Right now there are three major organizations for GLBT Mormons. The first, historically, to come into existence was Affirmation (in the 1970s). About a decade later Evergreen came along. Most recently, there's Northstar (Ty Mansfield's brainchild). These three organizations -- obviously -- have fundamentally different approaches to how to solve the dilemmas faced by GLBT Saints. But none of these organizations satisfactorily does what it has set out to do, because the task is extremely complicated. The approaches are bifurcated because the Church's views on homosexuality bifurcate us -- because the Church essentially forces us to choose between our sexuality and our spirituality, a choice that we as physical-spiritual beings naturally recoil from. To force us to choose between whether we are permitted to establish loving and intimate relationships with the person of our choice, or whether we are permitted to have a full life in spiritual community where other Saints nurture us in our efforts to become more Christ-like, is to force us to make a choice that one way or the other does violence to our souls.
I do not feel that any of these three organizations provide the kinds of support I need as a fully human, fully physical, fully spiritual being. And let me stress here, this is not their fault as organizations. Each does the best it can in its own way to provide support to GLBT Saints. But the nature of the dilemma faced means that it's easier for an organization to focus on one side or the other of the equation. So Affirmation does a great job -- better than the other two -- of affirming us as physical/sexual beings, and exploring and understanding what it means to be gay. But in order to do that, it has had to take positions that have put it at odds with the mainstream LDS Church.
Evergreen came into existence a few years after Affirmation, and Northstar has, of course, come into existence only in the last few years as a third "middle path" between Affirmation and Evergreen. If Evergreen and Northstar exist at all, it is because they were trying to support GLBT Saints in what Affirmation could not. GLBT Saints turned to them, because they also hungered for spiritual connection within the spiritual community of our choice -- the Church -- and we were willing to do almost anything for that connection, even try to stifle a side of ourselves that ultimately cannot and should not be stifled. And these two organizations have done a better job of affirming faith. But they have done it, by and large, at the expense of our physical/sexual sides.
Whole human beings need both. Both physical and spiritual. As Latter-day Saints, we understand that this is the sum and purpose of our existence on earth in the first place. To bring together, to fully integrate, those two things.
Of the three organizations, the one I feel at some gut level the most affinity to has been Northstar. Northstar has moved toward integration in a way that the other two organizations have not. (Dare I say, because of their histories, could not?) Northstar acknowledges the reality of the physical/sexual side of the equation. It has at least acknowledged that our "gay side" doesn't just go away -- in this life any way. It's worked to be a little bit more open to that side of us. And it has held up as all important the preservation of faith-based covenants and community. And it has been working very hard to educate straight Saints about some of the dilemmas faced by gay Saints, to help ensure that wards and stakes in the Church can start to become more nurturing places (and because of the way it has positioned itself, stands a better chance of succeeding in those educational efforts).
I felt like a door was open there to me for a while... But I've felt that door slowly closing. After several years of hanging on the fringes of the Northstar community, I realize that Northstar won't really go the distance with me. I don't think this is the fault of any individual in the Northstar organization. I love and have profound admiration for Ty and for Bravone, who are the two folks with Northstar that I've had the closest relationships with. But I'm aware of an invisible barrier there. The organization could more fully embrace me if only I demolished my family. That's the bottom line. And they didn't draw that line... It exists whether they like it or not. They just have to try to cope with it.
I could try to form a fourth organization, one that's a bit to the left of Northstar and somewhere to the right of Affirmation. But why? An organization in which I would feel fully embraced and comfortable would still have the problem of not being able to fully integrate us as physical/sexual beings into the spiritual life of the Church. That's what I hunger for. That's what I desire more than anything else. I could not form an organization that would meet my needs. So I think I'm destined to be a lone pilgrim in the desert of physical/sexual vs. spiritual alienation.
I will continue to participate as actively as I can both in Affirmation and, if permitted, Northstar. But if what I really needed in a gay Mormon organization could exist, then we probably wouldn't need any organization at all, other than the Church.