I was born and raised in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and from a young age, I knew that it was truth. It wasn’t just that I was brainwashed by being raised in the Church. I knew it for myself. Everything that happens in my life, that one thing is constant. I do have a savior who atoned for my sins so I can return to be with my father in heaven. I know that I have a loving father in heaven. I have a testimony of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
That being said, my first crush, when I was about 8 years old, was a girl at church. And it was just complete. I was completely gaga over her. Several years later, having fallen in love with every girl best friend that I got close to, and then finally realizing what was happening, there was this one girl, freshman year. I just couldn’t deny it anymore. I was like ‘Oh. Yeah. She’s a girl and I’m in love with her. This is happening. This is real.’
When, as I was sort of pursuing this relationship and got completely burned, that really sucked. And the pain afterward just kind of confirmed: the feelings I had for her were real. The feelings I have towards girls are real. What the heck? It was very confusing and very frightening.
Because of acknowledging those feelings, I got really rocky on the church.
You know, I’m 17. And I finally decided.. thought... came to know myself enough that I am understanding those feelings: ‘OK, I am gay. What does that mean as a Mormon? I don’t really know yet, so let’s just see how this works.’
I suppose I should back up a bit...
The one concrete thing: The Gospel of Jesus Christ is true. I am not straight.
The Gospel of Jesus Christ teaches the law of chastity: no sexual relations outside of the bonds of marriage. And marriage is defined as between a man and a woman. So, attraction? Sure. Doesn’t matter. They don’t care who you’re attracted to. It’s your actions. And if a straight person were to engage in sexual activity outside the bonds of marriage, it would be the same. That would be a sin too. No sexual activity outside the bonds of marriage.
But the Church would not recognize a marriage if I got married to a girl. And so that raised more questions for me, and more confusion.
I can’t have an opinion on political issues such as DOMA and Prop 8 because part of me says, “What if I fell in love with a woman and wanted to spend the rest of my life with her?” But I would do that knowing that I was living in sin because it wasn’t a marriage recognized by God. Because I could not be sealed to her in the LDS Temple, be sealed to her for time and all eternity, I would know that any relationship we had would only last on Earth.
With my family, because of my parents getting married in the Temple and making those covenants in the Temple with God in that ceremony, their marriage lasts for time and all eternity. Their marriage lasts beyond mortality. And that’s something that I hold very dear and that I just know is true, for me and my life. And I know that because of that my family – me, my sisters, my family – can be together forever, and that death is not a barrier.
So that's very important to me. And so having my feelings... So for a while I felt like my feelings were betraying me. I was angry at God for seemingly making it so I could never be with the one I loved for eternity. Because the person I would fall in love with inevitably must be a woman.
Recently, in General Conference, they changed the age of missionary young women, that worthy, able and willing young women can go to serve a mission at 19.
As soon as I heard those words, I felt like a ton of bricks hit me upside the head. You know, “This is for you. You are going to serve a mission at 19.”
I had a convenient two-year gap in my plan for my future, and it just fit. And I was really angry, because serving a mission involves working with buddy system. We go out two by two, you know, to preach the Gospel. You’re not alone. So I would be living very intimately and close-quartered with a girl. A Mormon girl. Serving a mission for the Church. And with my history, that would be an emotional pitfall for me. So that was one problem.
And also, at the time, I was planning to live quote-unquote “The Gay Lifestyle,” if you will. Which obviously doesn’t fall under the bounds of the Church. How could I in good conscience go out on a mission and teach those principles and doctrines knowing full well that when I got home I wouldn’t be following them myself? I couldn’t do that.
So I was really upset, but I knew that [serving a mission] was what I needed to do. So I had some serious reconciling to do.
And so what I did, I kind of just hung up all thoughts of relationships or anything, which was really hard.
I know, God told me, that I need to serve a mission.
That is for me, that is what I need to do, that’s what he needs me to do. And so I knew that I just needed to trust that he would make a way for me to obey him. That it would be alright and I would be blessed for obedience.
My goal right now is to be worthy to go to the temple so that I can make the preparatory covenants to serve a mission, and then serve an honorable mission. That is my current goal, as I’m preparing to be 19.
When I get back, I don’t know what’s going to happen. It’s really scary. I look forward and I see myself, when I look into the future and I envision my life, out on my own, there’s a job in wilderness therapy that I want. And I don’t envision myself following the standards of the church. I see myself, once again, living the quote-unquote "Gay Lifestyle." And that’s really scary because I just don’t know how to reconcile that yet.
In the church there’s something called a patriarchal blessing.
There’s a patriarch in every Stake of Zion, which is how the church is organized. There are stakes, which are large groups of congregations, and then wards and branches are the individual congregations, geographically. In every stake there is a patriarch and he is authorized by God to bestow blessings. A patriarchal blessing is a sort of revelation, relative revelation, about your future and about yourself, and it’s very very personal. God’s sort of giving you a personalized guide or road map to your life. A lot of is it conditional. For instance, a lot of mine said, “So long as you are faithful.” There’s a promised blessing, something that will or can come to pass, ‘so long as you are faithful.’ And that’s pretty standard.
I have faith and I know for a fact that the patriarch is called of God and has the proper priesthood authority to bestow this blessing and I know that this came directly from God and is true.
My patriarchal blessing told me that I would be married in the temple to the companion of my choice, and that I would be blessed to have children of my own. That was a huge deal for me at the time, and is still, and will be for a long time, because I was promised that I will have a temple marriage. And a family -- children of my own -- with that temple-sealed spouse. And the laws of God dictate that marriages in the temple are between one man and one woman. I’m gonna get married to a man someday. And that was really, really hard.
Shortly after that is when I met B.
His family moves into our congregation at church. And they’re really cool. As soon as I see him, I’m like ‘This is a cool guy, I just want to be friends with them.’ After trying so hard to friend zone him, and it working – I thought – then I like him! And then we go on a date. And then things are weird and scary, but, I figure, well, maybe this is just something so I can see how much it’s not going to suck being with a guy. But then I find my feelings getting stronger and stronger. And now it’s been five months that we’ve been together, and what I feel for B is so different from what I ever felt for any girl. The feelings I felt for those girls were real and powerful, but what I have with B is also real and powerful.
The unique aspect of being LDS is that both of us want to serve missions. So both of us, in order to be worthy to enter the Temple and make those preparatory covenants I mentioned, both of us are abstinent. And that’s a really interesting part of our relationship and I’ve had some co-workers ask me about that. You know, ‘You’re gay, but you’re with a guy, so you just don’t have sex?’ But I am attracted to him like that. It’s interesting. I hesitate to say the cliché – well, I feel it’s cliché – that sexuality is fluid, but it really is.
I definitely think that my relationship with B makes me very happy and it’s wonderful, but if nothing else it’s Heavenly Father showing me that I can love a man, and opening my heart to the concept of temple marriage. Because I was definitely very closed about it prior to. That was a big deal.
I am me, and I am not defined by my desires to sleep with women. Or the fact that, you know, Tegan Quin makes my heart go aflutter, or that Kristen Stewart makes my knees go wobbly, or that when B holds my hand I just get all gushy and warm and lovey. None of that defines me, who I am. That is part of me, and it’s a big deal, but most importantly I am a daughter of God and He loves me.
All these things that happen, I really don’t understand them and sometimes they make me angry. And the conclusion I guess I’ve come to is very frustrating as well. But as of right now, I just need to do what I know is right, do what I know I need to do. And I know that God will take care of me.
And if that means that when I get back from my mission and when B gets back from his mission, if that means that he’s the one that I marry, then I know that I’ll be happy and I know that my family will be wonderful and blessed. And if that means that I go down a different path later, then I guess I’ll find out.
As I’ve been trying to balance my spirituality and my faith and my knowledge of who I am in my sexual orientation, what I have learned is that I should not balance the two separately.
They are both facets of who I am. I know that I am attracted to women. But like I said earlier, I know that I need to serve a mission right now. Attraction to women is something I know that I experience in my life, but a mission is something I need to do. So as I know what I need to do and as I do that, I believe that the rest will fall into place.
I think right now I understand all that heavenly father sees fit for me to understand, and that’s really really hard.
But I love B. I love the Gospel. I have a testimony that the Book of Mormon is true and that there are prophets on the Earth today and that know... they do commune with God and that they know what we need to hear. They know.
I know that my God loves me and that my savior atoned for my sins so that I can repent when I mess up and that I can be worthy to enter the Temple and make those covenants, and be worthy to live in the Kingdom of God again. I know these things. And I guess that’s what’s really important is that eternal perspective. That while on Earth, things really suck right now sometimes, trying to reconcile. But if I give up on trying to balance those things, and just accept them both as part of me, and do what I need to do, rather than dwelling on confusion….
I’m never going to be able to figure it out on my own. I just need to do what I know is right and I guess that’s all I can do.
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This narrative is condensed and edited from a conversation with LMT recorded on July 11, 2013, in Winston-Salem, N.C. She and her parents requested that we identify her only by her initials, because she is not out to her church community.