For those of us who have stuck with the Church despite our grumblings, pains, and dare I say, persecutions, I think it has become evident to us what basic things get in our way. It could be something like that hot person in your class at school, or maybe it's your struggle with pornography, the lack of support from priesthood leaders, friends, etc...the list goes on and on. For me personally, one of my greatest pitfalls isn't necessarily something tangible. It's more of an intangible, abstract thing. When I am surrounded by LGBT people who do not share my values, for some reason I find it difficult to resist the temptation to do things our Heavenly Father has lovingly asked us to not do. It's harder to not make inappropriate jokes, discuss risque topics, or even (in times now passed) to resist sensual physical touch. We all know that in the Church, we deny ourselves of basic emotional needs that center around feeling loved and wanted - whether in a sexual manner or an emotional manner. Or both. Therefore, we find ways to fill that void to the best of our abilities as Church members. But, there are times when we aren't necessarily getting a constant stream of physical affection, quality time, or whatever our primary love languages might happen to be. This leaves susceptibility to giving into our bodily passions and desires, at least to some degree anyway. Returning back to my example for me personally, then, I definitely can see that every single time I allowed myself to act on my sexuality in ways contrary to the Savior's teachings, I wasn't taking care of myself somehow. That being said, I certainly do not believe in relying on my male friends for emotional fulfillment. They can only help so much to fill the void left by my choice to be abstinent from sex and romance. But, I most definitely believe in finding my fulfillment by combining male emotional intimacy in friendship with a number of other simple, practical measures. Still... the question remains, how do I push back against the alluring nature of gay culture & peer pressure?
I'm not going to quote a bunch of scriptures or tell you something a handful of prophets and apostles said, just to start. If you're reading my blog, chances are you know the scriptures about keeping your mind clean, resisting temptation, avoiding Satan's pitfalls, and so on. I don't doubt that in the slightest, actually. Therefore, I want to give a more personable approach that has worked for me personally. Some people require different degrees of what I'm about to share, or even another ingredient to the formula I'm not going to list here. But, as long as your personal formula works within the teachings of Christ, that really is all that matters. Anyway, let me share my personal approach here now:
- Let's say I'm at some kind of event where LGBT people are mingling pretty significantly. I might see a LOT of attractive men, and it will be sexually arousing for me if I do not stop myself. Most LDS people will tell you to avoid those men like the plague, even to the point of not looking in their direction. This is a load of crap. Don't believe it. You see, if you develop an infatuation with someone regardless of where you are, it is because you're focusing almost entirely on their beautiful face...maybe even their hot body, depending on where you are. I'm speaking bluntly like this for my benefit and yours. So, what do you do? TALK TO HIM/HER. Why??! That's what I would've asked a few years back or so. The reason is so that you can get to know them as a child of God, and make them more human to you. It'll also teach you how to generally interact with them in a way that you would with everyone else, since you don't want to come across as creepy or weird. Lol.
*Teaching: Ride the wave of your sexual, emotional, and whatever other kind of attractions you feel for the same sex, or maybe the opposite sex in the case of my transgender friends reading this. DON'T RESIST. Doing that ingrains into your mind that your attraction is shameful and deserves to be hidden. Don't let shame in! Embrace this beautiful part of you, and give it freedom of expression in a wholesome way.
- Another example could be when you're with some LGBT friends. Doesn't matter if they're Mormon or not; I've seen it happen with both. The conversation wanders into some topic(s) that you know aren't appropriate, and will drive away the Spirit pretty quickly. My approach is this: Buck up and have some courage to remind everyone of what you all believe, if it's a mostly or entirely Mormon group. If you can't do that, just remain quiet and focus on your phone or something, or whatever else you can in your environment. If encouraged to join, lovingly tell them that you'd rather stay out of the conversation. For non-members, I personally just leave if I can. If I can't, I stay quiet and let them have their "fun". It shouldn't become a silent judging fest, where you think about how righteous you are compared to them, or contemplate about their lack of respect for you as a Mormon. No, it shouldn't be any of those things, or anything similar. Just peacefully retreat into yourself, and find a way to maintain that tranquility of mind and spirit - be it through meditation, listening to music, or whatever else. It's possible to disagree with someone without becoming disagreeable. :)
*Teaching: Find your way that works for you of avoiding not just inappropriate conversation, but really any kind of negative peer pressure. You can politely turn down invitations and/or pressure to go to gay clubs, gay bars, or even Pride itself. I did this year, with Pride. And it wasn't me being all high and mighty, rude, or condescending about my choice. I simply said to people, "That's not really my scene. It contradicts what I believe and strive to live by." That doesn't mean I handle every situation with grace and tactfulness. Far from it. I've said some pretty insensitive, tactless, and stupid things to friends of mine, which I had to apologize for later. The point, though, is to do what you can. Do your best, and forget the rest. Though it may seem over simplified what I've offered here, these 2 tools have helped me out tremendously as I have tried to live as Christ would have me live. I bear my witness that Jesus Christ loves you as His son or daughter, and if you rest on that Love and His Grace, you will be blessed to endure to the end with joyfulness, peace, a sense of emotional fulfillment, and a sense of personal accomplishment.