I was first aware of my attraction to boys when I was in second grade though I didn’t know exactly what it meant. Obviously, at that age, it is not a sexual attraction but I found myself admiring other boys in the ways I am sure the other boys started about that age to admire girls. As I got older I picked up from playground banter that boys were not meant to like boys and so doing was gay – which was laughable, meant you were less manly and put a target on anyone suspected of being such for bullying and ridicule. I found myself in fifth grade and doing whatever I needed to do to keep that target off my back.

From Junior High into High School I was constantly readjusting and fine-tuning who I was meant to be in the eyes of others. Behaviors or interests that brought negative attention were quickly ceased and abandoned. I was also learning during this time that being gay was not only an issue in the halls of my school but also in the eyes of God. At twelve years old I was given the booklet version and pocket version of “For the Strength of Youth” which made clear that homosexuality was a perversion like rape and incest and an abomination to the Lord.

While on my mission I was made to read “The Miracle of Forgiveness” following discipline in the MTC for talking on the phone too long. In that book, it was reinforced that homosexuality was repugnant not only to those not experiencing it such as family, friends, and church leaders but also to God. It was characterized as unnatural, unholy, and perverse. I read that these thoughts and inclinations could lead to further sexual deviance such as bestiality or pedophilia. I have never been made to feel worse about my human state than I did reading that book in the Missionary Training Center.

I committed myself to the rules of the mission and upon returning I sought a spouse with whom I could take to the temple to form and start a family for the eternities. The goal of exaltation was enough to keep my secret hidden from all and in a state of denial from me. In 2006 I married a righteous daughter of Zion and by 2008 we welcomed our first of four children.

With nothing to compare it to directly, our marriage seemed to be as good if not better than those around us. We had what we both believed to be the similar struggles of any newlywed and later young family. Somewhat unique to our marriage was an underlying sexual frustration that existed. Our libidos never seemed to match with my wife initiating nearly all intercourse. I was able to convince her that this was due to stress, fatigue, hormone imbalances, and that maybe I was asexual. Despite the frustration we made it work for the most part.

In 2014 I learned of and read the Gospel Topic Essays which created many more questions and doubts than what already existed. My biggest doubt up to this point was whether or not God really heard my prayers or not. For so long I felt unheard and many prayers to change who I was going unanswered. For the first time ever though I was now doubting the church and whether they were led by God. I kept most of my doubts to myself only sharing them with close family members. I was told, “there is a lot that does not make sense and we may not get the answers until the next life.” This way of thinking kept me in for a couple more years.

In 2017, following a church activity accident that left my wife nearly dead and permanently injured, I began to look for help from others who had been hurt and not helped by the church. In the process, I found websites http://www.staylds.net and http://www.quitmormon.com. I had never considered that people performed mental gymnastics to stay in the church and certainly gave thought to people quitting the church. Prior to this, in my mind, you were either Mormon, an inactive Mormon, or a soon-to-be Mormon (this life or the next). Former Mormon had never been a consideration. The deep dive began and I found myself reading as much as I could and consuming all the podcasts time permitted. The CES Letter was particularly compelling and after a couple of months of study, I had lost all belief in the LDS faith.

In November 2018 my wife overheard me talking about my loss of faith with her father and the cat was out of the bag. Over the next several months I began to step away from activity in the church. In February 2019 I broke the Word of Wisdom while on a dinner cruise and in March that same year I stopped paying tithing on my earnings. That summer I stopped wearing my garments and soon thereafter I stopped attending church. These changes though seemingly insignificant to many represented the slow loss of eternal family as I was no longer temple worthy.

I had found a community anonymously on Reddit and connected with others in strikingly similar situations. One ‘friend’ in particular was also in a straight marriage with kids though he was gay and no longer believed the church to be true. I grew in both courage and fear as I struggled with whether to come out or not. Remaining in the closet was torture without eternal life and family at stake. I no longer feared the wrath of church or God – just the loss of my wife and kids in this life. In July of 2018, I reached out to a friend and for the first time ever admitted to someone I knew and who knew me that I was gay. He was so kind and loving and put me in contact with others in similar situations. Over the next several months I prepared to tell my wife.

In September of 2019 following profound self-examination I came to the conclusion that I was not willing to lose my family over my sexuality and re-committed to living the life I was currently. I was not willing to sacrifice a known amount of happiness for an unknown and uncertain amount of happiness (or in the worst case misery). I wanted to remain married – I just wanted to re-establish some boundaries with the church and my relationship with my wife. After the kids went to bed I shared my thoughts with my wife in a document I tittle “My Thoughts on Happiness” which concluded with my commitment to her and the family. I had underestimated the toll all of this was taking on my wife and the next day she asked for a divorce to which I reluctantly agreed.

As we each sat on our bed unable to fathom the next steps we cried together. Neither of us wanted a divorce but also neither of us felt like we could continue the way we were. My wife started to apologize saying she was sorry for all the things she imagine contributed to me not wanting and desiring her the way she needed me to. My heart was breaking as she blamed herself for our sexual and relational frustrations and I stopped her “no, it’s my fault, there is something about me you don’t know. I am attracted to men.”

I was terrified about what might come next but I was met with love and compassion. She immediately empathized with me saying “it must have been so hard to carry that secret for so long.” She thanked me for finally telling her and assured me that we would divorce and that she would treat me kindly through the process.

We are now two years post-divorce and each living our best lives. My ex-wife has since re-married and together we are co-parenting our four children. I have worked to overcome and heal from the trauma and the internalized homophobia I inherited from my time as a member of the Mormon church. While I am enjoying my single life and dating I look forward to the day I have a companion of my own to share this journey with.

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