Date: May 29, 2017 12:58PM
I've been thinking about writing my story here for a long time, but I have just never had strong desire to do so. As I sip on my coffee in a Barnes and Noble on this Memorial Day, I thought it seemed like the perfect occasion.
I was born in small college town in rural Missouri to a very devout Mormon family. I am the youngest of 6 kids and we didn't have a lot of money growing up. We moved to Provo when I was 8 because my dad got a professor job at BYU, so most of my growing up experience was through the lens of Utah county. My dad was a convert at 21 and he always wanted to avoid the world he left, and my mom grew up in Provo herself, and so the church was her only world. Both parents and 4 of my siblings went on missions. I never had real questions and always felt I had everything in the world from being in the church.
Though I did have a small rebellious stage in middle school, I really went against the church's teachings when I was 17 and had a high school girlfriend who was only 15 and not old enough to date. The thing is I knew that my parents would be furious, so I lied and never told them we were dating for over a year. Needless to say they were quite furious with the big reveal, but that was the start of my doubt--what was wrong with finding love so young?
Anyway, soon after the big reveal, I graduated high school, we broke up, and I started as a freshman at BYU in 2010. I actually loved my freshman year, and I was excited to start my missionary papers. I also for the first time admitted to myself my dark secret--I was gay. I didn't tell anyone for a few years, but it slowly gnawed away at me and was the epitome of cognitive dissonance.
I was called on my mission to Japan and was super excited. Despite having a high school girlfriend and realizing I was gay, I was virtuous and never crossed any lines at all. Even still, I felt so flawed being in the MTC for 11 weeks and being attracted to the sooo many beautiful men. This is when my depression started to get really bad, and has plagued me in the 6 years since. Once I arrived in Japan, I had a very eager and overly scrupulous trainer that exhausted me and pushed me to my breaking point some days. My next companion I knew from the MTC, and I must admit I had the biggest crush on him. He simply made me feel the happiest I ever did on my mission, despite our poor grasp of the language being somewhat new for both of us.
Anyway, about 8 months after that I started talking over the phone to the Mental Health Senior Missionary because of depression and that went very poorly. I became suicidal and had companions that irked me to no end. I also told a companion that I was gay in a moment of despair and anger at missionary slave labor. Finally I told my mission president about some of my suicidal thoughts and he pulled the plug--he gave me an honorable release and I went home after a year in Japan (which I realize now was the best thing to ever happen to me).
I tried so many medications and started seeing LDS family services when I was back in Provo, but ultimately the idea that "same sex attraction" was all I had and that God would help me through it was total bullshit. After a few months I experimented for the first time with porn, "self-appreciation time", and went on my first few gay dates, all while at BYU. Around this time, I stumbled upon Mormon Think and stopped going to church. The biggest hold ups for me were how late Black members were granted the Priesthood and the hypocrisy surrounding polygamy and anti-gay rhetoric.
It was an ugly transition with my family, with 4 of my 5 TBM siblings sending me an e-mail saying how God would help me through this and that I couldn't leave. My parents were more upset when I left the church than when I came out a few months afterwards.
Thankfully I was able to get out of Provo and live with my loving aunt and her family in Eastern Washington state. I have lived here 4 years now, have a wonderful boyfriend (who actually was a convert then left after a year) and dog who support me. It was tough decision, but I don't look back. About 2 years ago I officially resigned, and it has been an amazing relief. My future looks brighter than I ever thought it would, and I'm set to graduate with a BA in Geology next school year.
My advice to anyone who can relate to my story: don't delay doing the things you know you need to do. RfM has been a great forum and I'm happy to have read the many, many other biographies. Thanks for reading <3 :)