Content warning: religion, self-identity
I am writing this letter to express my feelings regarding the difficulty of leaving Mormonism because of my gayness. Since the age of twelve, it has been difficult to reconcile these two identities—one of devotion to the religion my ancestors have practiced for hundreds of years, and the other of my natural, incompatible homosexuality.
I come from a long line of Mormons. My ancestors were the ones who hiked across the United States and settled in Utah before it was a state to practice their religion away from persecution. I was baptized in the church, paid the full 10% tithe, received the priesthood, and spent years in Sunday school and Seminary (at 5:45 in the morning!). My dedication was intense, but this did not stop the discovery that I could not get married in the church. I knew I had liked men since elementary school, but I started really realizing it in high school when I was 15. Being Mormon and being gay are mutually exclusive; I had to choose. The decision simmered within me for years, and it was challenging to fathom abandoning the traditions and values that my family instilled in me.
Throughout high school, I reflected. The struggle to pick between the two ways of life was hard, but it had to be done. I decided to come out to my friends between my sophomore and junior years. It was very freeing, and I never felt better. Being open with myself and others was the right decision over choosing a life of deceit for myself by remaining in the Mormon community.
Mormonism was not right for me, but I decided to keep the values of Mormonism like charity, kindness, and honesty, without practicing the religion itself. Mormons are very good people, but I could not remain in an institution that saw me as a second-class human. The choice was difficult, but I am thriving now. Looking back, I could not have gone down a better path. I feel more resilient and ready to take on whatever life throws at me. The key to this was constantly reflecting, evaluating, trusting your gut, and being kind to yourself.