Robin sees Andy the way any bishop would see a devoted member of a congregation. Everyone has challenges; Andy’s just so happens to be living with same-sex attraction. However, that doesn’t keep him from holding a calling and serving his ward family. According to Robin, Andy’s presence is a blessing to their ward.
My involvement with Andy and the Millers is devoid of any drama. There have not been any emotional rescues or long, anguished interviews with Andy on my part. Andy has not asked for any special attention, and he and his family have contributed greatly to our ward since their arrival. I say this because it seems Andy has never wanted to make a big deal about his sexual orientation.
He likes to be treated like everyone else. And why not? He is not unlike any of us.
Andy’s father, Dylan, is our Young Men president. His mother, Tonya, is a Gospel Doctrine teacher. His younger sister and brothers are active in their respective classes and quorums. Andy is a counselor in the elders quorum. He is supportive of his president and serves faithfully.
My counselors and I view Andy in the same light as we view any other ward member, or community member for that matter. He hasn’t done anything wrong that I am aware of. While he certainly is not perfect, none of us are.
Andy had already submitted his mission papers while living in his former stake and ward. The fact that Andy wanted to serve indicates that he has a testimony, a belief in our Savior and in the Restoration of the gospel. When his mission call arrived, Andy and his family found that he was called to serve in Uruguay. I was invited to join with the family as Andy was set apart by President Crandall. The scene was like every other setting apart that I have attended. The family was given the opportunity to share feelings and advice; they laughed and cried. Andy made a valiant effort to serve as a full-time missionary. But for reasons that may or may not be related to his same-sex attraction, he was unable to finish his full-time mission and was given an early release. It was not, I want to emphasize, due to any unwillingness on the part of the mission president to have Andy continue his service; rather, it was due to some mental health challenges Andy was experiencing at the time.
When he arrived back in our ward, I know that Andy was disappointed at not being able to finish his mission. In an interview with me, he expressed his desire to stay with the faith and serve the Lord in other ways. To my knowledge, Andy’s faith has never waivered.
Not too long after Andy’s return, his elders quorum president asked that Andy be called to serve as one of his counselors. We discussed this as a bishopric and felt like the call would be good for Andy and the members of the quorum. We felt like the call was an inspired one, and we made the recommendation to the stake president. We felt no reason to deny Andy this opportunity. Since that time, he has served faithfully and well. He attends presidency meetings, visits quorum members with the other members of the presidency, and acts in all ways like a good counselor should. When the elders quorum president is unavailable, Andy attends our ward council and priesthood executive committee meetings.
During his time in our ward, Andy has been accepted by the congregation. Many do not know of Andy’s attraction to the same gender.
Andy makes this easy by being amiable and friendly in return.
Only Andy could tell us about what it has been like for him to live in an LDS environment while experiencing same-sex attraction. But from my perspective, while quiet and reserved, he is happy and well adjusted. He has a family that is incredibly supportive and neighbors and friends who treat him with kindness and love. His presence has been a blessing to our ward.
I believe that the Savior loves us all equally and has offered Himself as a ransom for all of the Father’s children. He is no respecter of persons and invites us all to receive the fruits of the Atonement.
I believe that He is aware of Andy, knows him by name, and loves him without reservation, just as we have come to do in our ward.