I realized I was bisexual while an active member of the LDS church.
I had crushes on girls. I remember one in particular from Girl’s Camp, my first year. If you aren’t familiar with “Mormonland,” Girl’s Camp is an annual camping trip for LDS girls ages 12-17. I was just twelve or so, and for the first time in memory, a girl made my stomach woozy. I didn’t know her name or which Ward (AKA “congregation”) she was part of. She was one of the camp leaders, probably about sixteen years old. She had reddish silky hair, I remember that clearly. And I remember that she was freaking hilarious. I giggled at everything she said, like any girl with a crush does. At night, laying in a sleeping bag and listening to the campground sleep, I would think about her and smile. I wanted to be around her, I was too shy to talk to her, I just wanted to know her. I had this feeling before. Except… always with guys. Never with a girl.
I brushed it off as admiration, not attraction, and went on.
Girl crushes popped up but I always explained them away. I knew I liked boys. Trust me, little Molly in kindergarten would chase down boys for kisses. I liked boys. So the way my eyes drifted to the heroine of a romantic comedy… or the fluttery feeling if that one girl in gym class talked to me… It’s just because I admired the female body, right? Aesthetically, it’s just better, right? And that one girl was just really nice and popular and… it was just exciting to talk with a potential friend, right?
I repeatedly explained it away.
Mormonland doesn’t hate the gays. They will insist this up and down, with the same veracity they use to insist they are Christian or that polygamy isn’t part of Mormonism. But here’s the deal. Technically, they preach love and acceptance of a person, but they are free to condemn a person’s actions.
Let me use The Book of Mormon the Musical to explain. Elder Price, the main character, says this:
“Well, Elder McKinley, I think it’s okay that you’re having gay thoughts, just so long as you never act upon them.”
The song titled “Turn it Off” basically insists that the best way to be Mormon is just “turn off” anything that doesn’t directly align with the church. Fear? Grief? Gay thoughts? Just turn it off like you would a light switch.
[Side note: I cannot express how much this song encapsulates the culture of the Mormon Church. Plus, it’s hilarious. Listen to it.]
So Molly’s gay thoughts? I turned that shit right off. If I couldn’t explain it away, then I would ignore it and avoid it.
I wasn’t scared of the idea of gay. I had gay friends in high school. And two of my favorite people in the world, my aunts, have been together for almost my entire life. I didn’t think negatively of any of them as people. And frankly, I didn’t think their sexual orientation was any of my business.
As far as the teachings of the Church regarding the LGBTQ community; I would like to say that I wholeheartedly opposed any discrimination that the Church pushed, but that would be a lie.
When Proposition 8 plastered news sites, I remember our bishop reading a statement that members were to oppose any and all legislation that gave gay couples the right to marry, as it would diminish the “sanctity of marriage.” I stayed neutral. If they asked us to vote right there, I wouldn’t have raised a hand on either side. Later in the week our church building was vandalized, likely because of the Prop 8 controversy, which actually pushed me to support. If the “other side” was willing to vandalize my sacred space, then clearly I needed to shore up my defenses.
When the Mormon teenagers made fun of gay kids or feminine boys between or before Church classes, I stayed silent.
Someone I admired taught a lesson where he stated that all gay people were either molested as children or had hormonal imbalances, and that’s why they were gay. It wasn’t “normal.” I was the girl who argued with everything the teacher said. But not that day. I said nothing, and worse, for a time, I believed him.
In a particularly low moment, I argued with someone that gay couples should be allowed to marry, but not to adopt children. I rescinded my position shortly thereafter, but I to this day I am embarrassed to admit that at one point I held that belief so much that I tried to convince another of its validity.
In college, my feelings grew past the point of denial. Keep in mind, at this point, I was at my highest church activity. I was preparing to go through the temple, I was attending church with zeal and regularity, praying and fasting and tithing. I attended BYU-Idaho in Rexburg, Idaho. Literally, 91.54% of the residents of Rexburg Idaho are LDS, and 99.76% of the students at BYU-Idaho are LDS. ALL MORMON ALL THE TIME.
Somehow, it was here, in the ultimate Mormon echo-chamber, that I couldn’t avoid or ignore my feelings. It was here, the epitome of Mormonland, that my gay dreams became regular and unavoidable and that they surfaced with extreme regularity, despite my avoidance, my explanations, my shame.
I liked boys. But… I also liked girls.
Wait for it ya’ll, there’s a term for this.
I am bisexual, meaning that I am romantically/physically/emotionally attracted to both sexes.
Which was like… shit. I mean, how do you reconcile this realization where you are in one of the most oppressive LDS communities around, a community that you believe in and support and love?
Plus, I think I forgot to mention that at the time I was MARRIED. To a dude.
How do you tell your “Peter Priesthood” husband that you like chicks?
Well, I blurted it out in a Dairy Queen drive-thru. If you’ve been to Rexburg, you know the one. Right off 2nd street. Between ordering our ice cream and actually getting it handed to us, into a moment of silence I said, “I think I’m bi.”
Bless him and bless his response. That man glanced at me and said, “I know. Do you want anything else?”
I gaped at him.
He said, “What? I thought you knew.”
I still gaped.
Casually, he asked, “Are you going to cheat on me?”
“No,” I said, a little confused.
“Then it’s not a big deal,” he said and he handed me my ice cream.
We are no longer married (for reasons that have nothing to do with my sexuality), but I am so grateful for that response. It’s not a big deal. And it wasn’t. Most of the time, it still isn’t. While I was at BYU-I, I happened to be married to a man. Which meant that I could safely explore my thoughts and considerations without the burden of wondering how to act on them. Which is a huge first step. I tend to think things so far through that I get anxious about the end result. Exploration without action allowed a considerable amount of acceptance and processing.
Not a big deal. I stopped worrying about my attractions and started just acknowledging them. I noticed girls that were attractive the same way I noticed boys that were attractive. I just noticed it. I stopped worrying about what to do about it and just let myself feel it. I didn’t have to worry about what to do about it, or what to say about it, or what others might think about it. It was just me and my thoughts.
Since that marriage has ended, I have had the freedom to explore ideas and situations with others. I have become far more open with others about my sexual orientation where it is relevant.
As far as the Church stuff goes, fuck them. Fuck them for encouraging me (directly or indirectly) to “turn off” what I consider to be an important aspect of myself. And a bigger, louder, finger-wagging exclamation: FUCK THEM for the harm they have inflicted on countless other individuals who are struggling to come to terms with their sexuality.
It’s not that big a deal to be bisexual. It just is. It’s like the shape of my fingers or the color of my irises or the texture of my hair. It just is. It’s a part of me.
Being gay is only as big of a deal as other people make it. Fuck the Church for making it a big deal and acting like it was somehow their business. Bless the husband who said, “It’s not a big deal.” Fuck the Church kids who made fun of the effeminate. Bless the many, many individuals like myself who have struggled and sought for their identity in the areas they were forbidden to explore.