Once I realized that I liked guys, I wrote a letter to my parents telling them, “I’m attracted to guys, but not in that way.... I never want you to talk to me about this.” I was “struggling” with same-sex attraction and I was going to get over it and of course I was going to marry a woman.
I continued to do all the things my religion told me would make me happy and at peace, but all it did was make me feel worthless. For the longest time my sexuality seemed to be something to be ashamed of and to keep hidden, but I finally realized I needed to be proud, and to be an example to others who might be struggling through the same things.
I’m a guy, so obviously I'll date a girl, go on a mission, get married in the temple a month after my mission, then start popping out babies, right? I was so excited to have a passive wife and cute little ginger babies, work for the LDS church, and live in a quaint Mormon neighborhood in Provo, Utah. My life was all planned out and it couldn’t be better! There was just one little issue…
I was like every other heterosexual boy in middle school -- I wore blue jeans, knock-off converse, and a plain T-shirt every day. I was fairly well known in middle school, so everyone was interested in my love life. I was supposed to like this girl, and everyone said I did, so I suppose I did. It wasn’t everything everyone made it out to be, love. I didn’t think about her at night, I didn’t want to make out with her, and I most definitely didn’t want to bang. I mean after all, that is for my wife and her alone. Soon after everyone at school decided I liked her, and she liked me, she started dating another dude. I wasn’t jealous; I didn’t really care. Apparently love was pretty easy.
In seventh grade I realized I was trying to keep my eyes down in the locker room, but couldn’t help but look at the other boys with their shirts off. But why? I liked girls, right?
Once I realized that I liked guys, I was terrified. I was taught from birth that homosexuality was a sin, so I told myself I would still marry a woman and stay in the LDS church.
I wrote a letter to my parents telling them: “I’m attracted to guys, but not in that way.... I never want you to talk to me about this.” I was “struggling” with same-sex attraction and I was going to get over it and of course I was going to marry a woman.
Fast forward to tenth grade. Life was great, mostly. It had taken me years to realize I was only attracted to guys (the “G” word still scared me). I had yet to talk to my parents about my sexuality because they were happily oblivious. In their minds I had just gone through a gay phase like my older brother and I was simply confused.
I had tried for years to be different, to be like everyone else. To be what I was expected to be.
While watching general conference one year as a family, a leader of the LDS church was talking about same-sex attraction and how it doesn’t just go away, and I started crying. That was when my mom and dad realized I was really, truly, gay. Everything they had ever planned for me changed in an instant.
I was my family's last chance of having a kid stay in the church and marry in the temple and do all the “good Mormon kid” things. All my parents’ hopes and dreams for me involved the LDS religion. All of those dreams suddenly came crashing down.
For months after my parents understood I was truly a homo, I was told to keep it a secret. This was something that could be fixed and hidden -- I just had to have faith. I had tried for years to be different, but I decided to try for a little longer. I continued to go to the temple, pray to be“normal,” go to church, and read The Book of Mormon.
I continued to do all the things my religion told me would make me happy and at peace, but all it did was make me feel helpless, worthless and even more like a sinner. It drove me to the point where I wanted to be gone.
In June 2015 I realized that this is who I am and I should be proud of who I am. I am Michael and I am gay. My sexuality is an important part of me and it has shaped me into who I am. It had taken me years to be comfortable with this part of myself.
After years of inner struggle and denial, I started telling family and friends that I was gay. For the longest time it seemed to be something to be ashamed of and something to keep hidden, but I finally realized I needed to be proud, and to be an example to others who might be struggling through the same things.
I was expecting people to disown me, bully me, or simply look down on me or judge me when I came out.
I was the first openly gay guy at my high school that I know of. I had no example to look to. I had no idea how people would react. To my pleasant surprise, it wasn't that bad.
I wasn't pushed down in the hallway or called a fag or anything like that. There will always be those people that will treat you with disrespect, but through all their mean words I haven't become ashamed of who I am, but more proud. I did lose some friends, which was so hard. I just had to remember if they didn't want to be my friend because I was gay, they were not true friends.
I received tons of different reactions to coming out. When I told my brother David I was a flaming homosexual, he told me he would be disappointed in me if I married a woman. My brother Nathan was making homophobic comments when I yelled at him, “Ya know what Nathan? I’m gay!” He paused for a solid 15 seconds, eyebrows turned down as he looked at the ground. Then he looked me in the eyes and said, “Well, at least you’re not lactose intolerant.”
Support will come from the most unlikely of places. I felt like I was alone for so long, that no one understood what I was going through. When I came out of the closet everything changed. Gays started popping up left and right. I found my people. I found a place where I could be myself with no judgment. Sometimes being openly gay in such a concentrated Mormon community sucked, but I would never change who I am. If God doesn't love me for being gay, fuck that.
I'd rather burn in hell and be myself than be in heaven for being someone I'm not.
Although my parents had a hard time when they first realized I was gay, they have become my biggest supporters. I love my family and I love who I am. Nothing will ever change that.