I joined the church when I was 18. Faith in Jesus Christ has always been a part of who I am. I’ve always believed He’s my Savior, and I’ve never doubted that there’s a God who created me. I know that I’m a child of a Heavenly Father that cares about me and wants me to live a life of joy and happiness. But I also believe that life on earth comes with experiences that we can’t explain and that require more faith than we sometimes feel we can muster. To be honest, I don’t enjoy doing difficult things.
One of those things that’s been a challenge for me is reconciling my faith with the fact that I experience same-sex attraction. For most of my adolescent and adult life, I struggled to reconcile my desire to live a Christ-centered life and to become more like Jesus with these feelings that I didn’t choose to have. Growing up, I didn’t see a way to be a believer in Christ and to have these feelings. Being gay was something I would never tell a soul and I would die with that secret. I didn’t think it was possible to be Mormon and gay. So, I suppressed those feelings and any thoughts associated with them until a few years ago.
I met my wife a few years after serving a mission. We were married in the temple 17 years ago and are the parents of four sons. Being a husband and a father is the greatest joy of my life. Service in my family and in the Church has helped me grow closer to Christ. I served as a bishop, and through that experience, my witness of the atonement and my faith in a loving, compassionate Heavenly Father was strengthened. I spent countless hours sitting with church members who came ready to lay their troubles at the Savior’s feet. However, I didn’t think it was possible that I could ever lay my trouble, my biggest secret, at the Savior’s feet because I perceived same-sex attraction to be an unreconcilable issue within the context of the gospel. I never imagined there were others like me in the church. Thankfully, I know now that there are many.
While coming to terms with my same-sex attraction has not been easy, and I have my fair share of difficult days, my faith continues to grow. I’m learning things about empathy, compassion, trust, and self-forgiveness that I don’t think I could have learned any other way. In that sense, I’ve come to see this part of me as an opportunity to learn from Heavenly Father, not something for which I should feel shame. Having Christ-like love for people and trying to see them as God sees them has always come easy for me. I now recognize that many parts of my character associated with being gay are those things that help me become more like Christ.
Sharing my story is still a vulnerable thing, but I share it because I know there are others in the church who are experiencing what I experience. I want them to know that it’s not something to fear even though I know it can feel that way. The Lord knows us, and He loves us for who we are, not in spite of what we experience. He wants to succor us in our difficulties and times of doubt. It is entirely possible to live true to Him within the context of His plan and be our authentic selves. It is possible to be Mormon and gay and to rejoice in the goodness of this life.