This may not be the most exciting story to read. It's probably not unique. And I'm admittedly no Pulitzer prize winning author. But it's important to me because it has in large part defined who I am. Everyone has struggles, inclinations, and reacts to the situations life places them in; these things define who they are. I have chosen to be an "ardent" Mormon. That is, despite the challenges and the questions, I'm planning to believe it and live it anyway.
"Gay" means many things to many people. For the sake of clarity, I'll try to avoid using the word and explain instead that I'm attracted almost exclusively to men but I've never had sex with a man. I grew up in the Mormon church. My family are great down-to-earth folks who do their best to live their religion, but they may appear to some in my current circles as being fanatics. They may have suspected about my sexual preference, but nobody has ever asked me about it. Frankly, I've suspected a couple of my brothers may also be attracted to men, but they've all been married for many years and have happy families.
I decided that I would come "out" to my long-time girlfriend before coming to graduate school. She accepted me and we got married. We have one little boy. I want to be straight and feel content with my current family situation, but it hasn't turned out to be that simple. Hence, the angst.
The Mormon church teaches that gender identity and heterosexual marriages are eternal. Families are one of the ultimate endpoints of this life. There's no place for gay marriage in the afterlife, and there's no room for sex outside of heterosexual marriage. That leaves me with only three options: write off eternal life as unachievable and find the type of romance to which I am naturally inclined, never have satisfying sex at all during this life to hold out for an eternal reward, or learn to be most satisfied by having sex with a woman.
A friend of mine pointed out that choosing between an eternal marriage with a wife and limited companionship with a man during this life is really a false dilemma. Yeah, those aren't the only options, I admit, they're just the only ones I happen to believe in. I do envy some of my Mormon friends who have decided to allow themselves to be who they believe they are--gay. They have resolution of their confusion and in some cases have found just the right man to be with. This angst I feel is, I believe, why most psychiatrists think not embracing who you "are" is destructive. I know that's true for many men--suicides, depression, drug abuse, and probably lots of other bad things come from being unhappy with themselves. However, I believe virtue is itself the ability and willingness to confront perceived imperfections for what they are rather than accommodating them as something inherent. I say "perceived" imperfections because I don't impose my beliefs or perceptions on anyone else. I just want myself to be different than I am. And I want respect from people when I tell them this, not to be convined that I should accept myself. I want them to concede that I should exercise my autonomy for self-actualization, not conform to some presumed "self". Who can say what my "true self" really is if not me?