I share my story to help other gay Latter-day Saints, and their loved ones come to peace with their sexuality, faith, and identity as beloved children of God. Those things are not mutually exclusive. I likely wouldn’t believe my story if I hadn’t lived it. I share it anonymously, but it is real and true.
I’m a recently divorced father of five, divorced after nearly 25 years of faithful marriage to my former wife. I’m a convert to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints of 24 years. I have a testimony of Jesus Christ that is independent from the Church, but which animates my testimony of the Church. I’ve recently come to terms with something I’ve known my entire life, but suppressed, thinking, and formerly hoping, would change—I’m gay.
I proposed to my former wife because of an answer to prayer. I knew I was supposed to marry her. I knew she should be the mother of my children. But, I also knew I was attracted to men. She loved me and said yes, despite knowing I previously dated men. After she accepted my proposal, I prayed fervently and repeatedly that my attraction to men would die, so I could fully give myself to her. I wanted to be the faithful, loving husband she deserved. Six months into our marriage, I met the LDS missionaries. After investigating the Church for several months, I felt the restored gospel and Church of Christ were an answer to my prayer. I made the covenants, got baptized, and was “all in.”
As a prerequisite to baptism, I had to confess to my bishop that I dated and had some sexual interactions with guys before my marriage. He listened patiently, and responded with kindness. He said the Lord had forgiven me, and now I needed to forgive myself. He then gave me a copy of Spencer W. Kimball’s book entitled The Miracle of Forgiveness. Bishop said even though the book wasn’t published by the Church, he felt it was “next to scripture” because it was written by an apostle who later became the prophet.
As a new convert who was trying with all my might to change my attraction to men, learning that I had committed what Kimball termed “the sin next to murder” was unsettling, to say the least.
It devastated me!
But, I took solace in Kimball’s promise that if I was earnest enough, humbled myself to the dust, lived in a continual state of repentance, fasted, prayed, served, and kept my thoughts and actions pure, Jesus would “heal” and remove my attraction to men.
For the next 23 years, I lived the gospel with exactness, as I then understood it. I devoured the scriptures and had Enos-like prayers daily. I developed an intimate relationship with God, including an acute sensitivity to the Holy Ghost. Five years after I was baptized, I baptized my wife. We were sealed in the temple a year later. I served in every calling I received. I bore powerful testimony of Jesus Christ to members and nonmembers alike. I even performed miraculous healings by priesthood power and authority. Yet, my attraction to men didn’t subside. I worked hard daily to suppress it, but it hadn’t abated.
Notwithstanding my earnest and best efforts to live the promises Spencer W. Kimball and other apostles had made, namely Boyd K. Packer and Dallin H. Oaks—that God would change my sexual orientation if I was earnest and faithful enough—and despite the manifestation of marvelous spiritual fruits in my life, my sexual orientation had not change. I thought it was my fault because, so I thought, these apostles couldn’t be wrong about something so foundational. I feared I wasn’t earnest enough, that I wasn’t trying hard enough. So, I continued abasing myself to the point where I lost self confidence. After years of being faithful to my covenants and to my wife, my sexual orientation had not changed.
Despondent, I was praying fervently one night in the temple’s celestial room for forgiveness that my attraction to men hadn’t changed or even abated. Then, unexpectedly—and this is extraordinarily sacred, but I share it with the hope it might help others—the Lord spoke to me the same words He spoke to Joseph Smith in D&C 132:49-50: “For I am the Lord thy God, and will be with thee even unto the end of the world, and through all eternity; for verily I seal upon you your exaltation, and prepare a throne for you in the kingdom of my Father, with Abraham your father. Behold, I have seen your sacrifices, and will forgive all your sins; I have seen your sacrifices in obedience to that which I have told you.”
As I sat in amazed wonderment, the Lord then said, “Go forth my son, and be happy. I have accepted thee.” The Spirit consumed me and filled my body for several minutes, to the point that I could not move. I was in the temple, the House of the Lord, the most sacred place on earth, where Satan cannot tempt or confuse. I could not deny what happened! After many years of doing my best, yet feeling like I had failed, the Lord gave me the promise of D&C 131:5-6, the “more sure word of prophecy,” right there in His holy house! I felt relief, gratitude, and love beyond description!
Within a day after that heavenly manifestation, I realized I was still attracted to men. I was confounded! How could that be, given the Lord’s acceptance? I could not deny what the Lord said to me. But, I experienced cognitive dissonance because I still believed what Kimball, Packer, and Oaks taught about homosexuality. I continued suppressing my sexuality, praying it would change like Kimball, Packer, and Oaks had taught.
Years passed. Children multiplied. A year after our last child was born, my wife had a hysterectomy. Within a year of that, her feelings toward me changed. Our relationship changed. For the next several years, I did everything I could to save the marriage. But she wanted out. She said she prayed repeatedly about our relationship, and the only answer that brought peace was to separate.
I couldn’t believe God would give such an answer. Nevertheless, she was resolute. Despite living the gospel with exactness, humbling myself to the dust, and exercising every particle of faith for nearly a quarter century—for half of my life—my marriage was over. And I was still attracted to men. We separated, then divorced. I was emotionally, spiritually, and psychologically ravaged.
Since the separation, I’ve thought and prayed long and hard about my identity, my relationship with God, and why things turned out so very differently from what Kimball, Packer, Oaks, and others had promised. Why did their promises not bear the promised fruit? I’ve thought constantly about that night in the celestial room, when the Lord voiced His acceptance of me. I know the Lord did not and could not lie! “What greater witness can you have than from God?” (D&C 6:23). He made that promise knowing what was yet to come!
I could only conclude that Kimball’s, Packer’s, and Oaks’s teachings regarding homosexuality were their own words and not God’s. Nearly a quarter century of experience taught me Kimball’s Miracle of Forgiveness was neither miraculous nor about forgiveness. It was not “next to scripture.” It was a for-profit enterprise from which Kimball made money. It was a bully pulpit for Kimball’s personal views, not a conduit for the voice of God. Saying this is not apostasy or heresy, it’s simply the truth.
I understand, in a new light, the Lord’s teaching, “We have learned by sad experience that it is the nature and disposition of almost all men, as soon as they get a little authority, as they suppose, they will immediately begin to exercise unrighteous dominion. Hence many are called, but few are chosen.” (D&C 121:39-40, emphasis added). “Almost all,” means nearly none of us escape the temptation to exercise unrighteous dominion, including prophets and apostles. They are fallible humans, as we all are. That’s why we need to regularly petition the Lord to clearly and powerfully pour out His Spirit on His presiding leaders, that His will might be done on earth as it is in heaven. Thus far in this gospel dispensation, His will regarding His gay children has yet to be done.
I didn’t think so at that time, but I now realize my wife was inspired when she got the answer to separate. Six months after we separated, which was when I finally accepted and was at peace with my true God-given nature, I told her that I’m gay. It was like a great weight lifted from her. She said, “Now it makes sense why I felt prompted to separate. I don’t doubt that you loved me and were faithful to me. But deep down, I knew you weren’t being true to yourself. I feel like we were supposed to come together to bring our children into the world. But, now it’s time for you to live your life with a man.”
During another healing conversation we had just last month, she said, “I could tell you weren’t fully present during our marriage, even though you were trying to be. Even though you were trying, I could feel, during our intimate times, that you couldn’t desire me the way a husband should desire his wife. Now, you are free to really be you, and find a man you can be fully present with. And now I am free to find a man who can appreciate and desire me for the woman I am.” Those words pierced my heart. I replied, “It wasn’t your fault! It wasn’t because you aren’t beautiful and desirable, because you are! It’s because I am gay.”
During my search for my true identity following my separation and divorce, I admit I entertained thoughts of suppressing my sexuality again and finding another woman to marry, because it would be so much easier socially and religiously. But, hearing my ex-wife say she could feel that I couldn’t desire her even though I was trying made me realize that is not an option. It would not be fair to the woman I would marry, and it wouldn’t be fair to me either. I need to be true to my God-given nature as a gay man so I can fully give myself to and fully receive my companion. That is the only way to have a truly joyful and lasting marriage.
So, here I am. I am a man. I am a son of God. I am gay. If this was a changeable condition, God would’ve changed it. But He didn’t. He accepted me. So, I’ve decided to accept myself. I’ve gotten my confidence back. I am navigating life as a gay, single, Latter-day Saint father. I am healing, improving myself, and slowly searching for my male soulmate. There’s no script for this. But, I have peace. This has been a difficult and remarkable journey. God has been with me every step of the way, even though at times it didn’t feel that way.
A key part of my story are the insights I’ve received from the Holy Ghost over decades of studying and pondering the scriptures. These insights have been profound and strengthening. The Lord said He would “reveal all mysteries, yea, all the hidden mysteries of [His] kingdom” to “those who fear [Him], and…serve [Him] in righteousness and in truth unto the end,” (D&C 76:7, 5). The Lord also said that “by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.” (Moro. 10:5).
I trust God’s explicit and unequivocal promise that He will reveal the “many things pertaining” to marriage He said He would yet reveal, which He calls “the law of the priesthood” in D&C 132:58. (see also D&C 132:1-2, 28, 45, 58, and 66 for the full context of this revelation…these verses have rarely, if ever, been cited or discussed in General Conference, but they are crucial to understand the context of D&C 132). This includes the full meaning behind why Jesus taught His ancient apostles “All men cannot receive this saying [the law of heterosexual marriage], save they to whom it is given. For there are some eunuchs, which were so born from their mother’s womb: and there are some eunuchs, which were made eunuchs of men: and there be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it.” (Matt. 19:11-12). Jesus taught with imagery, metaphors, and parables as much as He taught bright-line law and doctrine. Look at Jesus’ third example to His apostles of why all cannot receive the law of heterosexual marriage: “eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake.”
Would a man really castrate himself? No!
This is a metaphor for a person who has chosen to make himself or herself effectively infertile by not procreating. Does this mean celibacy? No, because celibacy does nothing for the “kingdom of heaven’s sake.” There is no divine law of celibacy. But, there is a divine law of chastity, which is no sexual relations before marriage, and after marriage only having sexual relations with your spouse. I believe Jesus used “eunuchs” in Matt. 19:12 as a metaphor for His gay children who entered into gay marriages in order to glorify God by living the law of chastity—effectively making them infertile “for the kingdom of heaven’s sake” to be true to their nature and true to God’s law of chastity.
This view makes sense of Jesus’ promise in Isaiah 56:4-5: “For thus saith the Lord unto the eunuchs that keep my sabbaths, and choose the things that please me, and take hold of my covenant; Even unto them will I give in mine house and within my walls a place and a name better than of sons and of daughters: I will give them an everlasting name, that shall not be cut off.” These verses from the Doctrine and Covenants, Matthew, and Isaiah, my personal experience of the Lord accepting me in His house, and the First Presidency’s April 2019 statement, give me hope that gay marriage can and will be part of God’s divine economy. In an unprecedented landmark statement, the First Presidency said “immoral conduct in heterosexual and homosexual relationship[s] will be treated in the same way.”
Since sexual conduct between spouses within the bonds of marriage is not immoral, the First Presidency’s statement must mean this applies to both heterosexual and homosexual marriages. And as of December 10, 2019, the Church’s FamilySearch program allows documentation of gay marriages and children of gay married couples. Although the Church hasn’t yet changed its policies on marriage, it seems clear the Lord is using the unprecedented April and December 2019 policy changes to incrementally prepare the way for revealing the “many things pertaining” to the “law of the priesthood” He promised He would reveal (see D&C 132:58).
Light is dawning. Doors are opening. God is continuing to reveal his plan of salvation. And that plan includes a place at His table and in His kingdom for His gay children, whom He dearly loves.
This is my story.