Hi, I’m Amy. I was adopted from India when I was 3 years old. My brother was adopted from Bulgaria when he was 7 and when I was 9. We were adopted to a single woman by choice. She passed away of lymphoma when I was just barely 12. I lived a very privileged life for the most part in Salt Lake City, Utah, my family didn’t claim to be LDS but since my mom passed, I joined the church with the notion that I would be forever with my mom. My activity in the Church began to change after Proposition 8 in 2008 and when my brother shared with me that he was dating a guy in 2009.
My Coming Out Process:
I came out because the shooting in Orlando shook me to the core. I don’t understand how one person can have that much hate towards one group of people. I asked my therapist and some friends why this has affected me so much. It wasn’t like I knew them or their families. They both have said that this could have easily happened to my friends and me at the Pride festival or at a local gay bar. I can relate on some level what these victims went through for being different, for being themselves, and not caring what others think of them for loving someone that their family and friends don’t agree with their life choices.
I always knew that I connected to girls better emotionally, spiritually, and mentally. I didn’t know that was attraction though. I was in awe of my female teachers and wanted to be like them. I was that student who had to be the teacher’s pet. I just thought they were so cool.
In Jr. High my friends and I would play the M.A.S.H. game to see who we would marry, what kind of house we would live in, or how many kids we would have, etc. I just went with it because it was another way to connect to my friends. Then high school came; all of my friends were girls. I didn’t have any guy friends but had one boyfriend but didn’t think anything of it. But I thought making out with that one guy was weird and awkward for me. I only went to school dances with guys and if I asked them out. I didn’t date other than that. But I didn’t mind hanging out with my best friends and their boyfriends because I felt like I was still part of their group. I figured that I would bloom and actually date in college. I wasn’t too worried about it.
I went off to Dixie State College at the time. I thought attending Institute (LDS) and getting involved with the young single adult ward (congregation) activities would help to be more social and viable to date. Turned out that I chose to bond with my grandma than go to the church functions. I spent a lot of time with my grandma, my great aunt and my great uncle along with spending time and doing exchanges with the sister missionaries. I really enjoyed my 1.5 years of doing exchanges with the sister missionaries and assisting them in the lessons they would teach. I adored them and cherished my time with them. This helped me get on my mission in Kentucky. I thought living and being around girls 24/7 would be a challenge for me because I’ve always had my own room and bathroom. But it wasn’t, it was such a great experience and time in my life that I will never forget. Then I got home and got back into the Institute class and joined an LDS Sorority. I loved my time in the Rho Sorority. But once again, I didn’t date all that much. Between my time at University of Utah and at Westminster College, I only dated two guys for a short time. I had no connection with either of them.
Proposition 8 came out and at the time I supported the church’s stance on the matter. Then a friend of mine in high school reamed me for taking such a stance. I didn’t understand what it all actually meant.
I just thought I was being a good faithful member of the Church. But then something started to change in my brain and began to do more research on gay rights and what is the LGBTQ community especially with people who grew up in a strong faith and learned that they are gay. I started reading stories and research studies of how they combat with their feelings, desires, with their faith upbringing. Was it a choice to be gay or were people born that way? Then I started to attend church out of obligation not out of desire because of the constant talks and lessons to get married and have a family. I had decided that if marriage wasn’t going to happened for me in this life, I’ll have a chance to marry in the next. I was fine with the notion of following in my mom’s footsteps in fostering or adopting children on my own and that I didn’t need to marry a guy to have that. I’ll admit that I am a people pleaser and was trying to stay face with my family and friends as the unwavering LDS member that I use to be in my adolescent years. I was becoming codependent on what people thought of me if I stopped attending church. But I kept attending just on Sundays. I had no desire to participate in the weekly activities.
In 2009 my brother called me up to share his good news that he is dating someone and it happened to be a guy. I remember the call distinctly; I was sitting in my car about to go do my visiting teaching for that month. It did take me back for a brief moment, but then I moved on from that hiccup and asked questions about his boyfriend. I was so excited for him and couldn’t wait to have the same joy in my life that he was having in his.
I remained a faithful Mormon and attended church for several years. I got to the point where I was fine living in ambiguity between my feelings for the church and supporting my brother. I was so relieved that I didn’t have to choose at the time. The church was making great strides in bridging the gap between them as an organized religion and the strengths of the LGBT community. In the temple recommend interview when they ask if we affiliate with a group that opposes the church, I would say well I would support my brother if he wanted to marry his partner someday. But the question was really asking if I am outspoken against the church for this cause. I clearly stated no and would get the recommend. I still hadn’t dated anyone since 2010.
Fast forward to 2015, I started getting these feelings and desires of wanting to physically be and just be with women. My therapist and I started talking about my dreams and what I fantasized. I shared that I fantasize having sex with a woman. I told my therapist that the idea of being with a woman scares me. And that I shouldn’t feel this way because I knew what it meant for me and the Church. It terrified me to lose the Church because then I would lose my support system of 28 years along with my childhood friends and their families.
The therapist and I would throw out percentages of my physical attraction to men vs. women. As we talked more, the percentage of liking women grew and the men diminished. I also became devastated by this realization and I began to fervently that I prayed to God for him to take these feelings and desires away so I can remain strong in the church. After praying and fasting for this for about a year, they weren’t going away. I started sharing these feelings to the closest people in my life, my few childhood friends in and out of the church, and my family in June and September 2015. My childhood friends mostly said it’s understandable that my strongest connection is with women because I was raised by a strong woman and that I didn’t have a chance to see how a marriage under the covenant (in the temple) really worked out their problems, interacted, supported, and cared for each other. They said no wonder I’m confused. They also said that I might be praying and asking God incorrectly since he may not be able to take these feelings and desires away. I remember so many in the Church telling me that “this might be my lot in life that I need to deal with.” They were saying to talk to the bishop and stake president to get advice on the matter. But I could predict what they would advise me to do. The typical Sunday School answers: pray which I’m already doing, fast: check, read the scriptures: but the scriptures don’t have anything about homosexuality, keep attending church, pay tithing, etc.
November 6, 2015 is a day I’ll never forget.
A former member of the church leaked out the new church handbook on Facebook and shared with the world the new church policies about homosexuality and its stain of apostasy. The policies that children who are 8 years old and who live with their gay parent(s) cannot be baptized, receive the Priesthood, or serve a mission. The policy also said that in time these children could chose to be baptized when they are 18 years old but only AFTER they denounce their parent(s) who are gay. This is discrimination against the gay members in the church who may still believe in the doctrine of the gospel. I feel that the church took away the parent(s) choice to make for their own child. I felt like this policy alienated the children no matter what perspective you have on these policies.
That policy changed me.
I got tired of telling people individually especially to people who feel that it is their place to give unsolicited advice by telling me how I should feel or think about myself. I continued to follow the process of praying and fasting that I have been taught in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. And yet I feel that this direction in life is right for me.
Being gay isn’t a lot in my life or something to endure through or suppress.
I am still Amy whether I’m gay or straight. My personality hasn’t changed. My soul is not your responsibility to save. I do not need a bishop, missionary, or any type of preaching. I just want love and support even if you don’t agree. I want to be able to share some of my experiences and feelings. I don’t want to have to censor them. I am not going to be grotesque or indecent about what I share, but I just want to be authentic and be myself. I have received so much love and understanding already from my own family and some dear friends.
Since I’ve started living an authentic life and no longer living out of obligation, I feel so liberated and exhilarated! I have not been this happy in years! The family and friends who have supported me noticed that I’m constantly grinning from ear to ear. I am more relaxed and more chilled. I love my life and the new people I am meeting. There are no other words to express my emotions about coming into myself finally at the age of 36 years old. I am so blessed for every single person old and new who have and are helping me to become the best version of myself. I know that nothing in my life could be possible without my mom in adopting me.
I am gay and proud of the person I am becoming!
Life is incredibly short therefore I’m choosing to live moment to moment authentically. Since coming out I have left the Church. I have found and resonate more with Buddhism and Dharma which makes more sense and is accessible to all because of universal truths that we all face in our short lives. I continue to learn, grow every day, self reflect, focus what’s in my control, trying to live equanimous and live moment to moment.
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This story is dedicated to helping people learn to love better, while fostering an atmosphere of understanding. When we know better, we do better.