A brief autobiography focusing on my orientation.
As a very young boy, I knew I wasn't like the other boys around me. My friends would roughhouse and wrestle, play sports and act tough. I was rather intellectual and outspoken. I did try my hand at a few sports, but that wasn't really my thing. I preferred music and reading, science and art. I actually valued being different, and it never really bothered me. I've never been affected much by peer pressure. I also started to develop spiritually at a very young age, and had experiences which helped solidify my testimony even before I was baptized at age eight.
About the onset of puberty, it became very clear to me that I wasn't like my friends in other ways. I found myself attracted exclusively to guys. I started to feel very guilty because my desires didn't seem to fit with the narrative told of an active and faithful Latter-day Saint. This didn't usually bother me, because I have the ability to entirely ignore and forget things like this for periods of time. But sometimes it really would get to me. At one point, when I was thirteen or fourteen years old, feeling devalued and worthless, I plead to my Father in Heaven and was rewarded with a powerful answer to my prayer which I lack the words to adequately describe. Suffice it to say that I came away with a sure knowledge of His love for me, regardless of my orientation.
While that knowledge helped me cope and gave me confidence, that didn't really change much else. I developed crushes on guys at school, but never acted on them. I had many friends, both guys and girls, and overall I really did love school. For the most part, I wasn't picked on and generally felt accepted. I had several circles of friends and made great memories. I double dated and group dated, and generally enjoyed the company of others. But I never had a friend to whom I could confide my orientation. I knew of a few people in homosexual relationships who had left the Church, and I didn't want that to happen to me. I had been growing in faith and understanding, and learned to love the gospel and value my membership. One of my biggest fears was that I would slip up and be rejected by the Church.
I went to BYU for a year and continued to date girls, but to me it was just for fun. I never really felt like I was romantically interested. It was just like friends hanging out. I continued to be exclusively attracted to boys. Then I went on my mission. I had a wonderful mission where I learned a language. I tried to be faithful and obedient. I wasn't perfect, but I tried, and I had a good measure of success. I never had a problem being too attracted to any of my companions. I noticed that the better I knew other guys, the more platonic my feelings were toward them.
I had a companion that told me I'd be married within six months of returning home, but I knew that was laughable. I was confident I wouldn't be married for quite some time for reasons I was not willing to specify. Remember, I had never told a soul about my orientation. Surprisingly, my first week back to BYU after my mission, I met this amazing girl. We shared interests, hobbies, attitudes; it was like we were meant for each other. Even more surprising was that I actually developed a real attraction to her. I had no idea what to do or what kind of social signals to send. This was all foreign to me, never having dated someone to whom I was attracted before. She was very patient with me, and became the first friend to whom I divulged my orientation. We married about two years later, and I am still in love with her to this day. We have a largish family and a great life.
Still, my orientation remains the same. I definitely continue to find guys attractive rather than girls. Yes, I'm in love with a woman, but being in love has much more to do with sacrifice, patience, nurturing, and intimacy than it does with immediate infatuation. I still value my membership in the Church and my relationship with my Heavenly Father above all others. I have learned to value my orientation, and would not want it to change. In fact, I don't think I ever truly wanted to be attracted to girls, even when I was an insecure teenager. I always liked who I was too much.
I don't expect others to follow my path. My experiences are mine, and nobody will have an identical set of circumstances. But the principles that guided me, developing a strong relationship with my maker, being somewhat comfortable in my own skin, not bowing to peer pressure, being true to what I thought was right, might be of use to others who are trying to make their own way through life.