Faces of Affirmation


TCookShenyang, Liaoning, China

About Me

Currently I am serving a tour in China as a non-career consular office in the U.S. Foreign Service. The work is fascinating, and I enjoy interacting with the locals in an official capacity. When I finish this summer, I look forward to being more involved in the Mormon/religious LGBT community.

I enjoy reading, learning, writing, hiking, and board games! I have a deep desire to invest in my local community, wherever it be, and be a force for good.

My Story

I grew up in an archetypically Mormon household in Arizona. As the oldest of six kids, I participated actively in church meetings, youth programs, and seminary. My deep personal spiritual life of study and prayer led me to gain a strong testimony of the Gospel as I understood it, despite–or, rather, because of–my discovery and process of attempting to make sense of my homosexual experience.

I always felt the Lord’s care and concern for me and felt that his plan for me growing up was just to keep doing what I knew was right. I felt his encouragement and approval as I served a mission in Calgary, Canada, and then continued my studies at the Church school: Brigham Young University, in Provo, Utah.

As I finished up at BYU, I began to feel a sense of general dissatisfaction and that my life was missing something. I chalked it up to scholastic burnout and looked forward to having a “productive” job that would lift me out of this rut. However, when a post-graduate six-month internship in Hong Kong placed me in a situation that corresponded very well to what I could expect from my post-graduation professional life, I realized that something had to change, that I could not be happy continuing on the path I was of assumed celibacy (i.e. not considering other options but not really addressing the prospect head-on, either) and, most of all, pretending to be straight.

The three years since then have been a confusing, halting journey as I have tried to understand myself, my life, and my role in God’s plan. It has surprised me to realize how much pain I and others in the nexus of LGBT and Mormon have been subjected to and–worse–how much of that has been completely unnecessary. This realization drives me to do whatever I can to make the situation better for current and future LGBT Mormons.

My continued activity in the Church puzzles me. On the one hand, I’ve never felt like I wanted to leave the Church or disagreed with the bulk of its teachings. But, on the other, I frequently feel like I am being pushed out against my will, just because of who I am and the lack of anything the Church seems to be able to offer me, as a gay person, regardless of whether or not I follow its prescription of celibacy. I continue to mostly live the standards of the Church, participate as much as I am comfortable, and try to make a contribution to the establishment of “Zion,” an idea which appeals to me and toward which I am willing to strive, even if the “Celestial Kingdom” is, for now, explicitly barred to me.

I knew about Affirmation for a while, through the internet, but for a long time I had a fairly negative opinion about it. When I was in Washington, D.C., in 2012 for my job training, I happened to meet current president Randall Thacker and everything changed.

Now I am on the national leadership team and try to contribute however I can despite my remoteness and the time difference.


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2019 Affirmation International Conference

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