A gay guy has revealed what it is like to be brought up in the extremely conservative Mormon church.
Sam was engaged to a woman before realizing he was gay at 22 years old.
For Digital Pride, Tag Warner sat down with Sam to discuss his upbringing.
Watch: ‘What is it like to grow up as gay in the Mormon church?’
‘I knew there was something different,’ he said. ‘I was engaged – I honestly thought I was straight. But there was something different.’
Because homosexuality is seen as such a grave sin in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, he repressed it.
‘It was something I couldn’t cope thinking about,’ he said.
‘I must’ve been about 16 when I thought, “maybe I’m gay”.’
He added: ‘I repressed it straight away. I felt like I couldn’t talk about it with anyone.’
Unlike many young men raised in the church, Sam chose not to serve a two-year mission.
The mission, served with a companion that you must spend 24 hours a day with, involves preaching to communities with the hopes of converting them to the church.
But Sam, who was coming into his sexuality, then left 10 months before he was due to be married.
‘Real happiness is in the future.’
‘I dealt with anxiety for a huge amount of time,’ he said. ‘There was nothing in its place.’
He did add there were positives to his experience. He said he is now more tolerant.
When asked why the Mormon missionaries appear so good-looking in their shirts, ties and name badges, he said there is a joke that the ‘spirit makes you handsome’.
It also might to do with the idea missionaries are encouraged to work out, and are banned from masturbation, coffee, tea, smoking, drugs and alcohol.
Giving advice, Sam said: ‘If you’re not happy, change it. Your family might hate you for a little bit or for a long time. But real happiness is in the future.’
Members of the church must agree, at their baptismal interview, to remain chaste, never enter into a homosexual relationship and marriage is between a man and a woman. Any child of same-sex parents are banned from receiving a blessing unless they ‘specifically disavow the practice of same-gender cohabitation and marriage’.
LDS members also famously bankrolled a lot of the campaign for Proposition 8, the law that banned same-sex marriage in California.