By Spencer Mickelson
It has been a journey to arrive at place where I have felt truly comfortable in my own skin. Along the way I realized that is more often than not the common experience of the LGBTQ members of the LDS church. Contemplating this unfortunate pattern has led me to live publicly and honestly so others might better understand the lot of many LGBTQ Latter Day Saints, as well as helping some of those members find hope, a community, and self acceptance.
Most of my life I felt guilty for being gay or pursuing a relationship with another man. It took sincere prayer, personal revelation, and inspired counsel to break this barrier. The relief of my guilt was not associated with leaving my LDS faith or going against my testimony. It was based on sincere prayer and a desire to love and accept myself as I am and as I was created. After accepting myself as a gay man was I able to ask other questions. They have included:
Should I remain celibate my whole life?
Am I meant to be alone?
How does this play into blessings I have received in the past?
Will I ever have children?
Am I undeserving of love?
These questions needed answers if I was going to move forward in life. The answers to prayers and questions I have asked God are not something I have trivialized or received lightly. I have taken those answers to priesthood leaders, my therapist, and my parents, as well as others who are in a place to give enlightened counsel and advice. I have asked for confirmation of those answers from God and every time have received them. I am striving to live my life according to those answers.
I often feel fear of my future, not because I don’t trust the answers given to me but because I question my strength against the voices who say I am wrong or speculate on my life, revelations, and decisions. So I ask Heavenly Father for strength and it is given. I do not pretend to know all things or what to recommend to others in similar situations. I only know what I have been given personally and trust in my relationship with God.
Others have called me dishonest for being openly gay and staying true to my testimony of the restored gospel of Christ. I have not left the church nor to I intend to. My testimony of Christ and His gospel is the deepest part of who I am and is something I cannot part from. Regardless of how I am treated by others in or out of the church I will do my best to live to the promises I made to my Heavenly Father. I did not make them to a church or a person. I made them to God and I intend to keep them. I am not perfect of course but I make a very dedicated effort to live up to my word. Despite what many view as a contradiction, my promises with God are my own and are unique to that relationship. The application of every law, commandment, and promise is different for each of us because we and our lives are different. I can only do my best.
Since living as an openly gay man within the LDS community I have frequently been asked why I have chose to pursue a relationship instead of a lifetime of celibacy. As I looked at the two possible paths it ultimately comes to a decision of progress. The lessons I feel most valuable in my progression can only take place in the context of a relationship. And so, like Eve, I have made the choice of progression, despite the potential consequences from the organization of the church. I have deeply pondered what I stand to lose on both pathways. In one I would lose companionship, love, emotional, mental, and spiritual growth. On the other path I stand to lose my temple recommend, calling, and potentially even church membership. Neither option when looked at as a loss is appealing. Rather than focus on the loss, I make decisions based on how I can grow and learn the most, and after seek confirmation and inspiration from above.
None of my views or experiences are shared with the intention of convincing others to follow my example or choose the same path. I do not endeavor to provide answers, but direct those seeking them to God, who has all answers. It has only been through prayer and an intimate relationship with my Heavenly Father that I have been able to find peace and balance.
(Spencer currently resides in Los Angeles where he works in the film and fitness industries as well as pursues a career as a writer and author.)