by Doug Reed
Hi, folks. My name is Doug Reed. Few of you know me.
I’ve recently come into the Affirmation scene on two of the private Facebook groups.
I have decades of experience—don’t give up yet, ‘cus of my age!—out and in and out and in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints regarding the whole “LGBT” scene. Here’s the latest, along with a brief summation of personal history and perspective.
Rapid fire: I converted to the Church at age 30. I was living a bisexual/mostly “gay” life in New York City at the time. Two weeks after my baptism, the AIDS crisis appeared in New York City. I have long felt that my conversion saved my life. Important.
I was chaste through my 30s and 40s, and committedly active in the Church. I finally married—a fellow Church member—at age 51. It lasted three years. Toward the end, I was disfellowshipped, for “immoral conduct” (one sexual encounter with a man). My now-former wife initiated and finalized a divorce. I decided to withdraw from the Church in order to be “free” in my “moral” life; namely, with other men. That was 13 years ago.
I’ve had a long career as a Broadway musical musician—pianist/keyboard player and conductor—and I spent 13 of the last 14 years touring all over North America with Disney’s The Lion King.
In that context, I began some years ago to watch General Conference again. I couldn’t deny or get away from the authenticity and spiritual strength I experienced in it.
That Lion King tour closed and I started attending church in Ames, Iowa, where I moved to live with a dear friend. I was beautifully welcomed by the missionaries and the Bishop, and I wrestled with the idea of returning to the Church. Deep conversations with both the Bishop and Stake President began. I was called as the ward organist. I am active in the Church and am progressing, committedly, toward “Re-Baptism” and a “Restoration of Blessings.”
Some of my questions and challenges along the way have not been unfamiliar to other “LGBT”-types who have some kind of “testimony” of the Church. What does one do, with regard to the Church, finding oneself in the sphere of reality referred to as “SSA” or “LGBT,” etc.?
The matter is serious, and difficult.
Where I’ve come to: the Church is as it is, subject to “continuing revelation.” Those of us who know and love it and are convinced, substantively, in its “truthfulness,” find ourselves challenged. Living a purely chaste life can be hard. Very hard. Especially when one longs for love (including its physically intimate expressions), for companionship, for wholeness and “family.”
The Church has its “doctrines,” which are considered to be revealed of the Father, through His Son or through His Holy Spirit, and through the voice of those considered to be in the line of succession of “prophets,” “apostles,” “seers,” and “revelators” starting with Joseph Smith, Jr., the Church’s founder.
If the above is “true” and if one has come to a deep conviction of that, there isn’t much choice for one not inclined or motivated toward “man-woman” family life other than a life of chastity, or a life outside the Church.
If one is convinced that the Church is “true,” it is not one’s task to change or even to counsel its leaders. It is their responsibility to minister in it according, in their “callings,” to their experience and perception of that which is “revealed” from the divine source.
I like what Apostle Elder Neal A. Maxwell wrote (paraphrased) about those teachings of Jesus that “make one very uncomfortable.”
The Church’s stand—which is considered and declared to be the “heavenly” standard—on matters LGBT makes such a person uncomfortable. It certainly does me.
What is one to do with that?
Outside Church circles, the questions are generally moot: one is or is not “gay/LGBT/etc.” and, whatever one is, one has rights and freedoms, or should.
Within the Church, however, things are different. Always were and always will be.
Does one do away with the “foundation of the apostles and prophets” and work to make the Church into something one or another or more of us might find or think to be more “enlightened,” “inspired,” “God-centered” or whatever? Shall we work to deny or oppose or influence or change those whose calling, it is believed, is to minister and administer in the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ?
From my perspective, the choice, the requirement, the conclusion is clear: Hold fast to the faith, its precepts, its doctrines, its foundations, its leaders; or…(?)
“A double-minded man (or woman) is unstable in all his (or her) ways.” (James 1:8)
It’s hard to be unstable and it can be hard to be stable.
Thankfully, we’re actually in this same (big) boat together. The one called “God’s family.”
I have rejoiced to see the Church (I was baptized in 1981) come out (unintentional but interesting pun) in support of those of us who identify ourselves as “you name it” regarding “sexual identity.” I have found and experienced their expressions of love to be sincere and genuine. It wasn’t that way in 1981.
Can we recognize, clearly and without avoidance, what the Church actually is, and work, ourselves and with each other, to, somehow or other, honor that which the Church is and honor who we ourselves are as ones who love it, or want to love it, and who, to some degree or other, know it?
Can we love one another, including leaders or members of the Church whom we might struggle to understand or like, recognizing that they, and we, are here to come to know who we are, how we are to be—in light of our understanding and/or knowledge and/or experience of who God is—and how we can come together, possibly, finally, sometime, into a “unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace”? (Ephesians 4:3)
I hope so. I wish so.