Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Excommunication (or UP and Away)

Be forewarned: this is a long post!

Sunday I was excommunicated from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, a religion to which I have belonged for 38 years of my life. Although there was always a small glimmer of hope that this might not be the outcome, I feel I have known for some time now that it would be, and I felt quite strongly two weeks ago that this was to be the case, but that I need not fret about it.

I am not sad, as I thought I might be. It does, admittedly, feel a bit strange to know that I am no longer a member of the Mormon faith on record, although no one can ever stop me from being a Mormon in my heart. It also feels very weird to no longer wear my garments, as I have become accustomed to them over the last 18 years.

What I did realize in my church disciplinary council was that I already made peace with Heavenly Father regarding my homosexuality quite a while ago and that in spite of this judgment, things are good between Him and me.

I was scheduled to arrive at the meeting at 6:40 AM this morning. I was, admittedly, nervous and somewhat anxious, but also felt that things would be okay. I brought my mom with me to testify on my behalf, and a good friend and neighbor who would also be acting as a witness on my behalf met us at the Stake Center. We went in together and the Stake clerk, who is also a friend in my ward, told us to wait as the high council met.

Originally, I had anticipated I would be doing this alone, but my neighbor and my mom were willing to act as witnesses for me, and Jonah, in his infinite wisdom, told me I should let them. It turned out that it was a good idea as the waiting was the hardest part of the day for me, and if I had had to do that alone, it would have been much harder. As it was, I had my mom and my good friend to talk with and to deflect some of the anxiety.

It wasn’t until about 7:05 that my stake president came out. I think he was slightly surprised to see my mom and my neighbor even though I had told him that I would probably bring witnesses. He asked me if I wanted them there for the whole proceedings or just for their own individual testimonies. I told him I wanted them there for the whole proceedings. He said that was fine, as it was entirely my choice. We invited all of us in, and again, I think some of the high council members were surprised to see the two women that were with me.

The three of us sat at one end of a long table, and the stake presidency and a clerk were at the other, while six high council members were on one side and six were on the other. Among the high council members in attendance were a friend I have known my entire life; another good friend who I have known for a few years (I get along with him and his wife very well); three men who were all once in my bishopric when I attended a singles’ ward years ago; and another man in my ward whose daughter is a good friend of mine. It was comforting to see several familiar faces. There was also a man I recognized whose talks I have enjoyed when he has spoken to our ward. Of course, my stake president is also a good friend, and I recognized his counselors, whom I don’t know as well. The other six men I did not immediately recognize.

My stake president explained the reason why we were all here today, and asked me to confirm if the charge laid against me (that of a homosexual sexual relationship and commitment ceremony) was true. I confirmed it was. My stake president talked about how he had known me a long time and that we had counseled together about this, and that we were friends. He conveyed his love to me.

It was then mutually decided that my neighbor and mom would speak. I asked my neighbor to go first. She basically said she had known me my whole life and that I was a great example to her. She talked about my struggles and how it seemed my world was without color before I met Jonah. She talked about how I had defended the church during the Prop 8 controversy (not necessarily their position on the issue, but their right to fight gay marriage should they so desire). She said a lot of really nice things about me and my membership. I wish I could remember them all, but I can’t. I will say she was extremely eloquent and strong with her words.

My mom next read a statement she had prepared detailing the struggles I had gone through and why I had chosen the course I had chosen. She talked about what good people Jonah and I are and her hope that maybe in the future the church might change their position on this matter. I don’t know if that will happen or not, but that is what she said.

I was then asked to speak about how I had come to be in this position we now found ourselves in and was also asked to bear my testimony in the process because my stake president wanted the other members to feel of my love of the Church and of my Father and Jesus Christ.

Originally, I was just going to write some thoughts and wing it, but I felt inspired to read a prepared statement so I could be sure to say everything I meant to say. I will not write exactly what I said as most of it has already appeared in this blog in one form or another. I also bore my testimony.

Once I finished, my stake president thanked me for my words and said he could feel of my love. He then left it open to questions from any of the high council members. Several people on the council asked various questions, which I will not post here. All in all, I felt like I answered most of the questions well even if it felt a bit awkward to be grilled somewhat.

After the questions were asked, my stake president told me that I and my mom and neighbor would be asked to wait in another room. During this time there would be a deliberation as well as a prayer held between the stake presidency and later the entire council until a unanimous decision was reached as to what the final judgment would be. I cannot remember what order all this would happen in, however.

My stake president led us into a private office and also asked if he could make copies of my mom’s and my statements for the record. I told him he could. Then he did and then the deliberation process began.

During this time my mom, my neighbor, and I discussed many things, some pertaining to the matter at hand; others completely off topic. I was happy to have people to talk with, especially because the wait was quite long. My neighbor reaffirmed to me that she felt things would be okay for me no matter what the outcome. We talked about the fact that it was taking so long was a good sign; not that we thought it would change the outcome, which I already felt would be excommunication, but because that indicated that it was not easy to come to a consensus and that there was struggle involved. As my neighbor said, if they figured this out in ten minutes, that meant they probably hadn’t learned anything or thought about anything differently than when they came in. The fact that it took a while indicated to us that it was not so cut and dry for everyone in the room.

As I understand it, when the council convenes, six men are designated to fight for the accused and six are designated to fight against the accused. They don’t know what they will be fighting for or against until the evidence is brought in at the meeting. I still think it’s a weird system since essentially all twelve are still very much invested in Church policy. However, based on the questions I was asked, I felt that some of the men I was closest to were on the side against me, so I would assume that would be a hard position to be in, to basically take a position against someone you consider a friend. I may be wrong about the whole system or who was fighting for and against, but that was my impression.

I wish I could remember all the things that were discussed, but it had already been a long week, and I was pretty tired, and so much happened that day that I just can’t seem to recall everything.

It took about an hour and a half, I believe, for a consensus to be reached. While it was hard to wait all that time, I was also thankful that it was not an easy decision to come to. My stake president invited us back in, and I was asked to stand. I was then told that the decision had been made to excommunicate me. My stake president then explained what this meant: that I was no longer a member of the Church and could not participate in things such as giving talks, saying public prayers, bearing testimony, attending the temple, taking the sacrament, paying tithing, making comments, wearing the garment, etc. Most of this stuff I have already stopped doing, so I don’t see that my life will change much. I was also invited to continue attending church in a respectful manner, which is what I have been doing and what I planned on doing anyway. I was also invited to repent and come back. I did find it interesting (and my neighbor also made the same observation) that as my stake president was reading all this church policy to me that his heart didn’t seem very in it. This obviously was a very, very difficult thing for my stake president, and it was clear to me that he was troubled by it all. He also said his love for me as well as the brethren in that room would not change for me. He also counseled me not to let this outcome cause me to be bitter or angry as he has seen it happen to some. He asked me to continue to counsel with church leaders wherever I attended church. He also told me I could appeal the decision if I wanted to (since I feel this is what’s supposed to be, it is not my intention to do so). He then asked me if I had any questions or anything further to say. I asked if as a non-member I could still sing in the choir. He said he didn’t see any reason why I couldn’t. I also wanted to ask him if I could still read scripture in class even if I could make no further comment on them, but I forgot. I will ask him later. I also told the men in that room that I was sorry to put them through this as I know it must have been difficult and maintained that I have only tried to be the best person I can be under the circumstances life has dealt me. I bore my testimony and expressed my love, and then I finished and was invited to sit down. The stake president reminded everyone on the council that the goings-on in the room that day were completely confidential and to be told to no one outside of the room.

We closed the meeting with a prayer. I hugged several of the men, many who were my friends. The first man who hugged me was my stake president, who seemed very torn by the whole affair. He expressed his love and friendship. He also indicated that I would be receiving an official letter soon telling me what the next steps were for me. The next guy who put his arm around me was a man I did not know. He said he felt prompted to tell me to repent and not to give up on myself. His words truly rang hollow with me. I know it came out of a place of love, but I also felt like it came out of what he has always thought. I haven’t given up on myself. I like myself very much. I’m very happy with who I am, and if repenting means losing Jonah, that is something I am unwilling and unable to do.

Another neighbor in my word gave me a hug and expressed his love. The man in my ward whose known me all my life and who was also very saddened by the proceedings said, “We love you, Cody. Come back! Come back!” When I talked to Jonah about this later, he told me, “You’ve never left. You’re doing exactly what you’ve tried to do this whole time. Even though you’re not a member on paper, you’ve never stopped being a member and doing all the things you are trying to do in your heart.”

Another man hugged me. One guy from my singles’ ward said, “We love you, Brother.” Another said he loved me and told me to call them any time. Another said he admired my courage and loved me very much. One of my good friends from the ward said, “Two things. Number one: what happened here today is completely confidential, and you know what that means [he meant he wasn’t going to tell his wife, also a good friend, any of this. It wouldn’t matter to me if he did, but I appreciated the sentiment.] Number two: no matter what happened here today, it doesn’t change our esteem for you. My wife and I will continue to put you high on a pedestal like we always have. Keep on being a good example to my son and daughter, like you always have.” This was perhaps on of the most meaningful comments I received in that meeting. Two other brothers indicated that it was good to have met me.

I didn’t feel sad or surprised when it was all over, and I walked outside with my mom and neighbor (oh, I forgot, when my neighbor hugged me after the meeting was over, she whispered, “It was an absolute honor, Cody.”), the sun was brightly shining. We’ve had about a solid week of rain here in Utah (which is very unusual for June), and this was one of the first times in a while I had seen such a bright, sunny day. I took it as a good sign (and my neighbor told me she, too, had noticed it and had thought the same thing).

All in all the whole process took about three and half hours or so. By the time we got out it was just after the time when our Sunday School started. I was very tired and still had a long day ahead of me with two shows to do at the theater where I work, and I figured an excommunication was enough church for one day, so my mom went to church alone, and I went home to sleep. My mom told me that she ran into the stake clerk, who obviously knew about the proceedings and that he gave her a hug, told her he was sorry, and expressed his love. I thought that was nice. I called Jonah and explained everything, and we had a really good talk. He reaffirmed that I am doing as much as I can and that this formality does not change my relationship with God or the fact that He will still speak with me through his Spirit. We talked about many things, and I told Jonah I felt good about it all.

I took a nap, which was much needed. When I awoke, I removed my garments and dressed for work. It was a very odd feeling to not be wearing something I have been wearing faithfully for 18 years, but I knew it was what was required, so I did. Maybe now I can start wearing some fashion underwear that I’ve never been able to wear. (That was my half-honest attempt at some humor.)

As I drove to work I put my IPod on shuffle, and a song came on that is, interestingly enough, quoted in the second post of this very blog (back in 2006). It is a song called “Different” from a Sid and Marty Krofft musical called Pufnstuf. I quote it again here:

When I was smaller, and people were taller,
I realized that I was different;
I had a power that set me apart.
I learned to take it, to use it to make it.
It's not so bad to be different;
To do your own thing, and do it with heart.

Different is hard. Different is lonely.
Different is trouble for you only.
Different is heartache. Different is pain.
But I'd rather be different than be the same.

At times I'd wonder what hex I was under.
What did I do to be so different?
Then I discovered some others like me.
Wonder no longer. Together we're stronger.
It's not so bad to be different;
Be true to yourself; that's what you must be.

Different is hard. Different is lonely.
Different is trouble for you only.
Different is heartache. Different is pain.
But I'd rather be different than be the same.


As I listened to the words, I knew Heavenly Father was sending me the message that even though I had faced a hard thing because of my choices, it was so much more important to be true to myself. It filled me with such joy and such a confirmation that Heavenly Father has never stopped being with me this entire journey.

Soon after that song, another song which I am not very familiar with from a musical called Triumph of Love called “Issue in Question” played (yes, I have a lot of musical theatre on my IPod. I’m gay! Sue me!). I quote it here, changing the sex of the person he is singing about to more accurately fit my situation:

Issue in question, a rapid heart rate,
Probable cause unknown.
Shortness of breath when there's someone near
Or when I'm alone.
Postulate theory, then explore,
Subsequent query
May unlock the door.
Issue in question,
The rapid heart rate happens when [h]e is near.
Shortness of breath when I'm with [him],
Now it's perfectly clear.
[He] is the cause and furthermore,
Nothing is as it ever was before.
Why this strange anticipation?
Why this sense the world is new?
I'm alive, at last I am alive,
And now the world is, too!
Issue in question, an urge to shout it,
Difficult to suppress.
Simple suggestion, forget about it,
Agonize less. Cogitate, ergo, use my head.
What is this odd emotion that I dread?
Is it love? My God, I hope not.
If this is love, I am undone.
Love's a curse, a cross to bear, or worse,
A war that's never won.
Issue in question, my years of training,
All of it gone for naught.
Disregard passion,
Rely on reason,
As I was taught.
Suddenly none of that applies,
Not when I've gazed into those eyes,
they are astounding
Oh, God, they take my breath away.
Eyes that grace the most amazing face
In ways I dare not say.
Shouldn't I tell [him] the way I'm feeling,
Ev'ry last detail of
How my heart hovers against the ceiling somewhere above?
Never mind logic truth and art.
Only one issue for this heart.
Issue in question?
Issue in question? No question. It's love.


As I listened to these words, I realized that all the reason in the world, all the commandments, all the “training,” etc. does not take away the fact that Jonah is the man I love nor does it take away the happiness I feel when I’m with him. Again, I felt a resounding confirmation that Heavenly Father is happy that I am happy and that all will be well with me.

Jonah was in town the other day to see my show, and one of the things we did was see the movie, Up, with my mom. If you have not seen Up and are planning to, do not read this because I am about to reveal a major spoiler. First off, I have to say the movie was one of the most magical I have seen in some time. It was awesome. In the story, the main character made a promise to his wife that he would take her to Paradise Falls in South America. However, life gets in the way, and he is never able to keep that promise before she dies. When she dies, he is unable to let go of her (or the stuff in his house that represents her) nor is he willing to forgive himself for failing to keep his promise. He decides to strap hundreds of helium-filled balloons to his house and fly to Paradise Falls so that he can keep his promise to his late wife. At a certain point in the movie he finally gets to the place he always thought he wanted to be, the place he always wanted to take his wife, but realizes there is something else he needs to do to help someone else, and because at this point in the film the helium balloons have lost much of their air, the only way he can help this other individual is by throwing all the stuff that has meant so much to him, that he has hung onto for so long, out of the house. This he does, and this enables him to help this other person and enables him to begin the journey to live his life again. He discovers later that even though his wife never got to see Paradise Falls, that the journey they took just being married and together was adventure enough for her and she gives him permission to start a new adventure without her.

As I watched this movie I knew I was going to be excommunicated, and I realized that the parallels were very similar to my own situation. Sometimes in order to move on in life you have to let go of things, even if they are things that are very precious to you. My religion, as you well know, has meant the world to me, but I also feel that God has now given me full permission to begin a new chapter of my life, and in order to do that, I have to be okay with leaving some things behind. Sometimes you have to lose everything to gain everything. Sometimes what you think you want and what you really want are not the same thing. Of course It’s strange to lose my membership. Of course I feel a sense of loss. But I also feel a great sense of peace, freedom, and happiness as well. Things are going to be just fine for me. I don’t think my lifestyle or attitudes will change much from what they already are. I realized that I made my peace with God about my homosexuality long ago. A formal break from the Church doesn’t change that.

Jonah has helped me be happy. He has helped me further appreciate the beauty in life and in the world. He has helped me be less selfish and more loving. He has helped me see things in myself I thought I had lost. He has shown and given me so much love. He has helped me draw closer to the Lord in many respects. How can that be a bad thing?

Don’t be sad for me. Don’t mourn for me. Don’t be worried about me. I’ve realized that things are going to be just fine.

Please excuse any grammatical errors. It's been a long week, and I'm writing this late at night and am tired. Thanks to all for your words of love and support during this time.

25 comments:

The Faithful Dissident said...

I have to say, I'm really touched by the description of your stake president. It obviously wasn't an easy decision for them to make and I think that those who know you best were touched by your spirit. I think that you probably planted the seeds of change on Sunday just by being yourself and letting them hear your testimony.

I really like what Jonah said about how "you've never left." Remember that, and keep in mind to never truly leave.

I wasn't surprised at any of the rules you now have to follow, except that you can't make comments in church or pay tithing. Just as non-members are welcome to comment or ask questions, I didn't think it would be any different for you. I'm also surprised that they wouldn't accept tithing from you, since I've heard stories about non-members paying tithing. On the bright side, though, you will be free to do something that I've often felt tempted to do: stop paying tithing and give that 10% to a humanitarian charity organization that I really love, like World Vision or Doctors Without Borders.

In the mean time, enjoy that new designer underwear. ;)

Sending you a big cyber hug. Love ya, Cody.

Beck said...

Things are going to be just fine! The spirit of this post is incredible. You are incredible. Heavenly Father has most definitely not stopped being with you.

Thank you for sharing this most personal part of your life with us. I am filled with love for you!

adamf said...

Wow. Thanks for this amazing post. Thank goodness for individual revelation, or we'd all truly be wandering around in the dark.

Alan said...

As a perhaps too-young high councilor I participated in this process more than once. I can understand it for someone who is actively fighting the Church and no longer wishes to be part of the group. But to do this to someone in your circumstances, who has faith and wants to stay, makes no sense to me whatsoever. This is the human cost of the organization's senior leadership not knowing or working hard enough to get the answers we need, and apparently of the Church itself not being ready for that new instruction either. I'm so sorry you had to go through this and pay the price for others' lack of knowledge. I do hope all will continue well with you.

Bravone said...

Cody, I wish I knew you personally and could wrap my arms around you in a hug of brotherhood. Having been on both sides of the disciplinary council process, I could relate to the feelings you and your leaders expressed.

Thank you for sharing this sacred experience with us. My love and support go out to you.

Bravone

Frank Lee Scarlet said...

I'm glad that you are at peace with everything. I'm as sure as you are that everything will work out in the end.

Ned said...

Thanks for the full report, Cody. I'm grateful that you handled the experience in such a positive way. It is an encouraging sign that it took 90 minutes of discussion. I'm glad you had loving support throughout the process. If I were in your shoes, I know I'd be buying some t-shirts. :)

Joe Conflict said...

You have courage. Had it been me, I wouldn't have gone through with it. I'd have sent in a resignation and said goodbye.

Robert Buckner said...

Someone posted this link to q-saints, a gay LDS chat group on Yahoo. I enjoyed reading about your experience. There are sooooo many who have had a similar experience as yours. What is unsettling to the church leaders is that after the excommunication we are blessed with added spirituality and happiness. I have had my most powerful spiritual experiences after I've been on my own than ever before. I've been a bishop and worked in the temple but spiritually I am missing nothing and am so blessed, the title of my chapter in Carol Lynn Pearson's book, "No More Goodbyes".
I am so happy for you that you have found Jonah, what a blessing!. You will be just fine; you have a great mother and great friends and neighbors. You too are so blessed. You are also a great blessing to your family.

Robert Buckner (drbuck55@gmail.com)

Gay LDS Actor said...

What an absolute treat it was to open my mailbox this afternoon and see so many words of love and encouragement from all of you. Thanks so much. It means a lot that everyone in the blogosphere cares about me so much.

FD, they never told me I couldn't pay tithing. I just assumed that as a non-member that this was a privilege I have lost. But the other things including making comments, yes, I was told I could no longer do that. But I've been doing that for a while now anyway. Anyway, I don't see the benefit of paying tithing to an organization I no longer formally belong to.

Alan, I agree with you, but I also know that because I am in violation of certain commandments and covenants, the Church probably can't make exceptions on what is currently a pretty strict rule.

Thanks again to the rest of you for your kind words of love, encouragement, and support.

Original Mohomie said...

I guess I'm a late arriver, but thanks for sharing. I appreciate your openness in sharing this whole process and your mature attitude. I'm also really glad to hear there were true expressions of love.

Max Power said...

Thanks for sharing this experience. I imagine that I'll have something similar in the future, given my choice to be with the one I love. It's nice to know something of what to expect.

That is very interesting that they won't accept tithing from you either. I would think that the church would take money from anyone. Interesting.

Good luck with everything!

P.S. I already started the designer underwear. 2Xist and Aussiebum are my recommended favorites. Surprise Jonah. ;)

Brian said...

I hope you do read John Gunther-Wrathal's blog postings (http://youngstranger.blogspot.com/); I see that he is linked to your blog. If you have, you'll know he has been with his partner (now husband, since their recent marriage in California!) for 17 years. I find John's ongoing story (their story) inspiring. Perhaps you do/will too...

Although I am no longer active in the LDS Church, I am an admirer of John's -- I don't think that I could, like him, return to the Church when it offers so little promise to the lives of its gay and lesbian church members.

Like John, and you, I too have found my life's partner -- no single celibate life on this earth with flimsy, make-shift promises for gays & lesbians in the next, can compare with the beautiful reality of our lives together.

[I believe that there is precedence for the marriages -- of gays & lesbians in loving, faithful, committed relationships -- in the fact that the members of the Church may be sealed to a spouse in the temple "for time & eternity," but are allowed (on the death of that spouse) to marry a subsequent spouse in an LDS chapel (or temple) "for time only."]

I find John's path courageous, and enlightening, but I think that it is soul-wearying for gays and lesbians to attend church when the process of educating Latter-day Saints to the fact that one can be both gay and spiritual -- and that LDS theology is large enough to make room for us -- is so arduous.

John's comment on his June 8 blog, after a visit to see the St.Paul, MN temple with his husband reads:

"I long to be in this sacred place, to stand on sacred ground, and be qualified to receive the revelation that being in such a place qualifies us to receive. But while most Saints enter the temple for the first time in order to be sealed forever to the loved ones they have chosen, in order for me to enter that place again I would have to say goodbye forever to the loved ones I have chosen. Others enter the temple in order to seal their promises to each other for all eternity. In order to enter, I would have to break the promises I have made to my other. And that, I cannot do. Thus the bittersweet of being in that place. Thus the heartbreak."

I don't have his kind of courage. I don't have the energy to try and educate Latter-day Saints about gays and lesbians, and how amazing so many of them are -- whether members, non-members, or disfellowshipped or excommunicated "members." So many LDS have closed their minds and hearts to the possibility that WE who live this daily may have some answers to give them.

Regards,
Brian

The Faithful Dissident said...

"So many LDS have closed their minds and hearts to the possibility that WE who live this daily may have some answers to give them."

That was very profound, Brian. I'm going to remember that one. Thanks for sharing.

J G-W said...

I am deeply grateful for you. I'm also grateful to hear about the heartfelt love members of your ward have shown you, and the encouragement they are giving you to stay as involved in the Church as you can be.

I was intrigued by one statement in this post: "He also told me I could appeal the decision if I wanted to (since I feel this is what’s supposed to be, it is not my intention to do so)."

I'm fascinated by this, because I similarly have not felt it was my place to challenge or argue with Church policy. To the extent I have been able to let go of any desire to challenge or argue, I have felt incredible comfort, strength and support from the Spirit.

Brian said: "I don't have his kind of courage. I don't have the energy to try and educate Latter-day Saints about gays and lesbians."

It did take some courage to start attending Church again, not knowing how I would be received. But most of my so-called courage has come from the incredible, loving presence of the Holy Spirit I have felt in doing what I knew was right... Continuing to live the Gospel the best I could and attending Church as faithfully as possible. Also, it has not "taken" energy. I don't go to Church in order to "educate," I go to be educated. I feel the Spirit at Church, and it energizes and gives me strength, not the opposite. But I can see how it would be a draining experience if I went wanting to fight or argue or educate... But that would be a self-imposed burden, out of harmony with the real reason we should go to Church.

I think we are, as you say, doing what we are supposed to be doing. I am so grateful for you. Love and peace..! John

Gay LDS Actor said...

J G-W,

Thanks for your very kind words.

I was kind of surprised I could appeal, too, but I guess it makes sense. Men are fallible, and I'm sure there are instances when things are not done properly, and just like any court, it is justice for a person to be able to appeal. In my case, I feel I have done exactly what I was charged with, so I was willing to accept the consequences. But I did feel the need to at least you my council as a teaching moment, and I think I succeeded. In any case, I know the final judgment rests with the Lord, and I feel good about that.

I still very much enjoy going to church. In some ways, I actually appreciate it more. I feel it is the right thing to do, and I am grateful that Jonah is supportive of my choice to do so. Like you, I got to be educated and spiritually fed. I take what I can from what I'm taught, and thus far, it has proved to be very beneficial.

Love and peace to you, too.

Cody

George said...

Cody,

I would like to add a comment to your post and blog. First of all, thank you for your strength, example and honesty. I know a little of your travail and trials having been on the other side of the table and the desk a number of times as a young high counselor and later as a bishop. As a father I also know of your challenges. Elder Maxwell used to like to quote Nephi where he said 'we do not know the meaning of all things, only that God loves us', and I know he loves you and I equally-- all of us together.

There is not much more to say, but happy you have such great friends, family, and a partner. I am hoping in the eternities all of us will find answers to the perplexities of life and ultimately happiness which is elusive at times here.

Wish you the best Cody in your endeavors!

Gay LDS Actor said...

Thanks, George, for your kind words and comments. They mean a lot to me.

Traci Omega Moo said...

Hmmm, I've just stumbled on your blog. And while I think you are a very kind and decent person, I also get the impression that you are fooling yourself to ease the pain. I know that's judgmental, and I could be wrong.

Here's my question to you. To stay faithful, you could have remained celibate and not acted on your homosexual feelings. Many fat single Mormon women are in your exact same position, wanting to marry, and not being able to due to situational circumstances. Some of them start dating non-members because they choose companionship over temporal loneliness. Often the men they marry have zero interest in the church, and never will have an interest. A few husbands may convert, but I think that's the exception. I don't know that these women are any more or less happy than the active Mormon women who never marry.

Many of the women just stay single and active. They never have sex, they never find their companion. Yet they are no less important than anyone else in the church, they belong just as equally, they keep the covenants they made. They're denied a very strong physical desire, they're not given the reasons for the deprivation, yet they maintain membership honorably.

What would be the reasons why a homosexual person in your situation is unable to do the same thing? Why do more men not choose this route? Do you think Heavenly Father really approves of your decision to break your covenants in order to maintain a companion relationship when so many women are required to deny themselves of this very thing to stay active, and they do, sometimes never knowing the reasons why? This is a sincere question. Sorry if you've already answered this in earlier blog posts, I haven't read down that far yet.

Gay LDS Actor said...

Traci,

I appreciate your comments and questions. In response to your queries, no, I don't think I'm fooling myself at all. There is no doubt that I'm happier now than I was before I came out and found Jonah. There is no pain to ease. While I miss being a member in name, I actually find that my life hasn't changed much since I was excommunicated. I still go to church and actually seem to enjoy it more without the obligations.
I do not know what the afterlife holds as far as my issues are concerned, but I sincerely feel very happy and fulfilled in my life. Perhaps I will regret choices I have made, but I don’t regret them now. Jonah makes me very happy, and I have felt such a positive transformation in my life since found him.
I remember a friend of mine who was a devoted Mormon housewife in a very bad marriage. By all outward appearances, she should have been living an ideal Mormon life, but husband was killing her spirit. The two eventually divorced, and she later remarried a man who was much better for her. My friend left the church (for many reasons), and I remember seeing her and how happy she was and being confused because I had always been taught that one could not achieve happiness without the church in one's life. But here she was, clearly happier than I had ever seen her. I remember thinking at the time that she was deluding herself.
Now that I'm on the other side, I find that one can be truly happy and not be a member of the church. I feel no loss of spirituality, no loss in my relationship with God, and I know I am happier (and anyone who has known me my whole life would agree that this is true). Yet I still have very positive feelings towards the LDS Church; I still enjoy going; I am as much of a contributor as I can be. Perhaps in an eternal perspective, I will find I was wrong, but as far as a mortal perspective is concerned, I am doing just fine. I am not delusional or fooling myself, and I feel God is okay with where I am in life.
I have written about this many times in my blog, but ultimately for the well-being of my emotional health I decided it was best to do what I’ve done. I have absolutely no regrets.

Gay LDS Actor said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Gay LDS Actor said...

Comments to Traci continued:

The difference between those faithful Mormon women you describe and people like me is that at least the single Mormon woman has the hope of finding a mate. Gay people like me will never find a mate in this life if we stay true to our covenants. There's the idea of, "ah, but when this life is over, you will find a woman in the next life." Frankly, as someone who is attracted to men, that idea doesn't even sound all that appealing, nor does the idea of being stuck in a heterosexual marriage when every inclination is to be with another man.
As far as my own situation is concerned, Jonah is probably one of the best things that has ever happened to me. As I've said many times, I would rather be wrong and where I am now than right and where I was then. You can believe whatever you want. I know my own heart, and I know God knows my heart, and as far as I am concerned, I am at peace, and I am happy. That's what I care about.
The women you describe sound unfulfilled. Yeah, they are true to their covenants. I applaud them for being diligent. I couldn't do it and didn’t wish to. I'd rather feel fulfilled and happy now. Again, maybe I will feel differently in the afterlife, but my current life is much better than the angst, sorrow, loneliness, frustration, repression, and self-loathing I felt when I was trying so hard to live life as a righteous Mormon.
Whether Heavenly Father approves of my having broke my covenants remains to be seen, but i do know he knows every aspect of my life with a perfect knowledge and will judge me accordingly. And I feel very strongly that he is happy that I am happy. God knows all from beginning to end, and he can see all the missing pieces we mortal beings cannot. I'll accept his perfect judgment, and I am convinced he knows my heart and my situation with perfect clarity. I'll take the risk.
God has blessed Jonah and me enormously. He is with us constantly. I know this.
All I can say is that you never know what it's like to walk in another's shoes until you've actually walked in those shoes yourself. Fortunately, no one will judge me or my actions but God, and I feel perfectly fine with that.

Julia - Finding My Way Softly said...

It was interesting reading this and seeing parallels in my life. I was excommunicated a few months after you, because I was living with my boyfriend. We ended up being married a month later, but I felt then, and have always felt very blessed by the decision and some of the unintended consequences.

(I wanted to quickly correct one thing you said about the disciplinary council. There are six members who are assigned to make sure that a member's rights are being looked after as part of the council. They are in charge of making sure that there is no bullying, intimidation, presenting of testimony from people who have no actual experience with the matter at hand, that the member has the chance to include any information they choose to, and to bear their testimony of the church. Once the testimony gathering from witnesses is done, it is their job to make sure that all of the things presented in favor of the member are considered as carefully as the information against them. In the explanation of the Stake President, no one is given the job to argue against a member, as that would bring the Spirit of Contention into the proceedings, which would be contrary to the purpose of a Council of Love.)

We don't always know what will happen, or how much a choice to be obedient will help us in the end. In my case, a large part of my discussion in the disciplinary council was around childhood incest, and its long term impact on my life. I had disclosed that invest to other leaders before, and had been told that the information was being shared with his bishop and stake president.

It is unclear whether the information was actually passed on at the time. Both stake presidents had died since that time, one of the bishops was serving as a mission president and the other was no longer a member. No matter what happened at that time, Salt Lake was never notified, and there was no notation in his official church record. When my file was being reviewed by the church legal department, to make sure that an automatic appeal was not needed, a cross checking revealed the lack of note in his record. I was asked for permission to share the information with his current bishop and stake president.

There is no other way, that I know of, that he ever would have been excommunicated for his actions, and his refusal to acknowledge and repent of his actions. I had assumed that the information had been passed on already, and that the leaders had chosen not to act on the information. It was only when I got a call from Salt Lake that I found out otherwise. The process of being interviewed by his stake president, the head of LDS social services in our area, and then writing the answers to the questions submitted by the high councilors, ahead of the council was exhausting. Actually testifying, and not only going through all of the abuse, but also the rest of my life, my abusive first marriage, my thoughts on why my first husband was testifying on his behalf, and why I had been excommunicated, was the most emotionally draining thing I have ever done.

In the end he was excommunicated for apostasy and molesting me. He appealed the decision, but the GAs turned it down, as the thought that the evidence giving was compelling and complete, and after praying about it, they felt that the decision reached was the correct one. None of that process, which while exhausting was also incredibly healing, could have happened if I had not been excommunicated.

Julia - Finding My Way Softly said...

Second half of comment:

I was rebaptized a year after I was excommunicated, to the day. My husband at the time baptized me, and having that memory replace my first baptism is also a blessing. I still have not had my temple blessings restored, but I have faith that it will happen when I, my husband and The Lord are ready. Until them, I am fine. I had a huge outpouring of the Holy Ghost during the year I was excommunicated, which has not stopped since then. I am happier, have much more confidence in the love of my Savior, and the mindfulness he has of me. I never would have found that without the chance to bring the incest out of the darkness of my childhood.

I had a very frank discussion with my stake president, who has a brother and two nephews that are gay. He told me that he thinks it is vital for gay members to both go through the excommunication process, rather than simply resigning, so that when the church stops excommunicating members for being gay, they can go back to those records and invite those gay former members to come back.

(I have no idea if that will happen, but he seemed pretty convinced that it would happen in his lifetime, and I know that he has counseled several gay members to not resign, but instead to go through the church disciplinary process so that they continue to have a file and church record number assigned to him. He told me that there is a specific code assigned for different homosexual excommunications, depending on whether they still had a testimony at the time they were excommunicated. Again, I have no way to verify that, so I am sharing it as a third hand piece of information. Still, it rings true to my heart. Of course there is a difference between someone with a strong testimony that leads them to submit to, and accept church discipline, as opposed to someone who is angry, or simply resigns their membership.)

Thank you for sharing your thoughts and your testimony.

Gay LDS Actor said...

Thanks for sharing your experiences, Julia. I, too, have found unintended and wonderful blessings associated with my excommunication.

Thanks for the clarification about the roles the high council performs in a disciplinary council.

Thanks for sharing such intimate things with me. It's always interesting to hear others' experiences.

That's very fascinating what your stake president said. Very interesting. It will be interesting to see what happens in the future.