Brigham Young University
The challenges of embracing both my experience and identity as a gay man and my 28 years in relationship with my husband Göran, at the same time as I embrace and affirm my love for the Gospel of Jesus Christ and my testimony of and love for the Church of Jesus Christ have taught me invaluable lessons about faith, about trust, about patience, about life, about community, about relationship, and most importantly about God, and my own divine nature and relationship with him.
Those caught in this transition period as the Brethren work things out have the continued and real possibility of trauma, rejection, and suffering as they stand at the intersection of their Faith. This is why LGBTQ led organizations such as Affirmation are so necessary to support our LGBTQ peers during such changes.
It can take as much or even more courage to seek help for depression, anxiety, or trauma as it does to come out as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or queer. There is help though, and Rich Keys encourages anyone to seek it by sharing his own struggles and successes.
Regrettably, on social media, these friends and neighbors pointed their fingers and mocked a young gay valedictorian, just because he delivered a BYU-approved speech at his commencement. It was a surreal moment as the comment sections became a “great and spacious building,” as spoken of in Lehi’s vision in the Book of Mormon, full of detractors scoffing at LGBTQ members of the church pressing onward towards the tree of life.
It was in these quiet moments of pain and confusion that I felt another triumph: That of coming to terms, not with who I thought I should be, but who the Lord has made me to be.
We felt like the Church had turned its back on us. It’s frustrating to me for that reason that, while this change is positive, it didn’t come with an apology or action for change.
Samantha Allen toured some of the most conservative states in the US to collect and share the stories of the LGBTQ Americans who live there. She’s now published this collection of stories in her new book.
No buildings were leveled to the ground, the sun came up like it always does, students studied, teachers taught, no one was struck dumb, the visiting GA’s could drink their favorite soda in the light of day and not hide in the shadows.
I’m able to use my talents of writing, public speaking, music, and my sense of humor (my silly critters) to help people understand what it means to be gay and Mormon, and what it doesn’t mean, and He wants me to remain in the Church where I’ll be most effective in carrying out this work.