Hey everyone! My name is Crystal. I’m a mother of two amazing kids, I’m a licensed nail technician and soon will be a massage therapist. I love hiking and being outdoors with my kids. I was born and raised in the LDS church.
I realized I was “different” when I was around 6. I was always attracted to girls when my friends were always talking about their boy crushes. But at that age I didn’t know any different. When I got into high school I learned what lesbian/gay was and that’s when I knew there was a word for what I was feeling. One of my leaders in Young Women’s told the story of her being lesbian before she met her husband, so I really looked up to her after that. Growing up in the church, with a dad who was absolutely NOT ok with gays, I swore I would never come out. I met my kids’ father when I was 18 and we were together until I was 26… But we’ll get back into this.
One of my best friends in high school told me she was bisexual, so I told her my big secret in 10th grade and my exact words were “I have to tell you something, but you have to take it to the grave!” And she did. She passed away when we were 21, and she kept that secret. It hit me so hard that she was the only one who knew my secret and now I felt alone with my secret again. A couple years later I tried to tell my husband, and that did not go over well. So then I told him I was lying and didn’t know why I would say something like that. About 3 years after that, things weren’t good with me and my husband. So after we split up, I decided I was 26 and I was done hiding who I was.
I came out publicly in December of 2012 and it went well enough. I came out first to my dad, and I was TERRIFIED!! Knowing how he felt about gay people, I thought for sure he was going to hate me. The first thing out of his mouth was something I was expecting, so it wasn’t a shock for me, but it definitely hurt. My family was supportive for the most part, my dad thought I was crazy and going through a phase of course. My sister surprisingly knew, which was a huge shock to me. I was very scared to come out publicly and lose friends and loved ones. I had many LDS friends/family delete me off social media when I came out, including said YW Leader I looked up to. I think I will always have that fear of not being accepted by friends in the LDS church, it’s something I’ll always worry about. The only thing that matters is the people who stood by me, and continue to stand by me, no matter my decision, even if they didn’t agree with my lifestyle. After coming out, I think the words that hurt the most to hear is “I love you, but….” There doesn’t by need to be a ‘but’ in your sentence, just unconditional love. The love for your LGBTQ+ loved one shouldn’t change because of their sexual orientation.
I moved to Denver that December to live with my sister, and that’s when I was called to be a primary teacher. I told the bishop I didn’t think I could and came out to him. After that he sent me to therapy to become straight, and I wasn’t having any of that. So I told my counselor to please not focus on that, that I am who I am and we can focus on other things I needed therapy for. He was absolutely amazing and helped me through some dark things.
While in Denver I still attended church and spoke with the missionaries, but I didn’t live the “straight” life. I met my now ex-wife while living there. She was always very supportive of me going to church and having the missionaries over. We moved to Phoenix in 2016, right before our wedding. That was about the time the church came out with the new rule that children of LGBT parents couldn’t be baptized at 8. That’s when I left the church. I didn’t think it was fair that my son couldn’t be baptized if he wanted to be because of my life choice, even though I was in the church.
While living Arizona I didn’t attend church. My wife always wanted to try out some non-denominational churches, but if I couldn’t go to the church I had grown up in, I wasn’t going to church at all. After things, that were not in my control, started going south with my wife and I , I moved to Utah and started going back to church. Through our divorce I found God again and I’m extremely thankful for that. I’ve been back in the church since September 2018 and I attend every Sunday. I feel that this is the closest I have been to my Savior in my whole life. I started to read the Book of Mormon and realized that God loves all of His children and wants us all back with him. I hope this means I can have the temple as part of my life someday.
Right now my faith in the church is stronger than ever. I still struggle with who I will end up with, only because I get asked all the time if I’m going to date men or women. I think God will place the person I meant to be with in my life when I’m ready. Through all of this I have a strong understanding that Jesus died for my sins, so that I could make the decision to come out and be me. I believe in the atonement and I know the Savior will always be with me in anything I am going through, in the past, present, and future. I know he loves me and he loves each and every one of us.
I know that sharing my story has led to some people reaching out to me, thanking me because it gave them the courage to come out themselves. If my story even helps one person, I will share it over and over to help that one. I hope this also helps the family and friends of LGBTQ+ to know that their loved one is still the same person they’ve always known and loved, and they don’t need the “I love you, but..” talk. All we need is a simple “I love you and will always love you.”
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This In My Own Words story is a contribution from Let’s Love Better, a Facebook group dedicated to helping people learn to better share love, while fostering an atmosphere of understanding. When we know better, we do better.