11 October 2014

National Coming Out Day 2014

Today is National Coming Out day. Four years ago I had just recently finally accepted the fact that I was gay- it was a devastating realization. I had tried to avoid that realization since before puberty and did everything in my power to "fix it." I was at BYU and feared telling anyone because I knew if someone wanted to, they could turn me in and I could be kicked out during my last semester of college. The hardest part was coming out to myself... But I was lucky to have some great friends at BYU who I was able to talk to (Wendi, Vanessa, Joseph). Not long after, I came out to my immediate family. I waited until I had my diploma in hand to tell anyone else. Since then it has been a great journey.

It's hard to be rejected by a community that you invest so much of your life into. Mormonism was my home for the first 25years of my life. I trusted those leaders and I did all I could to be a good Mormon boy- but nothing I ever did changed me. I felt so isolated. The way my community talked about homosexuality made me feel evil and perverted. It made me feel unacceptable, dirty, unworthy, and disgusting. It made me hate myself and believe that God couldn't possibly love me. And I had no one I could tell because I never once heard anyone say anything to the contrary and I couldn't risk losing everyone in my world- i wasn't strong enough to deal with that.

Today, Mormonism acknowledges the existence of gay people and that it is not something that is chosen or changeable. Yet- at the same time, it denies us our humanity- the most basic human need for love, affection, intimacy, and companionship. It labels my love and relationship as "temptation" and "sin" and deems it unworthy of recognition or support while it celebrates, encourages, and supports the love and relationships of heterosexual people. What good does it do to acknowledge that gay people exist, that it isn't a choice, and that it cannot be changed when you require them to live a life of celibacy and loneliness? The answer is, it doesn't- it does great harm. And so, the choice must be made to either leave your community- the only world you've ever known- simply to embrace your own humanity, or to live a life void of love, intimacy, and companionship to remain acceptable to that community.

I experienced a lot of anger and bitterness due to this experience. I know I've offended plenty of my LDS family and friends with my rants. I was angry that my church would abandon me at my most vulnerable. I was angry that my church convinced me that I was somehow broken or unacceptable. I was angry at God for not giving me some answer or some miracle in my darkest moments when all I wanted was death. I felt so abandoned even though I had done everything "right."

And to be honest, I'm still angry sometimes. I'm angry that people allow this to continue. I'm angry that no one seems to pay any attention to the fact that 60% of homeless youth in Utah are LGBT when they only make up 3-5% of the population meaning that parents feel justified in kicking their lgbt kids out (and it's not the non-religious parents doing that). I'm angry that no one seems to care about the suicides. I'm angry that my old community hasn't done anything about the damage that has been and is being done. I'm angry that, while the church seems perfectly able to promote their new film at every pulpit and get the membership to talk on social media about it- they haven't done anything of that nature to educated people about the fact that lives are being destroyed and even lost due to the anti-gay rhetoric being taught at that same pulpit. I'm angry that the church is so interested in promoting a "wholesome" image to the world and so disinterested in the people silently suffering in their own congregations. I'm angry that I had to leave everything I knew simply so I could learn to accept myself. I had to leave so that I could live.

Coming out was the best thing I could have ever done for myself. As scary and daunting as it was- there is no substitute for living authentically. Living a lie and rejecting something so fundamental to your identity is devastating to your sense of self-worth. Happiness cannot be had in those circumstances. I'm grateful for the people who got me through the coming out process and who loved me anyway.

I am grateful I chose life over death. I owe a big part of that to Carol Lynn Pearson who wrote the book that likely saved my life, "no more goodbyes." At the time it was hard to imagine I'd ever be happy- but the last four years have been full of amazing, rich experiences and beautiful amazing people I might never have otherwise met. My life is full of color and possibility and each year on national coming out day, I like to reflect on where I came from, where I've been, and where I am. Happy Coming Out Day!!

Oh, and this song is by David Archuletta made for "Meet the Mormons," but I love his voice and think the words to this song can be applied to all the LGBT LDS kids out there.. and anyone still struggling with being closeted:

There are times when you might feel aimless
You can't see the places where you belong
But you will find that there is a purpose
It's been there within you all along and when you're near it
You can almost hear it.

It's like a symphony just keep listenin'
And pretty soon you'll start to figure out your part
Everyone plays a piece and there are melodies
In each one of us, oh, it's glorious

You will know how to let it ring out as you discover who you are
Others around you will start to wake up
To the sounds that are in their hearts
It's so amazin', what we're all creatin'

It's like a symphony just keep listenin'
And pretty soon you'll start to figure out your part
Everyone plays a piece and there are melodies
In each one of us, oh, it's glorious

And as you feel the notes build
You will see

It's like a symphony just keep listenin'
And pretty soon you'll start to figure out your part
Everyone plays a piece and there are melodies
In each one of us, oh, it's glorious


Andrew said...

The line in this post that struck me most was, "I'm angry that the church is so interested in promoting a "wholesome" image to the world and so disinterested in the people silently suffering in their own congregations."

All throughout the bible we turn to our day, and when we hold up it's pages we can see a mirror. Christ himself observed this well: "'These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me." (Matthew 15:8) and "do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others." (Matthew 6:5)

We hear a different Jesus from different pulpits in different churches. In John's gospel text we hear from an inclusive Christ. He tells us that life isn't what it's all about. But abundant life." The thief comes only to steal, slaughter, and destroy. I’ve come that they may have life, and have it abundantly." Then we hold up the mirror to today we see him protect a prostitute from stoning at a well, a jab that ends the sin debate for all time (they put the stones down and walked away) Then we see him going beyond the quarantined Ebola zones and touching the leper. Then we see him eating with a rich AIG wallstreet book cooker. Then we see him talking to an ISIS terrorist, or, a Samaritan woman at the well. We see a Jesus that breaks down the walls on what the rest of the society has drawn into a box. That no matter what humans do, love in the forgiveness of his death can overcome and conquer it, thus not just giving us life, but new life, sustaining life, growing life, abundant life, and finally eternal life. We don't always see this Jesus followed in other Christians. Partly because the leaders aren't familiar with him. Partly because the bible is a living mirror to our current day.

Archuletta's song says, "there are melodies in each one of us." If that song isn't love, then by their fruits at the harvest will separate them.

"While people were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat and went away. When the crop came up and bore grain, the weeds appeared, too.
“The owner’s servants came and asked him, ‘Master, you sowed good seed in your field, didn’t you? Then where did these weeds come from?’ He told them, ‘An enemy did this!’“The servants asked him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them out?’
“He said, ‘No! If you pull out the weeds, you might pull out the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest, and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, “Gather the weeds first and tie them in bundles for burning, but bring the wheat into my barn.(Matthew 13:25-29)

The church, in all her denominations, has both weeds and wheat. Christ isn't silent about it.

God loves you and your partner now and forever, through sickness and in health, in sufferings and in joy, with plans not to harm you or hurt you, but to give you hope, and a future. Not so that you could have life, but have it abundantly.

Joey said...

I shared part of your blog, with your link that may help others also understand on facebook

Armando Bravo said...

I relate this blog and many other of you to the phrase you put in your photo: "I am finally just myself". It seems to me that expresses perfectly the moment when te feeling of self-identity is personally assumed, accepted and blessed. I am also grateful because you chose life over death. With my best wishes

Anonymous said...

You remind me of my niece. She struggled for years with being gay in an lds world in Spanish fork. But after coming out, and living a "happier life", she became an angry, judgemental. I was one of the first that she was coming out. Ironically I had just read an ensign article about how to better understand and accept family and friends who were gay. It helped me to just listen. Months later, when the whole family knew and she was beginning the angry phase of her life, I told her that I needed to let her know that my husband would always love her, and support her where we could, although we didn't not agree with the life she was now living. We have never spoken to her again about it, and have tried our best to be accepting and kind to her companion. But she holds being members of the church over our heads. This is Satans plan. We all have struggles, some great and some small. None are easily overcome. And when we embrace these struggles that set us apart from those around us, then Satan uses the inch to push greater influence over our lives. We are to "love the sinner and hate the sin". Being Mormon means that we pray to embrace the teaching of the prophets no matter what our own opinions are. God and his teachings have never changed when it comes to sex and the definition of marriage. While Christ loved and ate with the sinners, he also rebuked their sins.
And finding true love and companionship doesn't always mean it's sexual. I married my husband not for the sex, but because of the true and undying friendship that we found. Through all the dating Id gone through, he was the first and only that I was able to talk to and be understood. Now yes, I get that I am heterosexual, and that it's totally different. But finding and meaningful, fulfilling relationship is so much more than sex.

Jonathan Adamson said...

^^^ To anonymous, whoever you are. It is clear by your tone and your complete dedication to obedience at all costs that engaging in dialog with you will be useless. If you don't think you or your beliefs could be wrong... if you aren't willing to question them, your mind is already made up and nothing will come of any conversation that anyone would have with you on these issues. Come back when you feel you are actually capable of having meaningful dialog. Until then, enjoy being so sure about everything- they day you realize you know nothing is a scary one... but it leads to a much more enriching life and will allow you to engage in meaningful dialogue.

Jamie Lewis said...

I love this blog! Thank you for your honesty and authenticity. It is admirable and refreshing. Also, one word to Anonymous up there^^ "God and his teachings have never changed when it comes to sex and the definition of marriage"...The church has only practiced traditional marriage for the past 124 years. Before that, it was plural marriage.

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