What Is the Way?

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History Written by Luiz Correa

On Sunday, I woke up early, took my bath, put on my Sunday best, got in my car, and I drove to the chapel; the same chapel where I grew up, where I spent my teenage years, from where I left to serve a mission, and where I returned after my mission. Arriving, I parked in the same parking spot where I parked my first car, but I couldn’t get out. As has happened for the last few weeks, a brother or sister walking by greeted me with a slight nod, which I returned, but I wasn’t able to find the courage to get out of the car and walk into the chapel.

Ever since the last interview with my bishop, I have felt outside of the box; that I didn’t belong in this place. I haven’t lost my testimony of the Gospel; but, ever since that interview, it seems that people smile at me knowingly. It’s hard not to feel their smiles come from a place of pity or insincerity. Maybe it would have been better to keep my thoughts and feelings to myself. At least, I wouldn’t feel that the world was pointing at me in judgment.

Throughout my childhood, teenage years, and while serving a mission, I’ve had dreams and desires for my friends at church, school, and in the mission. I never told anyone though. I wouldn’t even tell Heavenly Father in my prayers, even though I knew He already knew everything. I didn’t want to talk about it. I was afraid of the punishment that He may give me.

“Why was liking another person so bad?” I often wondered. Many times while sitting in church meetings, I would watch the other boys and wonder if they had the same feelings I had.

I did not want to hurt anyone. I just wanted to love someone and be loved by them. I don’t know how long I can go on like this. All the feelings inside of me are like a whirlwind as I try to understand the conflict between my feelings and my faith. I desire to have someone at my side. However, at the same time, based on everything I’ve been taught in the church, I think fulfilling that desire would not be good in the eyes of God.

I couldn’t get out of the car because I know I couldn’t continue in the Gospel as I would like. I still have a desire to serve and to testify. Nothing has changed; only that I’ve decided that I should live honestly about who I am.

I wish that they would understand that my desire is simple. I want to serve in the Gospel and I want to love someone like me. Why is it so difficult for them to understand? Why do I have to be excluded solely because I want to love someone?

These past few Sundays, sitting in my car in the parking lot of the chapel, I’ve thought and rethought many things in my life. I’ve often felt the calming presence of the Spirit as if He’s sitting in the passenger seat with me. I know my decision to be myself is right for me. For now, I just lack the courage to get out of the car and walk into the chapel.

As I’ve done every Sunday, before everyone leaves the meetings, I start the car again and drive home. It took me a long time to accept myself. It will take time before I’ll be able to attend a church meeting again.

One Comment

  1. Amen, brother. I can’t say where precisely I am on this journey relative to you, but we’re on the same path. I’m only out to close family and friends right now (my bishop included, so at least in that we’re similar), but I’m happy to say that I too have felt that my decision to be myself is right for me.

    I keep coming back to Joseph Smith’s teaching that it is in proving contraries that truth is made manifest. While I always use to think of that only in terms of testing and studying gospel contaries or paradoxes, these last few months of self-discovery and reflection have helped me appreciate personal paradoxes, like being completely convinced of the gospel and church’s truthfulness while also being completely convinced that pursuing a relationship with someone you’re actually attracted to would bring greater joy and growth than remaining intentionally single throughout mortality. I have a hard time believing that “it is not good for man to be alone” only if he’s heterosexual.

    My point is: keep proving the contrary! I would imagine you also experience days of courage and determination followed by days of doubt and despair (heck, if I’m honest, sometimes it varies hour by hour within a day…), but I don’t believe the only solution for us is to “pick a side” and be either “fully” LGBT by leaving the church (though for some it is important to leave and I don’t look down on that decision) or “fully” LDS by denying feelings of romantic attraction (though for some that may be the choice they feel is best for them and I don’t look down on that either). The best way to change the way church members view and treat their LGBT associates is to problematize the caricatures that have been presented them over time, so for those of us who feel comfortable and even desirous to do so it’s important that we stay visible and appropriately vocal in our congregations. Please keep going back to that parking lot and go inside as soon as you feel ready!

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