Saturday, February 28, 2009

"I Love To See The Temple"

Yesterday I went with my sister, brother-in-law, and niece to the open-house for the Draper, Utah temple. I've only been to one other open-house in my life, and that was the Jordan River Utah Temple back in 1978 or '79 (which would have made me 7 or 8 years old). Even though I was young at the time, I do remember some things about it. I remember having to put these booties (along with everybody else) over my shoes so we wouldn't leave marks on the carpets. I also remember seeing the baptismal font and the mirrors in the sealing rooms. I also remember how clean and pristine everything seemed to be and that it was pretty. Mostly, I remember being there with my family and enjoying it. Those things really stick out. Strangely enough, I don't particularly remember seeing the Celestial Room or even the Endowment rooms, though I know I must have.

As a temple-goer I certainly saw the inside of the Jordan River Temple many times and also have been inside the Salt Lake, Logan, Provo, and I believe (once) the Manti Temple.

I actually had been wanting to visit the Draper Temple open-house because I knew, based on my current actions and standing in the church, it would be a rare occurrence for me to see the inside of a temple again.

The temple itself is located in a pretty wealthy area from what I can tell. My brother-in-law, who is a realtor, said one of the houses right across the street was originally priced at $2,000,000, but now, because of economic challenges and a bad housing market, is selling for $770,000 (talk about a bargain! (if you actually have that kind of money)) Before we took a bus up there we parked our car at a local ward house and watched a kind of orientation video, which gave a bit of information about the temple and temple work. One comment made by Jeffrey R. Holland, one of the Apostles, was something akin to "I can't imagine heaven without my wife. It's more than just being about someone you love. Heaven just wouldn't be heaven without her." He said it so earnestly and sincerely, and it made me sad. I thought to myself, "Why is my love for my partner so much less valued simply because we're of the same sex?" I do not understand it.

The bus ride up to the temple was nice. I was actually surprised at how small the temple was. It didn't seem very big compared to the Jordan River Temple, for example. Maybe the expensive real estate factored into that, or maybe demographically they don't expect as many in the area to attend. The temple, itself, was very beautiful, as was expected, and the people who acted as hosts and ushers were very nice. I thought the chandeliers, in particulr, were quite lovely (Jonah would have liked them, too, I think)

One of the first things we looked at was the baptismal font. I remembered how much I enjoyed doing baptisms for the dead (partly because I enjoyed getting wet). But as I went through the endowment rooms and the sealing room we were allowed to sit in, I also remembered how much I never really enjoyed going to the temple. This is not to say that I didn't think (or still don't think) that temple work is valuable nor does it mean there weren't times or moments when I enjoyed going to the temple, but overall, my temple-going experiences were never joyful ones. I mostly went to the temple out of duty rather than because of a want or a desire.

I know people who absolutely love going to the temple, who find it a truly joyful, spiritual experience, and who are very dedicated to it and happy to be so. I envy that. I really do. Because I, myself, never really felt that way. Going to the temple often made me feel lonely and out of place. I always kind of felt like I didn't belong there. And I always felt like I should have been having some big spiritual experience or at least feel closer to my Heavenly Father in going. I had hoped that some of my big questions or struggles would have found enlightenment in the temple. I also really tried hard to go with a good attitude (although, admittedly, I often didn't, and maybe that was part of the problem). I also sometimes wondered if I really even worthy to be there. It wasn't like I was acting on my same-sex attractions at the time, but just having them made me feel like I wasn't supposed to be there even if my church leaders tried to convince me otherwise.

I remember one time going to the temple (and I don't think I'm divulging anything inappropriate here) and entering the Celestial Room and feeling so, so alone. And I remember thinking to myself, "If this is supposed to represent the Celestial Kingdom to me, I have very little to look forward to." That is the way I felt. I didn't want to feel that way, but that was my experience at the time.

There was in sign in the Draper Temple that said something along the lines of, "Only those who are morally righteous and worthy may enter the temple." I am totally paraphrasing, but I know the word "moral" was in there. I thought that was interesting. Nobody's perfect, and so I know that the temple is filled with imperfect people. I remember going to the temple one time when I had long hair and getting a few disdainful looks from some of the older temple-goers, and I remember thinking, "If I can't even come here without being judged, where can I go?" On the other hand, there have also been people who have treated me very well at the temple, so I know that that kind of hypocrisy is dependent on individuals, but I still find it hypocritical nonetheless.

The last room we went to was a sealing room (where couples are married for time and all eternity). A very nice couple said they had been married for 17 years and talked about their own eteranl family and the importance of eternal families in God's plan, and I was again reminded about how hard it is for a gay man to fit into God's plan as it is taught to us.

The irony for me was that the whole temple open-house experience was probably designed to invite the Spirit and make me feel good, and yet what it did was remind me how miserable and closed-off and alone I felt when I was an active temple-goer. It reminded me that I wasn't as happy as I am now. I was telling Jonah that in a way it reaffirmed to me that the choices I am making now in my life are better for me than going back to that. Ironic, huh?

Please don't misunderstand me. I am not knocking the temple. As I stated before< I wish I could have felt the way about the temple as so many people do. I see the glow of married couples when they attend the temple together. That never seemed (nor does it currently seem) a reality to me. I've never fit into the Mormon mold, try as I might. I think temple work is very valuable and important, and I am sure that the things one does and learns there are far beyond my mortal comprehension. I'm just relating my own personal experiences on how the temple made me feel.

I was really impressed at my niece's ability in staying quiet and reverent (she's quite hyperactive in day-to-day life). After we visited the temple, we took a look at that $770,000 house just for kicks. I don't know why a person needs that much room. The thing had three floors, seven bedrooms, six bathrooms, a four car garage, two kitchens, and plenty of storage space. I actually found it a bit obscene. Even if I had $770,000, I wouldn't have wanted to live there (and I certainly didn't feel it was worth $2,000,000). I was also disappointed that it barely had a backyard at all. If I were ever to buy a luxury house, it would not have been that one (plu I don't think I would want to live right across the street from the temple).

I told my mom about my feelings about the temple. Strangely enough, she seemed to understand where I was coming from.

In other news, I've basically been disfellowshipped (which means I can attend church and am still a member, but cannot do things like give talks, public prayers, bear my testimony, take the sacrament, or make comments during Priesthood or Sunday School; I have been permitted to stay in the ward choir (for now) and, of course, I can privately pray and testify all I want). It is a bit odd not being able to actively participate. Of course, I haven't attended Priesthood or taken the Sacrament for some time now, but I do enjoy reading scriptures and commenting on certain topics in Sunday School, and I've always enjoyed bearing my testimony. It's weird knowing I'm not able to now. Of course, not being able to bear my testimony in Sacrament Meeting doesn't mean I don't still have a testimony nor does it mean I can't bear it anywhere else; and even if I can't share comments in Sunday School doesn't mean I don't still have them nor does it mean I can't actively learn things or even share things outside of church. I guess the hard part is knowing I'm not allowed to do something I've done most of my life. But such are the consequences.

I did get the dreaded call this morning. I am meeting my Stake President on Tuesday evening where I am sure we will talk about where to proceed from here. I imagine that my excommunication is likely inevitable at this point (although, who knows, a miracle could happen). It will be sad, and in some ways I'm sure it will be a difficult transition, but at the same time, I just don't know how to do better than I'm doing. I feel a strange peace and calm about the situation that I hope remains with me.

Having never been excommunicated before, I'm not sure how things will proceed once I've met with my Stake President. He may deem it necessary to convene a church court, and then I gues we'll see where things go from there. I will certainly keep you all apprised. However, I do know at this point that the choices I'm currently making are the right ones for me right now.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Something More Light-Hearted

Taking a break from homosexual angst and possible excommunication, I thought it might be fun to do something a little fun today. Behold are some questions about Jonah and me that I took from another blog (with my own answers, of course).

What are your middle names?
My middle name is Earl. Jonah's middle name is Hiram. Although Cody and Jonah are not our real first names, those are, indeed, our real middle names. I'm not a big fan of mine (it's a family name). I don't know what Jonah thinks of his.

How long have you been together?
We've known each other for more than four years, and I'd say we've been together for three. And we've been married (as "married" as we can be) for almost two months.

How long did you know each other before you started dating?
Well, the line is kind of blurry from when we were just hanging out to when we actually started dating. I guess, technically, it was a year, but I would say officially it a few months.

Who asked whom out?
I would have to say it was him.

How old are each of you?
I'm almost 38 (yikes!), and he's 33.

Whose siblings do you see the most?
We see mine the most. I've actually only met his siblings once.

Which situation is the hardest on you as a couple?
Probably being apart for so long, although I think we're handling it swimmingly. I also think we have different styles of doing things, and perhaps that is hard at times. Overall, I think we get on great, though.

Did you go to the same school?
Nope. He did work at the university I went to in Nevada, but we never actually went to school together.

Are you from the same home town?
No. He's from Las Vegas; I'm from the Salt Lake City area.

Who is smarter?
I think we're both pretty smart. It's pretty even. Maybe I'm a bit more book-smart. I don't know.

Who is the most sensitive?
Jonah. No question.

Where do you eat out most as a couple?
We like to go out a lot, although that has diminished since we bought our house. We go to the Cheesecake Factory a lot. IHOP, too (because it's right near our house).

Where is the furthest you two have traveled together as a couple?
I guess Los Angeles.

Who has the craziest exes?
I don't think Jonah has any exes, and mine are relatively sane. I had an ex-girlfriend who is bipolar. That's about as crazy as it gets.

Who has the worst temper?
Wow! Uh, neither one of us, really. We're both pretty even tempered guys. If I had to pick, I would say me. I think it would be easier to push me to explode than it would Jonah (although I know he has lost his temper before (though I've never actually seen it).

Who does the cooking?
I know how to use a microwave. Jonah can actually cook, although he's trying to teach me to cook. We both share the duty, although I generally need him to leave me instructions if we want the food to be edible.

Who is the neat-freak?
We're both pretty cluttery. It really depends. My car is spotless compared to his, but I think he cares more about how the house looks than I do.

Who is more stubborn?

Who hogs the bed?
Jonah claims I do, but I don't believe him. I think we just have a small bed.

Who wakes up earlier?
Jonah. Good gravy, let me sleep, man!

Where was your first date?
Technically, the Cheesecake Factory at Caesar's Palace. Officially, Disneyland.

Who is more jealous?
Neither one of us. I certainly am not, and I haven't got much of a vibe that Jonah is, either. We trust each other a lot.

How long did it take to get serious?
That's a saga. There were lots of complications. Read this blog if you really want to know.

Who eats more?
Probably me. We both eat a lot, I think. I eat faster (unless Jonah is starving).

Who does the laundry?
Well, we both do our own, but Jonah is much better at it than I am.

Who's better with the computer?
I think that would have to be me.

Who drives when you are together?
I'm the one that does the driving on long-distance trips, but we both do a lot of driving. Jonah tends to do the driving when we're in Vegas, and I tend to do it when he's in Salt Lake.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

What Is Wrong With You?

Sometimes I want to scream the above phrase to people I feel are idiots. Last Sunday this full-page ad appeared in both The Deseret News and The Salt Lake Tribune. The Deseret News chose not to include the photo of the two men kissing I guess because they feared it would offend its readers (as if the photo is the most offensive thing in the ad). Never mind that the ad is filled with half-truths, misinformation, lies, and hate-filled ignorance. Oh, no! Those things aren't nearly as offensive as two men kissing each other! Heaven forbid!

As I read the ad, I couldn't believe how ridiculously stupid it was and what it said about the people responsible for it. I love how we're compared to "druggies" and "hookers" (their words, not mine) and how we're called "godless." And, of course, there's always that watch cry that we have to "protect the children" from people like me. I'm always baffled by this one. My niece adores me and Jonah. The Primary and elementary school kids I've taught (yes, I have taught YOUR kids. Oooooooohh!) seem to have suffered no ill effects due to my influence. If your kids are going to be gay, it's already in them. There is little I or my "homosexual movement" could do to influence that. Heaven forbid you should teach your kids that they are still loved in spite of a condition they have no control over.

I went to the website of the group who sponsored the ad. Please visit it if you want a laugh. It's so absurd and outrageous how seriously misguided and ignorant these people are. It would be funny if it wasn't so scary that there are people out there who actually believe this stuff. Here's a link to an article in QSaltLake that gives information on some of the mis-truths.

Oh, and by the way, America Forever (the name of the group who sponsored the ad), I don't think the LDS Church really needs you to come to their defense. I think they already have enough public relations problems without you adding to it.

There's also some commentary here and here in the Tribune about the ad, if you are interested.

Sandra Rodrigues of America Forever apologized before a House panel Tuesday the ad by saying, "I want to publicly apologize to those who feel that America Forever is hateful. We are anything but hateful." Uh, sorry, Sandra, but yes you are.

Speaking of hateful, did you hear that according to Senator Chris Buttars (one of my very favorite people...NOT!) that gay people like me are "probably the greatest threat to America?" We're also compared to radical Muslims and we're "mean." You can read about it here. Thanks, Senator. I think you're a gem, too! When the voters of West Jordan keep electing this guy, what does it say about them? This man is a bigot. I don't say that about all people who disagree with homosexuality and gay-rights. I don't think everyone who disagrees with gay-rights is a bigot. But this guy is, whether he thinks he is or not.

And that brings us to Gayle Ruzicka, another of my favorite people. All the gay-rights bills that were up for consideration have failed, and she and Mr. Buttars have a lot to do with that. You can read about it here and here. I love how she says, "What we're talking about is choice -- someone's sexual choice. Why would we put into law someone's sexual choice? … This is not the right thing to do." Yeah, I chose this, lady. I love being in the minority after being a white, Christian, (supposedly straight) man for so long. I love having my rights denied. I love all the conflict I felt for so much of my life.

This "protect the family" mentality is so hypocritical. For touting "family values," I find it ironic how many families are hurt by these self-righteous people.

I'm usually a pretty forgiving, gentle soul, but today I'm mad. Sorry.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Making New Trails

A comment I made on Faithful Dissident's blog that I thought I would include here as well. Somehow it seems appropriate to my current situation.

Two quotes I've read recently:

"People who say things that differ from the norm used to get burned at the stake. The more controversial, the more of a nerve you're striking in the established community." - from the book, Change Your Brain, Change Your Life by Daniel G. Amen

"Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Some people get "burned at the stake," so to speak, but sometimes sacrifices are necessary to create awareness and education about difficult subjects. Sometimes trails have to be forged.

If excommunication is indeed my future fate, it will sadden me. But I have also felt that I need to stay true to the choices I have made, and I have felt God telling me things will be all right.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Failure or Success?

The other day I read a comment on Beck’s blog (not from Beck, but someone else) that really hurt my feelings. I tried not to let it affect me, but it did. The comment implied that because of the choices I have made I was selfish and had deserted God and was rejecting Christ’s sacrifice for me. It made me feel terrible, as I’m sure you would imagine, and it made me feel like a failure as a Mormon. Being somewhat of a perfectionist in my life, I have always tried to excel at those things that I feel I am good at and improve those things in which I am not as naturally gifted. I believe the point the person who made the comment was trying to make was that because it was me who made these choices that may very well warrant my excommunication, it was my own fault that I am in the position I am currently in and that by putting my selfish desires above God’s laws, I have no one to blame but myself. I was feeling so sad. I’ve been so happy for the last three years and I had not felt such an intense sadness since before I met and fell in love with Jonah and came out of the closet. It certainly reminded me of a place I don’t want to return to. But it did make me feel like I had failed as a Mormon. Try as I might, I just haven’t been able to be the Mormon I once thought I ought to be, and that thought depressed me…for a time.
As I thought about it and prayed about it, I began to look at the successes I’ve had as a Mormon. I was a good missionary. I had quite a bit of success as a missionary. Many of the people I taught or knew on my mission are still good friends. One guy I taught and baptized served a mission himself and was married in the temple and has kids of his own that he and his wife are raising in the gospel. A guy I knew at school (where I met Jonah) converted to Mormonism and told me my example and demeanor were one of the factors that helped him be interested in the faith in the first place. I know several people who changed their perception of Mormons from negative to positive after meeting me. I don’t say that in a boastful way. I don’t think I’ve done anything special other than just be myself, but that is what several friends have told me. I taught Primary kids and think I had a good influence on them. I taught good lessons as an Elders’ Quorum second counselor and as a Priesthood teacher. Many people have told me that talks I gave or testimonies I bore or songs I sang in church moved them or inspired them or helped them in some way. I think those people who don’t know of my issues with homosexuality would likely view me as a very good Mormon just based on what they think they know about me. I’ve defended the Church and continue to defend it. My testimony has remained intact in spite of any mortal shortcomings. People often tell me what a nice person I am. I still pray. I still love God. I still try to be Christ-like in the best wasy I know how. These are just a few examples of how I feel I have succeeded in not just Mormonism, but my own Christianity. If it were all about “ME, ME, ME,” as the commentator implied, I don’t know that I wouldn’t have just abandoned the Church altogether.
The fact is this person does not know me or my heart the way I know Heavenly Father does. I do not feel I’ve abandoned God at all. In many ways, I actually feel I’ve drawn closer to him. I find it discouraging at times when people harshly judge a situation they do not understand and condemn somebody without ever having walked in his or her shoes.
The next day I woke up, and all of the negative feelings and sadness I had felt the night before had completely disappeared, and as I thought about it more and continued to pray, it was just confirmed to me that this is where I need to be right now regardless of the possible consequences. I am happier now, and this is what I need right now. I was reading a book, and a sentence leaped out at me: “If you’re too cautious to explore things, you miss out on things you need.” A voice said to my soul, “This is what you need right now.” Another book I am reading which discusses the brain had a paragraph that struck me. It said: “When a person gets treatment that doesn’t work, either because the diagnosis is wrong or the operating theory of the therapist is outdated, things get worse. People wonder, ‘What is wrong with me? Am I not trying hard enough? Am I not meant to be happy or well? I am even a failure at getting help for myself.’ I have found that most people indeed want to be better. When they struggle, it is most often not for a lack of trying, thinking, or motivation. For many people, we as professionals just didn’t have the right answers.”
The above feelings (that something was wrong with me or that I wasn’t trying hard enough or that I was doomed to unhappiness or that I was a failure) plagued me for much of my life. The course of action I was being asked to follow was not working. I grew weary and distraught as a result. I have chosen to take a new course of action, one that is providing me with positive results (at least they feel positive to me), and therefore I feel it is the course I need to take right now.
Through all of this, I have felt Heavenly Father tell me things are going to be okay. I have to trust that He understands the course of my life better than anyone else could, including me.
The clincher was an email I received that very next day (after such a sad night). It was from a friend I hadn’t heard from in a while (who knows nothing of my possible excommunication), and it said, “'To get something you never had, you have to do something you never did.' When God takes something from your grasp, He's not punishing you, but merely opening your hands to receive something better. Concentrate on this sentence... 'The will of God will never take you where the Grace of God will not protect you.' Something good will happen to you today; something that you have been waiting to hear.” As I read it, I just felt that this is the path I am supposed to be on right now.
There is so much we don’t know that God does know. I have to trust Him. I remember when I was a graduate student, I and some of my colleagues taught acting classes. There was one girl who wanted so badly to be an actress. She was developmentally, physically, and emotionally challenged. She was a nice girl, but she did not have the necessary skills or physical capabilities to be an actress. It didn’t matter how much she wanted it or how hard she tried, she would never be a successful actress. She did not meet the requirements she needed to move on in the program and therefore she was cut. It wasn’t that we didn’t like her or that she wasn’t doing her best; she simply didn’t have the necessary tools required to progress in the program. We thought no less of her and even graded her less harshly than we would have had she been in the same league as someone who did have the necessary skills and capabilities.
Likewise, I could spend my life taking all the ballet classes I wanted, but I will never be a ballet dancer no matter how deeply I would like to be one. Even if I had the proper physique, I do not possess the coordination abilities or grace or certain skills required to excel at ballet dancing. I’ve taken a lot of dance classes in my life, and although I am a better dancer than I once was, even I know that I could never be a ballet dancer. It’s not a talent I have. I even feel like my spirit is an excellent dancer, but has the misfortune of being in a mortal body that does not know how to coordinate the energy required for graceful dancing. I wish I were a terrific natural dancer, but I am not. Choreographers either don’t cast me or hold me to a different movement standard than they do people who are excellent dancers.
I may be wrong, but I have the feeling it is similar with my own situation. My mortal body does not know how to be straight. For many years I desired it ardently and worked my very hardest to make it so. No matter how much I wanted it, no matter how many “classes” I took, no matter how much I tried to follow the course of action the Church asked me to follow to do what was required, I could not make myself be anything but gay. Now that I have accepted that, I am much happier and more at peace with my course in life. It doesn’t make me a bad person that I couldn’t do what was required; it just is. I’ve said repeatedly in this blog that I am doing the best I can under my life’s circumstances, and that will have to be enough. I have felt that my Father in Heaven understands and that He is happy I am happy. That will have to be enough.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Excommunication Looming

I don’t know, somehow I thought I would be able to avoid it; that I would somehow be able to walk both sides of the fence indefinitely; but it appears that the inevitable is looming: I think it is very likely that I will be excommunicated from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints soon. To write that seems almost inconceivable. I have been a member of the LDS Church my entire life – nearly 38 years; and to suddenly know that this important part of my life will be removed on some level breaks my heart and I feel as though my stomach has sunk to my bowels. I almost feel nauseous at the thought. I thought I was prepared for this event, but I don’t know that I truly am. How can one be?
I met with my bishop last week to talk about my commitment ceremony and where I am in life right now. It was a good talk, but it was also clear that I wasn’t willing to repent of what I’ve done and that I would have to meet with my stake president. I actually thought that would happen today, so I was somewhat surprised that my bishop wished to meet with me again. Today’s meeting was much more difficult. My bishop basically made a last-ditch, heartfelt, earnest plea for me to turn back before it’s too late; that he was having an enormously difficult time watching me sacrifice my exaltation for a brief moment of happiness in mortality; and that he was giving me a last chance to change my mind. It was so hard to watch this wonderful man’s face as he realized I wasn’t going to give him the answer he wanted. I actually felt like I could see things from his point of view: watching someone you deeply love make a mistake that you feel they will eventually regret.
I didn’t know what to tell him. I wanted so badly to say, “You’re right. I’m making a huge mistake,” just to be able to relieve him of his anguish for the well-being of my soul. But I couldn’t.
Oh, it will break my heart to lose my membership in this church I so deeply love; but I don’t know how to do better than I’m doing and still maintain my sanity and emotional well-being. It is not as though I haven’t tried. I have done everything I was ever asked to do by my church leaders and counselors, to little avail. How much more praying and fasting and receiving Priesthood blessings and magnifying church callings and counseling and dating women and enduring to the end would I have to do to be able to do what has been asked of me? I can't go back to feeling miserable and unworthy and guilty and repressed and suicidal and depressed and sad and lonely, and I can't give up the wonderful relationship I have with Jonah. I just can't.
Am I making a huge mistake by choosing Jonah and being true to who I feel I am over my covenants with God through the Mormon Church? I can't say. It hasn’t felt like a mistake thus far. I still maintain that I am happier, more well-adjusted, and more fulfilled than I ever was when I was trying so hard to fit in the box that the LDS Church has asked me to fit into. Maybe exaltation just isn’t in my destiny.
In the afterlife I may regret the choices I have made in this life, but in my limited mortal perspective, I don’t regret them. They have brought me a happiness and well-being that I never thought I would attain, and hard as it may be for some to believe, I believe my meeting and falling in love with Jonah was divinely inspired. Being with him has brought me a joy I once thought was out of reach.
It’s not as though I am out killing people or selling drugs or stealing other people’s property or molesting children or raping women. There are far worse things I could be doing than what I am. My sin is that I am guilty of being in love with another man, and I still have a hard time comprehending why that is such a terrible thing. How can love be wrong?
I do not know what the future holds. I told my bishop that I would pray about what he has asked me to do, which I have; but I do not see how I can do better than I have already done. If excommunication is my consequence, than I have no choice but to accept that.
I guess we’ll see what happens. My neighbor wrote me a nice note. One thing she said was that although I can be excommunicated from the church, no one can excommunicate me from God. Jonah said essentially the same thing. He gave me a lot of great comfort when I told him about it and said I could use my church court as an opportunity to share a different kind of testimony with the brethren and show them the good that exists in gay couples like us. He made me feel so much better. I am so very lucky to have him. And like my mom said when I discussed it with her, “Well, it’s not as if you didn’t try, and you’re obviously happier now.” She’s right.
Still, it will leave a hole. I have written a statement I am going to share should a church court be held. I will not share it here because it is too personal, but I hope it creates a better awareness and understanding of the issues people like me face.
One thing I will say: no matter what happens, I still believe the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is true. I found it ironic that today's Sunday School lesson talked about David Whitmer, one of the three witnesses. He was excommunicated and never rejoined the church, yet never denied his testimony. He was well-loved and well-respected. The LDS Church has made me as much who I am as my sexuality has. Some of my greatest values, attributes, and blessings have come as a result of my membership in this great religion. I will continue to defend and love my religion. As Jonah said (and I'm paraphrasing somewhat), "You may be excommunicated, but you will always be in a Mormon in your heart no matter what." He's right.