Everyone has questions, and sometimes you might be afraid to ask them. It’s important to keep in mind that there may not be concrete or definite answers given in mortality for every question we face. However, the gospel and many personal experiences and feelings gathered here shed light on some of those things each of us has pondered about at one point.
A lot of the most frequent questions folks ask as they come to terms with their attractions to others of the same sex have been gathered here with general responses from the North Star community collectively as well as additional personal responses from other youth here in our community.
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 attraction 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 experiences, 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.”
In her book The Heart of Female Same-Sex Attraction, licensed professional counselor Janelle Hallman provides the following overview:
…it seems inappropriate to assign the term female homosexual to every woman with SSA. Additionally, many women say they would be offended or humiliated if they were labeled as homosexual or lesbian. These terms can incite fear and often imply the existence of certain behaviors, attitudes and feelings that are simply not present within their particular experience or identity. Yet, to be sure, they all admit to experiencing some level of same-sex attraction or emotional dependency, or both, as defined here:
Same-sex attraction. Same-sex attraction includes any desire toward another woman, in reality or fantasy, that may involve erotic feelings, sexually charged sensations or a strong preoccupation with nonsexual physical affection such as being held, hugged, casually touched, or cuddled. The presence of SSA does not preclude the presence of opposite-sex attraction or behaviors.
Same-sex emotional dependency. Same-sex emotional dependency is the state of a same-sex relationship wherein one or both of the women become intensely emotionally and psychologically dependent on the other for a sense of self, attachment, identity, purpose, security or well-being. This dependency often thwarts the woman’s opportunity to appropriate these essential aspects of life through her own autonomous individual growth and development. The dependency is emotionally based and therefore may or may not include physical or sexual involvement or activity.
Same-sex behavior. Same-sex behavior should be distinguished from both same-sex attraction and same-sex emotional dependency. It is possible for women to experience same-sex attraction without acting on it in sexual behavior with another woman. Likewise, it is possible for women to engage in sexual behavior without any underlying same-sex attraction or desire…
Sexual orientation. The term sexual orientation needs to be distinguished from all of the above terms. Sexual orientation is typically assessed by evaluating one’s sexual arousal patterns, attractions, fantasies, yearnings, behaviors and identity. If a woman reports most of these factors as being predominantly associated with other women, especially across her life span, she would be said to have a predominant homosexual or same-sex orientation (Janelle Hallman, The Heart of Female Same-Sex Attraction. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2008.)
Questions regarding same-gender attraction origins come in many forms. Did I choose to be a lesbian? Was I born this way? Where do these attractions come from? Each digs at perhaps the most perplexing question of all: Why? Why do I feel these attractions? What caused or causes them?
People do not generally wake up one morning and make a choice on their orientation. Many people who deal with same-gender attraction identify having the feelings from a very early stage in life, while others may begin to experience them later in their teens and even early adulthood. In any case, individuals typically do not “choose” or somehow intentionally “invite” those feelings. Regarding the origins of same-gender attraction feelings, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland taught the following:
“No one, including the one struggling, should try to shoulder blame… As for why you feel as you do, I can’t answer that question. A number of factors may be involved, and they can be as different as people are different. Some things, including the cause of your feelings, we may never know in this life. But knowing why you feel as you do isn’t as important as knowing you have not transgressed. If your life is in harmony with the commandments, then you are worthy to serve in the Church, enjoy full fellowship with the members, attend the temple, and receive all the blessings of the Savior’s Atonement” (“Helping Those Who Struggle with Same-Gender Attraction,” Ensign, October 2007)
The most honest answer to this question is that no one really knows for sure and the answer could vary from person to person. There are a lot of theories about this, but it is very hard to prove them one way or another. Some people tend to think that same-gender attraction is caused by genetic or biological causes before a person is born. Others tend to think it is caused by environmental factors–things that happen or that you learn as you grow up.
In a 2006 Public Affairs interview, Elder Dallin H. Oaks responded to this very question with the following:
“The Church does not have a position on the causes of any of these susceptibilities or inclinations, including those related to same-gender attraction. Those are scientific questions — whether nature or nurture — those are things the Church doesn’t have a position on.”
Also from Elder Dallin H. Oaks:
Applying the First Presidency’s distinction to the question of same-sex relationships, we should distinguish between (1) homosexual (or lesbian) ‘thoughts and feelings’ (which should be resisted and redirected), and (2) ‘homosexual behavior’ (which is a serious sin).
“We should note that the words homosexual, lesbian, and gay are adjectives to describe particular thoughts, feelings, or behaviors. We should refrain from using these words as nouns to identify particular conditions or specific persons. Our religious doctrine dictates this usage. It is wrong to use these words to denote a condition, because this implies that a person is consigned by birth to a circumstance in which he or she has no choice in respect to the critically important matter of sexual behavior.
“Feelings are another matter. Some kinds of feelings seem to be inborn. Others are traceable to mortal experiences. Still other feelings seem to be acquired from a complex interaction of ‘nature and nurture.’ All of us have some feelings we did not choose, but the gospel of Jesus Christ teaches us that we still have the power to resist and reform our feelings (as needed) and to assure that they do not lead us to entertain inappropriate thoughts or to engage in sinful behavior” (“Same-Gender Attraction,” Ensign, October 1995)
Understanding on a personal basis what might cause some of the feelings of same-gender attraction can be a significant part of the process of growth, development, and healing for many individuals who experience same-gender attraction. The roots of these feelings are as varied as the individuals who experience them. Many have found it very helpful to work with a qualified therapist to facilitate the process of understanding, accepting, and dealing with feelings of same-gender attraction.
As you explore this subject, you will find that the arguments back and forth on this issue are very complex, and can be a bit overwhelming sometimes. Keep in mind the following points as you learn more:
- Different people have different stories, and what fits in one person’s story may not be true for everyone. For example, some people have connected their own attractions to the same sex with being sexually abused. While this may be true for them, it would be wrong to assume everyone who has been abused experiences same sex attraction, or that all people who are same gender attracted must have been abused.
- Both sides of the debate can sometimes use research in misleading ways in order to try and be right, so it is wise to read the research carefully. Newspapers and magazines can sometimes claim that a study proves more than it actually does.
- Knowing why does not necessarily help you figure out what to do. There are many things that can be biological that aren’t good for you. Studies have shown your genes could make you more inclined to be an alcoholic, or to overeat. That does not mean that drinking to excess or overeating is good or right. In the same way, just because something is environmental does not mean it is right or wrong. However you decide on what is right or wrong, simply knowing why you feel that way will not solve the question.
- Ultimately whether biological factors, environmental factors, or both cause same gender attraction, you still have a choice over what you do. Part of being an adult is learning how to have self-control over your desires and then to make good decisions about which ones to act on and which ones not to.
While asking the questions considered here can be healthy and constructive, dwelling heavily on them can be quite detrimental. Neither your happiness nor the actions you choose should be dependent upon knowing why you feel the way you do. This generally applies to any trial we experience in life. Elder Robert D. Hales offered the following counsel:
I have come to understand how useless it is to dwell on the whys, what ifs, and if onlys for which there likely will be given no answers in mortality. To receive the Lord’s comfort, we must exercise faith. The questions Why me? Why our family? Why now? are usually unanswerable questions. These questions detract from our spirituality and can destroy our faith. We need to spend our time and energy building our faith by turning to the Lord and asking for strength to overcome the pains and trials of this world and to endure to the end for greater understanding” (“Healing Soul and Body,” Ensign, November 1998)
We wish the very best to you as you seek answers. As you rely faithfully on the Lord you will find peace and understanding, whether or not you find all those answers in this life. God bless you with the strength to build faith and persevere.
For those who experience ongoing feelings of same-gender attraction, this is a frequent question. Same-gender attractions may diminish over time. However, if one focuses too much time and attention to this single issue, much of life may be missed.
Honestly recognizing same-sex feelings can lead to greater understanding of SSA. Increased understanding can help us learn that we are not defined by our feelings. Understanding the strengths and characteristics in ourselves that define us eternally can bring greater peace and functionality into every facet of our lives.
Acceptance of our feelings is a process. It is often a very long process which does not necessarily preclude the complete dismissal of same-gender attractions. However, the true test is not in whether or not one can change her feelings (and thank goodness for that!) but in how one is able to use her feelings for continued growth and sanctification. President Henry B. Eyring has taught, “The Lord doesn’t put us through this test just to give us a grade; he does it because the process will change us” (To Draw Closer To God. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book Company, 1997, p. 95)
Much has been said with regard to the purposes for trials and difficulties in our lives. It is in the exercise of our faith that we are able to grow and gain strength. But it is always necessary to maintain an eternal perspective and to “let patience have her perfect work” (James 1:4) keeping in mind, as Elder Richard G. Scott has taught, that:
“Even if you exercise your strongest faith, God will not always reward you immediately according to your desires. Rather, God will respond with what in His eternal plan is best for you. He loves you to a depth and completeness you cannot conceive of in your mortal state. Indeed, were you to know His entire plan, you would never ask for that which is contrary to it even though your feelings tempt you to do so. Sincere faith gives understanding and strength to accept the will of our Heavenly Father when it differs from our own. We can accept His will with peace and assurance, confident that His infinite wisdom surpasses our own ability to comprehend fully His plan as it unfolds a piece at a time.” (The Sustaining Power of Faith in Times of Uncertainty and Testing, Ensign, May 2003)
Along with the difficulties associated with same-gender attraction come blessings as well. Recognizing those blessings can bring peace and comfort to a weary soul. We earn the spirit of compassion as we endure well the challenges along our path. With that compassion, we gain capacity to become more Christlike. In so doing, our relationships improve, our fears diminish, and our confidence begins to wax strong (D&C 121:45).
It is sometimes helpful to remember that, even when we feel that we are buried in the depths of the sea with the mountain waves crashing upon us, the wind continues to blow towards the promised land (see Ether 6:5-7).
“I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me”
~ Philippians 4:13
The only true and lasting source of strength is the Savior. As we learn in Ether 12:27, each of us is given weakness to bring us to a point of humility that draws us to our Savior. It has never been part of Heavenly Father’s plan for us to be alone in our struggles, no matter the nature of those struggles. The Savior always stands with hands outstretched, pleading with us to come unto Him. As our own humility and faith in the Savior grows, we are better able to see that He is able and waiting to provide us with the strength we need — even, and especially, in our own weak things.
Because remaining true to gospel covenants while experiencing strong attractions to other women can be particularly challenging, there will likely be times when the “Primary answers” may not be enough. Praying, reading and pondering the scriptures, attending church — these are all important aspects of remaining strong. Acknowledging and meeting important needs is also critical in your efforts to remain strong.
You may need the assistance of a bishop, a trusted friend, and/or a qualified therapist. Realize that, in most cases, your bishop is not a therapist. Coming to terms with your feelings of SSA can help you to remain strong. Reach out to those who support your faith and understand your struggles. Be kind to yourself and recognize that no one is perfect. Trust in the Savior and His perfect Atonement to lift you when you fall and to carry you when it feels you cannot carry yourself. His message is constant and clear — “come unto me” (Matthew 11:28).
It is true that there is potential, temporary comfort to be found in a same-sex relationship. Even so, ours is a religion that requires sacrifice. The Prophet Joseph Smith taught:
“A religion that does not require the sacrifice of all things never has power sufficient to produce the faith necessary unto life and salvation; for, from the first existence of man, the faith necessary unto the enjoyment of life and salvation never could be obtained without the sacrifice of all earthly things. It was through this sacrifice, and this only, that God has ordained that men should enjoy eternal life” (Lectures on Faith, p. 58).
While many view the denial of same-sex relationships as a tremendous sacrifice, it is beneficial to focus on the positive things in life that righteous living brings to pass — increased faith through obedience, opportunities to interact with and serve those around you, participation in wholesome recreational activities with friends and family members, the safety that comes from living the gospel. When we focus on the teachings of the Savior and the things that will lead us back to live with God, we will find fulfillment and joy. It is also important to understand that sexual/physical fulfillment is a desire of the mortal body and must be kept within the bounds the Lord has set. Emotional fulfillment should not be confused with unhealthy emotional codependency.
The question of fulfillment in life is addressed well in the booklet God Loveth His Children:
“Same-gender attractions include deep emotion, social, and physical feelings. All of Heavenly Father’s children desire to love and be loved, including many adults who, for a variety of reasons, remain single. God assures His children, including those currently attracted to persons of the same gender, that their righteous desires will eventually be fully satisfied in God’s own way and according to His timing.
“If you live by the standards God has set and fill your days with worthwhile things, your life will be full of hope and you may expect opportunities for meaningful service, social inclusion, and spiritual growth in this life.
“A number of Latter-day Saints with same-gender attraction are moving forward with their lives by carefully adhering to gospel standards, staying close to the Lord, and obtaining ecclesiastical and professional help when needed. Their lives are rich and satisfying, and they can be assured that all the blessings of eternal life will ultimately be theirs.”
Elder Richard G. Scott both warned and encouraged us with the following words:
“You cannot be passive in life, or in time the natural man will undermine your efforts to live worthily. You become what you do and what you think about. Lack of character leads one under pressure to satisfy appetite or seek personal gain. You cannot successfully bolster a weak character with the cloak of pretense.
“In time one who makes decisions based upon circumstance is virtually assured to commit serious transgressions. There is no iron rod of truth to keep that person in the right way. He or she will continually be faced with many subtle temptations to make deviations from the commandments. Those choices are justified by arguing that they are not that bad, that they are more socially acceptable and provide a broader base of friends. A clever individual without foundation principles can at times acquire, temporarily, impressive accomplishments. Yet that attainment is like a sand castle. When the test of character comes, it crumbles, often taking others with it. Despite how carefully a transgressor seeks to keep the violation of commandments hidden, in time they nearly always become publicly known. Satan himself sees to that. He and his minions are determined to cause the greatest possible harm to each of Father in Heaven’s children. One serious act of disobedience or violation of trust invariably raises questions of whether or not there are others. The faith and confidence of others in that individual’s character is undermined.
“If you have determined to live righteously, don’t become discouraged. Life may seem difficult now, but hold on tightly to that iron rod of truth. You are making better progress than you realize. Your struggles are defining character, discipline, and confidence in the promises of your Father in Heaven and the Savior as you consistently obey Their commandments” (“The Transforming Power of Faith and Character,” Ensign, November 2010)
The need to love and be loved is a natural, God-given gift. The desire to reach out to others and establish meaningful, true friendships is but an expression of that God-given gift. It is in the expression of that desire that those who experience same-gender attraction sometimes struggle. “Same-gender attractions include deep emotional, social, and physical feelings. All of Heavenly Father’s children desire to love and be loved” (God Loveth His Children, 2007)
Consider the lesson Mormon taught Moroni when he wrote:
“Charity suffereth long, and is kind, and envieth not, and is not puffed up, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil, and rejoiceth not in iniquity but rejoiceth in the truth, beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things” (Moroni 7:45).
As the elements of charity are practiced in all our relationships, bridges of understanding can close the gaps of isolation. Relief can come from not only exercising our own agency but allowing others the opportunity to do likewise.
Indeed, charity never faileth. As we seek to develop the characteristics of true charity, our love for one another and ourselves increases, and we become prepared to receive the fruit of the Spirit. We come to better understand and practice principles such as “love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, [and] temperance” (Galatians 5:22-23). Through the development and maintenance of genuine friendships, bonds of charity and sisterhood can and will have tremendous healing power and pay eternal dividends. Neal A. Maxwell wrote, “You and I are believers in and preachers of a glorious gospel that can deepen human relationships now as well as projecting all relationships into eternity. Friendships, as well as families, are forever.”
In practice, the implementation of such a true principle can be very difficult. And in spite of our best efforts, we are virtually guaranteed to get it wrong at least a few times. For women who experience same-gender attraction, navigating relationships with other women can at times become quite complex. Patterns of emotional dependency are common among women who experience same-gender attraction. Understanding those patterns can be a powerful first step in overcoming them. There is a difference between interdependency, which lifts and strengthens, and emotional dependency, which can cause one to lose all sense of self and is ultimately quite damaging.
In her book The Heart of Female Same-Sex Attraction, Janelle Hallman identifies several common characteristics of emotionally dependent same-sex relationships. She includes: rapid and/or intense formation of the relationship, the need for constant connection, enmeshment and loss of self, an exclusive and/or caretaking relationship, jealousy and possessiveness in the relationship, and a high level of drama. Such a relationship can be mutually codependent or it may be one-sided.
An individual’s perception of the relationship is the key to the level of dependency that may exist. The proper establishment and exercise of boundaries is essential in maintaining healthy relationships, as is honest communication. Not all of our friendships can or should be close, deep relationships. Friendships vary in type and form as much as do individuals. But true sisterhood is possible when undertaken with honest effort and the guidance of the Holy Ghost.
Fears of intimacy, feelings of isolation and/or shame, past experiences which may or may not include abuse –- these can all affect a woman’s ability to relate to other women. Overcoming these barriers often requires great personal effort, and many find it necessary and beneficial to work with a qualified therapist to address these issues. One reason North Star exists is to provide a community of friends and resources for those who feel like they struggle alone. You are not alone. Reach out to trusted friends, family members, and priesthood leaders and bless them with the opportunity to serve you. It is not required to reveal the nature of your struggles in order to open yourself to receive comfort, nurturing support, and love.
While we often think of others as it relates to charity, we must also realize that practicing charity toward ourselves is vital. The command to “Love thy neighbor as thyself” includes the oft unnoticed commandment to love ourselves. Take time to do for yourself the things that renew your spirit and bring you joy. Set personal boundaries that prevent others from hurting you in ways that are not productive. It is not selfish to address your own needs; a person cannot feed others while she is starving herself. The Savior took time to step away from the crowds and commune with His Father. As in all things, He is our perfect example.
In the words of the Master, “All these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good…. hold on thy way…fear not…for God shall be with you forever and ever” (D&C 122:7-9).
Your degree of openness about your same-sex feelings is a personal decision. Seek for guidance from your Father in Heaven. It is likely that church members will have varying reactions according to their understanding of the issue and their understanding of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Seek for love and friendship from those individuals who reflect Christlike attributes. The Lord knows your struggles and knows you need acceptance. If you will sincerely ask, He will provide those special friendships to uplift and encourage you.
In addition to deciding how open we might be with others, there is a related but different question that concerns how we identity ourselves as we talk about ourselves and our situation. Labeling yourself with terms, such as gay, straight or lesbian, that mean very different things within our broader culture than what they might mean to someone who has an inspired understanding of their eternal identity and purpose has been discouraged by our leaders. However, those who choose to refer to themselves as such “but [who] do not act upon those inclinations…can go forward as do all other members of the Church” (Gordon B. Hinckley, “What Are People Asking about Us?,” Ensign, Nov 1998). If you choose not to live the law of chastity, you are still welcome to come to church and participate to the extent you can. God loves all of his children and wants you to come to Him.
An article by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland in the Ensign tells a story of a man who was following the law of chastity and at the same time identified himself as gay. Elder Holland assured the man that same-gender attraction is not a sin and followed up by giving him this counsel:
“You serve yourself poorly when you identify yourself primarily by your sexual feelings. That isn’t your only characteristic, so don’t give it disproportionate attention. You are first and foremost a son of God, and He loves you.”
We encourage those in our community to take upon themselves the name of Christ as their primary identity. All other identities should be subordinate to that identity.
Many who deal with feelings of same sex attraction often find they’re in a Catch-22 situation with parents. They desire to be open and want their support. At the same time, they risk potential rejection, ridicule and being ostracized from those they love most.
The decision to tell your parents is personal and should be considered prayerfully. We encourage you to seek the Lord’s guidance when deciding to confide in any individual. The Lord does not expect you to do this alone. He has a plan and timing for you personally and will place key figures in your path to help you in your struggle with same-sex attraction. We encourage you to create a personal support system according to the personal inspiration you receive.
If you choose to disclose these very personal feelings, first create a safe setting. Find a quiet, comfortable place where interruptions are minimal. Take the phone off the hook temporarily.
Rather than drop a bombshell, “Guess what, I’m gay!” consider saying, “I have been dealing with some feelings of same-sex attraction for some time now. I tell you this because I love you and want you to know where I am in my life.”
Reassurance is critical. Many parents fear this means one has a secret lover, is leaving the church, or is running off to a gay community. Calm their concerns with reaffirmations: “I still believe in the church; I don’t have a lover and the gospel is a very important part in my life.”
A natural question for many parents to ask is, “What did we do to cause this?” At this juncture, simply state, “There’s no one to blame.”
Mention ways you’re getting help or receiving positive support. Examples: “I’m receiving some counseling,” “I’m a member of a website support group,” or “I’m working with my bishop (or ecclesiastical mentor).”
Ask if they have any questions. Many parents have already guessed the situation. Others will be dumbfounded and look upon it as somebody’s fault. Again, reassurance is important. Help them understand your life is going on while you’re working through these feelings.
Offer closure and follow-up: You may wish to conclude by saying, “I feel I’m taking a huge risk sharing these feelings. But I love and value your relationship in my life, and hope you can love and support me while I work through this.” Be ready for future questions and reassurance.
Simply feeling same-sex attraction is not a sin and does not require a confession. However, your bishop or branch president is not there only to listen to confession of sin. He is there to help you apply the principles of the Atonement in your life. The power of the Atonement extends far beyond the forgiveness of sin and is available to each of us to bring comfort, healing and peace to our souls. As needed, your bishop can help you learn how to access that power with any struggle you have.
The For the Strength of the Youth pamphlet reads:
“If you find yourself struggling with same-gender attraction or you are being persuaded to participate in inappropriate behavior, seek counsel from your parents and bishop.”
While this advice was written specifically for youth, it can be applied to all of us. If you find your attractions to be a struggle, you can go to your bishop and get inspired help from him just as you would if you struggled with opposite-sex attractions. You may want to tell your bishop even if your attractions are not a struggle as it will help him get to know you better, but that is an individual choice. Do not expect your bishop to act as a qualified therapist. Issues involved with same-sex attraction are complex, and the help of a qualified therapist in dealing with those complexities is often beneficial.
If there is an unresolved sin associated with your attractions, talk to your bishop so that he can guide you through the repentance process. It may be embarrassing and take time and effort, but the relief you will feel will make it all worth it. There is no greater peace than having the Spirit confirm that you are moving in the direction of the Savior.
If you have not acted on your same-sex attractions and still wonder if you should tell your bishop, here are some things to consider:
- Your attractions alone are not sinful and do not require repentance.
- You are not obligated to tell anyone about your attractions. The question of to whom, what and when to disclose your feelings is entirely your decision. The bishop does not need to know about your feelings, and you should not feel obligated to tell him.
- You may find the spiritual guidance of your bishop to be helpful in your endeavors to reconcile your attractions with your desire to live the gospel.
- It is not required to reveal the nature of your struggles in order to receive inspired guidance from your bishop. You can seek counsel from your bishop without being specific. Let the Spirit be your guide as to how much you need to disclose.
In the end, the choice is yours. Most bishops are not therapists and are not specifically trained in helping those who struggle with same-sex attraction. However, they can offer inspired spiritual guidance and comfort to those who seek it.