This blog is written from the perspective of a faithful member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I have tried to put my words and my story into terms that all Christians and those of religious affiliation hopefully will understand. I also hope that those who are not religious may be helped by my story as well.
My Mormon Coming Out Story
So I have decided to officially come out and say something that most of my friends and my immediate family already know about me. I am same-gender attracted, or I am gay. I have known I was gay since I was about 10 years old, at that time I could tell that I was a bit different from the other boys at my school. As other guys were starting to develop interest in girls our age I didn't seem to care at all. During this time, I was friends with both boys and girls, and I was content with that. When I started realizing I was different, I basically ignored those feelings initially because I was at the end of elementary school and I didn't understand sexuality up to that point except for what society told me that guys were only ever supposed to like girls and girls were only ever supposed to like guys.
It wasn't until I had reached middle school that puberty really hit hard and my attractions became more noticeable, which in turn made me react by suppressing my sexuality. Before in elementary school, I was a very mentally healthy boy who loved spending time with friends. I was as social as any boy in elementary school is. I was a little shy around strangers, but as I warmed up to people, I quickly lost that shyness. With the transition into middle school, I started to become quiet. I started finding it difficult to talk with people when before I never found it to be an issue.
The transition between elementary and middle school is typically a difficult transition for children. This was especially true for me. A lot of my old friends from elementary school were in different classes than I was. The building was new. The teachers were new. I had to navigate what felt like an alien world to me. This was all the more challenging because I knew I was different and I refused to accept that reality. The refusal to accept it spiraled me into a long period of very low self-esteem. I was pretty sure my parents suspected I was gay at a very young age and being the loving parents that they were and not having a complete understanding about what I was going through, they tried to coax the gay out of me whenever I displayed any signs of non-masculine behavior, although this never happened often.
As middle school continued I tried to reconcile my faith and my sexuality. I am Mormon, which I think a large amount of people reading this blog will be. For people who aren't that means that I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. As part of that, I go to church every Sunday, and I was in the Youth Program. When I was young, I was surrounded by a super heterosexual culture. The boys would be flirting with the girls all the time, I just followed along but didn't participate because I didn't see the point. So every Sunday never failed to remind me that I was different. So instead of focusing on the social aspect of church I focused my energy toward scripture study, prayer, and church attendance.
At about the 7th to 8th grade I was in complete suppression of my sexuality, which caused my self-esteem to continue to plummet. At this time, I fought to find out why I just didn't like girls the same way other guys liked girls. So I made the excuse that the reason why I didn't like girls at the time was because I was preparing for my mission and that I wouldn't date anybody until at least the age of 16 anyway if not 18 or after my mission. I would take girls to school dances and have a great time with them but have no desires other than to have a good time with friends.
So I coasted . I put all my suppressed energy into other things. I did a lot of acting when I was younger and was in many plays with a private acting troupe, I also performed at my school where I played lead roles through middle school. I focused on my studies and got straight A's. Also, I put my greatest attention into my spiritual life. I felt deep down that God didn't make me this way and that maybe if I prayed more, did more service, and participated in everything I could, I would gain an attraction to girls like I had with guys because I still denied that that attraction was permanent and therefore I thought it to be unnatural.
There were a few girls through this experience that I really liked and enjoyed spending time with, but it was exclusively a close friendship and I had no desire for nothing more. So I kept going through my pre-teen into my teenage years. I was still suppressing my sexuality, and therefore my identity. As people grow as adults their personality grows naturally through their experiences. Mine felt forced into a box that felt unnatural and suffocating. I felt that I would be rejected by my friends and my family if they knew. I was afraid that God hated me because of who I am and it seemed like everything at church pointed to this idea. This was because there was no one there to speak on the subject, and if it was spoken about, it was spoken very negatively. So I assumed that God was against it.
Near the end of my freshman year, I started developing depression. I don't remember exactly when it started. I just remember my world getting darker and darker. My life seemed to start being caught up between two worlds; times where I felt fine and days where I would sink into a pit of unexplainable sadness and fear. I grew distant from people. I felt alone and my thoughts turned inward. I had always been a quieter kid, but now it felt so pronounced and horrifying. I felt everyone was going to hurt me. I would find excuses to lash out at others especially those people who cared about me the most.
There came a point where only two people kept me going, and that was God and a wonderful friend. My depression lasted for a while and into my sophomore year. Around my sophomore year, I dropped into one of the worst phases of my life. I decided that it would be better if I could just die. My life felt like a never-ending pit of despair with no exit. Their seemed to be no other way. I felt like I was unworthy of love. I had seen and heard how gay people were thought of in my church, and everywhere I went. They were dirty, sinful, deviant, unnatural, without hope of salvation. That was who I was. Through no fault of my own, I was gay. I had been caught up in believing that God didn't love me because he hadn't taken my attractions away from me.
One day I got home before everyone else in my family. I had made the decision to kill myself, and I was on my way to do just that. There wasn't anything lethal at my house except pills, so I decided to do an overdose. That whole day, I was praying to God to take everything away from me. I told him that I wouldn't kill myself if God would just fill this horrible hole that I felt inside of myself. Continuing to pray, I passed by the telephone on my way to the cabinet, and as I did I had strong and powerful impression to call my friend. I stopped and looked toward the phone. At this point, I really had no other avenue. I was going to kill myself or seriously damage my body. So I dialed up my friend and talked to him. After an hour or so, this person was able to convince me not to kill myself. He truly showed a Christ like care toward me and showed me that Christians could care for someone like me, and if other people cared maybe God would too. For the first time in a while, I walked away from the cliff that I had been prepared to jump off of.
I began to accept myself. Slowly but surely, I started walking out of the haze of my self-hatred and depression. Life started to be worth living. I started enjoying the simple things and delighting in what Heavenly Father had blessed me with. I still hadn't told anyone else about who I was except for a few people, but even then it had been kind of a confusing explanation because I really didn't understand it myself, and I had no role models or people who felt the same way I did. So at the time, I thought I was bisexual because I could love women (although it was a brotherly love and not romantic). The years went on where I felt that I was still stuck. However, what was new was that I accepted who I was. But just accepting myself wasn't enough. I needed others to accept me, which I felt they would not.
This view I felt was very legitimate considering how the word gay was used in a derogatory way in regular converstaions. How people would talk about gay people as if they were something different and sinister which was very dehumanizing for me. It frankly terrified me for the longest time that I would be treated less than human. But, even through all this haze, I felt God continue to move me forward in my life and help me find my way through my confusing and difficult childhood.
Throughout this time, I sought to date a small number of women. However, nothing came out of any of these relationships, kissing was awkward and weird, and I felt once again as if something was wrong with me. At this time, I still felt that I was bisexual, because I still held onto a hope that maybe I could find a way to escape who I was.
It wasn't until my freshman year of college that I started reaching out to see if there were others like me. I started finding blogs and other materials. A source of wonderful hope for me and strength was the It Gets Better videos from BYU students. Here were LGBT Mormon students, my age, who were seeking to do God's will like I was and who had found a loving community that understood them. Many of them shared their coming out stories and how they found that most people were accepting and truly interested in their well-being. Amongst all these good stories however there were examples of people whose families rejected them and turned them away. Their were some who went through extreme trials, and almost every single person on the video had contemplated suicide just like I had. These shared experiences gave me comfort and helped me know for the first time that I wasn't alone.
The one thing I found most interesting was how they talked about receiving a confirmation from God that they were loved and completely accepted by him, sexuality and all. They felt the loving power of Christ comfort them, even when others around them hated and reviled them. God still knew who they were individually, and he loved them unconditionally. I decided to try this myself.
I kneeled down one night and prayed to my Heavenly Father. I asked him if these feelings were acceptable in his eyes and whether or not he still loved me even if I was attracted to the same gender. What followed would change my life. A wonderful, indescribable warmth filled my chest and spread to the rest of my body. I knew at once it was the spirit and that God accepted for who I was and would always love me.
All my life I had not only lived in fear of others rejection but God's rejection. I found out beyond a shadow of doubt that night that God loved me and accepted me for who I was. I came out of that spiritual experience with the knowledge that God accepted me. This acceptance gave me the courage to eventually come out to my family and friends.
About 8 months after the revelation of God's acceptance, I decided to come out to my family. With my twin brother (who is gay), together we told our parents what we had known for a long time. And they accepted us, albeit after many questions from my mother who wanted to make sure that we were actually homosexual. They both accepted us and said they would love us no matter what because first and foremost we were their sons. I was very grateful for their reaction, considering how many LGBT children, including from LDS homes, get thrown out on the street for confessing something that they had always had.
With my parents and God as my support, I started coming out to more friends that next year. As I did this, I felt a wonderful spirit, and I knew God didn't want me to live in fear anymore. The weeks that followed were wonderful and exhilarating. I felt more comfortable around people I came out too. Not only that I felt my friendships strengthen through this process. I also began enjoying coming to church more and felt more love, peace and, fellowship among the members there, even though I have only come out to a couple of them before this post.
One night a few months after this process started, I found myself praying about where God wanted me to once again go. After all the changes that had begun to happen in my life I wanted to see if there was more in store. During this prayer, I had an impression to ask God if I was completely homosexual and not bisexual. I had begun to question whether I was bisexual. I think this came about because of my renewed confidence and affirmation from God and also my previous experience with women. So I decided to ask God if I was indeed completely homosexual. As before I felt a surging rush of warmth in me and utter joy filled me heart, and I knew that God was waiting for me to finally make this realization and once again God completely accepted me and loved me.
And now I come to this blog post a little more than a year after coming out to my parents. After a lot of meditation and prayer, I have decided to write this blog in the hope that someone may read it and find hope in it, that a family member of someone who is LGBT may read this and understand the importance of love and dialogue in their relationship with their family member. I am not writing this blog to stake a position. I am writing this blog in the hope that it might save someone's life, whether they are a child or an adult, who feels alone and unloved not only by their parents but by God as well, that they may not be turned away from their families to live homeless on the streets. I am here to tell these children, teenagers, adults; whomever they may be, that God truly loves them and that the only feeling that should be in anyone's hearts when it comes to this is love, acceptance, and the knowledge that God has a plan for each and everyone of us, that God created people with same-gender attraction for a reason, and that he has a greater wisdom than we could possibly have on this earth. So let's discuss it. Let's listen to each others stories and hopefully develop the charity that Christ showed each and everyone of us as he suffered and died for us in Gethsemane and was lifted on the cross in Calvary. For He truly did die for each and everyone one of us not just straight people, not just gay people, for God is no respecter of persons and his love and grace are over all. He died for everyone on this earth and he loved each and everyone of us equally. How much more then should we do the same and follow his example to everyone not just people who are like us.
As I look at the diversity of the people of the earth, I see God's amazing grace and imagination. I see his tender mercies, and I see him moving his people toward a greater understanding and greater love through these diversities. I encourage everyone to take a moment and reflect on my story. I hope that you will have gained something from it, and I hope it has encouraged each and everyone to go out into the world seeking a better understanding and a better love for all of God's children. I was saved from a potential suicide because of an impression and a loving friend. Many others, however are not with us now and many still need our love and support.
We only have one life to live. Let's all fill it with love, kindness, and service. It's time to come together so that there may be no poor among us; whether they be poor in spirit, in love, in understanding, or in forgiveness for past wrongs, all are entitled to the tender mercies and blessings of God and his son Jesus Christ there are no exceptions.
Once again thank you for reading my post. If you think someone may find peace and acceptance in reading this post please share it with them. If not I hope that it inspires everyone to be more loving and kind in their service to their fellow families, friends, neighbors, and all humanity . I hope that you all find, faith, hope, understanding, and love on your lifelong journeys.