(I realize that this is not a personal blog, but I hope you’ll humor this brief autobiographical detour).
It’s 5:00 AM, and I cannot fall asleep. Not when my mind is so awake.
I’m arrested by thoughts about my sexual orientation. If you’re a friend or frequent reader, you probably know that I’m bisexual. That fact isn’t usually at the fore of my consciousness. But lately, several experiences have made me more aware of my sexuality and my relationship to the LGBT community.
The first experience was watching 8: The Mormon Proposition. I saw it in theaters a couple of weeks ago, and again last night with my family (they enjoyed it, by the way). The second experience was a friend of mine recently coming out on Facebook. And the third experience was listening to this emotional podcast/interview where Nate Koch shares his struggles as a gay Mormon at BYU and in the mission field.
These things reminded me of the extent of discrimination against the LGBT community—discrimination that I’ve been largely insulated from. Don’t get me wrong. My life would have been easier were I straight (especially when I was Mormon). But relative to others, I’ve had it easy. I have incredibly loving parents and understanding friends. They took the news that I am bisexual pretty well. And because of my positive experience, I’ve had a harder time empathizing with the very real problems facing other LGBT individuals.
Another reason why I felt detached from the LGBT community is because as a Mormon, I was taught that I wasn’t in fact bisexual. I was instead a heterosexual boy with occasional homosexual temptations—a “so-called homosexual,” as President Gordon B. Hinckley was fond of saying. I internalized that teaching and to this day cannot totally shake this notion of myself as fundamentally heterosexual. So when I’d attend L.I.F.E. meetings at USU (the gay-straight alliance there), I felt like I was there as a straight “ally.”
This detachment has allowed me to be insensitive toward gays and gay rights at times. Believe it or not, I actually supported Proposition 8 for a few days back in 2008 (over concerns about religious freedom). And earlier this year, I only semi-jokingly told a friend that homosexuality is a mental illness that belongs back on the DSM IV.
Well, consider this my (second) coming out—this time not as a bisexual, but as a proud member and supporter of the LGBT community. The three experiences above gave me a greater appreciation of the urgency and importance of gay rights.
So to my LGBT friends: I love you, and I’m sorry for having been a lackadaisical LGBT advocate. Much more importantly, you should love you. We are normal human beings entitled to same rights that our heterosexual counterparts enjoy.
I am preaching to the choir on that point, no doubt. I just needed to say it for myself.
Now I can sleep.