Taylor Winget | These kinds of posts are always hard, because being Mormon and gay is hard.
I grew up in the LDS church my whole life. I was baptized when I was 8, I was Deacon’s quorum President, Teacher’s quorum President, and 1st assistant in Priest’s quorum. I got my Eagle Scout, Duty to God, went to BYU, served a mission in Argentina. You get the picture, tried to do everything perfectly.
There were also signs that I was gay ever since I was little. My favorite movie growing up was Cinderella, my closest friends were always girls, and I wasn’t really interested in sports the same way my friends were. When I was in elementary school, I remember being fascinated by a shirtless teenage boy who was swinging on the swings shirtless at the park.
I knew I was gay forever. But my family also had the “Protect the Family” sign in our yard when Nevada was voting on Gay Marriage, The Proclamation to the World told me marriage was between a man and a woman, and men I believed to be direct messengers from God were telling me that homosexuality was a condemnable sin.
I thought if I had enough faith, God would make me straight. The Mormon and Gay website (which I looked at in secret so no one would suspect anything) showed all these people in mixed-orientation marriages (which might be the right path for some people, but as you’ll see, it wasn’t right for me). I hoped that I would find the right woman and fall in love with her, to live a normal, LDS life. I was convinced that perfect obedience would make me straight. If I baptized enough people in Argentina, if I went to the temple enough, prayed enough, went on enough dates, did well in my BYU religion courses, did my home teaching, etc. I would be able to fall in love with a woman. My patriarchal blessing even says I will be married in the temple to a woman. I held on to that promise for a long time.
During my last year at BYU, I gave up on dating. I had gone on a lot of dates, but would find something wrong with each of the amazing girls I’d go on a date with (it was like Seinfeld “She had man hands!” Haha).
I told myself that I would be happy being a friend to everyone and that would fill up my life. But upon graduation and moving to Salt Lake City in 2016, I got lonely.
Friends were harder to come by when people had full-time jobs and people were more focused on getting married. I did eventually make friends, but I realized I was being really hard on them and kind of held them to a standard that most people hold their significant other to. I would get unfairly frustrated with my gym buddy if he would cancel or not show up (we were going at 5 am, so that is a pretty normal thing to do), I would try and hang out with friends almost every night, and get upset if people couldn’t make time for me. I didn’t want to feel alone.
Yoga also plays an important in my journey. I started attending classes religiously, and 6 months later I started a Yoga Teacher certification class. I felt accepted, loved, and like I really belonged at the yoga studio. No one cared where you came from, they just were glad that you were at the studio! For one hour, I could let go of everything that was stressing me out and I could join with dozens of other people on a journey to honor our bodies and spirits. At first, I was nervous about some of the yoga ideologies. They have a lot of gods and are just really different than the LDS teachings. So I asked my favorite yoga teacher and friend, Janice, about it and she said something to me that impacted me in a huge way and helped me to forge the path I am now on, she said, “take what resonates as true with your soul, and leave the rest.”
Despite all my temple attendance, fasting and praying that my attraction to men would go away, I still found myself having “gay feelings”. And in August of 2018, I finally changed my prayers from “take this affliction from me” to “how do I move forward being gay?” Through friends and impressions, I felt that I needed to start dating.
I downloaded Tinder (where else was I supposed to meet someone!?) and started swiping. I went on a date two days later and then left the next day to go to Costa Rica for a week to meet up with some of my best friends who were living there. The date was great. I felt so nervous and was a sweaty mess. But that first date felt like how my first date should’ve felt when I turned 16! I felt like a piece of me had finally woken up after so many years of being shut down. And on the plane ride to Costa Rica, I watched Love, Simon and cried like a baby. The part when Simon asks his mom if she knew he was gay and she says:
“I knew you had a secret. When you were little, you were so care-free. But these last few years, more and more, it’s almost like I can feel you holding your breath…I need you to hear this: you are still you, Simon.
You are still the same son who I love to tease and who your father depends on for just about everything…you get to exhale now, Simon.
You get to be more you than you have been in… in a very long time.
You deserve everything you want.”Love, Simon (20th Century Fox), 2018
I wanted someone to say that to me.
While I was in Costa Rica, I also spent a lot of time alone, and it was so good for me. I didn’t have to be anywhere, I could be alone, and I could really commune with God in one of the most beautiful places I had ever been. And while I was there, really seeking answers and revelation, I realized two things that are commonly taught in the LDS Church “man is not meant to be alone” and “men are that they might have joy”. I just felt an overwhelming confirmation from my Heavenly Father that I was ok to pursue this path of being the way that I was born.
When I returned from Costa Rica, I began dating even more, and on Wednesday, October 3, 2018, a miracle happened. I had my first date with the man who would later become my husband. Meeting Dallon and falling in love with him put my “coming out journey” on fast forward. I have a rare story in that I had only one negative experience as I told my family that I was gay. I cannot be more thankful for an immediate and extended family that wrapped me in love and understanding and wanted me to be happy more than anything.
When people ask me “How do you deal with being Mormon and gay?” The answer is really hard. Because, for me, I can’t think about it too much because it seems like they can’t really co-exist. But in Braving the Wilderness, by Brené Brown, she says:
“True belonging is the spiritual practice of believing and belonging to yourself so deeply that you can share your most authentic self with the world and find some sacredness in both being a part of something and standing alone in the wilderness. True belonging doesn’t require you to change who you are; it requires you to be who you are.”Brené Brown | Braving the Wilderness
I am not as active in the church as I once was. I still read my scriptures, listen to conference talks, and pray, but physically going to church is hard for me. It is hard not being able to take the sacrament, it was incredibly emotional for me as I put my garments in a suitcase in my basement and let my temple recommend expire. It is hard because I strongly believe that I am not sinning by living to the fullness of my creation.
I have found other ways to worship God and I feel that I still learn more about him on a daily basis. I feel his love more strongly today than I ever have. I might not fit the standard LDS mold, but I know that I am on the right path for me. And I know that God is ok with my actions because I have felt that confirmation in my soul and my heart. I never want to be angry at the church, I think that anger is unproductive and more detrimental to the angry person than to the entity you are mad at. So I’ve distanced myself slightly to save myself the emotional trauma.
But here’s what I know: God loves you no matter what. You don’t have to earn his love. He is always there for you. I was born gay, and I know that God still loves me and I am blessed to have a family who loves me and understands that God’s love is not conditional on you fitting into the traditional mold that has been created by our culture.
I have a husband, who I love more than anything and our relationship is my favorite thing about my life. “Man is not meant to be alone” and “men are that they might have joy”.