Portrait by Spencer Ruiz

Portrait by Spencer Ruiz


BA Communications,
Public Relations Emphasis ('14)

Describe your BYU experience

Being LGBTQ+ at BYU, before even fully acknowledging it myself, made me the ultimate chameleon. Because I didn't feel comfortable accepting my own identity, I would present different identities to different groups of people. I rarely caused strife or conflict because I knew what might make people uncomfortable or push their buttons, and I steered clear.

During my last year at BYU, I came to a crossroads. While dating girls, I never felt enough interest or desire to take it to the next level. Having a girlfriend was compliant and safe, so I still did it. But I would never know whether a far-off path was correct or not if I didn't take a couple steps down it — enough steps to get an idea, but not too many, so that I still had the opportunity to back up and self-correct. If I were to choose the path of Mormon righteousness and became sealed to a woman for time and all eternity, I owed it to myself, my partner, and my future family to do it wholeheartedly.

I had never considered living in New York City, and never actually visited, but felt like it was a safe place to advance my career, and depart from BYU culture and guidelines to obtain some understanding. While there, I became convinced that I could be my happiest self by being the truest version of myself. I didn't have to be a chameleon anymore, and while my authentic personality might not rub some people the right way, not having to cater to other people's needs and comfort levels in constantly changing situations (which is exhausting) has allowed me to actually get to know, love, and develop myself.

Describe your experiences post-BYU

While I had wonderful experiences at BYU, and made lifelong friends, leaving its culture and discriminatory guidelines was freeing. Sometimes I imagine myself miles down the other path. I imagine who that person is, and what I see is someone who is very tired. His soul is heavy and beaten after four additional years of performing for people. Reading the room. Presenting different characters that yearn for acceptance.

I have experienced countless trials and failures since my time at BYU, but they all seem small and surmountable because I chose to succeed at being myself. They say that earnest repentance takes a big weight off your shoulders. My experience was that coming out and making those big decisions that contribute to your emotional health and happiness feels the same way.

Advice to current students

It might not get easy, but it does get better!

Posted April 2018