BA English ('90)
Describe your BYU experience
I grew up in Provo, so it’s hard for me to separate BYU from Provo and the long arc of my transition from a scared, local Mormon boy trying to do everything right and win the love and acceptance of my family and community from the out gay guy I am now still trying to do most things right and win the love and acceptance of my family and community.
At BYU I ran scared, ran away from confronting my gayness, until my junior year when I took an honors seminar taught by Sam Rushforth and Reeba Keele where they talked objectively and responsibly about homosexuality in a secular way. I came out to my parents a few weeks later, and we spent the next few years learning and coming out together.
At the time, the stakes were so high that aside from my coming out, my “BYU experience” remains nothing more than a frenetic blur.
Describe your post-BYU experience
Three years after graduating from BYU, I moved to Asia and within a year got excommunicated for having a boyfriend. It was a painful slap in the face, and would have been the end of my dealings with the Mormon Church if I hadn’t decided to have kids via IVF and needed to move home to Provo to get help from my parents as a single parent. It’s crazy how what goes around comes around. The irony.
I still live in Provo and, unlike so many LGBTQ+ BYU grads who have the luxury of moving on, I deal with the Mormon thing on a daily basis. So much heartache and tragedy going on in Happy Valley. We all want our stories to be triumphant and happy, and I wish I could share a “happy ending” story with you all here.
Still, there’s nothing better than waking up in the morning and dogpiling on the bed with the kids who are so full of life and love and innocent joy. Even here in the heart of Mormondom, what a blessing for me as a gay man to have found a path to fatherhood. It reaffirms the goodness of life.
What advice or wisdom would you share with a current LGBTQ+ BYU student?
I’m never sure whether to tell people to “cut-and-run” from the Provo Mormon thing or to face it head on and see if it’s possible for you to find your peace in a Mormon context. Like everything, the answer is to do some of both. Remember: what goes around comes around, because it does.
It’s a huge blessing when your family can love and accept you as you are. Although I’m stuck in Provo, my parents and five siblings have all left the faith. Their leaving has created a bubble within the bubble for my kids and me.
I’d encourage everyone to skirt the religion rabbit hole as much as possible and to try to do the coming out thing together with your family in a secular and sane way. Patience and self-love are key to finding your place and your peace.
Posted May 2018