Portrait by Spencer Ruiz

Portrait by Spencer Ruiz

I have chosen to stay with the Church and like the rest of my life leading up to this time, it has only been positive. I have a great love for the Church and I feel valued, important, and needed.

Conner C

BS Sociology '13

Describe your BYU experience:

I had a very good time at BYU. I chose BYU because it was out of my home state, it felt like an adventure, and it was prestigious to get into. My gayness did not play a large part of my BYU experience. For a time I thought I was still going to marry a woman so I "dated" girls. They were never anything romantic and nothing physical beyond a peck here and there. I never enjoyed this dating though so by my junior or senior year I basically stopped trying. I focused a lot of my time on swimming and running. The only "real" romance I had at BYU was falling into unrequited love with one of my straight best friends. This was a common theme actually, pretty consistently developing a codependency on my straight friends. Thank goodness I'm over that. I had a lot of friends but no gay friends. I did that on purpose because I knew I didn't want to risk developing feelings or attraction and doing things that would potentially get me kicked out of BYU. I felt lucky and privileged to be there and I didn't want to jeopardize that. By halfway through my junior year I realized I wasn't going to get married so only then did I start thinking about a career. I had high expectations for life post-graduation and I honestly think I've exceeded those.

My mission experience was similar to my experience at BYU. I was a good missionary and very obedient. I rarely broke rules and only developed one codependent relationship. I've never regretted any of my mission experience.

I never had any run-ins with the Honor Code office or with bishops. In fact, they were all positive. After a couple of months into my first year post-mission, I came out to my bishop and felt very ashamed at that point in time. This was at the peak of my one-way romance with my best friend. It was a hard time for me and I felt embarrassed to tell my bishop that I was gay. He responded with only love. The next week he called me as the Sunday School president and I was so grateful. This instilled so much confidence in me knowing that he understood that being gay didn't mean I was broken or unworthy of what I thought was an important calling like that.

I went to a BYU therapist for a time as well and he was a positive time too. At first, when he informed me that I was not going to "fix" being gay, I turned a little hostile towards him. I didn't like hearing that. But through my months with him I learned to accept it and be happy with who I was.

Describe your post-BYU experience:

My relationship with the Church since leaving BYU has been mostly positive. There was a pivotal time when I had to make some decisions that could alter my whole life. I have chosen to stay with the Church and like the rest of my life leading up to this time, it has only been positive. I have a great love for the Church and I feel valued, important and needed.

I have had a few romantic relationships. They were very minimal but thrilling and fun and I have no regrets about them. Since coming out I have developed the best personal relationships I've ever had. I once feared that if I came out then girls would shun me and straight guys would avoid me, but it has proven to be the opposite. The relationships that I've developed with straight men have been only positive and I have never felt shunned or bullied or belittled. They all have treated me like one of the boys and I've never felt objectified. I can now develop strong emotional bonds with both men and women and for whatever reason, codependency is a thing of the past. I feel as though most of my emotional needs are met but I do often long for more physical affection. I have plenty of gay friends too and I appreciate and cherish those relationships as well.

I feel lucky to have developed professionally like I have. Not because I'm gay but because I'm an Idaho country boy. I have exceeded my expectations and I'm living a reality that I never really had considered. I don't think any of that has to do with being gay though.

My gay identity is good. Being "out" has been empowering and positive. However, I don't feel as though it plays a very big role in my life or my identity. It's very present in my stereotypical gay interests, but outside of Broadway shows and the occasional "gay brunch," it plays very little role in my day to day. At work I'm not sure if they know I'm gay or not. I've been at this job for 9 months and it's never come up! That probably says more on the politically correct atmosphere of a corporate job than anything else though. I'm not embarrassed of it but I have only been on 1 date in the last 2 years so I have no dating stories to share with my coworkers. They may have picked up on things during my continuous acclaim of "Call Me By Your Name" during Oscar season.

Advice to current students:

I would encourage BYU students to come out sooner rather than later but don't get kicked out of school. I think life gets easier after coming out. I personally don't think BYU is the time to explore the sexual aspects of sexuality though since there's such a high risk of expulsion, and that's not worth it. Many will disagree I'm sure. Being gay doesn't have to be your primary focus. It can play whatever role you'd like it to be, just make sure it's a happy one.

Posted April 2018