I’m attracted to attractive girls. I can get lost in a pretty face. To be honest, though, I’m more attracted to guys, especially in a more physical or sexual way. I don’t think I was born this way, however. I consider it a mental accident that happened when I was young. Ironically, a lot of that accident is because of religion.
As a kid, I encountered pornography that included both men and women. I think my attention gravitated a bit more to the men, which shouldn’t be a surprise. After all, their bodies were like mine, so I could relate to what they were feeling. The problem is, I had already learned in my pre-teen social life that being gay was really, really bad. The sheer fear of being labeled gay was enough to make me nervous about my sexuality.
I joined my church when I was 15 and what I learned there was enough to majorly inflame those nascent fears. First of all, I took church very seriously. I knew the gospel better than most of the boys that had grown up in the church. I was determined to live the teachings, including the Word of Wisdom and the Law of Chastity. Because of this, I believe I suppressed my natural sexual instincts. For example, I was extremely careful to avoid social situations that might involve alcohol or seriously dating any girls because I feared where it might lead. I also felt I was doing a good job of keeping my thoughts and intentions pure by avoiding any fantasizing about girls. In fact, when I heard some of the guys in my congregation bragging about their make-out sessions, I was aghast that they would consider that was OK, let alone fun.
Secondly, I highly valued my new social group at church and desperately wanted to fit in. The fear of being rejected made me begin to obsess over my fear of being gay. In a way, those fears gave life to something that originally was no more than a notion and made it easy to see any hint of non-heterosexual interest as possible evidence that something was wrong with me.
Teachings from church leaders made this even worse. For example, a church president, Spencer W. Kimball, wrote in a popular book that masturbation caused homosexuality. It became clear to my shame-filled mind that I had caused myself to become gay. The fact that I had been unsuccessful at stopping and that divine help did not come was proof to me that his words were true. When I started to have sexual dreams about guy friends, I knew that I had brought a curse down upon myself and I had to live with that.
Now that I’m older, I better understand the connections. I realize that my gayness was something I manufactured out of my fears. I think if I had not joined the church, being gay would never have occurred to me.
My neural pathways are fixed now. I don’t expect my attraction to men will ever go away. They are a remnant from my past–like weeds that I can’t get out of my garden. If I do my best to ignore them, God will eventually take care of those—in the next life if not before.