By nosneB yrreK
Salt Lake City, Utah, USA
I was 20 years old and in the army, stationed in Germany, when I put two and two together and figured out that I was same-sex attracted. I vividly remember that night when I cried myself to sleep. Before this realization, I naively believed I was so good not to have sexual thoughts about women. I didn’t know how it would happen, but I thought one day I would be swooped up by a woman and never feel attraction toward another man again.
After my three years in the army, I learned about places where men met, and the opportunities to go kept coming. For the next 22 years, I believed and accepted that I was gay. During those years, I was involved with what I consider mild addictive sexual behaviors. This started during the 1970’s. My church activity vacillated until I went completely inactive. My family seemed to be disappointed but not much was said.
Even though I was inactive, I knew I possessed spiritual gifts as well as a hunger for spiritual things. I became active in a small community church and was drawn to a very dear and deeply spiritual man, whose life was dedicated to the Savior. Because of his testimony of Jesus Christ, I listened to his stories. It was as if he knew the Savior.
It was later that I became involved in a small metaphysical community and had many wonderful experiences, experiences where I learned mostly of the Spirit. But because that community didn’t recognize Christ as our Savior, I felt that I needed to move on.
I knew that the Spirit of the Lord is real, and with that I felt drawn to the Cathedral of the Madeleine for their deep worship of Christ. I wanted to become more involved so I jumped the hoops of catechism and joined the Catholic Church. I attended their worship services for six years. For two of those years I was blessed to serve as Eucharistic minister.
Keep in mind during this time I was still moderately involved in the gay lifestyle and justified my behaviors. Even though I was amiss in my behaviors, much to my surprise, the Lord saw fit to give me promptings to re-investigate my Latter-day Saint background. “How could I do such a thing?” I asked myself. I had been away from the Church for some years; I continued to justify myself in all my behaviors. I sat on those promptings for over a year. At the same time, I felt a deep dissatisfaction with the gay lifestyle as I knew it. I knew I wanted something more lasting. My mother had passed away, and my self image was also at its lowest. If I was to follow the promptings, I would need courage, and I would need to make life changes. I finally mustered all my courage and set my foot forward and followed the promptings.
It was then that I involved myself with Evergreen. I received wonderful support and camaraderie and served as group leader for a time. On my fiftieth birthday I talked to my good bishop. He was kind and understanding and encouraging. Gratefully, because I had come forward, the only discipline I received was probationary. Having done well, it was a year and a half later that I received my endowments in the Salt Lake temple, where 43 friends and some family accompanied me. The peace in the Celestial Room was indescribable. It was a blessed and monumental occasion.
It has been four years now since I met with my bishop. I’m still on board and doing well. I still have moments when I feel tempted, but I have learned how to manage them and get back up again and again. Second to the atonement, I attribute my successes to the wonderful support from Evergreen and other individuals and groups. Now in my 54th year, I’m dating a woman who’s trying very hard to understand my situation.
My good stake president approached me in the temple one evening and very fervently told me, “I know your struggles must be hard, but if you will stay on course, you will be blessed in the next life and throughout the eternities.” What a blessing to receive such encouragement and support!
I need to always have faith that whatever I’ve missed in this life will be made up in the next life, through the atonement, if I am obedient and faithful. I try to keep this in mind as I live by my admonition: never ever ever give up.