I was born into a happy Mormon family with five kids. I always got along with all of my siblings. We all grew up playing sports, most specifically basketball. This is where many of my friendships and best memories were formed. I spent almost all my free time playing for hours. This brought me peace of mind, being able to drop everything and just play with no worries (Oh dear, I sound so straight).
You know that game we all play, kissing tag, in elementary? At least that's what my mom likes to call it. I wanted to fit in, so I played like all the other kids, but I never wanted to go for the girls. This was also around the same time I can remember who my first crush was, in like, fifth grade. When someone would ask, I would just tell them the name of the pre-set girl. I honestly didn't know that it was different, just no other guys said they liked other guys, so I wasn't going to be the first. I realized that I was gay, or at least liked guys, in seventh grade. I just kept it to myself for the most part. I felt so alone—like I couldn't tell anyone out of fear—that everything I heard or was taught was true about people.
I continued to keep it to myself. I also didn't know any other gay people to ask or talk to for advice. You have to remember that I grew up and live in the happy Mormon bubble (Utah county, Utah,) where everyone keeps anything off-color to themselves, and no one talks about it.
By tenth grade, I had to prove to myself I wasn't gay. So, I did the logical thing and dated the prettiest girl on the volleyball team. What could be better than a basketball player and a volleyball player? After dating for about four months, I realized I was weird, because I had every chance to give her a kiss, but I never wanted to or did.
At this point, I had come out to myself, and secretly started reaching out to guys or anyone I felt I could talk to about it. Thank God for social media. The summer between tenth and eleventh grade is when I was sick of feeling ashamed and like a terrible person for my feelings towards guys. I had gone on a couple secret dates with guys—I was so nervous someone I knew would see me and instantly know the truth. So, I planned to sit my mom down and tell her. I couldn't bring myself to tell my dad. That's what I did, other than the fact that my dad walked in right when I was telling my mom with tears rolling down my face, it went great. Their initial reaction I’d say was disgust, shock, and sadness. They made sure to tell me they still loved me and that we would figure this out together. I specifically remember my dad saying, “I don't know what I would do if I had a gay kid,” nothing hurtful or anything, as I sat there thinking hope he figures it out cause he has one. I felt so free ‘til I realized I had so many other people to tell.
I didn’t know how I was going to tell my best friend. We first met playing on the same basketball team and have been friends since. He had been pressuring me about a date I went on, but I wouldn't tell him who it was with. I couldn’t do it anymore. I cracked and told him. Thinking he was going to push me out of his car, I freaked out. I think that's the most I’ve ever cried. I felt so embarrassed. He then proceeded to pull the car over to the side of the road. After asking if I was okay, he got out of the car, came to my side, opened my door, picked me up, hugged me, and said, “I don’t care, I love you Leevi. This changes nothing. We are still best friends.”
I then had the task of coming out to all my siblings separately. I felt that way I wouldn't be ganged up on. They all took it so differently, but it was to be expected. The future my parents and siblings had for me had been changed in an instant, at least as far as the church goes. The church kinda sets up a pattern to follow. Get baptized, go on a mission, come home, go to BYU, get married in the temple, then have a family—Which they realized would most likely not happen for me anymore. I had a hard time at first with this. At first, was I loved by God? The church had been a big part of my life even if I didn't like its policies. I felt I was cheated after doing my best to be a good Mormon—I just get slapped in the face. Or at least, that's how I felt. Still figuring out the spirituality thing. I do know I am loved by whatever god or thing is out there.
I then came out to my close circle of friends. All of them accepted me with open arms. I was happily surprised. Word got around in school, and people would come up to me and ask. And for the first time, I owned “yes, I am gay.” I went from worried sick if people thought I was gay, to skipping and singing down the halls announcing it. I’d say almost all my interactions with people have been good, and for the most part, people didn't have a big deal about it. Maybe I just got lucky. Now this are pretty great: I am completely comfortable with who I am, and no one can change that.
One last thing. I totally let stereotypes play a factor for a long time. I played sports, loved being in the outdoors—I wasn't a dancer or did drama. That couldn't be farther from the truth. Don't let dumb things like that keep you from being your true self. I am Leevi Olsen, and I hope you enjoyed this is my story.