As a gay member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, some days it seems like getting what I want in life is impossible. I watch friends get married and find their eternal best friend and I feel left behind. I try to date girls and it never works out. I want a family but I don’t always know how to get there. That fear and sadness used to be paralyzing, and at moments it still is, but I’ve come a long way in trying to stay true to who I really am.
After my mission I felt down, worse than the normal “I’m not a missionary anymore” sadness, I felt completely alone. I felt like all my relationships were shallow and trivial and I longed for something more, but I had no idea how to get it. I had never told anybody about my attractions except a few priesthood leaders in the MTC, so I felt like nobody knew the real me. I was tired of the heavy mask I’d been holding my whole life.
One night I came home from volunteering at the MTC and as I folded my laundry I started to cry. Wet, hot tears fell on the clean clothes and I didn’t even know what was wrong. I was afraid and didn’t know who to turn to. I felt a small voice tell me to call my close friend Brett and tell him what I was feeling. I squashed it down and another voice in my head said harshly, “He won’t care. Nobody cares about you.” I prayed and the first voice came back and told me to open up to Brett.
I am so grateful that I listened. I went over to his house and let out the depression I was feeling. A few weeks later I came out to him and he became a rock-solid support. I learned that there were a few other guys in my ward who were also attracted to men and through them I found more support. I felt like dating men and marrying a man conflicted with my testimony and I believed God could help me find a way to happiness that wouldn’t force me to leave my faith.
I became involved in an organization called North Star International that helps LDS members in my situation stay true to the Gospel and understand God’s will for them. I also met my therapist who helped me combat the depression and shame that I had held onto my whole life. There was a period that I tried dating men and I learned that it didn’t bring me any extra happiness, it only pushed me farther away from the gospel and weakened my relationship with God.
I have learned that trusting God’s plan and sacrificing to follow it always bring more peace than giving in to the natural man inside me. I have discovered that I have incredible worth in God’s eyes and I know that this promise is true and it has supported me in my darkest times:
2 For verily I say unto you, blessed is he that keepeth my commandments, whether in life or in death; and he that is faithful in tribulation, the reward of the same is greater in the kingdom of heaven.
3 Ye cannot behold with your natural eyes, for the present time, the design of your God concerning those things which shall come hereafter, and the glory which shall follow after much tribulation.
4 For after much tribulation come the blessings. Wherefore the day cometh that ye shall be crowned with much glory; the hour is not yet, but is nigh at hand.
God has guided my steps and helped me meet the people and be in the places that have brought me closer to him, even when my natural eyes couldn’t see his hand working in my life. He’s even helped me share my story and my experiences to help others, which has not only helped me but allowed me to help others. In February, as my personal hope grew, I shared my story as a video on Voices of Hope (an initiative of Northstar International) and I was astounded by how my trials could inspire so many people; that something that had been such a burden in my life was now a blessing to many.
I’m not perfect and I still struggle, but I know where my strength comes from: my relationship with God and the incredible support network I have built, with God’s help and guidance. I don’t want to have sex with men or marry a man; I want to be married in the temple to a woman and I believe that that’s possible because “God giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them.” (1 Nephi 3:7) I know that my trials have made me stronger and more compassionate and have put me in a unique position to serve and support others who go through the same thing. I’m grateful for the “load,” as Elder Bednar would say, that give me the traction I need to keep enduring to the end.
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