I want to start by simply saying I am sorry. More sorry than I have ever been.

One of the major tenets of the Church culture I want to someday see realized is a universal expectation of authenticity. To have each guy get to Elder's Quorum and be able to say, "I went too far with a guy this last week, and the experience made me realize that I need more positive connections in my life... and I need help figuring out how to change my heart. Can you guys help me?"

But culture doesn't just happen on its own. Someone has to make it happen - to take the first step into the unknown of pushing culture into change.

It just seems ironic that I'll be the first one saying it.

(Gay) Mormon Guy has always been an idyllic blog about my experience with being attracted to guys. Often I delve into deeper issues, but usually it doesn't accurately capture the constant emotional ordeal that is being gay and Mormon.

Perhaps, today it will.

Warning. This is long. But of all the posts I've ever written, I think this is worth it.

Some background:

Over the last little while I've been actively looking for gay men to connect with. It honestly began as wanting to find attractive guys to cuddle with - cuddle up on a couch and watch a movie - something totally innocent and benign. It stemmed from a lack of connection in my own life - a feeling that seems to come and go of its own accord.

That original desire faded pretty quickly into the background, though, as I realized that there were a whole lot of guys who just needed someone to listen or give them advice. Maybe cuddling was the reason I originally met with the first person... but the reason I kept looking was to find people who needed God.

Most of the time, God went with me. In many instances, I was able to look into guys' eyes and see in their hearts what they needed to do to change their lives. I invited them to make the change... and had amazing experiences watching some of them grow.

And sometimes God wasn't there... and I ran away. Just because a guy says he's willing to just cuddle doesn't mean he actually is. The gay world is saturated with sex, and many guys can't even dream of meeting another person without sex involved. One guy years ago put it this way, "Sexual contact is just part of life. (Stimulating a guy), to me, is like a handshake. Oral sex is like a simple kiss goodnight." 

Consider that many gay men have sexual contact of some sort on the first date or contact with another guy... and one study found that sexually active gay men can have sex with literally hundreds of different partners... and that makes a bit more sense.

That was the culture where I was finding people... the culture of being gay. About as deep into the mire of sin and temptation as someone could go... and I had amazing experiences. Yes, I met people to cuddle with and had good, tame cuddles. But the experiences I'm talking about were missionary experiences. Counseling a guy away from suicide. Inviting another to make changes in his life. Helping others completely transform theirs. Rebuilding hope and inspiring change and helping people feel wanted and loved.

But there were also not-so-good experiences. Times when a guy would grab my crotch, or I'd let him begin to grind on me without telling him to stop for 5 seconds. When a guy would try to kiss me full on the lips and I'd have to dodge.

You see, cuddling and close physical interaction have always been valuable parts of human intimacy. When done in the open, cuddling stays cuddling much more easily. But in recent years, the war between Good and Evil has made Good give up ground. When Evil says it wants something, maybe Good fights for a little while... but eventually it gives in and abandons the territory. That's what happened with physical intimacy. Evil decided to make all close physical contact into a series of sexual advances, and Good backed away... Until we became ok with touch-free workplaces and having a handshake be the only acceptable physical expression of love outside of marriage. We claim it's to keep us safe from the world. But when the culture of Good abandons territory, there are always casualties. Each child of God is tied to a portion of the battlefield because of his or her trials and circumstances... and when the forces of Good withdraw, the people who live on that portion of the field are left completely alone.

And when the battlefield where I'm fighting has been abandoned, I have two readily available choices. I can fight alone, without support from the people I need most, or I can give up and give in.

That's what has happened with gay Mormons.

And even what has happened with me.

Gay Mormons have the innate need to connect deeply with other men - emotionally and physically. All men have the need for brotherhood, but the need for gay men runs deeper... And most of the time you can't just make it go away.

When it was ok to have close, physical interaction between men (from 6000 to around 100 years ago), we saw photos and read accounts of men holding hands, embracing, wrestling and roughhousing. John rested on Christ's bosom during the Last Supper, men slept together in the same beds, and David & Jonathan were closer than close.

But Evil somehow claimed part of touch and physical intimacy in the last days... and what was once accepted as part and parcel of life is now suspect and shunned.

And because it is shunned in most current Church cultures, the physical contact that gay men feel they need to survive usually has to happen in dark, secluded places... places usually reserved for far darker acts. 

In my own experience, when the cuddling was good, everything was perfect. But there in the darkness, there were some moments when I allowed the edge of my boundaries to be pushed. Or I pushed them. And, each time I did, a bit of darkness flowed inside me.

And then last night happened.

I went for a cuddle and a conversation with a guy. Long story short, after breaking what I thought were strong moral boundaries, I found myself stimulating him, and him me.

It didn't take long for the sense of guilt, frustration... and, most of all, disappointment to set in my heart. I'm pretty sure I felt them even while it was happening. I felt awful. Awful for ruining another guy's life, awful for ruining my own, awful for betraying everyone in my life, and awful because I know better. If anyone in the entire gay Mormon world knows the end result of sexual sin, it's me.

And yet I did something like that?

There is obviously something wrong with my heart. Jesus would never do something like that... and I'm trying to be like Him. Sin is a manifestation of an unwillingness to trust and follow God. What do I need to change in my soul to burn out the darkness that has somehow made its way inside?

The feeling of dread of having to tell my bishop was shortly eclipsed by the feeling of dread of telling everyone else in my life. My best friend will probably kill me, then stop being my friend. Everyone else will be incredibly hurt... my family, my ward, and everyone else in my life.

I'm actually pondering posting this tomorrow, after my family leaves for a week-long trip, so that I don't have to face them.

Except that I want culture to change.

I need culture to change.

And I need to change.

The last few weeks I've had a realization of how deeply influential culture is in people's lives. My best friend showed me a TED talk about addiction and connection that rang true to me - you should watch it here (http://upliftconnect.com/opposite-addiction-connection/). The title is this: The Opposite of Addiction is Connection. Please watch it.

The speaker goes through a number of studies and pieces of history to show that how we usually deal with addictive or destructive behaviors (shaming and isolation) actually causes them to happen more... where actively seeking to help people feel connected can keep them from becoming addicts or choosing destructive behaviors in the first place.

After making an awful mistake last night, part of me feels like I should shun the world, and break off contact with everyone - especially anyone and anything that could trigger me again. Except that shunning connection, that talk shares and I am just now realizing, is exactly the opposite of what I should do. Running away from relationships may be the easy way out, but that's just likely to trigger even worse addictive or dangerous behaviors.

Instead, I need to reach out more.

But how could I be so stupid?


Perhaps the only positive thing that could come of my sins is my ability to go through the repentance process. To be open and candid with the world and to hopefully show someone else that sexual sin isn't worth it. Not worth it to experiment with. Not worth it to even try once.

I've already texted my executive secretary. I have a meeting with my bishop on Wednesday night... and somehow, through the Grace of God, the things that I've done can be washed away completely. Not to say it won't be hard. I've known a lot about God. Trusted Him. Followed Him. And those who are close to God usually have to work harder when they turn away. Maybe I'll end up having a disciplinary council. Maybe I'll lose my membership in the Church and have to be baptized again. Those might sound disproportionate... but sometimes God is light with me, and sometimes He is tough.

Those would be scary. But, right now, I'm ok with any and all of that happening, as long as I get back to God.

At this point, I'm willing to do anything to change my heart so that something like that never, ever, ever happens again... and so that I can spend the rest of my days close to Him.

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