My name is Estelle Hafen, I am 20 years old and I will graduate from BYU-I with a degree in Public Health 3 days before my 21st birthday in April. I got into Public Health because I wanted to work with refugees or do humanitarian work, and I was fortunate enough to do an internship working with refugees in Salt Lake City.
I am the oldest of 6, and I love spending time with my siblings who are left at home; some of them might tell you I spend too much time with them. I identify as bisexual, and I first came out to people when I was 17.
Last year I started a blog talking about my sexuality, and being openly out is so freeing. Almost all of my experiences with coming out have been good, and I am so grateful for my community. In the beginning I was afraid to tell people that I was attracted to women because I thought they would reject me or hate me. I had a lot of resentment towards my sexuality, and I honestly believed that I would be better of dead than gay which lead to some dark, suicidal places in my life. Aside from being LGBT, another large part of my journey is my Mormon heritage.
I have struggled with much of what the church has said, and some of their policies have been harmful to me and my queer friends. The thing I focus on most when it comes to religion are the great commandments taught to us by Christ; Love God above all else and love your neighbor as you love yourself. If we all focused on this (Mormons and all other humans) then our world would be a better place for everyone.
I wish that people would see that I am not being open about this to draw attention to myself or to push a ‘liberal, gay agenda’. I do this because I know how lonely and painful it was to grow up Mormon and LGBT, and by being open I hope others don’t have to walk down this path alone. I share my story because, as my friend Ben would say, to help bear my burdens you need to understand what they are. Enough people have died in their rainbow journeys, and I will do everything in my power to make sure we don’t have any more of those deaths, no more loneliness and a lot more love.
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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.