There's a seeming dichotomy that exists in the world of homosexuality... that of choice.

Some people honestly believe that the feelings and attractions of homosexuality are a choice... that gay men could easily choose not to be attracted to other men, and that those who "struggle" with homosexuality are in reality simply struggling with their faith. Under this model, even feeling attractions to other men is a sin. A sin that, if left unattended and unquashed, is worthy of damnation. And all those who haven't gotten there are simply not trying hard enough - no matter what their age or station in life. People who honestly hold this belief usually don't hold it maliciously - they often have had no personal interaction with the people they stigmatize; they simply haven't had the opportunity to restructure the mental models that support their beliefs... and almost all of the people I have met have changed their thoughts when given the opportunity to understand in their own terms. Some of you used to believe this.

Some people believe that attractions and temptations are completely out of our control, and that anything other than following them is dishonest to "who I am." I regularly get a handful of emails from people who are probably sincere in their beliefs and their hope to help me in my life, encouraging me to follow the gay lifestyle that "is who I am." They take different styles - from long personal testimonies of the carnal pleasure and emotional release that comes from living a gay life, to the simple and pedantic "You're gay. You should be dating gay men, and you should marry a gay man." From meeting with many of these men and women - in the Church and without - I think that many of those who hold these beliefs hold them sincerely. They see the pain and seeming injustice that comes from differences in attraction, and somehow believe what they believe. But like the first group, their naïveté is still a huge factor, and their claim that I have no choice in the matter - no choice in determining my destiny - is contrary to reality of my own life and the principles taught in the gospel.

The last belief is one that, from my own experience, only comes from a personal experience with homosexuality and a bit of reflection and communion with God. It's an understanding and acceptance that I am not completely in control of the world around me or the circumstances that create my life - attractions and temptations included. It brings the peace that I (myself, my will, my choices, my spirit) am not defined by what happens to me (my attractions, temptations, worldly events, trials, and blessings)... but by what I do in those circumstances. I am who I choose to be. I may feel a certain way, but I have the ability to always choose the right, regardless of my feelings. My heart may be torn into pieces, but I have the ability to find peace and faith and happiness through keeping the commandments of God. My happiness, my peace, my honesty and integrity are not determined by anything but my choices, and the grace of God that follows when I choose the right.

I may not be able to choose who I am attracted to. I may not be able to choose the temptations I face or the love that I feel. But I can choose who I am in those circumstances... and in every case I do, by my every action. And in every case, I am choosing my destiny. This is who I am: Mormon, faithful, happy, fulfilled, peaceful, hopeful, optimistic, and, someday, saved. To thine own self be true. I am a child of God, and I am the arbiter of my destiny. I choose who I am.
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