By Joaquín Bustamante, President, Affirmation – Chile
In my office, I have looked back at my life so far and am infinitely grateful for everything that Heavenly Father has given me.
I was born in a town called San Vicente de Tagua Tagua, located in the O’Higgins region in Chile. I am the oldest of three brothers and with them and my parents I grew up immensely happy and surrounded by the love of family. I was baptized into the Church very young. My family supported me in my decision, and later they decided to take the same route, except for my middle brother who, despite not being a member of the Church, continued with the values and principles of excellence instilled by my parents in each of us.
We were sealed in the temple of Santiago as an eternal family and my family and I have all had the opportunity to serve in various callings in the Church. At age 19 I left my studies to serve a mission. I was called to the La Paz Bolivia Mission, where my love of neighbor could grow and my testimony of the gospel was further strengthened.
Upon returning from my mission I continued a normal life of study and work, while continuing to serve in the Church. As far back as I can remember, to my early childhood, I was always attracted to people of the same sex. I never shared this with my parents. Despite the fact that I always felt different, they always treated me with love. I was 25 years old when I decided to tell my parents and the rest of my family.
All the suffering that I had felt inside my entire life had always been alleviated by the loving family my Heavenly Father had given me, and also by the Gospel of Jesus Christ. My family accepted my orientation and supported me in every step of what followed. They never judged me. On the contrary, they were always with me.
On May 2, 2015 I was called as president of Affirmation Chile and continue to serve on a voluntary basis with my brothers and sisters who need to be supported and strengthened in their path of self acceptance and reconciliation with spirituality.
I can say that forever and today at the age of 36 my life is beautiful, though like all human beings I have had to face opposition. I have never stopped believing in Jesus Christ. I have a firm testimony of the Church. I know the ancient and modern scriptures can guide us in our lives. I know firmly that it does not matter where we are, but rather that what is important is to serve our fellow human beings. In Affirmation I have this opportunity to give love and give my time to a work of love and excellence.
I am convinced that in this life you can be happy being gay and Mormon. I think everyone is born with the gifts and feelings that God wants every one of his children have. He accepts you as you are and has made you a free person who can go forward recognizing and respecting yourself and those around you. Our duty is to educate and teach every one of the people we meet in the course of our life.
Not long ago, a very special person in my life told me how he looked at everything ever built, and I realized how valuable all that was. I realized he was right, and it is when I look at everything around me that I realize how happy I am and how I wouldn’t trade my life for anyone else’s.
My advice to all those who find it difficult to face this situation with themselves and with their families and friends is to be brave. The only thing that sets us free in this life is the truth.