My name is Zach Sites. I can remember being as young as 8 or 9 and suddenly feeling very different. Growing up I had friends from all different walks of life. Living a life growing up in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints sometimes you just go through the motions. You go to primary where you learn about families and about a loving heavenly father. Later you go to the Young Men’s and Young Women’s programs where you start to learn about responsibility and leadership. I was active in all of those things. Even when I was 16-18 I still went and participated in every activity.
Through out all of this time I could feel that I was different. My guy friends would sit there and talk about which girls they wanted to date and I would sort of twiddle my thumbs and agree. I couldn’t tell them how I really felt. I remember sitting in Priesthood one day and we were talking about families and the temple. All I could think about was, “Can I still have a family if I have these feelings?”. At that point I stuffed all of my feelings down deep. No one could know. I then proceeded to go through high school doing every single activity I could so I didn’t have to think about my feelings. I did sports, service, music, drama, etc. just so I didn’t have to think or talk about the feelings I had stuffed deep down inside.
Then it came time to serve a mission. While I definitely have no regrets going and teaching the great people of Ohio, I will admit that I only went because at the time that’s what you did, especially if you were the only boy in the family. Out of everything I taught on my mission there was one thing that stood out most. I have a loving Heavenly Father.
As time went on the feelings were creeping back up again. I didnt know how much longer I could keep this act up. My friends didn’t know. My family didn’t know. I will say for the most part I was a pretty good actor. But now I was feeling physical, mental, and emotional pain. I just wanted to be who I was without worrying about what was going to happen. One night I knelt down and prayed to my heavenly father. I asked if it was every going to be ok that I had these feelings? Was i ever going to find someone to love? Would I ever be able to make my family proud with these feelings? As I sat and waited, it was as though someone had just turned up the heat all the way. My body’s was burning and tingling. This went on for about two minutes. Then it stopped. A voice came into my mind and said, “I love you and want you to be happy, go and be happy.”. Honestly I was dumbfounded. I don’t know that I fully understood what that meant.
A couple of years later I was at a family reunion that we do every year and is one of the events I look forward to every year. My anxiety had risen so much because I wanted to tell someone but at the same time I wasn’t ready. We all were sitting in our camp chairs trying to get some shade on a hot August afternoon. That same voice came into my mind and said you can tell Susie. At the moment I literally involuntarily jumped up and asked her if we could take a walk. It was then that I poured my heart out. I told her everything without any fear. It was the strangest thing to me. Not once did she ever rebuke me or tell me that I was wrong. She talked with me. She loved me. I was given the strength to figure things out. See, before this moment I never tried to make sense of my feelings because those feelings were wrong in the eyes of my faith. Now I got to sort them out. I was then able to tell my best friend Nikki about my feelings. She has been my rock and biggest supporter in all the hard and difficult times. She has also been my biggest cheerleader during my successes. Finally I was able to tell family about these feelings. Telling my family was one of the hardest things I have ever done. Mind you I have also had two back surgeries, kidney stone surgeries, went to 4 elementary schools and served a mission. It wasn’t hard because I thought they would hate me or disown me. It was more that I would alter or change their lives. In our faith we believe in the plan of salvation. At this point I wasn’t sure what place I had in that plan.
As time has gone on, I have been able to learn so much more about myself and my relationship with others and God. It hasn’t been easy but my family loves me and supports me. I know if I ever bring a boyfriend home it may be different and kind of weird but I know that they will try and they will love and accept me. I couldn’t have made it this far without my family and friends.
If you are feeling lost and alone like I was. Please find someone to talk to. Get to a place in your life where you can sort out those feelings. Heavenly Father wants to you be happy. You are a part of his plan. Also if part of that sorting out period means that you are inactive from church that is 100% ok. You are important and God knows that. I am now able to be my best self which I feel is the key to happiness.
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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.