For many, one of the first steps in understanding feelings of attraction to other women is recognizing the feelings for what they are. Because same-sex attraction manifests itself differently in women than in men and because the feelings vary from individual to individual, recognizing SSA for what it is may not be as simple as one might suppose.
President Boyd K. Packer told of an experience he had with a professed atheist who questioned the authenticity of Bro. Packer’s testimony of the reality of a living God. The man insisted that President Packer explain to him how he knew that God lives. After multiple failed attempts to explain his faith, a burst of inspiration came to him. President Packer asked the man if he knew what salt tasted like. Of course the man did. But when asked to describe the taste, in spite of his years of experience tasting and experiencing the flavor of salt, the man was powerless to communicate it. He could tell what it was not, but he was unable to verbalize what it was. (See “The Candle of the Lord“, Ensign, January 1983)
Likewise, the feelings associated with same-sex attraction can be equally difficult to describe and impossible to quantify. Many women who experience SSA are easily able to recognize what they do not feel. Most have experienced the feeling of being “different” from other girls and women. And yet, realizing what they are feeling is not entirely obvious. Perhaps part of that stems from the culture of shame and secrecy associated with same-sex attraction that, sadly, has been prevalent for many years. Another barrier to admission could be the oft-repeated negative associations so often falsely equated with same-sex attraction — pornography addictions, pedophilia, sexual perversion, etc. But the feelings of SSA are NOT synonymous with perversion, sin, or a lack of spirituality.
As stated in the pamphlet God Loveth His Children:
Many people with same-gender attractions have strong testimonies of the gospel and, therefore, do not act on those attractions. Attractions alone do not make you unworthy. If you avoid immoral thoughts and actions, you have not transgressed even if you feel such an attraction. The First Presidency stated, “There is a distinction between immoral thoughts and feelings and participating in either immoral heterosexual or any homosexual behavior” (letter, Nov. 14, 1991).
Admitting feelings of same-sex attraction can elicit fear in the most courageous of women. But it is in that admission that she can begin to face her feelings and grow to accept herself as the beloved daughter of God that she is. It is important to avoid the temptation to label oneself. Labels often do more harm than good as they do not account for individual growth and progression. Sexuality, particularly in women, is fluid, and the feelings one experiences today can change over time.
Experiencing same-sex attraction can be a very difficult and heart-wrenching struggle that, like many other trials and afflictions, can bring heartache and loneliness. But even in the midst of the struggle, blessings can and will come.
Recognize that you are not alone. As Elder Jeffrey R. Holland has reminded us, “It will be all right in the end. Trust God and believe in good things to come.”
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