‘For the last two months of my mission, every week, I’d tell my mission president that I wanted to go home. He’d give me a scripture to read and then ask me how I felt about it. I’d read the scripture and I told him it was good but that I still needed to go home. So, they finally let me go. I just didn’t feel comfortable. I felt like I was lying and going back into the closet. Coming out was hard enough and to imagine going back in was impossible. I remember worrying a lot about my companions and how they’d react if they found out. I came out to some people after I came out to the mission president and some of them were, in fact, very uncomfortable. I just came to the conclusion that it wasn’t fair to me or to anyone I was working with…and the discomfort and living with that fear that someone might take it badly and worrying about everyone else’s comfort made staying in the mission field unbearable.

I remember members of my family who were super homophobic thinking that if I were to go on a mission, it will be fixed. I’ll come back with a developed testimony…I’ll come back straight and marry a woman in the temple. But, in my heart, I knew all along that none of that would happen. Regardless of that, I still have some beliefs. I mean, I grew up with it so it’s still a big part of my life. I know lots of other gay men who have left the Church and who are very bitter. Sure, I’ve thought about leaving it entirely, but I don’t think that’s something I want to do. It’s hard to break away from something you’ve known your whole life. I still believe in the Gospel and I have a lot of values from the Church. I just don’t agree with the stance on homosexuality. The Heavenly Father I believe in is accepting of all His children. I happen to think it’s possible to be gay and still have morals. I agree with a lot of the morals of the Church and I try to hold to them as best I can. I’m a lot of things…but I’m not a predator. I remember growing up and not really talking about homosexuality. But, I’d hear people compare being gay to being a murderer and, in spite of my attractions, I’m nowhere near to being a murderer. I’d hear people talking about promiscuity and how my parents felt badly about gays and they’d be disgusted. They didn’t realize that the biggest thing is that it shouldn’t matter. We’re all human…we’re all God’s children.

For now, I’m dating. I hope to eventually find someone to spend the rest of my life with… and to get married, even if I can’t get married in the Church. It makes me a little sad to think that it will probably come down to excommunication but I can still see myself getting married and having a family…fulfilling my own purpose on earth and learning to grow and to have a good life, just like anyone else. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. I’m grateful for this opportunity to sort of set the record straight, no pun intended. It is, in my opinion, OK to be who I am and to find an identity that fits the life I want to live without being perceived as a threat to anyone. I think the most important thing one can do is to strive to be oneself…to be a human without labels. I am still a person of great worth…I still have lots to do, to give, and to be. I will continue to stand up for and defend the values I’ve been taught. I’m going to keep doing the best I can. I enjoy working to help others. I want to be happy and I am…I’m content with my life and I’m no longer worried about what other people think. I want to see people…regardless of who they are, gay or straight, Church member or not…be unique and stand up for what they believe without being threatened by someone who doesn’t agree. I want the same thing as anyone else in the Church…believe it or not, I want to raise children in the Church and, I think, that says a lot. I want to raise them with many of our core values and principles. I want to encourage them and see them discover their own beliefs…and to choose what they want. Children should have that free agency and choice, too, and I would respect whatever they choose whether it be my religion or another.

It might be easier to abandon the Church and undo my Church membership, but my core beliefs are still there in spite of the disagreements. I’m not active in Church but not because I don’t believe…I do still believe in the Gospel. How could I rebuild myself if I abandoned my core beliefs? I don’t know how to do that. As much as I can’t change what I believe, I also can’t change what I feel and I feel that I can embrace my religious beliefs as much as I embrace my sexual identity. I want to be as close to God as I can as the person I am and to be with the person I want to be with, as well. What’s wrong with that?25

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