It’s hard to believe that 2012 is over. In some ways it seems like just yesterday that I was in California with my family celebrating the New Year. Yet in other ways it seems like it’s been forever. It’s certainly been an interesting year. A year ago, I would have never expected that I would be where I am. Like many people, the end of the year is a time of reflection for me. In my family, for many years we had a tradition (typically falling on the first Monday of the New Year, for FHE) where we did a “Year in Review”, where we had different topics to get us thinking about things that had happened during the year and what we would remember. So, that’s what I want to do today: My 2012 Year in Review.
Neatest Place You were in 2012
Honestly, most of my year was spent in Utah, no further north than Bountiful and no further south than Provo. The only big excursion I did was my trip out east this past summer. I flew out to Grand Rapids, Michigan where I saw Garrett for the first time in two years, we drove out to Toronto to visit people from my mission, and then we drove down to Niagara Falls and Palmyra before heading back to Michigan. Other than Michigan, I’d been to all of those places before, but it was a great experience being there again with my best friend.
|Me and Garrett on our trip, while at Niagara Falls|
Biggest Surprise of the Year
The biggest surprise probably was the prompting I received in mid-August, while reading Voice(s) of Hope, to start blogging about my SSA. It seemed to come out of nowhere and it stuck with me. I thought about it and prayed about it for about two months before I ended up doing it. I knew it’d be scary (like I’ve said before, October 20 was the scariest day of my LIFE) but I was also overwhelmed with all of the positive feedback (again, thank you all for your support and for giving me that positive feedback). Honestly, I feel like that prompting (though directly only got me to start blogging) got me to do the Voice(s) of Hope project and also to get more involved in the North Star community, which brought about another big surprise: I felt at home there, in ways that I don’t know if I’ve ever felt before.
|Josh and Lolly Weed's Voice(s) of Hope shoot|
Best TV Show/Movie You Watched
Anyone who knows me relatively closely knows that I’m a big fan of the ABC show “Once Upon a Time”. Though the acting can be kind of corny and the writing can be kind of cheesy… I figure, it’s a fairy tale show; of course it’ll be that way. One of the themes I love the most in the show is the idea of “true love” typically used in the sense of “true love’s kiss”. Unlike most versions of fairy tale stories, in this show “true love” doesn’t mean the same as “soul mates”. It has more to do with who you truly love, whether it’s romantically with a couple or from a mother to her son.
|Mom and Dad and True Love's Kiss|
Saddest Day/Time in 2012
The worst part of this year for me was around February and March. After coming home from serving in Calgary, I was a bit of a wreck in some ways. I felt like a failure. I felt like I had been cheated from what I wanted to do the most. In February and March, I dealt with some major depression, trying to overcome those feelings. The feeling of being a failure as a missionary translated into my schoolwork, making me lose confidence in my ability to fulfill my assignments. I remember one day in particular that was bad… I was crying in my car about being home from my mission… I wanted to be in the mission field and yet I also knew I would be suffering emotionally if I was out there. It seemed like there was no way that I could be happy with myself. That night, I talked to my trainer, Elder Jared Call, on the phone and he helped me realize that it was okay to feel that pain and it was okay to feel that way. Honestly, that night was the beginning of my journey to become happy again with myself.
|Elder Call visiting me in Provo a year ago|
Happiest Day/Time in 2012
It’s hard to say what the happiest time of the year has been for me. There were many of them. My road trip with Garrett was amazing. Being able to spend days on end, just me and my best friend, visiting place that I love was the best. It was also during this trip that I told Garrett about my SSA and he has been one of my strongest allies as I’ve “come out” and done this SSA Missionary Work on my blog. Another one of the “happiest” times of this year was receiving all of the positive feedback about my blog on October 20. Blogging about my SSA was something that made me feel extremely vulnerable and the positive feedback made me feel so much better and empowered to be able to share my story. Attending the AMCAP Conference and filming for Voice(s) of Hope were a couple of other amazing experiences this year. Being able to share my testimony and then meet a few of my heroes (Ty Mansfield, Josh Weed, etc.). In addition, the North Star Christmas fireside, where I felt such a strong sense of home and Zion, was another event this year that would rank on my happiest.
|AMCAP Conference Panel|
Best Book/Magazine You’ve Read
If you couldn’t guess it already, my favorite book this year was Voice(s) of Hope. It is what set the ball rolling for so much of what happened to me in the second half of the year. It is such an amazing compilation of testimonies and spiritual experiences. It has taught me so much about myself through the experiences of others. If you have a desire to learn about SSA from a gospel perspective, get this book. My dad has read it, Garrett is reading it, “Steve” bought a copy for himself… and each of them has said how much it has helped them understand SSA.
|Voice(s) of Hope booth at the AMCAP Conference|
Things You Will Remember From the News
With everything that’s happened in the world, a couple things I will remember from this year follow a similar theme to what I’ve already talked about. In many ways, this is the “Year of the ‘Gay’” for me, coming to accept my SSA more fully, joining the North Star/LDS SSA community, and “coming out” on my blog. As such, a couple things I remember from the news have to do with my heroes of the SSA community: Josh Weed and Ty Mansfield. After Josh did his blog post about being a gay man in a heterosexual marriage, it went viral to the point that he ended up on ABC’s Nightline special, in addition to making other media appearances. I’ve met Josh and his wife and honestly they had no idea how big of a splash this would make. Yet a splash it did make and despite persecution they’ve received since then, they stand as witnesses of the truth to the world. Another thing from the news I remember is Ty Mansfield on CNN after the church released its new website about SSA. Ty was not respected very well in that interview and as always my respect for him and his wife (both of whom have received persecution, while being in the spotlight) for what they do in standing up for the truth.
|Josh and Lolly Weed on ABC's Nightline|
What Would You Like to Do In 2013?
As far as secular things, I want to get into my major. I think I have finally figured out what I want to do for a major. I think I want to study Family Life and then go into marriage and family therapy. In the past few months, with everything I’ve learned from dealing with my SSA with such a steep learning curve, I’ve been able to see how SSA, abuse, infidelity, and a lack of communication can cause problems in a marriage and in a family. The world is falling apart when it comes to families. The adversary is attacking the family on all fronts because he knows that if he can break down the family, he can break down the rest of society. That’s why I want to help save the family. The world needs people with a testimony of the gospel and a testimony of the plan of salvation to help mend families. On a more personal level, I want to continue to help people with my blog. I love it when I hear that my blog has helped someone. One such person who continues to remain anonymous to me (which I TOTALLY understand) has never told anyone about his SSA but has been able to find help and support through my blog. I cherish moments like that or experiences like I had with “Steve”.
|Me with Ty Mansfield after my Voice(s) of Hope shoot|
Favorite Talk in Church/Conference
My favorite conference talk was probably Elder Holland this fall (I love Elder Holland’s talks!). I’ve had people talk to me about going overboard with the SSA thing and talking about it too much and I’ve had some people that felt uncomfortable talking about it period. Why do I do it then? Honestly, because I feel like I have felt the call from my Heavenly Father to use my talent in writing and in words to help His children. Of course it’s not an official calling, but I feel the need to do it, especially in my demographic. I understand that many young men my age with SSA will not be comfortable outing themselves over the internet, but no one ever said they should. I felt that I should though, because the young single adult demographic needed to be represented, because even here at BYU I’ve seen so many people with conflicting ideas on how to reconcile their SSA. Some would say that the only option is to go into a same-sex relationship, even if you have to wait until you’re graduated from BYU to do it. Some would say go ahead with a same-sex relationship right now. In many ways, it seems like they only give people with SSA one choice: Be true to yourself and give up on your faith.
However, I will not give up on my faith. Yes, it would be physically pleasing to be with a man. Yes, it might even be emotionally satisfying. No, it’s not worth sacrificing my faith and my testimony. Be true to myself? Fine. I will, because being true to myself means being true to my testimony, because my faith and my testimony are more of a defining characteristic to me than my sexuality. Because I love my Savior and because I love my Heavenly Father, I will stand as a witness for Them and for the truth! I know that I can have faith in my Father in Heaven because He knows what’s best for me. I know I can find hope and peace through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. I know that it is through them that it gets better.
PS: What would your "2012: Year in Review" include?
PS: What would your "2012: Year in Review" include?