Sunday, June 5, 2016

Bye LDS Church. I am done.

All these thoughts have been in my head for the last couple weeks. I'm just gonna put it all out there! Here goes.

I do not consider myself a member of the LDS Church anymore. I do not believe anymore. There is no place in the church for gay people. You may now call me an ex-Mormon. I am done.

In this post, I hope to explain my transition, plus I have a few messages for those I've followed over the years.

Simply being gay wasn't a good enough reason to leave

(Please note that these feelings I'm about to share were well before the policy change and Bednar saying I don't exist.)

I once believed that leaving the church for the sole reason of being gay was a cop out. This is why I stayed on the fence for so many years. Other gay Mormons stayed with the gospel. The gay guys were even marrying women. Why couldn't I?!

As I worked to reconcile being a believing member of the church with my attraction to men, I befriended (via email) Dad's Primal Scream. We emailed a couple times. I read, dissected, and pondered all his blog posts. I love the way he writes and his vantage point of being both gay and LDS. BUT, there was a section of his blog that I refused to touch: Why I Left Mormonism. I was so enthralled by all his other posts, I was afraid his exit story would influence me as well. I WANTED to believe in the church. I was making a huge sacrifice by squashing all these gay feelings and staying diligent to the organization I gave two years of my life for, plus many, many hours on Sundays and other random days of the week. I was happy to be a CTR-ring-wearing-Mormon (on the outside.)

Losing the faith

If you've read my blog from the beginning, you've probably noticed a change in my attitude towards my own religion. My negativity for the church and its practices has slowly increased. In the span of three years, I've gone from full activity to the church with callings, to 'taking a break,' to non believing ex-Mormon status. (I have not officially resigned yet, but plan to do so.)  

Shelf breaking

The 'breaking of the shelf' is a term former Mormons use when they realize the church isn't true. I recently came to the conclusion that there's no place in the LDS Church for gay people, but I still needed that extra proof, or icing on the cake. I had to know, through my own research, the church is false. So I went back to the "Why I Left Mormonism" post by Dad's Primal Scream. I read the CES Letter. I read and had healthy discussions with the folks at the ExMormon Reddit forum - who are amazing people, BTW. Each piece of truth about the church slowly broke my shelf - leading me to where I am now - a nonbeliever. Even if I wasn't gay, I feel I'd lose my belief in the church through all the research I've done.

The change in policy was the final straw. It made me so angry. If I were closer to Utah, I would have likely participated in the mass resignation event. Even during my "break," I hoped the church would somehow make nice with us Mohos. (or simply leave us alone.) But no, for every step forward, there were 10 steps back. The church ain't true and they continue to treat gay people like crap  lead gay members to suicide.

I AM DONE.

To the folks at Affirmation/Mormons Building Bridges/Mama Dragons 

I love you all. I really do. I love that you provide a safe haven for LGBT Mormons. I love that there are straight parents defending their gay children. I love that so many of you wore rainbow ties and pins today in connection with Pride month. I love it that you come out in full force of love and support when a Moho gets kicked to the curb by their parents, or even scarier, contemplates suicide. Keep doing what you're doing.

But to those hoping to change the Brethren's mind on how the church treats/accepts gay people, I feel your words are falling on deaf ears. I know in my lifetime, nothing will change. And as we've seen in the past year, it's only gotten worse. To those who remain active AND date someone of the same sex, please choose one and forget the other. (And since my theme of this post has been there's no place in the church for gay people, I think you know where I'm going.)

To the folks at North Star 

We've had a hate/strong dislike relationship over the years. The organization has some amazing members. There are also members who are self-loathing homophobes who are literally poisoning the younger members with their rhetoric. (Oh, you also have a few poster child(ren) who are doing stuff you'd probably not be happy about.) :)

I do love the fact you've slowly separated from People Can Change and other gay conversion therapies. (If I had to come up with one positive thing to say, that would be it.)  But due to your indirect association with Evergreen, you will ALWAYS be seen as the group that tries to convert gay people to straight. Every time an news article is posted about North Star, there's always a comment that suggests, "aren't you guys that group that tries to change gay people to straight and encourage marriage to the opposite sex?"      

In one of my first blog posts, I said a gay man should never marry a woman. I loosened my stance over the years and thought if two people truly love each other, they can do what they want. (And extra bonus points for those in a mixed-orientation marriage who can support those in a same-sex relationship.) Now I don't know what to think. What happens if the gay man married to a straight women (or gay woman married to a straight man) loses the faith like I did? Do they feel stuck in their marriage? What if they realize that gay is OK, and would rather be with someone of the same sex.

I feel North Star got a big kick in the pants after the TLC controversy, and I hope the group continues to disintegrate into oblivion. If you must find support among the LGBT Mormon community, please stick with MBB and Affirmation.

My big F-U to the LDS Church 

This happened in the strangest of all places: My first real date with a guy. All my life, the church hinted homosexuality was wrong, that I wasn't supposed to have these feelings, I should suppress them and just date women. So I did. After so many years of dating the wrong gender, I had my first date with a guy in my 30s. Yes, that's right, in my freakin' 30s. F-U LDS Church.

I felt stuff I never felt before with that first dude date. I had butterflies beforehand. He got to the restaurant before me, and as I walked to the door I thought, 'Can he see me? What does he think of me? Do I look OK? Do my clothes look nice?' I felt comfortable during the date. I was able to be myself. I smiled the whole time. I felt all tingly inside. I enjoyed walking downtown after dinner. I loved chatting. I loved the genuine hug at the end. I thought about him and the date the whole drive home. I was still smiling. I loved his text at the end of the night. I loved thinking about him the next morning. Half my life I dated women, and never had one of these feelings. (In my weeks of contemplating this post, it's this paragraph that makes me the most emotional.)

At times I feel childish to put the blame on the church for keeping me from these tingly feelings. But since Mormonism had such a massive impact on my life, that yes, I do feel it's appropriate to place the blame here. F-U LDS Church.

Family reaction

After coming out as gay, I came out as a nonbeliever of the church. (And you thought coming out of one closet was tough!) Everyone was supportive. Some are active, some aren't. But all gave me the same love and compassion from when I came out as gay. No one told me to 'just read my scriptures and fast and pray and you'll want to go back.' It was basically, 'whatever makes you happy.' Some were surprised I lasted so long in the church. Even straight members think there's no place in the church for gay people.

Happiness 

I have the same feelings now that many ex-Mormons have. Life is so much better outside of the church. Gone is the stress of 3-hour meetings on Sunday and finding time to Home Teach. I now have two whole days to do whatever I want during the weekend. It's nice having that extra 10% back. I loved getting rid of garments. (I've kinda become an underwear snob now!! Makes up for nearly 13 years of wearing the same thing!) I love going out on dates with guys, and not feel the guilt and shame the LDS Church shoved at me all my life. I think it would have been difficult to rid these things "just because I'm gay." Knowing the church is a big lie made it easier (and worth it.)

Through my posts, I've made several references to "wasted time" as I sat on the fence of full LDS involvement and being gay. While I could bitch and complain about all those years of confusion, that doesn't bring me happiness. But looking ahead to the future does.

What now?

I will continue to live my life as a gay ex-Mormon. I used to only feel comfortable around other Moho's or gay ex-Mormons, but my social and dating circle has grown tremendously since leaving the church. It's nice to have conversations with people without bringing up religion.

I will continue to share my story and experiences. And as always, I'm here to chat privately about whatever is on your mind.

But if you're on the fence like I was, don't waste your time. Study the resources I used that led to my disbelief and go from there. You can do it.  

17 comments:

  1. Good on you. I recently came to the same conclusion. Blessed freedom!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey Dan! Just read your last post. Looks like we have a few parallels in our journey.

      It does feel good, doesn't it?

      Delete
  2. So happy for you :) I love it when t all becomes clear in the end... The years of conflict turns into peace. How can anyone contest that peace with this decision! Look forward to seeing your new adventures :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much, friend. I've enjoyed following your journey as well.

      Delete
  3. I found your blog by accident a while ago and have been following since. Welcome to the fold for black sheep. :)

    Really, though, even though I don't know you, I am happy for you. I left as a 31-year-old single. I basically decided a life of celibacy was not for me. It's been two and a half years and quite the difficult, exhilarating, enlightening, and heartbreaking journey.

    I wish you the best as you crest the life you want!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey Jamie! Glad you found the blog. It feels nice to be among the Terrestrial Kingdom peeps. :)

      I'm glad you've found happiness as well, even if we are in our 30's!! Better late than never. I look forward to reading a blog update!

      Delete
  4. Congrats, enjoy every minute. Getting out is really the only option at the end of the day.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Point of curiosity for me. Are you a non-believer in mormonism and think there's some other "true" religion, or are you a non-believer generally (ie. atheist or agnostic)?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm not sure yet. I don't know what to believe. When you label yourself as Mormon for 30 years, only to realize the church isn't true, it's tough to grab onto something else.

      Right now, I'm more agnostic than anything, but check in later as I may have an update. :)

      Delete
  6. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I am glad to hear that you are happier now that you are on the outside of the toxic environment that LGBT people experience in the LDS church. I tried really hard as well to hold on but the new policy broke the shelf as you put it for me as well. I have enjoyed reading your blog posts over the years.

    For me personally I have found a spiritual home in Community of Christ while many others have struck out on there own paths. have recently spoken with a lot of ex-mormons both straight and gay who have had a lot of heartbreak and a lot of pain that led them to leave the LDS church. After leaving though I have found that for me and many others we have found renewed happiness and a greater sense of self worth than when we were in the LDS church. It truly is empowering to finally be authentic. I wish you luck as you embark on this new journey!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Lance! Thanks for the message. I've enjoyed your blog posts as well over the years. (Us Mohos are like family!)

      I'm so happy you've found a new spiritual home. I'm sure it's nice to feel wanted and loved.

      I think I'll be taking a break from all organized religion for awhile, but it's nice to know there are churches out there that accept us for who we are.

      Delete
    2. Thanks! Taking a break is probably a good idea. Time to untangle and experience life on the outside.

      Delete
  8. YAAAAAY!!!!! I just got around to reading this and I can't tell you how happy it made me! Yes. Yes. Yes. All of this. YES!

    I am so happy for you...mostly for that description of your first date. You beautifully laid out that difference between pretend dating and REAL dating with someone you are attracted to. You have to experience it on your own and I'm so happy that you've opened yourself up to that.

    As for the leaving Mormonism part. I hope you are kind with yourself looking back at the time and process it took you. Everyone has their own timing. People need to go through it his/her own way. I'm thrilled and humbled that I was able to participate in some small way in your growth over the last few years. Thank you for saying that.

    I had just read a national news story of my freshman college roommate who is a big player in NYC and who was just honored by The Trevor Project for his and his husband's contribution to the LGBT community. It's never good to compare oneself but I was thinking how I wish I could have a positive impact like that on fellow gay Mormons... and then I read this. Thank you. that's all I need is just one. I'm sure your blog is helping someone out there too.

    I've been a bit absent from my blog lately as life has been a bit normal (meaning I'm doing well at my job, i have my kids 50% of the time, and the gay ex-mormon part of my life plays very little of my day-to-day) and I might have run out of new things to say! I'm not closing it completely. In fact I have a couple of posts in my head waiting for me to write them.

    I hope you'll continue to write and update us on your new authentic life of dating and free Sundays. I read all your posts, even if a bit late. Big hugs and massive kudos to you, my friend.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey! So good to hear from you! Thanks for the update on your life! Glad things are "normal" for you.

      You've definitely had a positive impact on others. I just know it. Even though people may not interact or comment on your posts, I know you're helping those going through the whole gay/Mormon process. As I'm sure you're aware, for every 1,000 page views your blog gets, I bet you get 1-2 comments! Please continue blogging! You'll continue to change the lives of others and help rid homophobia and self-loathing of other Mohos.

      Thanks again for all your guidance, both privately and pubically. You helped with the "shelf-breaking" that so many Exmos talk about.

      We'll be in touch!

      Delete
  9. I'm so delighted for you. You deserve this freedom, finally, especially after the documented, public, honest, searching, open-minded journey you've shared with other people. Really hope (I know it will) that this bigger, better reality you've stepped into brings you all the happiness and fulfillment possible!

    ReplyDelete