From an early age Chad was aware of God’s plan for him, though he never anticipated the journey he would take to find what the Atonement would mean in his life and how things would play out. Chad finds that the best journey is the one most unexpected. During his life he has been faced with many trials. Same-sex attraction is one that he has found to be a great blessing in his life. During his journey he found his wife Leah. They are so happy through their journey together; Chad has woken up every day thanking God for his wife, and together they have two children. Chad is a huge fan of music. He grew up singing and dancing. Earlier this year, he gave up his status as an eternal freshman and received his license to sell insurance. Despite everything he has been through in his life Chad has always remembered one thing, God does not make mistakes. As events in his life have happened he has learned to turn to the Lord and find the peace the Atonement brings. He knows that the Church is true and that no matter what may come God will always be there for him and his children. Chad loves the Lord and will do anything that He asks.
I have always been more into the arts than sports. I hated camping and even got my Eagle Scout award at 13 just so I would never have to go on another campout. When I was in elementary school I was attracted to girls and enjoyed kissing them, which usually got me into trouble. I became aware of my same-sex feelings in middle school, which is when my whole life changed.
Middle school was a confusing time for me—you know the whole puberty thing, and new kids. I remember I had some bullying in elementary school but nothing like when I went to middle school. A lot of what they were saying did not really bother me until I had a teacher start to take interest in me. He would call me after school to talk about what I liked to do and my interests and my family. At that time my brother was getting ready to leave on his mission and my uncle and his family moved in with us; there was a ton going on and I just kind of blended in.
I should have realized what was happening but I was not getting a lot of attention at home, so I enjoyed the conversations we had. I remember the first time he asked me to sit on is lap. I thought the request was odd but it did not make me think that I was in any trouble. The next time, though, I knew something was up; he started touching me in inappropriate places over my clothes and telling me that this was normal, that all men at some point have this happen to them and how lucky was I that I was getting this sort of attention now when I was young. I was so naïve I just believed him—until I was out on the schoolyard and someone came up to me and said that I was gay and that my mother would never love someone like me. I barely made it to the bathroom before tears came streaming down my face. I knew at that moment that what my teacher was doing to me was wrong. And I was determined to make it stop.
When I went to see him after school I tried to tell him I was done and that this was wrong. And that is when he told me that not only would he not stop, he would tell the whole school that I was gay. I knew that the bullying would worsen and that I would become more of an outcast than I already was at school and at church. I was so turned upside down with this that I allowed my teacher to continually abuse me because I believed the things he told me: that he loved me for me, that he would take care of me, that he would soon take me away from my family who could never love what I had become. I remember the day that someone from church came up to me and said that he had just defended me from someone calling me gay. I went to the bathroom and cried, not because I was upset but because someone had shown me love.
That afternoon my teacher wanted to do something I felt completely unready for and I fought him. I refused to the point that I was making so much noise he dismissed me. I walked home feeling empty and completely alone. I was scared for anyone to know what had been going on and that he was giving me special treatment in class with my grades. I vowed that no one could know what had happened. This, of course, caused a hole in my life that needed to be filled. And that is when I turned to pornography. I began to look at straight porn and when that did not work I turned to gay porn. Porn seemed to fill that hole, so I began to be a little bit more risky with when I looked at it. It was no more in the middle of the night; it was in broad daylight when my mom was in the kitchen cooking or when she was out visiting teaching.
One day my sister caught me looking at porn. I was terrified, and I did not want her to tell anyone about what I was doing because I believed that I needed pornography to fill the hole left from my teacher. I will never forget talking to my sister and hearing her tell me she loved me and that she would not tell mom and dad what I was doing but that she encouraged me to tell them. She said to me that mom and dad would love me no matter what, and I wanted so badly to believe that. So I marched right down stairs. I asked my parents if we could talk. I think they knew something was wrong when I sat there in silence and my chin started to quiver. I wanted so badly to tell them everything: that I had sinned so bad that God would never forgive me. Instead, all that came out was I have been looking at porn.
I am not sure why but one of them asked what kind, and then I had to face the fact that I had been looking at gay porn and that I was attracted to men. I wanted to die right there; I wanted there to be an earthquake and hide me from God and my parents. I, of course, went to see the bishop and had to go through disciplinary action. But those meetings with the bishop gave me strength in a way that I had never thought possible. There was the one question he kept asking me over and over and over and that was “why gay porn?” I just kept telling him I wanted to know what would look like when I got older, and I avoided the fact that I was attracted to men. I was so ashamed by what had happened that not being able to take the sacrament or participate in priesthood duties took its toll; I began to feel isolated from my quorum, from my leaders, and from God. I started to feel super depressed about my standing with God.
I remember one night I was called into my parents’ bedroom to talk to them about what I was doing. Every time we talked I just felt worse about myself and more distant from my parents. This particular night my father had been pushing me to say something; I was in tears, and I could just get out, “I…I…I…think”; then my mom yelled “What, you think you’re gay?!” and proceeded to give me the birds and the bees talk about how two men have sex. I just cried; I was about to tell them everything in my mind. Instead, what happened was my mother telling me she could not love me if I did those things. What I understand now that I could not then was that my mother loved me so much that she was concerned that I would not be able to live with her in the eternities. I left that meeting with my parents lonelier than I had ever felt before.
I went up to my room and prayed the first prayer I had offered in a long time. I told God that I was sorry, that I understood that I could be forgiven for looking at porn but that I could never be forgiven for what had happened with my teacher. I pleaded with him to change his mind, to fix me, to forgive me of my feelings and make me like women again. That night as I went to bed I felt two arms around me; that was the first of many nights I felt my Savior in my life.
As time went by I was forgiven and allowed to participate in priesthood duties and to take the sacrament. I remember one Sunday we had a combined young men’s and young women’s lesson in church. It was a testimony meeting. We were about to close and my bishop kept looking at me. I knew I was supposed to bear my testimony of the Atonement but I was scared because I had not been forgiven for what my teacher had done to me and I was still attracted to men. But I also knew that I had developed a relationship with God and that I had promised him that I would do whatever he asked of me.
I got up and bore my testimony of the Atonement. I am sure some people thought I was being touched by the spirit because I was crying uncontrollably. The truth was that as I bore my testimony I just knew God would never forgive me, I just knew I had lost the chance to return home to live with him forever. I was crying because I thought I had lost my eternal salvation. And because of that moment I began to pull away from my family; I no longer wanted a relationship with them because I would not be with them in the eternities.
Over time I learned how to hide what I was really feeling and to put on a happy face for everyone. Inside I was in turmoil: I was attracted to men and I had done things with a man that caused me to lose my eternal reward. When I became a priest I was called to serve as the first assistant. During that time I became very self-critical about my same-sex attraction. I became depressed and suicidal, and I wanted nothing more than to die and be erased form everyone's memories. At the next fireside I went to the bishop and told him how I was feeling. For the first and last time I asked to be released. I served two more months and continued to ignore my feelings.
A Mighty Change
My parents surprised me with a senior trip to Youth for Excellence, and that year it happened to be in Palmyra. We went to learn about the gospel and to grow. At that time I had decided that my same-sex feelings would prevent me from going on a mission and that God did not want me to serve. How wrong I was. I had many spiritual experiences but the one I remember the most was a confirmation that I needed to serve a mission. When I got home I began to prepare, all the while just ignoring that I had same-sex attraction. When I opened my call I was so excited to go and serve the people of Baltimore.
When I got into the field I was shocked to have a conversation with my trainer. He said that when we met the spirit had told him that I dealt with same-sex attraction. He was the first person I had ever told that I was in fact attracted to men. I was confused as to why this was important, but then I met a young lady who was a lesbian. We taught her the gospel, and I knew she knew it was true. The only thing she could not do was break up with her girlfriend. I cried the day she stopped seeing us. I cried because if she could not do it, what hope was there for me?
I served for six months before coming home for medical reasons. One day I asked my companion to give me a blessing. It was the most beautiful blessing I have ever received, and it gave me hope that I could be forgiven for being molested. I had surgery a few days later to remove my appendix and was in the hospital for a while after that. I know one night that the Savior was watching over me; I felt safe and hopeful.
When I was released from the hospital self-doubt and self-criticism crept in. My world was upside down once more. I needed control. My same-sex feelings were all I could think about, and I felt awful for having them. I began to stop eating all except for the meals that members would fix or take us to. I lost 40 pounds and had more health problems occur, so I was sent home. While now I can see that this was the right decision at the time I saw it as another punishment. I once again knew that I was not good enough for the Lord.
Once home I was honorably released and went live with my sister in Springville. There I began seeing a therapist and taking antidepressants. This was not helping; I was still struggling and I hated my therapist. During that time I decided it was time to tell my parents. So I called one of them up and I point blank told them I had same-sex attraction. To be honest I cannot remember what this person said. I do, however, remember when I told the whole family. Not one of my better ideas because I told all of them on the night before my sister’s wedding and it kind of started a family fight. I just knew that this was an issue that would tear my family apart and it was all my fault.
I later moved out of my sister’s house and into an apartment in Provo. I got a management job at a retail shop and I decided to put everything behind me and start fresh. The problem was at work guys began to hit on me and I could not ignore how it was making me feel. All the while in my singles ward I was trying to date girls and get married but nothing was clicking. Then one day a man came into the store and gave me attention I did not like. I tried to avoid him at all costs. After work I had to walk my associate to her car as she did not park in the designated parking spots. On the way to my car I saw what I thought was a man in need, who happened to be the same guy I was trying to avoid all night.
I decided that I needed to be charitable. I went to help him jump his car, only that was not what he wanted. He had locked the other side of the car and trapped me in his back seat where he proceeded to beat and rape me. When he was done violating me he shoved me, naked, out of his car, pointed a gun at me, and told me he knew where I lived and he would come find me and kill me. I was terrified. I drove home and just prayed that none of my roommates were up. I got home, showered, climbed into my bed, and curled into a ball and cried. How could this have happened again—and on the anniversary of the day I had entered the MTC, just a year ago?
I was scared. I needed someone to confide in. Eventually I went to two of my roommates and began telling them my story, leaving out that I had been raped. I told them that I had had sex with a man and that I was nervous that I had gotten a sexually transmitted disease. I flat out let them believe that I had sinned rather then tell them the painful truth. Thankfully, I found out I had no disease.
After I was raped it took me a long time to reconnect with the Lord. I was very upset with him for allowing that to happen to me. I remember one day sitting in my apartment so distraught at having same-sex attraction and being molested and raped, thinking that God did not care for me. I wanted so desperately to feel love and know that these things were really for my benefit and good. I turned to the scriptures and read Doctrine and Covenants 45:3-5. At that time I didn't understand that the things that happened to me were not my sins. And when I read these verses I was filled with hope that one day I could be made whole and that I could live with my Heavenly Father again. I felt his love for me for the first time in a very long time. I continued to go to church and do my best at living the gospel. I moved from Provo to Logan where I once again started to lose faith that I would be married and that I could ever move past my same-sex feelings.
I once again tried to stuff my feelings away and just ignore them. The breaking point came when I was at my aunt’s with my family. My dad pinched my butt; this sent me over the edge and I smacked him upside the head before I could even stop myself. I grabbed my things and left while my family was trying to talk to me. All the way back to home I cried. I knew this meant that I could not just stuff my feelings and my trauma.
The first person who knew that I had been raped was my aunt who I was living with. I told her what had happened. She was in the kitchen and stopped what she was doing and just held me and told me it was going to be okay. After that I told my therapist. It was really the first time someone had told me that I had not sinned that I had done no wrong in God’s eyes. He counseled me to read a talk by Elder Scott called “To Heal the Shattering Consequences of Abuse.” As I read the talk this paragraph resonated with me:
“If you have been abused, Satan will strive to convince you that there is no solution. Yet he knows perfectly well that there is. Satan recognizes that healing comes through the unwavering love of Heavenly Father for each of His children. He also understands that the power of healing is inherent in the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Therefore, his strategy is to do all possible to separate you from your Father and His Son. Do not let Satan convince you that you are beyond help.”
I read that and had the realization that my whole life I had believed a lie from the Father of Lies, that my self-doubt and self-criticism were destroying what relationship I could have with my Father in Heaven. I knelt down and began to pray. I asked that God would forgive me for not coming to him when he had been hoping that I would. I asked for help because I knew that the journey in front of me was going to be an uphill battle.
While the abuse was beginning to be addressed and healing was staring to take place I still had same-sex feelings that needed to be addressed. I had Ty Mansfield’s book In Quiet Desperation and while it brought me some comfort I still struggled to be okay with what I was feeling. I was still working in retail, I was still being hit on, and I was still not attracted to girls.
At that point I found myself asking for blessings regularly. I wanted to believe that my patriarchal blessing was right, that I could have an eternal family. And that is when I met the most beautiful woman I had ever seen. She was dating my best friend at the time and I was introduced to her in the Logan Institute East Chapel, third row from the front. I knew that I wanted to be with her always. She was currently taken, so for months I dated around and tried to find a reason to spend time with her. So I allowed her to set me up and go on double dates with them.
There was a day that I was struggling with my same-sex feelings and I called her boyfriend and asked if he could help my brother-in-law give me a blessing. She drove him to the house, and she was going to wait in the car. I knew that she needed to know and that if I waited I would not tell her, so I invited her up where I proceeded to tell her what the blessing was for. Her reaction was okay, so I felt good about it. After that day I really wanted to spend more time with her but, with her in a relationship it was not easy.
When they broke up it was two days before my 21st birthday. I waited a month; it was spring break and I had just gotten some new outfit. I called Leah; I wanted to ask her on a date, but I think it came out something like, “Hey Leah, I'm bored; do you want to do something today?” And she said yes. I was so excited so we went downtown and went ring shopping for her and her ex then went to her apartment and had pizza.
You would think that ring shopping would deter me from pursuing her, but it just made me want to date her more. We went to the Jordan River Temple—Leah and I and her ex. At the time she mentioned she really wanted to get back with her ex, and I was kind of interested in another girl—but not really. It was in the temple with Leah that I was told very strongly that I would marry her. I asked her ex if I could formally ask Leah on a date. He said yes, so I went for it. By April we were very serious; I knew that I wanted to marry her and I knew that she was going to be my wife.
In late April one of Leah’s sisters was visiting from out of town, so we went to their cabin so I could meet her. At this point Leah and I had talked and we were not going to tell anybody in her family that I had same-sex attraction until after we were married. The Lord obviously had other plans. While we were there, one of Leah’s sisters-in-law had been told by one of my ex-girlfriends that I dealt with same sex attraction. Being the good sister that she was, the next morning when Leah went out to get some milk she went with her to talk to her and make sure I had told her that I had this trial. I remember her coming back and I am pretty sure we left before we had a chance to eat breakfast.
When she told me what had happened I was not too concerned until she said that we needed to tell her whole family and her parents. I was terrified and heartbroken at the same time. I loved Leah and I wanted to be with her for eternity, but I knew that when her dad heard about my same-sex attraction that I would not be allowed to marry her. I lost all hope that I would ever be able to marry anyone. I began to spiral into a depression and I was struggling to keep my head above the despair I was feeling. To this day I cannot remember why my parents were visiting my aunt, I just remember calling my father and asking him to give me a blessing like I had done so many times before with others. I cannot remember what my father said in the blessing, just that the Lord was aware of my wants and desires and he would not allow my righteous desires to be taken away from me.
At that time I was still unsure if Leah would marry me but I knew if this was right like I felt it was that hearts would be softened and that the Lord would provide a way. Both of us had been fasting and praying fervently the day Leah told her mom. I also fasted and prayed on the day that I asked her father for her hand in marriage. I remember that conversation well; we had only met once over Skype, as they were serving a mission n Nauvoo. As he talked to me he spoke to me about the Atonement and bore his testimony about the gospel. Those words were what I needed to hear at that time, and I could feel his love for me. I am not sure if my father-in-law understands same-sex attraction but I do know that he understands how to love unconditionally; he loved me even before I married his daughter.
Leah and I were engaged the second week in May and planned to marry in September. Our wedding day was the happiest day of my life. When we were sealed together for time and eternity we both giggled the spirit was so strong. I was so happy.
Discovery During Adversity
Up until this moment in my life I believed that God would never forgive me and that he would not allow me to be happy. Our wedding day was a brief moment that God used to show me that even in adversity we could be happy. I am very happy that he did this because a month after we were married I was diagnosed with PTSD from the trauma I had suffered. Our marriage was turned upside down. It was also during this time that I began to develop bipolar disorder.
When we got married I really believed that I could share this burden of same-sex attraction, but to be honest I had no clue how. To make matters worse during my manic phases I desired connection with men. This led to inappropriate conversations with some men. That led to me feeling more depressed. Mainly because I was undiagnosed I had no clue that there was anything wrong with me mentally. Being bipolar is not an excuse; it was just another piece of the puzzle. My depression began to spiral out of control. I finally decided to check myself into the hospital where I was officially diagnosed with bipolar disorder. It was such a relief to have a name to what I was going through.
This, however, did not solve the problem of me learning to share this burden with my wife. I remember after my second trip to the hospital just crying and asking my wife “Why me? Why this trial?” I don’t know if she knew what I was referring to but for me the hardest thing in my life was same-sex attraction. When my wife found my current counselor I was relieved to finally have a therapist who I got along with and who was not going to tell me to just be gay. He began to help me heal from the abuse, and when that happened there was a void in my life as I felt a huge part of my life become smaller. This made me face my same-sex feelings head on. I became very critical of myself; I could no longer ignore the fact that I had no clue how to do this.
I spiraled out of control and began to attempt suicide. The second attempt my wife came home while I was in the process and was inspired to inform my therapist, who asked me to be emotionally authentic while in the hospital. The first few days I was very angry with Leah that she had put me in this place. As they began to stabilize my medication something in me changed. I finally realized that Leah loved me for me, which included my same-sex attraction, and that she had been going to group and was willing and able to share the burden that I was feeling. Upon my release from the hospital I began to share with her my life and the things I have gone through. She was there for me and showed me that she has always been willing to help me from the very beginning.
There I a song which I feel describes my journey in my relationship with God. The song, "Broken," by Kenneth Cope is as follows:
Broken clouds give rain
Broken soil grows grain
Broken bread feeds man for one more day
Broken storms yield light
The break of day heals night
Broken pride turns blindness into sight
Broken souls that need His mending
Broken hearts for offering
Could it be that God loves broken things?
Broken chains set free
Broken swords bring peace
Broken walls make friends of you and me
To break the ranks of sin
To break the news of Him
To put on Christ till His name feels broken in
Broken souls that need His mending
Broken hearts for offering
I believe that God loves broken things
And yet, our broken faith, our broken promises
Sent love to the cross
And still, that broken flesh, that broken heart of His
Offers us such grace and mercy
Covers us with love undeserving
This broken soul that cries for mending
This broken heart for offering
I’m convinced that God loves broken me
Praise His name—my God loves broken things
So, broken cloud—Give rain
And broken soil—Grow grain
And broken bread—Feed man for one more day
For most of my life I did as God asked, not understanding that my soul was broken by what I had been though. When I studied the scriptures I could only think that the Atonement covered just part of what had happened. As life began to unfold and God’s plan became clear I could see his wisdom. When I thought I had lost my eternal salvation I was so devastated, and yet it is that feeling that taught me that I have agency and that I didn’t have to feel that way again.
Though the world has told me that what I have chosen will never last and that I am lying to myself, it is the Lord who is standing at the door, letting me know that no matter how broken my soul is he loves me and he has faith in me and my wife: faith that we will make it and that we will return to live with him. I look back on my life and I see a wonderful journey into Christ’s loving arms, and I would not trade my trials and struggles for anything. They are what brought this broken soul to Christ.
4 Nov, 2016
Thank you so much for sharing your journey. I am a BYU student who struggles with same-sex attraction, and it's hard not to feel like an outsider. I am so sorry that anyone would ever do those things to you. I am so grateful that you are still here to share your story and help others like us. Thank you. :)