Hello, my name is Rachel Jorgensen, I’m 19 years old, a geology major at the University of Utah, and I’m gay.
When I was 12 I started to have suspicions about my sexuality, I would see girls in movies or school and think I just looked up to them, but in reality I was just having feelings for them. I had so many misconceptions and fears, which lead me to ignore it and pretend it wasn’t there. My family would tell you that I was always making jokes about being single or never wanting to date guys, and that was my way of slowly letting myself come to terms with the fact that I loved women. The older I got the more isolated I felt.
Once I got into seminary and young women’s, things started to get bad. In seminary they would mention how bad being gay was at least once a week. I remember one time I was chosen at random to be one of 12 students in my class to be in a disciplinary counsel. And of course the person we were counseling was a lesbian. I refused to say it was wrong but they wouldn’t take that answer. Things like this happened all the time.
Then the November 2015 Policy happened, and in my seminary class the ruling was announced. I was shocked. I left class to go to the bathroom and cry. I knew I was alone and couldn’t tell anyone. To my parents I probably just seemed like a moody teen, but in reality I was severely depressed, terrified and even suicidal. I thought my family would never accept me, every little comment they would make is burned in my memory. But eventually I started not caring so much, and my family started to catch on and slowly educated themselves. I came out to them maybe a year or so ago, and they have let me know that they still love me no matter what.
I think some people hear how I talk about the church and just see someone who is angry and hateful of this church because of something dumb, but it’s much more. The lessons I was taught in the church made me feel like I was nothing. Like I was terrible for even wanting to be able to love someone. I could have feelings but not act on them. We are lesser. I’ve since been diagnosed with PTSD from the church and I’m in therapy which has helped tremendously! My name has been removed and I will never go back, but with me living in Utah and my family still members, the things the church still says and does hurt.
Now that the 2015 policy has been overturned, it makes me worry that members will think “all is well”, and they might forget all the pain that was caused. The teachings still hurt us.
I have a girlfriend right now and she is the most amazing person I have ever met. Every time I am with her I feel brand new, she lights a spark in me I thought was long gone. Every day I wonder how these strong, pure feelings could be seen as sinful. Some days are better than others, but the impact of the church on my early years will never be completely gone. I just want none of my LGBTQ siblings to ever have to feel like that again, whether they want to be Mormon or want to leave.
I want to make sure all of us know we are loved.
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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.