by Nathaniel Currey
Four and half years in total, mine was a short and brilliant career with the LDS Church. My best friend baptized me August 12, 1995 the first Saturday of our senior year in high school. I got a job at Deseret Book the following week, was at BYU the following year, assistant to my mission president in the former Soviet Union two years after that and then three weeks after I returned home my life and dreams as I knew them were over.
Many people ask me today why I was attracted to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I have the standard two answers that I always give: 1. It was a ready-made family that I needed at the time & 2. I had a testimony that the Church was true. Yet, when I’m completely honest, tucked away in what was the deepest, scariest and most authentic part of my soul there was a third reason. I knew that this was my last, best hope to not be gay.
Three nights after my mission president asked me to be his assistant, I woke up in the middle of the night in tears, shaking and sweating like a fever had just broken. A desperate clarity came as I realized that at that very moment I was doing everything I knew how to do of what my Heavenly Father expected me to do and that if He wasn’t going to take away my feelings towards men in that moment it was going to be with me the rest of my life.
I confided my feelings with a zone leader I was close with and he confirmed that he too shared my struggles. Our bond quickly turned into an emotional and physical one over the course of my remaining months as a missionary. My first Sunday back at BYU I was called to a disciplinary court learning that he had confessed shortly after I had returned home. I walked around campus the day of my court like a zombie, terrified of what was about to happen and terrified of not knowing who I would be in the morning. It finally occurred to me walking across the quad that I had been a good person before I was LDS and that I would be a good person after I was LDS. I was blessed to have had a spiritual and cultural identity before I was baptized, unlike so many of my fellow LGBT/LDS friends.
I returned home to Colorado the following day to a very perplexed family that had just sent me off to Utah a few short days before. I explained that I’d been kicked out of BYU, excommunicated from the LDS Church and it was because I was gay. To which my grandmother, being the good born-again Christian that she is, threw her hands in the air and proclaimed, “Praise Jesus you’re not a Mormon anymore! But it’s too bad you’re still going to hell because you’re gay now.”
It was at that point I called a self-imposed time-out from God and religion in general. Sure, I would tell people that I was still very spiritual on my own, but that felt a lot like when I would tell people I was bisexual; trying to trade authenticity for a false comfort. My own brand of spirituality turned out to be incredibly stagnant & lonely. After seven long years I decided it was the fellowship of others that I missed the most. After careful study and prayer my path led me to the Episcopal Church. I do not believe in the Episcopal Church in the way that I used to say that I believed in the LDS Church, but I have found a spiritual home folded into a religious tradition that is not afraid to embrace me for the man that I am in my entirety. In fact, they trust not only that I am worthy, but that it is desirable for me to be our parish’s youth minister (and we have a great time!).
As Christians we are called in the scriptures to become the body of Christ through the church(es) at large and through the fellowship we have with one another. That moment of authenticity with another human being, in pure fellowship, is where I experience the sacred in my life today. Once again, I have found intimate holiness I thought lost forever.
As I have moved out and on from my time as a Latter-day Saint, I look back with fondness and gratitude. I honor the many wonderful experiences I had then, celebrate the ability to stand fully before God today & look ahead to even greater times of joy in my life to come.
“Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they may have joy”
2 Nephi, 2:27