After Realizing I Was Gay, I Left My Wife—And the Mormon Church

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I GREW UP in the Church of Jesus Chris of Latter-day Saints (more commonly known as the Mormon church), and that informed how I lived my life and pretty much every choice I made. I knew from fairly early on that I was gay, but my religious environment didn’t allow me to have any kind of healthy exploration of my sexual identity, and there were no other gay people I could talk to. I’d always wanted to be a father, and as far as I was aware, gay dads didn’t even exist. So when I came back from my Mormon mission in 2008 at the age of 21, I married a woman, and we very quickly had two children.

It wasn’t until I was married with kids that the cracks in what I thought I believed started to show, and I took a long hard look at the kind of messages I wanted to be sending to my children. Did I want them to follow a very rigid set of rules set forth by religious and societal expectations? Or did I want them to have the freedom to explore what kind of life they wanted for themselves?

I was still in college at Brigham Young University in Utah when I began grappling with this. One of my classes was in creative writing and critical thinking; I was learning all about logical fallacies, and how to examine rhetoric, and applying those new skills to my own belief system. My worldview crumbled pretty quickly once I began to think about it in this new, more detached way. I was able to see clearly how my own feelings and experiences came into conflict with what the church said about gay people. And once that fell apart, it gave me a lot more freedom to look directly at that part of myself and start to understand what I was feeling.

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