I will never forget the feeling of standing by that mailbox. It was 10pm in a dimly lit USPS lobby. I stood there staring at the slit in the wall, trembling with anxiety. It had to have been for at least half an hour that I stood there clutching the 3 page letter that was going to change my life forever. The letter I had spent many sleepless nights writing, and revising, and editing, and sweating over. I had spent my life doing everything possible to avoid this moment, and it was here. And there would be no going back.
A year previously I was a very active Latter Day Saint. I held three callings, I was striving to keep my temple covenants, I was dating a wonderful woman (who to this day I admire for her loving kindness and patience), etc. There was just one problem. I was gay. I had known for years, but I had hoped that I could “fix it” or at least pray it into submission. I held out hope for a “normal” life. As a result, half of my twenties were spent in deep depression, and were filled with a desire for god to take me from this life so I wouldn’t have to face the temptation any longer.
Every night when I left my girlfriend’s house, I would sit in my car and cry. This path wasn’t working, and I knew it. Eventually, she became the first person I came out to as I broke down in tears in her living room on Christmas Eve. Her quick reaction of love and kindness blew me away.
Months later a friend I had made in an LDS support group call Northstar introduced me to the man who I would eventually go on to date and marry. It was unlike anything I had ever experienced. I had held hands with girls before, but when I held his hand for the first time, it was as if lightning shot through my body, and I was overcome with a feeling of rightness. I knew immediately two things. One, that I was not wrong or sinful. I didn’t feel an ounce of the shame that comes from doing something you know you shouldn’t do. Two, there was no way I was going to be able to stay single and celibate my whole life. There was no way I was going to give up the possibility of having a family; let the consequence follow.
So there I was, months later, standing by the mailbox. About to tell my parents the secret I had hidden since I was 9 or 10. I was in love, and it was about to blow up my world.
But here’s the thing about people who are willing to blow up their world for something, and I hope the parents and friends of an LGBT person hear this carefully. If your friend, or your son, or your daughter comes to you and tells you something of this magnitude, that person has been mentally preparing to lose you. They have thought through every possible scenario, and they are prepared for the worst. At least I was.
I encourage you to exceed their expectations, and all you need to have in order to do that is unconditional love for them.
And to those who may still be deep in the closet, or perhaps on the precipice of blowing up your life in order to find it, I say prepare faster. Do something small to make progress. Tell a trusted friend. Let them offer you a shoulder to lean on, or cry on. Then tell another trusted friend. And if that friend is your mom or dad, do it. Don’t let fear shape your world like I did for so long. Because one day you’ll look back on it as wasted time. Happiness and authenticity await you, and it’s going to come with new friends, and better relationships with old ones. You may lose a few, and that’s inevitable. But it won’t be as many as you think, and it will be drowned out by the chorus of love and support from the people who really care about you.
And if you need someone to stand with you at the mailbox, I’m there with 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.