Coming Out of the Closet Again Now as a Church Member

June is here and with the month came a flood of color. Everywhere I look, there are rainbows. I started reflecting on my relationship with LGBTQIA+ Pride and how my relationship with the month of celebration has changed over the years.

From the outside, I appear as a cishet (cis: living as the sex my body was born (female), het: heterosexual) woman who is an active member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but you don't see the other parts. I have not been wearing my Pride resume publicly, but there isn't a June I don't remember all of my connections to the celebration.

I was still a child when I first had a relationship with another woman. I was 13; she was 17; I taught her to read. Reading was my passion, her frustration. We found commiseration within the words of steamy novels that lit more than our desire to read.

Two years later, I fell in head over heels in love. Everyone has their first love, and this was no different. Yet, it was. My family was so confused when I made a point to "come out of the closet" as bisexual when they all thought my new partner was male! This is the first time I'm letting his secret out of our closet: he was intersex. I am currently writing a long-form story about our relationship together. I realized recently I'm the only one left to tell the story of us since he committed suicide in 1991.

At the young age of 17, I wrote an extensive report for a class I was taking in high school, titled "Homosexuality in Teenage America" which included my own story as well as information about the Kinsey scale. It was 1984.

In June 1986, four months after the birth of my second son whose conception was the result of a rebuttal relationship from a woman I was dating, I cut off all my hair except a rattail. I spent the night with a group of friends and my infant and toddler boys, then we all marched in the Seattle Gay Pride March the next day.

I finished high school, then started community college in my hometown. Like so many other students, a group of my friends and myself got together to create a club for all students. Ours was the first LGB+ club in South Puget Sound Community College's history, we named it, "Three Points and Beyond." This was 1988.

In 1989, I married a man. He and I were married for over 20 years before I walked away. During that time, our relationship was polyamorous, him having known about my bisexuality before we were married. I entertained several relationships with many people of many genders during those years.

After my first divorce, again, I did not relegate my dating to my own gender. I dated very few people and had even fewer relationships, but there was never a pre-determined gender for my romantic interests. But after an abusive relationship with another man, I hit my knees then took a spiritual sabbatical that would find me being Baptized into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

It was in the context of my Baptismal Interview that I first was made to feel ashamed of my past relationships. Yes, I had already studied the Family Proclamation with the missionaries and had made a decision to keep my future relationships heterosexual internally, but I had never been confronted with my past until that point.

Question #4 of my baptismal interview for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was this, "Have you ever committed a serious crime? If so, are you now on probation or parole? Have you ever participated in an abortion? Have you ever committed a homosexual transgression?"

I was taken aback. The young man opposite me apparently expected me, the 46-year-old woman across from him to give a quick "no" as I had properly answered the three previous questions so we could move on to the next one. I remember freezing for a moment, allowing myself to process the fact that my relationships with women were now considered as serious transgressions against a God I loved with all of my heart. Meekly, I answered in the affirmative.

He actually didn't hear my quiet "yes," and had to ask me to repeat myself, "I said yes."

The look on his face was the first time I had felt that type of shame. He had not been one of the missionaries who had taught me; those had been Sisters. He said something about a "white card interview" and quickly mentioned that they would now have to schedule me to interview with the Mission President.

The days between the two interviews were filled with self-disgust, shame, and prayer. I prayed to know what the God I loved with all my heart would have me do.

When the time to meet with the Mission President came, I was a mess. He asked me the same questions. I repeated my answers. He asked me if I felt repentant. I stated that I did, the Spirit witnessing my shame and bruised knees from hours in prayer and tears.

The overwhelming remaining feeling was confusion. After all, I felt so much more ashamed about the adultery I had committed than my relationships with women. Either way, I decided to stick to the plan...the Family Proclamation plan.

My baptism was wonderful. I cried when I was confirmed and received a certificate that stated I was now a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; I felt like I was spiritually home.

Within a year, I was married to a friend who was also a member of The Church. He misrepresented his standing in the church; I didn't find out until 3 months into our marriage that he was never ordained. It was the first of many frauds and crimes he was to perpetrate against me. Our divorce was final one day before our third anniversary.

Since my second divorce, I have been single. The only type of relationship that I've even attempted to embark upon was a deep friendship with a man on a different continent with no ability to travel who I communicated with online. I am a trauma survivor, and I am working on me.

About a month ago, I began communicating online with a gentleman who had read one of my blog posts about my faith. He was also a writer and had written a book. "Is He Nuts?: Why a Gay Man Would Become a Member of the Church of Jesus Christ."

Dennis and I became quick friends, sharing similar pasts and both understanding that every convert to The Church has a past. But the same still, small voice that first brought me to The Church was now encouraging me to be honest with myself and God about my own feelings. I was also impressed that I needed to "come out." That being stated, here it goes.

I have several sides to myself, as I've opened up in previous articles. In no preferential order, the identities within my body identify as lesbian, genderqueer, bisexual, polyromantic, and cishet. We have all, as a system and as people sharing one body, concluded the best identity for us at this time is an agreed asexual. I am not currently in any relationship and am not interested in one with anyone.

I have many wonderful and close friendships with people of all types all over the world. I have an amazing therapist. I also have 52 years of a traumatic lifetime to recover from. I do that with my therapist, and my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. I worship my Heavenly Father at my local ward of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

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