The following post was written by Dallin Steele on his website, and has been posted here in full with his permission. The title of his blog post was “On a Scale of 1-10, How Much Does Being Gay Hurt?” It is being shared so that we might follow the counsel of President M. Russell Ballard, who stated:
“We need to listen to and understand what our LGBT brothers and sisters are feeling and experiencing. Certainly, we must do better than we have done in the past so that all members feel they have a spiritual home where their brothers and sisters love them and where they have a place to worship and serve the Lord.”
On a Scale of 1-10, How Much Does Being Gay Hurt?
Recently, a friend of mine reached out and asked if we could talk. This friend is also gay and Mormon but is not out like I am. They told me they needed to talk to someone and were sick of trying. I didn’t need any explanation to understand what they meant. We went on a drive and talked for about an hour.
During our conversation, we talked about a variety of things. Most of the conversation was about the gay and Latter-day Saint experience and how it’s so hard. It is especially hard because we are trying to live the way we know we should, yet there are so many unkind comments from people, including those in the church, that are words not welcomed by the Savior. We both acknowledged that they just didn’t understand and we wished they could understand the pain of what we have to go through day after day.
This year in Sunday School we have been reading and discussing the Old Testament. One Sunday, we were discussing the story of Abraham and Isaac. For those who aren’t familiar with it, Abraham and his wife Sarah were very old and didn’t have any children. They were told by men of God that they would have a son.
Abraham and Sarah didn’t quite believe it because of their age, but Isaac came and they loved him so. Abraham was a prophet and while communicating with God one day, he was told he needed to sacrifice his son like a lamb. They had waited so long and had prayed endless hours for a child, but now they weren’t just told that he would be taken away to serve the Lord on earth, he wasn’t being sent to start his own family – they were told he would have to die, and not just die, but the death would come from the hands of his own father. It sounds really hard and even traumatizing right? Spoilers: Isaac doesn’t die.
If you want to read the rest of the story and see what happens, click here.
When I was listening to the teacher as we shared this story, a phrase came to my mind. “What is your Isaac?” One of these days I really want that as something to hang in my home. What is your Isaac? What is so precious to you but you are willing to give it up to follow an all-knowing God who has the greatest wishes and a perfect plan for you?
Religious aspects aside, the thing I desire most is to have a husband and children. It’s weird for me to actually type it out, but it’s the truth! Late last year I got sucked into YouTube one night and was watching animal movies (I was that nerd kid who adored the TV show “Nature”).
While I had been watching a video of an African safari and tourist were watching Cheetahs, I saw a clip that said, “I Let My Husband and Son Shave My Head.” I hesitated, then clicked, and watched it. The men, Matt Dallas (who is the main character of the TV show Kyle XY) and his husband Blue Hamilton, have a whole YouTube channel. They include their son, Crow, in almost every single video they have made since they adopted him. I watched video after video of this small family. Crow looks so happy. They look so happy. They are happy. That night was an incredibly difficult night for me. They were living my earthly dream. It was a night that I stayed up very late and many tears were shed until I fell asleep.
I wish people could feel my sorrow. I wish they could have a glimpse at the confusion I feel and desires that I have to stem EVERY SINGLE DAY so that I am focused on my Savior. I wish they could see how their words, sometimes even well-intended, can cause pain and frustration.
After having publicly come out, a friend approached me and said, “Dallin, I have this great idea for you.” I was not exactly excited for this idea, but I smiled and asked what it was. This friend then proceeded to tell me that I should be straight just for ONE day so I could marry a *girl who is a mutual friend*. In that moment, I felt years of painful memories heavily dropped onto my shoulders and heart. How could they not realize that I couldn’t choose to be gay or straight? How could they not understand what I’ve had to go through to see how horrible that was to say to me?
Most people don’t realize how in my early teen years I realized what the attractions meant and I prayed to God saying, “Please don’t make me gay. Please, please, please, just make me attracted to girls. I don’t know what’s wrong with me.” I again repeated those prayers in my mid-teen years when I heard another young man exclaim, “It’s so great to be straight! I’d hate being gay.” I went home and just lay on my bed in utter silence while my mind endlessly repeated his words louder and louder.
There were many nights I lay awake trying to figure out what I could do. During Junior High and High School, my best friend would pull out our yearbooks and ask which girl I liked. I panicked every time and tried to end the conversation quickly. I asked out wonderful women to dances throughout high school and they kindly obliged to go with me. In every date I have been on, all I could feel was, “I’m lying to this girl and I know that if we continue, I’m going to break her heart.” All potential relationships never progressed because of that screaming voice in my head saying, “When she finds out, you’re going to lose her because she won’t want a gay man as a husband.”
Years back, a friend and I decided to drive to St. George for a mutual friend’s wedding reception. On our way, gay people came up as a subject and he expressed some frustration at them. He said to me, “Why can’t the gays go be gay somewhere else?” My heart felt it had been stabbed. I didn’t know where I could go to “be gay” if that didn’t involve living in the church and loving God wherever I was. I had hoped this friend would have been more understanding, but at the time, he wasn’t.
Every single day, I see and hear small reminders of something I probably won’t get in this life. I am not closing off my future of what could happen, but as of right now, marriage is a subject that I have discussed with Heavenly Father many times and as of now, isn’t in my near future. When I see a couple (gay or not) together, I have an inner sigh of sadness whether consciously or not.
What am I not getting?
I don’t get to grow old holding hands with the love of my life.
I don’t get to sit next to my husband and fight about what TV show we’re going to watch on Netflix or start a pillow fight because he kept watching and didn’t wait for me.
I don’t get to make him dinner and surprise him with a special night at home. I don’t get to plan a secret trip for us to go to California to the beach and Disneyland.
I don’t get to hold him while he cries because his day was hard or someone said something hurtful.
I don’t get to have fun bickering in the grocery store about how he is actually the better half.
I don’t get to say an absolutely amazing pun and laugh as he rolls his eyes for the 10th time that day.
I don’t get to look back after 30+ years of marriage and sit in awe about how we got through the hard times together and realize the fights over who had to clean the bathroom were pointless.
I don’t get to hear our children call him daddy and run to him with big hugs as he walks in from work.
I don’t get to see him lovingly put a Band-Aid on their knee because they fell on the concrete and give them a kiss all better.
I don’t get to see him reading bedtime stories and teaching our children to use their imagination.
I don’t get to see him teach teenagers how to drive cars while freaking out he’s about to die.
There will be no first dates of kids making sure they’re home on time and going out with others who will respect them.
There will be no teaching as parents that they need to be kind and loving to all people when we find out our children been cruel to others.
I won’t get to finally let the youngest child leave for college and be crying my eyes out while he holds me telling me I did a wonderful job raising them.
I don’t get that one person to tell all my insecurities to and still have them love me anyway.
There will be no slow dancing to music with him that makes me cry, sing, or laugh.
I don’t get to rest my head on his shoulders and sigh knowing everything will be okay because I have him and he has me.
On a scale of 1-10, how much do you think it hurts? Some days, it’s at the full 10 if it doesn’t feel like an 11. It’s heartbreaking, isn’t it? This is what I wish people understood of my story. This isn’t easy. There are so many people who want this and all we can hear from so many is, “You don’t deserve it because my beliefs are different.”
Some people do get to have what I want, but my pathway isn’t going that way. I am choosing something I love with all my heart over something that is almost as significant and important to me. I am denying a part of me that is NOT a choice (If you question that, you can read the Church’s stance here) and people still try to criticize and change. I have cried many nights because I have no idea why I have to go through this, but others act like I chose it, so therefore I must be berated.
Why does this have to be my Isaac?
The answer: I don’t know.
What do I know?
I know there is not only a God, but there is a Heavenly Father who knows all and loves all. I know personally that He loves me, watches over me, and that I am His son. I have heard his words and I have felt the truth. I know I love him more than myself and anything else in the world. I know there is life after death. I know the Book of Mormon is true and was translated by Joseph Smith Jr.
Do you want to know why I’m choosing this life? You can read my blog post “Why I Choose To Be Mormon When I Didn’t Choose To Be Gay”
All I want from this post is that you will have some kind of understanding of one person’s (my) pain. I cannot speak for others and what they are going through, have gone through, or even what they WILL go through. If you can understand my pain to the tiniest amount, maybe then you might understand why certain things must be left unsaid.
Certain feelings, prejudices, and presumptions will be dropped. When I have taken time to learn from others and see their pain in the best way that I can even come close to understanding, I have felt a greater capacity of love than I felt before. Those experiences have taught me how to be more charitable and Christ-like. The prophet Moroni talks about charity.
In Moroni 7, we read,
44 If so, his faith and hope is vain, for none is acceptablebefore God, save the meek and lowly in heart; and if a man be meek and lowly in heart, and confesses by the power of the Holy Ghost that Jesus is the Christ, he must needs have charity; for if he have not charity he is nothing; wherefore he must needs have charity.
45 And charity suffereth long, and is kind, and envieth not, and is not puffed up, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil, and rejoiceth not in iniquity but rejoiceth in the truth, beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.
46 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, if ye have not charity, ye are nothing, for charity never faileth. Wherefore, cleave unto charity, which is the greatest of all, for all things must fail.
What will you do to try to be more understanding? Will it take reading of a post of a vulnerable and imperfect man who is gay and chooses to be Mormon? What will it take for love and understanding to be in your heart? What will finally halt your unkind and cruel thoughts being typed out on the internet or words spoken filled with spite solely to prove your point?
All I want from this post is that you will have some kind of understanding of my pain.
Can the love of God not do greater good than man’s hate-filled heart which is full of misunderstanding? Don’t you want more joy and love to be abound upon the Earth?
I know I do. I know that together we can make that happen. All we have to do is truly listen and truly learn. Then we will feel of His love at a greater level and become a greater and more empowered people in Zion to do His will.