As a gay BYU student, I am responding to a letter titled “Homosexuality dishonest.”
Homosexuality does not equal fornication or adultery. Elder Dallin Oaks draws a wide line of distinction between homosexual orientation and homosexual sexual behavior (Ensign October 1995). The letter doesn’t make this distinction; it groups gays with fornicators and adulterers. Homosexuals and heterosexuals may or may not be sexually active. Church leaders condemn sexual behavior outside marriage, not sexual orientation.
People who declare their homosexuality are not dishonest. The letter said gay people are not honest with the natural function of their bodies, and that homosexuals shouldn’t talk about who they are. Elder Oaks said gay people don’t choose this susceptibility, but they do choose their behavior. When gay people realize their orientation, they are finally being “honest.” They no longer pretend the attraction doesn’t exist.
For gay people, pretending they’re heterosexual to blend in is dishonest. From Elder Oaks’ article, President Hinckley declares “marriage should not be viewed as a therapeutic step to solve problems such as homosexual inclinations or practices.”
Unless gay students have a way of openly talking to others about their feelings, they may seek out the only other option, a sexually active lifestyle. This desire for honesty is what helped me and my five roommates “come out” to our stake president, bishop, Elders Quorum president, and home teachers. Honesty is what helps us be ourselves and function normally with others.
The letter’s final point is that homosexuality is bad. First, gay people are welcome at BYU. A survey of students in The Daily Universe in March 1997 showed blatant homophobia. In response, Dean of Students Janet Scharman stated that all students who keep the Honor Code are welcome at BYU.
Second, gay people are welcome in the church. President Hinckley said, “Now, we have gays in the church. Good people. We take no action against such people provided they don’t become involved in sexual transgression. If they do, we do with them exactly what we’d do with heterosexuals who transgress” (San Francisco Chronicle March 13, 1997). The line for sin is the same for all of us. There is no stigma for being gay.
Are we willing to follow the leaders of our church by throwing away hateful stereotypes? I believe we should act on our clear-cut doctrinal responsibility to show love and understanding.