My name is Michael. I am 29 and a single parent of two beautiful boys who look just like their beautiful mother. I am a licensed clinician specializing in behavioral therapy for children with difficult behaviors. I have many interests including my animals, fitness, acrobatics, and volleyball.
I am gay and have a solid testimony of Christ, His Atonement, and His Gospel and I no longer attend services. It’s been a colorful ride to this point in my life. I am grateful for people who understood that their lens isn’t *thee* lens and are willing to read about another’s experience that can be so different from their own. There is so much courage and value in such an act.
I’m offering my story as practice ☺.
I was born into a very close, loving, and extremely active LDS family. I am the youngest of 5 kids. I knew I was gay when I was 4 or 5. At that age, I noted that being that different was undesirable so I kept this part of me to myself for fear of judgment. But I had still had questions and the only resources for info weren’t reputable so I developed a highly skewed sense of what it meant to be gay. I thought it was always effeminate, secretive, hypersexual, and nearly nonexistent. Later in life I’d find that, due to lack of experience or acceptance, there would be harmful resources waiting to offer their support. I’m glad people are open to discussion now!
Thinking back, I don’t know which was worse—people unwilling to talk about homosexuality, or often stating false information when they did. I slowly started believing I was inherently evil and inevitably damned to hell due to (1) some dated LDS literature on homosexuality, (2) seeing picketed Prop 8 signs in front of homes, and (3) hearing in the 90’s that a gay college student had been beaten and murdered. Because of this, I kept this secret like my life depended on it.
I battled secret suicide from a very young age and currently wonder just how young other LGBT+ youth experience this too. I wish they (and everyone) didn’t equate anything with personal value, being unworthy of love, or not being enough. We’re intrinsically just that.
I fantasized about redemption enough that I became the epitome of scrupulosity and developed extreme depression and anxiety. If someone saw I wasn’t perfect, would they see I’m gay, bring picket signs to my house, and beat me until dead? Would my family miss me or be ashamed if they knew why I was murdered?
In hopes of proving I was worthy of heterosexuality, God’s love, and Heaven, I tried to be an exemplar youth. You bet I served the most obedient and successful LDS mission I could! I fasted, prayed, sacrificed over and beyond what was right and healthy in order to be cured of being me. There was nothing I wouldn’t do on that mission. Looking back throughout my life, I robbed so many (what could have been) wonderful and beautiful experiences of their value.
When I returned from my mission, I was devastated that I was still gay. I felt so much betrayal by God. I hit a mental breaking point and suicide became even more real. After some time, I came out to some friends and my family and for the next few years I frequently switched between dating wonderful men and women. When dating women, I told myself the discomfort I felt was righteousness generalized that statement to everything else—if it was lonely, sad, or uncomfortable then it was always righteous. When dating men, I associated beautiful relief with utter guilt. Only years of therapy would later undo what I did to my mental health for the sake of “righteousness.”
During that time, I dated off-and-on the greatest person I know. After 5 years we were married and sealed. I started a blog called “Being Out Is In” that detailed how we made things work in a mixed orientation marriage. I was happy in many ways, but grew even more sick (could that possible?). Could someone die of loneliness in a room full of the people he loved most? Was I not sealed to the most wonderful girl I’d ever met? Didn’t I have children? Was I not serving in the bishopric? Wasn’t I pursuing an education? Why was I getting sicker—was this not righteousness?
Unfortunately, my mental health deteriorated to a critical point during our marriage. After some time, I realized there were no other reasons for this other than the forgery I was putting myself through since I was a kid.
After a lot of help from loved ones, prayer, and some time, my wife and I decided to separate. A year later, our friendship has grown even in the midst of a painful, yet loving divorce. I have been able to reclaim my health in ways I didn’t know existed and maintain her friendship! I do normal things now like… sleeping at night! I can get out of bed in mornings now! I eat food consistently now! Happy feelings make me happy, not guilty! Is this what normal feels like? It’s wonderful!
Over the past year I learned personal revelation supersedes other revelations; that if you don’t agree with someone else’s revelation, then…don’t live it? But you acknowledge that it’s as valid as your own. That’s one way I can love better.
I was also able to love better when I learned that God is gray. When He sees your heart, that’s Him seeing your actions within the context. God commanded, “thou shalt not kill.” But didn’t God also command Nephi to kill someone given the greater context? Wasn’t Mary not wed when she conceived her first child? Didn’t Christ overtly not follow previously prophetically instructed doctrine, policy, and tradition? When I realized this I was able to love better, both others and myself.
I’m gay and I’m excited about it. I’m excited people are now open and want to listen and understand. I hope hearing a little of my story can help. Thank you for reading it!
Want to read another story like this one?
CLICK HERE for more!
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.