Tag Archives: #ShareGoodness

Sincerely, Anonymous

I’ve been staring at the computer screen for days now and have written nothing. I just don’t know where to begin. How do I put these feelings and thoughts into words?

The problem is there is no way for any of you to “understand.” Maybe you can relate, or maybe you can empathize, but how can I help you understand something I can’t even understand myself.

Here it goes.

I’m a girl. I love music. It is everything to me. I’m an artist. I’m clumsy and easily distracted.  I’m a hard worker and always take on way more than I can handle. I love sports. I have a short temper, and I love alone time. I love nature and hope to travel the world. I have high respects for people who are kind, and I’m a sucker for funny people. I’m a girl that has dreams, goals, flaws, a future, a past, AND I just happen to be bisexual.

That is a scary thing to admit. One of my biggest fears was disappointing my parents. What would they think of me if I told them? Could or would they be proud of a bisexual daughter? Does God love His bisexual daughter? They seem like silly questions now. My sexuality does not define me or my actions. It is a part of me, and it is a challenge that I will have to struggle with every day for the rest of my life. But that label does not mean that I have sinned. I am not ashamed of it. And I shouldn’t be. Obviously, there will be specific struggles that I will face as a bisexual Latter-day Saint, but I know that they can’t keep me from living a fulfilling, and gospel-oriented life.

As I’ve learned to accept who I am, I’ve come to understand how infinite God’s love is. He hasn’t left me alone in this. He loves me no matter what, and He knew who He was giving this challenge to. A tough girl who has learned to admit when she needs help. A tough girl who takes every challenge head on. A tough girl who likes to beat the odds. A tough girl who wants to be the best person that she can be. But I’m also a girl that feels insecure and irrelevant sometimes. My sexuality has made me more empathetic and non-judgmental, but I won’t lie and say it hasn’t crippled me in some ways. I hate not being able to understand why I am the way I am. What does this even mean? Why is this one of the challenges God gave me? How am I going to fit in the world? Am I significant, even though I’m broken? This is a time where I just have to trust God, despite all the hurt, insecurity, and doubt. The Savior’s Atonement is infinite and intimate, and I can find grace, mercy, and peace by using it. God loves all of His children and He understands, when no one else can or will.

You know, the world is going to be ugly. People are going to be mean. They’ll disagree. They’ll judge. They’ll share their opinions, no matter how disrespectful and ignorant they are. I know that the world can be cruel. That doesn’t surprise me. But I would be lying if I said it wasn’t also beautiful. I’ve met such kind-hearted and supportive people. People that make the world breathtakingly beautiful. People that I see the reflection of Christ in. I haven’t told very many people that I’m bisexual (never really found it necessary to share with more). Only a few close friends and a few immediate family members know. For some (my parents) it was tough for them at first. They were shocked and frustrated. Sad that I had another big, life-long trial to carry on my back. But every single one of them have been so supportive. None of them know what it means, but they’ve shown me grace and love when I couldn’t give that to myself. That support means the world. It makes the temptations a little lighter. That’s something I really encourage and hope for the world. That we can all be supportive and loving with the LGBT community. I don’t expect anyone to understand or to agree, but I do expect a universal and unbiased love.

For the LDS community (and many other churches), we dedicate our lives to be more like Christ. Christ loved and forgave all. He didn’t look at people and see “overweight,” “socially-awkward,” “illiterate,” or even “gay.” He knows we are all sinful and broken, but He sees us in a light of love, a light of compassion and mercy. I wish that was something I saw emulated in our people. My hope is that in time, we can live and think that way.

I am girl. A girl that happens to be bisexual. A girl that is ready for change in the world. A change that requires a change of heart and mind. A change that’ll bring about the BEST world. You in?

Sincerely,

Anonymous

Finding Inspiration and Your Personal Mission Statement

No matter where you are in life—physically, spiritually, or emotionally—finding inspiration and direction is essential to ensuring happiness and well-being. That inspiration can come from anywhere—religious leaders, books, TV shows, friends, or the internet. The source is not as important as the guidance and direction that inspiration can bring to your life.

This is why USGA’s Faith Committee hosted an event centered around finding inspiration by creating personal mission statements. In Stephen Covey’s bestselling book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, he describes the second habit as “Begin with the end in mind.” In order to accomplish this, knowing what “the end” looks like is the first step in actualizing a personal mission statement.  Stephen Covey asks: “Are you—right now—who you want to be, what you dreamed you’d be, doing what you always wanted to do?” For the first half of the evening of this activity, the objective was to identify some goals, personal character traits, and accomplishments. Once again, 7 Habits states, “In one’s life, the most effective way to begin with the end in mind is to develop a mission statement—one that focuses what you want to be in terms of character and what you want to do in reference to contribution of achievements. Writing a mission statement can be the most important activity an individual can take to truly lead one’s life.”

As was discussed during the activity, personal mission statements take many forms. They could be a statement written by individual about their goals. Or, they could be a collection of quotes that represent goals, values, qualities, etc. that exemplify a personal mission or “end.” This activity centered around the latter. The following questions were presented to get everyone thinking about what their goals and values were:

  1. Think of a person who made a positive difference in your life. What qualities does that person have that you would like to develop?
  2. Imagine 20 years from now— you are surrounded by the most important people in your life. Who are they and what are you doing?
  3. If a steel beam (about 6 inches wide) were placed across two skyscrapers, for what would you be willing to cross? A thousand dollars? A million? Your pet? Your brother? Fame?
  4. If you could spend one day in a great library studying anything you wanted, what would you study?
  5. List 10 things that you love to do. It could be singing, dancing, watching YouTube videos, drawing, reading, daydreaming—anything!
  6. Describe a time when you were deeply inspired.
  7. Five years from now, your local news station does a story about you and they want to interview three people: a parent, a sibling, and a friend. What would you want them to say about you?
  8. Think of something that represents you— a rose, a song, an animal. Why does it represent you?
  9. If you could spend an hour with any person who ever lived, who would that be? Why that person? What would you ask?
  10. Everyone has one or more talents. What are yours?

With the answers to these questions in mind, participants were encouraged to consider what their own mission statements might include.

Part of the evening also included collecting quotes, lyrics, etc. and presenting them in small groups.This activity was meant to give participants the chance to share words and sayings that were motivational and inspirational to them. The exercise itself was was actually inspired by a famous quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Make your own Bible. Select and collect all the words and sentences that in all your readings have been to you like the blast of a trumpet.”

In order to help everyone find inspiration for their mission statement (or just to help brighten a hard day) the faith committee has compiled some of USGA members’ favorite words, a “USGA Bible”. It features quotes from the scriptures, the general authorities, famous philosophers and poets, and The Queen (J.K Rowling of course). It can be found here.

We hope that this exercise and these quotes can help anyone who feels lost or directionless, or who needs some extra inspiration in their lives.

An Experiment in Empathy

My Doctrine and Covenants course opened as it usually did, and I started zoning out.  However, suddenly the conversation was drawn to the recent General Conference.  Now alert, I listened to my peers express their feelings about the themes of the conference.  After a quick tally, I identified the repeating theme of marriage and the family as carrying predominance.  After being involved with USGA for a couple of months and becoming so close to so many individuals that do not identify with the “straight” or heterosexual label, I was becoming increasingly alarmed.

I completed an exercise I’ve learned to really value.  I asked myself, “How might I feel in this situation if I was gay?”  As I thought about the implications of the seemingly exaggerated emphasis of the marriage and family and the onslaught of the gays, I began to experience serious discomfort and even anxiety.  As a hypothetical gay man, I thought about the irrelevant, “counterfeit”, or even sinful nature of my sexual and/or romantic feelings.  I tried to think of changing those feelings, but using my heterosexual interests as a model; I was at a loss as to where to look to find some switch in my brain to free myself from my “same-sex attraction.”  This attraction was an extension of my identity.

Even with all the happiness and joy I experienced in contemplating the relationships of my heterosexual friends, a degree of sadness and pain burdened my soul.  I felt isolated, illegitimized, and invalidated.  I wasn’t a man that simply chose not to be productive in seeking his eternal companion or even a woman that experiences the agonizing trial of never being courted but someone who had a very real opportunity and availability before me that was being condemned and censured by my beautiful church and culture.

The experiment ended.  I returned to my comfortable “straight” reality, but to this day my mind is still trying to process the flood of emotions I experienced.  To be clear, I do not claim to understand anything any non-heterosexual individual experiences psychologically, but I can only imagine that the lonely and painful feelings that I encounter often in my hypothetical exercise are only magnified and intensified.  I cannot, under good conscience tell any individual that their sexual and/or romantic feelings are lesser to mine.  I cannot tell another human to lie to themselves, to bury their true feelings, or to change who they are.

Doctrinally we have transitioned so much as a church.  From Paul’s “inflamed by their own lust” to President Kimball’s “diseased, abnormal, curable” and Elder Packer’s “why would Heavenly Father do that to anyone?”  Though I know there are some, I hope there are very few Mormons that take these approaches seriously.  Paul spoke in a vastly different world, President Kimball’s views have proven demonstrably false, and Elder Packer’s question was actually edited out of his talk after he inserted it in General Conference.  I don’t see any reason why we cannot hope and pray for further changes in God’s living church.

In any event, most of our current approaches toward homosexuality are not doctrinally based but come from a breed of homophobia and ignorance.  Our awkward laughter and slang surrounding “gay” terminology and behavior is harmful.  Our heterosexism is causing anxiety, depression, and suicide in individuals who think they are broken or deformed.  I never thought I’d change my views of the evil nature of homosexuality, but after simply listening, I cannot believe we haven’t changed our views.  I cannot call homosexuality evil without calling God evil for creating these intense and real feelings of attraction and love between human beings.  It has been truly life changing to interact with the queer community.  Theirs is not a hypothetical but a constant struggle for recognition, validation, and even life.

If you think you don’t know or influence a member of the LGBTQ/SSA community, you are probably wrong.  The statistics are much too high, and, especially in the Mormon community, we interact with each other too often.  If you don’t personally know a member of the LGBTQ/SSA community, it is very likely that those in your circles do not feel comfortable or safe with the idea of being vulnerable with you.  Educate yourself.  Make yourself available.  Be cognizant of the words that leave your mouth and the discussions that might be isolating or invalidating to those who do not fit the norm.  Have the courage to correct misinformation, misunderstanding, or disparaging remarks about the queer community.  Above all, heed the great commandment to love others as thyself, for God is nothing more or less than love.

PRESS RELEASE

BYU’s LGBTQ/SSA Student Group Releases New Video: #INeedHimToo

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         Contact

April 14, 2015                                                                                                Samy Galvez, USGA President

byu.usga@gmail.com


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PROVO, UT  —  Understanding Same Gender Attraction (USGA), Brigham Young University’s unofficial group of LGBTQ/SSA students, this weekend released their new video, “#INeedHimToo.” The video release represents a new chapter in USGA’s dialogue with the public about LGBTQ/SSA students at Brigham Young University. The release is intended to remind the public, BYU students and members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that in most ways their LGBTQ/SSA brothers and sisters are just like them. As pointed out in the video, many individuals who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or same-sex attracted are active, believing members of the Mormon Church and hold strong beliefs in God. #INeedHimToo can be viewed here.

“We’re here to open hearts and start a conversation, not to protest,” said USGA President Samy Galvez. “We want to remind our straight brothers and sisters that LGBTQ people are as much a part of the body of Christ as they are. This is not an ‘us versus them’ battle. There is only us; all of us. We hope this message can inspire and uplift all people, while reminding them of the realities of being queer and Mormon.”

Public discourse often portrays religious people and LGBTQ individuals as two separate and mutually exclusive groups. Even the LDS Church’s “Fairness for all” initiative drew clear lines between those seeking to preserve religious liberty or promote gay rights. #INeedHimToo intends to bridge that gap and share perspectives of BYU students who know that being LGBTQ and Mormon are not antithetical.

As of Tuesday at 2 p.m. MT, #INeedHimToo had over 31,500 views on Facebook and YouTube.

To accompany the video release, USGA compiled a meme-filled Buzzfeed list, “27 Reasons LGBTQ People Need Jesus Too.”

About USGA (Understanding Same Gender Attraction) at BYU
USGA is an unofficial group of LGBTQ/SSA BYU students, allies, faculty, and guests seeking to improve the quality of life for LGBTQ individuals in the BYU community.  Founded in 2010, USGA meets weekly in the Provo City Library on Thursdays at 7 p.m. and runs meetings that seek to build faith, foster community, provide opportunities for service, and help educate members and guests about LGBTQ issues. There are 33 members of USGA’s leadership team and weekly meetings typically draw 70 to 90 attendees.

To learn more about USGA, connect with them on Twitter or Facebook and visit their blog.

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I Need Him Too – Video

Today, USGA launches a new video.

I Need Him Too is intended to remind BYU students, Mormons, and people everywhere, that just because someone is lesbian, gay, bisexual, trasngender, queer, or same-sex attracted, does not mean they can’t be spiritual, Mormon, a member of the Church, or believe in God and Jesus Christ.  In the war of rhetoric and emotions over same-sex marriage, and anti-discrimination and religious rights legislation, what is too often lost is the reality that there are people in the middle. Real people. With hopes and dreams just like you. This is not “us” verses “them.” There is no “them.” Gay rights and religious rights are not opposites that need to be balanced.  There is only us. I am not so different from you, and you are not so different from me.

As President Uchtdorf said,

If you could see into our hearts, you would probably find that you fit in better than you suppose. You might be surprised to find that we have yearnings and struggles and hopes similar to yours. Your background or upbringing might seem different from what you perceive in many Latter-day Saints, but that could be a blessing. Brothers and sisters, dear friends, we need your unique talents and perspectives. The diversity of persons and peoples all around the globe is a strength of this Church.

When you’re done watching the video, if you have a few minutes, take this brief survey to give us feedback on our video and help us better communicate with our audience in the future. Thanks
https://byu.az1.qualtrics.com/SE/?SID=SV_8vUVS1rVFxtZFlj