With all the challenges and negativity involved in the discussions about same-sex marriage, I was pleased to read something about same-sex attraction with a positive outlook. The article appeared in a magazine entitled LDS Living (May/June 2012, pages 48-58) and was written by Ty and Danielle Mansfield, a married couple who are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The article is about Ty's challenges with same-sex attraction. He was not open about his challenges until he wrote an essay for a class at Brigham Young University (BYU) in 2003 about how he had experienced same-sex attraction. Because of his essay, he was asked by Deseret Book to contribute to a book on same-sex attraction. The book, In Quiet Desperation: Understanding the Challenge of Same-Gender Attraction, was published in 2004, and Ty's personal challenges became public knowledge. Ty published another book on the same subject in 2011 entitled Voices of Hope: Latter-day Saint Perspectives on Same-Gender Attraction - An Anthology of Gospel Teachings and Personal Essays. Ty is also a cofounder of the nonprofit organization North Star, a support organization for LDS individuals and families affected by same-sex attraction. Anyone desiring more information can visit their website northstarlds.org.
In their article Ty and Danielle explain a little about Ty's struggles and a lot about how they came to marry and have a child. Ty did all the things that good LDS young men do: He attended BYU; he sang in the BYU Men's Chorus; he served a mission; he attended the temple and kept his temple covenants; he attended General Conference; he read his scriptures; he served others; he gained an education and got a job to provide for himself. He basically decided that he would not marry in this life, and he was okay with that decision.
Through a series of spiritual experiences, his thoughts went from never marrying in this life to maybe marrying later to probably marrying sooner to desiring to marry a certain young woman, Danielle.
"… I was earnestly seeking additional divine guidance… It was general conference time, so I wrote down some of my most heartfelt questions and went into the Saturday morning session fasting.
"As soon as the opening prayer was given, I was completely enveloped by this spiritual feeling. I hardly remember anything that was said during the session, but the feeling was unlike anything I've ever felt. For nearly two hours, all the hurt, the pain, the confusion, the frustration were completely gone. In their place was this feeling of divine love I had also never experienced. As a part of that, there was a feeling of what I perceived as pure celestial love and desire to be with a daughter of God in the most holy, connected, and uniting of ways. The world's portrayal of love and romance seemed so shallow and `false' in comparison. With the feeling came the words: `Just stay with me. If you do, this is the feeling you will someday feel - and it will be a permanent part of your being.' And then suddenly, as the end of the session approached, the feeling left. I didn't know how I would eventually grow into that feeling as an integral part of my being, but I trusted that God would lead me there.
"I experienced some gradual change overtime as I continued to try to stay close to and be led by the Spirit and as I sought other various means of personal growth….
"In this area and so much of my life, I feel I've had to live the principle President Boyd K. Packer taught of going to `the edge of the light and [stepping] into the darkness to discover that the way is lighted ahead for just a footstep or two' (That All May Be Edified (1982), 340). We have to put Him first today, taking the necessary steps of faith today, and simply trust Him to take care of tomorrow. It's only been through my learning and living that principle that the Lord has slowly been revealing to me His plan for my life" (p. 51).
Danielle was also led along a path from when she first met Ty until they were married approximately ten years later. Both Ty and Danielle put their trust in the Lord and followed the promptings of the Spirit until they fell in love, married, and now have a child. They appear to be very happy. Ty continues to reach out to others. His advice for dealing with same-sex attraction follows.
"There is no one-size-fits-all path for everyone, but there are a few things that I think are critical:  No one can healthily work through this in isolation. It's important to enlist the support of those who are most able to help us emotionally and spiritually - family, friends, priesthood or other Church leaders, professional counselors, people who have experienced same-sex attractions as well as those who don't.
" Don't underestimate the power and pull of identity - for good or ill. The term `gay' is not something that holds any weight in my own sense of identity, but neither does `straight.' My identity is simply as a man, a son of God who loves the Lord, who believes in His eternal plan as taught through His prophets, and who holds fast to his covenants.
" Learn to love and accept yourself unconditionally. We have inherent worth and value. Whatever our weaknesses or sins or human limitations may be, our growth is inhibited when we are unable to love ourselves and to see ourselves with some measure of the infinite love and grace God has for us.
" Maintain an eternal perspective. It's important to seek through an intimate communion with God an understanding of our personal mission in life, to be true to that mission, and to take life a day at a time, trusting in God.
" I have a conviction of the value of professional help. There's no shame in enlisting a professional counselor or therapist to help us work through issues that may be inhibiting meaningful growth. Each of us has blind spots, and it helps to have someone knowledgeable explore those blind spots with us and help us to work through them.
" Love others fully wherever they are. If you're a family member or friend of someone who experiences same-sex attraction, I believe the most important thing you can do is help that person to know and feel they are loved and that they have inherent value and worth, whatever direction they elect to take their lives" (p. 55).