BS Family Studies ('13)
Describe your BYU experience
I arrived at BYU from my hometown of Westfield, Indiana in 2009, excited to finally be in a place where I would be surrounded by members of my own faith.
Overall, I had a great time at BYU. I made a lot of friends, some of whom I am still very close to today. Most of my days were very happy. I had wonderful professors in the School of Family Life and the Women’s Studies department. I spent my free time hanging out in downtown Provo, hiking, and visiting the national parks in southern Utah.
However, social justice and equality have always been very important to me. I was very troubled by the church’s participation in the passing of Prop 8 in California in 2008. As I became friends with LGBTQ+ BYU students and heard their stories of being gay members of the church, I was troubled by the sadness and rejection that they faced. It was hard for me believe that a loving Heavenly Father could want any of his children to live without romantic love and companionship.
I also declared a Women’s Studies minor, and became more concerned about gender inequality within the church. I participated in both Ordain Women actions at General Conference. I had a lot of dreams for a more inclusive, loving, and equal LDS Church.
While at BYU I dated very little and was focused on my education. I worried that if I got married during school I would not finish my degree. I did not identify as queer or think of myself that way. Most of the gay students I knew were gay men, and I didn’t see myself in their experiences. The culture of Mormonism also does not acknowledge female sexuality or desire in general, and I think made it very hard for me to know what I wanted.
Describe your post-BYU experience
I formally resigned my membership in the LDS church after Kate Kelly was excommunicated for leading Ordain Women. For me, this was the event that made it clear that the church was no longer the place for me. Leaving Mormonism was heartbreaking and I still feel sad about it sometimes. But I would not change it for anything.
I moved away from Utah, and became a flight attendant. I lived briefly in New York City and have now settled in Chicago. Away from the culture of Mormonism and Utah, I finally felt comfortable and able to explore my attraction to women, which I had pushed aside for a long time.
Now I have a lot of wonderful friends (many of whom are LGBTQ+) and I have dated both men and women. It took me a long time to be brave enough to date women and assert my identity as a queer person. But it has brought so much happiness to my life, and I wish I could have done it sooner.
What advice or wisdom would you share with a current LGBTQ+ BYU student?
I wish I had known that your life as an ex-Mormon and LGBTQ+ person does not have to be unhappy, sad, tragic, or bitter. There are a lot of different ways to live a good, meaningful, fulfilling life, and you can have one outside of the church. My life has turned out very very very very differently than I thought it would when I arrived at BYU, but it has all been for the best. Within Mormonism, being gay is almost always spoken about as a burden, or something sad. But now it’s something that makes me really happy and that is lots of fun.
Are there any other thoughts or experiences you would like to share?
Within the context of Mormonism and its teachings about the imperative of marriage between a man and a woman, bisexuality or pansexuality seems entirely irrelevant. It took me a long time to feel that I was “gay enough” for it to “count,” and I did not feel comfortable identifying myself as a member of the LGBTQ+ community because of it. I wish I had the confidence to claim my identity sooner. I wish I had known that my experience of homosexual attraction did not have to look like other peoples’ to be real.
Posted May 2018