Gay and Mormon. Two words that can hardly be used in the same sentence without gross amounts of emotion ensuing. I was raised in an active Mormon home with parents that taught their children all the correct gospel principals including the teachings that the sin of homosexuality was next to that of murder in seriousness as far as God and the Church were concerned. With this in mind I refused to admit to anyone, including myself that I was gay, a fact that I had known from the time that I was about 11 or 12. I did not label myself as Gay at that early of an age but I knew then that I was attracted to men and not women. I knew that my secret fantasies were of other boys my age and not about girls. My brothers and friends would always talk about the girls they had crushes on and I would wish I did too but then I would see this one particular boy in the ward and think horrible things about him, I thought I was so evil. I can't tell you how many times I followed Elder Packers teachings that if you thought of a church hymn you could drive the evil Imps off the stage of your mind. Yet the dreams and fantasies still came, and I grew up knowing that I was damned.
Dating was a whole-nother experience for me than it was for my brothers. They always had girl friends and more dates than one could imagine, my twin brother included. I felt so out of place, like the "loser of the family" because dating was so horrible for me. The only dates I ever had were set ups which most always turned out disastrous; I just had no desire to go out with girls. Finally during my senior year of high school I had signed up for a co-ed gym class because it was one of the few classes in which you didn't have to play the regular "guy type" sports. In this class we learned how to bowl, play volleyball, tennis, etc. One day we were playing volleyball and I went to spike the ball just as a girl on the other team went after the ball and we collided over the net with me hitting her dead on the breast. She looked me right in the eye and screamed, "You hit me in the Boob". I was mortified. I stayed away from gym class for a week because I was so afraid of having to face her again. Near the end of this week I got a phone call from a young boy telling me to go outside and look at my truck. I had a sweet 64Chevy pickup which I had restored and was scared to death that someone had vandalized it. When I got outside I saw that someone had filled it full of balloons, each one with something inside of it. As I got them in the house and popped them I found a puzzle piece inside each one which when put together was an invitation to a girls choice dance from none other than the girl whom I had hit during the volleyball game. Come to find out she had liked me for quite some time and the "molestation" was the ice breaker.
I accepted the invitation and a two year "romance" ensued. I really did enjoy being with, I shall call her Kim for the purpose of this story, but never had any interest in "romance". I had been dating her just over one year when one day her mother pulled me aside as I was leaving and handed me a letter telling me to read it after I was alone. In the letter her mother told me that if I were going to keep a relationship with her daughter I would have to be a little more affectionate, I would have to kiss her daughter. Imagine that, a mother telling a boy to get "more" affectionate with her daughter. Most parents would do anything to slow the boy down, something that is not necessary when your daughter is dating an In the closet gay boy. The letter scared me to death. I knew that I could not kiss her. At the time I told myself it was because I was being righteous and was saving my kisses for my wife, but deep inside I knew it was because I just didn't want to kiss a girl. Here I was refusing to kiss my girl friend of over a year because I was following the prophet and yet when I would see a cute guy or go to sleep these horrible fantasies would haunt me. Talk about ripping a young soul apart to the very core. I was so confused! I took "Kim" out on her birthday and after the date we went to the park and sat on the swings so we could talk. During the conversation I explained to her that I just wasn't into kissing that I loved being with her and holding hands but that I just couldn't get into the kissing scene because of my beliefs. What a crock!
Our relationship was never quite the same after that. She began dating other guys behind my back, probably to fill her own needs, even seeing an old fling that she had gotten into trouble with before meeting me. There was a part of me that loved her so much, but the romance was just never there. We would spoon while watching movies at her house but the thought of doing something romantic with her never even entered my mind. I was proud of the fact that I was not even tempted to slip into immorality. At the age of 19 I was still a kissing virgin, when asked about it no one could believe that I had gone steady with a girl for two years and had never even once kissed her, a number of people actually called me a liar.
Upon returning home from the mission I dated a number of girls, each time they quickly fell in love with me upon which I would immediately pull away. A number of times I was accused of having commitment problems. Commitment problems heck, what I had was a darn good case of closet homosexuality. Over the next five years I taught at the MTC, worked as a councilor at EFY, worked as a tour guide at temple square, worked as a baptizer in the Salt Lake Temple, and pretty well drowned myself in church service. All the while knowing who I was and trying everything and anything to run from it. The women I dated would see all this and think they had found themselves the next General Authority. I can't tell you how many gals thought they had made the catch of a life only to find that they had merely snagged a "rainbow" trout out of season. (argh argh) People were quite confused with me, they would often ask why such a great guy had not married yet. They would voice their confusion at my lack of ability where serious dating and female relationship building was concerned.
During this time I was attending BYU and was preparing to become a Seminary Teacher. I had finished my student teaching and was readying to receive a class of my own the next fall when the CES department informed me that I had to be married by the age of 27 if I were to continue teaching. The only problem was that I was only weeks away from turning 27 and was definitely not married. You see the church had this rule at the time that you cannot teach seminary full time if you are 27 and single. (I have heard that it has since been changed to 31) Somehow they believe that you are a bad example to the young men and women whom you teach if you are 27 and not married. (Brigham Young refers to this category of men as "Menaces to Society) However in my case they decided to make an exception to the rule and told me that they would extend this to 28 but that if I was not married by that time, out the door with me it would be. I did not go forth to find someone just to fulfill that requirement however soon thereafter I had courted a young lady and asked her to marry me. I had convinced myself that I was in love and could make it work. The week preceding the wedding I knew I was making a big mistake and yet every time I tried to talk to somebody about it they would just tell me that it was the pre-wedding jitters, to buck up and just "do it". So I did. Without going into any details, the wedding night was disastrous. From the time we went to bed I knew I had made the biggest mistake of my life and didn't know what to do about it. We weren't scheduled to leave on our honeymoon for two more days so I made some excuse to get away for a few hours and went to talk to my mission president. As we sat down the first question he asked me was whether or not I had any homosexual feelings, upon which I replied, "come on pres you know me better than that". But inside I began to panic, I knew that I had had them since I was a kid and I was so afraid that he might find out. I would rather have committed suicide than to have had him know this secret about me. I knew that he admired me and that if he knew my secret he would hate me, he would think I was the scum of the earth. Literally I would rather have died than to have admitted my inner feelings regarding men. Keep in mind I had never acted on these feelings but I knew that they were present and that they were condemning me, and that I could not change nor stop them. I left his home scarred to death that my revered Mission President may have discovered my deepest secret.
I then went home to my new bride and told her that I was confused and that I thought I had made a mistake. I told her that I needed some time to sort things out and that I would like to move out and go back to dating her in order to get to know her. (The one thing I left out earlier was that I had lived overseas for a period of time just prior to our marriage) I was convinced that if she would just give me the time to get to know her again we could figure things out. She told me that it was not possible to do so that we were either married and together or we were not, no starting over. I guess she thought this ultimatum would scare some sense into me but it just made me dig in deeper for I knew I was not in love with this woman and that I could not be married to someone I could neither love nor make love to. At this time I went from the idolized young man in the ward to the most talked about, gossiped about person in the stake. People went from loving me, almost idolizing me to hating me and spreading the most horrible rumors about me literally over night. Prior to this incident people in our ward would constantly tell me that I was going to be a General Authority someday and now without knowing any of the details they were saying the most horrible things about me. The Bishop and Stake President treated me like they were fathers of a jilted daughter and yet not even once did either of them ask me what had happened, why the marriage had broken up after only one day. My stake president called me into his office and told me that while on his knees the night before, the Lord had born witness to him that I had committed some horrific sin and that I had lied to both he and my Bishop in our interviews prior to the wedding. He told me that this was my one chance to come clean and that if I refused he would stand as a witness against me at the judgment bar of Christ when my final judgment day came.
It is important to remember that tho I had had these homosexual feelings for many years I had not once acted on them. Yet here was my stake president condemning me, basically with the threat of eternal damnation. I nearly ran from his office denying everything but somehow thinking that the inner me was condemned because of whom I was. Looking back on the whole experience I sometimes wonder which spirit had told him things in his office the night before, for I had done nothing wrong I merely had hidden, unacted upon, feelings for men. It is amazing that I could condemn myself so rapidly over something that had remained undone. But I knew after years of church instruction and teaching experience that our very thoughts condemn us. Therefore after this conversation I knew that I was damned, that there was no place for me in the Kingdom of God. As a result soon after this experience depression and suicidal thoughts slowly took over my life.
As is common with many gay members of our Church most of my life had been spent pleading with the Lord to "change" me. Pleading with the Lord to take away these horrible feelings and replace them with normal yearnings. I never could admit that I was gay but I always knew where my fantasies would take me. When a cute guy would catch my eye I would say it was just because I was envious of his physique, or sometimes I would say that the awesome spirit he carried drew me to him, but always I knew. How is it that so many good, honest, righteous young men and women end up hating themselves with such intensity that it takes them to the very edge of suicide. I am convinced that it breaks a loving Father in Heavens heart to see such turmoil amongst his children. To see his very elect treating others in such a way that it brings them to the very brink of self inflicted death.
Something that I will talk more about in my next blog.