My coming out story should have started around the time I realized I was gay. From my memory that would have been early in my college years, likely when I was around 21 years old. I distinctly recall finally recognizing within myself that I was indeed a homosexual. I vowed to make no one in this world aware of my “problem”. That was not a wise move. I should not have kept my identity hidden for so long. Shortly after entering college and moving to Florida I began to distance myself from the Church. Much of the reason for walking away from the Church was because I didn’t feel the LDS Church was orthodox enough. Once coming to grips with my sexuality, I realized that I needed to join or participate in a much more restrictive and strict religious community—even more restrictive than what the Mormons could offer. I needed to prove to God and myself that I didn’t want to be gay and that a rigorous faith structure could surely move me from my current situation. So, I took vows of poverty, chastity and obedience.
During those years I felt like that orthodoxy helped me to create doubts about my sexuality, but I could never completely shake the intrinsic feelings that I had, even though I honored the vows. In time, I realized that this life of orthodoxy was not sustainable. I think the bigger truth is that I was trying to use religion and dedication to convert or change my sexuality. It wasn’t working and I feared that maybe I was created gay for a reason, and maybe there was something okay about being gay.
After leaving the community, I began to join different social groups around the Orlando area. I needed friends and people who I could socialize with. In one social group I became friends with a man whom I shared much of my life story with. In the middle of one of our conversations, I simply blurted out that I was gay. He then asked me what I was planning on doing with my gayness? I wasn’t ready for the question, didn’t know how to respond and the only thing I could tell him was that that I was a 42-year-old virgin. He said if I wanted to do something about that to give him a call, and a couple of days after he made that offer, I called him.
My time with this man was both enlightening, exhilarating and made me drown in shame. I was indeed gay and I had enjoyed all the “gay experiences” that we had, but I couldn’t rid myself of that great Mormon shame. I was caught between what felt right and what other people would think of me. My only coping mechanism was to hide. Run away. Lock myself back into the closet of anonymity and determine to never come out again. For the first time in my life I felt free, and natural, but here I was, hiding myself again.
I caved. I buckled. I never returned another message or offer from this man and I returned to the LDS Church. After a lengthily repentance process, I was offered full fellowship back into the Church and I began a search for a wife. Getting married to a woman was the one thing I had not tried (or used) to cure me of homosexuality. Later, after dating many women (none of which I felt a deep connection to) I met and married an amazing woman. Looking back it was clear that we both married for companionship, not love. After more than 20 years of marriage, we decided to separate, and later divorced.
My second “coming out” happened the week of the shooting at the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando. I finally admitted to myself that I was gay, and that week I came out to my former spouse and publicly to the world.
I am in my seventies now.
I am out.
I have left the Church to maintain my dignity and sanity.
I have found love…and it was with myself.
Please do not replicate my mistakes. Come out. Be authentic and true to yourself. Do not worry about the conditional love disguised as the gospel of Jesus Christ. You deserve to be whole and you deserve to become your truest self.
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.