November 9, 2012

The Story Continues... Part 2

I must have read the article in LDS Living at least ten times that day, scouring it for every drop of substance. When you’re thirsty, even the smallest drop is substantial. In the end, I learned a great deal about the family highlighted in the magazine. The husband’s name is Ty Mansfield, your average Mormon guy who served a mission, went to college, and wanted to establish himself. He also experienced SSA (Same Sex Attraction). For years, he said, he’d wanted to settle down, marry, and have a family but due to his attractions, it didn’t look promising. Eventually, he got to the point where he didn’t feel any huge obligation or pressure from society to get married.

Wow, I thought. That’s exactly where I am.

But then something interesting happened. Through a spiritual experience, he was told that even though he didn’t think that marriage was altogether an option for him at that time, he could still be preparing himself to become a husband and father. After all, the timing of the Lord is not necessarily what we want it to be.

And so Ty began dating. At first, he was just going through the motions, not feeling any which way about the girls he was dating until he began dating a girl named Danielle. Long story short, they both started having feelings for each other that far superseded anything they’d felt ever before.

While I had been reading their story, the name of Ty Mansfield kept ringing bells in my head. As much as I tried dissuading myself, I knew that I recognized the name from somewhere. And it wasn’t until Danielle began to give her story that it all clicked into place.

From the moment Danielle had met Ty, she pretty much knew he was the one for her. But because of the distance between them (she was going to school at BYU and he in Texas), they didn’t get to see each other as much as they would have liked. During one of these dry spells, Danielle spotted a book in a book store. It was strangely appealing to her since it featured a decently attractive man with a black censoring bar across his eyes. The book was called, “In Quiet Desperation.” I may have mentioned it before. I read the first half of it but, at that time, I wasn’t in a very good place and it didn’t sit well with me. But guess who the author was?

That’s right! Danielle picked up the cover and saw it was written by Ty Mansfield. Interested, she bought the copy and read it. I don’t remember how the conversation came up about the book or his SSA or any of that, but what really matters is that they were still in love with each other. Despite all the other junk floating around, including a lot of negativity from the gay community and heat from the press, they got married in the Temple.

Well, me being me, I found Ty on Facebook (which is what it’s for, thank you very much) and began writing to him. I told him how inspired I was by his story and told him a little of my own. I settled into my chair, prepared to wait out an anxious three days until someone as cool as Ty would even notice that some little peon of a person sent him a message.

He replied within the hour.

Something I have learned about Ty is not only the fact that he doesn’t consider himself anything special, but he makes it a priority to reach out to people, no matter how significant they might consider themselves.

Me. I’m talking about me. Heh!

Anyways, Ty cofounded this group for LDS guys who also experience SSA. The group is there to provide support, as well as insights and help if desired. The group is called North Star. I joined the day I heard of it. At once, I realized that I was not alone. There were lots of guys dealing with just about the exact same feelings I was, suicide and all. And just like that, I was connected. I wasn’t fine again, or even moderately stable, but I was in a much better place.

One of the moderators of the group sent me a message online. Turns out he lives just north of me and wanted to welcome me to North Star. More than that, he wanted to introduce something to me to something that will go down in my mind as just as life changing as the day I joined the Church…

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