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“The more I’ve thought about how I wanted to say this, the simpler I’ve wanted it to be, so I’ll cut right to the chase. I want you to know that over the past year, I have gradually disaffiliated myself from the LDS church and have also come out as gay to close family members and friends. I started studying church history to help a friend who was experiencing doubts, and as I delved more into the history, I grew more and more unsettled, until finally in July of this year, I realized that I no longer believed the church was true, and I decided to leave the church for good. For a long time, I had been bothered by certain elements of church history but decided that they didn’t matter so much because it was the principles rather than the historical details that helped me to be a better person. I realized at some point, however, that for me the very character and nature of Christ were dependent upon questions like whether the Book of Mormon was, in fact, a historical document. It didn’t matter so much to me whether there were really horses or steel swords in the Americas, but it did matter if Christ had really visited other continents or had taught the same principles to different groups of people. Whereas before, I had believed despite my many doubts, I found that one day my belief in the church had left, and the most honest thing for me to do was to move on in my search for understanding and truth.

“The decision to date men came after I left the church and in great part thanks to beautiful, wonderful family members and friends who helped me to really acknowledge myself and learn to love my whole self, without any caveats. I had tried for years and years to change my sexuality–both individually and with the help of priesthood leaders and support groups–but even after I had convinced myself that I was always going to be gay–that it was neither something I had brought upon myself nor something that I could willfully change–I still felt so unsure of what would await me in gay relationships. I mourned for weeks the happy, normal, Mormon family that I would never have. I mourned the cheekbones and chocolate brown eyes that I wouldn’t get to pass on to my children. I mourned eternity. But little by little, answers came, and I grew more and more comfortable with the ideas of gay dating, marriage, and adoption. I realized that even though I couldn’t be a mom to a future child, that I, as a responsible and loving parent, could make sure that my children had female role models in their lives–my mom, my sisters, my friends. I realized that even though I couldn’t tell my sons what it was like to fall for a girl, I could talk to them openly and honestly about sexuality and help them find people who could give them that kind of support and understanding (as I wish parents would do for their homosexual children). I realized that while cheekbones and brown eyes are beautiful, the most important things I would pass on to my children would be things that no one else could see: my understanding, my patience, my love.

“Five months have passed, and I am happier and more hopeful than I have been in almost a decade. I know that for many, this concept is hard to stomach, and I certainly won’t go so far as to say that life outside of the church is all rainbows and sunshine dust (though admittedly, gay dating comes with an ample helping of rainbows). Life is still complex: there are still days where I am sad or confused or alone, but I don’t feel small or afraid anymore, like I used to. Anymore I don’t feel like I must silence a beautiful, inquisitive mind with orthodoxy, or to hide a heart that has wanted so badly to love for so long and which is only now getting the chance. I feel a little bit like I always thought adolescence was supposed to feel, so full and alive and vulnerable. I am figuring out all over again–this time for real–what it means to fall in love, and to have my heart broken. I am learning to put away the need to ‘know’ everything. I am learning the beauty of ambiguity, of vulnerability, authenticity, and charity to oneself. And though for the longest time I believed that there was no happiness outside of Mormonism–even more so outside of Christ–I am finding that life after Eden, though strewn with its fair share of thorns, is rich and beautiful. I don’t expect people to understand fully or to follow the same paths that I’ve chosen, but I do hope that I can be open about sharing this new part of my life with you. I share these things not because I feel some need to influence others’ thinking on homosexuality or the church but because I want you to be a part of my life, if that’s something that you want as well.

“Lastly, there was a long time where I didn’t feel like I could talk to anyone about the stuff that I was going through–my homosexuality, my self-esteem issues, my religious doubts–and I want people to know that they’re not alone. I went through some intense mental anguish and have dealt with depression and suicidal thoughts at different times in my adult life, and I don’t want anyone to feel like they must suffer alone or that they don’t have anyone they can talk to about things like this. I understand that with me having left the church, some people might feel apprehensive about talking about these big, important (and often secret) parts of their life, so just in case I don’t get to say it to you in person, please know and remember always that you are wonderful and worthy of love just as you are. Please know that you deserve to be happy and that if things are not working for you that there are other options. Also, I don’t want people to feel constrained or limited in being able to talk to me about the church or other things that are important to them. I’m not hostile toward the church, I value the time I spent in it, and I appreciate the positive experiences that others have in it. Finally, if you have gotten this far in the letter, I think it’s probably also safe to say that you are someone whom I love and care about, so… I love you and thank you for being a part of my life.”