Saturday: Part 1, Voices of Hope – Levi S.


I love Levi’s testimony. It brought me great peace and spoke to my heart. The path to Heavenly Father is there, even if we don’t see it right away. He will show us the way.

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I think the thing that I want people to learn and feel from my story is that the Savior really does love all of us, and despite the challenges in our lives and the mistakes that we make, He is there for us; He is there to put his arms around us when we need Him to be there for us.

I was born in Boise Idaho and grew up in Meridian Idaho. I was born into a pretty big family. There is one girl, then six boys, and then another girl. I was the sixth boy in a row and so I grew up with a lot of brothers and it was a lot of fun.

Growing up though I did feel different from most of my brothers, and I definitely felt different from the people I went to school with, the people I had Sunday school with especially – I felt very different and very distant from them. I always felt like I wanted to be accepted by them and especially by the people I went to Church with. I felt like I could never understand why I didn’t feel accepted by them and why when we were in Sunday school I sat on one side of the classroom and they sat on the other side. I could never understand why I was treated so differently.

I think by the time I started middle school I really started to notice that although some of my friends had crushes on girls and girls that they liked, I had girls that I wanted to be friends with who I thought were great, but I didn’t really have a desire to date them. Even in middle school I would talk about, oh I have a crush on this girl, and I would talk about that, but I definitely didn’t feel it the same way they did.

I knew that something was different, but I honestly didn’t know or didn’t accept it at the time. As I went throughout middle school I started to have challenges with things like pornography at a pretty young age, around seventh grade. And even then I wasn’t sure that I had same-sex attraction; I just thought I had some sort of curiosity and I didn’t know why. I didn’t talk to anyone about it.

I kept going to Church and I always felt like I liked Church; I had a testimony, but I always felt so out of place. When I was around sixteen years old I started coming to terms that this was not some curiosity that I had; it wasn’t just something that was seemingly going to pass from my life. It was more than that and I decided that I needed help.

I decided to make an appointment with my bishop. I had never done that before. At sixteen years old I had been ordained a deacon, teacher, and a priest. I was never really honest with the bishop when he had asked me about my worthiness because I didn’t know anyone else who was struggling with the things that I was struggling with. I was so afraid that something bad would happen.

I finally gained the courage to go talk to my bishop and I was extremely nervous. I sat down with him and I said, “I have this problem with pornography and I have these feelings for other men. I don’t know where they come from and I don’t know why I’m having these problems, but I need help.” I don’t remember a lot of what he said to me, but I remember I didn’t feel good. Before too long he sent me out into the foyer and my mom was with me and he called her into the office. I sat out there feeling very uneasy and I didn’t know if I said something wrong, but I felt like I truly went in there to make amends and get some help. As my mom came out of his office she was crying.

We got in the car and we started driving home. I was so lost. I didn’t understand and I didn’t feel like I got any help from the bishop, and I didn’t understand why my mom was crying. So I asked her what was wrong and she told me the bishop had told her that I’d been looking at pornography and that I was gay and he also told her that I would never serve a mission, and that I would not be active in the Church.

I just thought that the bishop would be a little more helpful. I thought I would go in there and he would maybe give me a blessing or give me some counsel. I honestly hoped he would tell me that these feelings would go away or something like that. After that experience I…even though I had a testimony of the gospel, and I would say throughout my life I never lost that testimony, but I definitely felt there was no place for me in the Church.

My bishop said that I wouldn’t be active in the Church and that I wouldn’t serve a mission. Serving a mission was definitely something that I had been looking forward to, and I didn’t understand why I wouldn’t be able to serve a mission, but I believed him. I believed the bishop would say the things the Savior would say; that is what I had been taught.

At that point in my life at sixteen years old I kept attending Church because that is what was expected in my family, but I quit participating; I quit partaking of the sacrament. I didn’t feel worthy and I felt like if I wasn’t going to be active in the Church then I didn’t really understand what I was doing there anymore. It was actually very painful to go to Church because I loved the gospel and to be somewhere where you don’t feel like you belong…it’s just not a fun place to be once a week.

As I went through my high school years I tried to put on a face of – I’m happy – and people would ask me my plans after high school and if they included a mission. I would just say, “I don’t know.” As I turned eighteen and as I graduated high school I was at a really low point. I felt so confused and out of place and just so much like I didn’t belong. I honestly felt like I had two options at that point in my life. I was really upset and I felt like the two options I had based on what I knew was that I could either kill myself or I could live the lifestyle.

I didn’t see any other option; I couldn’t keep going to Church. It was painful. I wanted help, but I wasn’t getting it. I didn’t think there was help available because my bishop basically said there wasn’t for me. I had a friend who at that point actually told me he was gay, and I actually moved out with him and I started to meet lots of guys who were living the gay lifestyle. I started going to a lot of parties, drinking a lot, and started to act out with a lot of different people.

For the first time in my life I felt accepted by a group. They gave me a lot of attention and they were nice and kind to me, and they included me in different things. I had a good time being around them, and I had a lot of fun with them. We did a lot of fun things together and for the first time I felt like I was loved, and I felt like I was accepted. I felt like I had friends who cared about me and wanted to know how my life was. That felt really good. I didn’t have that growing up very much.

I think growing up in a large family, as fun as it was, it didn’t leave a lot of time for dad and I. So that was maybe something that was really difficult for me; just not being accepted as I went to Church by these people who I wanted to be accepting of me and they weren’t. I was actually made fun of by them a lot.

This went on for a couple of months, and in the beginning I was actually still living at home. At one point my mom was really frustrated with me, and understandably so. She said that I could either choose to live the gospel while I’m living under the roof of her house; that I would abide by the rules that were in place there, or I could find someplace else to live.

I already had all these friends so I just called one of them up and I said, “Hey, I need some place to live.” So I moved in. I signed an apartment contract and moved in and just lived there for a couple of months. I remember one Sunday, it was January 27th, 2008, I got a text from a friend from high school, and it said Gordon B. Hinckley has passed away this evening, and tomorrow everyone is going to wear their Sunday best to work or to school, whatever it is.

I’ll never forget that moment and how empty I felt; just this sudden emptiness completely consumed me. All of the happiness that I thought I was feeling was gone. The reason that had such a big effect on me is because growing up Gordon B. Hinckley was someone who I knew who believed in me. He always gave talks about the youth and how much he loved them and how much he cared. I felt like he was one person in my life, who wasn’t really in my life, who cared. It was very upsetting to me that I would be living the way that I was when this hero of mine passed away.

I tried to brush it off and not think about it. Throughout these months the thing I kept telling myself was that if I tell enough people that I don’t have a testimony that it will go away. When I tell my family I’m gay they won’t love me anymore and it will be so easy to continue living this lifestyle. As family members did find out they were very loving and that was confusing to me. I thought they would not be accepting. I thought that they would cut off communications with me because I had seen that with some of my other friends and I expected that as well.

As much as I told people that I never had a testimony – I did. I knew I was the person I was because of the gospel. So I went into work the next day and on the little coffee table in the entryway there was a newspaper and it had Gordon B. Hinckley on the front page waving his cane like he always did. I flipped the newspaper over. It was in my view from my desk where I was sitting at work and I didn’t want to see it. I really just wanted to block that out because it was extremely painful and I felt confused again. I went throughout that week with that in the back of my mind just trying not to think about it.

On Friday of that week I went back in the backroom to close up and that newspaper was again sitting on top of the recycling. I really stopped and I thought for a while. I picked up the article and I read it. It talked about some of the things he had accomplished in his life and it talked about how much he loved the youth of the Church. I felt that same feeling again that I felt when I got the text of his love…and just again, despair and emptiness that I was living this life outside of the Church when one of my heroes passed away.

So the next day was Saturday and I just wanted to shake these feelings off. We had a lot of friends come over and just drink a lot. I just wanted to shake these feelings of confusion and emptiness that I was having. I thought well…drinking, partying, having fun, and acting out sexually seemed to be making me happy so on Saturday I had some friends over, and I was just drinking a lot. Usually when I would drink I would have a lot of fun, act crazy, and it just felt good. This time it didn’t; it actually seemed to intensify the feelings of emptiness and sadness that I was feeling at that time.

I ended up going to my room pretty early that night and locking the door. I just laid on my bed and sobbed. I was so distraught and I didn’t’ understand why I wasn’t happy and why the things that usually make me happy weren’t. I was just so upset that when someone I cared about and loved so much, and who loved me despite having never met me or anything like that – I would be doing something that was so dishonorable as a member of the Church and as someone who had a testimony.

As I lay in my bed crying I decided to call one of my friends. She’d been a really good friend to me and she knew what I was going through. I had talked to her a couple of times before and told her how happy I was. I called her at three in the morning and she answered. She could obviously tell that I was upset and she said, “Levi, what is wrong?” I said, “I really just miss the spirit…I miss feeling that.” As I lay there I remembered how good it felt to feel the spirit and how much I was missing it.

She said, “Well, where do you feel the spirit?” I said, “At my house, I have definitely felt it there. I have pretty loving parents, good family, and a home where I can feel the spirit.” She paused for a second and she said, “Levi, what are you doing then? Why are you doing what you’re doing?” As I sat there and I thought about it I thought, “What am I doing? Why have I got to this point? Why am I here?”

So I grabbed some Church clothes because the next day would be Sunday, February 7th. I got in my car and I started driving home from Boise to Meridian. It was three in the morning and I was probably still under the influence of alcohol, but I made it. The whole way home I was just praying out loud. I probably hadn’t prayed in years except for when I was asked to pray for meals or something like that at home. I definitely had not had a personal prayer in years.

I just kept asking God to please let me feel the spirit. I just wanted to feel it again. He definitely denied me on that car ride home and I was upset, but as I pulled into the driveway of my house and started walking towards the door I started to have a good feeling. As I opened the front door to my house the spirit hit me like a flood. It is one of the sweetest experiences of my life and I knew at that very moment that what I was doing was right.

I went straight up to my younger sister’s room, my younger sister. I woke her up and I told her that I was home. She didn’t know exactly what was going on in my life; she knew I was having a really hard time, but she hugged me and I hugged her and she showed me that she was happy, and we cried. It was just a sweet experience. Anyone who knows me knows that I love my sister. It was just a sweet experience to share with her.

I didn’t wake my parents up that night. I knew they would find me in the morning and I told Marnie I’d be gone before they probably even got up because I was going to go to my singles branch. So I got up that morning and got ready for Church and went to Church for the first time in a long time. It felt good to be there.

I still didn’t know where I fit in the Church or how it was going to work out for me, but I knew I was in the right place because I had never lost my testimony. I still knew the Church was true and led by a prophet. So I went to Church and I knew that I needed to talk with my branch with president. At the end of Church that day I sat outside his office; I didn’t make an appointment, but I eventually got in and sat there with him.

I told him I wasn’t ready to talk with him about what was going in my life, but I knew I was supposed to be here and that I wanted to start working on things. I wanted to start reconciling the feelings that I had of same-gender attraction. I wanted to start the repentance process. These were all things that were new to me. I didn’t really know all that entailed…I just knew that I felt good again.

So as Church ended I drove home and as I pulled into the driveway I got a phone call from one of my friends. She told me that she’d been thinking about me that day and then she told me that…and she knew also that I was having a hard time; she didn’t know what, but she called me and told me she was just thinking about me, and that she had fasted for me that day. As I talked to my sister again later that day I found out that there were a lot of people fasting for me. None of them really knew what was going on in my life, but they knew I wasn’t in a good place; I wasn’t in a good position. They decided as a group of friends to fast for me.

I just felt so loved at that moment – by God, by my Savior, my friends and my family. To think that…probably just a few hours into their fast Heavenly Father was answering their prayers. I was home by four that morning just because I missed the spirit. I don’t even know why I cared.

That Sunday night after having so many experiences, the Lord didn’t stop there. I think He really wanted to make an impression on me that day – that He was watching out for me and that His hand was in my life even though I tried to deny Him. I definitely learned that He never turns away from us even if our back is to Him. He is still there.

So after I left Church that day and had that experience talking to my friend I felt that I needed to get my things out of the apartment in Boise. I had a lot of things there. So I drove down to Boise and my cell phone had been going off all day, almost immediately after I left the apartment at three in the morning. Phone calls from people who were lying across the floor in my apartment.

I called two of my really good guy friends from high school; I had some really good buddies in high school. They knew what was going on as well, but I think they just didn’t know how to help me. I called them and I told them I needed to get my stuff out of my apartment in Boise because when I arrived and saw these cars of people who were still there I knew that I just couldn’t do it by myself. So within a half hour my friends were down there with me. We sat in my friend’s jeep and kind of made a game plan and said a prayer together. I was really nervous, but we went in and the game plan was I was going to go talk to my friend who I had moved out with and they were going to go in my room and carry my things out while I talked with him.

I don’t think I’ve ever been so scared in my life to walk through a door because I was afraid of what was on the other side. I really compared, and think of the experience I had there of getting my things, to Daniel in the lion’s den. When I walked in nobody said a word to me or spoke to me. Nobody really moved and I had been getting calls from them all day that I hadn’t been answering. I took my friend in to his room and let him know that this was what I needed to do; that I wasn’t happy anymore, and that I knew I had to make changes in my life.

So that was a really sweet experience to feel that brotherhood with my friends again and to feel that the Lord was really blessing me as I did that. So later that night as I got home and went to bed that night I laid down on the floor because my bed was still in Boise, we couldn’t move that. But I laid down on the floor and I just started praying. It felt real good to pray after not praying for so long. I just started singing to myself as I was falling asleep – I started singing, I Feel my Savior’s Love. I’ve never felt it so strong in my life as I did at that moment. I felt His arms wrapped around me which is what I really wanted to feel from anyone up to that point, and to feel it from the Savior was really powerful – a very sacred experience.

From that point on I knew that I still had these feelings. They weren’t gone just because I had sacred experiences. I was able to meet someone who actually struggled with same-sex attraction. I didn’t know there was anyone else in the Church who struggled with same-sex attraction. This man had a wife, a family, and a very happy life. When I met him I felt like that was when I made the decision to go with it – to repent and figure out how to reconcile these feelings that I had because I knew that he had done it.

He helped me to get good counseling and really helped me on my journey. He was always there for me if I needed him. I could call him or go to his house if I needed to. The more I got to know him and see the relationship he had with his family and his wife, I just knew I could do it. Finally I knew it was possible, and it is what I always wanted to see and know.

So I kept meeting with my branch president and I finally told him what was going on a few months after meeting with him. It was really scary for me to tell him all the things that I’d been doing. Actually, I didn’t even tell him, I wrote it out because I didn’t even feel like I could say it. I wrote pages of everything that I’d done. I wanted to have a clean slate when I left his office that day. It was a really unique experience leaving the bishop or branch president’s office feeling good; feeling like a weight was lifted; feeling like I was on the right path even though I didn’t really know what to expect or what was going to happen to me in the next couple years of my life. I felt like I could do it.

Eventually it started to get hard again; just living in Boise around the same people who I had had struggles with. I ended up moving to Wyoming with one of my brothers who lives there and I got a job in the oil fields out there and began working. My branch president had commented around my birthday when I got a new set of scriptures – he said, “Those look like missionary scriptures.” And…I didn’t know that would be possible for me. So to hear him say those words…it made me do this (cry).

So I started preparing to go on a mission. There were a lot of things that had to be worked out and it was not an easy process. I did a lot of counseling and I went on a healing weekend in Pennsylvania, but I knew that I wanted to serve a mission because I had felt the love of the Lord and I wanted to share that with other people, and I wanted them to know what I knew.

I really felt like I was starting to change. I felt like the atonement was beginning to work in my life. I am not the same person that I was five years ago. The atonement has changed me. I kept preparing for a mission and eventually I started working on mission papers. I couldn’t believe it was really happening. I was in Wyoming when I got my mission call. It came to Boise and I drove home that night to go open it with my family. I was called to serve in the Wisconsin, Milwaukee mission.

I had a permanent smile on my face for that day and for many days after. I felt like I had arrived at that place I wanted to be. On August 1, 2009 I was endowed in the Boise Idaho temple. I left on a mission just a few weeks later, and on my mission I was blessed to feel a reprieve from those same-sex attraction feelings.

I met some of my best friends on my mission. To this day one of them is still my best friend. I have since shared with him about my same-sex attraction and that has been a great experience for me to feel so accepted. But as I returned home from my mission it got really hard again. I’ve been home for two years now, and it is not easy. I think some of my most difficult times throughout this whole experience have come to me after my mission which is not something I expected. I expected to come home and feel like the world is great and my life is great. That hasn’t always been the case since I’ve come home.

I’ve dealt with bishops again who weren’t as helpful, but I’ve also dealt with bishops who are extremely helpful. My bishop right now at BYU Idaho has been one of the greatest blessings to me. I remember the first time I met him I wasn’t actually in his ward. The spirit told me that I needed to be in his ward, and so I got a contract for the apartments that he was the bishop over.

The first Sunday I went to Church he spoke and he said, “When you walk through the door of my office and you sit down in the chair next to me, you will feel that you’ve walked into the Savior’s office, and I will treat you the way that the Savior will treat you.” That was an incredible thing to hear because even though I’d had good experiences with bishops I had never really felt that way – that my bishop, he loved me the way the Savior does. But as I shared some things that were going on in my life with my bishop I had expected to hand in my temple recommend because I’d done that before.

He just expressed how much he loved and cared about me; how much he didn’t understand about same-sex attraction, but that he would try to learn as much as he could because he wanted to help me. When I asked if he wanted my temple recommend he said, “The temple is something that really helps you isn’t it?” I said yes. He said, “Well I think you should be going twice as much then.” That was a shock to me. I never thought that a bishop would say that to me. Then he asked me to text him every night and tell him how my day was, whether it was crappy or good.

He has continued to be someone who I can always talk to and ask for a blessing if I need one. I am so thankful to have the experience that I’ve had with him. It is a very stark contrast to my first experience talking with a bishop. I know that there are many loving bishops out there who care about what their ward members are going through and truly want to help the way that the Savior would, and love the way that the Savior would. So I’m very thankful for that.

Like I said, it has not been easy since my mission, but I know that I’m on a good path and I know that I’m making progress to where I eventually want to be. I know that at some point in my life I’m going to meet a special woman who will love me for me despite my struggles, and I know that it only takes one girl, and I know that can happen for me and I’m grateful for that.

It has also been wonderful to open up to people and share my story with them because one of the biggest lies that I tell myself all the time is that if people really knew my struggles they wouldn’t like me and they wouldn’t be my friend. I have definitely found out that is a lie and it’s not true. I have shared my story with roommates, with friends, and with my family. I have definitely come to know that people still love me, they still care about me, and so that is one of the biggest things that I’ve learned.

The atonement really does change people from what they don’t want to be to what they do want to be. I am still on that path of what I want to be. He loves us and He is only going to put people in our life that will help us if that is truly what we want. He has definitely done that for me. He has put people in my life who want the best for me and want to help me.

I believe that the Lord has given me a new heart, and changed it from what it was to what it is now. Even if my life doesn’t play out the way I want it to or think it is going to, I know that the atonement is there for me to change me, and to continue helping me on this path that will ultimately lead me back to Him.

Friday: Part 1, In Quiet Desperation


Only time, life, experience, and finally hindsight, has given me new eyes to see life the way it panned out, how life changed, gave me its lumps, and now restored me back into the faith life that I was meant to live.

I’m amid a read of “In Quiet Desperation” Understanding the challenge of Same Sex Attraction. By Fred and Marilyn Matis and Ty Mansfield.

Having figured my self out, and finding myself of the backside of Gay, I have reoriented my life. Approaching Fifty next year, I prayed for a new experience. And I got it in spades.

I’ve reassessed my life as it played out. And I’ve figured out that What I became as a young boy, was directly related to the reading material I was consuming. I favored one flavor over another, for some strange reason.

Being fed two sides of the same coin was problematic. Having parents do one thing then say another, was confounding. Knowing I was headed in a certain direction, and having parents who derided me, and verbally and physically abused me, did not help in that process.

And I lament the fact that I did not have reinforcement in either direction, gay or straight. My parents might have loved us by the way they lavished “Things” on my brother and myself. Showing Love was not the same as Giving Love.

In my experience of parents who love their kids, and give them stable homes, with religious education and support, is something that was never afforded to me. I mean, there was church, and good people in my life, but that’s as far as that went, because when i went home, all the good was replaced with all that was terrible.

I reflect this question across many ideas … “Had someone stepped in, and said something, anything, to either dissuade me or give me another option to live my life, would I have listened, and what would that have looked like in reality ?

I know, that had my life changed even one degree from the track it took, I probably would not have gotten here, in the now, where I am in this moment.

I went into my twenties knowing I was gay. Was it a choice ? It all stems back to reading material and what fancied me, and I only carried it forwards because it was thrilling I guess. And the lifestyle I chose to take on, was based on a suggestion, from someone I thought I could trust.

My addictions only followed me and made the transition worse.

Still I did not know any better. And that is my fault. Once you are immersed in a culture and a people, and you become insulated into that community, and one does not venture very far from it.

But I see today, the wisdom of the Latter Day Saints. I understand their position on the Teaching on Marriage and Families. I understand how difficult it IS for young people, and adults alike who struggle with same sex attraction.

Because I am on the other side today, I see wisdom in ways I had not in the past.

To read Stuart’s story in this book, a young man of the LDS faith, struggle with SSA for so many years, go on a Mission, Teach and was loved, and the length he went to to get help, to pray, talk to his family and his Bishop, but in the end, being unable to reconcile his feeling with his faith, he planned his exit.

Stuart’s parents loved him, they supported him, they knew about his struggles and tried valiantly to help him, to no avail. All the words in the world, the scriptures in the book, the talks with friends, family, bishops and others, did not assuage Stuart’s feelings of his negative self worth and his unworthiness as a Child of God.

He told his parents that he was suicidal. He told his parents that the end was coming, everybody knew, but nobody had any power to change his mind, however hard they tried. They did not commit him because that was counter intuitive.

People of the LDS faith, and the Book of Mormon, rely on prayer and the authority of their church. I wonder, if I had that kind of faith life and family life, to the extent that many young people in the LDS church do, would something like that have changed my track, way back when ?

For Stuart Matis, there was no option. He had the gun, an on a Friday afternoon, Stuart went to their LDS stake center, and took his own life, by his own hand.

Mix this terrible tragedy, with the commotion caused by the push to legalize Gay Marriage in California, and the pros and cons in this discussion, and the firestorm the media creates in all things, this tragic event was defiled by hatred, only fueled by the media that twisted this young man’s death into a front page story about “hating the Gay.”

Being gay, we know is not a choice. Somewhere in our DNA there is something that triggers this state. I knew, before I hit the age of ten, who I was.

And that “Who” I was, was directly related to what I was consuming.

What did I know from gay in the 1970’s ? Nothing. The first gay man I met wasn’t until the late 70’s into the early 80’s. I knew squat about being gay, beyond what I was reading.

So I wonder, would a change in that equation, have changed the outcome ?

My heart weeps for Stuart. I was just dumbfounded as I was reading last night. I cannot imagine what his family went through, well I can, because the book tells the story, but just as well, reconciling faith and homosexuality has its problems.

Matthew Vines has spent the past five years teaching the evangelical faithful that there can be reconciliation between faith and homosexuality. I’ve read his work. And the work is sound.

People of faith, in all faiths, deal with the issue of Faith, Homosexuality and Same Sex Attraction, each in their own ways. And across the board, if reconciliation is not found, it is either “Living the lifestyle” or “Suicide.”

The LDS church offers the Option.

And I can testify that many young people in the LDS church, who deal with SSA and their faith, have, each themselves, contemplated suicide as an option.

Suicide is Not and Option.

I dissect my gay life into these areas … Gay, Attraction, Sex, Money, Addiction and Relationship.

I had dated women in my teens. I am still friends with one of those women, to this day. But I never went as far as sexuality or the spectre of marriage with any of them, because what did I know about marriage, beyond what I had seen in my life.

Alcohol and Drugs were the glue and the mortar that solidified being gay. If you take away the substances, then you have sex and relationships left. If you remove sex from the equation further, then you have just relationship.

The above list involves non-negotiables in any relationship. Remove any of them, and the relationship will fail.

Which is why, at this stage of my ball game, I am on the backside of gay, due to my special circumstances. And I am a unique case in my approach to the Latter Day Saints. And my case will be reviewed by the proper church authority before I progress further.

And I wonder … What was it that made gay good ? Boys, Alcohol, Drugs, Sex ???

That’s what made the world go round. Would I have changed anything, YES, I would have gone without certain people, activities and certain relationships back then.

It was an experience.

It got worse as I approached my diagnosis. I had never met such dishonest people in my life, until I met Todd on that fateful night.

Yes, I was still gay. But I was a sick gay. Which removed me from general population. I was serving the least of these, but I wasn’t “one of them.” Heavenly Father removed me from general population in order to save me from them and from myself.

Heavenly Father removed the

  • substance
  • the relationships
  • the attraction
  • the sex
  • and the lifestyle from me.

And over time, I changed as circumstances changed. And now in hindsight, I see the trajectory as it played out.

Today, all I have is the relationship. Everything else has been removed.

The book talks about being refined in the fire …

I was refined in the fire. Absolutely.

And now I am here.

Faith is such a personal practice for every human being. The Church of Latter Day Saints is the true church. And is built on the authority given to its leaders from the prophet Joseph Smith.

You need to read this book, to understand what I am trying to share.

I think, simply, life is about choices and options, and what lifestyle you choose to live.

We gravitate towards what is familiar. In life, In Sex, In Addiction, In Relationships, and In Faith. We are born into families, that is fact, and they don’t change.

A family, in the church, loves hard and seriously. Faith, Prayer and Scripture are absolutely important as the glue that holds families together.

Many young people in the LDS church suffer from Same Sex Attraction.

In a life of faith, in the church, it all comes down to choices.

Again, being gay is not a choice. And for many, these two ideas, faith and gay do not mix and can not be reconciled, so people suffer, until they make a decision on what they want to do.

Sadly, in high percentages, Suicide is that option. Some cannot bear the commitment to either marriage or chastity. So many choose the only route they believe is viable.


Suicide is Never an option.

The Church teaches that Marriage and Family are at the center of religious practice. To find a wife and then bear children. If that not be the case, and marriage does not happen, for those with SSA the commandment is to offer ones life over to God completely, and we make a covenant with Heavenly Father to live lives of chastity and obedience to the commandment set down by God.

In every life, there are challenges to be experienced, goals to reach, and divinity to seek. We might not know why we are suffering so, but Heavenly Father does. And only life. experience, struggle, pain and adversity, with the benefit of hindsight, do we figure out what God meant for us in this world.

I have seen my fair share of adversity, and I have also seen my fair share of goodness from Heavenly Father as well.

If sacrifice is what is needed, I am ready and willing to make whatever sacrifice needs to be made, save only one. and everybody knows that my husband is Non-Negotiable. That card was on the table from the very beginning. So that makes my case particular, to be dealt with on this basis alone with the proper church authority. I have not lied, or cheated. I have made my covenants that needed to be made and I honor those covenants.

I am still alive, so that first covenant I made over twenty two years ago, is still in play.

Once again, it is all about choices. And the options are all on the table.

Many are called, but few follow.

Having been through the fire myself, I don’t think there is anything that I cannot do for the love of Heavenly Father.

You are never alone. We are here. Suffering is part of life, it just depends, really, on how much time you want to spend suffering in the end. Let me tell you, the sooner you get over it, the better you will be and the easier a life of faith can be.

God can take care of all the things that others cannot.

But only if I let Him.

There are always options, one way or another. There is help. We are here for you.

Heavenly Father loves his children.

Wednesday: Part 2, Covenant – All In


Tonight’s discussion revolved around Mercy, Grace, and Covenant.

Each of the terms Mercy and Grace has an independent meaning, but the two words are often used interchangeably. Mercy refers both to an attribute of deity and to a universal law that allows a specially qualified third party to pay the penalty of justice on behalf of one who is subject to such a penalty.

Grace, on the other hand, is the means by which mercy enacts many of its miraculous effects, particularly the blessing of the atonement. Grace is a “divine means of help or strength, given through the bounteous mercy and love of Jesus Christ” and is “Made possible by his atoning sacrifice.”

In my life, as sobriety goes, from the very beginning, I know this is true; I would hear a topic, I would listen to a share, I would get to talk about it in discussions, then, God would say, (as if He spoke this) now go home and put this topic or concept into practical use. As in, see how this applies to your life, an figure out how it works for you.

That has been the way it has always gone for me, all these years later. And from the very start, I made covenants to people, and in a way God, because, God as we understand Him, speaks to us in our group conscience.

But let me backtrack first before I explain further.

I have had a handful of “All In” moments in my life. Where I had to make a decision, to throw everything I had at God, my life, my will, and my fears and my pains.

When I entered Seminary at age 19, I believed that a life serving the church, (read:God) was what I was called to do, and so did the men who got me into that seminary. At that young age, I knew that I was ALL IN. Sadly, a man made institution was not ALL IN with me.

Life went on. I would not enter another covenant for many years to come.

When we make a promise, or we speak a vow, or we find ourselves in a situation where, we must rely on another human being for our survival, (read: God) we make a covenant.

For me there are specific instances where I see, in Hindsight, that I made a covenant with someone greater than me, for my survival.

That someone would have been Todd (read: God).

The days prior, when everybody ran from the fire, when sickness came, Todd, in his wisdom ran right into that fire. The only person that walked into that fire, and said that He would care for me. The caveat was, that I would throw everything I had at him, throw my sickness up in the air, and trust that Todd, had my back, which he did.

I believe in my heart of hearts, that on that day, and the days, weeks, months and years that followed, I had made a covenant with God, that I would give Him all I had, and in return He would give me all He had to give me.

I was ALL IN.

I know what that felt like. Practical experience with Mercy, Grace, and Covenant.

God had Mercy on me, I received God’s Grace, through the vehicle of the covenant. I made a solemn declaration to Todd (read:God) that I would trust to my death, everything that I was asked to do, without fail. Neither abandoned me in my time of need.

That was the most important covenant I had ever made with Him.

I survived. I am still alive. By Heavenly Father’s Grace, Love, and Forgiveness

I also know what happened when I broke that covenant with Heavenly Father.

I made a decision, based on greed, the desires of the flesh, and what I felt was my own good. I stepped off the beam. And into the pit of hell. I was there, I know what happened.

I was unrepentant, until the day, Heavenly Father stepped back into my life, not of my own choosing, but because I needed Him, and that decision was made for me, because I did not know any better.

I began my long journey back to Heavenly Father. And it took a LONG time. I don’t know that I had begun to atone for my sins, but that was coming.

When I got to that pivotal day, that I uttered the name of God, and I got on my knees and Prayed for the first time in a long time, that covenant was renewed.

I asked Heavenly Father for help. I threw all of me on the table. I gave it all up to Him. And I swore an oath to Heavenly Father, that I would do whatever He told me to do, and to go where ever He wanted me to go.

Once again, I was ALL IN.

When that covenant was renewed, Heavenly Father opened doors for me that I never knew existed. He put people in my life who led me here. And in thanks, the first thing I did when I got here, was to go to Notre Dame Cathedral in Old Montreal and say Thank You.

When I met my then boyfriend, we knew, we were both ALL IN. Even before we hit that church on the 20th of November 2004, Heavenly Father tested us both to see how ALL IN we really were. We got married and have been ALL IN from the very first moment we spoke.

Fifteen years later, I am on my way, to making the biggest covenants with Heavenly Father I will ever make. Last week, I was given that list. And I came home with that list. And over the last week, Heavenly Father is whittling away everything I need to get rid of in preparation for when those covenants must be made, which will lead me to the day when I reach the Waters.

I told my Missionaries tonight that I was All In. I’ve been all in. And they, in turn, have said that of all the men, in my specific situation, that they have had discussions with, I have come the farthest, in the shortest amount of time.

I know Heavenly Father, (read: GOD) I have heard his voice. And I know that He exists.

I am told, after conversing about Sunday’s observations, people who have been in the church for so long, tend to forget, why they go to church on Sunday and to keep the Sabbath Holy.

They tend to forget about Mercy, Grace and their commitment to covenant.

Getting sober is an act of penitence. It is an act of rehabilitation. It is an act of, in time, of letting go and letting God.In the process of the Steps, we begin to atone for the wrongs we have done, and they people we have hurt.

Twenty two years ago, I made that first covenant that saved my life, I wasn’t so connected to healthy sober people, and I failed in that attempt.

But Heavenly Father was there, I just turned my eyes away from Him.

I began the slow journey back to health. I began to restore my spirit. I began The Work that has continued into my fifteenth year of sobriety. I wanted and prayed for a new experience.

Becoming a Latter Day Saint IS a new experience for sure.

It was Elder Sorenson, who approached me on that platform, he had thrown it all in, and struck up a conversation, which led to Elder Christianson, which led to discussions, which led to tonight.

Joseph Smith had this revelation:

“Let virtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly; then shall thy confidence wax strong in the presence of God; and the doctrine of the priesthood shall distill upon thy soul as the dews from heaven. The Holy Ghost shall be they constant companion.”

Doctrines and Covenants 121:45-46

I read this scripture to Elder Christianson. He laughed. He told me a story about himself, and said that my reading this to him was a sign from God. That it was his favorite Scripture.

How does an Elder know that Heavenly Father is at work ?

There are no coincidences. But since we first met, there have been many.

So they are taking their time guiding me to the waters. Sadly Elder Christainson, will leave Montreal on the 22nd of this month. We only have one more discussion together, before a new companion enters the stage.

We are ALL IN.

When you give it all to Heavenly Father, and you do all that you can, Heavenly Father will give you all that He has in return. Mercy comes, Grace is provided, and covenants are blessed, as long as we keep up our end of the deal.

A religion that does not require the sacrifice of all things never has the power sufficient to produce the faith necessary unto life and salvation; for, from the first existence of man, the faith necessary unto the enjoyment of life and salvation never could be obtained without the sacrifice of all earthly things …. It is through the medium of the sacrifice of all earthly things that men do actually know that they are doing the things that are well pleasing in the sight of God.

When a man has offered in sacrifice all that he has for truth’s sake, not even withholding his life, and believing before God that he has been called to make his sacrifice because he seeks to do his will, he does know, most assuredly, that God does and will accept his sacrifice and offering, and that he has not, nor will not, seek his face in vain…



Monday – Obedience, Sacrifice, and a Contrite Spirit


The days are passing, as the Life Pivot continues. Sunday morning I attended the Sacrament service on First Sunday. The previous day, two of our members were baptized into the community. And the whole community showed up to support them.

Yesterday, Sunday, those men were confirmed into the community by members of the church and the missionaries working with us.

An observation that comes to me over the past few weeks of Sunday services, is, why do people come to church, and be totally consumed with their phones, talking with their neighbors, and kids running up and down the aisles for the entire service ?

I sat with one of the men who was baptized, and his wife. We had struck up a conversation prior to service beginning. Once again, we are seated a few rows back from the front.

It is one of a few observations: One, whatever is going on up front is not interesting enough for people to actually pay attention. or Two, People are not interested in anything else but the sacrament, because it is only then, that people become, respectful, attentive and penitent. or Three, some come only to see and converse with friends.

Not really sure myself.

But I know that I did not stay for Sunday Lesson, because I was really pissed about the fact that something incredibly important took place, and many in the congregation,

“Could Not Be Bothered” to pay attention.

I have a problem walking into a church, where people who gather there, are there for other reasons, than to worship and pray. I go to church, to commune with God, to make the commandments true for me every Sunday. Too much commotion in the sanctuary kind of blows the whole idea of reverence. And makes me unsettled.

Then I get judgmental, and I become self centered, and then everything that I am supposed to be doing there, goes right out the window. Which is why I left after service and came home.

In my continued reading of: The Broken Heart, Applying the Atonement to Life’s Experiences, I am told that the Atonement is not just one thing, it is the ONLY thing that matters.

The premise that Adam and Eve, were in the garden, and were tempted to eat of the fruit of the tree of knowledge. They did not know better, because they lived within perfection. After the fall, they entered human mortality. They had to know the bitter in order to understand and know the sweet. I could not find the graphic I wanted, but the Hero’s journey is very similar.


Becoming a convert to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, is not just walking into the building one day, and proclaiming that “I am a member now. Give me all that is due me as a member of your church.”


Joseph Smith spoke of the importance of one’s knowledge “that the course of life which he pursues is according to the will of God.” The Prophet taught that such knowledge is necessary “to enable him to have that confidence in God without which no person can obtain eternal life.” He continued …

A religion that does not require the sacrifice of all things never has the power sufficient to produce the faith necessary unto life and salvation; for, from the first existence of man, the faith necessary unto the enjoyment of life and salvation never could be obtained without the sacrifice of all earthly things …. It is through the medium of the sacrifice of all earthly things that men do actually know that they are doing the things that are well pleasing in the sight of God.

When a man has offered in sacrifice all that he has for truth’s sake, not even withholding his life, and believing before God that he has been called to make his sacrifice because he seeks to do his will, he does know, most assuredly, that God does and will accept his sacrifice and offering, and that he has not, nor will not, seek his face in vain…

But those who have not made this sacrifice to God do not know that the course which they pursues is well pleasing in his sight; for whatever may be their belief or their opinion, it is a matter of doubt and uncertainty in their mind …[And] persons whose minds are under doubts and fears cannot have unshakable confidence; and where unshaken confidence is not there faith is weak; and where faith is weak the persons will not be able to contend against all the opposition … and afflictions which they will have to encounter in order to be … joint heirs with Christ Jesus; and they will grow weary in their minds, and the adversary will have power over them and destroy them.

The sacrificial attitude is that we want nothing else more than we want eternal life. It is the attitude of a broken heart and a contrite spirit.

In other words, You can’t get something for nothing …

Over the past few weeks, I have felt a change in my spirit. I have felt a shift in the way I see certain aspects of my life, and how, some of them no longer serve me. And the movement towards God, demanded movement away from selfish needs.

One of my Elders spoke tonight about Opposition. Where ever we are in our days, we get to choose what it is we believe, how we act, and the choices we make. All the while knowing that opposition always exists, as posited by the science of psychics.

For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.

We were reminded, sitting in the building together, that we have choices to make every day, and his hope was that at each juncture of the journey, that we make the right choices, to be holy and to be good, and to honor God’s commandments, every day.

Sitting in a sanctuary with many people, some engaged, and others not, the one thing I must focus on, as was taught to me, is that I need to be there for me. To be there for my community, and my fellows. When others cannot hold up their end of the deal, the rest of us have to step up and be pillars of faith. Examples to our fellows of the reason we sit in that sanctuary every Sunday morning.

Friday: Shifting Sand


“And ye shall offer for a sacrifice unto me a broken heart and a contrite spirit. And whoso cometh unto me with a broken heart and a contrite spirit, him will I baptize with fire and with the Holy Ghost.” 3 Nephi 9:20

Quote taken from The Broken Heart, Applying the Atonement to Life’s Experiences by Bruce C. Hafen.

My life pivot continues. I may not know everything, I do know, that I have a solid group of missionaries standing with me in faith and support. As the days go by, knowing what I am feeling and going through, and not being able to share it with anyone breaks my heart.

The only person I trust, knows, but he is not here.

The week has not been without its heartbreaks. Conversations with certain people in my life, led to my severing my service commitment to my Sunday meeting, where I have been a trusted servant for more than ten years.

I know I am not perfect, by any stretch. Having my difficulties tossed in my face like shrapnel is painful, and to be told that I have issues that have scared away an entire population of people from said meeting, was painful as well. With that information on the table, being delivered by a woman I trusted with my life, forced me to resign from my service positions at said meeting.

Monday I attended Family night at the church with my friends. Thursday I am hitting St. Matthias, and committed to service for the next month, while several members are away for vacations, leading up to the holidays.

Christmas Trees and Christmas Decorations are already up in both the Alexis Nihon Plaza Mall and the Old Forum, Cineplex Theatre. At the Forum, there was a huge Halloween costume shop set up in an old restaurant location on the first floor. They had not even been able to vacate the store of the Halloween stock, before the Christmas Trees were hauled out of storage for the season.

I did notice that the trees were decorated differently this year, so they obviously went to great detail to put out something different than last years trees.

As it is Friday, it was the Best Meeting of The Week, night. And it was a special occasion. North End English celebrated 67 years tonight. Sixty seven years ago, a group of drunks got together and opened our meeting.

To put that in context for Quebec Alcoholics Anonymous, Dave B., began Alcoholics Anonymous here in Montreal in the year 1944. North End English opened its doors just five years later in 1949. This meeting was one of the first meetings opened that far back, that still operate to this day.

In my fifteen years sober, here in Montreal, North End English has been through several incarnations and formats. Generations of folks have come and gone in those fifteen years. Attendance was up, then it was down, then numbers fell drastically for a while, until a viable format was put in place, that we have to this day.

Several years ago, with few in number, we had a back room, As Bill Sees It – meeting, that took hold. And over a three year period, people began to show up. We once, filled the back room, then we filled the overflow room in between, because we did not have enough chairs, and once we reached that threshold, we moved into the main hall, where the meeting is today. What started with less than a dozen people, we now count upwards of 40 to 50 people on any given Friday night.

It only works when there is service to be done, and friends to welcome each Friday Night.

The Miserable Holiday Season

I worked in the bar business for a long time, when I first got sober in the late Nineties. Both behind the bar, and on the floor, and also looking down from a DJ Booth. Some of the busiest nights in the Bar Industry are Holiday Nights.

Just the same, in the rooms, some of the highest traffic nights, fall on Holiday Nights. U.S. Thanksgiving falls on a Thursday. Christmas falls on a Sunday. With Winter knocking on our door, (it was 2 degrees Celsius) today, people go into seasonal planning mode.

Seasonal Planning Mode: Depression begins to set in. So people look at their schedules and their meetings. When temps drop and snow falls, attendance fluctuates widely. People plan how long it is going to take them to get from HOME to a TRANSIT POINT and then on to a MEETING. They spend their hour and the plan of attack going home runs in reverse.

If travel time is greater than fellowship time, people just drop off and don’t show up at all, because, why bother ??? Add to that Minus temps or big snow on the ground.

If you go to meetings, we all know the story of the venerable Literature Rack. We take it out at every meeting, we talk about it with the 12 step rep, who pumps the books, and the pamphlets, but as it goes, barely anyone looks at or takes anything from the rack.

I 12 stepped tonight. The holidays are almost on top of us. And there are going to be plenty of miserable people out there, on the sober side and on the no so sober side. The Holidays are some of the toughest times for the most people, for one reason or another.

Nobody escapes the Holidays unscathed.

I’ve seen hundreds of people come in just prior to the holidays, and in huge numbers after the holidays, sadly, almost none of them make it. The odds are against them to begin with.

I cautioned our folks tonight, to be on the lookout for someone who might need the gift we usually take for granted. I begged them to take literature and to put it to good use this holiday season. The holidays are not always jolly and bright.

I know that there will be misery all over the city. And we can only do so much. But there IS a place to Go and People who will LOVE and CARE for you.

You don’t have to be miserable – there IS a solution.

You might change a life in ways you might not imagine, if the options of Happy, Joyous and Free, are pitted against Pitiful, Incomprehensible, Demoralization.

Today, the mail man came early. The mail man usually does not hit our building until after dinner time. A couple of weeks ago I ordered a couple of Books from Deseret Books, out in Utah. (This is a Latter Day Saint Bookseller).

My two books came in the mail.

In Quiet Desperation – Fred and Marilyn Matis and Ty Mansfield

The Broken Heart – Applying the Atonement to Life’s Experiences – Bruce C. Hafen

During my discussions with my Elders, I was introduced to a man I now call a friend, who appears on the Voices of Hope website. A collection of stories from Men and Women, who are part of the Latter Day Saints, who deal with Same Sex Attraction, and how, through faith, they found their way to Heavenly Father to hold on to their faith.

A good potion of my Pivot, has to do with being on the back side of Gay. And the fact that Gay is no longer what defines me. It isn’t who I am any more either. The only two things that would speak to being gay is my HIV and my husband.

I’ve cleared the Missionary List to Baptism.

But I want to know how men and women, who deal with same sex attraction, think, feel and experience life. And in order to be able to minister to new brothers and sisters, friends in the L.D.S church here, I need to study, I need to read, I need to identify, with a process that came second hand to me. What was sexual attraction, when it comes to competing with a drink or a drug ?

Alcohol always settled that problem. I had my standards, as did every other gay boy I met back in the day.

Drugs and Alcohol made the process much easier.

For me it wasn’t all about attraction. It first started with a drink. Then a drug. If you were pretty then it was all the better.

I get on the Metro these days and I look around me at the people I travel with, and I see just how beautiful they are. When the specter of sex leaves the equation, people become human once again. And I truly appreciate human beauty.

Lots to read now. I’ve added several books to my bedside table.

There is always time to read, at least for me there is.




Tuesday: Part 4, The Perfect Path to Happiness


This is the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, and this is His Prophet on Earth, Thomas S. Monson President of the Church of Latter Day Saints.

**** **** ****

I testify of the great gift which is our Father’s plan for us. It is the one perfect path to peace and happiness.

My beloved brothers and sisters, both here in the Conference Center and throughout the world, how grateful I am for the opportunity to share my thoughts with you this morning.

Fifty-two years ago, in July 1964, I had an assignment in New York City during the time the World’s Fair was hosted there. Early one morning I visited the Mormon Pavilion at the fair. I arrived just prior to a showing of the Church’s film Man’s Search for Happiness, a portrayal of the plan of salvation which has since become a Church classic. I sat next to a young man who was perhaps 35 years of age. We spoke briefly. He was not a member of our Church. Then the lights dimmed, and the show commenced.

We listened to the voice of the narrator as he posed the poignant and universal questions: Where did I come from? Why am I here? Where do I go when I leave this life? All ears strained to hear the answers, and all eyes were fixed on the images portrayed. A description of our premortal life was given, along with an explanation of our purpose on earth. We witnessed a touching depiction of the passing from this life of an elderly grandfather and of his glorious reunion with loved ones who had preceded him to the spirit world.

At the conclusion of this beautiful portrayal of our Heavenly Father’s plan for us, the crowd silently filed out, many visibly touched by the message of the film. The young visitor next to me did not arise. I asked if he had enjoyed the presentation. His emphatic response: “This is the truth!”

Our Father’s plan for our happiness and our salvation is shared by our missionaries throughout the world. Not all who hear this divine message accept and embrace it. However, men and women everywhere, just like my young friend at the New York World’s Fair, recognize its truths, and they plant their feet on the path that will lead them safely home. Their lives are forever changed.

Essential to the plan is our Savior, Jesus Christ. Without His atoning sacrifice, all would be lost. It is not enough, however, merely to believe in Him and His mission. We need to work and learn, search and pray, repent and improve. We need to know God’s laws and live them. We need to receive His saving ordinances. Only by so doing will we obtain true, eternal happiness.

We are blessed to have the truth. We have a mandate to share the truth. Let us live the truth, that we might merit all that the Father has for us. He does nothing save it be for our benefit. He has told us, “This is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.”1

From the depths of my soul and in all humility, I testify of the great gift which is our Father’s plan for us. It is the one perfect path to peace and happiness both here and in the world to come.

My brothers and sisters, I leave with you my love and my blessing as I close, and I do so in the name of our Savior and Redeemer, even Jesus Christ, amen.

Tuesday: Part 3: “Come, Follow Me” by Practicing Christian Love and Service


I just love this testimony, about Heavenly Father’s love, and how we should serve Him, in serving others in our lives. Especially, for the caregiver, who devotes their time, talent, and love in the best of times, and in the worst of times, and how, in the service of Christ, we become more like Christ. In the giving of ourselves in the service of those we love, is the greatest gift we can give them, and receive the blessings of Almighty Heavenly Father in return.