Monday, December 17, 2012


There are times when people tease me about what I'm choosing to do for a living.  I even tease myself!  The more I study and dedicate myself to my craft, the more I realize there is no such thing as sanity, that many issues seen as black and white are hardly so, and that listening is a lost art.  That's right, simply hearing what someone has to say is somewhat gone with the times!

Have you looked at how we communicate with each other?  A large chunk of it is cyber communication in the form of emails, messages, texting, Facebook, and I'm sure there are plenty of others that I'm leaving out.  These forms of communication all leave out a critical detail: subtext.  We as humans communicate the majority of what we have to say through HOW we say something, not what we have to say.

So as we read an email, or a text message, we're missing a huge chunk of what is actually being said.  A simple one-word phrase like, "Right," could be interpreted many different ways!  If you're like me, it sounds like, "riiiiiight," but it could also be affirming, positive, negative, neutral, sarcastic, or a multitude of other things!

And if you're also like me, sometimes it's easier to communicate via cyber communication.  There are times when I've crossed my fingers that someone would not answer their phone so that I could just leave a message.  Or times when I would rather carry out a conversation over text than in person.  How sad for myself to choose to miss out on the beautiful intricacies of verbal communication for something trite.

Glancing over Internet message boards, Facebook posts, and listening to what people come into therapy for, there is a general theme amongst them.  All they want is to be heard.  At least that's what I'm getting from everything.  Sure there are those "trolls" who just go around trying to stir up trouble, and there are individuals who will stop at nothing but try and convince others of their stupid way of dealing with issues.  But for the most part, all I see is a genuine desire to be heard.

In the voice of Scrooge, "Well poppycock, surely people can still hear.  Their ears are still attached, words are still inscribed, other men are still responding!"

Yes this is all very true.  But when was the last time you really heard someone.  This isn't something passive like listening to music (although when I listen to music it's anything but passive).  Listening is so much more active!  Why do you think there's a business surrounding active listening.  It's called therapy :)

Would you like to know what one of the biggest secrets of therapy is?  I think one of the biggest secrets is that all therapeutic approaches (humanistic, cognitive behavioral, psychodynamic, rogerian, feminist multicultural, adlerian, existential, gestalt) are all the same!  Well, let me rephrase that a little...  When studies are done comparing the effectiveness of one therapy against another, little difference is found.  All therapeutic approaches have the same effectiveness.

Right now I have a mental image of a lightbulb over your head exploding into a million pieces.

Studies have shown that all of these different kind of therapies have a lot in common.  While they approach what treatment looks like, how change occurs, how one becomes ill and what specific techniques to use as treatment differently, there are many similarities.  I think one of the biggest amongst them is empathic listening.

Something that we frequently bring up in class is the phrase, "When all else fails, just listen."  Like I mentioned previously, this is active listening.  This is paying close attention to body language, vocal inflections, connotation, themes, emotions, and many other things.  From all of that information, our job as therapists is just to pick out what's relevant.  While this may be challenging at first given the torrent of information we are presented with at times, soon it becomes easier.

As I really engage with my clients, and begin pulling out what they're really trying to communicate, something magical happens!  The whole mood in the room changes.  Even with someone who is feeling very depressed (I know from my own experience being a client in therapy), the energy in the room picks up, even if it's just slightly.  The emphatic nodding of a client who feels understood, the huge flood of tears that opens up when you pick out what they're really saying, or the way their body just looks lighter when they leave your office.  It's all just beautiful.

Now I'm not saying that I am always an active listener.  That is definitely NOT the case.  Being an active listener is a skill that must be put to use and trained before it becomes habit.  I think our natural state is to multitask and to pay as little attention as is required, but still get enough to get the job done.

It's no wonder people get frustrated with other people.  When communicating, there isn't enough time taken to really process the information.  Only key phrases or words are picked out.  And especially with cyber communication, our hunches as to what those key words or phrases are can be way off.

Want to show people how good of a listener you are?  Seriously, you should try this!  You'll notice a huge difference.  Just summarize!  Sounds easy right?  Probably not as easy as you might first believe.

When actively listening, you gotta turn off that little voice inside your head that's thinking of what to say next, or pointing out flaws in their argument.  You have to LISTEN.  It seems like you have to think of what to say next in order to keep the conversation flowing, but that's really not the case.  After you hear what they have to say, summarize what they said.  Or maybe even not what they said, but what they were trying to communicate.  Once after listening to a client speak of her frustrations with friends of hers, all I said was, "It sounds like people just aren't getting it," to which she instantly began to cry.  So I didn't even summarize exactly what she said, I pulled out what she was actually trying to communicate.

Wow, a whole blog post about communication.  Now that's an interesting concept!

So the next time you read something, or hear something, and your brain starts going a mile a minute ready to take on their challenge, just stop for a moment.  Before you blast them, or tell them that you completely understand, make sure you actually know what they're trying to talk about.  I think you'll be surprised by how your conversations will change for the better.

And for those of you who like to pretend that everyone can read your mind, they can't!  In order for communication to be effective, you actually have to TELL people what's going on inside that delightful brain of yours!  I know I can be especially guilty of this.  People have enough going on inside their own heads to really concern themselves about what's going on in yours, unless you tell them what's going on.

Open up.  Listen.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Be Still

This morning I made an interesting discovery while I was in the shower.  No, it wasn't about that.....or that!  Are you gonna let me finish?  All right then. 

Sometimes I assume that since I am in the mental health profession, I know all there is to know about the process of recovery, and what works and what doesn't.  In all honesty, I do know a lot!  But at the same time, this can sometimes hinder my own progress when confronted with challenges.  Especially those of a more personal nature.

A few days ago, I was talking with a teacher of mine.  She had asked me how I was doing.  I know, and I know you do too, that there are times when people actually want to hear how you are, and when it's just said out of politeness.  I knew she was genuinely concerned.  Thank you for coming across my path that day.

I began to cry when she asked me that.  While I do feel that I am a fairly open, and honest person, there are certain things that are easier for me to open about.  For example, I can talk to you about depression until Titanic looks like the happy fairytale of the year.  But ask me to talk about grief, or anger?  Oh man, those are emotions that are locked up pretty tight in my dungeon.  I don't like it when those come out.

But grief is what surfaced when my professor asked me what was going on.  And the floodgates opened!  What was I grieving about?  Well, that's a bit of a longer story, but at that time, it was about Michael.

Many of you know that I was previously engaged.  Many of you may have also read that letter I wrote to myself.  That letter was incredibly therapeutic for me.  But I've now come to realize that wasn't the extent of my grieving.  Well, obviously not, but lemme finish.

Talking with my professor, we discovered two things that I hadn't ever really thought about before.  I told her how I longed for that intimate connection that I no longer have.  That connection with someone who knows you inside and out, with all of your flaws and loves you anyway.  But not only is there an intense emotional connection, there's the beautiful physical intimacy which just seems to grow as time, and emotions, run deeper.

She said, "Well Steven, for better or for worse, you now know what that feels like.  And now you crave it!  It's easy to understand why you would feel the way you do, now that you've tasted something so sweet and desirable.  Most people don't get a taste of that until they're older than you are.  So now I think the hardest part for you will be to wait.  On the other hand, the beautiful thing about it is now that you've tasted it, you'll know when you've found it again."!  Can I just say how wonderfully insightful my teachers are?  Thank goodness for some outside opinion and perspective.

As we continued talking, I realized something else.  This goes back to what I mentioned before, about knowing how to help myself, because I know how to help others.  I know what things to say to myself.  I know the mental processes.  I know the questions.  I know the introspection and the processing.  But what I hadn't connected before was how I was feeling.

I can, and have been processing day after day.  But my body doesn't want to process.  I feel stuck and immovable.  On a daily basis, it feels like I'm walking through thick mud.  Not only is it frustrating, but it's absolutely soul-suckingly exhausting!

My body is telling me that it's not ready to process, because I haven't given myself time to grieve.  There's a general heavy feeling in my chest, a tightness in my shoulders, and the pressure behind your eyes like you feel when you're going to cry.  Then there's that mental fatigue and having no drive or willpower to do anything beyond the bare minimum.  Thank goodness the semester is now over, because it was hard to push through!

This morning, before I hopped in the shower, I was feeling depressed.  At the time, I wasn't quite sure the reasoning behind it.  There are some days when I feel chemically depressed (I don't have anything going on to make me feel down, I just feel down), and then there are days when something has happened, or I am thinking over something that keeps dragging me down.  Today I thought I was chemically depressed.

And of course, my wonderfully insightful roommate had to ask, "Are you sure you don't know what's going on for you?"  Blast...foiled again!  I was thinking about my lost engagement.  I was thinking of how lonely I felt.  I was also thinking about turning into my psycho passive aggressive self to poke and prod for attention!  But I wasn't going to let that one happen.

So I created a space for myself.  I said, "Okay body, we need to have a little talk, because apparently you and my brain aren't getting along.  So can you wait until I finish my errands before duking it out?  Thank you."

And after finishing up everything, I hopped in the shower.  

I started things off by just allowing my body to do some talking.  Oh I know, I'm turning all "hippie" on you.  Mindfulness of my body has been something I've discovered lately to be very helpful.  So anyway, I asked it what it was feeling.  That pressure behind the eyes, and the fatigue began to emerge.  The more I allowed my brain to just be still, the more I found how much my body was hurting.  I was in pain!  There was so much going on that I hadn't even stopped to look at before!  Or maybe, more accurately, that I hadn't given myself permission to look at.

Then the therapy session started.  If my roommates are reading this, I apologize for any talking and/or yelling that you may have heard coming from my room.  It was all for the greater good of myself!

I let myself cry.  I did not try and hold it in, or distract myself.  I just let it come out.  Yes, it did definitely make a difference looking back, but holy hannah it hurt while I was doing it!  I started openly saying what was bothering me and why I was hurting.  I talked about that longing for true intimacy, the pressure I feel to just get over it, and the general feeling of being alone.

Then a really important question popped into my head.  I started, "There are two sorts of extremes going on inside myself.  When something good happens, I attribute it to luck, or circumstance, even if I was somehow involved.  When something bad happens, it's because I lack a certain attribute, or skill, or simply because I'm not good enough..."

"I also have this strange behavior of being kind, forgiving, loving, and respectful to others while at the same time I am rather critical of myself."

"No Steven, you are mean."

"Oh I'm not mean, I'm just trying to improve myself."

"No Steven, you are beyond trying to motivate yourself.  You have been cruel, mean, and hurtful to yourself, and I don't like this anymore."

"Others are feeling that deep love that you have.  You have the capacity for an incredible amount of empathy and understanding.  You aren't giving it to yourself."

"Steven, I deserve to feel love.  I deserve to have what other people around you are having.  I NEED to feel that you care for and appreciate me!  Please, just let me have this.  PLEASE!  Please...please..."

And this is where I just couldn't take it anymore.  The heartache I was feeling was tearing me apart.  I can imagine that from an outside perspective, this may have looked and sounded just a tad weird.

But I needed to hear that.  I needed to hear myself say that I deserve to feel that kind of love, kindness, understanding, and compassion that I so freely give to others.  I am tired of telling myself that the reason I lost Michael is because of some character flaw--that I wasn't enough in one way or another.  I had done absolutely nothing wrong and had given my whole heart!  There is nothing to be ashamed of or embarrassed about.  Everything I am was put on the line and I had the most wonderful relationship I've ever had.  Just think about what else I can do if I throw myself into something.

I am not flawed.  Sure, I have my faults, and my strengths and weaknesses, but that does not mean that I am inherently broken.  One of the worst thoughts that creep into my mind is, "It's because you're broken..."  

Man that thought is so powerful and damaging!  And when I think about it, it's totally unrealistic too!  But when I'm already feeling down, it's hard to fight something with that much strength.

I want to give myself a break.  It's time to put away the process comments, and the other actions that take away from what I'm feeling.  

I don't need to do anything, except take care of myself.

I am worth it.

Monday, October 29, 2012

I'm Angry

I've been thinking that I need to write this blog post for some time now. It's really difficult for me to talk about, but I think it'll be healthier if I can at least try and get something out on paper.

I'm taking a family and couples counseling course this semester. While I am thoroughly enjoying the content of the course, there are parts that have been very difficult. As someone working in the mental health profession, I take a critical eye to most, if not every, aspect of my life. This is not just because I think too much, it's also a huge part of my profession.

Because of this, I have been taking a look at my family dynamics and social systems. It's really interesting when you start paying attention to the rules of a house that are never stated, but are understood. After talking with my brother last night, we knew that if there was a big problem, we talk to dad. If there was a small problem, we talk to mom. There are many other things that lie just below the surface of any family and I've learned so much and am so grateful for the family I do have.

A few weeks ago, I was at dinner at my parent's house. I go there for dinner every Sunday. I was speaking with my mother about someone who had recently been angry with me. At one point in the conversation, she said "We don't get angry". Interesting. I wouldn't have paid it much notice, had I not been studying family dynamics in my class. Then a week later, while speaking with my grandmother, she said "We think before we speak and don't get angry like that". Two in a row!

This is not meant as a post to blame or criticize or anything like that. This is just an exploratory piece. Even talking it over with my grandmother, she said not being angry was something she got from her parents as well. Unwritten rules get passed down!

I brought up this realization in my class. And I started to cry. It was very difficult for me to bring something like that to the surface.

I do not like feeling angry, and I do not like being with people who are angry. When someone is angry with me, I tend to shut down. I honestly just do not know how to process anger. I have a terrible fear that if I get angry, I won't be able to control it, and it'll lead to some sort of disaster.

Just a month or two ago, I was feeling really odd. I couldn't quite put my finger on it. I knew I didn't like the feeling but couldn't piece it together. The more I thought about it, the more I began pinpointing the issue. I was angry. I was angry at my ex. There were some unresolved issues that I had and I needed closure. But I had no idea how to deal with the anger! I broke down and started crying, shaking quite a bit too. Needless to say, I did work through things with my ex, and it felt like a huge weight lifted off my shoulder. Now, back to anger.

Even now, just staring at the computer screen, I am having an incredibly difficult time accessing my anger. I know it's there. There are things I get angry about! But as my therapist pointed out to me this week, when I get angry, instead of expressing it outwardly, I flip it around and aim it at myself.

If someone is insulting to me, instead of getting mad and defending myself, I take it in. When one of my previous boyfriends would emotionally attack me for something I didn't do, I felt angry, but it immediately turned into self-blame and sadness. When I approach someone in an effort to strike up a conversation, and they completely ignore me, I base it on my lack of certain qualities, instead of on their jerky behavior. If I have a failure, I take it in. If I get frustrated with someone, I punish myself over and over again and get sad. Even if I strongly voice my opinion, I get down on myself. Being sad is easy to access for me. Being mad is not.

Gah! I still can't get in myself and bring this out! At this point I honestly don't know what to do with myself.

I do believe it is possible for people to express anger in a very healthy way. I have not learned that skill. I also believe that being angry isn't inherently "bad" or "good", I think how I express it can be good or bad. But again, gotta learn that skill first.

I guess right now there are just a few things for certain. I get angry. That is for sure! There's just a bit of a disconnect between the feeling, and the communicating of it. I'm going to continue to focus on the reasons why I get angry. I've noticed a few things, but I'm looking for a commonality between all of them. I think if I can find the commonality, I may be able to find a healthy way of expressing my anger.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

A Letter to Myself

I haven't exactly decided how I'm going to do this, and I'm not even sure how long this is going to take. It's been a while in the making, but I've honestly been avoiding writing this. I suppose now is as good a time as any. I've decided to make this blog post in the form of me writing a letter to myself, almost as a third party observer. Here goes:

 My Dearest Steven,

I am so sorry to hear what's happened to you. I'm sure no words of mine can express the amount of pain and sorrow that you feel at this moment. I'm sure there have been many that have offered their sincerest condolences. And while this provides you with a sort of stability, I know you have to suffer through this alone. But I wanted to write to you and let you know how much I care for you.

Looking at you from the outside, everything seemed so perfect. For you, everything was falling into place. Your family has been so perfectly wonderful with you. Your friends have been fantastically supportive. You are more than excelling in your grad school program. I'm sure for many, this is what it probably looked like.

I don't know the exact reason why things ended between you and your fiancé. I'm sure you've struggled with those questions yourself. The important thing to remember is that all is not lost, all is not over, and there is so much to be learned from your experiences!

Let me tell you about the growth I've seen in you: you've become more patient, less sarcastic, more loving, more open, a better communicator, a better son and brother, a better friend, you appreciate the little things more, you've found more of a control over your own destiny, you're happier, you're healthier, and just overall, you're a better person.

I'm pretty sure I just saw you roll your eyes at me through the letter. Those things I said are true! I's hard to believe that kind of stuff when you're just sitting there reading this, and especially when you're feeling so self-conscious you can hardly stand to look at yourself. Remember, these things do pass.

You yourself know from countless hours of studying that emotions are never permanent. Sure, sometimes they last longer than other times. And yes, I would dare say you've had your fair share of painful emotions. But those experiences too, have long since disappeared and now you can view them and take all the good, and leave behind all the bad.

Give yourself a break, Steven. Please do! You and your ex are two completely different people. Don't look at him and just see what's on the outside. You know that people put on brave faces, as I know you've been trying to do for this past little while. If I were to look at you now, to read your Facebook posts, to give you a call or shoot you a text, I'd say you're doing pretty fantastically well! I remember your first break up, and let's just say that I'm glad I don't have to wait days for that couch to dry again (ya know...all the tears).

Also, it's time to stop viewing yourself as the lower of two people in a relationship. I know you. When you come across someone you have a crush on, you automatically think to yourself "I'm so lucky that he likes me..." or something of that nature. Knock it off! You are beautiful and amazing just the way you are. Sometimes I want to grab your shoulders and give you shaken-steven-syndrome so that I can knock some sense into you!

Do you know what you have to offer? Let me try to give you an idea: you own your own home, you own a car, you are in grad school (at 24 years old), you have a 4.0 in grad school, you have many friends, you love the symphony, you appreciate the arts, you can see the beauty in others that many miss, you push to improve yourself, you seek good and uplifting things and people, you refrain from viewing vulgar or trashy things on television, you're funny, you have a great smile, you are SO cute, you have an incredible ability to listen, you feel things deeper than most, you have a great job, you love to read, you are musically gifted, you have a great sense of style, you make people feel welcome in your home, you know how to cheer people up, you can empathize with others, you are sincere, you are spiritual, and most importantly of all, I like you just the way you are.

I could continue, but I'd rather not give you a big head (plus I know your readers might get bored). So give it up Steven. You never have been, nor are lesser than anyone out there. You are incredible! So BE incredible! Don't hide what you have. Be confident in yourself, and in your wonderful qualities.

Ya you're single, but so what? Being single does not make you any less of a person. Knowing you, you'll get to the point where you don't even care about finding a relationship, and I have a feeling that that's when you'll find the man of your dreams. Yes, your ideal man is probably pretty hard to find. But hey, you're worth the wait.

Love Always,


Sunday, April 1, 2012

Get it Out!

I'm not really planning on posting this anywhere, and I'm not really sure who's going to read it. All I know is that I'm having a really hard time right now and I know that sometimes typing helps me work through things in my head.

As it seems right now, I don't have anyone to talk to. Granted, I am in that state of being where I have put up a barrier to keep people away from me. This barrier is some weird ritual I seem to do. Anytime someone gets too close, up come the walls.

A lot of people have asked me about that idea. They wonder if I have such a hard time letting people in, why am I sometimes so incredibly vocal on the internet? Well, I know it can seem like a paradox. I have to admit that I enjoy stirring the pot, poking fun at tradition, or just reading the sound of my own voice after I type stuff (like I'm doing right now). But honestly, it's much easier for me to open up to strangers than it is to open up to those close to me.

Just follow me for a second: what's the worst a stranger could do if I opened up to them? Probably raise their eyebrows and tell me I'm crazy (which my friends do anyway so it's not like a shock to my system) and walk away. I can handle that! What I can't handle, and what's happened to me many times in the past, is when I open up to someone I'm close to, and the next thing I know, they are condemning me and walking away. It hurts. It really does.

So here I am, stuck with all these thoughts that I'm trying to sort through and I don't have someone to talk it through with. In my mind, the people I usually talk to have heard it all before, and now they don't care. But, I'll try and get these thoughts out here.

I have never had the awful misfortune of losing an entire support group. Sure I've lost friends and acquaintances, but losing an entire system of love and comfort would be terrible. Well, I should be honest and say that I hadn't lost one until recently.

I identify a lot of my cultural upbringing as being a Mormon. What I thought was a very good one too. And now, I don't have that. I have "chosen" to be gay and live a different lifestyle (like anyone would choose to have all this crap happen to them...), and as such, I am no longer welcome in my religion.

It's an incredibly bizarre feeling. Sure I have my own beliefs, but no one who shares them. I no longer have Mormon doctrine being drilled into my head every week. I don't have people who come visit me once a month, or who care if I come to FHE. There is no bishop who asks me how I'm doing, with a genuine interest in my well-being. Not only have I lost people to support me, I have lost my theological background.

I was overcome the other day with a terrifying feeling of death. Not exactly the process of dying, but what happens after. While I was still practicing, I had an idea of what's going to happen after I die. And I do still now as well. But at the same time, nobody *actually* knows. No one. People have ideas, but there is no absolute knowledge of exactly what is going to happen. That thought was incredibly intrusive, and I feel like I have moved on from that moment of terror, but it might come back and send me for a loop again.

Not only that, but I have come to the realization that I am alone. I am completely alone. There is no one out there who completely understands me, who can pick me up, and who can help me. That is one of the toughest things I have faced.

And I am so incredibly tired. This is not the tired where I want to take a nap. This is a tired that feels like my soul is aching. It's as if I have carried around a terrible weight all these years and I've collapsed and can't get up. I hurt so much at times, that I can barely stand it. I don't want to push to be happy, I don't want to fight this depression, I don't want to overcome the downright awful things say to me and about me, and I don't want to get back up again. I'm tired! And there is seemingly no rest for me...

So I've been facing quite a few existential issues lately. I seem to have lost a lot of purpose in my life. I've lost my support group, and I seem to be losing my identity as well. I don't know what to do, honestly.

Yes I've thought about going back to therapy (there's a conflict with me being a patient in the same place I will be practicing therapy next year), and I have been reaching out to others. Which brings up another painful realization for me. People don't call me. I call them. If I want to do something, I invite lots of people. I can't even recall the last time someone called or texted to ask if I wanted to go out somewhere and do something. Am I really that terrible of a person that people can't stand to be around me? What did I do? My boyfriend gets calls pretty much every day to go do something. I sit at home alone.

I guess the overall message I'm trying to get across (and here come those blasted tears), I want to feel valued. I want to feel loved. I want to feel support. Most importantly, I want to feel happy. I don't think people understand how hard I fight to be happy. I want it SO badly that I can just feel myself screaming on the inside. But it just seems to be forever out of my reach.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Just a Thought

It's about gay marriage and equality. Yes, it's become a rather heated topic as of late but I'm going to take a stab at it too. It's time to put an end to all the silly debates. So I want to bring out the actual facts of the debate here. Let's begin.

It seems to be the only argument people can come up with against gay marriage is that it is offensive to their religious institution in some form or another. The funny thing is, a lot of religious people are arguing against others who are not so religious. And even people who are religious are arguing against other religions! It gets to the point of being a little bit ridiculous. It's like a physicist and a chemist trying to argue about the speed of light. Neither of them speak a similar language, and even though they are arguing about the same topic, all they would be doing is speaking *past* each other because they have no common ground. Differing religions might have some common grounds but using the principles of one religion isn't going to convince someone of another religion to start acting differently.

Let me give you an example: the Jewish people do not eat pork. Why is that? Because it specifically says in the Bible (more or less) that eating pork is disgusting and should not happen. But for the most part, I bet my readers eat pork. Why is that? Probably because we are not Jewish, and do not believe in that assessment. If a Jewish person came up to you and started arguing about how sinful you were because you consumed pork, you would throw out their argument as ludicrous because, you don't believe what they believe!

So why is it that members of the LDS church, who overwhelmingly supported and propagated the passing of Proposition 8 in California, can try to impose their views on others? The majority of the population in California is *not* LDS. So they can obviously try and make law their views and throw them onto other people right? Well maybe in this context, but if a Californian tried to outlaw a Mormon belief (let's pretend reading the Book of Mormon), the LDS church would be up in arms about their religious freedoms being trampled on! They would not stand for it!

I borrowed this from a friend's status on facebook: "Money quote from Rev. Barry Lynn, head of Americans United for Separation of Church and State:
' ... Opponents of same-sex marriage have been unable to muster any arguments other than it offends their theology. We have a secular government, and dogma should not and cannot be transformed into law.'

But, I'm getting ahead of myself. Let's return to the religious reasons why gay marriage and equality is wrong.

It is going to cause beastiality--really? This is quite possibly the dumbest argument against gay marriage that has ever existed. I hate to break it to you, but marriage is between consenting *adults*. It is not between one consenting adult and one animal ok? There is no basis for a logical argument here.

It will ruin the sanctity of marriage--also really? I'm pretty sure that heterosexuals have already done a pretty bang up job at ruining the sanctity of marriage. Did you know that about 50% of children born were born by accident? So half the population running around are born because mommy and daddy (or a whole slew of variations between the two genders) made a mistake. But besides that, we already have the wonderful political figures of today shouting, "My affair makes me more American!" Or we have the lovely Kardashian woman gaining millions upon millions of dollars from her marriage and subsequent divorce days later. And let's not forget Britney Spears' just for fun few minute marriage with a divorce.

It's in the Bible and for Mormons the Book of Mormon--not true. From the book, "Thou Shalt Question" by M.J. Prometheus it says:
"Sometimes people cite 2 Nephi 13:9 which states 'their sin to be even as Sodom,' as a reference to homosexuality. It is a common misconception within the church and some other Christian faiths that the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah was homosexuality, but this is unsupported by both scripture and prophets. The sins of Sodom are listed in the Old Testament itself and include pride and ignoring the poor (Ezekial 16:49-50 and Zephaniah 2:9-10), idolatry (Deuteronomy 32:32-38), adultery and lying (Jeremiah 23:14), but not once is homosexuality listed. In General Conference Apostle Parley P. Pratt said the sin of Sodom was fornication (April 10, 1853, JD Vol. 1). President John Taylor said the same (October 19, 1884, JD Vol. 25). Apostle Orson Pratt said the sin of Sodom was rejecting the prophets (January 2, 1859, JD Vol. 7). Apostle Heber C. Kimball said the same (July 12, 1857, JD Vol. 5). Apostle Wilford Woodruff said the same (January 1, 1871, JD Vol 14 and June 12, 1881, JD Vol. 22). Joseph Smith himself said, 'The judgments of God have rested upon people, cities and nations, in various ages of the world, which was the case with the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, that were destroyed for rejecting the Prophets." (January 22, 1843, HC Vol. 5, p. 257.) Much of the confusion among Latter-day saints might be due to footnote b in 2 Nephi 13:9, which points the reader to 'Homosexuality' in the Topical Guide. We would do well to remember that the footnotes and chapter headings in the LDS editions of the scriptures are not considered church doctrine; they were composed largely by Apostle Bruce R. McConkie as a useful study guide and nothing more. McConkie and a few others did believe the sin of Sodom was homosexuality, but as suggested by an abundance of Bible verses (which are doctrinal) and quotes from modern prophets including Joseph Smith (which are also doctrinal), McConkie was wrong."

Porn and masturbation make you gay--uh...yes, and that is why every male on the planet is gay. Give me a break! If porn and masturbation made a person gay, the majority of the world's population would be a flaming homosexual. Let's use some logic here people!

The prophets are inspired by God and are not subjected to their own prejudicial thoughts--let me show you how that's not true. From Apostle Mark E. Peterson, "Race Problems - As They Affect The Church," Convention of Teachers of Religion on the College Level, BYU, August 27, 1954.
"The reason that one would lose his blessings by marrying a Negro is due to the restriction placed upon them. 'No person having the least particle of Negro blood can hold the Priesthood' (Brigham Young).
"The discussion on civil rights, especially over the last 20 years, has drawn some very sharp lines. It has blinded the thinking of some of our own people, I believe. They have allowed their politician affiliations to color their thinking to some extent, and then, of course, they have been persuaded by some of the arguments that have been put forth. We who teach in the Church certainly must have our feet on the ground and not to be led astray by the philosophies of men on this subject.
"We must not allow our feelings to carry us away, nor must we feel so sorry for Negroes that we will open our arms and embrace them with everything we have. Remember the little statement that we used to say about sin, 'First we pity, then endure, then embrace'...
"If that negro is willing when he hears of the gospel to accept it, he may have many of the blessings of the gospel. In spite of all he did in the pre-existent life, the Lord is willing, if the negro accepts that gospel with real, sincere faith, and is really converted, to give him the blessings of baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost. If that Negro is faithful all his days, he can and will enter the celestial kingdom. He will go there as a servant, but he will get celestial glory."
Um...ouch! These quotes sound a tiny bit familiar with all the rants about LDS members having their feet planted and not being moved. But hey, the prophets can't be controlled by their own prejudicial thoughts, that's why African Americans still don't have the priesthood right?
And don't even get me started on how church leaders have changed their minds about polygamy (Joseph Smith had *many* wives and even took them from other married men), how women should be treated (In the Bible women are property and can be bought, sold, traded, etc), and when we should eat meat (In D&C 89 it actually says we should only eat meat in winter and times of famine, but who's listening right?).

They should call it a "Civil Union" and not marriage--Have you been through the temple? Did you know that the word "marriage" is not actually used once in the marriage ceremony? People are *sealed* to each other, not just married. So why get in such a huff about protecting that word? And besides, to me, giving homosexuals and heterosexuals different words is awfully similar to how we used to treat African Americans. We had a "separate but equal" idea where African Americans could go to the same places as whites and do the same things, just as long as they weren't in the same room, or touching, or even looking at each other. So really, no one is equal.

Well gay people are just misguided and off the path of Christ--You are not and cannot tell me where I am going to end up in the eternities. You do not have a say in the final judgement. To my knowledge, that is up to Jesus Christ and God the Father.

I think it's interesting, some LDS people think they can pass such swift judgments under the guise of "love" and "concern", but what they're actually doing is judging someone without knowing all the facts. They say, "It's because I love you that I have to tell you this really hard thing..." and then proceed to spew forth why you are so evil, terrible, and will never be happy.

I would never go around telling people how wrong and misguided they are. That is far too hurtful and offensive. I'd rather leave judgments like that up to my Father in Heaven and Christ who both know me perfectly and know the desires of my heart.

Again, borrowing from "Thou Shalt Question":
"...At ever moment in LDS history when a doctrine threatened the church, it was changed. It took far more time than it should have--the general population often figured out what was ethical long before the prophets did--but it always happened without exception, and it happened despite prior promises from presidents of the church that it would never happen. What makes the doctrine of homosexuality any different?
"Some might say, 'But homosexuality is a violation of the very plan of salvation!' I seriously doubt that. Polygamy was also considered absolutely indispensable to the plan of salvation and a critical component of our lives *here on earth*, yet we don't practice that one anymore--at least, not until we get to the celestial kingdom. It may be that the doctrines of God are unchanging, but as we have already seen, the doctrines of men change all the time.
"'But homosexuality is unnatural!'" There is no evidence to support that, but even if it is, so what? Birth control is also unnatural, as is modern medicine, clothing, cars, and the internet. Do you use any of those things? What does the unnaturalness of something have to do with it being right or wrong?
"'But homosexuality is a choice!'" Nonsense. If that were true, then our heterosexuality would also be a choice. Does your sexual orientation feel like a choice? Would you purposely choose an orientation that people hated, run the risk of being disowned by family members, of hurting those you love most, of struggling with severe self-loathing and the loathing of much of society and of your own religion? How would you feel if you were told that you must either change your orientation or never, ever have a physical relationship with someone you loved? Would you still stick with your 'choice'?"

For now, that is what I have to say on the subject. If you would like to know more about homosexuality as well as many other doctrines that have undergone huge shifts in the LDS church, I would highly recommend the book "Thou Shalt Question". Although I may not have covered every single contingency that exists out there against gay marriage and equality, I have covered a vast majority of them.

Also, if you would like to get into a debate about whether or not there is biological evidence supporting homosexuality, I would be happy to point out the more than one-hundred studies about the biological origins of homosexuality. Oh and of course, everyone's an expert in this topic, except me because I'm gay, even though I'm getting a master's degree in psychology and every neuroscience and psychology professor that I've ever come in contact with (yup even at BYU!) agrees that homosexuality has biological origins.

Finally, I want to leave you with a personal statement about the psychological damage that can be done to a person. This isn't some make-believe person, this is what I hear on a daily basis.

Love the sinner hate the sin? Well, guess that already labels me a sinner with all the prejudiced views thereof. Can you imagine for a moment what it feels like to hear from your best friend that they won't come to your wedding because it's wrong? Or when a bishop (supposedly delivering the word of God) tells you you're going to hell? Or when you pray night and day to be "normal" only to never be changed? To hear from friends, family, and strangers all over the Internet and in real life that your love is sick, disgusting, unwanted, and wrong? To be accused of destroying the fabric of society? To be harassed, teased, tormented, and potentially bullied that it feels like the only way out is to blot out your own existence?

Ya, I didn't think it felt very good either. The New Testament and the Book of Mormon share a whole lot more stories of love, support, and respect than condemnation and hellfire. Maybe we can all take a page from those books.