I came out at 38, after 18 years of marriage, 4 kids, and I was a Mormon. I tried conversion therapy in an effort to save my marriage and my soul. Spoiler: didn’t work. I have since embraced my sexuality, healed from the suicidal ideations caused by conversion therapy in 57% of its participants, and have started a nonprofit dedicated to supporting LGBTQ families and their allies.
In March, Brigham Young University (the Mormon school in Utah) declared that they would no longer expel students who engaged in same-sex public behavior as long as they didn’t violate the law of chastity.
Students and professors came out by the hundreds, to their friends and roommates and crushes. Later that same week, Brigham Young University reversed its decision. But you can’t turn back time, all of those people had come out and were now in danger of losing scholarships, jobs, and acceptance.
The next week, the University shut down due to COVID and they were all sent home to their Mormon families. I started receiving messages needing help and support by the dozens.
Things that I suggested for them
- First, dedicate time and energy to getting very real with yourself. Pursue self-awareness like your life depends on it because it does. Coming out requires coming out to yourself first. Understand deeply who you currently are, what is core to you, and what you need to remain emotionally and physically safe. Get to know yourself so you can love yourself. This is paramount.
- From that basis of grounding, you are better equipped to make decisions and move forward. YOU get to decide when you talk about your sexuality and with whom, no matter who you are living with. Develop your personal emotional and physical boundaries. They are valid.
- Write daily. It is crucial to getting to know yourself and in processing your emotions. Your sexuality is grounded in your body, through daily writing you’re going to discover amazing truths via your body.
- I define self-awareness/mindfulness/emotional intelligence as “The ability to intentionally observe our thoughts and actions without judgment.” Explore how you’re judging yourself on the daily. If you’re hearing the word “should” a lot in your head, then you can be sure you’re in a thick cycle of self-judgment.
If you are judging yourself, you are unconsciously giving others permission to do the same. Read that again.
- As you release self-judgment, you will discover all the ways that people are projecting their own self-judgment onto you. You’ll realize they don’t have a problem with YOU, they have a bigot in their head they didn’t even know was there. As you embrace yourself and release your own judgment, you’re giving them permission to do the same and improving your relationship.
- Lastly, find community. Find support. At the very start of quarantine, our nonprofit gathered lots of quotes from loving, supportive people all over the world. “What would you tell someone quarantined in an unsupportive home?” The responses were amazing, you are so loved you don’t even know. Be open to receiving that, wherever it comes from.
- Specifically, we offer a virtual discussion community. We have queer parents of straight kids, queer kids with straight parents, and allies who are just trying to figure out how to help and raise the next generation of allies. We offer scholarships to cover the cost of anyone who wants to join but can’t, so please reach out. Whether you’re a queer teenager, a young adult, or a late bloomer like me, you’re not alone.