I was born and raised in the LDS church, like my parents and their parents before them and their parents before them. My ancestors were original Mormon pioneer polygamists, married in the first Nauvoo temple. They settled Farmington, UT and helped to create the church’s primary program. I was proud of my heritage, proud of their stories of overcoming persecution to secure God’s one true church. We were God’s chosen children. I had a legacy to live up to. I strived to be a shining example of Christ so that others can see his light and come to know him as I knew him. My purpose was laid out for me: build God’s kingdom and help his lost children learn of Christ’s atoning sacrifice. I was a child of God. The church was everything. It was my reason for existing and it saturated in every facet of my life.
We had all the answers, but somehow, I still found myself alone in the dark corners of my mind trying to make sense of why everything that was seemingly so righteous felt so painful. My mom taught me that everything works itself out in the next life, that all things are revealed on God’s timeline. But I couldn’t understand how there could be so much suffering in this life. How long were people to endure their hardships? How long was I going to live in this dark and painful place? Men are that they might have joy, so the scriptures say. But joy isn’t what I was seeing or experiencing. Abuse was everywhere and each time I inquired about it, I was reminded families are forever, no matter what. God has a plan for every soul, for the worth of souls is great in the eyes of God. But if God is truly a good and just God, why is he allowing abusive men to be in positions of power? Abusers will be judged in the next life, but shouldn’t they also be accountable in this one? I couldn’t reconcile the feelings I had around the hypocrisy I witnessed.
Then homosexuality took center stage. It isn’t a choice so why are we expecting LGBT people to change who they are? And why are members so concerned with laws around gay marriage of people who are not members? My brother insisted it is our responsibility as Mormons to uphold God’s law in the land, but I didn’t feel comfortable dictating other people’s choices. My loud refusal to subject non-believers to my version of God has forever tainted my familial relationships.
When my own 4-yr-old child started to express their gender outside the binary, I paid close attention to how the church treats their LGBT members. I prayed the church could accept them as they are. My prayers were answered in an unexpected way – the church created the November policy in 2015: the children of gay couples are to be excluded until they disavow their parents. All I could see in this policy was blatant manipulative spiritual abuse with intent to control. My child is not safe here. I couldn’t go back after that. The church and its members no longer have my support.
It's been 7 years since I left and I have had more positive growth in those 7 years than the previous 30. My transition out started with therapy for the sexual abuse I experienced as a child at the hands of my brother. My 10-year monogamous marriage transitioned to consensual non-monogamy. I’ve embraced my pansexuality and now allow myself to enjoy attraction to people across the gender spectrum. Everyday I wake up with a desire to be present in each moment; self-aware of my reactions and triggers. I can participate in my connections and community with more honesty and compassion. Everyday I seek human connection, discovering beautiful ways to feel alive in this one life I get. There is beauty all around after all, it just took breaking from their cage for me to see it.