‘I’m from Portland, Oregon. When I came home from my mission to Phoenix, Arizona, I went out with some friends and they started ordering drinks and I joined them. I had a drink and I smoked some weed. I’d grown up doing that anyway and just stopped when I converted. I got caught up in a cycle. During the week, I might drink or smoke and then, on Saturday, I was on my knees repenting and taking the sacrament on Sunday. I went to elder’s quorum and did everything I was supposed to. I’d have six solid months and then I’d lapse for four. It all coincided with bouts of depression.
I went to church regularly even though I was drinking and smoking. I went to a mutual activity and hoped to see someone I knew. I sat at a table by myself and not one soul made any attempt to talk to me. I tried to talk to people there but I felt embarrassed and ashamed. I decided not to go to church for a while and to see if anyone noticed my absence. I stayed in touch with my mission president and told him how I was feeling and his response was distracted, as though he were too busy to pay attention.
In November of 2015, I had my records removed from the church because I just couldn’t reconcile myself to the decision not to let children of LGBT members be baptized. At first, I really regretted it because I know that coming back takes a long time. As time went on, I started to open up and told one of my best mission buddies that I was no longer active and that I’d had my records removed. He’s still a good friend but there are a lot of people who behave as though I don’t exist any more. Our commonality is gone.
I love Salt Lake City but I’m getting ready to move to Seattle. I’ve spent time wondering now what I should be doing with my life. I’m going to miss being close to Temple Square and those feelings I had when I joined the church. I think, when I move to Seattle, any last connection to the church will be gone and I’ve thought a lot about what could have been. It’s going to be different. I gave it my best and I’ll always remember it in a positive light, but I think that what I believe to be right in the treatment of people is valid and worthy of consideration, too.’