A few weeks ago my brother was talking with someone in my home ward in syracuse and was asked "so what are we supposed to ASSUME about Jaron....." (in refrence to my sexuality). Thats when I realized that I never really OFICIALLY came out of the closet... i just sort of assumed everyone knew. So this blog is my thoughts on my sexuality and my "coming out" story for those who have never heard it.
I have known I was gay since I can remember. When I was young I never really could put a name to it but I knew I was different. Then in my later elementary years kids started mocking me by calling me GAY and even though it hurt... I realized they were right! Ever since that point I made it my number 1 priority to keep my sexualitiy secret. I was convinced that if anyone found out about it my life would be over.
Like most closeted homosexuals, I hated myself in my through jr high and high school years because of my secret. I saw nothing but pain in my future. In my mind, if i came out of the closet I would be disowned by my family and friends and have to run away from Utah. But if I stayed in the closet I would be expected to serve a mission and marry a woman which was also not a very appealing choice. So I decided around the age of 12 or 13 that I would kill myself before I turned 19 so that I wouldn't ever have to tell anyone my secret or live through the torture that would be my future. I stuck to that plan for a very long time and truly intended to follow through with it... until the time to actually do it came closer. (little did i know i WOULD actually attempt it years later under COMPLETELY different circumstances haha)
The summer before I started college I realized that I both didn't want to attend Weber State for musical theatre, and that I really didn't want to kill myself OR come out of the closet. So I decided BYU would be the best place for me to fulfill both of those ideas. I thought that if I went there it would be easier for me to hide my sexuality.. and maybe even develope an attraction for women. About 3 weeks into going to school there I realized how bad of a decision that was. It was at that point that the mood swings I had experienced quietly for several years became very strong. I went through a very powerful phase of depression for several weeks. It got so bad that I hated singing, dancing, acting, friends, everything. I felt like I was about to cry at almost every moment of the day. I really needed to talk with someone about what I was feeling... but I wasn't ready to tell close family and friends yet... so I told my friend Courtney Bullard. We were not particulary close but we had a good relationship and I knew her to be very logical and kind and trustworthy so I "came out" to her first. It was an amazing feeling to finally be able to say it! I felt a little bit of the weight I had been carrying for 18 years lifted... but there was still something not right. I told her that I was gay.. but that I beleived it was a trial from god and that it was something wanted to overcome. I was still too afraid to say I MADE A MISTAKE COMING HERE and I WANT TO BE MYSELF. About a week later I was driving home from sunday dinner in syracuse when I experienced a very overwhelming panic attack. I pulled over on the side of the freeway and cried for about 45 minuets. I cried till my stomach cramped up and I couldn't cry anymore. I called my friend Sadie ... and she convinced me to see a doctor.
I went to the doctor and explained that I had experienced a lot of depression since early high school years and was diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder. As we were driving home from the doctor my mom asked me what was going on.... and since i was so depressed and apathetic toward my existance at the time I gave in and said "i'm gay" to her. Her response was simply " i know."( she said it as if i were silly for even THINKING it was a secret haha) I then told her the same story I told Courtney. That I beleived I would overcome my "trial" in time with the lords help. As I told more and more people I was gay, I found that telling them I was planning on fighting it made it easeir for them to accept it ... so I kept saying it.. and digging myself deeper and deeper into a pit of completely new lies.
The rest of my year at BYU was filled with really hard classes and really stupid doctors. I went to a therapist in Provo who attempted to change my sexual orientation. Turns out EVERY major medical journal or study shows that attempting to change one's sexual orientation is dangerous and does permanent psychological damage... as if i needed more of that :) haha. Needless to say it didn't work. I was eventually diagnosed BIPOLAR not depressed, and started taking medicine and therapy for THAT problem.. not my sexual orientation. At the end of my year at BYU I was accepted into the MDT program as well as the BYU YOUNG AMBASSADORS. I was thrilled with my accomplishments... but the idea of spending 3 more years at that school was too painful to bare. (don't get me wrong i have wondeful friends there who i still love dearly) So once again I decided to transfer last minuet to the University of Utah where I would try starting over as an openly gay man.
On the first day of singing class my teacher Dave asked us to go around and say what made us "freaks" (in reference to the song FREAK FLAG from shrek the musical) When it was my turn i said "well... i am a gay mormon transfer from byu... doesn't get much freakier than that." And a beautiful thing happened... no one felt sorry for me. No one talked to me about trials, how brave i am, or how i must have been a mighty saint in the pre existance to receive such a difficult trial. As a matter of fact... no one cared! For the first time in my life I felt like I could be EXACTLY who I always wanted. That was the first time in my adult life I was glad I didn't kill myself after I graduated high school.
I am often asked if I know the church's opinion on the "issue of same gender attraction"( i hate that phrase). The answer is yes. As a matter of fact I probably know a lot more about it that most people because its my LIFE. So PLEASE don't think I'm ignorant, I've read every pamphlet, scripture verse, and conference talk on the subect. I've done therapy sessions with a man with a masters in psychology from BYU with an emphasis in human sexuality.. specifically homosexuality. I've had discussions and given pamphelts to my bishop so HE could be more educated on the subject. I made my decisions with all that information in mind... and I still whole heartedly beleive I made the right one.
So my "coming out" process took about a year... and was pretty gradual... and pretty dramatic. And after all of that here is what I have discovered: I deserve to love and be loved just like anyone else. God loves me and made me the way I am . There is no way to LOVE yourself if you are constantly trying to force yourself to change to fit a mold. I have an amazing and wonderfully supportive family and I hope that all Latter Day Saints strive to be as open minded as my parents. Finally ...... "Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house." Matthew 5:15. I will NEVER hide my light under a bushel again.