After realizing my “same-sex attraction” (LDS parlance/jargon), I lost fifteen pounds, my grade point average skyrocketed, and my new-found cool, calm, and collected confidence enlarged my social circles, and broke through years of previously unexplained loneliness and isolation. However, this has been described as a struggle, suffering, and an affliction. All of those characteristics describe my life before. I wouldn’t believe in the reality of “same-sex attraction” if it didn’t happen to me, and am not here to beg for notoriety, suggest that the world isn’t fair, cultivate sympathy, call self-attention, dramatically come out to the world, or even condemn. Almost in every case I have found that before a person knows, a state referred to as repression, that individuals are very self-destructive until realization no matter what they will eventually choose in their life path.
During this time, due to a variety of reasons one of my roommates at BYU figured it out. He proceeded to do what is known as “baiting” which means to coerce someone to come out to establish grounds for continual harassment. I was clever enough to realize the situation and was careful for over a period of three months and had already sold my previous contract and moved out for the summer. Despite keeping true to my Ecclesiastical Endorsement and the Honor Code, I was continually under the rational fear that somehow I would lose all of my education constituting over 5 years of the hardest work I’ve ever done and 140+ credits due to this situation. This was an immense psychological distress that compounded and fed off of the normal fears of everyone finding out or knowing, accelerating into extreme anxiety and paranoia that I am still working through.
During this period of time I was constantly asked where I was going and who I was with. In one instance this roommate showed a video of a BYU student who publicly identified as gay and laughed with his friends about this particular person being the most suicidal individual in a video series. He ensured that I was around to listen. What he didn’t know is that I knew that individual personally and that they had had several suicide attempts the most severe leading to the hospital. When I returned home one evening after a busy day at school he asked me point blank in front of another person in the ward if I had made out with a guy. This situation was the most degrading and condescending thing that anyone has ever done to me. This same roommate I drove to the TRACS station in the middle of a driving blizzard, helped jump start his car before a difficult engineering exam myself giving up precious study time, and cleaned up his dishes, bathroom; and invited on double dates (with the opposite sex of course).
I thought we were friends. Eventually I found my way into BYU USGA. No one flirted with me, or made any expectations. My first meeting I sat at the back row closest to the door to have a quick exit just in case it was uncomfortable or would be discovered, but my fears would eventually subside, and they still are sloughing off. Finally, I have found a place where I could be authentic to my experiences and have relief and recourse from this awful situation. I do feel the Spirit moving within us. Love is not an agenda, there is no conspiracy in compassion, and New Testament ethics have had a transformative power in my life. It has taken a lot of time but I have found a space in my heart to forgive my roommate. Through the power of the Atonement he is no longer in the way of the communion of my faith, and I realize that I am the only person that could ever stand in the way of my convictions. Volunteering in USGA I have found that most people at BYU are supportive, and there are just some very vocal outliers who don’t see the immense complexity and nuances in these issues or are afraid. They don’t understand how to advocate for us. My mission is to figure out how they can. If all else fails, I have found that it is better for others to remain uncomfortable than for me to apologize for my existence on this mortal earth.
I walk the sidewalks, paths, and hallways; climb the same mountains, enter the same buildings, and drive the same roads where LDS LGBT+ students like me have contemplated, attempted, and succeeded in committing suicide. Perhaps if we open our hearts we can hear them whisper to us; struggles and dreams. They were buried quietly and quickly in the cheapest of caskets and the itchiest of suits and dresses; hidden as if it were in the ground under hushed ceremonies with no obituaries in times past when this issue would’ve been to damaging for their families to ever reveal; and even now, but less so. Above all else as I join this fraternity of archetypes and find my place and my role I want to pursue what they would have wanted, and what I would have wanted if I were them. Of all the titles that I would strive to achieve peacemaker is nearly the summit of my purpose. To all those long gone, my prayer is that this offering of mine is what you desired long ago; peace.