Wow! I didn’t expect to get this much of a response on my last post. Thank you all for your sharing your thoughts, experiences and opinions with me about whether or not to talk to my bishop. Your comments were so sincere that I feel like I should respond to each individually.
To answer the question that many of you posed to me of “what is the benefit,” the advantage would be having the ability to tell my parents that I have talked to my bishop when I come out to them. They are very devout, and I think this would be comforting to them. Yes, I realize that I need to do what is right for me, but I want to make it as easy for them as possible because I don’t expect them to take it well anyway.
I haven’t made up my mind yet, though.
@Reina: You make a great point that bishops change, but I know I am comfortable about this one at this moment. So it may make sense now, but I don’t know how that might change, and like you said, wish I had never said anything.
@JonJon: I don’t expect many bishops have helpful training on how to help in our particular situation, since most of the bishops in the church are all normal people like you and me (well, almost). I think talking to others is actually helping and am slowly starting to open up.
@Abelard Enigma: I wouldn’t be talking to him to confess, but to seek counsel because right now I don’t know what course my life will take. And I have a hard time still identifying myself as gay, just coming out to myself very recently, and I think SSA would be easier on my parents, but might set them on a mission to help me be cured from my “problem.”
@Bravone: I am glad that there is no written record, but I know the church. News travels like wildfire. I just wanted to see if I could really trust my bishop in complete confidence, without him having to check a box somewhere on a computer that the secretaries and clerks see. That said, telling people, even just in the MoHosphere has been liberating as you have said. But I can’t help but feel more vulnerable than I ever have in my life.
@Gay LDS Actor: I have carried this with me for so long that I think I am still walking the line between embracing it and still hating it. I have to keep telling myself that I have not done anything wrong by having these feelings (except, perhaps, lusting after some hot boy who walks by). But I am glad you had a happy experience telling your bishop.
@El Genio: I too worry about the grapevine. For as much as we learn not to be judgmental in the church, I remember entire families being isolated for a single daughter’s pregnancy, for example. I want to be able to serve like I have in the past, without people being worried. Thank you for the book recommendation. I will have to read it and see what it might offer my parents. In a future post I am going to discuss the whole “coming out” issue, so stay tuned! I appreciated your comment on how to phrase my homosexual feelings in order to set the tone from where they carry on from. I will have to really think about that and create a game plan.
@ControllerOne: I am in a pretty liberal part of the country too, so I have hopes for people being a bit more open-minded (though friends and family in other places in the country might not be). I am happy that you received honest concern and compassion. I know that I haven’t done anything in any sense to require church discipline, but I am still trying to figure out if and how I want to move forward and not have that possibility, though I still can’t quite see how I can be completely gay, Mormon and happy all at the same time.
@j4k: I am happy to hear that you have had good experiences with it and that they still trust you with those callings. I can’t imagine telling 10 different bishops, but it is a good point that you bring up that if they don’t pass the information along, you would have to tell every single one if you were so inclined. I had never thought about that. I agree with you that your attitude affects the conversation. I also hold no mirth against the church but the prospect of telling him, or even just considering telling him, is nerve-racking. I hope looking back, the choice seems like it was just unfounded fear.
@Rob: Thank you for your honest opinion. Right now, I think I would be doing it more for my parent than for me, though I always have the hope that I would be accepted and comforted the way I am. I wish whether a bishop reacts well and the accompanying grapevine experience wasn’t ask chaotic across the church. One person might have a good experience and the other feels they have been burned. All because of the way that local leaders are chosen and how the church operates at a local level.
@CasualObserver: I think the whole grapevine issue boils down to trust. Some people in the church believe that the bishop is an infallible person to be trusted explicitly because of the priesthood calling. Others view him as a fallible man doing the best he can with what he knows and has learned. You mentioned the possibility of a bishop asking telling previous leaders about it and I wonder how much counselors in the bishopric are told. I think we all are a little paranoid analyzing it, but I try to believe in the best of a person first, giving them the benefit of the doubt until proven otherwise. But in this case, I really do not want to be disappointed by placing my trust and then getting burned because it concerns my very core.
@Quiet Song: I think you make a good point about using it as an opportunity to address misconceptions our leaders may have. I have had been in a few high profile callings before (i.e. Elders Quorum President) and I think that being gay actually enabled me to better love and serve those in my quorum, not judging because who was I to judge?
Like I said at the beginning, I have not made up my mind yet. I think much of the decision will rest on how and when I come out to my parents and how I decide to both handle and prepare for that experience.
Thank you all again, and I am so appreciative of your concern and support.