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.

We want to hear your story—please 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.

 Your story can be shared anonymously.

CLICK HERE TO SUBMIT YOUR STORY

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