This post continues Wednesday’s post about Alex, a young gay Mormon in a mixed-orientation marriage. He has recently come out to himself and to his wife. In this post, he talks about what happened when he first came out when he was 17 and how his parents and counselors tried to account for his “attraction” to men. He spent years trying to “figure things out,” until finally coming to the conclusion that he didn’t need to find a reason for being gay; he just is.
I’m sure Alex would appreciate any supportive comments that any of you would like to leave.
When I was 17, I figured out I was gay. I was recently reading over some journals, and I realize I had some idea before that, but this was when it dawned on me “Oh, you feel sexually attracted to guys.”
I was devastated. How would I go to BYU? How would I be the son my parents wanted me to be? I talked to some teachers, trying to work out something to get into another school. But by then it was too late. Admission deadlines had passed.
I was in the musical, and I started spending a lot of time with one boy in particular who I knew was gay. Eventually, we started dating. (I’ve blocked out talking or thinking about this for a long time, kind of incredible).
Finally, for some reason I decided it was time to tell my parents. I told them about all the things I’d read in the church, how I didn’t agree with all of them when it came to homosexuality. Somehow it came out I was spending a time with a particular boy. Telling my parents didn’t go very well. I argued, and wrote all kinds of letters. Reading them now, I think, “Wow, I figured some pretty amazing things out.”
My parents told me that I was entering a hedonistic society if I acted on my feelings, that I would get aids and die, and all kinds of things. I responded back that I thought I should be able to live a basically chaste life for now, just taking things slow with someone I felt safe with.
I don’t know why I was so stupid, but I held back in “acting” on my feelings. He held my hand, which was great. But I was scared, and my parents were really getting after me. And I wasn’t sure if I was going to BYU or not.
Well I started seeing a therapist. Books that both he and my parents gave me I convinced me that I was gay because of problems in relationships with my Dad, problems in my relationship with my Mom, and because I felt different from other boys.
But the worst part is they told me I was gay because I’d been sexually abused. I can’t say whether or not it happened. I don’t remember. I know that repressed memories are a real thing, I also know (now) to be wary. I know I had real feelings and real pain but other than that, I don’t know.
But I know that’s not why I’m gay. And I’m appalled that these people I trusted (including my parents) made me think this. The LDS therapists I met with fully explored this, thinking if we could just solve that, I’d have “normal” feelings. So I spent years trying to remember, trying to find answers. And there were none to be had. Not along that road at least.
So you might ask. “Well why? You seemed to start to be figuring things out; why did you go away from that.” One of my friends came back from college. I told him everything. He asked me to give the church another chance. For a lot of reasons, I did. That led me to break up with my boyfriend, to start seeing a therapist that was also a stake president. I went to the Evergreen Conference. I did all these things and in the process just felt guilty that I’d ever doubted the Church, that I’d ever let myself think it was ok to be gay. And basically I just suppressed this part of myself.
It’s so interesting to look back and think about what I missed out on and could have had. I feel saddened that I had to cut off part of myself for so long because of being ashamed.
To be fair, obviously I let myself believe people. It was easier from them and me to accept that I was gay because of a reason. But I can’t tell you how good it feels to just accept it. To not go digging around in the why of this or that, but to just accept me.