by Rene Martinez Torres
Every day on my way to work, I would pass in front of a chapel. Every time I did, it felt like a magnet attracting my attention, till one day I noticed the sign placed in front. I found on the Internet that its members were “Mormons.” Then I googled the phrase “gay Mormons.” When I read the results, I came to the conclusion: “This is not for me.” But before dismissing the matter completely, I subscribed to a group of gay Mormons known as “Affirmation.” I did it Just Because.
One day in the newsletter of the group there appeared an invitation to a conference entitled “All are alike unto God” that was aimed at gay Mormons and their friends and family. Most of the speakers were going to be from the United States, so I decided to attend. On arrival I was struck by two things: the humble facilities and the warmth of the organizers. The quality of the presentations was comparable to any international conference I had attended before.
What happened in it amazed me. Not being Mormon, I understood little the challenges of the other attendees, but I could feel them. I remember having asked the president of the group:
“Why are you here? What motivates all of you to travel thousands of kilometers without a salary?”
“Why do you think?” he replied.
“I don’t know … Because you want to help to your brothers in a less developed country than yours?”
“There you have it!” he said, smiling.
As part of the conference program we were invited to the Temple Visitor’s Center. I hesitated to attend until I heard, semiconscious, a voice in my mind: “You have to go to the Temple.” So I went. At the Visitor’s center they gave me a copy of the Book of Mormon.
Soon the missionaries taught me how to pray and whenever I did I received a response back. Feeling the intermittent presence of the Spirit, my house in order, and myself in a better mood than before I began in this path, I decided to join the Church.
From the Affirmation conference, it had become clear to me that the attitudes of Church members toward gay individuals were strongly influenced by the bishop. So I decided to request an interview with my bishop to feel him out. There were other brothers I had to speak to first before I could speak to him. In our talks, I always showed them the Web pages that we learned about at the Affirmation conference, explaining what I knew about the official position of the Church towards gay people, and the work of groups like Affirmation. In each case this reassured the person I was talking to.
I have been baptized. I’m so happy that I was! My new brothers at the Church have given me a warm welcome. They have embraced me. They told me that I should consider them my second family, and they have reiterated their willingness to help me with anything I could need. I am grateful that our brothers from the other side of the border came here. Had it not been for their visit I would still be just “gay.” I was born gay and always will be, but now I am a “gay Mormon.”
I know I have much to learn: I have never read the Bible, and I’ve just started the Book of Mormon, but I’ve seen movies and I’ve read books about the life of Jesus Christ so I have an idea about his personality. Now, whenever I go through a situation, especially if it is difficult or unpleasant, I ask myself: “What would He have done?” Almost always the answer is: “He would have simply smiled.”
Now, I smile more.