I was raised a devout Mormon. Like most Mormons, I believed that homosexuality was a sinful perversion that would not only spiritually bankrupt its practitioners, but would also unravel the very fabric of Western civilization, eventually ushering in the apocalypse and second coming of Jesus Christ.
How’s that for a gay agenda?
It wasn’t until college that I began questioning my church’s historic crusade against LGBTQ rights. Though I maintained a personal belief that homosexuality was wrong, I realized that true religious freedom required the separation of church and state.
It would be an infringement of my religious freedom for orthodox Jews to nationally enforce the Law of Moses. It would be an infringement of my religious freedom for fundamentalist Muslims to nationally impose Sharia Law.
Why then was it okay for me, a Mormon, to impose my religious views of marriage on people who didn’t share my faith?
Around the same time, I began a deep study of the church’s history which ultimately resulted in my departure from the LDS church in May 2015, a month before gay marriage was legalized in the United States.
People who haven’t grown up in a high-demand religion simply can’t understand how deeply it gets ingrained in your psyche. It’s not just a church you attend on weekends or holidays; it’s your entire sense of identity and purpose.
Leaving the church was the hardest thing I ever did, but it ended up being the greatest gift I ever received because it allowed me to start life over with new eyes. I got the chance to reevaluate EVERYTHING, including my strict heterosexuality.
Growing up, I was never conscious of any sexual attraction to men (for which I am grateful. The guilt I felt over my heterosexual inclinations were more than enough). I knew there was a small minority of males to whom I felt a distinct compulsion, but I was too repressed to even consider a sexual element.
When I gave up the notion that homosexuality was evil, I had no reason not to explore those feelings. If I didn’t like it, then there was no harm; I could just stick to women. If I enjoyed it, then I could open the door to more opportunity than I previously had.
When the time finally came, I perceived just how much of my aversion to males had been culturally conditioned. When my mind stopped caring about socially constructed gender prescriptions, my body did too. I felt love. I felt pleasure. Just like I did with women.
Does that make me gay? Kind of, but I’m not comfortable with that label because it seems to suggest I’m only into males. Am I bisexual then? Yes, but not if it indicates a 50/50 attraction to males and females. So if I’m not straight and I’m not gay, what am I?
I choose to identify as queer. I recognize that sexuality is a spectrum, and “queer” allows me to explain my position on that spectrum without resorting to rigid binary structures.
Queer isn’t just out of the closet, it’s out of the box. Queer isn’t concerned with fitting in but finding out. It’s explorative not prescriptive.
People choose different labels for different reasons. I’m not saying one is better than another. “Queer” just suits me. It’s sort of a label-less label that leaves things open to evolving perspective. And if there’s one thing I learned from starting life over, it’s that my perspective is always evolving.