Monday, December 26, 2011

Telling My Parents (D&C 3:1)

John Steinbeck got the title for his book Of Mice and Men from a poem by Robert Burns. Many people think that it suggests the contrast between the strong and the weak of character. The meaning of the book and the context of the poem suggest otherwise. The lines from the poem say:

The best laid schemes of mice and men
Go often askew,

(The word "schemes" is often misquoted as "plans").

The poem and the book are both thematically sobering, presenting a pessimistic message that no matter how hard we try, we can't have our dreams. That all our plans will always fall through and we just have to suffer through it. And yet there have been times in my life that I've realized that while the two lines quoted above are often true, they aren't always bad. You see, this last weekend I told my parents about my attraction to men. It didn't go in any way according to plan. It went so much better. Let me tell you the story of my Christmas miracle.

So, for weeks while lying in bed at night as an insomniac I've role-played telling my parents a thousand different ways. There were so many different ways I thought of, but here were the common denominators in all my hypothetical scenarios that I was sure of:

*I would tell them together.
*We would talk when other siblings weren't even in the home and I could be completely private.
*I would wait until after Christmas entirely, so as to not detract from the holiday.

Well, read carefully to see how many of those "best laid plans" came to pass:

On Christmas Eve I was in the kitchen helping my mother prepare a turkey dinner. Everyone else was in the living room watching a movie. She knew something was on my mind. I told her we'd talk about it later. She then looked me in the eyes and asked if I was having same-gender attraction issues. I immediately realized that my best laid plans had begun to fall through. We talked very briefly and hushed so that others wouldn't hear. I assured her that I was temple worthy and always would be. I asked her if she had long suspected it and if that's why she asked. She replied that she had never had that thought before actually. (That was reassuring. I constantly worry about people discovering my secret.) I guess I don't know entirely why she asked. My mom has always been rather perceptive though, and it shouldn't really have surprised me. She always has known when something is wrong with me emotionally, scholastically, even financially. I don't need to delve into every detail here, but she said one thing that was very interesting. She mentioned that since my birth she always knew that I would be given unique trials, and now she knew what that meant. My mom had no problem with it. I knew she wouldn't. She was sad for me, but had no worries. I explained that she couldn't talk to dad--I needed to do that myself. I also explained that I'd already told by older brother before I came out for Christmas, but that I didn't want any of my other siblings to know. She agreed with me and my reasons for wanting that before I even told her that.

Given the time and place our conversation wasn't very long. It couldn't be. I felt bad knowing that she inevitably had lots of questions we just couldn't talk about right away. What about the girlfriends I've had? How do I plan on finding a wife? Who have I told? So many questions. Feeling bad for her, that night I slipped her a note with my blog address, explaining simply that she could find answers to lots of her questions there. She read all the November and the first few December posts that night.

Obviously at this point my paradigm of telling my parents had been quite disrupted. But the job was only half done and my mind began redefining what it would do next. I quickly decided that perhaps the best way to proceed was to tell my father one-on-one, just as I had with my mother. In fact, suddenly this seemed like a better way of doing things than my original plan had been. I also knew that my mom was hoping I'd choose sooner rather than later, since she couldn't talk with him until I did first. Yesterday, at the end of Christmas night, we knelt down for family prayer. My Dad said it, and before he did he mentioned that while our Christmas had been much smaller than usual due to bad financial times, the greatest gifts the he hoped we knew we received from them were those of love and testimony. My Dad always goes up to bed first and reads for a while every night. When he made that last statement before heading upstairs, my heart felt his words almost like an invitation to follow him up and speak with him. I paced in the hallway in thought/prayer for a couple minutes first. I had rehearsed many times a million ways to begin the conversation. With my mom I hadn't had to because SHE did. Now, though, it would be in my hands. All the sentences I'd previously imagined instantly evaporated and I knew what I needed to say. It was a new approach I'd never thought of and which I couldn't have really used if I had told my parents together. And so I knocked on the door.

The first 30 seconds in my Dad's room were 30 of the hardest seconds of my life. Many people with SSA often discuss strained childhood relatonships wth their fathers as related to the root "nurture" causes of their SSA. Some others I've communicated with personally see this as a significant factor. I don't actually believe that to be the case for me personally. I think I've always had a good relationship with my father. Nonetheless, a man's father is a significant figure in his life. Fathers are their sons' measure of manhood. Though I've done a lot in the last month to overcome feelings of shame associated with my SSA tendencies, telling my father was still incredibly difficult. The conversation was beautiful. I'm not going to put too many of the details here. I could tell it surprised him a little bit, but nonetheless, I have rarely felt as loved as I did for those twenty minutes.

Well, if you go back to compare my list above of details I planned on for telling my parents, you'll quickly find that none of my best laid plans came to pass. And yet I've had beautiful moments of connection with my parents. In fact, things went better than the hypotheticals I've been playing in my head for a month now. There's a rather common Jewish proverb which says, "Man plans, God laughs." Once again, as with the poetry quoted at the beginning of this post, this could be negative, but it really can have such positive explanations. After all, among the scariest verses in scripture are those wherein God gets fed up with people and leaves them to their own designs. Things don't typically work out very well when that happens. Sometimes, when our plans fall through it is because God has better ideas for us and HASN'T abandoned us. If we can trust Him, we soon learn that this is a good thing, because we've been told about His plans in Doctrine and Covenants 3:1 the following:

The works, and the designs, and the purposes of God cannot be frustrated, neither can they come to naught.

So indeed, while the best laid plans of mice and men often go askew, those of God cannot be defeated. When those plans are for us, the only thing that can stand in front of their fulfillment is ourselves. I'm so grateful that God loves me enough to have had better plans for me this weekend. And I love my parents. They are fantastic people, who I know have always kept my happiness and that of my siblings at the forefront of their own plans and have trusted the plans of God to help see that goal fulfilled.

I cannot universally recommend telling your parents if you or a friend experiences SSA. I think in nearly every case it probably is more helpful than anything else. However, all circumstances will be unique. I've been blessed with very loving and understanding parents. Not all parents are that way. If yours aren't that doesn't mean they aren't good people though. But you need to love them either way.

I hope you've all had a very merry Christmas.

My best,



  1. Congrats on the conversations with your parents. I can imagine that was a huge weight off your shoulders. I loved the line about our plans not falling through because He hasnt abandon us. So true. What we might see as failure, may be what leads us to Him. This journey we are on is not an easy one, but if it leads to Christ....we're going to become what we should. I'm proud of you and so glad they responded as they did.

  2. I'm glad this went well for you. I knew your were planning on it, and I wondered over Christmas how it would be for you. I only told my parents a week ago. I've always felt closer to my mom than my dad. He was completely understanding of my situation, but I he doesn't yet realize that he has a role to play in my healing process. At some point I need to tell him that we need to bond in ways we haven't before so I can attain some "measure of manhood" as you put it. It was a relief to tell them so I didn't feel so alone in facing my SSA. Ironically, the event triggered some sort of emotional breakdown a short time later. The last 7 days have been the hardest in my life. I'm just starting to feel better now. I just hope it sticks.

    Obadiah, you were there for me! I can't thank you enough. I look forward to more of your scriptural insights. I both love and understand your unique point of view. Your posts help me stay strong. You really do liken the scriptures to yourself.

    I'm with you on the battlefield, to the end


  3. Christmas eve. An interesting time to reveal secrets like ours. It's been 8 years since I told my parents.

    I'm so so happy things went well with yours. Take care man.

  4. Thanks you guys! You are all wonderful and my interactions with each of you here in cyber-land helped strengthen me in this endeavor.

    Tyler, it sounds like we've had rather similar experiences as of late. I'm glad your parents seem to have responded so positively as well, and hope you continue to do better.

    My best,


  5. I am so glad I found your blog. I recently started one myself, as I wanted people to know that there are people in the Church who struggle with same gender attraction who still love God and are active in Church. Thank you for your blog and I wish you luck.


Please feel free to comment or leave questions. Just be aware that I moderate all comments before posting. I won't post things that are offensive. I will post controversial comments and questions so long as they aren't mean-spirited. I'd love to hear your comments and answer questions; just play nice! :)