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.
I’ve thought about this at times. I’m reticent now because of Miki and the boys…but I would have the Stake President there, as well, since he lives in my ward…is my former bishop.
I was so happy to see the response of your friends. That almost makes me cry.
You are a brave man, and it’s so awesome that you can press forward like you are. I’d love to meet you some day.
I’ve been working myself up to this, but I think I’m still at least a few months away from having the guts to do it. Maybe your example will allow me to do it sooner than I would otherwise have done.
I love your reasons. My wife and I have felt a “calling” of sorts to try to increase understanding and tolerance for gay members, and I’ve thought that coming out in a testimony meeting would be a huge step to take in that direction.
Wow! Unfortunately, like Kengo, I doubt I’ll ever be able to make that bold move because of my wife and children.
Maybe, just maybe, I’ll reach a point where I can put my real name on my blog …
As all the craziness surrounding gay marriage and Prop. 8 has been wracking the blogosphere, a friend referred me to your blog.
I have to say, I am so impressed. I’ve never personally known an openly gay member of the church, and have been dying to get perspectives like yours. I’ve read back through many of your postings and have learned so much.
But this post just blew me away. You are incredibly brave and principled. I know very, very few people that would take the risks you took, and feel such confidence in doing so. I am echoing the friend that shot you a thumbs-up. I think it is great for members of the church to have you as an example of faith and fortitude.
So yeah. I’m one of those random people on the internet that reads and enjoys your blog. I just had to comment after this post.
BFarnsey did the same thing kinda (look him up on youtube).
That’s such a bold move of you. I don’t know if I could ever have that much confidence in myself.
It’s not always easy to let people know that we think/feel a little differently. I’ve had good and bad experiences in doing so, but I’ve never wished I had kept myself a secret. There’s something wonderful about knowing I have nothing to hide, and if I’m rejected–that’s not my problem.
There may be people whose judgments and actions toward you are regrettable–but in this case, yours are not. :)
I stumbled across your blog the other night, and just thought I’d comment on this post. I think you’re very brave. Good job though. I think it’s very imortant for everyone to be aware that you can be gay and mormon. It’s about the choices you make.
Did your bishopric already know?
Congratulations! This was a great thing to do. I hope that in addition to accomplishing the goals you mention above your coming out to the ward will also benefit you personally in terms of deeper and more meaningful relationships with others. The follow-up conversations may be intense.
I applaud all of you who are gay but who are not living an “active gay” lifestyle, but are living instead, a active-member-of-the-Church lifestyle. I know a couple of members with other absolutely ‘compelling’ feelings (some that would shock most people as much, or probably much more, than being gay) that are not conducive to a Christ centered, gospel based life. They (and you) are inspiring to the rest of us as you all keep your covenants and commitments to the Lord, and sacrifice your feelings for the sake of the happiness of others.
I especially wanted to commend “Dichotomy” and “Abelard” in the posts above. I have known two gay married men (each married to a woman), who have forsaken their Temple marriage coventants and completely broken the hearts of those wives and children. The wive’s and children’s overriding emotions were not shock or disgust, or anything like that. It was this HUGE SADNESS that Daddy (and husband) were leaving them. When divorce between traditional couples happens, everybody usually knows there is something wrong in the marriage and that trouble has been coming for awhile. But in the case of these two families, these wives LOVED and got along with their husbands, and the kids loved (and felt loved by) their dads. To see those men unwilling to forgo their own feelings for the sake of all those children and those two wives who loved them so much, and instead leave them all was just the biggest tragedy.
So to you husbands out there who are living righteously, and loving your families, while being gay, I SALUTE YOU.
Best of luck to all of you, married and single.
Thanks to everyone’s kind words. The past couple of days have been kind of up and down, but the downs weren’t very down and were mostly self-inflicted (a bit of anxiety over this post being linked to by the Mormon Times and a couple of forums politicizing this post, for example). I’ve felt a lot of support from friends and family and have heard rumors of support from others. I’ll give everyone a status update next week. When some people have had time to process things, I imagine there will be some candid conversations, but most of my close friends have known for a while now. For the most part, I don’t see any indication that life won’t continue on as normal (and that’s a good thing).
Anyone who’s on Facebook can friend me. (Unless I recognize you as a regular reader or moho blogger, you’ll probably get put on “Limit Profile”. No offense, but you can’t be too careful these days. :-)
I applaud your bravery, committment, and the fact that you’re not afraid to be you. Gay or not gay, I think we can all learn from your example. Thanks for setting that example.
So next month you’ll have to get up and tell them that you’re gay AND a racist, because of that last post of yours. :) Just kidding! ;)
Great post, as always.
@TFD – HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!
Wow! I was very touched by this post. Keep moving forward in faith.
Wow, that was pretty “balls out”! Good for you! My bff has brothers that are gay and bitter. They really give her a hard time because she won’t leave the church like they have. I worry about our ward families with all the Prop 8 business going on that some ward members will just run roughshod with their “enthusiasm for the work” over anybody in our ward that might be in the closet. Did I say that right? I think you know what I mean to say.
Dude – that’s just awesome *fist bump* ;)
What an amazing man you are. Your future children (and you will get to have kids someday-this life or the next :) ) will be so proud of their heritage.
I honor you brother. I was deeply moved by this post and your incredible courage. I hope some day to have this level of courage and personal strength. You have done us all a great service. I have three children and I fear what they would endure if I were out..so for now..I’m not, but I honor your choice, your influence, your service and your contibution to awareness. You are a strong, bold man with loads of integrity.
I’m in tears. Clint, you are a pioneer. My little brother is gay, living in San Francisco, and not attending church. My family loves him dearly. We want to see other members accept him, love him, and understand where he comes from and respect him for it. Your courage and actions are important and necessary on the path towards making those dreams a reality for you and all others who struggle with SSA. Bless you. I want to bear my testimony this month and share your’s and my brother’s stories so we can get the dialogue going. We need to do this for the gay community as within the walls of our chapels (and it is a significant and growing community). That is truly mourning with those that mourn and comforting those that need comfort. Thanks for being so brave. Times are changing and you are one of the catalysts for that change.
As an older Mormon I can only hope that the church as a whole better understands SSA. President Holland’s talk on it in the Oct ’07 Ensign established the church’s position well. It is a 180 degree turnabout. It’s not a choice, these members shouldnt be marginalized, etc. Sadly, it’ll be a generation before the membership understands. Like other things, Family home Evening, food storage, etc.
Another fist bump from me for you, Clint. Very brave, I admire you a lot. Kengo’s and Abelard’s situation is mine as well so for now I can only watch from the sidelines and cheer. I’m kind of new to this whole community and I look forward to reading more of your posts.
I think you are my new hero.
very well put
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