Sunday, December 8, 2013

Living the Questions: a letter to my fellow gay Mormon lovelies (and everyone else, too)

Dearest lovelies:

I frequently read blogs and follow what is being said in various social media forums in the LGBT Mormon community, and I decided I wanted to write a Christmas-time letter of gratitude for everything you are, as well as catalog a few the most important things I've learned this year, for my benefit as much as anyone else's. 

Each week attending church in my rural Utah ward as a teenager I never considered the thought that there were other people like me out there somewhere in the church--minds and hearts that experienced the same feelings and fears I fought with daily. In fact, I never thought much about it. Even if there were, I wouldn't know how to go about finding them and I definitely wasn't open enough to reach out to them.

In August of last year I watched the BYU "It Gets Better" video for the first time; it was incredibly powerful for me. It was my first realization that there weren't just a few others out there going through the same thing as me, but many others. They mentioned on the video that there was a very active LGBT Mormon blogging community; I immediately set out googling. I found the moho directory and began my endless blogging binge. There were so many eloquent portrayals of the same pains I was living and so many stories told that resonated with me deeply.

Eventually, I started an anonymous blog of my own, which led to me connecting to other blog authors. I soon discovered that the authors of two of my favorite blogs lived near me. We set up a time to meet, and it was my first time actually talking to people who were themselves going through the same thoughts and feelings as me.

Slowly as they met people and I met people, a small local community began to take shape. With many new gay Mormons and broader online connections, I've developed deep friendships with so many incredible people. This, probably more than anything else, has made this last year one of the best of my life despite the manifold difficulties. I just want to say thank you to the each of you.

The questions that we face as LGBT people in the world of Mormonism are life-defining. Our choices can utterly change the course of our living and impact our closest relationships, often in difficult ways. When we first begin to meet these questions, they often feel like arrows piercing an already wounded heart. We're often tasked with reconciling seemingly contradictory experiences and beliefs. The impacts are visible so often in the words published in blogs and Facebook groups. Sorrow, depression, and even despair seem to be constant companions of this community in one form or another. 

In "Letters to a Young Poet," Rainer Rilke wrote,

"I would like to beg you dear Sir, as well as I can, to have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language... The answers... [can]not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer." (emphasis added)

That thought has brought me great peace: that the point is to patiently live everything. My mind is so often filled with wishes. I get so caught up with them that I forget to be present for the Everything that is unfolding itself to me moment by moment. Trying to live more fully here and now, no matter the grief, doubts, or sorrows that accompany the present, has deeply enriched my life. 

Questions are vehicles. You have to jump into them fully to find out where they'll bring you. And the hardest part of jumping in is leaving behind where you were, a place that, even if dreary, has been your home for so long--and you're not sure where the questionings will lead you. In fact, living the questions requires faith. Not faith in the answers you may have once held on to for dear life, but faith that no matter where the question-journeying takes you, as Julian of Norwich proclaimed, "all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well."




I've been sitting here staring at my computer screen for nearly an hour trying to come up with what to say next. I have so many emotions and so many thoughts and so many gratitudes that want to pour out faster than my mind can translate them into words. I keep going back to my favorite poems by Hafiz and Rumi, and they say everything I want to so perfectly! And here they are, everything I want to say to every LGBT Mormon (and all people, really) who finds themselves in a place of difficulty (emphasis added):

First, from Hafiz: 

Come in, my dear
From that harsh world
That has rained elements of stone
Upon your tender face.
Every soul
Should receive a toast from us
For bravery!

All your worry
Has proved such an
Find a better

Now, why not consider
A lasting truce with yourself and God...

My dear, please tell me,
Why do you still
Throw sticks at your heart
And God?...

This is the time 
For you to deeply compute the impossibility
That there is anything but Grace.

Like a blooming night flower,
Bestow your vital fragrance of happiness
And giving
Upon our intimate assembly.

Change rooms in your mind for a day. 

All the hemispheres in existence
Lie beside an equator
In your heart.

All the hemispheres in heaven
Are sitting around a fire

While stitching themselves together
Into the Great Circle inside of

My eyes sing with excitement-- they see your Divine Worth!

Happen if God leaned down
And gave you a full wet



Doesn't mind answering astronomical questions
Like that:
You would surely start

Reciting all day, inebriated,


There is a Beautiful Creature
Living in a hole you have dug.

So at night

I set fruit and grains

And little pots of wine and milk

Beside your soft earthen mounds,

And I often sing.

But still, my dear,

You do not come out.

I have fallen in love with Someone

Who hides inside you.

We should talk about this problem--


I will never leave you alone.

Now retire, my dear,
From all that hard work you do

Of bringing pain to your sweet eyes and heart.

And now a few from Rumi:

Don't be satisfied with stories, how things have gone with others. 

Unfold your own myth.

These pains you feel are messengers. Listen to them.

What matters is how quickly you do what your soul directs.

Soul, if you want to learn secrets,

your heart must forget about 

 and dignity. 

You are God's lover,

yet you worry 

what people 

are saying.

Be empty of worrying.

Think of who created thought!

Why do you stay in prison
when the door is so wide open?

Move outside the tangle of fear-thinking.
Live in silence.

Flow down and down in always 
widening rings of being.

Each of us comes to different conclusions. For some the path is in the church, and for some the path is out of it. For some it's in AND out! No matter where your questions take you, I toast the bravery of each of your souls! I'm so happy for everyone in this community who has found joy. For those who feel they have yet to find it, I wish I could be there to see the look on your faces when someday it leaps out at you with an enormous "peek-a-boo!" And in the mean time, I hope we can live the questions until they take us to that place where joy is hiding. Every moment is valuable: moments of profound happiness along with those of piercing pain.

If I had to sum up everything I've learned this year, it would be in this one last poem:

----Your search for happiness is like a
Rainbow grasping at clouds.
Unbeknownst to you,
Your simple being is a symbol of hope for many!
Let go of cloud-grabbing and learn to
Bask in the folds of your own light----

God declared that he is the great "I AM." My hope is that I, and you, and each of us can join him and rejoice in being, no matter the state we find ourselves. It's wonderful how accepting life precisely the way it is changes things.

Thank you to each of you for every forward step you take. 


Josh DeFriez

“Freedom is not given to us by anyone; we have to cultivate it ourselves. It is a daily practice... No one can prevent you from being aware of each step you take or each breath in and breath out.”

Thich Nhat Hanh

“Life is a garden,
not a road.
we enter and exit
Through the same gate
Where we go matters less
than what we notice”


  1. For some reason your blog post gave me a lot of Christmas cheer, which has been missing for me this holiday season (or maybe it's the overly power scensy I just put on the warmer). Thank you, for being a part of the MOHO world, and your contributions. Merry Christmas!

  2. Awesome post. Just what I needed right now, especially the idea that I should "patiently live everything." That is exactly what I needed. Thanks for writing so many awesome posts.

    P.S.- I'm so jealous that you live in an area where you can connect with people. All I have is the interwebs. Not fair. ;)


    1. Well the interwebs can be wonderful! Feel free to chat with me via Facebook or email if you need someone to talk to :)

  3. Josh, you are amazing. Thank you for sharing this touching letter. Another "Josh Makes Oliver's Day" moment in the history books!!!