Dear 100 Hour Board,
I just don't know what to do, and even though an online forum might not be the best place to do this, I just need to say this to someone. I am bisexual, and I hate myself for it. I'm closeted but have friends in the straight and gay communities. I just see straight members have no problems being devoted to the gospel because their sexuality falls in line as part of the plan. I've also seen most of my gay friends realize that if they don't want to be single forever they need to realize how to be happy without the church in their lives, knowing that having a boyfriend or husband is much more important than their standing in the church. I see them and wish I could be like them. I feel like if I marry a woman I will always have the knowledge that I am attracted to men and feel like I don't belong, or if stay in the church and never get married I will always know that I had the possibility of being happy with a man. On the other hand if I leave the church and date or marry a man, I will always know that I could have ended up with a woman and been a good member of the church. I just feel so much internal conflict, like wherever I end up I will be making the wrong decision. I wish I could just be gay or straight, so that I would know what choice was right for me. I just feel so lost and confused and disappointed in myself for being this way. I don't know what to do or who to talk to. I just want all of this pain and conflict to end, I just want to go to sleep and not wake back up. I just don't know anymore. Please help me, I don't have anyone else.
-Alone and afraid
First of all, please don't hate yourself for being bisexual. You didn't do anything wrong to feel this way, and God didn't create you "wrong" either. It's understandable to feel lost and confused, but I promise you, God is not disappointed in you because of your sexuality.
The feelings you're describing sound very deep, and difficult to deal with. Depression and other mental health problems are very common among LGBT people, especially when raised in a conservative religious community. Feelings such as wanting to go to sleep and not wake back up indicate that you would benefit a lot from seeing a counselor - preferably one who is both LGBT- and LDS-friendly. (If you see a counselor and they try to impose too much of their own ideology on you, go see a different counselor instead. If you're a BYU Student, the CCC is free; if you're in the Utah Valley area, the Comprehensive Clinic is cheap; otherwise, contact your insurance company to see who is covered or see a primary care doctor for a referral.)
In the meantime, I think one thing that may help you is to consider what your relationship choices would look like if they were made in a vacuum, without religious considerations. Is there a gender you would prefer? Would you want to find a permanent monogamous relationship, have serial monogamous relationships, or have some form of open relationship? Finding these answers is difficult, because we don't live in a vacuum, but I think it's valuable self-exploration that can help you second-guess yourself less. For instance, even in a vacuum, I'd want a permanent monogamous relationship. This made it a lot easier to not second guess my choices, because once I fell in love with Mr. Z, I would have wanted to only be with him regardless of being in the church or not. This makes it a lot easier to not wonder if I missed out on something by not exploring relationships with women. On the other hand, you might want very different things. I think that's important to be honest with yourself about what you want, and not be afraid of it. Even if what you want contradicts the Church, you could still stay in the Church; but you'll second-guess yourself less if you know that's what you would have wanted and you came to that decision anyways, rather than if you suppress those feelings and are vaguely conscious on some level that you're there.
I would also try to separate the issue of second-guessing all your decisions from the issue of making a choice that aligns with the Church. To me, your question sounds like you have a personality type that tends to second-guess lots of decisions, and this is a particularly difficult decision because it's so important. Learning to be more confident in your decisions in general can help with making this decision in particular. There are a lot of ways to work on this. Seeing a counselor, again, might help; learning to recognize the Spirit and strengthening your relationship with God could help; or simply making decisions, and learning through experience that your decisions typically don't crash and burn, could also help.
Finally, I would remember that none of these potential choices are permanent. Yes, being committed to the Church is important, and yes, marriage should ideally be undertaken with the aim to stay together forever. However, divorce is a valid option. Lots of good people get divorced. Leaving the Church and dating a guy will still be an option, even into your 30s and 40s and 50s. Repenting and coming back to Church will always be an option, no matter how many guys you date or live with or do anything with. Deciding to marry a woman will always be an option, even if you try dating men. Yes, making a decision you regret will mean some difficulty as you reverse that decision. However, no decision is permanent. There is nothing you can do that will permanently ruin your life. You always have the chance to restart and re-evaluate. You can restart in your 40s and still have decades of happiness ahead of you. Don't put so much pressure on your choices that you paralyze yourself. There is always hope and happiness ahead, even if you have to wade through some hard things to get there.
Feel free to email me if you ever want to talk.
I can tell that it took you a lot of courage to ask this question, and for that I applaud you! I'm just going to point out some things in your question that I would suggest and then I'll ultimately refer you to a counselor because they are much better at this than I am.
I just need to say this to someone. Yes, yes you do and I think this is a great start, but I think you also need to come out. Hiding your feelings is only going to make the situation worse. There is a major difference between hiding your feelings and dealing with your feelings.
I just see straight members have no problems being devoted to the gospel because their sexuality falls in line as part of the plan. I'm straight and I have problems being devoted to the gospel. I may have an easier time with my sexuality, but I can guarantee that I have things that make it hard for me to be fully devoted. We all do. I really don't want you to fall in the trap of comparing yourself to the "perfect" Mormons. This type of comparison is a recipe for disaster and depression.
I've also seen most of my gay friends realize that if they don't want to be single forever they need to realize how to be happy without the church in their lives, knowing that having a boyfriend or husband is much more important than their standing in the church. I don't think that being in a homosexual relationship is more important than having access to all of the blessings that Heavenly Father has in store for His children, and I do think it is important to be loved. I don't know all of the answers, but I personally believe that following the commandments that God has established is paramount.
I just feel so much internal conflict, like wherever I end up I will be making the wrong decision. I will never pretend that this is an easy decision to make, especially because I haven't had to make this decision. I would say that God expects you to do what you think is the best option and pursue that course of action until you feel prompted otherwise. My advice would be to err on the side of the commandments, but I'm biased.
I just feel so lost and confused and disappointed in myself for being this way. This is the part that I feel the most. I've had feelings of deep personal disappointment as well and for me it was majorly unhealthy. There have been, and continue to be, many people in my life that help me to not feel that way, and I would say a Church leader and a counselor would be great places for you to start. Their responsibility is not to judge you, but to love you.
Please help me, I don't have anyone else. There are people and resources that you can tap into for help. I would also implore you to continue to reach out to your loving Heavenly Father because He is always there and He is ready to love and listen.
I hope you can find internal peace and I personally hope that peace comes from living within the commandments that God has established. If you need someone to talk to or vent to my email is open (and pretty barren).
-Sunday Night Banter