It is usually around this time of the year that we focus on giving gifts and running door to door giving out homemade treats to our neighbors. I remember this month for something equally special to me. In addition to the celebration of the birth of the Savior, December is also the month that I finally came out.
My family has a tradition where we go caroling to all the ward members that live in our neighborhood. This is something that we have done since I was really young. After bundling up in our warmest clothes we set off into the neighborhood with a basket of homemade gifts (my mom and sisters made) and our crackly Christmas voices.
That night like pioneer children who walked, and walked, and walked, we sang and sang and sang. I was too old for this family tradition. It was cold outside. I didn’t want to be there. To make things worse, most of the families that we wanted to visit weren’t home and my mom refused to go back home with a basket full of treats. She suggested that we knock on random doors and give out our treats and share our carols. I loathed the idea. Singing on the porch in the cold was already uncomfortable, but doing it on a stranger’s porch was even worse.
I always knew I was gay, but never had told anyone in real life. I always wanted to share this important part of me, but I feared that the people who were in my life would think different of me. I think this is a reality for anyone who is compelled to share something so special about themselves. On this particular night I wasn’t thinking about being gay or pondering it at all. I thought I had safely crammed it into the darkest corners of my shadows so that I didn’t have to recognize or deal with it.
The hymn next on our list was O’ Little Town of Bethlehem.
My sister knocked on the door of a house I had never visited. No one answered. She knocked again. Suddenly the living room light turned on and the door opened. A nice older woman opened the door and smiled from ear to ear. We began caroling.
As we ended the song the sweet old lady invited us into her home. We tried to scurry off the porch and off to the next home, but she insisted. Once we stepped into her home I noticed the typical knick knacks and doilies that are consistent with old woman décor. One thing immediately caught my attention; a rainbow flag placed prominently on the rise of the mahogany upright piano.
Why would this old woman, a person I would assume to be set in her ways have such a symbol of progressivism displayed?
She caught me staring at the flag a few times. I looked away to not invite a conversation, but she recognized my interest.
“Do you like my flag,” she asked?
Stunned, I had no time to formulate a sheltered response.
“I do,” was the best I could mumble.
“I display it in honor of my grandson. He lives in Seattle and is married to the most wonderful young man.” She beamed with gratitude and praise.
She went on to share a few stories about him, including their wedding, how well he treats his husband, the love that they share and most importantly how loved and accepted they both are in their family. During the whole conversation she never mentioned her “gay grandson” or “gay marriage”, she always referred to him as her ‘grandson’ and ‘married’. I noticed her quiet and pure love as she spoke.
She immediately turned to my parents and smiled, but said nothing.
My mother, in an obviously uncomfortable situation, went along with the conversation and added a few lighthearted and slightly sympathetic gestures towards the LGBT community. She basically gave the typical “we love everyone as God’s children” speech, but I could tell that she was not comfortable with the whole topic.
We sang one last carol in the living room of this perfect woman: Silent Night.
For me, all was calm. All was bright. And I indeed felt radiant beams from this dear woman.
We returned home after a few more stops and I went into the piano room of our home and started playing a few quiet Christmas hymns. I wanted to spend time alone to consider my sexuality and like the birth of the Savior, reflect on the great change that would come as people began to learn His true character. I wondered what my life would be like if I stayed closeted forever? Would the world benefit from my hidden identity? Could I do more good in this world by living my life in the fullness of light? What would Christianity be like if Jesus had not proclaimed His truth? What if He hid His identity to those that needed to know him the most? I had to come out.
About twenty minutes into my alone time, my mom walked in and sat down as I played the piano. My heart seemed to beat in tune with the metronome. It raced faster and faster as I neared the end of the sheet music. This was my chance. I played the last few notes of the song and said a silent prayer. A few moments of silence proceeded and my mother looked up at me as if she was waiting for me to say something.
I looked at her for a moment and quickly she asked, “is everything okay?”
I thanked her for dragging me out to carol that night. I admitted that I wasn’t in the best of moods and that didn’t invite the spirit of what we were trying to accomplish. And then I told her how much I appreciated the older woman who invited us in. I commented about how genuine and lovely she was, and how much she loved her grandson.
And without giving my mother a chance to rebut, I said, “mom, I am just like her grandson.”
My coming out was that simple. Finally, it was out. I had said the words that couldn’t find their way to the surface on their own. It was done.
My mother immediately stood up and hugged me. Tears filled her eyes and she simply told how much she loved me. That was all I needed right then. It was enough.
In time we discussed the topic further. The next day I talked to my dad about it. He too was kind and understanding, but also reserved and concerned for my spiritual well being. He knows that my coming out means his dreams for me as a priesthood holder and traditional father must change.
My siblings all know. My family all knows and I am slowly coming out to friends and work associates. My life is infinitely better for coming out. This time of the year is the season of giving. Give the world the gift of transparency. Come out for yourself, come out for your well being, and come out to thrive.
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.