The ceiling fan stirred the cool March air from the open window with the heat flowing up from the floors below. I lay on the floor of my empty studio apartment and stared at the ceiling. A couple of months earlier, as I had determined to get off the church/gay fence once and for all, and for the first time seriously considered the side that I had fearfully avoided my entire life. I took a good long look at my sexuality…and I actually liked what I saw.
The part of myself that I kept locked away like a queer Tasmanian Devil had been let loose and when seeing it in the daylight I realized that it wasn’t so terrible after all. In the past few months I had made gay friends, come out to people, and more and more thought about leaving the church, whose meetings by this point I could barely stand in their entirety. It was not uncommon to have to leave elders quorum and end up in the parking lot with tears streaming down my face. How could God make me gay, make accepting my sexuality feel like the right thing to do, and make acting on it an abominable sin? I couldn’t take it anymore. I was going to leave. I had to.
I thought about all this all this as I stared up at the spinning fan. Could I really do it? Could I really leave? The thought was both terrifying and exhilarating at the same time.
What about your friends?
It was true. Most of my friends were LDS. Many would not understand why I would leave, but then again, many grew up around gay kids in school. It’s not like they hadn’t had gay friends before. Some would distance themselves, but I felt my closest friends wouldn’t treat me any differently.
What about your family?
While my family loved me, they would certainly not approve of a decision to leave the church and pursue a gay relationship. Even though I thought they would grow used to the idea over time, I knew that there would always be a layer of tension on some level. Quite simply, things would never truly be the same. But it was also a decision that I had to make for myself. I couldn’t live my entire life in a certain way simply for the approval of my family.
So, are you going to start drinking, too? Going to gay bars? Sleeping around?
I’m sure everyone in the beginning thinks that they are going to act the same as they always have, don’t they? “Oh, sure, I’ll still keep high standards.” I guess everyone ends up…wait, no. No, I won’t. I hate alcohol. I always have. I hate bars. I have no desire to turn into a man-Paris Hilton. The whole point of this is to be honest with myself. Drinking, sleeping around, all of that. It isn’t me. It never has been. Even if I weren’t a member, I would hate those things.
That probably cuts down on your chances of finding someone.
Maybe. But then again, how do straight people who don’t go to bars find each other? Just because the majority of people behave a certain way, doesn’t mean I have to. There are several gay friendly churches in the neighborhood; maybe one of them would be a good place to start looking for like-minded guys.
What about your testimony?
I guess I’ll have to…I don’t know, to be honest. If I left the church, I imagine that my testimony would keep bothering me. But with time it would go away, wouldn’t it? Or, I’d have to allow anger and bitterness to kill it quickly.
Do you really want that?
Well, no. I don’t want to become bitter and angry. I guess I’ll just have to keep telling myself that it isn’t true and slowly wear it down.
But is that was you really believe? Isn’t the whole point of this to be honest with yourself?
Good point. If I told myself that the church wasn’t true, I’d be trading one lie for another. I do know the church is true. I don’t want to have to lie to myself. I’m tired of that.
So what now?
Maybe there is a middle ground? Maybe I can accept my sexuality, which has already made my life a lot more livable, and still retain my testimony.
So you would pursue homosexual relationships and still attend church?
I know me and I can’t see myself maintaining that situation. Besides, if I know the church is true, why wouldn’t I try to live according to its doctrines?
You know what that means don’t you?
Yeah. That means that unless I get to the point where I feel like I can honestly marry a woman, then I’ll have to be alone for the rest of my life. That means no relationships that go beyond “just friends”.
Do you think you can do that?
I’m not sure. Maybe. What I can’t do is pretend to be something I’m not. I’m not straight. I won’t go back to pretending that I am. I can’t do that anymore.
Is anyone asking you to?
Well, no, I guess not.
Can I really do that, though? Can I really embrace my sexuality, embrace my testimony, and still feel as though I am being honest with myself?
In my small studio apartment I looked out at the city. Its hum drifted through the open window as the fan whirred overhead. My life wasn’t heading in the same direction it was going five years ago, or even the day before. And, unlike the train as it switched tracks at Lindberg station, my future didn’t have a clearly defined path. Much of it I would have to discover on my own. I would likely make huge mistakes, but I also thought of the things I would learn along the way. Could I really do it? Could I really make it work?
The thought was both exhilarating and terrifying at the same time.