by Brig Bagley
8 August 2014
When you look at the picture above, what do you see? I see a lone man looking into the horizon, apparently in deep thought. He is probably thinking about something in his life that disturbs him. A problem he is trying to understand and struggles with.
This is the image that LDS counselors and leaders like to associate with gays. They believe there is an internal problem that needs to be managed, and that they have a difficult condition for which they need help and cleansing.
This is the image that North Star, an LDS-based gay support group, and Ty Mansfield, it's president, wish to apply to the issue of homosexuality in the LDS church. Ty and the group believe that a gay person can live with their feelings while still living fully the standards and principles of the LDS church. However, Ty believes that "gay" and "homosexual" are negative and oversimplified terms that bring in stereotypical connotations. According to Ty, "same-gender attraction" is a more inclusive term that encompasses the complexity and sensitivity of the issue.
Ty's story is probably one exception out of a million, if not a complete lie. I, myself, have a gay uncle (that I never see because he was shunned from the family) that could no longer live with his wife (my aunt) and their kids because of the personal hell it gave him. He was never truly happy, even though he did exactly what "God" prescribed to be the way to happiness. I felt the same way, but luckily, I escaped the sinking ship before I went down with it.
The terms SSA/SGA are offensive to those who love and accept who they are: gay, lesbian, etc. I admit I used those terms in the process of coming out, but now I look back at how demoralizing they are. They make one believe they can change their nature, and that there is something wrong with them. They are diseased and disgusting and need to cleanse their soul, shed their attractions, and sacrifice everything to be like everyone else. Outside of religion, people tend to claim as "bisexual" before coming out as truly gay. But the term bisexual at least doesn't have the connotation that something is wrong with the person.
I was once a follower of North Star. When the theme repeatedly exclaimed that "just being obedient" was worth the struggle, and the "Holy Ghost" was with them to help them not look lustfully at other men, I finally decided I was among confused individuals and left exclaiming my pride for who I was.
I am not broken. I am not struggling. I am a happy gay man with goals, dreams, and a hope for love down the road. I am successful, have many wonderful friends and a family who loves me (even if they don't yet accept my differences). If I could take a magic pill to become straight, I would not take it. I am gay. And I am proud of it.
Deseret News posted the article on Ty here: http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865608377/Terms-important-to-same-sex-discussion-in-LDS-Church-Ty-Mansfield-says-at-FairMormon-Conference.html