I remember it like it was yesterday. Here I was: 23 years old, and serving in the U.S. Army during the time of “Don’t ask, don’t tell.” Like so many others in my situation, I was terrified of coming out. Most of that fear came because of the reality that I could get discharged from the Army, but for me, I stayed closeted because I didn’t want to be ostracized and shamed by the people closest to me. I suppose that is the price we pay for friendships and relationships…we are willing to sacrifice our true happiness, for a level of happiness dictated by how other people treat us. Sad.
When 9/11 happened, it was my last year of the Army, and I just remember staring at the television that night thinking that any ordinary day, it could have been me in one of those buildings, or me that died in a random accident. Think about it, anyone of us (even you reading this) could just walk into work one day, and never come home. It was on that day, September 11, 2001 that I decided I couldn’t live the rest of my life as a lie, and deny myself any chance at true happiness just because I was afraid of what people would think of me.
The first person I called was my aunt. I am not sure why I called her first, but she was the first person I thought of. I told her to sit down because I had something important to tell her. When I told her, she said “Oh! I thought you were going to tell me you were dying!” We both laughed and instantly what I had to do became so much easier.
The next call was to my dad. I would have loved to have the conversation with him in person, but I was stationed away from Utah and I felt like I needed to share my story that day! When I told my dad, he said, “Well that doesn’t change anything between you and me.” And I couldn’t help but cry. It was not the reaction that I had expected. There was no awkward pause in his voice or trepidation in his follow up. I felt like his words were sincere and genuine.
Coming out to my mom was a bit different. I hesitated telling her so I waited until I had some leave and visited her in person. To best understand my mom, you can picture the woman who aspires to be the General Relief Society president, but never made it past the Primary. She always believed God was going to move her up the Mormon ladder, but her pride and self centeredness kept her from interacting well with people. She was often judgey and fit right in the typical Utah County ward. When I told my mom, she said, “When did you decide that?” And I had to explain to her that that’s not exactly how it works. It was frustrating, but nothing that I didn’t expect. Ultimately she accepted it in her own way. For that I am thankful, nonetheless.
One of the biggest reasons for staying closeted was the idea that I would lose friends. The reality? Yeah, I lost a few friends for sure, and some who I “knew” would never accept it, I chose to lose contact with, because I figured it would just be easier for both of us. Over the years I have often found myself regretting not giving them a chance to decide for themselves; maybe a few would have proved me wrong. Maybe not.
I am so glad I took the leap! It has now been 18 years out of the closet and overall, I consider myself very lucky to have had such a loving and supporting family and group of friends. I also realize that not everyone’s coming out story has a happy ending, and that’s why we all must stand united as a community, and why I am so glad to be a part of this community of people who are sharing their stories and lending their experiences. I am really proud to be a Latter Gay Mormon!
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.