Same-sex attraction

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Same-sex attraction (SSA) or same-gender attraction (SGA) is an intense interest in members of the same sex. This interest may include desires for their attention, friendship, intimacy, and/or a fascination with their bodies and other gender traits. It may also include erotic thoughts and sexual behavior with others of the same sex.


The term homosexuality refers to the entire complex that includes attractions, feelings, desires, sexual behavior, identity, and all its associated aspects, such as issues with masculinity, self-perception, emotional dependencies, and relationships.

Some people prefer to use the terms same-sex attraction (SSA) or same-gender attraction (SGA) to avoid the clinical and psychiatric misunderstandings that may come by using the term homosexuality. A person who experiences same-sex attraction or same-gender attraction may experience

  • Intense attractions (which may or may not be sexual or erotic) without sexual behavior or
  • Complete emotional and sexual involvement.

The term homosexual is a clinical term that may be offensive when used as a noun to identify individuals who are trying to overcome same-sex attraction as well as those who embrace a gay identity. The former typically prefer the terms same-sex attraction or same-gender attraction and the latter prefer the terms gay (referring to men) and lesbian (referring to women). Homosexual may appropriately be used as an adjective, such as homosexual behavior.

The terms gay (referring to men) and lesbian (referring to women) refer not only to personal feelings and behaviors, but they also describe a political, cultural, and social identity.

LDS Individuals who experience same-sex attraction

Many LDS individuals who experience same-sex attraction do not wish to embrace the gay lifestyle and seek therapy or other help to diminish their same-sex attraction and avoid (or overcome) same-sex sexual behavior.

Myths concerning same-sex attraction

Myth: People don't overcome same-sex attraction

One common myth is that people don't overcome same-sex attraction. Some people would like the public to believe that no one really changes. They claim that individuals who say they have overcome it either (1) didn't really experience same-sex attraction in the first place or (2) they are only suppressing their true feelings and will someday realize it. The truth is that many people find success in overcoming homosexual behavior, diminishing same-sex attraction, resolving internal conflicts, and living according to their personal and religious values. For proof of the many who are successful, read the testimonies on the Web sites listed at the end of this articles.

In their ongoing war of misinformation, gay activists spread rumors that all those who have written books or otherwise publicly shared their story of change either do not exist or have returned to a gay identity. This just isn't true.

Myth: People are born gay. It's all genetic.

Some scientists have intently tried to discover scientific proof that homosexuality is genetic, and therefore, cannot be changed. Some studies have hinted at a biological component, but have not proven that same-sex attraction is simply caused by genetics. In reality, sexual and emotional issues are the result of a complex interaction of personality, biological inheritance, and developmental experiences.

Many factors contribute to the development of same-sex attractions. It is difficult to develop theories about the origins of same-sex attractions because no single theory fits every situation. This article discusses how personality, biological inheritance, and developmental experiences influence the development of homosexual problems.

Scientific attempts to demonstrate that homosexual attraction is purely biologically determined have failed. The major researchers now prominent in the scientific arena–themselves gay activists–have in fact arrived at such conclusions.

Myth: The psychological associations in America denounce trying to change. It is unethical to even try.

Some professional organizations have made statements about the ineffectiveness and potential damage that can be caused by reparative or conversion therapy. They claim that the potential risks of such therapy include “depression, anxiety, and self-destructive behavior.” The APA's Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Issues Committee has lobbied for years against the right of individuals to receive treatment for unwanted same-sex attractions. They have also pressured the APA to ban scientists from studying the viability of gender-affirmative therapy. What is ethical? It is unethical for a therapist to try to convince a client that he/she should change from homosexuality to heterosexuality. However, it is just as unethical for a therapist to tell a client to remain in homosexuality when he/she has determined that homosexuality does not fit with his/her personal values and has come to the therapist for help in overcoming it. Ethical therapy is where the therapist presents alternatives, but lets the client make decisions for him/herself.

Gender-affirmative therapy has recently found increasing interest by organizations and therapists who believe in helping people who have determined for themselves that they want to overcome unwanted same-sex attractions. The following shows that many professionals support a client's right to pursue such therapy and, in fact, believe that such therapy is helpful.

Every day, individuals seek help because they are experiencing an unwanted sexual attraction to others of the same gender and are told that their condition is untreatable. It is not surprising that many of these individuals fall into depression or despair when they are informed that a normal life with a spouse and children is never to be theirs.... They have a right to know that prevention and effective treatment are available. They have a right to expect that every professional they consult will inform them of all their therapeutic options and allow them to make their own choices based on the best clinical evidence. A variety of studies have shown that between 25% and 50% of those seeking treatment experienced significant improvement.

Myth: All the efforts to make people change are doing more harm than good.

People sometimes try to discredit the efforts of people who are changing their lives. They sometimes argue that all the stress and effort to try to change is only tearing families apart and causing people more harm than good. In reality, these efforts are helping people resolve their internal conflicts, live according to their personal values, and keep families together. Of course, there are those who do not succeed. Some of these people are vocal and try to convince others that no one is succeeding. For proof of the many who are successful, read the testimonies on the Web sites listed at the end of this article.

While it is true that no one should be coerced into treatment, the reverse is also true that no one should be denied treatment if they want it. Ultimately, it is an issue of personal freedom and self-determination.

Myth: You can support same-gender sexual relationships and still be a good member of the Church.

Many groups exist within the gay and lesbian community to promote their political and social agenda. There are a score of groups who support the right of gays and lesbians to engage in same-gender sexual relationships while still trying to maintain some vague association with the Church. They make a concerted effort to suggest a relationship between them and the Church that just doesn’t exist. It is time that members of these groups stop pretending to be aligned with the Church. The only organization that is completely in line with Church teachings and practices is Evergreen International.


For Everyone

  • Understanding Male Homosexual Problems: An Introduction for Latter-day Saints by Jason Park (booklet) Century Publishing
  • Born That Way (LDS) by Erin Eldridge Deseret Book
  • Homosexuality: Symptoms and Free Agency (LDS) by Scott & Kae Anderson
  • Place in the Kingdom, A: Spiritual Insights from Latter-day Saints about Same-Sex Attraction (LDS) edited by Garrick & Ginger Hyde Century Publishing
  • You Don't Have to be Gay by Jeff Konrad
  • Breaking the Cycle of Compulsive Behavior (LDS) by Martha Nibley Beck & John C. Beck
  • Codependent No More by Melody Beattie
  • Healing the Shame That Binds You (compulsive behavior) by John Bradshaw
  • Articles on the Evergreen International Web site.

For Men

  • Resolving Homosexual Problems: A Guide for LDS Men by Jason Park Century Publishing
  • Evergreen Workbook for Men (LDS) by Dr. Shirley E. Cox LCSW, David Matheson MA, and Doris Dant MA

For Women

  • Heart of the Matter: The Roots and Causes of Female Homosexuality by Davies & Rentzel (booklet)
  • Developing Genuine Friendships by Shirley E. Cox, Ph.D. & Doris Dant (booklet)
  • Out of Egypt by Janette Howard

For Friends, Family, and Church Leaders

  • Helping LDS Men Resolve their Homosexual Problems: A Guide for Family, Friends, and Church Leaders by Jason Park Century Publishing
  • Understanding and Helping Those who Have Homosexual Problems: Suggestions for Church Leaders by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

External links and LDS Resources

  • Evergreen International. This nonprofit organization provides direction and support to Latter-day Saint men and women who want to diminish their same-sex attraction and free themselves from homosexual behavior. It is also a resource to family and friends, professional counselors, religious leaders, and all others who wish to help individuals who desire to change. The organization refers people to affiliated support groups and therapists, publishes manuals and newsletters, sells books by mail, and sponsors conferences.
  • LDS Family Services. Provides counseling help to LDS members. Help for same-sex attraction may not require a bishop's referral.
  • People Can Change. A comprehensive Web site of valuable information for people who want to overcome same-sex attraction.
  • Disciples 2. Support for LDS members who struggle with same-sex attraction and want to stay true to the Church.
  • LDSSR. Devoted to the support and help of Latter-day Saints who are desirous of overcoming sexual addiction/compulsion in their lives
  • LDS-SSA is a online information and support resource for LDS men and women struggling with same-sex attraction.
  • Support Center for Latter-day Saints. Supportive organizations and helpful literature (with many online links) for Latter-day Saints and others dealing with same-sex attraction and/or sexual addiction.
  • STAR Program of Salt Lake City (Sexual Trauma And Recovery) offers programs for sexual addiction and sexual codependency.