I responded to a blog post here asking what we’d say to our younger selves if we could.
Here’s what I’d tell my younger self:
Dear 16 year old Dadsprimalscream,
- Distrust anyone who is convinced that they “know” something… anything.
- The “safe” route is also often the most depressing and will be the least comfortable in 20 years.
- Nobody really admires your dedication to Mormonism. They like and admire most everything else about you, but they tolerate and accept you in spite of your Mormon background, not because of it. Don’t confuse their politeness with admiration.
- Some things cannot be controlled or micromanaged. One of those is sexual attraction. You don’t get to choose what makes you “tingle.” For example, even within the hetero box, some guys go wild for a woman’s feet. They didn’t choose that fetish and you can’t create or micromanage your own desires.
- Most people already think you are gay. Those who are most invested in their own view of your world will be the least likely to help you see it… (parents, siblings)
- The real you, which you are terrified of, is actually more interesting, more lovable and has more potential than the fake you that you so desperately are working on creating.
- Beware of false dichotomies… the idea that you can either be a worthy, happy, faithful Mormon or a gay, depressed, drug addicted felon. Try to meet individuals in both camps that defy the stereotypes. There is a LOT of ground in the middle. One can be gay, happy and “worthy”.
- It seems counter-intuitive but the more punishing or restrictive you are with your natural desires, the more they will take over and command your life. Abstinence breeds obsession the same as wanton indulgence does. Learn to live with and love who you are rather than fear it. Such an approach leads to happiness.
- There is no such thing as wickedness or righteousness. There’s really only wisdom and foolishness and you have to figure those out on your own. You don’t learn them in a class or seminary.
- Whatever you do, don’t marry and ruin some poor straight girl’s life and future. Your desire for the celestial kingdom and a worthy Mormon life should not overpower the fact that that straight girl deserves her own authentic love. I mean it. It’s not OK, even if you talk to her first and she still agrees to it.
- You can have kids and a family as a gay man if you REALLY want to be a father. There are ways.
- Don’t focus so much on correcting your weaknesses, but focus intently on improving and polishing your strengths… that’s where real life satisfaction lies, being really good at something you love.
- The people who will react poorly, in an unloving and unsupportive way, by your coming out today will in 20 years time prove to be lousy friends or harsh and judgmental family members anyway. But you’ll lose your own self-respect if you try to please these people. Make the break now.