The Struggle for Self Acceptance
By Luiz Correa
I was born in 1967. A year and a half later I lost my mother, who committed suicide. My father remarried and I went to live with him and his new wife when I was 4 years old. Until I was six years old I believed that woman was my mother. One day after I hugged her and said I loved my mother, she threw me down and said that she was not the mother of a dark-skinned kid, and that my mother had killed herself. After that day I cried for God to protect me. I always blamed him for the life I led, hopeless and without a mother’s love. Often I prayed for God to take me away because I could not bear so much physical and psychological pain. Over time I also discovered that I there was something different about me. From early on, I was attracted to boys and not girls.
In 1985 God answered my prayers and sent to my door two Mormon missionaries who introduced me to the gospel of Jesus Christ. In March of the same year I became a member of the Church of Jesus Christ. I felt that here was the answer to my prayers for years. Shortly thereafter, I had my own testimony of the church and of the whole doctrine. In my heart there came a strong desire to serve the Lord, but before that I served my country for a year in the army.
In May 1987 I went to the Brazil Brasilia Mission, and served honorably until May 1989. I went back home and started to serve the Lord in my numerous callings, always working hard as a seminary teacher, Sunday school teacher, ward mission leader and first counselor in the bishopric. But I lacked a greater call, that of eternal marriage. I knew I needed to do it, but my heart and my mind said no, knowing what my inner desires were. After much pressure from the leaders I ended up getting married in February 1996 and was sealed to my wife in the Lord’s Temple.
In 1997 my daughter Gabriela was born, who today is 19 years old. I still have a stepdaughter of 22 years old. After 4 years of marriage, my heart was strongly pressed by my secret desires, and not wanting to let down my wife and my calling, I finally ended my marriage and gradually left the church without telling anyone the reasons that led me to such an attitude.
There were times and days very difficult for me, because I still did not accept myself as a gay person. I tried three times to take my life, after one of which attempts I was left unconscious for three days at home alone. It took some time for me to accept myself as I am. For many years I asked for help from Heavenly Father to change, having done my part with a full-time mission, marriage in the temple and serving in his church with dignity.
I found that I was wanting something that the Father did not want. He knew this was me and that I needed to accept myself as I am. Now I am a gay son of God who loves the gospel of Jesus Christ, who has the acceptance of my daughters, who support me and have cultivated a special affection for the partner I’ve been together with for eight years. After a few years of separation, my ex-wife came out as gay and married a woman. In all this I have huge respect for my daughters Gabriela and Thays. They learned to deal with all this change in their family — completely outside the so-called normal standards of society — and support us as gay parents. For many years I have struggled, first to have the love of someone who despised me. Then I fought to be someone I was not, then I struggled to accept who I really am.
I sought in the Church that which Jesus Christ said in Matthew 11:28: “Come to me, all you who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” He eased me. He helped me to know that I am who I am. I did not stop being his son for being gay. I may have been abandoned in this life by earthly parents, but my heavenly Father has never left me. He helped me overcome barriers and difficulties. I always felt his hand on me in times when I had no strength, when I gave up. He did not want me to leave this land.
I have a strong testimony that God lives and that Jesus Christ is my Savior. I know he loves me as I am. As my patriarchal blessing says, I am a valuable vessel in the eyes of God and no one can say the opposite of that. I know that the Father has a purpose for me here on this earth, which is to serve him. After that, I have a great testimony of the restored gospel. I know the unconditional love of the Father for all his children without distinction of any kind. I know the love of Christ can change thoughts and attitudes. I believe that through the gift of the word, and the gift of patience, we will all be blessed with the brotherly and unconditional love of Christ. I know that Heavenly Father loves us, that Christ lives and that each one of us present here on this earth are their beloved children. I leave this my testimony in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.