I grew up putting on a show that was very different from what I experienced internally. I write this to provide a context for my future posts.
I grew up firm in the gospel of Christ in the LDS faith. A part of this gospel is that, in order to return to God, one must obey His rules. If one wants to have his family remain a family—even through the hereafter—then the promised blessings will come if we follow the steps that God has laid out for us. As I am a believer in the gospel taught according to Christ in the LDS faith, I believe that a marriage lasting beyond the grave is between a man and a woman by the proper authority. My mind and spirit accepted Christ’s teachings from a young age.
Adversely, I first knew I was different when I was 4 or 5 years old. I remember not knowing the term "homosexuality," but I recognized that I should have had crushes on other little girls and not other little boys. I also recognized that homosexuality was not freely discussed (at least in comparison to now).
My body was at odds with my spirit. Who I was at the core was divided into polar opposites. Such a conflict at the center of who you are can create a great internal war with destructive outcomes. The casualties can run deep.
I first started contemplating suicide when I was as young as 9 or 10 years old. As I recall, I had heard homosexuality being described as vile and against the will of God. So, I thought I was vile and against the will of God. I thought being born gay was a sin and somehow I was at a fault that repenting because I thought I somehow chose against the will of God. As such I felt guilt. I remember assuming, because I was born gay, I was born to go to hell. I did not know any better because homosexuality was not freely discussed. I began praying that God would take it away.
“Nothing is more likely to make you sick than being constantly told that you are sick.”
It wasn’t until high school that I could put a name to the weight on my shoulders—severe depression. I had become sick because I mistakenly thought I was. I tried very hard to create the façade of the exemplar and happy young man through my obedience in order to hide what I truly felt--shame and intense despair because I couldn’t find a place in God’s plan. I did really well in my studies, but I was constantly distracted and hurting. Why put forth so much effort in studies, church, and life if, when I died, I’d go to hell anyways? Even if I tried to redeem myself and act straight, God would see through my lies and still see I was simply a vile person trying to squeeze into a heterosexual Plan of Happiness. I felt guilty for being born different and I kept praying to be "healed."
I was exhausted because I felt I had to be the best at everything to compensate for how second rate I felt. I did sports and joined a performing group that offered an artistic outlet. A loving family and a small handful of particularly close friends provided glimpses of short-term relief. I even had the blessing to date a few wonderful young women.
I was too enveloped with each daily battle to think about my future. I rarely thought about graduating high school or making college plans, so I didn’t apply to many universities. The thought of serving a mission was an awful, impending doom. It aggravated my anxiety and depression. Why commit so much time to something that promised an unreachable happiness? Everyday I saw happy people dangling in front of me their fulfilling relationships and joy from the gospel. In spite of how much I wanted it, I didn't fit in.
Thanks to the unyielding prayers and love of a mom and dad, my desires changed. I decided to serve a mission. I felt that I would be blessed for my sacrifice. I even ventured to think that God might even bless me enough to heal me—"cure" me—for serving a mission. So I left at 19 and served. Such sweet memories.
But it didn’t make me straight.
I remember being at college, sobbing on my bedroom floor and feeling betrayed by my God. It was my 22nd birthday; a lifetime of silent anger and despair finally allowed to come out. I had the great blessing of dating a couple of wonderful girls before and after a mission, and I hurt them. I came up with an excuse to break up when the truth was simply that I was gay. I was not motivated to be affectionate with someone that didn’t appeal to me 100%.
I was mad at God that, with all my hard work, sacrifice and strict obedience, I was not blessed with one thing I’d prayed for since I was a child. I stopped fighting. I sunk into the deepest depression I had ever felt. There were days I didn’t eat or even get out of bed. Going to class was a joke. I instantly became passive and unmotivated to do anything. I wished to die, but that, of course, required thought and energy if I was going to be successful. What I needed was to mourn the fact that I was not going to have the life I saw others having and always wanted. I needed to mourn that I would always be different.
Over time, my parents noticed something different about me; I was hurting, openly unmotivated and short-tempered. I finally came out to them to which they responded with unconditional and open arms, as did each of my siblings and their spouses when I came out to them. This was key to my survival. I was very blessed and the love was validating, but it didn't offer a fix.
The years between then and now have been great, terrible, and overwhelmingly valuable. I’ve made negative and positive choices in my search for what happiness is for me, and I've learned to live with the depression and suicidal ideation. All my experiences have helped me to discard mistruths and discover valuable truths and principles that I'll discuss in future posts (for example, a truth that I first would have benefited from most being that one can be born gay and God is very OK with it). As such, I've been capable of making major strides in life, the biggest one yet shown with the adjacent picture.