December 8, 2014

A Gay Mormon Going Back To Church

Aside from my previous post on the difficulty and struggles of attending church as a gay mormon, I have started going back. I spent the first four months after moving to Utah avoiding church or sneaking in after Sacrament started and out before the closing prayer ended. It wasn't two weeks after my post on how it feels to be a gay mormon at church, that I went back. Why did I go back? Because I wanted to. I craved the spirituality I get from church, I sorely missed singing the hymns and I wanted to meet and make some friends.

Back in Oregon, the third hour of church was always the most boring and painful for me. In Elders Quorum, the young fathers and new husbands targeted their lessons toward those duties and responsibilities. I was attending the family ward and thus couldn't complain of this classroom result. But it was irrelevant to me and thus annoying and I would often skip it. However, in this YSA ward, I found meaning and substance in the lesson taught. The teacher, to his credit, actually had skills in teaching. His lesson had a point and was built upon us thinking critically. The quorum members were insightful and answered in a relevant way to the teacher's questions. Instead of sitting in class critiquing and cringing, I was taught and received some revelation of my own.

Since I had stayed for the whole three hour block I attended the second hour Sunday School class. The class for new members in the ward was geared toward one objective, getting records. Honestly, the class consisted of me filling out a paper of questions about me, getting my picture taken, meeting the Relief Society and Elders Quorum leadership and getting my records into the ward. Pretty blunt and straight forward.

It was in this class I had a guy come up to me and say he knew me from my days in Spokane. I looked at him in complete bewilderment, not having any idea who he was. He introduced himself and revealed our connection. I had watched his older brother on Sundays, who had a disability that didn't allow him to attend church. This guy, was the disabled boys younger brother. He certainly had grown up and—matured to be quite a looker.

Allowing my face to be seen in church past the Sacrament Meeting hour also led to an invitation from the Executive Secretary to set up a meeting time with the Bishop. I agreed, as I had decided I wanted to attend church on a regular basis and in a more active level than just being a butt on the pew.

I met with the Bishop later that Sunday evening. We chatted. I told him my short life story and what had brought me to Utah, minus the gay portion. He digitally received my records there during our meeting and asked me to go through my records with him, as he saw I had served a mission but did not have a current temple recommend. I immediately and unequivocally said, "Well, I was disfellowshipped about 5 years ago." He asked why and I dived in, "well I am gay and so the effects of that are why I was disfellowshipped."

During the course of the conversation that followed, he asked if I was actively homosexual. I rebutted, "What is that even mean?" He clarified and asked if I was an active homosexual, sexually. I stated, "No I am not dating anyone currently." I know that was a dodge of the question, but I don't feel any need to discuss my sex life with someone I just met let alone a Bishop. His response was quite unexpected though, "well, even if you were dating someone, you would still be welcome here."

I have been back to my YSA ward every Sunday (I was in Utah) since, and even joined the choir. Interestingly, on my way to church today, I realized I had no desire to stay past Sacrament Meeting. So after Sacrament meeting I went home, because I am a grown up and can make my own choices.

A month ago, I had a desire to go to church, despite wearing the scarlet letter of disfellowshippment. So, I went to church and I am glad I did. I do enjoy being there, singing the hymns and meeting people who I share a similar belief with. I wish I could hold a calling, my favorite ever was Sunday School teacher. I wish I could sustain callings in Sacrament meeting. I wish I could give a talk. But I can not and that makes me sad. But I still go because being makes me happy. And men are that they might have joy. Right?

*I really intended this to be a short post. Oh well.

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