No matter how much you’ve tried to deny it, you’ve likely come to the realization that you ARE gay, or lesbian, or trans or somewhere on the spectrum. For most of us, in or out of the Church, you’ve really known it for as long as you could remember, but hoped that it would magically go away or fix itself. I know that feeling, it is how I felt when I was still in the closet. I hope to share a few things in this coming out story, but maybe the biggest is that you come to know (if you don’t know already) that you and I are NOT broken. You are merely at a crossroads in life that millions of people have, are, and will navigate.
Looking back to middle and high school, I remember lying in bed at night not able to sleep, clenching the sheets over my head asking myself, “why me? Why did this have to happen to ME?!” “I am doing my VERY best in Church! I am worthy of the priesthood!” “Why am I the one being PUNISHED for this? What did I do wrong?”
I had convinced myself that if my terrible secret got out it would hurt all of the important people in my life. So I played a part. I played a part of someone I was supposed to be. I would be the perfect Mormon kid…someone that was NOT me. There is nothing more damaging to your soul than “living” life pretending to be someone else. It puts you in a dark place that seems to get bigger, darker, and more empty, and even lonelier with each passing day. For those reading this that are not yet “out”, you may think you’re all alone, and in all of your despair you don’t realize…there are so many (just like (but not exactly like) you) that are sharing your pain. It’s that damned closet.
Well…step outside. It gets better. Life is so much brighter outside of the closet.
It took me a few years after my mission and while going to college to finally come out. My coming out was YEARS late and I should have shared my story much earlier in life, but even at 24 years old, it was time to do it…officially.
My sisters were the ones that helped me over my threshold. I was close to them and they knew I was gay, but I didn’t know they knew. I thought I had everyone fooled. I had been seeing a guy for about a year and he eventually moved in with me as my “roommate.” My sisters had me over for dinner one night and after dessert just flat out asked me if I was gay.
I was so shocked and blindsided that I couldn’t do anything but confess the truth.
And as I heard myself for the first time admitting to someone, “I am gay,” I overwhelmingly felt scared, yet liberated. I knew that from that point on life was going to change in a major way. A part of me released the Church and the entire obligation I felt toward it. At that moment I also I knew that I had to tell my parents, and when the time was right, I did.
Telling my parents was not easy. I chose to tell my parents separately. My mom cried and tried to deny it for a week, but eventually (probably from some coaching from my sisters) came to a realization. She told me, “You are my son, and I will always love you no matter what. I just want you to be happy; it is just really difficult to know that you will not be in the Celestial Kingdom with us.” Her statement about the Celestial Kingdom and me being the reason why our family wouldn’t be “together forever” was one of the hardest things she could have told me. The weight of that statement was almost unbearable. With my dad I thought it would go one of two ways. Either he’d blow his top and exile me from they’re life or he’d be like, “Okay.” In hindsight, I was silly to think he’d react any differently than the latter, because he told me, “You are my son, and I will always love you no matter what. I just want you to be happy.” I truly am one of the lucky ones to have had such a supportive and generally loving family to help me through one of the most difficult times in my life.
I really wish everyone had a simple coming out experience. Imagine the world where we won’t have to come out. We just bring home someone that we love and there is no reaction to gender! I can’t wait for that day. Unfortunately we are not there yet…it’s not the world we live in—especially in Mormonism. There’s a full gamut of conditions that will determine the outcome of your coming out. What IS consistent in everyone’s coming out story is that you must rise above the fear and doubt.
When the time is right you will know its time. Also know that you will never be able to control the reactions of the people you tell. But it is important to give people the opportunity to know who you are! Luckily there are plenty of resources that will help you out of the dark, over the threshold, and into the light – especially now. The whole Latter Gay Stories resource is full of stories from people who were in your shoes, lean into them. Listen to them. Reach out to them. They are here to help. We are here to help. I also suggest checking out Affirmation and other supportive Facebook groups. Watch the videos from Latter Gay Stories, they will inspire you, make you smile, and probably make you cry.
Throughout my coming out experiences (and I say experiences, because you don’t just do it once) I’ve lost some people and found new people. The important ones – the ones that really mattered – stuck around. I’ve discovered a whole new gay world that I never knew existed. There have been ups and downs just like anyone’s roller coaster through life. Some people will love you and some people will hate you. Some really won’t give a damn. There will be romance and heartache; new life and lives ended. Life will be life – gay, straight, whatever. But at least you can go through yours and you can own it as the person that you truly are. Don’t wake up one day in your fifties and realize that you’ve lived someone else’s life, because you can’t get those years back. Come out while you still have your life ahead of you so many people are excited to meet the real 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.