When I was twenty-two I almost killed myself because better dead than gay, right?
I was eleven when I first wanted to kiss a girl. I thought it was kind of weird but figured it must just be a normal part of puberty.
In high school I dreamt about kissing a girl. I woke up to a feeling of complete shame and embarrassment. To this day I remember all the details and yet at the time I was perfectly capable of pretending it hadn’t happened.
When I was nineteen I started watching Orange is the New Black and during the first episode I thought, “Oh. I guess I never grew out of those feelings.” I wasn't surprised and I wasn't worried. I figured I was bi and could live a good enough life marrying a man and never telling anyone that I found women attractive.
When I was twenty-one I accidentally wrote a love letter. I had intended to write a gratitude letter to my friend but in hindsight, having an intro paragraph on how beautiful she was conveyed something much different than gratitude for her kindness. Even knowing I wasn’t straight, I still couldn't recognize crushes for what they were.
When I was twenty-two I watched Supergirl, which has a scene where Alex Danvers comes out to her friend Maggie and says maybe it's a phase. Maggie responds with, “It’s real. You’re real, and you deserve a real, full, happy life.” This was the first time I even let myself consider dating a woman. It was terrifying and exciting. Within a few hours I realized I was a hell of a lot gayer than I had previously thought. Finally things made sense. Why I’d been weirdly nervous around certain girls. Why I only wanted to be friends with the guys I dated.
For the first time in my entire life I was giddy at the thought of getting married. I could be happy!
Five months later I spent the day deciding if I should kill myself. I was six days into the worst anxiety episode of my life and I knew I wasn't going to make it through another night. My only other option was to come out to someone and that seemed impossible. I knew my family would be heartbroken if I died, but would that heartbreak really be worse than finding out I was gay and leaving the Church?
Luckily I decided to give myself one shot at a better life. One opportunity to live how I wanted and not how people expected me to. So I came out to a friend. Then my family. I graduated from BYU and resigned from the church in the same day. I moved out of Provo and started dating girls. Some days are still hard because when you spend nearly twenty-three years entrenched in homophobic environments, its bound to rub off. But for the first time in a decade I'm genuinely happy. So even though coming out was the scariest thing I have ever done, it has been so incredibly worthwhile.