Unlike many coming out stories I have heard, I didn’t know from a young age. Maybe that’s because in my case I was still attracted to men, maybe it’s because I didn’t realize that there were feelings I felt that meant I was different.
I grew up believing in the church with my whole heart. I had always been happy, or at least I thought I was.
The first time the LGBT community was introduced to me was through my uncle. He was getting married. To a man. I remember my mom sitting down with me to explain it. That he liked men, and was marrying one, and she was going because she loved her brother. I accepted it and moved on. I didn’t see anything wrong with it.
I can remember the social media buzz after the Supreme Court Ruling. I breezed right on by, thinking nothing of it. It had nothing to do with me, but I had nothing against it. Little did i know I was about to realize how much it would affect me.
I was 15 and had just been introduced to porn. It was my dirty secret, something that I knew I wasn’t supposed to be watching but I really didn’t feel like I could stop. I noticed that I was paying much more attention to the women in the videos than the men. That was the beginning to a vast number of late nights, wondering if it was possible I was attracted to girls just as much as I was attracted to guys.
My sophomore year and second semester, I attended the Gay Straight Alliance at my school. I had been struggling with my friends and believed that maybe this group of people would be able to help me understand what was going on in my brain.
I was instantly accepted. I didn’t have to do anything, prove anything to receive and partake in their kindness. It was a stark contrast to the almost rigid social structure that was the youth in my stake. Everyone was nice to each other, of course. But if you were deemed different, as I had, you were quietly shunned. To be accepted for something I had always been told I couldn’t express was amazing, almost euphoric.
It didn’t take long for everything to fall apart. First my parents found out by going through my text messages. Then I told a few of my closest friends, thinking they would still accept me. Then they told others. Or I did. I believed that it wasn’t a big deal. I had never believed it was wrong the way many members did, even before I came out. So I was surprised when people were uncomfortable around me. If someone had told me about what was in store from me, from the church, I do not think I would have been so open.
At one point, I had been talking to a girl in my ward about prom, while also having mentioned my sexuality. I really believed that since I wasn’t going to act on it that no one would care. But she told the bishop I was hitting on her, and he told my dad who was extremely angry when I got home. That is an experience I do not believe I can ever forget.
I had multiple leaders approach me about it. One even told me that I was too young to know because my brain wasn’t fully developed. I was angry. I didn’t understand, I couldn’t understand why they couldn’t see that having attractions towards every gender identity was as natural to me as it was for them to be attracted to the opposite gender.
I began to be very depressed. I didn’t see how anyone could want me. I was so desperate to believe in the church, even though deep down inside I knew I had begun to pull away.
It all culminated in swallowing a bag of pills in my school bathroom. It didn’t work, but it forced me to stop and think. Was being a member of the church I didn’t even know if I believed in worth the emotional and mental trauma I was putting myself through? I had no hope that the church could provide me with a future in which I could be happy. I longed to know what was on the other side.
It took time. I had to come out over and over again trying to figure out who I was. My parents were always the hardest part. My sexuality was easier for them to process, I think. But when I told them I was not a girl, but someone in between a girl and a boy, it wasn’t as easy.
The more and more I came out, to my family, to my friends, I realized I was becoming happier. It does not come without struggle but I accept it.
Finally making the decision to leave the church was for me, the best decision I ever could have made. I’ve learned how to love myself and have confidence. I’ve gained a voice. I’ve gained hope in my future.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints will always be a part of my past. It will continue to be a feature in my future in the lives of my family members.
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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.
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