Portrait by Spencer Ruiz

Portrait by Spencer Ruiz

Nick S

BFA Graphic Design ('12)

Describe your BYU Experience:

I knew I was gay before I started BYU but I was horrified that someone else would find out. Instead, I kept it to myself while in high school. Only my parents, a couple bishops, and a random therapist from my early teens knew.

At the end of my freshman year at BYU, I went on a mission. One of the main reasons why I felt that I needed to go on a mission was my fear that if I didn't go, people would speculate about why I didn't go. And maybe they would figure out that I had this "dirty secret" about myself. After I returned home from my mission, I decided that I would work my hardest to follow the church's teachings and try dating women. I tried, but It was such an uncomfortable and unnatural experience for me to date women that I decided to see a LDS therapist to help work through my anxieties. After several months of meeting with him, he and I both came to the conclusion that we should stop focusing on dating and work on tools to manage my anxiety and depression. Still I had this fear that someone at BYU would find out that I liked guys. While I was still visiting my therapist, a co-worker and friend of mine at BYU came out to me. In that moment I didn't tell him about myself. But knowing that I had a friend at school like me opened my eyes. Eventually I came out to him. And then he introduced me to more LGBTQ+ BYU students. I felt that I had finally found my people. There were others who were going through the exact same things as me and who understood my fears and anxieties.

However, I still wasn't sure what life would be for me as a gay man. All my life I had heard that if I led a sinful life, I would never be happy. But I wasn't happy at all in my life trying to do things that the church said were the right things. Then, during my junior year at BYU, I went on a field trip to NYC with my graphic design program to visit NY design studios. During one of the studio visits, a BYU grad was giving his presentation about his career and I could tell that he was clearly gay and living his life as a gay man in NY. He was happy, passionate, and successful in his life and career. It was during his presentation that I realized that LGBTQ+ people really could be happy and successful. If this grad could be happy, then so could I. It was a complete turning point in my life. After that I knew who I was born to be. I just needed to embrace being me. There was nothing that I needed to "fix" about me. From that point forward, I no longer hid from anyone that I was gay. I started telling my whole family, my friends, classmates, professors. It was liberating. And those fears I had that people would reject me didn't come true. The people that really cared about me still cared about me and wanted to be a part of my life.

Describe your post-BYU experiences:

I was offered a job in NYC during my senior year. So right after graduation, I moved across the country to start my new life and career as a NYC graphic designer. From day one, I didn't hide anything about myself from others. Being gay is just a small, though important, part of what makes me me. I am a passionate graphic designer, working for a Fortune 500 company in the skincare and beauty business. Shortly after moving to NY, I started dating men in the city and have had a couple relationships. My family has met my boyfriend and we've even gone on trips together. They have been loving to me and him. My relationship with my family has become even stronger over the years as they've gotten to know the real me. I am happy and proud of who I've become.

Advice to current students:

Do not wait to come out to others in your life. The sooner you come out to others, the sooner you can be your complete, authentic self.

Posted April 2018