Growing up I was very fortunate to have a family that was really gay friendly. We were not the typical Latter-day Saint family. My dad’s job allowed us to travel around the country, giving us the opportunity to live in many diverse communities. I also have two gay uncles (one from my dad’s side and one from my mom’s side) and everyone in our immediate and extended family is accepting of them.
I remember a time in the fifth grade when my mom told me that she would love me no matter who I loved. It’s funny, because at the time I had no idea what she meant. As a fifth grader all I cared about was playing football and not getting cooties. I thought it was odd that she would want to have that kind of conversation. I shrugged it off, but didn’t forget what she told me.
As I got older I started to comprehend what my mother’s words really meant.
In middle school all my friends talked about girls and trying to get girlfriends, but I wasn’t interested. That’s when I started to realize that perhaps I was different than my friends.
I really, really wanted to hug and be held by a boy.
I wondered what I did to become so different. Why did I not desire a girlfriend, or girls, or girl things…at all? Was it a result of living in different communities? Did I have too many guy friends? Was I odd or awkward? Was I not reading my scriptures diligently enough? Was it because I struggled with things that the Church had labeled as sin?
It took me a lot of time to work through my personal identity, but it was during my freshman year of high school that I realized I was a gay. I suppose that first coming out experience was to myself. After years of trying to “be good” and “live more righteously” and exhausting myself with endless church callings I was the same amount of gay than I was before. I remember how defeating it was asking God remove my attractions to boys, and nothing would change. Truth be told, I was becoming more and more “gay” as I got older. Not because it was growing inside of me, but because I was learning to love myself more completely.
I knew I had to start telling the people around me that I was gay. Based on how my family respected our other gay family members, I knew they would be a safe place. Still (even though I knew they were affirming) there was so much trepidation. Would coming out change things? Would they see me different? Would I wreck the whole celestial plan of salvation for our family? Could I just stay celibate and do what the Church asked of me? All of these questions raced through my mind.
One Sunday, after church, my mom found me crying in my room. It had been a really hard day. In our teacher’s quorum class our lesson was on the law of chastity and the teacher brought up homosexuals. He had nothing good to say about us. I really wanted to love him and forgive him for the harsh words he taught, but how does he get such a vile mindset? There are real people behind the label “homosexual”! I am gay and I am none of the awful things the Church teaches about people like me.
What is wrong with the Church…or what is wrong with me?
My mom put her arm around me and said, “I am here to talk if you want to. Or I can just sit here and quietly keep you company.”
Within seconds I told her everything! I started with the years that I knew something about me was different. I told her about my time trying to be the best Latter-day Saint possible. I told her about the struggle to hide my identity. I shared how much I had prayed and bargained with God to fix me. I told her how much I wanted to be normal and to have a happy life. She let me vent and she let me share my feelings.
When I was done venting, and the tears had stopped, she gave me the biggest hug and said, “Jeremiah, you are normal. You have every opportunity to have a happy life!” She continued by inviting me to make some short and long term goals. She wanted to talk about dating and about crushes. She wondered if I had told anyone else, if I had a support system of LGBT friends. I felt so much love and concern from her.
I know I have a unique experience, but for those parents who might read this need to be prepared for an opportunity to embrace your child when they come out. For so many families it is not a question of IF a child comes out, but rather, WHEN!
Today, I am living my best life. I am dating the most wonderful guy and I’m less than a year away from graduating from University. I owe my happiness to parents who were willing to look beyond a faith tradition that doesn’t understand me and allies who love unconditionally!
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.
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