How is it that after months and months of planning out this letter, the moment I feel ready, I sit down to write my own words and the feelings of comfort evade me? Why now do I feel consumed with shame? It is not the shame of admitting to myself that I am indeed a gay son of God that pains me; rather, it is the shame that I carry as a result of harming other people because of it.
I am 57 years old.
I am married to a woman.
I am currently a Stake President.
I know myself to be completely and intrinsically gay.
I have disciplined, excommunicated and personally distanced myself from men who share the same attractions and feelings as I have. Not always because they deserved it, but because I didn’t want to admit to myself that they were doing the very thing I would also do.
In this regard I have not been my brother’s keeper. I have not been an instrument in the Lord’s hands. Frankly, I feel unworthy to even fulfill my calling. Yet, I remain. As if the more good I try to do, the less responsible I will be held for my actions.
This opportunity to share my story is not the usual coming out story. The overwhelming majority herein are much different than mine. The writers actually come out! I have so enjoyed the varying stories presented here. They have given me the ability to see my journey as individual and unique, yet beautiful and foreordained.
No one in this world knows that I am gay. I write this with the highest level of anonymity. I do not know how to come out. I don’t know how I will face the loss that will so surely come with my revelation. Who will accept me? Who will trust me? Who will not see me as broken, misaligned, and damaged? What calling again will I ever hold? What legacy shall I ever leave?
Recently a couple came into my office and shared with me that their daughter privately came out to them as lesbian. They encouraged her to remain silent until she was away from the home and away from her ward community. Her parents, experiencing some of the same feelings I feel right now, are befallen by shame. They do not want people in the community and particularly their ward family to think less of them. They do not want to be labeled, spoken ill of, or negated. And as a sacrifice for the comfort of the parents, they are willing to let their daughter collapse on THEIR alter of pride.
Instead of allowing her the opportunity to grow, they feel a duty to protect their own image.
What have we become as members of the Church of Jesus Christ that this is our first motivation? How much lower must we fall to lose sight of the Redeemer who promises to make us whole?
My advice to this grieving family was to honor the beauty of their daughter’s creation and to adore her with effulgent love. I encouraged them to find others in the community who shared their path. I affirmed resources that were in place for them and for their daughter. I invited them to place their faith in the hands of the Master, and not in the arm of flesh.
The obvious reactions on their tear streaked faces were not congruent with my counsel.
They will hide their daughter, just as I continue to hide myself.
The grief stricken parents left my office. I could not take my next appointment. I was stunned. Tears shed from my worried eyes. It was in that moment that I realized the monumental struggle so many of us who fall within the L G B T Q spectrum experience. How sad it is that after mustering the courage to come out, face our fears, and live our authentic reality, other people want to push us back into that closet! All this because they are worried about what others will think of THEM!
We have to do better than we are doing.
We must honor the experiences of our L G B T Q brothers and sisters! Where is the divine revelation on this topic? When will God speak to his prophets? Or better, when will his prophets listen? What must we do to rattle the attention of our Church leaders regarding the topic?
I want to come out.
I want to live honestly within my design.
I want to be free of the shame and guilt that the Church so easily allows me to drivel.
I want to be whole.
Brothers and sisters, help me. Help us.
Sharing these words has been so effervescently cathartic. I have no others to speak to, yet I feel this community of people understand. The Latter Gay Stories experience has opened my eyes to the many variations of our mortal existence. And for this experience I have been well fed.
I want to do the right thing.
Continue to help me find my way.
With sincere love and admiration,
Signed: One of 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.