VOICES OF HOPE
KIM & LANCE
Kim was born and raised in Boise, Idaho in a loving LDS family. As a youth she was very involved in church and school programs. She has always had a spiritual connection with her Heavenly Father and has continually felt His guidance throughout her life. Including her husband, Lance, in her journey with same-sex attraction has helped them become stronger and more united as they strive to live the commandments. The joy that marriage and family has brought to their lives in immeasurable. Kim and Lance continue to rely on their love and trust for one another—and for God—to foster an environment of love, growth, and support.
Full Interview (62 Minutes)
Highlights Interview (9 Minutes)
MY PATH TO PEACE AND ACCEPTANCE
I grew up in Boise, Idaho in a great LDS family surrounded by my grandparents and many of my aunts and uncles. A tomboy to the core, I loved getting dirty and playing with the boys. Playing t-ball and soccer on coed teams was a favorite past time and I loved when my dad helped coach. My hair was really short, I wore boy clothing, and I didn’t enjoy wearing dresses to church, or ever. I have a lot of great memories of that time in my life. My best friend was a boy that lived down the street from me. We would often play with his He-man toys, ride bikes and go on adventures in the field behind our houses. I thought it would be so much fun to be a boy. They had better toys, they got to go camping, they never had to wear dresses, and they could even pee standing up. Honestly I just thought it was so much better than anything I saw the girls doing. I understood that boys and girls went together and was able to justify my natural inclinations towards girls because I thought I was more like a boy than a girl anyway. It made sense to my naïve brain.
A couple of years later I was at an activity for several 5th grade classes from different schools. We went to a place called Skateworld for some amazing roller skating time. I was skating by myself when a girl I didn’t know skated up to me and asked me if I thought her friend was cute and if I would be her boyfriend. My initial reaction was to say that I did think her friend was cute, and that I wanted to be her boyfriend. Instead, I quickly put those thoughts out of my mind, acted tough and offended that she would think I was a boy, and skated away. That was the first experience I had where I consciously recognized that I wasn’t like the other girls, that I liked girls in the same way a boy might like them. The experience scared me and left me feeling very confused. It was at that moment that I decided I had to grow my hair out so that mistake wouldn’t happen again.
Shortly after this experience at Skateworld, I “officially” entered into womanhood by starting my period. I remember the day. I was at school (yeah, that’s crappy) and I had to go to the nurse. I don’t remember exactly how my mom found out, but I do remember her and my older sister being so excited and smiling about me “becoming a woman.” At that moment, I remember going into the bathroom and being so incredibly mad. I had a lot of conflicting feelings about my body and the changes that were happening. I was confused and angry. I didn’t understand my anger and I didn’t feel like it was something I could talk about without being judged. It was too much for my young self to process.
During this time I had placed in my mind the belief that to be female, to be feminine, meant to be weak. I didn’t want to be weak. I was feeling betrayed by my body and mind. I was feeling attracted to girls while my body was suddenly proving to me, and everyone around me, that I was a girl myself. It was a cruel thing for me to experience. So, I set out on a mission to cover myself up as much as I could. I wore baggy clothes and began rejecting femininity as a whole. I had no desire to wear female clothing, I kept my wallet in my back pocket like boys did instead of having a purse, and I tried my best to not like things that were even remotely feminine.
When I was eleven or twelve years old, I remember sitting on the bathroom counter watching my aunts get ready for a date. I was intrigued by the way they put their make-up on and did their hair. I also couldn’t believe how long it took. One of the aunts noticed my curiosity. She smiled at me and said that I would one day be doing the same thing in order to impress some cute boy someday. I immediately became defensive and swore to them that I would not. From that time on I refused to learn how to do make-up or hair and I rejected the color pink in all forms. It was a statement that I proudly made. I wanted others to know that I wasn’t going to be a slave to the make-up industry and I wouldn’t give in to the stereotypical pink girl nonsense. I became stone faced and prided myself on my ability to not cry during any situation that might elicit tears. At first I had to work at it, but it soon became easy. I would even dare my friends to expose me to sad movies in an effort to get me to cry. However, their efforts were in vain. I would simply sit there, forcing myself not to show any emotion.
Doing these things caused me to put up a lot of walls. Though I didn’t act girly, I still tried to emulate what was expected of me as a girl. I would pretend to like boys by saying I thought they were cute and talking about them constantly. I did the best I could to hide what I was thinking and feeling. I went through puberty and had crushes like everyone does; I just had them on girls. This became more confusing when I began having vivid dreams about girls, dreams in which I was a boy. It was extremely frustrating and disheartening to not be able to share in the experience of having crushes on boys with my friends. It drove me deeper into denial as I struggled to hide the crushes that I had on girls. At times I would feel depressed because I didn’t feel safe to be authentic in what I was experiencing. Even so, I was blessed to have wonderful friends and I am so glad that despite my inner struggle, I still felt connected and loved by them.
All in all I had a great high school experience. I was in the girls’ choir and participated in a few plays that were so much fun. As I entered the dating world I enjoyed making a lot of friends with the guys around me. I actually did enjoy getting dressed up for dates and dances periodically, but it really had nothing to do with being feminine. That part of the date always made me very uncomfortable. What I enjoyed about the whole experience was the time I spent with my girlfriends. It was priceless to me. I really tried to feel connected to boys on a deeper level, but I struggled because I just wanted to be with my girlfriends more. In my confused state, I know I hurt some of the sweetest guys. I kissed as many boys as I could, hoping that it would help, but it just left me feeling more frustrated and empty. I was feeling a lot of shame about myself. I had very poor self-esteem and almost no self-confidence.
Following my Heart
The first time I fell in love it was with a girl. However, it took me a long time to realize that I had actually fallen in love. She made me feel like I could do or be anything, it was an amazing feeling. She made me feel as though I was the only one who mattered to her, and she made me feel BEAUTIFUL. It was the first time in my life that I had felt anything like that. It was the first time I actually believed it. She was full of a passion for life that I had not witnessed before. I had never experienced the joy of what it felt like to love someone so fiercely and to have that love returned in the same way. We were absolutely devoted to each other, and for a while we spent all of our free time together. It was, and still is, a very happy memory for me. Our friendship did eventually come down from the intensity we felt in the beginning but we still remained the very best of friends. I continued to be in love with her for many years and even into my marriage.
The second time I fell in love it was with a wonderful guy that I had been friends with for some time. The feeling came unexpectedly. I was told by another friend that he had always liked me, he just didn’t think I ever felt the same way about him. So I began to look at him a little closer, and began to make observations about his character and personality that I hadn’t noticed before. It didn’t take long for me to realize that I found myself feeling drawn to him, attracted to him. I revealed my feelings to him and we spent several months dating and falling in love. We were still young, and I soon started to feel unsure of myself, doubting that he could ever really love the real me. Instead of opening up to him I started pulling away.
Eventually I decided to go visit a friend who lived in another state that was far away, and I ended up staying there for a couple of months. I was in the midst of confusion and nothing I seemed to do would help me make sense of anything I was feeling. I was in denial about my same-sex attraction, which made me feel like I was hiding from everyone. Whenever I felt like I somehow had given too much of myself away, I would pull back, retreating inside myself and pushing it all down even deeper. When I came home from that trip, my sweet guy friend was leaving for his mission. I wanted so badly to tell him, but I couldn’t even admit those things to myself.
Shortly after he left, I decided I wanted to try to go on a mission myself. Up until this point in my life I had only told one person about my attractions to my own gender. Even then, when I told that person, I made it sound very mild and like it wasn’t a big deal. I recognized that I needed to figure a lot of things out before a mission would even be a possibility for my life. With anxiety and fear I went to see my bishop. When I told him about my attractions, he met me with unconditional love and support. I could tell he was a man of God who understood what it meant to love others, even if he did not understand their struggles. He set me on the path to reconciling my faith and my same-sex attraction, and I am forever grateful for his guidance in a time of uncertainty and chaos. I started counseling for the first time through LDS Family Services. It was a very difficult but rewarding experience for me. For the first time, I was able to speak the truth about my life and my struggles and feel like I was in a completely safe space. It was extremely validating and I know I felt the Spirit guiding me through it all.
As I continued to make progress my best friend left for her mission. Her leaving was difficult for me. Despite having a lot of friends and family around I still felt somewhat isolated. I didn’t feel comfortable talking to anyone about my same-sex attraction. Then one of my cousins committed suicide. Even though I was not very close to him, in my depressed state, his death made the situation more dire. I soon began to write in my journal and contemplate my own suicide. I didn’t understand the seriousness of the sadness I was feeling until a particular counseling session when my counselor said she didn’t feel comfortable letting me leave for fear I would do harm to myself. At this time I was admitted to a hospital for two weeks, where I received some much needed treatment then came home, more determined to never return to such a sad, depressed place. My mother was really the only member of my family who knew about my same-sex attraction, where I went for two weeks and why I was there. I was terrified of telling the rest of my family, so I swore my mom to secrecy.
As I continued to see my counselor, she gave me many goals. One of those goals was to approach and become friends with more guys in my ward.That is how I met my husband, Lance. He was the ward chorister and I recognized him from high school. He had the kindest face, and I knew he would be a safe person to get to know. Using my connections, I called a friend who was married to his older brother and had her set up a double date of sorts. After that fell through, I didn’t really think I would hear from him again. To my surprise he called me and asked me out on a date, just the two of us. I felt very comfortable around him almost instantly and we became fast friends. We enjoyed doing a lot of the same kinds of activities and had similar interests in music, movies, and what we wanted for our lives. I enjoyed his spirit and he was so very kind and easy to talk to.
After spending several weeks together, I decided I needed to tell him about my same-sex attraction. I didn’t want to enter into anything that could potentially lead to marriage without being honest about who I was. I remember feeling nervous to tell him, but not scared. He was my friend, and I felt safe with him. After I told him he sat there for a moment reflecting on what I had just said. Then he looked at me and asked, “Does it change the way you feel about me?” I was very surprised by that response, but I knew the answer right away. No, it did not. He then said ‘okay’ and that was that. I think it was at that moment that I knew I would be safe with him through anything. Loving Lance made me feel at home. Falling in love with him was the easiest thing I have ever done in my life. The attraction came almost effortlessly.
After our summer of dating, he left for school. Almost every night over the next nine months was spent on the phone with each other. This time learning to communicate and open up to each other helped to develop a closeness I had never experienced with a man before. We became engaged by Thanksgiving and, after he came home from school in the spring, we were married for time and all eternity in the temple.
Trusting in the Lord
After being married for almost three years, Lance and I welcomed our first daughter into our family. Oh, what a joyful time it was! We have since welcomed two more daughters and a son as well. Our marital journey has not been an easy one by any means, but it has been a happy one. Even though I loved my husband deeply, I continued to struggle with my same sex attraction. Things became very confusing again and I struggled to believe that I could continue living the life I had built for myself.
That belief was especially difficult due to the fact that I still had feelings for my best friend. Through the years we remained very devoted to each other. However, for me it became a very unhealthy, codependent relationship. I recognize this now, but I didn’t see it back then. I put her needs above those of my husband’s, and I am ashamed to say, my childrens as well. I was constantly catering to her every demand and had became disillusioned to the way my friendship was affecting me and my marriage. At some point I believed that I could even expand the perimeters of our relationship and still keep my marriage and membership in the church in tact. After an experience that tested the boundaries of our friendship I began to see things differently. The rejection nearly sent me into a deep depression and soon the relationship began to deteriorate. It was now painful and unfulfilling. After almost two years, I was somewhat surprised to discover I just didn’t want to be friends anymore. It was a particularly tumultuous time for her and I, and things ended rather badly. I have regrets for not being able to communicate things with her better, but I know I am a happier person for doing what I knew to be right for myself and my family.
It was during this time, as I struggled with anger and negative emotions over the demise of our long-term friendship, that I came across North Star. I know God directed me to this organization and I have been continuously grateful for His hand in that. The women I met through North Star were a great inspiration to me and helped me find a place to voice all of my frustrations as I worked through that difficult time in my life. They have helped me to validate my feelings, and became a sounding board which I used to articulate and clarify what I really wanted for my life. Their advice and support has saved me on more than one occasion.
My husband, Lance, has continued to be patient and supportive. His love is constant. We have always been able to communicate intimate things to each other, but I now resolved to include him even more. It has taken a lot of time and trust to develop a deep emotional intimacy, and for me to believe that he is committed to our marriage completely. We have grown so much closer because of it. We recognize that the Lord is, and must always be, the center of our marriage. We are still learning and growing and are continually having to rely on our love for and trust in each other. When we fail to frequently talk to each other in a deep, meaningful way, we do not feel as connected. I need to remind myself to trust Lance with the things I am going through and he needs to trust me with his. Together, we include God in our trials, in our happiness, and in our whole life. We are not perfect in this, but we are continually trying and continually trusting.
As I grew in my self-confidence, I decided to share my story with my bishop and a member of my Relief Society presidency. The situation was a very positive one and I continue to have regular meetings with my bishop. As I met with him, I felt like I had reached a time in my life where I wanted to share my story with others, to let them know that they were not alone and that there was a way to feel God’s presence in their lives. My bishop counseled that before I shared my story in a more public way, I should consider telling my immediate family first. I knew he was right, I just didn’t know how to do it. I prayed and attended the temple and had many discussions with Lance about how to approach them.
After some time, I felt the Spirit guide me to the decision to write them all a letter. I felt that it would allow me to say what I needed to say all at once, as well as allow them their own space to digest the information. When I finally made the decision to tell them, it took me a year to write the letter. Once the letter was completed, I sat with my finger hovering over the send button, and just prayed that everything would be okay. It was scary, and the anticipation of waiting for their responses was brutal, but I knew my family loved me, so I chose to have faith in them. Even though there were some difficult questions asked of me, and some doubt expressed by a few family members, the end result has been very positive, supportive, and loving.
The weight I have carried for years has been significantly lifted from my shoulders, and it has been an amazing experience to feel more authentic and true to myself than ever before. I have continued to grow and returned to counseling again in an attempt to begin a different journey, about defining what it means to me to be feminine. I have amazing people in my life who continue to help me grow and learn each day.
I attended the annual North Star conference in April of 2015, which was an amazing experience that filled my spiritual cup to overflowing. I felt God talking to me through the many individuals that spoke and shared during that weekend. It was an invaluable experience which I will always be grateful I had the opportunity to attend. During that weekend and our drive home, I realized that the time to participate in the Voices of Hope project had come. I had wanted to do this for almost a year and now that I had come out to my family I felt like I was finally ready for that next step in my journey.
My Spiritual Journey
I used to think I wasn’t in control of my life. I spent a lot of time angry at God and so confused. Growing up in the church culture, I felt like I only had a few choices in regard to how to live my life and it was very frustrating. However, I’ve always had a deep connection with my spiritual self, and I knew I wanted to stay close to that throughout my life. I had a testimony of God from a very young age. I knew He was there, but at times I struggled to feel His love for me. I struggled to feel love from anyone because of how I felt about myself.
I have had the habit of writing in my journal since I was in junior high and it has been an invaluable tool to help me work through trials and difficult times. As I’ve looked back and read through them with mature eyes and new perspective, I have come to an understanding of myself that I had not previously believed. I recognized that the Holy Ghost has truly been by my side at every moment helping me and guiding me, but not choosing for me. I have been making my own choices, and I would make them all again.
I wasn’t forced to get married because I thought it would cure me or get me to heaven or any such nonsense. I chose to get married because I fell in love with my husband, because he is my best friend and the only person who has ever made me feel truly safe in my life. He has been the easiest person to love. If ever I doubt those feelings, I can go read my own account of what transpired and how I felt.
I have recognized that I have a capacity to love women in a way that not everyone is blessed with. This has helped me to understand that God has given me a particular talent required to help build up His kingdom on this earth. That gives me peace. I recognize now that the commandment to love one another, as He loves us, is truly the MOST important thing I can do. What a blessing the Lord has given me!! To be able to see women in a different light and to be able to strive to love them the way He taught us to. To easily connect with them and to feel deeply for them is not a burden, but a blessing and one that can bring great joy, if I continue to have God at the center of all my actions. I now consider my attraction to women as an evolution…from seeing them in a natural, physical state to a more spiritual recognition of their divine heritage. Recognizing and being grateful for beauty is not an awful thing. It is a blessing to be able to see and feel so deeply, a gift Heavenly Father has given to me. When I make a conscious effort to remember we are all children of God, I can love in a better, healthier way.
My joy in life comes from God and Jesus Christ.. When I cultivate a close relationship with my God and Savior it keeps my mind, and will, focused on truth and light allowing me to feel unfettered from the challenges I face daily, be those related to same-sex attraction or not. I know that my experiences have ultimately given me the opportunity to seek after a very personal relationship with my Father in Heaven. It fills my whole being with a peace and joy that cannot be matched or replicated by any earthly experience.
I’ve had new ideas and concepts opened to my understanding of myself and the nature of being broken. When I say broken, I mean not complete or to be imperfect. I have finally understood and accepted this about myself. I was never meant to be perfect in this mortal life. By placing our spirits in mortal bodies that are susceptible to temptation, sin, disease, etc, it became necessary that Christ’s sacrifice and His atonement take place to make that perfection a realization. It is our way to come back to God’s presence in a resurrected state, in a perfected state. In that realization I have come to understand what it means to accept Christ into my life and the sacrifice He has made for me. To really understand and feel it in my core that I am how God designed me to be (broken, incomplete, imperfect), and that’s not a bad thing. It is a good thing because it brought me to Christ.
I am a married Mormon woman who experiences same-sex attraction. I hope that by sharing my journey, others might believe that they are not alone, that they can find a place in the church where they feel valued, loved, and accepted. I have learned so much about the purpose of love and acceptance of self and of others. I have come to the realization that the only way towards true fulfillment in this life is by giving my life to God. I believe in God our eternal Father. I know that the challenges I face here on earth are designed to lead me directly back to Him. I have hope that through allowing love into my life and allowing myself to love those around me, I will come to understand the principle of charity and live the most fulfilling life possible. I cannot have fulfillment in any facet of my life without having Him be at the center of it. Understanding this truth has helped me to realize that I NEED the Lord in every part of my life at all times. It has awakened within me a new desire to be more proactive in my scripture study. It has also made me more aware of the influences around me and how I can keep them focused on the Lord. I am keenly aware of my need for His influence in my life. And I am excited for the knowledge He keeps giving me as I learn and grow through my own study and through interactions with people who have His spirit with them.
I am excited for what the future holds for me. I am excited to be a part of this conversation in and out of the church. I have learned that my same-sex attraction does not define me. It is only a part of me. I am first and foremost a daughter of God. He has given me specific challenges to help mold me into the person He wants me to be. I trust Him. God is acutely aware of me and mine. I am beginning to believe that I am important to Him. I have a specific work to do, and I am starting to believe that with God, I can, in fact, do whatever He asks of me.