Through the eyes of a child

Hello, my name is Sterling Tull. I’m a gay fourteen year old boy living in the wonderfully uneventful state of Idaho with my wonderful mother, Christy Cottle, and wonderful stepfather, Davin Cottle. Now that my short introduction is out of the way, you can get to the good stuff. Below is a poem that I wrote earlier this year about the trials and tribulations of being a young and gay child growing up in the church. The thoughts expressed in this poem are the exact and true things that I personally believed when I was just twelve years old, otherwise in sixth grade when I was finally realizing my sexuality. Now I am fourteen but I still hold true to the things I expressed because it is the most I can do at the moment. I want this poem to help people to realize that no one at such a young age should experience such awful things.

 

Through the eyes of a child 

I am sore. 

I am done. 

The hours I’ve wasted on this. The countless times I’ve prayed and pleaded for everything to go right.  

The energy that crawled away from my body and leaving me in a helpless heap. 

God doesn’t love me. He never did. 

He doesn’t care. He didn’t make me this way, I chose this, but for some reason, I can’t reverse it.  

He doesn’t care because he won’t answer my prayers of pleading. 

God didn’t do this to me, he created man to be normal, and I’m not. I’m disappointing him. 

He doesn’t care because of that disappointment. 

He doesn’t care because I’m evil. I’m going straight to hell once I die, and no one will care because they will know what I was. 

A blasphemer. 

A liar.   

No one will see me as that depressed dead kid; they’ll see me as that dead kid who fell into Satan’s grip through the power of lust. 

No one will care because they’ll think I’m weak because I didn’t overcome it.   

My church will still teach the same principles. 

Brainwashing children like me who have no way out.  

Children who think the same things I do, because they’re different, and for some reason, that’s wrong. 

My church is a lie. 

They said that God loves all of his children that he is loving and accepting. 

They said that Jesus is our lord and that he’ll save us, but why can’t he save me? 

They say to fear god.  

But why fear God, if we truly believe that he understands everything? 

He understands adulterers. 

He made us to have that lust, knowing we’d act upon it someday.  

If I can change it, if it’s just a phase, then why hasn’t it gone away? 

I’ve done nothing towards it, I’ve never kissed or hugged, only my mom. 

All I’ve done is pray, but God never delivers. 

He won’t ever deliver.  

If God really loved me…

If God really believed that my thoughts could turn into sin… 

If my church really believes that it can be reversed, and that everything is solved with prayer and fast, then why haven’t I changed? 

Why haven’t the millions of us changed?  

We’ve all prayed. 

All of us. 

But God keeps letting us down, giving us no help. 

Was I damned from the beginning? 

All I see in old photos is myself before the pain. 

When I was normal. 

I am gay. 

I hate it.

 

 

 

 

23 comments for “Through the eyes of a child

  1. declan
    July 9, 2013 at 6:44 am

    Well, gay is not wrong and you do not need to change, why don’t you stop listening to the damn church, religions cause more hate and misery than they do love and compassion.
    Accept what is and who you are, be the best you can and forget anything else cos that all that matters.

  2. Gina
    July 9, 2013 at 7:27 am

    Beautiful poem, Sterling. You have a gift of expressing yourself and succinctly describing the messages given to you. There are many of us working hard so others will hopefully not experience this and will find joy in who they are. Have hope that more and more of us see that those teachings are wrong and not of the spirit and are standing up to say, “Enough!”

    Thank you for standing up, too. This will help others.

    Much love and admiration,
    Gina
    (LDS mom)

  3. John Crane
    July 9, 2013 at 7:38 am

    Don’t blame God. Blame the church for getting in the way between you and God. I know what you are going through. I felt like that when I was 14-16. Jesus said “The whole have no need of a physician.” If he were here today, he would probably say: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

    I can tell you from personal experience. God loves us, not for what we do, but for who we are. He will answer our prayers and answer our questions. You just need to ask the right questions. Don’t ask him to “fix” something. Ask him: “Are you there, and do you love me?” I hope you will be as surprised at the answer as I was.

    Do you want to remain in darkness, doubt, and uncertainty, asking an unknown God to do what even God cannot do, or are you ready to approach him and let him deal with you as you are, not as some religion would have you be?

    • Anonymous
      July 9, 2013 at 9:42 am

      This is amazingly insightful from such a young person. You have described how so many gay people feel, but you have also illustrated some of the major problems with what the church teaches about God and our relationship to him. How great would it be if a General Authority read this, and was inspired to make change? One can only hope. Thanks for sharing, Sterling. I hope you feel better now, and I hope you know that God loves you just the way you are.

      • John Crane
        July 9, 2013 at 10:58 am

        How great would it be if we could each take action, as individuals, and need feel like we have to wait for the church to catch up? It is not meet that we be commanded in all things, but we can and must bring to pass much righteousness of ourselves.

  4. Ana
    July 9, 2013 at 9:37 am

    Thanks for being brave enough to share. People need to understand what kids like you experience in the church, because it is wrong and it needs to change. When my brother was your age he swallowed a bottle of pills. We are amazingly blessed and lucky that he survived and now he is married to his one true love. :)

    You are perfect as God created you. There is nothing, nothing wrong with who you are. You deserve love and happiness in this life. I know this! Like, testimony know! Don’t forget it!

  5. Thomas
    July 9, 2013 at 9:46 am

    Sterling,
    I’m deeply sorry that you struggle with same-sex attraction. I don’t know all the answers, but I do know that this is a trial the Lord has allowed you to have because He knows it can help you grow closer to Him as you struggle to understand life and do what you know is right. I’m guessing you are an emotionally sensitive boy, smart, self-analytical, with a strong desire to be good and do what’s right. The Church, the world, NEEDS men like you, and as you search the scriptures, pray for guidance, and look outside yourself to serve others, things will get better. You will feel the Lord’s love more. This is His Church, you are Heavenly Father’s spirit child, and He loves you. You can become like Him. He may not take this trial away, but He will help you learn important, exciting, good things and understand your life better if you try to follow Him. You know by your feelings that this isn’t ‘some religion’…this is things as they really are. I can tell that your desires are good. Don’t give up!!

    Affectionately,
    Thomas (an LDS guy who cares deeply about those who struggle with things like this)

    • Thomas
      July 9, 2013 at 8:14 pm

      As someone who struggled for 10 years with feeling a lot of sexual feelings I didn’t want, I’ve learned something: they become more prominent if I try to fight them, worry about them, and keep thinking about how much I hate them. Things got better as I stopped attaching importance to them and just let them pass. Slowly they started to diminish. God is listening, but some things take a long time to work out, and it’s easy to feel like He doesn’t care. Now, after struggling with those feelings for a decade, things are better for me and I rarely have those feelings anymore. I know God has helped me, healed me.

      • Mungagungadin
        July 10, 2013 at 10:42 pm

        Thomas, there is nothing about Sterling that needs to be changed or healed. He’s whole and healthy as is. Whatever his choices — to love another man or to stay celibate– they are as valid as my own choices as a heterosexual.

  6. Jeff
    July 9, 2013 at 9:50 am

    Sterling, first of all, I believe you are extremely brave. And I’m glad you describe your mother and stepfather as “wonderful”. I hope that means they will love and support you. As a gay Mormon man, who is just barely coming out of the darkness, I fully understand self hatred, guilt, shame, and anger at God. Your feelings a completely normal. As someone who writes and publishes poetry, I am amazed at the skill and potential you write with, as well as the honesty of your heart breaking words.
    There are two things I’ve learned in my own struggle. The first is that I’ve never found anything that says you should *ever* stop loving yourself even if you think you have sinned. God asks for a contrite spirit, not self hatred. So love all of who and what you are no matter what. The second is that you are *not* a mistake nor are you broken in any way. You don’t need fixing because God doesn’t make mistakes. There are only men who mistakenly understand God’s purposes. Rely on your own heart and mind before relying on a 2,000 year old book or other men’s opinions.
    There is a lot of love for you out in this world, but it should start by you loving who you are without reservation. I know it can seem hopeless, but you are strong, and you’re not alone, and you will prevail. And I know I’m not the only one who believes this. So, hang in there, courageous one. My best to you, and keep developing your gifts.

  7. Becky
    July 9, 2013 at 12:17 pm

    That was very well expressed. Heavenly Father does love you, He does hear and answer prayers. To the rest of the people who commented on this about the church and it getting in the way of this young man and God, or the church leaders needing to catch the church up. You are wrong. God is the head of His church! He has always been and will always be. Only the world teaches that being gay is not wrong, not God! Now does that mean he does not love those that are? No. We are His son’s and daughters, we were created in his image. We are here to live and learn, to have temptations and trials. Do I think this young man is broken and needs to be fixed? No, I think this is his trial in this life. Do I think an LGBT person should be looked down upon? No. Should they be treated with the same respect as everyon else? Yes. The church does not teach hate. It will not change it’s stance on this either unless it is revealed through God to do so.

    • John Crane
      July 9, 2013 at 3:29 pm

      You can listen to the armchair quarterbacks and their well-intentioned, but misguided advice. I have no platitudes or generalities to offer you. Just the hard-won fruits of my experience. You have the right and the duty to inquire of God for yourself. You don’t have to go through any church to find God. Feel free to believe that God is the head of the church, but you do not need to go through anybody to find and commune with God. I don’t know where or how this apostasy crept into the church unawares, but Hugh B. Brown, a counselor to Pres. David O. McKay taught that we could seek God at any time.

      Do this. Do a Google search for “hugh b brown father are you there”. Listen to the words of a General Authority, and follow the instructions given in this speech.

      At this point in your life, you can say with Joseph Smith, if anybody lacks wisdom, you do, and unless you can get more wisdom that you have now, you will never know (PofGP Joseph Smith 1:12)

    • Jeff
      July 9, 2013 at 4:37 pm

      For those above, remember you are addressing a 14 year old boy in deep pain.
      Becky, and others,
      Spend some time on the Church’s new website: mormonsandgays.org and read for yourself what actually is and is not doctrine. No where does either God or the Church teach “being gay” is a sin. It is not. If it were a sin, I would not have a Temple Recommend. What is actually taught is that fornication is a sin. Be it straight or gay. There is no difference in God’s or the Church’s eyes on this point of doctrine. Another doctrinal point you should research is that it has always been revealed that this is Christ’s church and that Christ is at its head, not god the father. And a misguided, “armchair quarterback,” what exactly is against church doctrine in counseling a Child of God to love and value himself as such? I don’t see any conflict with church doctrine. Mormonsandgays.org also clearly states, by one of the Twelve, that the Church has no idea why some persons are born gay and the Church does not understand why either. It it not taught as official doctrine that it is a trial “inflicted” on some of God’s children. Some have speculated this, but it is not sanctioned doctrine. With the suicide rate among gay Mormon teenagers so much higher than national teenage suicide rates, you should be more careful of the accuracy of your armchair quarterbacking. What IS clearly doctrine is that we are commanded to love and include our gay brothers and sisters without judgement. Here’s a question for you. If we are ALL created in God’s image, what does this say about the nature of God?

    • Scott Van Tussenbrook
      July 9, 2013 at 10:33 pm

      Well-meaning folks who don’t realize they are part of the problem, are a HUGE part of the problem.

      Did you even read what Sterling wrote? And by read, I mean, actually hear what he said, instead of deciding a few lines in that he just doesn’t know what he’s talking about and then disregarding the incredibly deep pain in the lines that follow?

      Part of the problem.

  8. toni
    July 9, 2013 at 6:43 pm

    Hang tough young man. Hang tough. My son is a strong, intelligent, hard working, funny, handsome 20 year old man who went through the same pain with the same church leaders you are. It gets better….I promise. And people will love you for who you are no matter what. IT GETS BETTER.

  9. Emily
    July 9, 2013 at 10:36 pm

    Sterling I LOVE YOU!!! I am grateful you are honest about your feelings, you are brave!!! Thank you thank you thank you for not giving up. God loves you very much and your family adores and loves you! Thanks for letting all of us in. Xoxoxox

  10. G-ma
    July 12, 2013 at 6:38 am

    I am Sterling’s maternal grandmother. Sterling is an amazing young man. He is brave to share his poem in which he bears his soul to the world. Please remember his is only 14 years old. He is a tender gentle person who loves with his whole heart. Whether you agree or disagree with his beliefs please be kind in your comments. Harsh judgement is not needed.

    I as well as the general authorities of The Church Of Jesus Christ Of Latter-Day Saints do not believe that being gay is a sin. I know that the church has in the past said many things that are hurtful to the gay members of the church. But on the other hand I do not know of any other church (other than the Unitarian church) that is doing more to educate and help the members of the church who are gay. To show them love and support within the bounds of the eternal gospel principles.

    I do not know how this will play out in the future with the church but I do know that all of us can learn and apply eternal gospel principles of love and acceptance to all of our gay members..

    This journey has not been easy for me and I still have many questions and concerns but I love my grandson with all of my heart and I wish that each of you who have taken the time to comment could know him as I know him. He is a kind, loving, creative, friendly, soft spoken child of our Heavenly Father.

    I have made friends with another grandmother who also has a gay LDS grandson about the same age as Sterling. We both agree that we are learning about the true love of the Savior in a way that is causing us to dig down deep within our souls … this journey although not easy for either of us is proving to be a blessing to both grandmothers.

    I want to recommend a book The Power Of Unconditional Love by Melvin C. Fish PH.D it is a small book with an enormous and important message.

    I will end with saying thank you for being interested in Sterling as a person of great worth and I hope that your interest will extend to others who find themselves in the same situation and reach out to them with unconditional love.

    Sterling you are loved more than you know..I am very proud of who you are…..Love G-ma

    • Daniel Parkinson
      July 12, 2013 at 7:18 am

      Thanks for commenting G-ma. I admire your willingness to learn about these issues and to go the extra mile in support of your grandson. What he needs more than anything is the love of his family and their comprehension, so your love for him IS making a difference in his life. He has clearly gone through some hard times, but I believe with his family’s love and support he is going to come through a strong person and a great example. You must be proud of him, but he must also feel proud of you for being willing to try to understand what he is going through. Thank-you for commenting.

    • John Crane
      July 12, 2013 at 7:22 am

      Well said, grandma.
      I am glad that you are able to get in touch with another grandma in the same situation. I hope Sterling is also able to get some support from another Gay Mormon who is in the same situation, perhaps a little older, who he can talk to. It really sounds to me like Sterling needs get a handle on who he is, and his self-image. At his age, this is still in development, so we need to tread lightly and with love and understanding.

      I am ex-LDS and returned missionary, as is my partner of 27 years. We were both close to our grandmothers. They were each an incredible influence on our lives. Now, I am a grandfather with nine grandchildren. Some of my children are active in the church and some have left. I love them all, and I support whatever choices they have made in life. My only wish is that they are happy and become everything they are capable of becoming. And I believe that you and our Heavenly Father wish the same.

    • David Morse
      November 25, 2013 at 11:43 pm

      Sterling is a wonderful writer and seems very sensitive. I hope he comes to accept himself as gay and that he finds a young man to share his life someday.

  11. Melody LeBaron
    August 28, 2013 at 5:24 pm

    Will someone please give Sterling a copy of Carol Lynn Pearson’s new book “The Hero’s Journey of the Gay and Lesbian Mormon Youth?” He’s obviously a hero at the start of his journey. The book will help him expand his perspective, almost as much as he has helped us expand ours.

    Much Love to You, Sterling.
    Melody LeBaron, grateful mother of a lesbian daughter

    • Daniel Parkinson
      August 28, 2013 at 6:40 pm

      Thanks Melody, that is great advice for any young person coming out. Carol Lynn’s book is amazing.

  12. David T. Reid
    August 31, 2013 at 7:40 pm

    Dear Sterling,

    Your poem reflects raw emotions that many of us have felt in our journey to find answers. Sometimes God doesn’t answer us because we need to learn the answers for ourselves. A very difficult situation when we are trying to find our place in life [i.e., God’s Plan]. At age fourteen, I once was like you, a young Mormon boy, wanting to become un-homosexual. As if God had some kind of spiritual dust he could sprinkle over my head and make me normal. Sterling, I hope you hear this, our Heavenly Father and our friend, Jesus Christ love you very much. You are not alone, even if you feel you are, because we are here for you. You have many wonderful families around you. Be not afraid to love yourself as they surely love you.

    My thoughts and prayers are with you,
    Eternally yours, David.

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