Hi y’all. My name is Sara. I’m 23 years old. I’m a young adult fantasy writer, dancer (of the basement variety), recovering k-pop addict, and lover of the outdoors. I spend my summers working in Yellowstone National Park, which is truly heaven on earth.
I’m an out and proud bisexual member of the church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. My journey to acceptance of both my faith and sexuality has been marked with many hardships and many tender mercies, and it’s a journey I’m excited to share with you all.
I was in denial about my sexuality for a long time. I did, however, struggle to reconcile what my religion said about LGBTQ issues with what felt right in my soul. During my teenage years I would have many experiences that would challenge and shape my beliefs. Ultimately God was teaching me about His fierce, unconditional, and irrevocable love for his LGBTQ children; which, as it turns out, was one of the most important truths I could ever learn.
I spent some time away from the church, but a desire to serve a mission brought me back. Around the time I was preparing, questions about my sexuality that I had pushed away for so long came back in full force. Finally, two weeks after I received my mission call, I came out “to myself” as bisexual. It was a terrifying, exhilarating, and confusing moment, but the Savior helped me through it. He helped me accept and love myself exactly the way I was. He also helped me overcome my feelings of depression and suicide ideation, which so often seem to plague lgbtq friends in the church.
In the beginning, my coming out was slow. I came out to a couple friends, my family, a few church leaders/counselors, and one missionary companion. While these experiences were generally positive, they were also marked by fear on my part and misinformation on the part of others.
It was an especially charged moment coming out to my family, and it definitely left them shocked and worried about my future. Ultimately, though, I think my coming out has brought us closer together. Communication and respect have been key to our relationship. Overall, I am very lucky to have the family I do.
My official coming out happened last August, while I was working in Yellowstone. Yellowstone turned out to be an inclusive and empowering place. It also gave me some distance from the culture and people I was so afraid to come out too. I was able to really work through a lot of my fears and feelings.
The past 7 months of being out have been some of the most difficult, and wonderful, months of my life. I’m not sure exactly where the path I have chosen is taking me, but I know it is the path Heavenly Father wants for me, and that’s good enough.
I’m not going to lie though. Staying in the church is incredibly difficult. It is exhausting, painful, confusing, disappointing. There are days when I don’t think I can do it. A lot of the internalized homophobia and self-loathing I experience came from church teachings and culture, and it had been difficult to overcome. I stay mostly because of Jesus. The church, for all its faults, has always helped me foster a close relationship with him, and that is not something I can walk away from. So that leaves me here.
I’m not going to pretend to have all the answers, because I still have so many questions and doubts and and misgivings, but there are some things I do you know for sure.
The first is that I believe in order to truly love someone, you have to understand them, or at least be trying to. So many members of the church claim they love LGBTQ friend’s, even though they disagree with the lifestyle– but a lot of LGBTQ friend’s aren’t feeling that love, only that disagreement. There’s a disconnect. Too many members, though they treat LGBTQ people with kindness and respect, only see them as a sinner or lost soul, but never bother to delve deeper than that. If you want to truly love your LGBTQ neighbors the way Christ has asked you too, then you have to listen to their story, pain, and experience, and just listen. That’s when the love truly starts flowing.
The second thing you should know is that my bisexuality is not a disease, a weakness, or a trial. It is a cherished part of my identity. And my faith in the church does not persist in spite of my sexuality, it persists because of my sexaulity. Being bisexual makes me a better member of the church. It makes me more empathetic, especially to other marginalized groups. It has taught me how to listen and love better.
The third thing I want members of the church know is that you need us. Badly. You need the LGBTQ perspective , you need our experience, you need our voice, you need our hearts. God’s family is a diverse one, and in order for it to work we need all of us, no matter who we are or where we come from, working together. It is as simple as that.
Thank you all for listening to my story. I love you all and I am so grateful for everything you all do. In truth, I am really excited for the world we are going to build together.
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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.