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{LDSL Blog} Talking About Same-sex Attraction

Jamie Lawson - May 24, 2012

In our May/June 2012 issue, we published an article about same-sex attraction that has evoked a wide range of responses. Here’s why we chose to do it.

The decision to publish an article about same-sex attraction in LDS Living was not made lightly. To be honest, I lost a fair amount of sleep over this story wondering how it would be received by our readers and if, in the end, it would be worth the risk.

We knew that many people, both inside and outside of the Church, would be uncomfortable or even offended by the topic. We also knew that by sharing their story, Ty and Danielle Mansfield would be subjecting themselves to scrutiny and criticism—something they were fully prepared to do. But we strongly believed that by running this story, we could accomplish three goals:

Facilitate within the Mormon culture a conversation about SSA.

Increase understanding and compassion for those experiencing SSA.

Give hope and encouragement to Church members who themselves are struggling with SSA.
This article was not meant to stir up controversy for the sake of controversy. And it definitely isn’t suggesting that there is a “magic formula” for everyone dealing with this issue. Rather, it gives an honest look into the heart and mind of a man with same-sex attraction who also has a firm testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ and is doing everything in his power to live it. Since Ty had previously resigned himself to the fact that he would never marry in this life, I found it fascinating and touching to learn how Ty and Danielle’s love story unfolded and how they keep their marriage on solid ground. And judging from the responses we have received, it seems many of our readers did, too.

That’s not to say that we haven’t received a fair amount of criticism—we certainly have. But as Ty and I have shared the feedback we’ve received, both positive and negative, it’s clear that we have accomplished our goals. We have received e-mails, Facebook messages, and handwritten letters from Church members who are secretly battling with SSA, from bishops who are doing their best to counsel members dealing with this issue, and even from members who don’t struggle with it but have been inspired by Ty and Danielle to work harder to strengthen their marriages. The messages have been deeply personal and heartfelt, expressing pain and sorrow, as well as renewed hope and faith, and I’m grateful that they took the time to tell us how the story has affected them. 

So was it worth the risk? Absolutely. To know that even one person has been touched by Ty and Danielle’s story, and to know that LDS Living had the privilege of being a small part of it, makes it all worthwhile. Thank you, Ty and Danielle, for your honesty and courage. I know many of us are better people because of it. 

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Jamie Lawson is managing editor of LDS Living magazine. She has two adorable boys who help her stay up to date on the latest technology, fashion trends, and catch phrases.

© LDS Living, 2012.
Comments 13 comments

bald_one said...

05:26 AM
on May 24, 2012

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As a bishop, I too was thankful that you published this article. I think it helps members of the church understand the immense trial that members who struggle with SSA have and respect them for trying to overcome it. I have seen firsthand, through disciplinary councils, the deep pain and anguish that is caused because of SSA. Since these experiences I have become more empathetic toward those who suffer with SSA although I strongly condemn acting on it. I have been thankful that I didn't have to suffer from this trial in my life or that I didn't have experiences in my life that led me down that dark path. Many of those who suffer from SSA have been abused or put into very difficult circumstances. We need to remember to not judge those with SSA because we don't understand all the trials and temptations that they had to face growing up. If you had those same trials and temptations as a child you might also be struggling with SSA. The article gives hope to other members who suffer from this and it is fantastic. Thanks for having the courage to publish it. However, all this said, I want to be clear that I do not condone homosexuality in anyway.

smallpin said...

05:53 AM
on May 24, 2012

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I'm so glad that at last such a great article has been written about this issue. It's long over due. Ty and Danielle have been so brave and true to their testimonies in speaking out. We need articles like this to teach us correct attitudes toward this subject and the people involved and to prove that the Lord loves us all despite the troubles we have. Thank you for the article.

kireos said...

09:11 AM
on May 24, 2012

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Although I admired the articles regarding SSA, I do feel as though the articles were almost too in favor of SSA. I almost felt like because I stand with the church on their views (tolerance for the action, but know its not righteous) was "wrong". As a member, its saddening to see SSA becoming "acceptable" - which I mean its almost "okay" to have this trial. I understand many who suffer often don't have a choice and deal with the consequences of it daily - but I'm starting to see the repentance/guidance part slowly going away to where its no longer needed. It left one young man in our ward openly SSA and in a physicial relationship, unrepentant (and refusing to do so) allowed to attend the temple - even though the bishop knew of his trials. Unfortunately, this young man passed away this year, and I'm sad to think what could have been done to help this young man. I guess I just wished the article didn't make me feel like such a horrible person for believing and standing for the views and standards the church has on this issue.

noroses said...

10:00 AM
on May 24, 2012

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Ty and Danielle, good for you guys. I do have a problem with it's publication. If this were Ty and Danielle's personal blog and they are sharing their story with readers who seek them out, fantastic. Unfortunately, it is published in LDS Living. With LDS in the title, most people look to this source for true information. Information they can count on. Publishing this story of Ty and Danielle goes against what church policy recommends. They no longer recommend getting married. I worry that this marriage so far is the exception to the rule and to use it to be the glowing example of overcoming homosexuality is flawed. To say they face struggles like any other couple reeks of a lack of authenticity. Their struggles are not the same. And a wag of my finger to LDS Living for publishing this article to illustrate hope for those that are gay. I really have great hope for Ty and Danielle. I wish you the very, very best as you continue on your path. Many are not as lucky as the two of you to this point!

candjdemi said...

10:18 AM
on May 24, 2012

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I was grateful for the article because it left me with a feeling of hope. I felt that although Ty will probably struggle with this his whole life, he has come to a level of peace and understanding with it. All of us struggle with some sort of addiction ranging from shopping to alcohol to anger, etc. Most of the time those addictions never go away. I felt hope that any of us, no matter how we want to improve our lives can, if we turn our lives over to the Lord and trust in Him and His plan for us. By facing these trials and not giving into them strengthens us and brings us closer to Him. Yes, noroses, getting married will not work for everyone facing SSA but really coming unto the Lord and having faith in him will! And that is what I thought this article was about!

jew said...

10:23 AM
on May 24, 2012

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I would just like to say that the article does not put a positive light on SSA however it puts a positive light on the help thLord and his Gospel gives in overcoming this issue. It is in reality an article to help people overcome many trials in their life be it SSA, Adictions or Sexual issues like SSA or porno, It shows that by putting your faith in the Lord and by living the gospel you can over come with faith and prayer. Does that mean it will be easy not a chance. It means you may be pushed nearly over the breaking point but you will not go over. With the help of the Lord you will overcome any trial. This couple put thmeselves out there to help others with their story. To put them down or blame them or others in the same/like situation or those dealing with SSA in the wrong for your own actions you need to look at this and see where the fault really is and may be need to repent. I have lived many hard trials in my life some could have landed me in prison. I even faced a Church discipline court. It took a lot of years to return for me to repent for me to grow to and undertand the gospel better a process still ongping and will be for life. When people dealing with the hard issues reach out to help others they should be commended. There can not be a commendation for doing in appropriate or sinful sexual acts and this is not what is being said. The positive the growth in dpirit the growth in prayer the ability to turn your life over to the Lord and follow all he guides us to do that is what this couple has done and much more and that is what is to be commended. SSA is not commendable but reaching out to the Lord to help yourself overcome and control is. Just some thoughts from a person who has learned through the school of hard knocks giving 2 cents worth of advise. I hope and pray this couple will continue in the pathway of the Gospel and the Lord and that they will do all they can to win this trial.

esaseeker said...

03:39 PM
on May 24, 2012

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I was really impressed with this article. 10 years into my own marriage there are definitely challenges with sexuality that can result from personal as well as cultural components. Even though our marriage doesn’t share the added challenge of SSA, we still seek to know how to achieve a full, fulfilling, and celestial marriage on all levels including our sexual relationship. Fulfilling sexual relationships just don’t come naturally for everyone and it can create doubts and despair. I am so encouraged by Ty and Danielle’s choice of fidelity to each other and faithfulness to the Lord’s commandments. Keeping a bright testimony of Christ, his doctrine, and living his gospel is key when we face challenges that can become trials of faith. We all must face these trials at some point. What would you do if your challenge was Ty’s? I can’t think of any more faithful and Christ-centered choice than the one Ty (and Danielle for that matter) has made. Marriage is not easy on any level, nor it intended to be that way, but it is necessary for our ultimate progress and joy. Ty and Danielle seem to have the keys in hand to help them achieve it. They have made covenants with the Lord and each other. This provides power and protection and the only sanction from God we have to use the powers of procreation and become righteous parents in the kingdom of God. There is no other way. I commend Ty and Danielle for choosing it. I truly wish them great success as they face trials ahead and a life with SSA. I’m a firm believer however that what we are doing in this life has more to do with the next. His promises are sure. Ty and Danielle seem to have a sense of that as well. Incidentally, I have never heard the dialog surrounding homosexuality refer to “SSA” as pathology like this. It made it easier for me to reconcile living with SSA and staying faithful in the Church. Has there been a lot of backlash however from readers and others who feel offended that it’s relegated to pathology rather than a natural, genetic, or personality trait? I’m glad you published this article. Considering the sins of our day, we must all become more articulate on this subject and be prepared to defend the sanctity of marriage and to share the love our Father has for all of his children.

brettogden said...

04:19 PM
on May 24, 2012

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Ty and Danielle's story deserves to be told. The proper counterpoint, however, would be to do a story on those church members who were not able to make their mixed orientation marriages work despite their best faithful efforts. Considering that church policy directs against using marriage as a cure for homosexuality, it would be equally appropriate to show the risks associated with this type of marriage.

bald_one said...

04:36 AM
on May 25, 2012

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kireos said "I just wished the article didn't make me feel like such a horrible person for believing and standing for the views and standards the church has on this issue." I just wanted to say that you are right for opposing homosexuality and standing with the church on this view. You shouldn't feel like a horrible person for opposing it unless you have judged someone harshly who suffers from it. We can condemn the sin without condemning the sinner. We should always try to love the sinner, even those that are openly homosexual, although I admit it always isn't an easy thing to do, especially when they promote their views as acceptable. I also want to point out that (in my view) their is a difference between SSA and homosexuality. SSA is not a sin until it is acted upon with homosexual acts or thoughts. One other thing, try not to judge the bishop. You likely don't have all the facts of what actually happened. You probably only have pieces of the truth, mixed with rumors. Try to understand and believe that the bishop was acting under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost and trying to do what was best for the young man who was homosexual.

redling said...

09:53 AM
on May 25, 2012

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I have to say I have read this article and find it insprational. I am also someone who struggled with this to a degree. I haven't told anyone outside of my wife and bishop because we felt that family members may be judgemental toward me and hold hard feelings. My wife just like Danielle has been another rock and just like Ty and Danielle, my wife and I are on a team with the Lord and know that he supports and blesses our marriage and family. Thanks to LDS living for publishing thsi story and to the Mansfield family for their courage in addressing this issue openly.

neal said...

03:25 PM
on May 26, 2012

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Thank you for posting this article. As someone who experiences SSA, I'm always glad to see this subject presented positively. There is a great need for more open dialogue in the Church and in LDS-oriented media about this subject. The misperceptions and stigma surrounding it are many and often disturbing. When I 'came out' to my Stake President, he offered me some great insights, which I would like to share here. First of all, he told me that SSA did not make me unworthy in any way. Having attractions to one gender or another is not a sin, and it is not a choice. Where sin comes into the picture is when we act on those attractions inappropriately (this is no different than for a heterosexual person). Second, he told me that there was nothing in the Church I could not participate in, as long as I kept my covenants and the commandments. This includes Temple worship and being called to any position in the Church. SSA does not make one a 'second-class Mormon'. In fact, I have since come to know many SSA folks who have served as Bishops, in Stake Presidencies, the High Council, etc. Again, there is no limitation to where a faithful person may serve, regardless of their attractions. The 'faithful'(worthy) part is what counts. Last, he told me that if I did not get married in this life, all those opportunities and blessings would be extended to me in the next life, according to my faithfulness here on earth. What this means is that members should not feel an urgency to pressure SSA folks to date or get married. Some do, like Ty and Danielle. Others (like me) may not. The Lord will sort out all of those details in the end. The bottom line is that we are really just like everyone else, only one of our challenges may be a little different. I do not 'struggle' with SSA, I struggle with OSA (Opposite-Sex Attraction). SSA seems as natural to me as your OSA does to you. No one has a handle yet on the 'why'; and I guess in the end that's much less important than what you do with the cards you've been dealt. Its estimated that each Ward in the Church has 5-10 SSA folks in the congregation. Those of us who are active could be sitting right beside you on the pew on Sunday and you would never know it. Over 50% of us are married and have children. Unfortunately, most of us cannot yet openly discuss this issue in our congregations. So that's why its so encouraging to see articles like this one. I pray for the day when we can talk about these things in the Church without stigma or fear. We need your love, prayers, understanding and support.

hala said...

12:29 AM
on Jun 01, 2012

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While I do not suffer from SSA, I am very conflicted over the discussion of it. On one hand, I don't know of a single person who has the problem who says it was just a decision. It is who they are. I think there are degrees of SSA and that some are fortunate enough to resist, while others can not, and suffer the wrath of the church over that. On the other hand, I know this is the church of Jesus Christ. I'm not very mild or submissive and sometimes I want to argue and shout at the General Authority, yet know that I must not and while I am likely in the last decade of my life, resisting the impulse often makes me feel like a disobedient child. Someday we will know the facts about SSA and I hope that the faithful can face it.

gloriousme said...

03:51 PM
on Jun 25, 2012

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I appreciated this article tremendously. Not so much because it was about SSA, as that it was about two people with awesome faith. They are an example to me in how they trust God and his plan. I wish them all the best.
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