just to be clear, I have reassured him that we will love him however he decides to live his life. I told him that he can’t “pray it away”, and to forgive anyone that tries to tell him to do so. I did encourage him to pray for strength and guidance and to follow the Lord’s will to live the life the Lord wants him to.

Your blog was the first one I came across. Honestly, I am a little concerned where my searches for support will lead me. I want to find ways to support him and give him the resources and information that he cannot get from is friends and cousins since at this time he is committed to remain a faithful member of the church.

I want to ask very personal questions like:
How do you maintain your membership and not feel “unworthy” as my son does? 
How does your family support you?
How does your relationship with your wife affect your feelings, and your feelings affect her?

Obviously, I don’t expect you to answer such personal inquiries. I just want to give him evidence that he can have a full and meaningful life with healthy relationships and achieve his goals while being a faithful servant and Son of Heavenly Father. I think his hope is just a flicker and I want to give him fuel to make it a raging fire before it goes out altogether and he becomes lost in this life and the next.

Again, we love and support our son unconditionally. I am basing my inquiries on what he has expressed to me to be his desires.

Thank you for sharing your trials and using it to serve and help others.

Dear Sister Doe,

What a freakin' wonderful letter on so many levels. You are a kind, respectful, responsible and loving parent. You hit the key -- for me at least -- of overcoming anything we believe to be a challenge. (Yes, being gay and Mormon at the same time is a challenge. Frankly, I hear that being straight and Mormon at the same time can be a challenge).

The key was when you wrote "I did encourage him to pray for strength and guidance and to follow the Lord’s will to live the life the Lord wants him to."  

This is exactly the right thing. God has a plan for us. He is smarter than we are and has infinitely more power. If we can control the natural man regardless of our sexual inclination we can have eternal life. Being gay and being a card-carrying temple recommend holding Mormon requires sacrifice. 

He will have to choose to not have gay sex.  It is a hard decision to make, and even when it is made, hormones kick in and so does the internet and sometimes resolve dissolves.  And if a mistake is made, the adversary says, ah, just give up.  Everybody else thinks you should. Be true to yourself! (as if anyone but you and the Lord knows what you truly are and can make that call.)

I love your questions!  I am not shy, and I am happy to answer.

How do you maintain your membership and not feel “unworthy” as my son does?  I'll tell you why. I feel worthy because of the atonement. The Savior knows all about the indiscretions of my youth (a nice way of saying that I really screwed up). I used to feel that my sin was somehow not as good or as valid as someone else s sin.  Yes, I felt inadequate even in sinning.

Let me tell you and your son now that you are enough.  The savior took on his sins as well as yours and mine.  You are enough for him.   

How does your family support you?  It's my wife that is my major supporter. I have committed to her in every way. We are a team. Our sex life isn't worthy soap opera fodder, but we get by, and we excel in so many other areas. My brothers and sisters support me fully. Some are members of the church and some are not, but it doesn't matter to anyone of them. My dad -- who is little old school -- doesn't talk about it, but I don't bring it up with him much either.  Explaining it to my kids might be fun to watch when it happens.

How does your relationship with your wife affect your feelings, and your feelings affect her?  I believe that you are talking about sexual feelings, so I will re-phrase your question. How does your relationship with your wife affect your sexual feelings, and your sexual feelings affect her?  

Good question. I am gay. I am not bi. I am not still deciding or waiting for the right guy. I am not looking for a guy. I am not watching the polls to see if what I am doing is PC or approved by TLC or GLAAD or any other organization whether liberal or conservative. I have been married for over fifteen years and I have never regretted it. As readers know, I am in the process of getting sealed to her - something we have both thought through thoroughly -- fifteen years worth of thorough.  

I am sure that many men see something they are physical attracted to. I am the same. As men, we don't dwell, we don't check out what's out there.  We don't porn or try to have things both ways. We remember our commitment to our wives, our families and our God. Sometimes this involves tongue biting and hymn singing, but we are honorable men who are looking at our big picture. We certainly do not put anyone else down for their choice and we expect the same treatment. 

My wife and I talk about it often. There is a bittersweet edge for her certainly, but she is still my wife and I am her husband, and we are pleased with our choice. 

As far as where to look for support, is it trite to say the scriptures, church leaders, home teachers, family, church and prayer?  Maybe a bit. Look at it this way. Church is for people and their lives and challenges. We all have things we are working out in the Mormon church, not just gay people. Having said that, I personalty revere Ty Mansfield and his organization. I do not feel they are simply one sided. 

Again look to the spirit to be directed to holy sources for help.

Either one of you can E-mail me. And please tell your son that we love him and that it is OK to stop feeling guilty for something he didn't do.   


  1. What a beautiful letter from a caring mother. Everyone has their own story. I served a mission despite being attracted to guys, and I don't regret it one bit. I dated very little before going to college, but dated girls a lot during my college years. I eventually did find a girl who turned my head -- we had so much in common and started spending lots of time together, and I told her about my orientation. We were married in the temple and now have several children. This has done nothing to alleviate my attraction to other men. Even if I find men attractive, it doesn't change the love I have for my wife and children. I am not in the market -- I'm taken. That is a decision that every man who wants an eternal partner has to make, regardless of orientation.

    I totally agree with Cal, that this young man should not feel guilty for his feelings. Christ, himself, was tempted, for heaven's sake. He had desires, yet this didn't make him guilty. When he was fasting, he had desires for food. That didn't mean his fast was less worthy.

    Every married person I know has to make sacrifices to be married to their spouse. Some make much bigger sacrifices than others. Many of my heterosexual friends have made much bigger sacrifices than me. My advice for a young worthy gay Mormon is to prepare to serve a mission, and if you desire to marry a girl and have a family, make sure that (1) the girl knows your orientation, (2) you are getting married to make her happy and she's getting married to make you happy, none of this getting married to alleviate your orientation nonsense, and (3) realize that marriage is hard yet rewarding; it requires hard work and sacrifice but can be one of the most beautiful and fulfilling things there is.

    Personally, I'm not out to my family and friends, only my wife. Few people know my orientation. I don't get any support other than from my wife. I am so grateful for her support and love.

    I don't expect this young man's experience to be identical from mine, but I hope my experiences can give him more information and enrich his choices. My general rule is that following the spirit is the best advice to give anyone. The Lord's love and understanding is far superior to mine.

  2. NorthStarLDS has helped me tremendously. The Facebook and Google discussion groups are great support. She and her son would be welcome.