Dear Mom and Dad,
I love you. Thank you for being the best parents you could be and for loving me. Thank you for supporting me during some very tough and difficult times during my life. My mission and my time at BYU were both incredibly challenging at times and I appreciate your love and compassion. Honestly, there were seemingly countless times I wanted to leave BYU or come home from my mission but your love and support were often all that kept me out. Thank you for that.
Moving forward, I hope as you read this letter and as we work through the next stage of my life, I hope you will continue to know how much I love you. None of us are perfect and there have been times throughout my life that have been challenging for all of us. I’m sure in the future we will face additional challenges, too, but I hope and pray that we will be able to work through them and only grow in our love and support for each other.
It has always been my intention and desire to have this conversation, in its entirety, in person but I don’t trust myself to effectively share all that I have in my heart and in my mind. I hope that this letter answers many of your questions and responds to some of your concerns.
I have prayerfully considered my future over the last several years and, as I have become more honest with myself and with God, I believe it’s now time to be more honest with you, too. Mom and Dad, I am gay. Both of you have made what you think about homosexuals abundantly clear. I know you believe it’s a choice and a fad but I promise you that it is not. Why would I, or anyone else for that matter, choose to jeopardize relationships with family and friends, risk being cut off and ostracized by their church and congregation, or settle for living and being treated as a second-class citizen? If I could have chosen to change, I would have more than a decade ago.
In fact, I have tried for the last 15 years to change who I am and who I’m attracted to but I can’t. I have spent a small fortune on counseling and medication to try and “fix” myself. I dated women religiously and spoke with church leaders and studied everything the church had on the subject and the answers were always the same: read my scriptures more, go to the temple more, go to seminary, go to BYU, go on a mission, date lots of nice, Mormon girls, and everything will work out. I was told that this was just like any other trial and that by my faith I could be healed.
Well, I did all of these things and, as nothing changed, I began to believe that it would be better for me to kill myself rather than subject you, my parents, to the pain and shame of having a gay son. I have tried to commit suicide twice (nearly succeeding the first time) and I still consider death as an option on an almost daily basis. It is no way to live and I can’t do it any longer.
But, like I said, I have been doing a lot of praying and fasting and I have come to the conclusion that I am who I am and that God is okay with that. I am tired of beating myself up for something I didn’t choose. I’m tired of feeling like a failure because I cannot change who I am. And finally, I’m tired of hiding who I am from you and from everyone else.
I’m sure one of the biggest questions you have right now is how this is affecting my relationship with the church. Truthfully, most of the pain and suffering I have felt and dealt with over the last decade has been a direct result of ignorant members and leaders in the church saying painful, ignorant things. I can only be called psychologically handicapped, broken, unworthy, and an “enemy to the family” so many times before I start to feel angry, bitter, and abandoned – and that is where I’m at right now.
As I have worried about telling you this part of my life, I have wondered how you would react and what you would think. I’ll be honest, none of the scenarios seem to end very well in my head. Regardless of how things play out from this point forward, though, I want you to know that I am still me. You raised me with a strict moral compass and I have done my best to live by it my entire life. I have a firm understanding of what is right and what is wrong and I strive every day to treat others with respect and compassion. I am not a lascivious person and I am committed to being a positive influence in others’ lives. I just hope you remember that I am still the little boy and man you have loved for the last 27 years. I am still all of the good things you have always known, I am just letting you into my life and being more honest with you – something I wish I had done years ago.
Part of me hopes this is something you’ve been guessing at or suspecting for awhile. Then again, maybe I’m a better actor than I thought and this has all come as a blind shock, I don’t know. All I do know is that I have become a much happier person over the last few months as I have begun to accept who I am.
I want to be authentic and the only way for me to do that is by sharing all of myself with you. I know this is going to be difficult for you. I know you, like all parents, have hopes and dreams for me and that many of those dreams may now be shattered. I’m sorry for challenging your expectations and dreams for me but I can’t apologize for who I am anymore. I have given everything I have to change and invested everything I could into the church and its promise for change and yet here I am, still me, still unchanged. I have given so much that my ‘well’ is now empty; I have no more to give.
I am rebuilding myself from the ground up and I want you (all of the family) in my life. I hope that can happen. Let me know when you want to and are ready to talk about this. I know it is going to be difficult for all of us.
I love you,