Everyone says that going to college is your chance to “reinvent” yourself. I saw it as the opportunity to express my TRUE self and live the life I had been hiding from. I needed to be authentic and honest about myself. I am a gay man who doesn’t feel like he has to lie anymore; or be afraid of judgment from those around him.
This was the life I had hidden through my young adulthood. It always bothered me that as Latter-day Saints we were taught to be honest with our fellow man, but in many aspects of sexuality we are also told to hide and put away that beautiful part of us. We are advised not to talk about it, not to explore it, not to touch it.
Isn’t that lying?
I always thought it was. I felt that this repression was dishonest and disingenuous to our well being. But if being a “good Mormon” meant that I needed hide it to follow the Plan, that is what I would do. And so I hid who I was and I pretended to be something I wasn’t.
After high school graduation I choose to enroll in an out of state university. I told my parents that I wanted to wait a year to serve a mission (another lie), but I wanted to get away from home and live a more authentic life. College life was going to be more freeing for me, from the minute I stepped onto my college campus, I lived an openly gay life. All my new friends, professors, and roommates only knew me as a gay man… I was out to everyone except my family and friends back home. For the first time in my life, I was leading a double life and it was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. It was exhausting and shameful. I realized that I had replaced one lie (that I was pretending straight) with another lie (I was pretending to be straight).
This new “double life” required me to constantly lie to my family, which was horribly difficult as we are all insanely close. I started dealing with the stress in unhealthy ways. I started drinking in college and it led to drinking too much. When the alcohol could no longer numb the pain, I started experimenting with substances that are dangerous and hurting myself because I didn’t know how to deal with the pain of lying to my family.
The summer after my junior year I hit rock bottom and made the stupid decision to try and take my life. At the time it seemed that was the only way to end the struggle of lying to my loved ones. My parents brought me home to Utah after that and made plans for me to finish my undergrad locally.
My parents and I had many really long discussions about the events that led to my decision to try to complete suicide. I tried to play it off like college was too much and I couldn’t handle the stresses of living on my own. To my extreme surprise, my mother immediately called me out and asked, “Cameron, are you gay?” Bursting into tears, I asked her how she knew. “A mother always knows,” she answered, smiling. We hugged for longer than I can remember. The journey wasn’t easy. In fact, it was really hard. Coming from a traditional Mormon family doesn’t make for an easy coming out. But looking back, I couldn’t have asked for more of a blessing than being called out on my double life. It turns out you can’t fool those that know you best and moms sure know best.
For so long, I was terrified that coming out would sever my relationship with my family. I was always taught that being gay was sinful and like murder. My plan was to never come out, that way I couldn’t be sinful or like a murderer, but the truth is, that would have been the wrong decision. Coming out has made me who I am today—and now I am brave. I am stronger than ever because I have the support and encouragement of those that love me most.
I ended up graduating from school and got a job at a major marketing firm that I am obsessed with. I started dating and found myself. I also found my lover and I’m madly in love with a man that I plan to marry.
I’ve realized that the power comes with being honest—not necessarily being Mormon. I had to choose to live life unafraid of who or what will bring you down. Never getting caught up in the hate that surrounds us, but shine through and love yourself no matter what!
After all, this world could use more love.
And it always will need you.
We want to hear your story–here’s how to share it with us!
Each Sunday we feature a new Coming Out Story on the Latter Gay Stories blog. Coming out is an important process that is different for everyone; some experiences are difficult; while others are heart-warming and inspiring. Coming out is rarely easy–but your story will help others draw inspiration from your own experience. We rely on weekly submissions to keep the Coming Out Stories alive and invite you to share your story now.