coming out


So, I feel I should elaborate a bit more about my decision to remove my name from church records, to resign my membership. It’s a big decision and one that does not come easily.

I have obviously not been active for a long time. I haven’t elaborated much since my last post on this topic many months ago – but I guess for me, once I came to know that I am the person God made me to be, that being gay is not a curse to be overcome, but a blessing, I regained such an overwhelming peace in my life. Which led to the absolute knowledge that what the church teaches about gay people and same sex attraction is wrong. And from there, it was a pretty easy step to see holes in many of the other doctrines and teachings.

I think one of the most surprising things, as the years have passed, is the incredible happiness I have in my life outside the church. Once you are outside of it, it becomes so easy to see how much “mind control” there is in the church. I put that in quotes because I don’t think people are actually being controlled or brainwashed. But there is so much rhetoric about how awful people’s lives are when they leave the church, how they go down this path of sin and they get sick, they lose their loved ones and they die alone. This is not an exaggeration. Just recently someone told me a story of someone who took his name off the church and was subsequently murdered – as if the action brought on the consequence. And when you are inside the church, it’s not like you live with this fear or anything. But it’s still accepted as a fact – people who leave the church are unhappy and tragic things happen to them.

Since I separated myself emotionally from the church, I have come to terms with many issues in my life, I have met and fallen in love with the most incredible person I’ve ever known, I have more financial stability than I’ve ever had in my life, I got a job that finally not only pays me enough to live on but that I really love (I’d never experienced both of those qualities in one job before), I bought a house with my partner – my life is happier than it’s ever been. So I can’t speak for anyone else – but for me, I’ve never been happier than I’ve been outside the church.

I’ve left my name on the records, partly as a concession to my family and partly just out of inertia. I’ve thought about it once or twice, but it was never important enough to go through the process.

But now, after the past few months of activity over Proposition 8 in California, I’ve decided it’s time. It’s no longer honest for me to leave my name on the records of an organization that is actively trying to undermine my relationship and our ability to provide for one another.

I feel very peaceful about the decision itself. But I do feel a lot of anxiety about talking to my immediate family about it. I know people who didn’t feel the need to talk to their families about taking this last step. But I feel that I should, for a couple of reasons.

First, it’s been an important part of my life and I think just writing the letter and sending it almost denies that important role it’s played. I’m leaving, and it’s the right decision, but that doesn’t mean I regret my involvement in the past or that I don’t recognize the role the church has played in making me who I am. (hence, my ‘break-up’ song by the Indigo Girls in my last post – cheesy but how I feel.)

Second, I rarely talk to my family about these issues, and I think it’s only fair that they hear from me about it now and then. I won’t be angry or hurtful when I talk to them and I won’t harp on it afterwards. But I feel that they should know I’m doing it and why. I don’t want them to be able to think that somewhere deep down I still agree with the church or that someday I might change my mind. I want them to know how hurtful the church’s actions and words are for me. But I don’t want them to think I’m asking them to leave the church or disagree with the church. I’m not. But I feel that, as someone they love, I should have an opportunity to tell them how I feel, since the church dominates the rhetoric on this topic. It’s scary, because the church is seen as faultless by its members. So, as much as they love me, they will also think I’m wrong. But I still feel that I need to ask them to consider my feelings and hear me out.

So, my plan is to talk to my mom and my sisters – I don’t need to tell more people than that (although obviously anyone reading this will also know). But I don’t need to “force” the conversation on anyone else. And then I’m just going to continue to live my life.

It’s been a very emotional couple of months. One of our closest couple friends got engaged about a week ago and along with being so incredibly happy for them, I was also sad for us, that we don’t get to do that. But there’s only so much I can do about that. Mainly, I can live my life as openly as possible, so that’s what I will try to continue to do. And hope that we’ll continue to make progress, in courts, in state legislatures and in public opinion.

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This has been a long time in coming. It’s time for me to say goodbye to the church, though like the end of any relationship it’s a bittersweet ending. But it’s gotten a bit abusive of late and I have to cut ties for my own sanity.

I’ve listened to this song a lot over the past few days. It pretty much encapsulates how I feel as my lifelong relationship with the church comes to a close…

That’s one of my favorite lines from “Angels in America,” part of which I rewatched last night.

I have neglected the blog terribly the past while, for some good and not-so-good reasons.There are always going to be reasons to not find the time to write – work, yard projects, etc. But I’ve also been second-guessing myself a bit, as far as what I’m writing here and what, if anything, it accomplishes.

I had a conversation with someone a few weeks ago that has stopped me in my tracks a bit. It was an opportunity to share some very personal moments from my coming out journey, and I did it in good faith that the person I shared them with would at least acknowledge their importance to me. I’ve held onto this idea that even people who don’t agree with my decision to accept myself might develop a little bit of understanding if they knew the whole story. But it didn’t work out that way, and along with being incredibly hurtful and disappointing, the experience has caused me to re-evaluate a few things.

So, I’m being purposefully vague, because the person I had this conversation with is a dear loved one and I don’t want to “out” him, for want of a better word, because the conversation was intended to be private.

But the long and short of it is, I felt like I really put myself out there and shared some very personal and sacred experiences that have led to me this place where I feel with all of my heart that I am living the life God would have me live. And although the other person probably felt like he put himself out there as well, after listening to me, came back to me with what felt like the standard Mormon response: “But this is what the prophet said…”

Here’s the thing I hope I learned though – my mistake in going into this conversation with the level of expectation I did was that I was asking him to do the same thing he was asking me to do, which is question my own set of beliefs and my relationship with God. For him, this is a black and white issue and to allow even a little bit of compassion for my circumstances is akin to denying his testimony of the prophets.

I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about it, and how it might have gone differently, but in reality, I’m not sure there was any other outcome. Either I have to change what I firmly believe or he has to – and neither of those things is likely to happen. But that’s a very sad thing for both of us.

So. What now? I’m not sure. I’m not sure if I’ll be as willing to share my experiences as readily as I did this time if someone else inquires down the road. I’d like to think I can, but it’s very hurtful to have those experiences rejected outright.

I am hoping/planning to start posting more often here – although I hope I can change the tone a bit. I had been using the blog as a place to vent about things that get to me – in addition to sharing some of my coming out experiences and current experiences. But I think I’ve let the venting take center stage, and I feel it ends up mis-representing my life. It’s seemed like a safe place to blow off steam where people can come and choose to read it or not. No one is required to stick around if they disagree, and that’s the beauty of blogging in general. But I don’t like to think that someone, whether they know me personally or not, would come across this blog and let the feelings expressed here confirm a preconceived notion that gay people are angry and unhappy people. Because that is far from true.

For today, I leave you with one last quote from “Angels in America”:

Nothing’s lost forever. In this world, there is a kind of painful progress. Longing for what we’ve left behind, and dreaming ahead. At least, I think that’s so.

I haven’t had much time to write this week. We are getting ready to go on vacation on Saturday, so work is busy and after work almost busier. But I had a moment tonight and thought I’d continue the story.

So after my experience at United Church of Christ, I started to feel a bit more hopeful. I started studying more about the doctrinal basis for church-based anti-gay rhetoric and found that it’s really basically three passages in the Bible that people fixate on when declaring that God condemns gay people. I won’t go into those in this post, though maybe I will later. But I did find that there are many religious scholars who interpret those passages differently. I also found religious writings that show some evidence of homosexuality in the Bible (the story of David and Jonathan is one example), though of course that is disputed. But more and more I found that this wasn’t as black and white as I’d believed.

Plus, I had my own experience and feelings to consider. I’ve always felt like I was close to the Spirit or the Holy Ghost, and felt guided into making certain decisions. On my mission, we often taught people the words of Galatians 5:22-23: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” I’d felt those feelings in the past, and I was feeling them more and more as I came to accept myself, and to accept the idea that God made me this way. I knew I was still a good person, and that’s part of what had been so hard about this journey, because what I knew about myself didn’t seem to match up with what I’d been told about people who leave the church for any reason, let alone for such a “big sin” as being gay.

Towards the end of that summer, my nephew came home from a mission. I was on my way to his homecoming and I was feeling very conflicted. I tend to be a very emotional person, and I knew as my nephew recounted his experiences, which is often very emotional, I would probably feel such strong feelings that I would cry. This isn’t unusual for me (those who know me well will be nodding their heads as they read this). So I was driving up to the church and I was thinking about how my whole family knew I was struggling with something, though I don’t think I’d told anyone at this point what was actually going on. But I hadn’t attended my older nephew’s wedding in the temple several months earlier, so it wasn’t a secret that I wasn’t exactly active in the church. And I was worried that I would give my family false hope, by possibly feeling emotional, which often indicates “feeling the Spirit”, and they would think that I would start coming to church again. I didn’t necessarily want to have any conversations about it at that point, but I also was feeling more and more sure that my path didn’t lead that way – I wouldn’t be going back.

I was feeling anxious and worried about that, and also thinking ahead to the inevitable moment when I would have to start telling people the real truth behind what had been going on with me. I decided to turn on some music, so I turned on the Lion King soundtrack (yes, I’m a showtune junkie) and forwarded to a song that I hadn’t listened to in a while. It is the song where Simba prays to the spirit of his father to know what he should do, and wonders why he hasn’t gotten an answer. It was a song that I’d really identified with at an earlier time in my life.

Where has the starlight gone?
Dark is the day
How can I find my way home?

Home is an empty dream
Lost to the night
Father, I feel so alone

You promised you’d be there
Whenever I needed you
Whenever I call your name
You’re not anywhere

I’m trying to hold on
Just waiting to hear your voice
One word, just a word will do
To end this nightmare

When will the dawning break
Oh endless night
Sleepless I dream of the day

When you were by my side
Guiding my path
Father, I can’t find the way

You promised you’d be there
Whenever I needed you
Whenever I call your name
You’re not anywhere

I’m trying to hold on
Just waiting to hear your voice
One word, just a word will do
To end this nightmare

I know that the night must end
And that the sun will rise
And that the sun will rise

I know that the clouds must clear
And that the sun will shine
And that the sun will shine

In the past, when I’d listened to that song, it was always that final chorus that made me feel hopeful – someday the sun will rise and things will get better. But this time, it was the earlier chorus – you promised you’d be there, one word just a word will do to end this nightmare – that really spoke so strongly to my heart. I realized that I HAD heard his voice. I wasn’t waiting for my answer. I had it.

At that same moment, I recalled a verse from the Doctrine & Covenants (LDS Scripture, for those who might not know) that I’d always really liked. It is from Section 6, verses 22 and 23: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, if you desire a further witness, cast your mind upon the night that you cried unto me in your heart, that you might know concerning the truth of these things. Did I not speak a peace to your mind concerning the matter? What greater witness can you have than from God?”

The feeling came so strongly into my heart and mind that I had already heard my answer, and that during the past year or so, whenever I felt conflicted and worried was when I was trying to fit back into the mold or worrying about what other people thought of me, and whenever I felt at peace was when I was accepting this part of myself and working to move forward in my life. It was kind of like the final piece in that part of the puzzle, the final confirmation I needed to know that, even if others wouldn’t understand it, I was on the path God wanted me to be on. I was able to go to church with my family, feel the strong emotions from my nephew’s homecoming, maybe even cry a little with happiness about his experiences and my own.

Between those two experiences (the first being the one at UCC from part 5), and many smaller ones in between, I was able to finally starting finding joy and happiness in my life again. I say this is the semi-final chapter because in may ways it’s the culmination of my personal journey. It’s not really the end of the story, of course, and I’ll write more later about coming out to friends and family, and then meeting the love of my life. But any happiness I have now stems from that particular summer, and of course all the struggle that came before it.

This is probably the hardest part to write about because so much of it is intensely personal. Not that this whole thing isn’t intensely personal, but somehow talking about God and religion makes a person very vulnerable, because it’s an individual thing that also becomes a collective thing and when your experience and beliefs start to differ from the collective, things can get dicey.

I wavered between a couple of opposing emotions when I was sorting through my beliefs. On the one hand, I really felt that I had been led to this point and that therefore God must have a hand in it. And I felt very normal, not the sinner or evildoer that gay people are often depicted as, and that too made me feel that there must be some good in it, somewhere. But on the other hand, I had so greatly internalized what I’d been taught about what God felt about anyone who “strayed from the path” in any way that I felt like I was cutting myself off from God by choosing to accept this part of myself. And there were times when I felt like, well if God is going to hate me for this then fine, who needs God?

It’s hard to put a timeline to these feelings, but I was in flux between these two points for much of what I’ve written in these last few posts. There were times when I felt very conflicted and times when I felt something close to peace, but I wasn’t quite ready to decide what any of it meant.

Unfortunately for me, timing-wise, I was at the far end of the pendulum, feeling very much like I would just go ahead and turn my back on God if he was going to make this a part of me and yet label me a sinner for it, when the person I’d fallen in love with cut me out of her life. It was a necessary thing at the time, and in hindsight I’m glad she did it because I would not have been strong enough to do it on my own. But at the time it felt like everything had ended. There wasn’t a point to anything. I was completely empty, emotionally and spiritually, and I didn’t know where to turn. I’d always turned to God in my dark times in the past, but I’d decided God didn’t want me if I was gay and I didn’t see any way of not being gay. I had only told one friend about the almost-relationship that had ended, and she had a job and family of her own so I couldn’t really monopolize much of her time with my own crisis. So I had almost no support system at all, no one I could really talk to, and I realized that despite having friends and family who I loved and who loved me, what I really wanted most of all was to have someone who was the most important person to me and who would feel the same way about me. Up to that point, despite the closeness of many friendships, in the end there is always someone else a friend needs to go home to. I wanted more than that. I wanted to be the most important person in someone’s life.

In these weeks of despair, I started very seriously considering suicide as an option. I was deep in debt from my accident, working at a job that I enjoyed but that would never pay me enough to get on my feet, and felt emotionally that I was not in a position to find a new job. Looking for a new job is hard enough when you feel strong emotionally, and I felt that adding any new facet of rejection to my life would be the final straw.

So I felt stuck, emotionally, spiritually, financially. And it started to feel more and more like suicide was an out. Luckily, I was living at my mom’s at the time, because of my financial situation, and I still had enough of my wits about me to know that I couldn’t do that to her. If I was going to do it, it had to be somewhere else because I didn’t want her to have to find me. So I had a plan in mind, but it was quite complicated and therefore easier to resist.

But every day was a struggle. Every day I had to just basically concentrate on surviving that one day. If anyone asked me about long term plans (I’d been considering grad school), I couldn’t even come up with a good fake answer, because the truth was I couldn’t see past each day. I felt like if I could make it from sunup to sunset, I’d succeeded.

I had a good friend at work who knew a bit of what was going on in my life who had been inviting me to attend her church for a while. She belonged to a United Church of Christ congregation and I didn’t know much about them but she told me that not only didn’t they mind gay people, the current pastor was gay. I’d politely declined a few times, still clinging to the idea that there was only one “truth” and we’d mutually rejected each other.

But one particular weekend when things were very bad and I was thinking a lot about my complicated suicide plan, I decided to go with her. I didn’t know what to expect, and I think on the surface I wasn’t expecting anything. But deep down I was hoping to feel something, anything, that would give me some hope. We attended an early informal meeting which was nice but nothing special, and then we stayed for the more formal part of the service. There were hymns and announcements, and then the pastor stood up to give the sermon.

“I’ve had a difficult week,” he began. “A close friend of mine committed suicide. Several of us knew he was struggling, but no one knew how dark the night had become for him.” He went on to talk about hope and caring for each other, finding ways to help people in need. But I really didn’t hear anything else. I had started to cry and I wept as quietly as I could through the rest of the meeting. My friend put her arm around me and I tried to listen to the rest, but I’d gotten what I came for. I felt in that moment as if God himself had sat down next to me and said “I know. You may think no one else knows, but I know.” This referred, of course, to my feelings of suicide, which I’d not told anyone about, including my therapist. I was exactly like the pastor’s friend – there were people who knew I was struggling, but no one that knew exactly how dark things had become. But I felt such a feeling of love and understanding in that moment. And the striking thing, which I noticed even at the time, was that there was no admonition, no call to repentance, no “don’t do this thing you’re thinking about” or “try not to be gay anymore, okay?” Just “No one else knows, but I know.”

It was the beginning of a new part of the journey for me. Things were still difficult, and there were many other things I learned, and continued to learn, but I no longer felt hopeless. I came to believe that God is much bigger than any of us realize and that there is peace available for those that seek it. Nothing is ever as black and white as it seems on the surface, and what is truth for one person may not apply to everyone. And for me, this meant distancing myself from the LDS church.

to be continued…

I always think I’m going to find a more clever title for these posts, but I guess now I’ve started this way, I’ll keep going, for anyone who might happen along and want to read this in chronological order.

So, when the story left off, I had just told my therapist. I left that day with an assignment to write out my “romantic history” for want of a better term. It was fairly short – I’ve included most of it here. It wasn’t extremely helpful in the moment, though as I mentioned before, I did have one or two insights into my own behavior. The main thing I remember from that week between appointments is the feeling of total panic that everyone would find out. I spent a really really long time trying to figure out how to password protect the word document I was writing for my assignment, even though the only person who would have access to my computer at the time was my mom, and I knew she never even turned it on, let alone looked at any files. But I felt so afraid that someone would find out before I was ready to talk about it or deal with it. When I went back the next week to see my therapist, we looked over the pages I’d written and discussed them, but she didn’t need to keep them, and I seriously considered driving to like Magna or Tooele and finding a Kinko’s where I could shred them, so no one I knew would accidently find them in the garbage. As though I knew a lot of people who were dumpster diving! It was insane, but it was so scary at the time.

Even though I was still talking about it in conditional terms (“it really might not be true”), in my heart I knew it was, and I felt very limited in my options. Basically it felt like there were two choices – one was to bury this part of myself and go on as I had been, resigned to being alone, and then second was to “be myself” with the hope of meeting someone, but in the process very likely losing everything and everyone that mattered to me. There didn’t seem to be a middle option, at the time. I felt sure that one or two of my friends would probably not shun me, but outside of that, I wasn’t at all certain of how anyone else would react.

A few months into discussing it with my therapist, I found out my friend’s aunt would be in Salt Lake for a few days for a family event. She was the only gay person I knew, at the time. She had lived outside of New York when I was there, and I’d actually stayed at her apartment for about a week when I was looking for a permanent place to live. I hadn’t been in touch with her for a while, but it seemed like a lifeline, so I emailed her. Even this was terrifying. I think I said something like “I’m kind of freaking out about the possibility that I might be gay. Do you think we could talk for a bit when you’re in town?” But I cried and cried, even just to write it down and send it to someone I knew, even though of all people I knew she wouldn’t judge me.

I decided that it was time to tell my friend, since I was going to be hijacking her aunt for a bit, and I didn’t want to put anyone in an awkward position, making up a story or something about why she was meeting me. My friend, with her social work background, was a lot like my therapist, waiting me out through a lot of ums and ahs and oblique references. I do think she finally let me off the hook though. I do remember feeling a bit of relief, along with the fear and despair, when I told her. Just the small act of setting down the burden slightly by telling someone you know will still love you is a pretty huge step, that early on.

So, my friend’s aunt and I went to lunch and talked for a long time, and it was the first time that I started to hope that there was a way this could end happily for me. Maybe it didn’t have to be so black and white. Maybe I could be happy and successful, have my family in my life, and STILL be gay.

See, the thing is, without really ever being explicity told by anyone that being gay was bad (I really don’t ever remember any overt references to this topic growing up), I still was carrying around this impression that being gay meant being completely occupied by sex, which was bad. And I think that was part of why I was still denying that I might be gay, because I knew I wasn’t obsessed by sex and never had been.

But talking to her that day, I think I felt for the first time that this might just be a normal part of life. That being gay might be the same as being straight, and that it doesn’t necessarily mean you will be promiscuous or have trouble holding down a job or get involved in drugs. You could be that kind of person and still be straight, and you could be a regular person with a job and a relationship and a family and be gay. It was quite a revolutionary thought in my mind at the time.

Over the following few months, I told a few other friends. No one reacted badly, everyone was very supportive and so I started to feel a bit better about things. I still hadn’t told anyone in my family, and wasn’t sure when I would do that. I felt I needed to figure out some of the church issues before I opened that door.

And during this time, I fell in love with someone, quite by accident. It happened so gradually that I didn’t realize it until I was in pretty deep, emotionally. It was someone who was not in a position to return my feelings, but I fooled myself into believing it might somehow work out for a long while. There were a few short weeks where I was happier than I’d been in years and years, and I guess the good thing that came out of it was that I wasn’t wondering anymore. I had never felt that way before, and I couldn’t pretend anymore that it might not be true.

But the happiness went away pretty quickly, and things ended badly. I think there’s a reason that most people have their first loves when they are very young, because to have it at 31 I think it took on an even larger meaning for me. I literally felt like if this didn’t work out, that was it for me. I wasn’t ever going to meet anyone else. The months after it ended were some of the darkest I’ve ever experienced. I was also struggling on a spiritual level, which I’ll talk about more in the next post, and I had some financial issues from my broken leg and the medical expenses involved, and there were many many days when I wasn’t sure I was going to make it.

The next really major development happen in the fall of 2001 when I broke my ankle. It seems unrelated, at first glance. But in hindsight it really is the moment when everything changed.

I’d been seeing my therapist for 2 years at this point, and we’d covered a lot of territory. I was still working for my friend and her husband, and I was doing a lot of writing. I was feeling pretty good, overall, but I remember still having a feeling of unease. We’d been talking about the idea of living life as a fully conscious individual, which involves being aware of what you are doing and why, really examining how you feel about things and being honest with yourself about not just the feelings but what is behind the feelings. I understood the discussion on an intellectual level, but in practice I felt very nervous about the whole idea. I couldn’t say why but I didn’t want to delve any deeper than I had.

Then I stepped in a hole a broke my ankle. I did a really thorough job of it too. I dislocated the joint and broke my tibia/fibula bones in 3 places. I was taken to the hospital in an ambulance and the next day I had surgery to put pins in both sides of my ankle. I came home from the hospital on Sept 10, 2001, and when I woke up the next morning to take pain killers, I turned on the news. It’s not really related to the story at hand, but it’s where I was on that morning, and I don’t think it was the Lortab that made it feel so unbelievable and surreal.

Anyway…there’s nothing like being basically immobile to give you time to think and evaluate things. At first, I was pretty depressed again – it felt a bit to me like I’d been getting my life on a good track and now here was this huge obstacle stopping me from making any progress. I was frustrated, and it seemed like it took SO much time to start healing. My doctor waited about 2 months before starting me on physical therapy, and looking back I really wish he’d started me sooner. I guess his rationale was that my leg still couldn’t hold my weight, but I saw a lot of people working out in PT that weren’t weight-bearing yet, but were still doing other things to promote their recovery.

Still, sooner or later, it was good to start physical therapy, even though it was incredibly hard and painful. I think I saw at least one person cry every time I was there, and I did a few times as well. Progress felt so slow at times, and then suddenly one day you could tell you’d made it to the next level. I was getting stronger physically, and it was during these several months that I started to really appreciate my body and what it could do. I’d hated my body for most of my life and had used food as an escape mechanism for so long, that I was really disconnected with my physical self. But through the physical therapy and feeling my ankle get stronger, and as a result getting stronger as a whole, I really started to feel connected to myself. It’s hard to explain any clearer than that – and if you’ve never experienced a serious injury and the recovery that follows, you might not be able to appreciate how it feels. There were still highs and lows, but I started to feel really happy in a way I hadn’t in years, as I got better.

Well, this is where the story becomes relevant. But I feel like I need to take one more tangent, which will also relate to the story in the end.

When I was starting my last year of college, I started to feel really strongly that I needed to go on a mission. I tried to fight it, because I was the inter-chapter president of the LDS sororities at the time, and I only had 3 quarters of school left, so I really didn’t want to leave. I kept telling myself that I would go in the spring after I graduated. But everywhere I went over the course of a few weeks, I encountered something that said “mission” to me. Someone would say something, without even realizing it, or I’d hear a song on the radio, or I’d read something – I literally felt bombarded with messages in one form or another, all telling me that this was the next step for me. I needed to go on a mission. After fighting it for a while, I stopped in to my sorority advisor’s office one day, intending to discuss it, just as a possibility. He looked up from his desk, gave me a piercing look, and the first thing he said was “When are you leaving on your mission?” I felt like yelling “Okay, I get it. I’ll go!” I only needed to be hit over the head a little bit, but I finally gave in and put in my papers. And everything fell into place, and within a few short months, I found myself in Japan, having the experience of a lifetime.

I mention that because that’s what started happening to me, as my physical therapy started winding down, only the message this time was different. Everywhere I went now, everything I saw and heard, said to me “You need to deal with this.” This – of course – was the idea that I might be gay. I still only held it as a possibility in my head. I was fighting it. But literally everywhere I went – this time over the course of several months because I was fighting this idea much much harder – I was bombarded with things that made me know I needed to face it.

Before anyone jumps to any conclusions about the Gay Agenda or gays in the media or anything like that playing a part in this, I should add that almost nothing that I was seeing or hearing was overtly gay. It’s not like I saw gay people on the street holding hands or saw them on TV having relationships. So don’t start writing your legislators telling them to outlaw Will and Grace or anything. One of the only gay-specific things I remember seeing at the time was a billboard on I-15, sponsored by PFLAG that said “Someone you know and love is gay.” It made me start to cry.

So after about 4 months of fighting this and telling myself of course it wasn’t true and yet feeling very afraid that it might be true, I finally decided to talk to my therapist about it. I was really really afraid to talk about it, because it sort of felt like once I said it out loud, it would automatically become true. So, I spent about 45 minutes of the hour session talking around it and trying to get her to just nod and say “I get what you’re trying to say.” But she didn’t make any attempt to lead me anywhere or let me off the hook, and eventually I had to go ahead and say it. “I’m really afraid, but of course I’m really not, but I think maybe I might be … gay.” I had a physical reaction every time I thought about that moment when I would remember it later that day and for a long while afterwards. It was like a big internal cringe, a “please don’t let it be true” shudder.

God bless my therapist, because she didn’t have an agenda either way. She was not LDS, but knew what an important part of my world the church was. But she didn’t push one way or the other. There was no “if this is part of you, you need to embrace it and leave the church behind” and no “this is unnatural and God will punish you for it.” What she did was get me talking about why *I* thought it might be true, and what, if any, supporting evidence there might be from my relationships up to this point. She was fully supportive of whatever course was going to make me happy, whether that was being “out and proud” or being gay but staying in the church or deciding I was straight after all. I feel really lucky that she was my therapist at this time, because it really allowed me to sort a lot of things out for myself.

to be continued…

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