My name is Taylor Weatherston. I suppose the first time I knew I was a little different from the other boys was when I was seven. Truthfully, I don’t remember his name or what he looked like, but I remember feeling that schoolboy crush even in some small way. Did I have a word for it at that age? Of course not. But come middle and high school, I would. As the eldest of six children, I knew my parents looked to me to be an example for my younger siblings in setting the course for the rest of them to follow. I knew to attend all my church meetings, fulfill all my responsibilities, be a faithful priesthood holder, serve an honorable full-time mission, attend the temple regularly, marry and have children. But deep down I felt like I was carrying this huge burden. This secret that, if exposed, could and would take all that away from me and bring shame to my family. I did go on to do almost all of the things I knew were expected of me. I was a faithful church member, went to the temple, and served an honorable mission.
During the course of my time in Arizona as a missionary, I had nothing but time on my hands. Time to contemplate, to reflect, to gaze inward. I felt like a hypocrite. How could I bring people to the gospel and to the church and carry around this huge secret? I beat myself up about it almost daily. I was in a constant spiral of loving and hating myself for something I could not change, and it reflected itself outward into my relationships with companions and members which made me probably somewhat hard to work with. But, toward the end of that time of service I finally came to terms in my own mind. I am gay. It’s not changing. I need to learn to love myself completely. I need to figure out how all this will play out with family and church. I need to be okay. Six months after returning home from my two years of service, I made the courageous leap of faith. I came out to my mom. She hugged me, I cried. I couldn’t tell dad because I was afraid of him. We’d struggled to get along because we’re just so different, and I didn’t want to face him with something like that. She told him.
At the same time I was coming out with my family, I also was having altercations with my bishop. I was tossed in the winds to and fro, at least mentally and emotionally. On the outside I appeared calm. Inside, I was a hurricane. The bishop had never had any training or “know how” on what to do/say when a member of his congregation comes out and says they’re LGBT. So, naturally, he said and did all of the wrong things. We yelled at each other more than we talked, it seemed. I wanted to be understood, accepted, loved, to still feel welcome in my ward family that I loved dearly. He wanted to fix me, to maintain control, keep the status quo. When two equally powerful forces meet, there is a greater and more powerful reaction. It was science at play. We were both very strong-willed and stubborn, so it was a complete disaster. I was in therapy at this point, because I’d failed out of BYU-Idaho for my grades being so poor. I was mentally unhealthy, on the brink of just ending it all. My therapist helped me through the darkest storms, and helped me start making my way back to the light. The next few years after that were a rollercoaster of emotions and life happening, as I tried to hold onto myself and what I had grown up believing in and find a way to make it all work together. I currently do not attend any church meetings/functions (unless of course I’m home in Idaho Falls with my family), but I still hope and pray that one day things will be better.
I have since mended a relationship with that bishop, who also has changed. He told another family in the ward (who’s daughter also came out after I’d moved away) that his biggest regret and “black eye” during his time as bishop is how he treated me. My relationship with my parents has dramatically improved, as has their love and support. I love me now more than I used to, and I am at peace with myself. I’m engaged to a wonderful man, who loves and supports me unconditionally, and who I love very much. Each day when I get up, I sit with my morning coffee and I tell myself the same thing: “See, Tay? It gets better.” It may seem like it takes forever, or like the day will never come when it will be a reality; but “better” is what we make it to be. The only thing I can say to anyone else who seeks to understand the LGBT community is this: LISTEN. And then DO. Be the force for good in someone’s life. Help be someone’s “better” and make the world a brighter place. Be a rainbow in someone else’s clouds.
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.