My name is Wyatt. I’m 23 and I’m an aspiring law school student. I grew up Mormon in California, did a little mission in Northern Argentina and then went to school in Virginia. I am currently living in Dallas.

Growing up Mormon, I was taught that sin was an abomination to God and that it would be better for me to die than to be gay. That heartbreaking teaching resulted in such intense feelings of loneliness, fear and shame. Eventually, I decided that I would have a better chance of being happy if I lived life authentically than if I were to stay closeted. But coming out is sometimes jumping from one extremely sheltered community to another and that can be both scary and foreign; twinks, the gay animal kingdom, daddies, circuit parties, Grindr… Those same feelings of shame and fear that I experienced growing up can be just as pervasive in the gay community.

I grew up with the belief that I needed to live a certain way for other people. My entire personality was built around being perfect. Be straight, and righteous, and godly. The hardest part about seeing Mormonism for what it is, is realizing that nothing is certain and nothing is perfect. Especially not me, or my life plan. I  don’t know what the future looks like for me. I’m figuring it out, day by day. I’m learning to see things logically instead of letting my emotions be sufficient evidence for anything. Deconstruction is a process and there are ups and downs.

I’ve learned that the church’s primary motivation is shame. We are fallen people, we can never be good enough, we will always fall short. We always need to do more. Why aren’t you better? Why aren’t you nicer? Why aren’t you doing more? I am learning to see that brand of thinking for what it is – a toxic trap.

We aren’t perfect and that’s perfectly fine.

My biggest learning curve has been learning to love myself and getting to know myself too. What does Wyatt enjoy when he’s alone? What recharges him? What makes Wyatt happy? They’re simple questions, but growing up, I never learned the answers to them.

If I could give any advice to 12 year old me, I’d say to learn what makes yourself happy and chase that. Be your own best friend and enjoy life. You are enough. If you can learn to love yourself now, you can circumvent so much pain. You won’t get there in a day or even by the time you’re 23, and maybe you never will – but I hope you learn to love yourself because you deserve it. 

We all deserve to love ourselves completely.

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