There is a young man in my ward who deals with SSA. Let’s call him Arthur. I was only the third person he has told. We have become friends and visit often. We have shared experiences and feelings. Through Arthur, I have been able to learn much more about SSA, for men. Hear are some things I have learned.
1. Pain. Those in the church who deal with SSA typically go through a lot of internal, mental, emotional, psychological anguish. The dichotomy between the gay lifestyle and the teachings of the church is almost too much to accept. Many leave the church, or at least do not live the gospel. The few who completely give in to the gospel, though, end up much happier and with many more blessings. I look at my 2 favorite examples – Tito and Smurf. Even aside from the SSA issue, these are guys worth knowing. They might still have some of the pain of SSA, but they have learned to deal with it. They now control the SSA in their lives, it does not control them. Certainly this must help to ease some of that pain.
2. Actions are what matter. Feelings and inclinations come to us naturally. It takes long, hard work to be able to control those things. Even then, I don’t think they can be controlled completely. I think much of this work also has to do with some of our choices. The feelings of SSA come to men naturally and that itself is not bad. It is what we DO with these feelings that matters. Men with SSA can live worthily, hold callings, go to the temple, and have the guiding Spirit in their lives. It IS possible and so much more important for them. As for all of us, it is what we DO that counts.
So Arthur has confided in me some things he has learned lately. These things have given him and me some insight and understanding into his SSA. Granted, everyone is a little different, but this has helped him make some progress.
1. When he was a kid in grade school the other kids teased him, calling him a name associated with homosexuality. None of them really understood it much at the time, but he grew up gradually gaining the understanding of the name. This led Arthur to be overly sensitive of anything that might associate him with homosexuality. Consequently, he went a bit too far, especially around other guys. This, he believes, affected the development of his manhood, leading to SSA. Avoiding the issue actually made it more evident.
2. Recently Arthur came to my office to visit with me. He had a new breakthrough. He realized that the guys he had crushes on were guys that had qualities that he wanted. Arthur is very athletic, working out all the time, and competing in triathlons. These guys were built better, or faster, or whatever better than he was. They were people that he wanted to be like. Arthur even realized that he once kind of had feelings for a woman that he thought was a better triathlete than him. Then he beat her in a race, and the feelings left.
The main point is that he found things that contributed to his SSA and reasons why he has feelings for other guys. I think some people call these “triggers.” This understanding has helped him to separate the SSA feelings from his other feelings, putting them off a little, giving him hope that he might eventually be rid of them. By identifying these elements of his life and character, he can move forward. The understanding has given him power.
Arthur is truly blessed. Though the experience is a little different for each guy, I think the basic principles are the same, especially the first one listed at the top of this post. I am sure that Arthur has only been blessed with this progress because of his faith and dedication to the Gospel, because of his commitment and covenants. He still has bad days once in a while. We all do. But he has more good days now, and those days are getting even better. And I am too.