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Between Black and White


June 14, 2014

By Anna Empey

Anna-6Growing up I felt many things were black and white. I am and always have been a literal person and in many ways I have always hated not having a plan for the future. What I have had to face is that many times I don’t know what the plan is ahead, just that there is one. Thankfully, I have been able to accept that being a lesbian was somehow part of the plan, and in many ways I am thankful this is part of my experience in my daily life.

When I was in fourth grade I really started to realize that I was different. I wasn’t sure if I should chase after the girls with the boys or if should I join in with the girls and run away from the boys? I decided that swinging on the swings was easier.

I went to BYU a week after I graduated from high school. In many ways, I am very thankful for my challenging experiences there that in so many ways led me to where I am now. It truly was through the influence of the Spirit, my family, my professors’ teachings, good friends, and people that participated in my anthropology research about the process of acceptance for those who are diagnosed with Celiac Disease, that pushed me to start the journey, at the end of my time at BYU, to self-acceptance and acceptance of the love of Jesus Christ and God.

IMG_3838At the beginning of my journey, I felt very stuck on a few questions: Why did God make being a Lesbian part of who I am and my experience? and Where do I fit in the eternal plan of happiness?

I did not really receive answers to those questions and I still have many questions that are unanswered. Everything changed in my life when I asked instead: What do you want me to do with this? I have learned that everything is not black and white and in many instances my future is grey because it is not anything like what I thought or was taught it would be. But I believe everyone’s life is full of not only the unexpected, but unanswered questions and many unknowns about the future. I believe we all need to learn to live in the grey, and to learn that not knowing what is far ahead of can be to our benefit.

In the grey, I find hope that I can live everyday one day at a time – full of purpose and intent to help others remember that they are not alone. I also find hope by embracing the grey because we do not have to understand the mysterious ways that God works to bring blessings into all of our lives.

I am very thankful for the journey that my parents and siblings have been on with me as we process and work together for a place of mutual understanding and love. A place where we are learning to face our fears and be courageous, where we are learning to not be afraid to ask questions or to disagree. Most importantly we are creating a place that always focuses on love, and our love for each other. We are still learning and growing together through the grey.

It is not easy living in the grey but as I have accepted the unknown focusing on living every day to the best of my ability, taking one step at a time I have been able to learn and come to know a few things that are black and white for me.

1. God loves us each individually and if I can feel how much he loves others, He loves me just as much too.

2. There is a plan and a purpose for my life, but it may be a little different then I thought it would be when I was in young women’s but it is still a life worth living and life worth living in the grey for.

3. I cannot give up on Jesus Christ and Heavenly Father because they have never and will never stop loving me and being there for me.

I am still in the process of understanding where I fit in the church but I do know that there is space for me in the gospel no matter how my life turns out. I know I will never be a stereotypical Latter-day Saint or a stereotypical Lesbian and in many ways I am thankful I don’t have to be anything but myself.

I am glad I am learning to live and love the grey. It is the grey that has taught me to face my fears and to face and ask questions that I don’t think I ever would have asked. It is the grey that has taught me to be more compassionate and more thankful. It is the grey that has taught me what it means to have and be full of unconditional love.

What has facing the grey taught you?



  1. Betsy on June 14, 2014 at 8:04 PM

    You, Miss Anna…
    …have been a grateful, compassionate, and loving person for as long as you have existed! Your bravery and courage are amazing to me, and always have been. You were always a confident girl. Though you were surprised and shocked by your recognition, you have not let it break you. I am glad you are loving yourself wherever you are at in this life journey we are traveling together.
    I know how much the Savior and Heavenly Father love you, and I am so grateful to have been able to feel their love for YOU! You have always loved me unconditionally, though I am an imperfect mom. You are such a blessing in my life, and I will be forever grateful for the impact you have had on my heart. I love your unique Anna-ness, and I just couldn’t live without it!
    You Rockin’ Awesome Girl!
    Hugs and tons and scoops of love,

  2. Camilla Boles on June 17, 2014 at 5:18 AM

    I love this, Anna. I especially love where you said “I am thankful I don’t have to be anything but myself”. You are amazing. Stay strong! Love you!

  3. Kimmy Sanders on June 23, 2014 at 7:28 PM

    ANNA!!! You write beautifully! OH it is so true for all of us. I can try to understand the struggle you and others face each day…but of course, as I am not in your shoes…I can’t fully grasp the pain and confusion and then the joy and happiness when you are accepted by those you love so much. You are such an inspiration to ALL OF US. Grey. GREY. This may just be my new favorite color. Unconditional Love. That is the bottom line. Heavenly Father sent us here. He has a plan for all of us. I believe the plan is very simple and perhaps NOT grey…it is just simply love unconditionally. Love one another for him. That is all. AND the love comes in different shapes and colors and styles and times and so forth. Thank you for making me think for a moment here. LOVE YOU!

  4. Karen on August 15, 2014 at 3:27 PM

    Anna, you are a very brave and wise young woman. I have so much respect for you and others who are onthe journey of self acceptance. I am Catholic, but was with a Mormon woman for 4 years. Unfortunately, when I asked where our relationship was going and if we would ever be married one day, she freaked out and it was only a few months later she ended things. I wa devastated. When we were together, I often encouraged her to seek out support groups online that are about being a Mormon while trying to process loving a woman. However, I was met with much resilience. Not sure what I could have done different, as I offered as much support as I knew how. I find myself feeling so proud of LGBT’s who are committed to loving themselves as they are as well as embracing their religion. For this reason, I support each and every one of you that exemplifies courage and strength to love EVERY thing that makes you YOU!

  5. Rhonda on November 5, 2014 at 10:28 AM

    What a beautiful and wise outlook you have. You have inspired me and given m and given me courage for my journey!

  6. Sara on June 28, 2016 at 3:20 PM

    I loved your comment, “I know I will never be a stereotypical Latter-day Saint or a stereotypical Lesbian and in many ways I am thankful I don’t have to be anything but myself.” That’s exactly who God wants us to be.

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