By SC Garrett
My story must be like so many others that have come and gone, but mine is different if for only the unique reason that it is my story. I too, as so many have testified, became a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints at birth. My heart swelled more everyday with thankfulness to my Heavenly Father for giving me this birthright. I was born into a home with parents who truly were/are kind and dear. The unconditional love of my parents would become more important to me than I ever imagined it could.
The rearing, for myself, was as it is for most Mormon children. Learning of our Heavenly Father, his son Jesus Christ, and their great and wonderful plan for me. I only have fond memories of primary; getting my CTR ring, graduating from age group to age group, and of course singing hymns such as, “Popcorn Popping On The Apricot Tree” and “I Hope They Call Me On A Mission.” Most children aren’t as lucky to have had a childhood like mine—what I would call a very healthy, loving upbringing.
As I grew and moved into more important responsiblities, I felt the necessity of living a clean and moral life. The priesthood became my most valuable gift. As for so many males the calling of a Deacon came first, followed by Priest, then ultimately onto an Elder. Yet, during all of this, it was as true for me as it was for every other Latter-Day Saint struggling with homosexuality, something wasn’t right. Even though I was called into almost every leadership role within these organizations, I always felt as if I were lacking something. This lead me to wonder about myself and my sexuality. However, that was not something I would come to terms with easily.
I left for my mission to South America. Finally!! This was my chance to start MY life doing what I was called to do for my Savior and His church. Entering my mission, I was filled with the intensity of my calling. Each day I worked a little harder and my desire to follow mission rules was unwavering. By my 14th month I had served as a District Leader, Zone Leader, and had just entered the mission office as an Assistant to the President. I was the “model missionary.” All that soon ended…
About a month after being released from the mission office, I was excited to return to the field. I was assigned to the capital city, assured I would be able to finish my mission in this area. (The outskirt towns were difficult and it was a treat to serve in the capital city.) The companion I was assigned to was a Zone Leader in training and an awesome young man. All of this combined seemed to make my mission so very fulfilling and successful, just as I had hoped it would be. This would all hold true, until one particular night. On this night I found myself restless and longing for something. It is difficult to describe the events exactly, but I soon found myself in my companion’s bed.
I longed so much for physical intamacy with another man that I caressed him while he slept. It was a passionate experience, if only one sided. He awoke shocked, stunned, mortified, etc… From this point on, my life would not be the same.
In my companions haste to rid himself of the sight of me, he called our mission president. Through all of my companion’s cries of, “why? what? how?” I could give no response, only hold my head in my hands in utter disgust of myself. Arriving at the mission home, my mind raced as to how I could explain this to a man who I worked with so closely, who had placed so much faith in me, and whose children I helped take care of during my six month call to be his assistant.
From that moment on, I could no longer deny all the feelings I had so easily dismissed early in my life. Due to the short time remaining for my mission, my mission president couldn’t resolve my issues so quickly. I was moved to an outside city and advised to discuss these issues with my Stake President upon arriving home. I would be released honorably. Don’t get me wrong, this mission president was wonderful and kept in constant contact with me during the remainder of my mission. But the final months of my mission were only torture.
Trying to write letters home that seemed “normal” and interact with a companion who had no idea why I had been sent to this area. As far as I was concerned, my mission was a complete failure.
Upon returning home, I found myself unable to disclose what had happened on my mission to my Stake President. Again, I tried to convince myself I could just dismiss these feelings. It only took a few invitations from friends and family to go to the temple, to convince me otherwise. My respect for the temple still holds firm today, as do all of my beliefs; however, I cannot live the teachings that I have been taught for so long.
Today, I am an “out” member of the Gay community. I have an active role in Dallas, Texas’ Gay and Lesbian movement. Contact with the church is null and void, my parents have gone down a long road of sorrow with me on this issue. Ironically, as I mentioned before, their love for me, as a son, is unconditional. I love them very much. I miss the church and the place it held in my life, but I cannot live such a lie as I lived for so many years. My reason for writing this to you? I have no idea, other than running across Affirmation’s Web Page gave me an uncontrollable desire to share this with someone who could understand. Rearing and upbringing within the church is something only fellow members can relate to. By the same token, because of what my life has entailed, only a member of the church who has come to terms with homosexuality could understand why I am where I am today. I long to feel peace and my Heavenly Father back in my life. If only it were possible for this to happen. I respect Affirmation’s belief of homosexuality being consistent with the gospel, but it would be difficult for me to deny all the truths that I have felt the spirit whisper to me to be certain. These are things I will struggle with for the rest of my life. I wish only the best for your organization and I know that on this day…. my heart seems somewhat lighter already.
Thanks to anyone who lends an ear to my story.