BFA Graphic Design '13
Describe your BYU experience:
My BYU experience was filled with excitement, joy, contentment, self-fulfillment, anxiety, inauthenticity, fear, self-loathing, heartbreak, ostracism, and anger. All those things, sometimes in one, but mostly in that order.
I began BYU in the fall of 2008 fresh off completing a mission in Brazil. I was eager and ready to continue my life committed to the teachings of the church and to ignore my sexuality — sadly, I believed that would ultimately make me happy. Because wickedness, as outlined by the church, never was happiness.
This commitment led me to eventually meet and marry a women a few years after my mission. I shared everything about myself with her including my latent homosexuality, but we ventured into marriage with the naive understanding that as long as I was committed to the Church, we’d need not fear.
In the beginning this brought me happiness, but I nonetheless felt something was amiss. While at BYU I met other gay people, both closeted and out, with whom I felt a kindred bond. I began to share my sexuality with friends and other gays at the university from whom I had found a love and support I hadn’t previously known. During this time the church became more vocal against gay rights, which led me to further question and reevaluate my belief system. That early happiness transformed to extreme anxiety and I often experienced panic attacks. I tried therapy, even reparative therapy encouraged by my wife, and for the first time had to use anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medications. My days were filled with fear and dread numbed by all the medication prescribed by BYU.
After two years of marriage, we divorced. This was an extremely painful experience for me as I felt tremendous shame for having “failed” and fear because I knew this would force me to face my sexuality. I found love and support from close friends, while others simply disappeared. It was at this time I decided to be completely out. Within a few weeks I no longer experienced panic attacks nor needed medication — I slowly rebuilt my belief system and gained a greater sense of happiness.
It was during my last year at BYU that I was called to account in front of the Honor Code office for various allegations made by an unknown person. It was a humiliating experience, one that called into question the very person I am, and threatened my education. In the end I was cleared of the charges.
I was lucky enough to be in a major that was open minded and accepting of who I am. I was free to share my sexuality with my professors without fear of judgment or discipline and I believe this was one of the factors that helped me excel and successfully finish my degree at BYU.
Describe your post-BYU experience:
BYU almost feels like a distant memory as so much of me has changed since. I live and work as a graphic designer and art director in New York and am in a long-term relationship with my boyfriend. I no longer am a part of the LDS Church. It’s not a place I feel welcome to be as it does not accept who I am. However, many in my friend circle are those I met while at BYU, both gay and straight, and I’m grateful for those strong relationships.
Advice to current students:
Find those that support you for who you are and the good that you are doing. Surround yourself with those that support your honest and earnest desires and encourage you to achieve your goals. Do not be afraid to reevaluate who you are, what you believe, and those you call friends or family.
Posted April 2018