You know there is always that one testimony every month that makes everyone feel really awkward, avoid eye contact and makes everyone shift uncomfortably in their seat? Well, I decided to get that one out of the way early this month.
I just wanted to let everyone know why I am here.
My entire life, I’ve on some level known that I was gay. Growing up gay in the church was really hard. Living gay and active in the church can be really hard.
But no matter what I want to be true, no matter what I hope to be true, no matter what I think to be true, I know that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is true. It’s a knowledge that is impossible to take away from me. (I’ve tried.) I know President Monson is a prophet of God. I know the Book of Mormon is true.
I don’t say all this to solicit pity (although I do enjoy a good pity party), guilt, or to shock. I say this because no matter what our individual situations, the church is amazingly, frustratingly, inconveniently, wonderfully true…so what else matters?
In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
I walked passed the bishopric and the stake president (of course he would happen to be there) and down the aisle to my seat back in the chair section. A third of the way there, I realized that I was looking down. “Hold your head up!” I forcefully told myself, “You are not ashamed!” I held my head up as I walked back to my seat. When I slid into my chair, one friend put his arm around my shoulders, another smiled at me through teary eyes, and another turned around and gave me a smile and a thumbs-up.
So why did I out myself to my entire ward yesterday?
- To let other gay Mormons know that they aren’t alone.
I don’t know if there are other gay members of my ward, but if there are, I wanted them to know that there are other gay members out there, doing our best to live the gospel. Loneliness and isolation are the kryptonite of the gay Mormon.
- To help remove some of the stigma associated with homosexuality.
I didn’t plan on it, but I was asked to help bless the sacrament yesterday. I wanted to be the first one to bear my testimony (rip off the band-aid) and before I went up, I realized the significance of what was going to happen. I was going to stand up from behind the sacrament table and, in front of the bishopric, the stake president, and my ward, reveal that I was gay. I wanted to help dispel the myths that if you are gay you are a sinner (well, no more than anyone else at least) and unworthy of participation in the church. I wanted to show that gay people aren’t disgusting pervs. I wanted everyone to know that you shouldn’t be ashamed, and I am not ashamed, of being gay.
- To raise awareness.
I’ve had people tell me that they thought I might be gay but dismissed the idea because I was active in the church. I wanted people to know that gay Mormons are out there. It’s a lot harder to hate a group of people when one of them is sitting next to you in Elders Quorum.
- To bear my testimony.
I wanted to come out in testimony meeting because I wanted everyone to know what I believe. Plus, a lot of my testimony was built while I was sorting out my sexuality. It is a part of my testimony like my mission, youth classes, and everything else in my life.
Oh, and by the way, my real name is Clint.