Originally posted on April 28, 2014:
I’m making this blog post for a very different reason than I ever have before. I’m writing to let the people I know and love in on a fact about me that not many people know: I’m gay. There’s really no point in beating around the bush, it is what it is. There are a few things I hope to cover in this post—clear the air, so to speak—and I hope that you will be able to reach some sort of understanding about who I am by the time I’m done.
First off, I just want to clarify a few things:
1) Being gay is not a choice. I’ll have more on this one later, but I need to put it out there now. I didn’t choose to be this way. It is part of who I am.
2) I’m not really interested in giving the story of how I figured it out or the chronological set of events that occurred both before and after that moment…what I am interested in sharing is my experiences within my life that have defined who I am. If you’re looking for my life story, you’re probably not going to get it here, sorry.
3) I am still the same person you thought I was five minutes ago, before you read this post. I haven’t “changed”… I’m still me. Still Lydia. I promise.
4) Nothing that I say here is meant to be antagonistic, defensive, or angry. I’m not here to belittle anyone or anything. I’m also not even really here to share my personal opinions (although if you’d like to hear them I’ll probably tell you). I’m simply here to tell a little bit more about who I am. My ultimate goal is to generate understanding…to bridge gaps.
Growing up gay.
I’ve known I was gay since I was 15, but I had some experiences before that that made me realize I was different than other girls my age. Growing up, I wasn’t interested in boys. Ever. If I hadn’t heard my friends constantly talking about boys, I probably wouldn’t have thought about them at all. I tended to actually get along better with guys and still do. I have no physical attraction to them whatsoever and it’s very hard for me to connect to them emotionally. I tried to fight being gay, tried to make myself straight…but it doesn’t work like that. This is who I am.
Growing up in a society where you are a very small minority is never easy. When there are constantly battles over whether or not you should be allowed to be married, or have kids, or even be alive. Kids face being bullied at school, being belittled by family members, being pushed to the point where they no longer want to live. When society tells you that by nature there is something fundamentally wrong with you—something that you can’t control or stop or change—it starts to take a toll on every single part of your life. I have dealt with a lot of anxiety and depression throughout my life, especially in high school. I’ve dealt with rumors and gossip. I’ve lost friends. I’ve had people turn their backs on me.
I projected outward. I excelled in everything I did. I got straight A’s and was valedictorian. I did Sterling Scholar, was Miss Carbon County, and served throughout the community. I competed in sports and did many extracurricular activities at school. At home, I tried to be the perfect daughter. I wanted to be someone my mom was proud of. I always did more than I was asked. I worked harder and strived for perfection. At church, I always bore my testimony, served others, and prayed and studied vigorously. I was always afraid of being “outed” and constantly lived in fear. I was often isolated and alone because I felt like I couldn’t connect to most people my age.
Growing up gay and LDS.
As most probably know, I was born and raised in the LDS church. I attended church every Sunday, went to seminary throughout high school, and served wherever I was needed. I was faithful, valiant, and obedient. I believe what the church teaches, I believe in God, and I believe in Jesus Christ. The gospel has brought me peace in my life more times than I can count… but it also has been a major source for overwhelming amounts of confusion, guilt, and chaos. That being said you need to know I don’t have any harsh or hateful feelings towards the church and its members. Never have, never will. This is a personal matter, one between myself and God.
Those of you who are LDS know what the church teaches, you know what you believe. You know the importance of temples and families and covenants. In order to reach the level of utmost happiness after this life, you have to be married to a member of the opposite sex in the temple. Can you see how this is a problem for me—and every other gay Mormon, for that matter—in the world for that matter? The church provides a pretty clear roadmap for straight members… grow up, get married in the temple, have a family, and be a decent person throughout your life and you’re good to go. I’m oversimplifying obviously, but you get my point.
LGBT individuals don’t have this same sense of security. There is no roadmap…and there is an awful lot of guessing involved. I can’t even begin to count the number of hours I have spent wondering what it is I’m supposed to do with my life.
I believe I was sent here (being gay and mormon) for two reasons: 1) to learn something about myself and 2) to teach others what I’ve learned as well.
I’ve done a lot of research on this and I’ve found some really great videos that have helped me understand a little more. If you would like to hear a few more opinions on the Mormon LGBT community, watch these two videos below. Both are amazing.
Gay Mormons – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aghu5Qq6glo
It Gets Better at BYU – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ym0jXg-hKCI
I have one last thought to share about being gay and Mormon. To the families and friends of LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) individuals: I want you to think about something. Most gay Mormons have to accept the fact that when they come out, they could lose everyone they’ve ever cared about. Their entire family could literally walk away from them, kick them out, or reject them entirely. It has happened before and it will happen again. Do you really think that your child would willingly jeopardize their entire life, and everyone in it, if they hadn’t tried every other alternative? Do you really think we would choose this? To potentially lose everything we’ve ever loved? I don’t think so.
So, what’s next?
I still want the same things that straight people do in life. I want to have a career, fall in love, travel, get married (yes, get married), have a family, develop talents, achieve goals, and make a difference. For the most part, our values aren’t that different. Being attracted to women is just another fact about me…like the fact that my eyes are green or that I am a Harry Potter fanatic. Love and marriage and family are still some of the highest priorities on my list. I am certain that one of the happiest moments of my life is going to be the day I get married to a woman that I love. I can’t wait to be a mother.
As for my religious conclusions, this has been a harder journey for me. I grew up loving the church and what it taught. As I’ve said before, it has brought me peace so many times in life. I know it is true. However, I feel very strongly that I attending church is not the right choice for me anymore. I can’t have it all when it comes to the church…I’ve accepted it, though it comes with a cost. I have accepted what I will lose. This is something that still pains me on a daily basis and often makes church unbearable. I may not know everything God has in store for me, but I know this much. He wants me to be happy. He wouldn’t have sent me here doomed to fail, damned to hell, destined for pain. The loving God I was raised to believe in (and I now know exists) wouldn’t do that. I have had personal experiences to support this. I know what I need to do now.
What it boils down to is faith. I have to have faith that this will all work out. I’m going to go forward being the best person I can, doing the most good and helping the most people. That’s all I can do.
Closet door closes.
There are reasons why I am telling you all this. The first reason is because I’m really tired of having to hide this part of who I am. It puts barriers up between myself and people I love and I’m tired of that happening. I just want to fully be who I am in my life without having to be in the stupid closet! I feel like my whole life has been a journey to find peace. I’ve faced so much confusion and doubt that I am ready for peace. Allowing myself to be comfortable in my own skin around the people I love is the first step to being at peace after a very long, very hard journey.
The second reason goes beyond my selfish desire to be free… I want to change the world. How, you ask? By helping people understand what it means to be gay. By changing their mindset. By changing the way they think about people who are different than they are. I don’t want children growing up hiding who they are because the world tells them there is something inherently wrong with them. No one should believe that God hates them for who they are. No one deserves to have that feeling. Kids need to grow up knowing that if they want to marry the one they love, they should have the chance to do it. Kids need to feel loved in their own home regardless of who they are. Between societal opinions and religious doctrine, most members of the LGBT community feel forced to further hide who they are and protect themselves.
I’m not asking you to change your religious values, deny your God, or vote for a political action you don’t believe in. I’m not asking you to do any of that. What I’m asking you to do is be mindful of the people behind the target you are placing on their backs. We are still people. Every single human being that does walk or has walked or will walk on this earth has the capacity to love, to feel, to be. We all experience sadness and depression and loneliness. We all know how it feels to be heartbroken or vulnerable or afraid. We may be different in many ways but we are still interconnected by the blood that runs through our veins. Age, sex, race, sexual orientation, language, class…none of it matters underneath the surface.
All I ask is that the next time you hear about someone being gay or lesbian or bisexual or transgender, you think about the person behind that label. Think about their personal struggles and triumphs and experiences. You don’t have to agree with what they are doing or support it in any way…but you do owe them the respect enough to love the person as they are. I think if we all shared a little more love, we’d have a lot less problems to deal with.
I have to take the time to thank the people in my life who have been there for me over the years, especially those who have supported me since I’ve come out to them. Cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents, coworkers, teachers, friends… THANK YOU. Your decision to look past your beliefs and love me for me was more than I could have ever expected…you know who you are. Thank you. I’ve felt so much love over the last few years and I’m so grateful for that. It has been completely overwhelming and I am so incredibly blessed to have so many wonderfully amazing people in my life.
Kaylee, you are my bestie, thank you for everything. I’m grateful for laughs and tears together, best compliments and hashtags, and one direction theme songs to our lives. You are an example of strength and resilience and I know you will get past every single obstacle in your way (especially because you have such long legs to step over them……bad joke, #sorrynotsorry). To my dad and brothers, I love you three so much. Thank you for loving me. My brothers are my favorite guys in the whole world. Dad, thanks for always listening and loving. To my sweet sister on her mission, I never imagined you would become such a huge advocate for me. I never expected you to defend me so valiantly. You are a true example of Christlike love and compassion. I’m so proud of you.
To my mother, I could say thank you every second from now until the day I die and it still wouldn’t be enough. You are the best person I have ever met, and I’m not even that biased. I think most people would agree with me. If I am a small fraction of the woman you are in life I will be just fine. Thank you for loving me and supporting me and never ever judging me, not even for a second. You are my best friend. I’ll love you forever…my mommy you’ll be.
I’ve posted some additional links below, if any of you are interested. If any of you have questions, comments, or thoughts, I would love to hear them. Please feel free to comment below or message me on Facebook. All I ask is that you do so with love, and not hate. I really don’t have time for hate in my life and I won’t take the time to entertain those kinds of messages. Thank you for letting me share a little bit about who I am.
Love you all,