“There are times when we will experience heartbreaking sorrow, when we will grieve and when we may be tested to our limits. However, such difficulties allow us to change for the better, to rebuild our lives in the way our Heavenly Father teaches us, and to become something different from what we were – better than what we were, more understanding than what we were, more empathetic than what we were, with stronger testimonies than we had before.”
-President Thomas S. Monson
In this life, we are confronted by the ferocious burdens and stress of the trials and challenges that are placed in our path. As adversity engulfs our life and latches onto us, anxiety and darkness begin to surround us. The weight of our misery and hopelessness soon forces us to our knees where we cry out in agony and frantically search for any source of light. At this point, we may not be able to understand or recognize the reasoning behind all of the suffering and anguish. But as we kneel and plead with God, a rush of warmth and comfort will eventually come over us as we pray in faith. Light will permeate our lives and we will be given the strength and fortitude to press forward. Just as President Monson stated, these trials will change us for the better if we let it. Without the challenges that I have had to face in my life, I would not have the unshakable and powerful testimony that I have today. I would not have the knowledge and empathy that I have today. And most important of all, I would not have such a profound and personal relationship with my Savior, Jesus Christ. There is always a blessing hidden within the ghastly hardships that we encounter in our lives.
For quite some time now, I have been preparing to share my story. I’m honestly terrified to be so vulnerable, but I want to do this because I know there are other people out there who feel isolated, anxious, and surrounded by darkness who need to know they are not alone. I want everyone who reads this to truly know that no matter what life throws your way, you can rise to the challenge and become a valiant and courageous warrior. And most of all, I want to share that each one of you is loved and supported by our Savior – and also by me.
To begin, I want to rip off the band-aid and share some very difficult news. Due to the struggles and challenges that I am about to share, Brittani and I have decided that we must take different paths in our journey and that we will be getting a divorce. We have spent countless hours and sleepless nights praying and fasting for guidance in what we should do, and we have received undeniable and powerful personal revelation that this is the route we must take. This will all be further explained later in this post, but I wanted to share this at the beginning so that everything will tie together better in the end. And to put your minds at ease (somewhat), Brittani are I are still very much best friends and we are ending this chapter in our lives peacefully and civilly. So, here we go. This is the real me: my story.
Since I was very young, I always felt different from my peers. I never quite felt like I fit in to any kind of norm. I was raised in a small town in Southern Utah in the typical active LDS family. My life growing up was a good one and I always felt loved and cared for by my parents, family, and neighbors. But despite this traditional and generous upbringing, I lived a life of fear, shame, secrecy, loneliness, and hopelessness. A constant cloud of darkness saturated my life as I hid from the reality that was suppressing and strangling my very soul. This reality is something that has taken me years to completely recognize and accept as part of me.
I am gay.
It was around the time that I was 12 years old that I began to notice my same-sex attraction. Since I can remember, connecting with girls was always easier for me and I only really had close friends that were girls. Deep down, however, I longed to be able to connect with other boys. I longed to be like them and belong with them. I yearned to fit the typical “masculine” mold that I thought of when I thought of what it was to be a man. Even at an early age, I could tell that the way I was and the way I felt inside was different from the other boys that I knew. I was more sensitive, emotional, and reserved. I was very quiet and shy, and a lot of this was due to the attractions and feelings that were developing within me. At first, I didn’t understand what these feelings were. I didn’t know if what I was feeling was normal or if I was doing something wrong. It was in the middle of all this turmoil that I discovered pornography. Upon that first exposure, I couldn’t stop thinking about what I had seen and the instant shame that I felt. I felt like I was letting everyone down, especially God. I knew what I had seen was wrong, but there was something so captivating about the way pornography helped me numb all the feelings and the depression that was starting to creep in. Before I could stop it, the addiction consumed me and shattered any hope that I had of escaping it. I was terrified and devastated.
The most terrifying thing about my addiction was that I found myself interested more in the men than the women in the material I was viewing. I was so confused. Was I gay? This thought invaded my mind constantly. I couldn’t be gay! There was no way. I had been raised in the LDS church and I was beginning to develop my own testimony of the principles that I was being taught. The Spirit had witnessed to me several times of the truthfulness of what I was learning and being taught. So there was no way that I could be gay, right? These feelings and fantasies that I was having brought forth an abundance of fear and shame. I didn’t know what to do or where to turn for help. I felt so alone. I felt like I was the only one going through this anxiety and confusion and nobody would be able to understand what I was going through. So I decided that no one could ever know that I was feeling attracted to men. I bottled up these feelings and attempted to shove them as far away in my mind as I possibly could. I relied on pornography to numb the pain that I was feeling. Turning to my addiction felt like the only option that I had to cope with the fear and agony.
My high school years proved to be very difficult. My addiction was stronger and more vivid, my attractions were much more profound, and I felt more alone every day. The loneliness and the fear of someone finding out that I was gay drove me to a pit of darkness and misery. I felt that nobody cared about me and that no one would even notice if I wasn’t around. Suicidal thoughts enveloped my mind. I was not happy with who I was. I couldn’t understand why God would make me this way. I became bitter toward God. How could he do this to me? Why would He have me experience these attractions that were in complete opposition to His plan? What did I do to deserve this? What was the point in even living? But even though I felt resentment toward God, I found myself praying constantly to God and hoping that he would just take these attractions away. In other words, I tried to “pray the gay away” as some people would say. I thought that maybe these attractions were just due to the pornography and that if I prayed with faith and repented of my sins that they would go away for good.
The suffering and despair continued, however. Instead of my attractions going away, they intensified and became harder to control. As I reached my sophomore year, I was at an all-time low. On the outside, it may have appeared that I had everything together and that I was happy. I had tried to get myself involved in as much as I could, hoping that this would help me forget about my same-sex attraction and help me hide my true self from the people around me. Deep down, however, I felt far from happy and under control. I felt like my world was spinning endlessly. I desperately wanted to feel happy, to feel loved, to feel really anything besides the constant hurt and pain.
Nearing my junior year of high school, I felt more engulfed in the darkness than I had ever been. I was shrouded with fear that someone was going to find out that I was gay and that I would then be bullied and tormented. I was so afraid that I would be excommunicated from the church and that I would be disowned by everyone that I knew and loved. This constant fear of who I was and what might happen if anyone found out about my attractions drove me to quit my high school basketball team. One thing about me that is different from the stereotypical gay man is that I am obsessed with sports. I loved basketball and running, and so for me to quit the basketball team was a huge hit to my self-esteem and identity. But locker rooms always made me feel very uncomfortable and I could not let anyone get the idea that I was gay. So instead of playing basketball, I tried to get involved in as many clubs and organizations that I could. I was naturally drawn to the drama club, where I found a new love for performing. I started to feel a little more like myself, but there was still the enticement toward my addiction that was controlling my life and actions. I felt so trapped by my addiction that I didn’t think there was a way out of it.
As I neared the end of my junior year, I made a few mistakes that got me in some trouble but also ultimately showed me that God was still there, guiding and protecting me. My pornography addiction was discovered by my mom and the secret was out. I was so scared, but I was also very relieved. I could finally take a step toward recovery and freedom. I began taking addiction recovery classes and went to counseling. I drew closer to God and I felt His love for me. There was hope. This hope was shattered quickly, though. I had a damaging experience with a bishop that really had me questioning everything I was ever taught and everything that I knew. I was made to feel that my same-sex attraction was evil and was against the principles of the church. I was stripped of privileges and was basically told I needed to pray the gay away and that I could be cured. I have already done this! I thought. I had been trying to do this for years. And the feelings just got more profound and real. I was so angry at God at this point. All the feelings of hopelessness, insecurity, embarrassment, and resentment flooded back in.
Over the summer before my senior year, I was thrown around mercilessly with my emotions and thoughts. I was so torn. I could not deny the spiritual experiences that I had received throughout my life, but I also could not understand why I would be given such harsh consequences because of my attractions to men. And then I had a powerful revelation occur that helped change the direction I was heading in and changed my perspective. One Sunday, I decided to just open the scriptures and read. It had been some time since I had even touched the scriptures. The moment I opened the book up, an overwhelming feeling of peace rushed over me. I have no idea what I read that day and even how long I read, but I do remember the feeling I had. I KNEW at that moment that the Lord was with me. That he loved me and that he would help me through my trials. I was so overwhelmed with a sense of happiness that I hadn’t felt in a very long time. This was a changing point for me.
My senior year was amazing! I felt so successful in everything that I was involved in, and what was even better was that I was sober from pornography. It felt so good to have finally escaped this addiction that had controlled my life for so long. I was finally in control of this beast, at least for the moment. But even though I was doing well with overcoming my addiction, there was something else that kept nagging at me and it wouldn’t leave. My attractions to men were still there. It wasn’t as strong as it had been before, but it was still there. Everything that I had been told would help me cure this, was not working! I decided to just ignore it and try and push it as far in the back of my mind as I could. I also tried dating girls often, hoping that this would help reduce the same-sex attraction. As all members of the LGBTQ community can attest to, this did not change or remove these attractions. In fact, it verified that I was indeed attracted to men.
In August of 2011, I moved up to Logan, Utah to attend Utah State University. I was ecstatic for the new experiences that I would have and was ready to move forward in my life. I was also a little apprehensive because I wasn’t sure how I was going to cope with the attractions inside of me at college. My transition to the college life was smooth for a while. Brittani and I had met back in high school, and she was attending Utah State as well. So our friendship started to blossom and we spent a lot of time together. I gained a great group of friends and was really enjoying the freedom of living on my own. As my friendship with Brittani developed, there were feelings that started to arise within myself that emitted me into a panic and state of confusion. I didn’t know what these feelings were at first. The more time I spent with Brittani the stronger these feelings became. And the more time I spent with her, the more I began to realize what these feelings were. For the first time in my life, I was feeling an emotional and PHYSICAL connection with a woman. It was so confusing, but also very exciting. I knew without a doubt that these feelings were very real. This is it, I thought. My same-sex attractions were finally going to disappear! This was a very intriguing and unfamiliar time for me. Brittani and I started dating, and for the first time in a long time I felt very hopeful about my future.
I began filling out my mission papers and preparing myself to serve the Lord for the LDS church at this time. My relationship with Brittani started to grow much deeper. I felt that I had finally cured myself from my attractions to men. My physical attraction to Brittani increased immensely, and I just felt so happy. I was genuinely happy for the first time in my life! I was getting really close to finishing my mission papers when I started receiving some very strong impressions that really threw a curveball at me. I kept feeling that a full-time mission was not what the Lord wanted from me at this time in my life. I felt that I needed to stay and marry Brittani. At first, this of course did not seem logical and I shrugged it off. There was no way that the Lord would want this from me. I had heard the same thing over and over my whole life – men were expected to serve a mission! But these promptings progressively became stronger and stronger. I went to Brittani about these promptings, and I found out that she was having these same feelings and promptings. I didn’t know what I was supposed to do, but I could not deny that the Lord was speaking to me and prompting me to do what He had in store for me. Together, Brittani and I decided that I would not go on a mission and that we were going to get married. Deep down, I always had low expectations about the notion of getting married. Because of my same-sex attraction, I had no hope that I would be blessed with the experience of marriage. The reality that this was happening to me seemed almost unreal!
As we went forward with getting engaged and preparing to marry, a lot of trials and challenges immersed our life and relationship. Satan worked hard to tempt us and push us toward failure, but we stayed close to the Lord and relied on each other. Not many people supported our decision to get married so young and this was a difficult road to navigate through. We pushed forward with faith and followed what we knew to be divine inspiration. We had such a special love for each other and had developed a unique and fulfilling friendship. The only thing that I was holding back was that I was gay. There were many times where I wanted so badly to tell Brittani, but the fear of rejection and judgment kept me from disclosing my secret.
We were happily married on May 10th, 2012 in the Salt Lake City LDS Temple. It was a beautiful day full of cherished memories. The first year of our marriage was great! I felt my love for Brittani growing more and more every day and that everything in my life was falling into place. My attractions to men were still there, but they seemed distant and almost nonexistent. Avoiding the attractions and pushing them deep into my soul was helping, I thought. But, ignoring the attractions and not facing them head-on was damaging my life more than I knew. As we neared the end of the first year of our marriage, I started to slip into my old ways and get complacent. I stopped reading my scriptures, I didn’t go to church very often, and I stopped praying and building upon my relationship with the Lord. On October 9, 2013, we welcomed our son Asher into the world. The parenting life began! Life got busy and stressful and I started to put unnecessary things as a priority in my life that took the place of my faith and family. The way I was living soon brought back the urge to give in to my addiction. I was faced yet again with the destructive and daunting effects of pornography. I veered off the path and in a blink of an eye, my addiction was back and in full force. And my same-sex attractions grew stronger and more apparent. This was so difficult to understand. I thought for sure, or at least had the hope, that getting married would eliminate these feelings and attractions from my life. The uproar of depressive thoughts and emotions began to sabotage my relationships and life. I slid right back into that horrible place of self-doubt, isolation, and depression. I became very emotional and angry, and unfortunately Brittani received the brunt of it. I was constantly lying and burying everything that I was feeling deep inside me. I did not like myself; I was ruining everything that I had worked for. I felt entrapped and paralyzed to my own fear and shame.
It wasn’t long before Brittani discovered my pornography use. I remember the day vividly that she found some searches for the content I was viewing. She confronted me about it, and I did what I do best. I denied and denied. She was especially puzzled over the content I was searching for. I still had not told her about my same-sex attraction and I honestly didn’t ever plan on telling her. I was going to go to my grave with this secret locked deep inside me. I eventually acknowledged that yes, I was looking at porn again. I blamed the gay material on the porn and denied that I actually felt attracted to men. I was not ready to confess that I was gay. Brittani pushed and pushed for me to get some help with my addiction. At the point that I was at, I didn’t know if I wanted help. I knew that this addiction was destroying my life but it was also something that I could use to de-stress and it would take a lot of work to overcome this addiction and I just wasn’t sure if I was up for it. It just seemed like it would be too hard to do. I made a lot of excuses, and this was making it harder and harder for me to have the desire to change. So nothing did change. I continued looking at pornography and I lied about how I was doing to Brittani. I told her things were going much better and that I was making progress, when I was actually digging my hole deeper and deeper. As I let my addiction control my thoughts constantly, my attractions for men grew even more. My attractions for Brittani began to fade. And I was very unhappy. After this, I started to question whether I had made the right decision in getting married. I was so tired of fighting the way that I truly felt inside. I was exhausted and just not sure what the path ahead had in store for me. All of these thoughts became even harder to cope with when I had an experience that shook me to the core.
I was working at Olive Garden in Murray as a server when I started to have feelings for a guy that I worked with. I tried pushing this “crush” away, but the feelings were very strong and real. I was faced with the difficult and conflicting reality of whether I wanted to stay in my marriage with Brittani or pursue the attractions and date men. What would be so wrong about being myself? Why should I make myself miserable and live this life that differed from what I felt inside? I was near the point of leaving Brittani and pursuing my attractions to men. But there was something that halted these thoughts and held me back from making that decision. I knew that I had felt attracted to Brittani and that we were together for a reason. I could not deny those feelings I had for her and for the promptings I had received from the Spirit. I knew that I had a testimony in the gospel of Christ and that I could not deny the many spiritual experiences I had been blessed with. Even through the turmoil, I knew exactly what I needed to do. Brittani was brought into my life for a reason. So I decided to fight for our marriage and work on bettering myself and my relationship with God. I confronted my pornography addiction by going to 12-step recovery meetings. I began to study the scriptures with more power and vigor than ever before. I started attending church regularly and listened and learned as much as I could. And I began to pray often for guidance and help from the Lord. As I did this, I saw miracles and blessings flood into my life. I began to see the hand of God in everything that I did and all of the amazing tender mercies I was surrounded by.
As we moved to Hanksville, I faced my same-sex attraction with courage and faith for the first time in my life. I accepted the fact that yes, I was attracted to men. But this trial was given to me to be strengthened and to gain a fierce love for my Savior, Jesus Christ, and will give me opportunities to help and serve others. As I finally made steps toward accepting that I was gay, my testimony grew and so did my relationship with Brittani. We worked hard to have a fulfilling and loving relationship. I found many resources that helped me understand my same-sex attraction a little better and that I was not alone in this fight. Through reading books such as Voices of Hope and also the organization called North Star International, I started to accept myself and realize that even though it was so hard to navigate life with these attractions, everything will be okay and that God loves me. Brittani worked through the trauma that the recent experiences had caused her, and we grew together as a couple.
The next couple of years flashed by and we started to feel much better and happier. We had another child, our sweet daughter Carter, who was born on January 6, 2017. Our family was growing and it brought a lot of excitement into our life. I was sober from pornography and I was learning to accept my same-sex attraction and how to live a life of contentment and virtue. But this peaceful and smooth-sailing lifestyle didn’t last very long. A couple of years ago, things started to change. Deep down, I felt my physical attractions for Brittani starting to deteriorate. It was slow at first but began to go away more rapidly as time went on. Brittani started to feel very self-conscience, unattractive, and hopeless. I didn’t want to admit that my attractions were disappearing, and so I tried to continue to trek on in life without paying attention to the tumultuous conditions that were arising within me. But as time went on, turmoil engulfed every aspect of my life. I began to feel very heavy with thoughts that I was not a good enough husband. Conflict in the physical intimacy aspect of our marriage caused animosity between us. Anxiety and self-loathing surrounded Brittani and caused a lot of pain and agony. The unknown future ahead of us brought feelings of dread and sorrow. Resentment and anger suffocated our relationship, tossing us into a pit of unhappiness and despair. Our home didn’t feel like home anymore. My attitude and whole demeanor began to change. I was constantly stressed, frustrated, and angry. I was impatient with Brittani and started resenting her. And it all came to a head when this started affecting how I treated my kids. I am normally very gentle and loving toward my kids. But with the turmoil that was spreading into my life, I began to be very impatient and angry at my kids as well. I would yell at them for the smallest things and my mood was constantly very dark and cranky. And all of these emotions and feelings started to leak into my life outside of my home. I was not the happy, weird, unique Lane that everyone knew and loved. All of my relationships started to crumble, and pure hate filled my very soul. I began to fill a burdensome weight on my shoulders as I tried to navigate my way through all of this. I wasn’t happy with who I was and who I had become. There was something missing from my life and I just couldn’t pinpoint what it was. Within the last year, my physical attractions for Brittani completely dissipated and this brought even more contention and doubt in our marriage. We got to a point where physical intimacy did not exist. Worry became a constant companion of mine. Was I ever going to be attracted to Brittani again? Can we even move forward in our marriage if it doesn’t? On top of all this, my addiction crept back into my life. Lying and minimization presented often and tore apart the trust and security in our marriage.
Because of all this emotional pain and struggles we were going through, a few months ago we decided to take a little break and separate while we figured out what we were supposed to do. We took some time to reflect on who we were, what we wanted, and what would be the best option for us. During this time, Brittani went to the temple a couple of times and received a strong prompting both times that my attractions for her would not be coming back. This was a hard pill to swallow, but it confirmed what I had been feeling for quite some time. Now that left us at a very complex and discouraging roadblock. What were we supposed to do? We began to pray and fast often together, really searching and pleading for answers. We knew that if we came together in unity and looked to God to guide us in our decision, that we would be given the direction that we were to take. One evening, Brittani and I were talking about our options and paths. It occurred to us what was happening before our eyes. Our friendship that we cherish and admire was slowly falling apart because of the complicated and varied trials that we were facing. We were starting to resent each other, and we did not feel like friends. We felt more like roommates than anything. As we dug deep within ourselves, we observed how our marriage was affecting each one of us. For me, the weight of feeling like I can’t give Brittani the appropriate romance and love and care that a husband should give really tormented and oppressed my very soul. I felt like something was missing from my life and that I was not able to fully be myself. There are certain of aspects of marriage that I am just not able to give to Brittani completely. And then for Brittani, the past couple years had been very difficult and traumatic. Because of my off and on attraction to her, she felt almost like a rag doll being tossed around endlessly. Her emotions and anxiety heightened, and she began to crumble inside. She felt that she wasn’t beautiful, that she didn’t deserve a loving and fulfilling relationship, and that happiness was always going to be too far out of reach. As we inspected and observed all of these occurrences and feelings, the answer to our prayers illuminated in front of us. And it was not the answer that we wanted or expected.
Our marriage was very real and was meant to happen for many reasons, but it was time for us to take different paths in this life. Our answer was that divorce was our path. This may not make sense right now; in fact, it has been very hard to come to terms with. But even though our future is unknown, we cannot deny the divine inspiration that we received. We do not want to continue trying to make this marriage work and end up resenting and hating each other. We value and treasure our friendship, and we do not want that friendship to end. This decision is one that has not been taken lightly, and we have prayerfully inquired of the Lord what we should do. We cherish the eternal family that we have created. We know that in the eternities, we will be together as a family. Our kids deserve to have a mother and father who are happy and whole. We have made this decision because we feel that it is not only the best option for Brittani and me, but also for our kids. There are so many unanswered questions and that is okay. Life is full of opportunities and experiences that help us progress and move closer to returning to our Heavenly Father. This may just be one of those experiences that will always seem unclear. We will move forward with faith and hope and continually cling to our love for our God and our Savior. With a lot of prayer and pondering, I know that I have a very special mission to fulfill during my life. I have always felt a draw toward helping others who may struggle and go through some of the same things that I do. I have a deep love and appreciation for the LGTBQ community, and I want those who want to stay in the church who are gay to know that they are loved and have a place in the church! Because of my strong faith and testimony in the gospel of Jesus Christ, I do not want to pursue a same-sex relationship. I don’t believe that this is the path for me, and so I will be living a single life as a gay man. This is a little bit scary to me, but I have a purpose to fulfill and I am excited and look forward to the life that I know I can have. I can’t wait for both Brittani and I to heal from our experiences and live a life of love and happiness. We still love each other very much and will always hold a special place in our hearts for one another. I will always be close to her and will always be around to help raise our children together.
I do want anyone who is reading my story who is a part of the LGBTQ community to know that this is MY story and my story only. I believe that each person has a unique journey and path in this life, even if they have similarities with others. I believe that mixed-orientation marriages (where one person is gay and the other is straight) are beautiful and amazing. I am so grateful for the time that I was blessed to be a part of one. And I believe that these marriages are very real and can last! So if you are in this situation where you are either thinking about a mixed-orientation marriage or are in one of these types of marriages, I hope that you will not feel discouraged because my marriage did not work. My word of advice is that if you are in this situation to rely wholly on your Heavenly Father for guidance and direction. He will lead you on your own path. And if you are not pursuing a mixed-orientation marriage and are unsure of what you want in life and what your future holds, I would say this same thing to you. We each have a purpose, and if your path looks different than mine or even from the principles of the church, that is okay! You are still loved by our Heavenly Father who will always support and guide you. He just wants us to experience pure joy and happiness in this life, and if we will always rely on Him and look to him in everything that we do, he will guide and direct us.
I don’t know what my future holds, but I do know that if I stay close to God and seek out his guidance in everything that I do, that I will have a happy and fulfilling life. I want to use my experiences to help strengthen others and bring them to the knowledge of the love of our Savior. God knows and loves each one of us personally and I want to spread that message. As a gay LDS man, I have always struggled with how I fit into the church and what my place is. I have no intentions on ever leaving the church, because I love this gospel and I know without a doubt that we have a loving Heavenly Father and Savior who want us to return to him. It may seem like a lonely road, but I know that if I stay close to God and follow the inspiration that I receive from Him that I will be okay and that I will live a happy life. The future seems so uncertain, but I choose to be positive about what great joy the path ahead of me will bring. This quote by our prophet, President Nelson, is really helping me through this difficult time.
“The joy we feel has little to do with the circumstances of our lives and everything to do with the focus of our lives. When the focus of our lives is on God’s plan of salvation… and Jesus Christ and His gospel, we can feel joy regardless of what is happening – or not happening – in our lives.”
God loves us and will never leave us alone or broken. If we will focus our time and energy into looking to Christ, we will feel joy and happiness in our circumstances even if they may look a little different than we ever expected.
Thank you all for reading my story. I know it is a long one, but is one that I have been preparing and looking forward to sharing for a very long time. I look forward to being free from all the shame and isolation I have felt for many years due to hiding my true self. I want to tell my story for the person who is where I was – to let them know that there is hope, light, peace, and happiness ahead of you! You are loved and wanted! You are needed and have eternal value and worth.
I love you all, and please know that this doesn’t change anything. I am the same Lane you have always known. In fact, I now will be able to be an even better and happier Lane than ever before. Please reach out to me with any questions that you may have. I want to increase the knowledge, understanding, and support of same-sex attraction and being gay and how we fit into His plan.