When I was around 15 years old, I noticed that I had stopped having crushes on girls and felt exclusively attracted to other boys my age. The realization took some time to sink in – and it was the scariest thing one could imagine! I was already struggling with feeling “worthy” at that time and having to face the possibility of being gay wasn’t adding to my sense of self-worth… at all.
In fact, I started hating myself. Those were some really dark years, only brightened up by my passion for art and music and the love for my family, which kept me alive.
Fast forward, when I had turned 18, I was called to serve a mission. I was secretly hoping that maybe God would take away my same-sex attraction if I served Him well. So I went.
My mission was both a really tough experience and a wonderful spiritual adventure I wouldn’t swap for anything. Probably one of the toughest experiences I’ve had was when I was transferred to a new area where I would serve with a new companion – and upon meeting him I instantly knew I had a crush on him. And he had one on me, too! Can you imagine what it was like living together in an apartment, knowing that we both liked each other, but remaining absolutely silent about it? We would give each other hints, start random pillow fights at night and my companion even told me that he came out to his parents before his mission. I was not ready to open up about my homosexuality at that point, as I was too afraid of that part of myself, but I remember lying in bed every night just longing to tell him that I loved him. What a bizarre situation it was! Having to go out to talk to strangers about a gospel that teaches God will only allow heterosexual married couples into heaven, while being secretly in love with the person you were teaching these concepts with.
Fast forward again, I returned from my mission, served in the church for 4 years and started dating girls. There was this one girl from my mission I had a strong emotional connection with and I visited her in her home country a few times. She told me she was in love with me and had even dreamed that we would marry, but I simply didn’t feel attracted to her physically. It broke my heart to see her suffer because of my inability to fully embrace her beauty. She is a really beautiful girl, but to me she was just a friend, nothing more. I came to final terms with it when we kissed one night (after she had insisted for days that we should try it to find out if things could work out between us) and I felt nothing. No butterflies, no heat rushing through my body. I finally knew I couldn’t continue dating her and making her feel like I was playing with her, so I ended it there. She got married to another guy a few months later and I attended her wedding.
In my home ward I would also try to date girls, but it was always the same story – we would get along perfectly on an emotional and spiritual level, but once we started getting closer to each other, I would always back off. These girls must have thought I was just having issues with opening up, and that was what I was trying to convince myself of all the time, but inside I knew that it just wouldn’t work out. I fell in love with a couple guys I met at YSA conventions and even with a good friend of mine from my ward, but I always tried to push these feelings down, since I was taught they were just “Satan trying to tempt me”. This train of thought seems so messed up to me now.
When the dudes I fell in love with would get married to girls it always felt like a punch right into my face. I was happy for them, but my inside was dying from the thought that I’d probably never have the privilege of being fully in love with someone and being loved back. I could have opted for a fake marriage to a girl, but even the thought makes me cringe – not even for my sake alone, but for the sake of the girl who would be married to a guy who was secretly in love with other males. How heartbreaking that must be for her to find out, especially when you have established a family together, having kids and stuff. I knew I wouldn’t – I couldn’t – do this to any girl.
So I settled with the idea of just staying single for my entire life. After all, I had my siblings, parents and friends to hang out with, right? Who needs a relationship, who needs intimacy? Aren’t they overrated anyway?
Well, so I forced myself to think and it made me really depressed. When I thought about my future, although work-wise and church-wise everything was going just perfectly, it felt like there was a dark cloud overshadowing it. I started idealizing the thought of getting cancer, of dying early, because what was I to live for? I know it sounds a little dramatic, because in the end there is so much to live for, even when you’re not in a relationship. But being 24 I have never had the chance of experiencing love and intimacy with another person, of kissing someone and feeling all tingly inside. Seeing all my former mission companions getting engaged – even the one I had been in love with secretly – only added to my depression. Life was unfair. And so was God.
Well, so I thought.
Until I had a severe panic attack one day while driving to a game night with my sister. Interestingly, prior to that, I had begged God in prayer for weeks that He would give me an opportunity to talk about my same-sex feelings with someone, because it was eating at me from the inside. The panic attack left me in pure anxiety for about a week and I just knew I had to get rid of all the emotional burdens I was carrying in order to be able to recover. So I told my family that I was gay.
What relief! My “darkest of all secrets” I had carried for almost 10 years was finally out in the daylight! I had to get accustomed to the thought that my family now knew about it for a few days, but it was the most freeing experience I had had up until that point in my life. I told my family that I’d have to find out together with God what His plan for my life was. Fortunately they were all very accepting and positive, although still shocked about the news, as no one ever noticed anything (I guess I am a good actor… haha).
Two weeks after my coming out I went on a vacation, all alone. While laying at the beach I had a lot of time to reflect on my life and what I wanted for my future. I decided I wanted to live an authentic life and be true to who God made me to be. So I resigned from the church.
The struggle is still real, there are tough days and better days, but the realization that I can fully embrace who I am without having to feel guilty about it, is something I wouldn’t swap for anything. I did love serving in the church, I did love being there for others, but I have realized that I can still be a force for the good in this world without the church in my life. And maybe even more so now, because I can finally start loving myself fully and be capable of more love and compassion for all kinds of people – not only the ones who fit into the Mormon paradigm.
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 your story now.