I first saw this video in an article from Slate magazine. In it, Jimmy, a gay Mormon, comes out to his friends and family and videotapes their reactions. Thankfully, most of them seem positive, if a little awkward. His mother's reaction is priceless.
But the line in the video that is causing controversy is when Jimmy says, "What does being a gay Mormon mean? Well, it means that I'm going to live a celibate life... sucks!"
Of course, many people are commenting on the video on YouTube, urging him to give up the celibate lifestyle:
"It would be a real sin to live a lonely, loveless life."
"He is way too happy about being celibate and single and that is just sad."
What struck me about these comments is that many people simply do not accept that living a life of celibacy as a gay person is an acceptable choice. There are many examples of brave gay people who choose to marry the opposite sex, or choose to live a celibate life because of their religious beliefs, but this is deemed unacceptable by many. You can either be gay and acting upon it, or something is wrong with you.
Which is kind of funny to me, because "You are free to be gay, just not a celibate gay" sure sounds a lot like the much maligned, "You are free to be gay, just not to act upon it." Both of these attitudes impose rather than invite.
When it comes to moral choices, God invites rather than imposes. This is the essence of the gift of free will. Living according to the tenets of our faith is an invitation from God. As a convert, I can say that I never felt God imposing his love upon me; he gently invited me into relationship with Him until I accepted.
This, I would propose, is how we can approach those inside and outside the Church who struggle with same sex attraction. We can learn a lesson from Jimmy and his accepting family and friends. People who struggle with same sex attraction will almost certainly not choose celibacy if they do not find love and acceptance among family, friends and among people of faith. It may "suck" for Jimmy to choose a celibate life, but with the love and acceptance of those around him, what is difficult is made less difficult. And even more beautiful than that, what is difficult for Jimmy will surely become a source of grace for him, his family, his friends and his faith community.
The modern world looks upon celibate life as strange, unusual, repressive, and backwards. But as someone who has also chosen to live a celibate life as a "nun" or Catholic religious sister, I can say that from the pain of giving up sexual intimacy flows great grace for myself and for others. Energy and time that would otherwise be focused on a family and husband, is now devoted in service to many people. In essence, I have given up some expressions of love, but despite what the world thinks, I have definitely not give up Love.
So, don't lose heart Jimmy, despite what the world says, you are making a beautiful choice.