VOICES OF HOPE
David is a lifelong educator. An elementary and middle school teacher for many years, he is now a school counselor in Henderson, Nevada. He believes strongly that the blessing he received as a 16-year-old boy, gave him the guidance he needed to endure the challenges of same-sex attraction throughout his life. He and his wife Ann have been married for 38 years and currently serve together as ordinance workers in the Las Vegas Temple. This is their story.
A PROMISED BLESSING
My Journey Out of Darkness, Denial, and Shame as Guided by My Patriarchal Blessing
“I must be gay.”
Three years ago, in a bedroom of a lake cabin in northwestern Washington State, I audibly confirmed to myself the reality of what I had been denying for over forty years. For me, those four words began a journey out of darkness, denial, and shame. Unable then to cope with the magnitude of this affirmation, I retreated, once again to the safety of my subconscious, burying truth and avoiding authenticity at all costs. In the days and weeks and months ahead, I would face my fears. I would embrace truth, albeit at a painful price. For now, it’s time to return to the beginning.
I can recall, when I was twelve years old, feeling the stirrings of same-sex attraction. There were young adult men in my church community that were extremely handsome. I thought it odd that I was drawn to this awareness which aroused feelings that were new and exciting. Even then, I felt the shame of being different. I was alone in this discovery. There certainly was no one else like me. I constantly thought this secret, my secret, must never be shared with anyone.
Being the youngest of four children underscored my sensitive nature as a child. I was especially close to my mother. My father was a man’s man. He served in the European Theater in World War II and later worked as a switchman for the Burlington Northern Railroad. He was close to my older brother and they worked side by side as Dad taught him many of the skill sets that he possessed. I was born seven years after my brother. I have two sisters, thirteen and fifteen years older than me. Dad was good to me, but he had more in common with my brother. They worked on cars, hunted, and had many common interests. I was around my mother more, simply because she was always there. She showed me by example how to keep a tidy and clean home and how to make do with what you had. By today’s standard, we were poor. We had very little in the material sense, but we were happy. Both my parents were hardworking individuals. I was taught to be polite to others and to do my best. I’ve always tried to do this.
Although my parents were not church goers, I was taught to believe in God at an early age. When my sister married in a Catholic Church in 1959 I recall being in that exquisite edifice and knowing this was where God lived. Only five years old then, I believed in a higher power. In the spring of 1966 my parents were introduced to the LDS Church (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints). My aunt and uncle had joined the church several years earlier. My parents saw the positive effect it had on their family and decided to investigate. Dad, a recovering alcoholic, had been sober for several years and was ready to accept a new faith base. In March of that year, my parents and I were baptized members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I was eleven years old. We belonged to a small branch (congregation) and immediately became a part of a wonderful church community. My parent’s decision to join the LDS Church would secure for me a foundation of faith that would sustain me many times during my lifetime.
As I approached puberty, I knew there was something wrong with me. I couldn’t quite pinpoint it; I just knew I was different. At school I was often bullied, targeted, teased, and excluded. Church was a safer place for me. People accepted me and I looked forward to Sunday meetings and the midweek activities that the LDS Church provided. I often associated with girls, much more so than with boys. With girls there wasn’t the competition to be rough and tough. All I really ever wanted was to be accepted for who I was. At school, that acceptance was seldom received. At church I seemed to thrive. Upon receiving the Aaronic Priesthood at age twelve I began to discover that there indeed was a purpose for me in this life. I knew then that I would devote my life to furthering God’s work. Regarding my sexuality, for the most part I suppressed my feelings of same-sex attraction. I forced myself to pursue romantic interactions with girls. By doing this I felt more accepted and more normal.
Just before my sixteenth birthday, my parents and I each received our Patriarchal Blessings. This was a profound moment in my young life. I had been told by my Bishop that this blessing would be an inspired guide throughout my mortal life, as long as I remained true and faithful to the covenants that I made before my Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. I fasted before receiving my blessing, preparing for the comfort and inspiration of the Holy Ghost. As this noble and humble Patriarch, laid his hands upon my head and began to pronounce this blessing, I knew that this was going to positively influence my life’s journey.
This was the first time in my youth that I felt the spirit. It was subtle and sweet. I knew that this blessing was specifically for me. I listened carefully to each word, every sentence, keenly aware that this was revelation, meant just for me. There were key words: mission, temple, sealing, posterity, service, and many others that contributed to my young sense of awe, wonder, and most of all, truth. I felt an incredible feeling of unconditional love from God. I knew that He was aware of me. He knew me. He would always be with me. All of the components of this blessing were contingent on my obedience and faithfulness to the gospel of Jesus Christ as well as the covenants that I made at baptism and those that I would make during my lifetime.
As the blessing concluded, this gentle Patriarch continued to stand behind me, his aged hands now resting on my shoulders, inviting the tender spirit to linger just a little longer. After a time, I stood and shook his hand and thanked him for giving me this blessing. My mother and father were then given their blessings. What a wonderful experience as we each received sacred promises, that awaited us as we moved forward in faith.
From this age up until my full time service as a missionary, the feelings of same-sex attraction were strong and confusing. Often it was consuming, always causing me to question my value and worth. I became adept at masking these feelings, dating girls, and even becoming involved in serious relationships. I enjoyed these early associations. I knew that I was forcing this social front, all the while hoping that I would be cured from this demon of conflicting sexuality. My only outlet was in my mind where on occasion, I could indulge in fantasy. However, those fantasies continued to reinforce to me that I was broken, alone, and unworthy. Most of the time, I simply suppressed these feelings and thoughts into the far corners of my subconscious. Only then could I press forward in faith and devotion to my covenants and those promised blessings.
Mission and Marriage
I received my mission assignment in April of 1974. I was called to labor in the Eastern States Mission. The mission headquarters were in New York City. To say that I was thrilled was an understatement! I entered the mission field a month after graduating from High School. To go from the small rural community in northeast Washington State, to the cement jungle of the Big Apple was truly exciting! I was now a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I was a representative of the Lord. I was on His errand now. My blessing was coming true. I remember thinking, “Maybe now I’m not broken.”
The two years that I served in the greater New York City area, were amazing. I worked hard. There were many days of seemingly endless tracting. The humidity in the summer was draining. The cold in the winter was bitter. The members were wonderful. The investigators were sparse and baptisms were few and far between. I loved this work. I loved my companions. I loved every aspect of this precious time! The two years passed quickly. I feel that because of the healthy, close relationships I had with many men on my mission, I seldom experienced conflicting same-sex attraction. As I prepared in those final weeks to return home, I felt confident that because of this offering, this sacred service, I could now turn my focus to finding my eternal companion, my wife.
After my exit interview with my Mission President, I was taken to the airport and I flew home to my family in Washington State. During that flight home, I remember thinking, “What am I going to do now?” Panic was setting in. For the past twenty four months my life was structured and secure. I knew what I needed to do each day. I was important. I was respected. I believed in the purpose of missionary work. In a few hours I would be home where everything would be different. Yes, there was familiarity, but the mission life would be gone. I felt I wasn’t ready for entry back into an uncertain world.
Two weeks after returning home from my mission, I met my future wife. She was working in a local convalescent center where I had started working as an orderly. We quickly took a liking to one another. She was easy to talk to and she was so pretty!
The gospel came up quickly and during those first few weeks of our working together we often discussed the church. Ann was Catholic and had been in a local convent the year previous. Always one to question, she was not finding the answers that she sought. Reluctantly, she left the convent. This caused discord in her family, and she began searching other avenues for answers to her spiritual questions. She was intrigued with our discussions about the LDS Church. It seemed that the more I shared of my faith, the more she seemed to agree. A few weeks after our first meeting, she traveled to Florida with her family. Prior to her leaving, I gave her a Book of Mormon, and asked her to read it. She promised that she would.
Upon her return four weeks later, we went on our first date. It was a special night, and I felt strongly that she was the one that I wanted to spend my life with. Late that very evening, a dear friend of my family, along with her husband and infant child, were killed in a tragic plane crash. Ann and I were working together the next morning when I received word of their passing. I asked her if she would come with me to the funeral that would be held later in the week. She said she would. Five days after our first date we attended the funeral of my childhood friend and her young family. This was Ann’s first time attending the LDS Church. It had a profound impact on her, and she knew that she wanted to be a part of this faith. During the next couple of weeks Ann took the missionary discussions and committed to be baptized a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I had the privilege of baptizing my bride-to-be. I had found the most important person in my life and she would be by my side for this life and the next.
Three months after her baptism, we were married in a civil ceremony by our local Bishop. We were surrounded by family and friends as we exchanged wedding vows on that cold January evening. It snowed during our wedding. Just as the newly fallen snow, we too were pure in virtue as we became husband and wife. My beautiful bride dressed in white, sacrificing much to become my partner in life, chose me to be her husband. I knew that this moment, promised in a blessing years before, was fulfillment of personal revelation from God.
I did not tell my wife about my same-sex attraction. By this time it had been deeply buried. I loved this woman with all my heart and I was sexually attracted to her. I was no longer questioning my sexuality. Reflecting back on our first few months of marriage, I must have felt that I was “fixed” and that those feelings of same-sex attraction were a mere bump in the road of my life journey. However, soon those familiar stirrings were back again, haunting me, giving me pause to question my value and worth as a man and now, as a husband.
Just weeks after we were married, I was called to be the Ward Mission Leader. I was excited to be able to work closely with the full-time missionaries. I accompanied them when they taught people about the church. I became especially close friends with one missionary. There were never any inappropriate situations between us. We were comfortable being around each other and talked about many things. After teaching lessons to investigators, I would take him back to his apartment where we would wait in my car to meet up with his companion and the other Stake Missionary. This friendship went on for several months. Again, there were no indiscretions between us. Then one day, this Elder and his companion stopped by our apartment to tell Ann and me that he was being transferred to a new area the next day. He had come to say goodbye. We spoke for a few minutes and then hugged one another. We both cried at this parting. It was very difficult. I loved him deeply and the thought of him being gone from my life was so painful. During the next couple of weeks, I privately mourned the loss of this person. At times, the grief would overwhelm me. Looking back I now realize the intensity of my feelings for him were in part because of my same-sex attraction. I masked my sorrow the best that I could, keeping the feelings to myself. I took comfort from my sweet wife and the new life that was growing within her. I would forget my feelings for this man. I would now focus on my marriage and our child, all promised in a blessing that was continuing to be fulfilled.
A year after our wedding, my wife gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. We named her, Eva Jane, after my mother. Several months after her birth we traveled to Salt Lake City so that Ann could receive her endowments and we could be sealed in the temple. That day in April of 1978, my Mission President, now a sealer in the Salt Lake Temple, sealed (married) Ann and I for time and all eternity. To see this beautiful woman kneeling across from me at this sacred altar, knowing that we would be married for eternity, touched me to the core. Moments later, our precious little daughter was brought to us and we were united as an eternal family. Tears flowed freely as I realized yet again that the promises of my Patriarchal Blessing were being fulfilled.
The years passed so quickly. There were many moves to different cities and states. There were a variety of jobs and most of the time there wasn’t enough money. Two more amazing children were added to our family. A son, Ryan, was born two years after our daughter, and a second son, Mitchell, arrived six years after that. I eventually went to college and became a school teacher. There were great adventures and opportunities that seemed endless. As a family, we eventually landed in southern Nevada where we established a permanent home to raise our family. Moving there in 1989, we would live in the same home for the next twenty-four years. Many memories were created there. Each year the calendar was filled with birthdays, holidays, baptisms, vacations, visits, and chaos! Service in the church was abundant. Our children thrived, growing up quickly. All too soon, there were graduations, missions and marriages. Then the grandchildren started coming. Today we have twelve grandchildren. That sacred blessing pronounced so long ago promised a posterity that would be my greatest legacy. This too has been fulfilled.
These years have not been without adversity and trial. I continued to keep my same-sex attraction buried deep within. I knew it was there, and I didn’t like it. I hated it! In the early nineties, my wife, my parents, and several close friends met with me to discuss my recurring mood swings. Deep down, I knew this was a problem; I just refused to acknowledge it. Begrudgingly, I agreed to speak to our family doctor about this.
A few days later, I met with him and opened up as to how I was feeling inside. I fully expected him to tell me to exercise more, eat better, read my scriptures and have faith (he’s LDS) and in no time I’d begin to feel better. By the time I was in the exam room, I was ready to tell him and the rest of the world where to go! I was not prepared for his insight.
He initially asked me searching questions regarding my thoughts and actions. Slowly, gently, he helped to smooth out the chip I had on my shoulder. He explained how I had been living with a chemical imbalance for many years, probably even as far back as my teenage years. He reassured me that I would improve with the help of medication. He said that I should take a break from church/work responsibilities. He suggested that I not make any huge life changes, such as buying a car, getting a divorce, or adopting a pet. He gave me permission to not read my scriptures, not exercise, and to eat whatever I wanted, until such time as I was feeling better emotionally. As I listened to his counsel and medical expertise, I began to weep. The tears fell freely as I felt like someone finally understood me, truly understood me. This was a turning point for me. I recall, leaving his office and calling my wife, happily telling her, “Guess what? I’m depressed!”
Since then I have been on a variety of antidepressant medication. There were dosage adjustments along the way. The panic attacks and mood swings became less frequent and eventually all but disappeared. Life became enjoyable again and I began to embrace my emotional challenges. I still did not disclose my same-sex attraction. It was simply too buried, too tender to be dealt with then. Looking back now, my wife and I both feel that my ongoing challenges with depression over the years were in large part, impacted because of my suppressed same-sex attraction.
Medication helped significantly with the chemical imbalance I suffered from. It did nothing for my feelings of unworthiness that were a frequent companion. I could never get past the idea that because of my conflicted sexuality, I was somehow broken and consequently not entirely worthy of God’s love. That self-doubt would plague me for decades. I knew that He loved all of His children. I knew that each person had tremendous value and worth in His eyes. I knew that because of the atonement the price had been paid for all mankind’s mistakes. However, in my thinking, none of this applied to me, because of my same-sex attraction. My way of coping with this mindset was to push it as far away as possible. When the stirrings of same-sex attraction presented themselves, I was quick to deny and suppress. This became my only way of dealing with this ugly secret that made me feel unworthy.
There is a section of my Patriarchal Blessing that speaks of promises related to serving in the church and building up the Kingdom of God. It is powerful and specific as to the opportunities that would be afforded to me, serving in the church. Because of the promised blessings, I committed at an early age to serve faithfully. Over the years I have had many opportunities to serve others. That service extended beyond members of the LDS church to those of other faiths and even to those with no faith at all. I served in the quorums of the priesthood and in the Young Men’s organization. I taught seminary and Sunday school. Leadership opportunities accompanied this service. I loved serving in the church and at work. When I could, I even enjoyed service among neighbors and family. It seemed the more I was able to serve, the less issue I had with my same-sex attractions. It was during these times of service that I enjoyed healthy, non-sexual relationships with many wonderful men. During the last twelve years, I was privileged to serve in several bishoprics. It was the last five years, serving as a Bishop that brought me the greatest joy and eventually lead me to finally accepting my lifelong struggle with same-sex attraction.
The years that I served as Bishop were truly some of the happiest years of my life. It was seasons of complete service to those within my ward boundaries. The time passed quickly. I loved the leadership of the ward. The sacrifice and devotion provided by so many touched me deeply. There were countless struggles that people were experiencing. It seemed as though my office at church had revolving doors, ushering in an endless stream of my brothers and sisters who were burdened in ways that often consumed their lives. I marveled at the workings of the atonement. There were many experiences to be had as I served. Hospital visits, home visits, and so many visits on the phone allowed me to keep in touch with the saints. There were funerals to conduct, weddings to perform and baptisms to attend. Meetings on Sunday and during the week provided training and structure as I tried my best to shepherd those over whom I had stewardship. I loved serving the youth and witnessing their strength and resilience. They too, benefited from a forgiving Savior. I enjoyed ward socials, dinners, and outings. Seeing saints come together and enjoy each other’s company was heartwarming.
There were challenging times as I served in this capacity. On a couple of occasions I had health issues that needed tending to. The pace of working full time and serving as Bishop full time took its toll emotionally and physically. Indeed, the years that I served were priceless. I give thanks especially to my loving wife for her total support. The sacrifice she made during this service was tremendous. I could not have labored as I did had it not been for her love and support. The last few months of my tenure were especially challenging. It was during this time that I finally acknowledged my same-sex attractions and made the decision to disclose to my wife, family and church leaders.
Since my youth, I became adept at hiding my same-sex attractions. I knew the attraction was there. When it presented itself, I would retreat to a place of denial and shame. Lest I be consumed emotionally, I would again and again force the thoughts and feelings of same-sex attraction to the distant, repressed places of my mind. It wasn’t always easy to deny. I just knew that I must never act on those feelings, those attractions for men. I knew that for me, I would do everything within my power to remain steadfast and resolute in my decision to follow the teachings and practices of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I have never acted on my same-sex attractions. There have been times that I’ve certainly indulged in thoughts and fantasies regarding these attractions. It was at these times that I would question even more my value and worth.
How could I be a missionary and experience same-sex attraction? How could I be a husband to my wonderful wife and experience same-sex attraction? How could I be a father, a son, a brother, a friend, a teacher, a counselor, a priesthood leader, a Bishop and continue to be same-sex attracted? Did God truly know me, love me and even want me as his son, his child? Did the atonement truly apply to me? Did the Savior pay the price for my mistakes, my sins, even my same-sex attractions? These questions and many more were often repeated during my lifetime. As hard as I would try to believe that I mattered and that I had infinite value and worth, I questioned because of the shame that accompanied my same-sex attractions. That all changed three years ago in a bedroom of a lake cabin in northwestern Washington State, when I audibly confirmed to myself the reality of what I had been denying for over forty years. “I must be gay.”
That confirmation was a huge step for me. It would take another four months for me to arrive at the time and place where I would finally disclose my lifelong struggle with same-sex attraction, first to my wife, then to my children and after that, to others that I trusted. I had no idea how painful my disclosing my same-sex attraction would be.
The day after the National Presidential Election, Wednesday, November 9, 2012, I disclosed to my wife that I was same-sex attracted. It was the most difficult thing I had ever done. This took place in our home, early in the evening. It took several minutes for me to get the words out. I wept as I told my wife of nearly 36 years that as far back as twelve years of age I recognized that I experienced same-sex attraction. She was devastated, angry, and hurt. She asked me questions and we talked for several hours. I then went to another room and lay down on a sofa. Ann went to bed in our bedroom. After a half hour or so, she came to where I was resting. She knelt down beside me and told me that we would get through this and that she would be at my side. I could not believe her strength and capacity to deal with this.
The next morning, we both went to work. There was a part of me that felt a huge sense of relief. Telling Ann was so difficult and yet, I felt a tremendous burden lifted from my shoulders. My day at work was routine. For Ann, her day was anything but routine. I would find out later that she was an emotional wreck. In the afternoon, I returned from work, about an hour before Ann. When she came home and walked into the house, I inquired as to how her day had been. She then, with a furor and vengeance I’ve seldom seen, told me exactly how bad her day had been and then proceeded to say some things that were very difficult for me to hear. She was so angry and so hurt! I didn’t know what to say. I didn’t know what to do. I felt that I needed to run far, far away. I grabbed my phone and my keys and left our home, driving away from the pain that I had inflicted on my wife and our family. Within a few minutes of my leaving, she texted me, begging me to come back home. I texted her back, demanding that she leave me alone.
The next few hours were all-consuming. I couldn’t make sense of any of this. There was so much pain and confusion and helplessness. I would drive for a time and then stop. I would think and cry and scream with no one to hear me. My youngest son (living back east) was trying to call me. I refused his calls. He texted me numerous times before I finally responded and texted him back. (I had told him of my same-sex attraction the day before I told his mother. I hadn’t planned it that way, but something he said in jest to me, prompted me to tell him. My wife had called him soon after I drove away, hoping that he could get through to me.) I told him I was okay. I then began to drive again, this time to a nearby city. I parked again and just sat in my truck. I was numb, entirely void of feeling. The tears were now gone, as was the anger. I was empty. I kept repeating the scene with my wife, her being so upset. I kept hearing her voice and the hurt and the anger and it was just so very sad. I drove further. This time, I parked near a bridge. I was here for some time, probably a couple of hours. This was my darkest hour. My son continued to text me, trying his best to be a lifeline to me. I ignored his attempts. I sat in the darkness and considered ending my life. I remember thinking that I wished I would have brought my gun. I thought about leaving my truck and walking to that bridge several hundred feet above the desert floor and ending my life. The tears returned. I was so alone. I don’t know if I prayed. I don’t know if I bargained. I just know that from somewhere I was able to realize that ending my life would only do more harm to my family. I had hurt my wife enough and somehow we could get through this new revelation regarding my same-sex attraction. Taking my life would only add to the sorrow and heartache we were going through. I didn’t want to leave my wife, our family, or our life this way.
A peace came over me. It was subtle and tender. I recall texting my son to let him know I was okay. I knew he would communicate with his mother. I then drove away from this dark place. I returned back to Henderson, still not ready to return home. My son had contacted his brother, our oldest son, to let him know there was an issue in the family that he needed to be aware of. He then proceeded to tell his brother about my same-sex attraction and the conflict going on between his mother and me. As this son was just returning home from business in California, he asked me to come to his home so that we could talk. I agreed and late that evening I met him at his house. We talked for an hour or more. I didn’t tell him everything, but our conversation was good. He provided insight and more importantly, hope for me, his mother and our family. This night, our two sons were saviors to their father and mother. I returned home in the early hours of the morning. I slept in the guest bedroom. I was home.
So much has happened since that night. I confided in my good Stake President. He was understanding and supportive. He provided a gentle priesthood blessing. I also disclosed to a fellow ward member, a friend of many years then serving as an Area Seventy (General Authority) of the church. He too was a tremendous strength to us during this difficult time. Under his hands a powerful priesthood blessing was pronounced. From both of these valiant servants I drew added strength and courage to move forward. Slowly, we began to heal. It wasn’t easy. There were days of despair and also days of profound discovery for both of us. We were committed to our marriage and to the covenants that we have made throughout our lifetime. We rediscovered the passion in our marriage and with each other.
Two years ago we decided to sell our home, where we had lived for twenty-four years. We moved into a new home in a neighboring community. This move took us from the Ward and Stake we have called home for over two decades. In January 2013, I was released as the Bishop of our Ward after serving for over five and a half years. My Stake President assured me that I was not released because of my same-sex attractions. After five and a half years serving as Bishop, it simply was my time to be released. After our move we began to attend our new ward. Soon after my release as Bishop, we began serving as Ordinance Workers in the Las Vegas Temple. All of these changes have brought a mixture of feelings and emotions. We were sad to leave friends and acquaintances that were familiar and trusted. We welcomed having more time to attend to our relationship. It was a time of new beginnings and ongoing adjustments. There was a past to celebrate and a future to look forward to. We began to cautiously share with very close friends and family members, my lifelong challenge with same-sex attraction.
We aligned ourselves with North Star International, a place of community for Latter-day Saints dealing with issues surrounding homosexual attraction and gender identity. This supportive resource is for those who desire to live in harmony with the teachings of Jesus Christ and the doctrines and values of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. After so very many years of struggling in silence with the feelings of same-sex attraction, through North Star we have discovered that there are many individuals, couples and families that share in the challenges of same gender-attraction. Even in the greater Las Vegas Area, we have met many people who are same-sex attracted and trying to live in harmony with the practices and teachings of the LDS Church. We are learning to live with truth and being our authentic selves. The knowledge is sure that each of us are children of God, all of equal value and worth in His sight.
Much of the shame that I have held onto regarding my same-sex attraction, is now in my past. That shame does present itself still, on occasion. I am many things to many people. My same-sex attraction is a small part of who I am. I identify myself as a husband, father, son, brother, uncle and friend. I am a teacher and a counselor by profession. I’m an artist, a traveler and a dreamer. I like to read and write. I enjoy driving long distances, people-watching and taking naps. I believe in God and Jesus Christ. I want to see my parents again someday and interact with those who have left this life after touching mine in countless ways. I want to hold my children and grandchildren close. I want peace in this life and the next. That peace has come to me because I now know that I truly do matter. I matter to my wife and our posterity, family and friends; I matter to my Father in Heaven and His son, Jesus Christ.
Why tell this story? Why, after all these years, did I disclose my same-sex attractions? I have lived most of my life as an open book. I am honest, candid and a bit of a free spirit. I enjoy challenging my senses. I love to learn and explore and share my life with others. There was a chapter in my book, in my life, that was firmly sealed. I was the only one that knew of its existence and its power. I let it govern me and ultimately, privately, define me as someone that was of less value than others. I open this chapter of my life fully and freely. I now become a voice of hope, a voice of authenticity to my family, friends, and even to me. I welcome the world to know that no one needs to live a lifetime with darkness, denial, and shame. No matter what, each person matters in life, regardless of the journey they are on. How we choose to live this mortal life is up to each person to decide. Yes, I am same-sex attracted. Some would contend that I’m a gay man. I’ve carried many labels during my lifetime. Labels can bind us and limit us. They can separate us and even harm us. I witness this day that I am me, simply me, and that is enough. I am blessed with truth and love. I don’t know what is around the bend, down the stream, or beyond the sunset. I’m not entirely sure what tomorrow will bring. What I do know is that I chose this journey. It belongs to me and I share it equally with my beloved companion, my partner, my wife, my Ann.
Throughout this story, I’ve referenced the amazing blessing I received from a humble Patriarch when I was sixteen years old. I share this small part, word for word as it appears towards the end of my blessing. Pronounced upon me, six years before we were married, it states: “Hand in hand you shall go down the pathway of life with your beloved companion. You shall bear each other up and give each other strength. Life shall be good, and many rich experiences shall be yours. Go forth then this night, and be unafraid of life.” Many times during our marriage, especially during difficult periods, I have read these words over and over and over again. We continue to grow and learn. There are many good days for us as a couple. On occasion we have those times that are confusing and difficult. Disclosing my same-sex attraction lifted a tremendous burden from my shoulders. Unfortunately for my wife, there were times that she became incredibly burdened because of my disclosure. It made her question her own value and worth. For her, it was a time of painful discovery. I was not always sensitive to the many changes and challenges that she was going through. At times, we would move ahead two steps and then fall back three. We have had many conversations over the past three years. There have been times of happiness and rejoicing. There have been times of agony and despair. We have laughed together and we have wept together. My wife is the most important person in my life. I believe that I am that person for her also. This is our story, our journey. We have been and will continue to be voices of hope for many things and for many people. Side by side we will continue to accomplish great things in this life and the next.
Is God aware of us? Does He understand the many challenges we must endure? Is there a way back to Him? Is there more? I testify that the answers are all emphatically, yes! He knows what lies around the corner. Our journey continues.