by Roberta Soares
I joined the LDS church in 1991 when I was 14 years old.. I remember when missionaries taught me about the Prophet Joseph Smith. He was also 14 years old, just a young man. He and the pioneers suffered because they wanted the Gospel reestablished on earth again. The experienced persecution and sadness, and for this Gospel Joseph and others were killed because they knew it was true. They fought for a cause.
Since I have been baptized in the church I have remained in the faith, serving in various callings. Even when people talked bad things about church for me, I kept the faith. Sometimes it was hard and sometimes I wanted to give up, but I held the iron rod.
The church has always taught me to be better, and it is taught in the 13 article of faith, “if there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after this things.”
I served a full-time mission in Recife. Wonderful time that prepared me for my mother’s death six months later.
The love of Our Heavenly Father has always been clear to me. For many times I had situations that I thought there was no solution. He was always with me. Never left in my hard moments and always let me know that He is a father of love and He is with us all the time.
As a teenager, I felt a desire for my girlfriends, but I always tried to control it because I believed it was something wrong to do. I never told it to anyone only to my Heavenly Father in Prayers.
The years passed and that feeling became stronger. I decided that I should marry a man, believing that feeling would go away. More the wedding date was coming, more and more my feelings were about sadness and unhappiness. I wanted to disappear from this world. I always learned in church about marriage, family, that it was good and for me it was the opposite.
Prayers, fasting and the most right decision I made in my life was do not marry this member of the church, who was a super cool person. People were against me because I made that decision.
It took me many years to accept that I had same-sex attraction. It was a long process. I felt that I had hurt my Heavenly Father and He never ever would love me again. I stopped attending church, because I knew being gay I could not attend the temple, to serve in my callings, to teach, my friends from church wouldn’t hangout with me anymore and for me it would be painful.
Being outside the church it was easy to break the commandments. First, I stopped going to church, stopped praying, etc. Then I started to drink, spend nights in night clubs and I met many people who didn’t have any principles of faith.
Several times on Sunday I woke up early with the desire to go to church, but I didn’t have the courage to go and face the members asking me questions.
In November 2016, I helped a missionary couple out on the street and told them that I was an inactive member of the church. They asked me if missionaries could visit me. Obviously I said yes.
Shortly thereafter, the sisters contacted me and began to visit me last november. On the first visit they asked me the reason I was not attending church and I felt the desire to talk about myself and I said the reason I did not go to church. They asked me to continue to pray and read the Book of Mormon. In December, I had the desire to read a verse in the book of Mormon and read the scripture in Moroni 7:32 that touched deeply. The same week I was talking to a friend about the church and he asked me if I knew about Affirmation. I said no and later I took a look at their webpage. Affirmation has been helping LGBT members, families and friends for 40 years and I never heard about this organization.
In April 2017 we had the 1st Affirmation conference in Recife.
The best decision was to attend the Conference and meet those other people with the same doubts and feelings that I once had. Affirmation helped me to understand that no matter who I love, I need to keep connected with God and keep His commandments. Our Heavenly Father is the only One who has all answers. He knows the reason for my attraction to women.
Last June I legally married my wonderful wife Amanda, who loves me and supports me in everything I do (especially at Affirmation events, because she knows what church means to me) and above all she helps me to be a better person.
Now what I leaned in the past about marriage has a meaning.
I am grateful for my Savior and the Love He has taught us. I believe in love. The love of Christ.
I need to keep the faith like the pioneers in the early church.
This is my testimony in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.