A gay Mormon teen (age 16) writes an essay for English class

by Kayden Maxwell

Hero Journey

There is an indescribable feeling when you grow up expecting your life to follow a very defined path, and everyone around you follows the same formula for a happy life, but one day you wake up and realize you don’t fit into the plan. And everything you know falls apart.

I spent the earliest years of my life learning exactly how to live it. My future, along with everyone else’s future, was all planned out:
get baptized,
attend school,
receive the priesthood,
attend church and scouting activities,
serve a mission,
come home,
go to college,
find a beautiful woman and marry her as fast as possible,
have children,
and dedicate the rest of life to them.

It’s a wonderful life plan, really. And I was fine with it.

But I knew I was different somehow. I could never understand why or how, but I simply wasn’t the same as those around me. I was always surrounded by my wonderful female friends. Near all of my friends were girls.

“I’m a ladies’ man,” I simply assumed.

And that was how elementary school went.

Come middle school, I realized that I didn’t develop any feelings for any of these friends. I felt connected with all of them through deep friendship and it meant the world to me. My thoughts became confused as I tried to convince myself to like any of these girls in more than a best-friend kind of way.

Maybe this was a crush, but wait that guy over there sure makes my stomach burn.

I love to be around her, but I sure wish I had the nerve to talk to that guy over there.

She’s beautiful, but wait, why are my eyes stuck on him and why do they refuse to peel away?

I wouldn’t accept this.

This was not me.

I shoved all of the unwanted feelings into a hidden safe in my brain and I locked them there, convinced that with time they would disappear and I would never have to address them.

It was just a phase.

Only a phase.

I’d get over it.

I’d change my thinking. “Oh yes, she’s gorgeous. And I love that she’s my friend. Yes, I must love her. This is a crush.”

And it worked. I got myself a girlfriend. We became extremely close and I loved being around her. But in my head it was just a great friendship, yet I told her it was much more than that to me.

She tried to kiss me once, and I turned my head in alarm. I was uncomfortable and completely shocked by my own response. The vault in my mind shook violently, demanding to be noticed and addressed. I tried to shut it up but soon the energy used to hide the feelings only became energy feeding the feelings, making them more noticeable, more intimidating, more powerful, as I tried desperately to conceal them back into the dark safe.

I knew then.

My heart sunk to my stomach, my entire world went into panic mode. I couldn’t keep up in school. I couldn’t look my parents in the eye. I became like a turtle in a shell, completely hidden, avoiding the world completely, not trusting anyone.

No one could know.

I was disgusted with myself, and I wanted nothing more than to get over it.

No one could know.

I prayed night after night that God would remove this horrible aspect of my life.
My pillow was always wet with tears as I pleaded with the Master of the Universe to just please fix the mistake He made on me.

No one could know. No one could know.

I would not let these feelings exist.

I stopped eating. I didn’t have time for food, I was consumed with terror for my soul.
I tried to starve it out of me. I tried to pray it out of me. I tried to sleep it away. But it was all useless. This was me.

No one could know.

Mom caught on fast to my mood changes. She knew I was upset. She’d question and I’d
deny that anything was wrong at all. But she knew me better than to believe me.
One night, after questioning me deeply concerning my recent moods and appetite loss, she finally asked me.

“Are you attracted to guys?”

She said it lovingly and with concern, but the words shook my entire being; they ripped open the vault inside where my feelings were hidden and they shot to surface, overwhelming me in panic and fear for the future. I nodded through tears and finally met her eyes. We knew we had a mountain ahead, but in that moment, we knew we had each other to climb it with.

We talked to Bishop. My options were clear. I could marry a woman or I could be single my entire life. But not to worry, in the afterlife I would be perfected, he told me. I would be attracted to girls like I’m supposed to and I could have a family there. The perfect plan for my life that I had learned since birth no longer applied to me.

I didn’t fit.

Despite the unwavering support from my parents, my soul became draped in darkness.
The world became Hell to me, with the flames of self-loathing furiously burning everywhere. I was left so uninformed. I needed answers and no one had any. I was left only with “God works in mysterious ways” to comfort me and explain why my world
was falling apart while others didn’t even know the taste of doubt. I felt almost ignored, given up on. We tried and tried but not even the bishop had the answers I needed. I was left always questioning, and never knowing.

Who was I?

Why would God send me so broken?

Didn’t He love me enough to want me to be happy too?

What would happen if others knew?

What made me this way?

Could this ever be removed from me?

How could I say I don’t support gay marriage when in truth that is the most excitement and support I felt about anything?

Was I still a good person?

What about children?

I felt that I would be a good dad, and now I would never get the chance unless I married someone I wasn’t attracted to. How would a wife feel if her own husband was not attracted to her? He would say she looks gorgeous and she would say she believed him, but deep down would be the constant doubt. The vile, viscous voice always whispering to her the fact that she could not fight, saying “He’s gay. He doesn’t mean it. He doesn’t think you’re beautiful.”

And she would try to make it stop, to force it to die and to let her believe her husband’s words and believe that she had beauty and that he saw it but the fact would always be there. What kind of compliment is “I love your personality,” when nothing more can ever be said.

I knew marriage was out of the option, I could never inflict that upon someone.

I was doomed to live an entire lifetime alone.

But I was told that it would all be over after this life. And soon the conclusion set in that my best hope was to end my life by my own hand. I had nothing to look forward to. I didn’t have a happy life plan like all the kids around me. All I had to hold on to was the hope that my burden of liking guys would be gone after I died.

There were examples of people before me escaping the task by ending life short. Mom feared that I would be one of them. She watched me close, but the depression was everywhere.

I didn’t like myself.

I felt horribly ugly inside.

I would go to church and be offended because there was talk of evil gay marriage. I sat quietly while my friends that I’d grown up with would accuse gays of being selfish, immoral, manipulative, and many other things that I felt I was not. The more I went to church, the sadder I felt. The less I liked myself. The more I hated my religion. For a while, I was convinced that the only way I would ever make it to a long life was if I left church completely.

That was my plan.

As time went on, we reached out to a number of different gay adults who had figured their lives out. They each taught me many things and helped me to love myself again. They taught me my value and my worth.

It was a long process of maturing and learning, but I became comfortable with this aspect of myself. Once I had accepted it within me, the self esteem issues melted away. I came to terms with my religion. I realized I could never leave the church.

I am a Mormon; being gay will not change that.

I am gay; being a Mormon will not change that.

I am not some mistake that God made, he knows me and he wants me to be happy.

So I don’t fit so perfectly into the Mormon dream plan. But my future turned from lonely and sad to hopeful and bright as I realized that being myself was more important than anything.

As I found peace within myself, I found that I had developed an overwhelming sense of love for everyone around me. Sometimes young people go through hard things too. Not everyone waits until adulthood to have life-changing and faith-shaking trials. How could I think bad things of someone I don’t know at all? I was not likable at my lowest point, but I still needed love.

Once I came to peace with my religion and my sexuality, I knew there was work to do. Room is still not being made in the church for gay members. They are expected to leave or to conform and act straight.

And this is the cause for depression.

For self-esteem issues.

This is why people feel the only hope for them is if life ends.

And to me that is not ok.

I know I am only one person facing a Goliath-sized issue, but a message of love will always find ways to spread itself.

I need only start it.

So, in order to be an example to others in need, I came out. Initially I was afraid others would not be understanding and would not accept me, but I did it anyway because I knew there are people who need a friend and need the kind of example that I can be. And people reacted better than I ever could have hoped they would.

Now I am confident, happy, and loving. My task is to be here for people who need a friend like I did, and to change the way things are in the Mormon church, spreading love instead of judgments and rejection. I overcame the loneliness and self-hate, and I am obligated to help others do so too.

64 comments for “A gay Mormon teen (age 16) writes an essay for English class

  1. Laura
    October 12, 2014 at 4:52 pm

    Amazing. This should be spread far and wide for every young gay person and their parents to see. Your writing tells the entire huge story wrapped onto an easily readable piece that can explain the problem to the many who cannot or will not see it for how harmful the situation is… I hope your future is all you ever hoped for…with a partner of your dreams and being a wonderful father to your sweet children…within the church. My son came out to us in the mid-nineties, served a mission, realized he could not remain alone for life, considered suicide, survived the trials you mention, but lost the church. Found an amazing partner, but has decided on no children. He is happy and thriving in a life much different than he grew up expecting. I hope your generation can have it ALL–partner, love, church, children…and maybe someday skip all the parts with the pain, rejection, fear and trauma…

  2. Hillary
    October 13, 2014 at 10:19 am

    What an insightful and truthful essay. Thank you for sharing your deepest moments of trial and how you found hope and courage. Love is a powerful force and can force change for good or bad. I’m grateful for the opportunity you are giving others to use love as a force for good by opening your life. Hugs to you and lots of support and love.

  3. Maia
    October 13, 2014 at 11:35 am

    Thanks for this, love your parents and love you. My story is too painful to share. But I have friends who have come out straight in the end after many years of living the life. Now I see them back at church and my heart is filled with joy and love. They are a light in a dark place. And the world is a dark place. Dark, terrifying and lonely. You make a difference, Active Mormons who deal with this issue are the Bravest people I know! True story. And as I get to know them, the thoughts come into my mind that I can almost see, that person sitting with The Lord and saying, I will take that- I will take that on.
    Because families and individuals that live this journey have incredible Love. Powerful purified divine Love. That kind of love that’s casts out fear. It’s hard one for sure! Bless you! And thanks so much.

  4. Maia
    October 13, 2014 at 11:40 am

    ‘Won’ hard won battle for sure. …:)

  5. Alyssa Livingston
    October 13, 2014 at 2:34 pm

    I go to your school actually but I saw your link on Facebook! I love this and have so much respect for you! Everyone has trials and this one is definetly one that you probably have questioned yourself if you chose this trial in heaven before you were sent to earth, because if you had to choose now you wouldn’t ever dream of a trial this hard! You are much loved at AF high and you will do great things in your life.

    • naomi
      October 14, 2014 at 10:32 am

      With due respect, likening someone’s sexuality to a potentially chosen trial is not doctrinally accurate (nor especially helpful)

      • October 14, 2014 at 11:27 am

        I don’t think he was calling his sexuality a trial. I think he was referring to the process he went through to find personal healing and to be OK with his sexuality a the trial.

      • flagrant
        October 14, 2014 at 8:40 pm

        Obviously you have never had to hide your sexuality or the lack thereof to know how much of a trial being different is. Especially if you can be beaten, ridiculed or killed for being different which is still happening,

      • Roger
        October 15, 2014 at 1:13 am

        Living in that torturous place for 35 years was the biggest trial of my life. It only went away when I accepted that God loves me JUST the way I am, and to Him this is no sin. I’m just as perfect as I was the day He made me!

      • Gerri
        October 15, 2014 at 10:14 am

        Actually Naomi it is you who are wrong… My patriarchal blessing states that I agreed to many of my trials. You know, there’s much to be said for Thumpers way of thinking…if you can’t say anything nice… Don’t say anything at all. For those who follow the scriptures, you will understand that Love is the first and most important commandment, and love excludes judgement. Much love to you on your earthly mission Kayden x

        • Daniel Parkinson
          October 15, 2014 at 10:24 am

          I don’t fully know what Naomi means by her comment, so until she explains more, I am going to assume she has good intentions. It could really be interpreted in many ways, and my first interpretation was that she didn’t want homosexuality to viewed as a trial. If this is what she means I agree with her. The trial isn’t homosexuality, but it is homophobia.

          • Lini
            July 22, 2015 at 6:17 pm

            I agree with you that the person’s statement can be viewed differently. It’s great to see people standing up for LGBT people, but its easy to accidentally misinterpret others meaning too. So I’m glad you were able to think from a different perspective and give the commenter a chance that he/she may not have had any ill intentions when he/she made the comment. I can see how the comment might have meant to be more technical than trying to be mean 🙂

      • Kim Barber
        July 22, 2015 at 1:41 am

        Naomi, I am an active member of the Church. My Grandson whow is 16 is Gay. I found out 2 months ago. Would you wish him dead? Would you wish him to be a liar and a fraud. What were you hoping to gain by your insensitive comments. I can tell you this. He’s brilliant,amazing, loving and will do great things with his life. Did the Prophets teach us to not be compassionate, love one another, be a light unto others. I truly hope you don’t plan on serving a mission. People including GLTB deserve to be loved. I can tell your kind of self righteous. I’ll pray for you Naomi and pray if you have children or grandchildren you have matured otherwise you could end up with a DEAD child. What I have gone through you couldn’t even imagine! So please really pray before you make a comment such as this. Good luck to you Sister Naomi. I hope your life is perfect without trials. Isn’t that why we’re here. No there was only one perfect person. He was only on the earth for 33 years until PEOPLE were the Judge,Jury and executioners. Let’s hope that never happens to you or someone you love. The Saviour loved everyone including the harlot,and the very people that killed him!

        • Lini
          July 22, 2015 at 6:36 pm

          I agree with you and am happy to see that you have chosen to still love your grandson regardless of his sexuality. I believe too often people forget its the person they love and that it doesn’t change them. Too many people have judged those who are homosexual when they are not perfect themselves. I’ve always found it astonishing that people can be so unforgiving in regards to homosexuality when there are greater sins committed by people that are easily forgiven or forgotten. I too believe that its not us who should be judging if a person’s mistake is right or wrong. It’s not our place, and we are not perfect to be in a position to judge. Indeed, even the only person worthy enough to judge still loves those who have done him the greatest wrong.
          I can understand why you can be upset when people are attacking homosexual people, because its the same if they were attacking your grandson. Jesus set an example for us to be forgiving, and so should we be forgiving to those who are ignorant. When we meet people like that it is an opportunity to teach and to show them, or maybe to just remind them, we are not here to judge. We are here to show love and compassion. We will not allow the devil to stir up our anger and to cause more troubles. Through our action we will show them that they are wrong. We will remind them whatever wrong doing, regardless of ones sexual orientation or another issue, we are unable to judge its right or wrong, except Christ. He will do so on judgement day, and on that day we shall try to leave as little for Christ to judge us what we did wrong 🙂 May God bless you and your family for being the better people. And may God also bless those people who are blinded to guide them that they may be more forgiving and less judgemental 🙂

    • Daniel Parkinson
      October 14, 2014 at 10:43 am

      Alyssa, Thanks for responding here. I love knowing that Kayden has friends at his school who support him and will watch his back. He has been very courageous, and people like you are going to make a difference, both for him and other people at your school who might be struggling in silence! Thanks!

  6. Derek
    October 13, 2014 at 6:04 pm

    Kayden, I knew you were a great person and you have proved it again. I’m proud you are making your voice heard and trying to help others going through what you are, as well as opening the eyes of people not going through what you are. You are going to make this world a better place by being public with your story. Stay strong and don’t let bigotry and hate tear you down.

  7. Scotty Harville
    October 13, 2014 at 7:39 pm

    I am a 49yo gay man who lives in Bryce/panguitch area the last ten years with my partner Joe K Sandberg and I believe in my heart that I am a Mormon.
    I have been moved and elightented by what I have read. And even though i am being denied baptism into the church I will not give up on my faith. Thank you for being so brave and I’m here to stand behind you to fight for what is right. Scotty

  8. Liz
    October 13, 2014 at 7:56 pm

    Seriously beautiful, Kayden. There is a lot of work for us to do for gays in our church. I’m grateful we have people like you who are willing to help the rest of us learn and figure it out. Just think, you felt pathless, but for those yet to come the path will be a little more defined, thanks to someone like you.

    Praying for you.

  9. October 13, 2014 at 8:26 pm

    Kayden I know you probably don’t think of me as a great friend or even feel like you know me, I mean we haven’t really talked a whole bunch… but Megan Evens my best friend introduced me to you and I think you are a wonderful kid that deserves the best in life. You will live an extra-ordinary and inspiring life I can tell just from your glow and your spirit. I support you also and I hope you know we can talk about anything. I’m glad I have met you and I hope the best and pray for you.

    -Levi Cox

  10. Shauna Andreason
    October 13, 2014 at 8:35 pm

    I am SO SORRY you and many others have to face this. I am so sorry that at times you have felt alone. I am so sorry that at times you felt like you don’t belong at church. You DO belong. We NEED you. We need your courage, we need your bravery, your perspective. You have SO MUCH to teach us. I look forward to learning more from you and your different perspective. I value you and the wonderful things you have to contribute to this church. Thank you for being someone I can admire and respect. I hope to hear more from you.

  11. October 13, 2014 at 9:29 pm

    Kayden,

    Thank you for your thoughtful words. You are years ahead of me at that age. I didn’t learn the things you have until I was in my 20s. I am a 32 yo gay mormon man in California. My husband and I adopted two boys last year and we all attend our local ward here. Times are changing. Thank you for doing your part to further awareness and love. You are amazing!

  12. Julie
    October 13, 2014 at 11:15 pm

    I am so grateful for faithful righteous members like you. You will make a difference in the lives of others as you continue to stand strong. You are an inspiration to us all of hope and light. Thank you! Keep pushing forward.

    Julie

  13. V. C. Brink
    October 14, 2014 at 12:05 am

    Your essay is beautiful and inspiring. Last year my family started attending our local Mormon church. We honestly started going because our daughter was friends with a boy who’s family attended and we wanted them to be able to play. My husband and I at the time were not even Christian, but happy all the same. We were never ones to impose religion on our children and never will.

    Through going to the church, we were amazed learning what Mormon’s believed. I had been lost for so long because nothing from any religion matched how I believed. I had a lot of faith and no direction. Upon attending this church, I found so many things that finally matched up. I was inspired and elated. My family was growing closer and closer. We were happy in a way that we hadn’t in a long time. It was a beautiful thing. However, I did not agree with the views of sexuality. I was however amazed to see that though the people of the church did not agree with homosexuality, they did not “hate” homosexuals. So I decided I could accept the one flaw in light of all the things I realized I truly loved about the church.

    My husband was feeling alive again. We felt like we found a place that accepted us and welcomed us, and in Feb. we were baptized into the church. It was one of the most intense and powerful days of my life, and we were so happy.

    Then we had some guest come to the church for a conference. The particular guest said things that truly broke my heart. Hearing such hate being spoken to so many people crushed my very spirit. I left in the middle of the service, not wanting my children to be exposed to such words. I know it was only one person, and my other experiences with the church had been wonderful, but it was like my world was burst apart. All because of his view of homosexuality. I have only been back one time since. I feel so depressed all the time from it. It is like I lost my faith that I had finally found.

    I know this is a lot to say, but I wanted to tell you, that reading your article has given me hope. It is wrong of me to turn from a place that has accepted me for so long all because of the words of one person. I have faith that God loves all his children. My husband when we joined the church told our Bishop that the beauty of modern day profits is that we get modern day updates to the words we follow. My husband has hope that the profits will be enlightened to this by God above and we will be accepting of all people in our church. He said those words to our Bishop and We Both believe that will all of our hearts.

    Your words are what I needed to hear, to be excepting of myself and the things I believe. Like you I prayed and prayed for guidance, but was too afraid to do what I needed to do. I think I am going to fix that now. Thank you for being so inspiring. Not just to gay Mormons or bi Mormons, but to open minded converts who love the church but still have strong beliefs. I think you are a strong, courageous, wonderful young man who will go far. There is a lot of love in you and the world needs that.

    Thank you so much.

    • Brett
      October 14, 2014 at 10:03 am

      V.C. Brink,

      Something that I have come to the realization of is that the Church is perfect but the people are not. You will find imperfect people in every religion. The world is full of imperfect people. Local leaders in the Church are just people. I don’t know about you, but I have yet to meet a perfect person.

      I will say that most of my life, I have been somewhat of a homophobic. I have been scared of what I didn’t know and didn’t understand. While I still maintain the understanding and belief that marriage is ordained of God between a man and a woman, there is room for everyone in the Church. Straight, gay, bi-sexual; GOD LOVES US ALL. I have had several cousins that have come out as gay and even some close friends from school and church. I have a sister that left the Church because she felt like a hypocrite based on her support of homosexuality. The truth is, whether your views align 100% with the Church or not, there is room for everyone. You cannot turn your back on the very thing that brought you more happiness than you have had in recent memory. You cannot let one person or any number of persons stand between you and happiness, between you and eternal life. There is not a person, or an opinion in this world that should hold that type of clout.

      Though there are many that are unkind, insensitive, or downright ignorant on how to treat homosexuality in the Church, I go out of my way to make sure that EVERYONE feels welcome. I go out of my way to show my gay cousin that I love her and that regardless of her sexual orientation, my love for her will not cease.

      I know that the Church will always maintain the standard of marriage between a man and a woman but we have seen and continue to see more acceptance of people of ALL orientations because we are ALL CHILDREN OF GOD and we all deserve love and respect. The Church teaches love for EVERYONE and that is another standard that I willingly maintain.

      I love the Gospel with all of my heart and I know that I am happiest in life when I live the standards of the Church. Whenever my life becomes out of alignment with what I know to be true, peace ceases and confusion, frustration, and depression prevail. I have watched siblings, best friends, family, and other close friends live on the “other side” and they are not truly happy until the realign themselves with what they know or knew to be true.

      God loves you, he loves your gay friends, family and co-workers. The Church is hospital for sinners, not a museum for saints.

      Thank you,

      Brett

      • Anita
        October 15, 2014 at 11:09 am

        Brett you expressed your thoughts with such eloquence and I think you are spot on.

  14. Kieran West
    October 14, 2014 at 12:28 am

    You are not alone Kayden. I am also suffering from this same problem. I feel so uncomfortable in church because of all the comments about gay people. I myself am bisexual and half the time I just sit quietly and try to ignore what they are saying. I really want to speak up and say something but I’m too afraid. This story has inspired me to start going back to church and try to connect back with my Heavenly Father. I know now that I’m not the only one in this world and I really want to thank you for sharing your story. You are really inspiring.

  15. Jonathan
    October 14, 2014 at 1:04 am

    Thank you this was a wonderful essay. I am a french Mormon and I think and this is my personal opinion, gays members of the church have there place. Sure it must not be easy for you, but as long as you try to overcome this weakness, God can help you. He loves each one of us gay or not, we all have weaknesses, for some people it is liking guys, for others it is pornography, alcohol, drugs and so on. But whatsoever are our weaknesses God loves us and wants us to overcome the challenges that are placed in front of us in order to make us better and over all understand other people that come through what we have somehow overcome.
    Thank you for what you write, be yourself and with God’s help you’ll make it, find your perfect life plan. Never forget that God love has sent His Son, that we may repent when needed and defeat our Goliaths.

    • Danny
      October 14, 2014 at 3:18 pm

      Please don’t relate someone’s sexual orientation to addictions to drugs or pornography. They are not even remotely the same thing. Can an addict overcome their addiction and still follow the normal LDS life-path? Yes. On the other hand, LGBT members cannot change their orientation and they are prevented from getting married and having a family. It’s not just a trial, it’s an unchangable part of who they are (regardless of whether they let it define them or not).

      • CLH
        October 15, 2014 at 12:46 pm

        Danny, please respect the views and perspectives of others, even if they don’t match yours. Many who suffer from addiction see that as a part of themselves they cannot change – although with a lot of hard work and effort, can certainly learn to control. I know there is a lot of passion around this topic, but there is certainly room for all different types of views and opinions (when expressed respectfully). Asking someone not to share their own view limits the conversation, and honestly, leads to missed opportunities to understand, share, and educate.

      • Garry
        October 15, 2014 at 7:19 pm

        Hey Danny, I agree that someones sexual orientation should not be compared to addictions etc. but I have to disagree on your saying they are prevented from marrying or having a family. I know Many SSA people who have done both very successfully. I also believe having SSA can start out as a trial but can end up, with Heavenly Fathers help, to actually be a blessing. I believe Heavenly Father has the ability to turn any trial into a learning experience to bless, not only our lives, but the lives of others. There is no reason why anyone with SSA should not have all the blessings that anyone else has in the LDS or any other church, as long as they are holding to the moral standards.

        • Utahhiker801
          October 16, 2014 at 1:48 pm

          If you are suggesting that someone who is gay or “SSA” marry someone of the opposite sex, as someone who did that, I will tell you that it is a horrible answer for so many reasons. You’ll have a wife who eventually comes to the realization that no matter what she does, you’ll never be attracted to her in the way that she wants to be wanted. So many families have been damaged by this.

          If anyone reading this is considering a mixed orientation marriage, please, please, please reconsider this. From my experience, my feelings of attraction to men have only become stronger over time. And someone from the outside would look at my marriage as an example of “success”; I’ve been married 20 years to my wife. If I had a daughter who was considering marrying a man who was same-sex attracted, I would absolutely NEVER want her to do this; and if I had a gay child considering a MOM, I would equally warn them away from this. Do not do this. Please.

    • Rachel Vered
      October 17, 2014 at 2:39 pm

      Homosexuality is not a weakness

    • brooke.n.fielding@gmail.com
      October 24, 2014 at 4:25 pm

      Homosexuality is not a weakness. I am a lesbian myself, and my family is all very hardcore Mormon. They do not accept me for who I am, for what I cannot change. I have to fight every single day to keep myself going, to love myself, to realize that I will survive and be happy later in life. Homosexuality is not like alcohol or drugs or eating too much food, or liking a sport or a band. What I think is weak is how people cannot love and accept people for who they are. Have you ever had to tell your parents something about yourself that you know they are absolutely against? That they will hate you for this belief, for you lifestyle? Telling my parents that I was gay was the bravest and strongest thing I have ever done in my life. It takes an incredible amount of strength to come out, and to fight for yourself and your rights every single day of your life. Heterosexual people don’t have to go through this. They don’t have to spend days and months tearing themselves apart, not eating or taking care of their basic needs, stressing over who they are, and when they finally realize and come to terms with it, having to tell your parents and friends, and watching life as you knew it slip away. I am completely aware of the Church’s view on homosexuals. I have been the victim of much bullying in my own ward for my sexuality, for my supporting of gay marriage and LGBTQ rights. Straight people don’t have to be bullied or rejected for liking the opposite sex. Until you understand and feel the pain that comes with being homosexual in a Mormon or other homophobic household and environment, you have absolutely no right to call it a weakness. What’s weak about embracing yourself? God loves us all. God loves me, he loves me for who I am, for who I like. He would not create a mistake. I am a lesbian, and I am fine with it. When marriage equality comes across the globe, I am certain God will be celebrating the victory of basic right and love. If instead we just all loved, and we left politics out of marriage and rights, the world would be a much better place. I don’t need to repent for being myself. Would you have to repent for being attracted to a girl? No, you wouldn’t need to. And neither should I.

      Kayden, you are a very strong person. I don’t personally associate myself with the Mormon church anymore, but I fully support you in your fight to be Gay and Mormon. You are a true hero, and I hope you realize that. So many people can learn from your wisdom. Thank you for being an inspiration, and giving me hope that Mormons and other religions can learn to love and accept everyone. And I want to say thank you to your parents for being there for you and supporting you. You seem like you have an amazing family, and I wish you all the happiness in the world 🙂

      • Karen
        November 2, 2014 at 6:49 pm

        Brooke,

        Stay strong girl. Changing views when it comes to religions can be a very slow process. Beliefs can be so antiquated, and laced with prejudice and hate, and it is a hard journey of not just societal acceptance, but in religions like LDS and my own (Catholic), it can be shattering. I pray every day that every religion will one day truly accept ALL…no matter.

        You cannot imagine how inspiring I find LDS members who are LGBTQ and willing to accept their sexuality, as well as being able to be wise enough to know that they are still a precious child who is deserving of all that God has promised. To stand up again hate and in many cases bullying is something you will one day reflect on and be so very very proud of yourself. I don’t even know you, and I can say that I am proud of you. I experienced being involved in a same sex relationship with a lesbian Mormon for 4 years. She hid me from the start, throughout the 4 years, until the end. She denied me…and I there are times I think of the bible, when Jesus said, “one of you sitting here my table will deny me three times before the cock crows.” She came from the heart of LDS in Utah to the East Coast, and during the last year and a half of our relationship, she made a new friend here. The worse feeling was when she wouldn’t even tell that “one, single, sole friend about our 4 year relationship. Here she was, living in the most accepting part of the country, the state which was the catalyst for same sex marriage and rights, a predominantly Democratic state…a friend..someone who was “just” a friend and yet…yet, I still wasn’t even worth the risk of a new friendship. My heart broke in ways I could never explain. My spirit broke in ways I could never imagine. My trust broke in a way that it is still on a hard journey of recovering. For these reasons, when I read personal stories such as yours (and I have honestly reached out and have supported many LGBTQ Mormons who have been willing to accept themselves while also standing up against the church’s regulations and injustice teachings), because you have been able to provide a sense of healing. My only regret is that I had not fallen in love with one of the Mormon’s like you and so many who have a wisdom unlike so many, and have truly “chosen the right” and not been deceived yourself or others. So many have chosen not to engage in a relationship with someone simply to “find out” about their feelings, experiment, etc. Instead, there are so many stories that I have read where LGBTQ Mormons decided to first accept themselves before placing themselves in relationships where they could bring harm to someone else.

        I know it is hard, but I hope you know how inspiring and helpful it is to have taken the time to share your personal experiences.

  16. Lindsey
    October 14, 2014 at 7:14 am

    I admire your courage, love, and commitment to your faith. We need more of that, in all the world. There is much good you can do, with your particular set of experiences and wisdom. Thanks for sharing. Christlike love is always the bottom line, isn’t it? Your essay is such a good reminder of that!

  17. Lenox
    October 14, 2014 at 1:49 pm

    You are amazing. I love this!!

  18. Jacqui Gordon-Lawrence
    October 14, 2014 at 2:22 pm

    Thank you for sharing such personal information. You are a man that I would proudly be associated with. Continue being the man you are. The words you have committed to “paper” show that you are a beautiful person inside and out. God Bless – Jacquigordonlawrence

  19. Kyle
    October 14, 2014 at 3:36 pm

    Thank you for being a beacon of hope and love in the gay community. As a Christian gay male it makes me happy that you have turned this into a positive. I’m 27 years old and I wish that I had the courage that you have at such a young age.

    Thank you – your message has inspired me more than you will ever know.

  20. October 14, 2014 at 7:17 pm

    I love that this young man took something that is hard to express openly, and used his story to change the lives of others. You gave your feelings words, which is a difficult thing to do. Thank you for sharing your story. Your story gives hope to many, and shows that our trials are not the end. Thank you.

  21. Jayne
    October 14, 2014 at 9:48 pm

    Kayden you are light years beyond where I was at your age. I applaud you for your eloquence, honesty, and insight. I, too, love the LDS church and am a lesbian. You are not alone. I truly believe agod made us for a purpose.

  22. Sarah
    October 14, 2014 at 9:50 pm

    Wow. This article hit such a soft spot in my heart. I can’t imagine what you’ve gone through. I can’t even come close. I have no experience with anybody close to me being gay. I work with several gay men (I’m a hair stylist) and they are some of the most fun, wonderful people I know. However, none of them are practicing Mormons. I can’t imagine the struggle you feel. I admire you so very much for your bravery and dedication. Reading your essay opened my eyes and my heart. I have never had a problem with gay people but I’m sure I have said some things that were insensitive. I am so thankful for your honesty and openness. I will always be careful of the things I say and even think to myself. Thank you, thank you. You’re amazing.

  23. October 15, 2014 at 2:56 pm

    Words cannot express the overwhelming feelings that I felt while reading this. All I could do was cry. The love and the truthfulness of your words are definitely soul stirring. I am so glad Heavenly Father has guided you through and that you have overcome. I do have faith and believe that revolution will come to be able to accept “gays” in to the church. As you know the doctrine of men can sometimes get confused with the will of our Father. Just as it did with blacks receiving the priesthood. I stand with you in prayer don’t give up! You have so much to do on this earth and for this church . A change will come! God Bless you.

  24. Frank
    October 15, 2014 at 3:28 pm

    Thank you for having the courage to remain int he Church. So many people feel the two are mutually exclusive. They are not. I applaud you.

  25. Schlumpy
    October 15, 2014 at 6:01 pm

    I appreciate your candor and very mature comprehension.

    Your feelings of depression and suicide don’t solely belong by those who are in your situation. Addicts, abuse victims, people suffering from body image disorders, chemical imbalances and mental illnesses share a lot of the same feelings of shame and brokenness that you shared. Many struggle to fit into the same gospel as you, hoping to be accepted and supported.

    Basically, there is a lot of hurt in this world and a lot of kindness could do much for the sufferering.

  26. JC
    October 15, 2014 at 9:17 pm

    Bravo, from a ridiculously straight jack Mormon.

  27. JT
    October 15, 2014 at 9:47 pm

    You are AMAZING!!! Don’t give up hope, you’ve inspired me to love all who come unto me. GOD BLESS YOU, though you may not fit in, you have done a deed greater than known, you have taught others to love.

  28. Marie
    October 16, 2014 at 12:36 am

    Kayden, please DO NOT think the sexual orientation that you were born with is your weakness like Jonathan so incorrectly stated. You are perfect exactly how you are – how God created you! I cannot believe that God would create a child who is gay and then give revelation to His prophet that would result in an entire organization of Christians believing it is Christ-like to discriminate against and devalue that child of God. I was LDS for 55 years, but this issue and the LDS response to it has shattered my faith. I’m embarrassed to be called a Mormon and can’t be a part of it any longer. The God I believe in would not be so cruel. Be strong, Kayden, and be proud of who you are in every way. I don’t even know you and I think you’re amazing!

    • Scott
      October 19, 2014 at 12:27 am

      Having Same Sex Attraction is a trial that will ONLY be a part of this life. Once we pass away, the feelings same sex attraction will no longer be there. The Church is not a museum of perfect people. It is a hospital for those who need healing, help, and the truth.

    • MJB
      October 19, 2014 at 11:56 am

      “Hate the sin, not the sinner.”

      -President Kimball

      The church has in no way declared that they hate homosexual people. In fact, they have instructed us to love them as children of God, because that is what they are. That is what we all are. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints has been restored and is here to bring people unto Christ and is here for them to feel of His love for them. Not to hate people. It has never been about hate, and that is something you need to quickly understand. Soften your heart, and try to understand what the Church is trying to say. I hope you watched this last General Conference. There was a wonderful talk that I think you need to read.

  29. Andie
    October 16, 2014 at 12:46 am

    Heavenly Father loves you, Kayden, and He knows what you’re going through. He will never ask you to do anything you can’t do–both through His appointed leaders and through personal revelation. Thank you for your faith and your example!

  30. Pete
    October 16, 2014 at 10:26 am

    No one should ever be told this: “We talked to Bishop. My options were clear. I could marry a woman or I could be single my entire life. But not to worry, in the afterlife I would be perfected, he told me. I would be attracted to girls like I’m supposed to and I could have a family there. The perfect plan for my life that I had learned since birth no longer applied to me.” To tell someone they cannot find a partner they love here on earth and marry and have a family and be happy and also be with that person in the afterlife because of their gender, and that they have to choose…is wrong. I hope this young man finds a partner male or female whom he loves with all his heart, his soul mate. And has an intimate loving relationship with them.

  31. Erica V
    October 16, 2014 at 1:05 pm

    I live a married, Mormon, hetero lifestyle for family and some friends. Gay with another group of friends. Comparymentalizing, can be exhausting. I hope one day, to break those barriers & mend those stereotyped about both sides of me. Thanks for sharing.

  32. EFG
    October 17, 2014 at 1:04 pm

    Love your open and sincere sharing, Kayden.
    Thanks for keeping this very important conversation going.
    Hope for increased understanding springs eternal…!

  33. Gelise
    October 17, 2014 at 5:40 pm

    Thank you for your article. It has given me more than I can explain, anyone who can call you friend is a lucky individual.

  34. Gareth
    October 18, 2014 at 2:51 am

    hello Kayden, inspiring article. I am very curious to know what answers you might have received from Heavenly Father as you have thought and prayed on this? Though I appreciate that that is extremely personal. This is a massive taboo in the church that is slowly emerging from the shadows. We could all learn from your example/ experience. I wish you well.

  35. g-dogg
    October 18, 2014 at 3:04 am

    hey Kayden,
    inspiring article! I am curious to know what guidance you received as you pondered and prayed over this? Though I recognise that this is highly sensitive and personal and so I am not expecting a response, I think, and I might be wrong, that we rely too much on man and neglect the source of truth. This raises for me lots of questions… Like why does Heavenly Father allow this struggle? How does this fit in with the plan of salvation? I could go on- genuinely looking to better understand!

    Good luck in the future, I wish you all the best.

    • Janae
      October 19, 2014 at 12:12 pm

      I know I’m not Kayden, but this may help, or may be completely unhelpful. The LDS Church is fully restored, but there are still things that we don’t understand. Questions like these are very helpful, and all I can say is we don’t fully understand everything that is given to us, right when those answers are given. Heavenly Father is giving us answers over time, and this is something that I can’t find any answers to from our modern day Prophets, Seers, and Revelators. Personal revelation can come to anyone, but it can also be interpreted differently. I admire your desire for understanding, as I am trying to find understanding as well, but I also hope that if Kayden does answer, that you don’t take his answer as gospel doctrine. He cannot receive revelation for the Church, but his answer might give you peace. I would encourage you to go to lds.org and look at general conference talks on the topic of homosexuality and try to understand what Heavenly Father is trying to say. You may be able to gain personal revelation of your own.

      Hopefully this helped…I am no expert, and I do not claim to know everything. Best of luck to you!

      Janae

      • g-dogg
        October 20, 2014 at 4:07 am

        Hello Janae,

        thank you for your thoughtful comments. This is a topic that I have never had to pray regarding thankfully, as such I never have. The Apostles have been speaking on this at increasingly regular intervals of late, which indicates that this is increasingly relevant to church members, speak to any church counselor and I am sure that they will confirm this.
        I am interested in why this is the case? Was it always as predominant, was it simply suppressed or what? or are there other factors? I know historically speaking church members were counselled to ignore these feelings and to get married anyway – this has led to several divorces that I am aware of and broken families…
        I am not looking to Kayden for doctrinal guidance, I am simply interested in his perspective and his experience.

        It is a big sacrifice to ask of someone, as big, in my opinion, to ask someone to lay down their lives for their country…slightly controversial maybe.

        I look forward to the fullness of times when we have all the answers, and all is made right.

  36. Lini
    October 20, 2014 at 2:02 pm

    I am a member of the LDS church too. I just want to let you know that I am happy you have made it through your trials and that you never gave up. I believe that Our Heavenly Father may not encourage us to be gay but I don’t believe he means for us to hate and reject those who are. We are ALL His children and He loves us ALL regardless. I believe any person who tries to use the name of God to hate those who are gay is wrong. God asked us to love all, and most importantly not to judge others. Non of us are perfect and we all are doing something that He has asked us not to do. Love yourself knowing that God loves you too, and just try to do the best you can 🙂

  37. Eliza
    October 23, 2014 at 3:22 pm

    Awwwww! I just want to find this guy and give him a hug. Congratulations to you Kayden for overcoming your inner demons and especially for reaching out to others! So many people think they’re done once they’ve got their own lives in order, but you’re going beyond that!

  38. Aiden
    October 28, 2014 at 10:03 pm

    Hi Kayden! Your words touched me very deeply! For quite some years I have been struggling with the issue of homosexuality. Although I feel that I am a “true-blue” Mormon, as they say, it has been hard for me to find an answer of both loving homosexuals and not supporting them. I have always wanted to support people in their pursuit of happiness, but I also firmly believe that God’s plan is the union of a man and a woman. Your essay helped me realize that even though I may have a different perspective than others, i can still love them. I had no idea that you had been going through such a difficult time! I suppose it goes to show that you can never know what a person’s story is. Thank you for inspiring me to reach out to others and share my love!

  39. Bilbanzabar
    January 14, 2015 at 1:35 am

    Thanks for posting this. As a member of the church who struggles with how gays are treated and how people view homosexuality in the church, I found this essay uplifting.

  40. David
    June 11, 2015 at 3:20 pm

    We all have dreams that will never find fulfillment. We all have desires, good and bad, that will not or should not be realized. We don’t have all the answers as to why we don’t fit the norm, but then, what is the “norm” anyway and who chose it for us.

    I have dreams that I know will ever be realized, not in this life or the next. To someone else, they don’t seem to be very difficult, but to me, at times it seems overwhelming to not “be me”. Kayden has experienced these very same feelings.

    The key to happiness, is not to struggle to be what we want to be, but to fight to be what Heavenly Father wants us to be. He knows far better than us what will make us happy. He knows far more than us what we must do to become happy. He knows far greater is His love us and how important we are to His plan. If we put faith in Him, He will always be with us to help us succeed, to help His work go forward, to enable us to live again with him, eternally, in peace and joy.

  41. Anna
    July 12, 2015 at 8:07 am

    Thank you Kayden for being courageous. You have opened a dialogue that I hope will transcend the faith venue. There is too much condemnation and judgement in this world. Thank you for being so articulate. Anyone reading this should be able to actually ‘feel’ what you have experienced. If they can’t, or don’t, then they have their own issues to deal with, first. Thank you for your strength.

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