by Colby Goddard
One of the biggest things that I loved/love about the LDS church is that everyone can be involved. Christ’s earthly ministry was not going around and taking to temple recommend holders, rather he went around seeking out and teaching those who were excluded. On my mission most of the recent converts were those who didn’t fit in. We gave them a place to be appreciated and to serve.
I came home from the mission and went right to work serving. I told the Lord in the celestial room in the Las Vegas temple the day after my release that I wanted to turn my life over to him and be an instrument in his hands.
Sadly when I began to come out to myself I realized that I would not be welcome in the church according to my knowledge of the religion at the time. I was heartbroken. Feeling like I had been kicked out of the garden I protected myself by putting up a barrier and emotionally withdrew from the church. I didn’t think there was room for me in the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Three years ago, I googled gay and Mormon and found Affirmation. I learned of a thanksgiving social and drove three hours to attend. My life changed that day. No one said anything profound that changed my outlook on life; no one told me what to do or how to live my life. What I saw that day that deeply affected me was LGBT Mormons living their lives and loving it. There was no pity party or talking about how we didn’t fit in. Rather they were authentic individuals living meaningful, productive lives. I was welcomed warmly and felt as if I were with family. I remember feeling the Spirit so strongly that day.
Since that day, I have not missed an Affirmation thanksgiving social. I look forward to it every year. I attend other function when I can. I have been blessed to attend two national conferences–last year in Cleveland/Kirtland, Ohio and last month ago in Seattle. Both were very spiritual experiences for me and for others in attendance. Last year singing with the Affirmation choir in the Kirtland temple and being able to bear an authentic testimony were the spiritual highlight of my year.
The effects of the Cleveland conference made me reevaluate my relationship with God. I started attending church again on a regular basis and communicated more with my Heavenly Father. On May 11 this year I had a wonderful experience on the St George temple grounds. I was moved to tears when the spirit confirmed to me that God still and always has loved me. I knew then that God wanted me to live my life as an authentic gay Mormon and more importantly I knew that I could live my life as such.
This past year I had the privilege of being apart of the 2012 Seattle conference committee. I was able to exercise my talents and grew personally along the process. I grew closer to God and felt his presence as I prepared for the conference. I again was able to share my testimony without fear or persecution. Affirmation gives me the opportunity to be 100% authentic to my gay Mormon identity.
I don’t have the answers and can’t tell anyone how or what to do. But I can say that the LDS church is not currently fully meeting the needs of all its LGBT sisters and brothers. Many feel alone and are lost without hope.
Affirmation has been a safe place for LGBT Mormons for over 30 years. I have met amazing individuals through Affirmation who inspire me to be a better person. I feel the Spirit more at Affirmation events than I do anywhere else. Affirmation has reconnected me with the faith of my upbringing.
In the past there has been a bit of a gap between LDS church membership and Affirmation. Sisters and Brothers: now is the time to bridge that gap. Now is the time to look for The One. The one who is alone, the one who thinks they aren’t good enough, the one who worries about losing their family if they come out. Now is the time to stand up as Christians and follow Christ’s example and put our arms around our LGBT family. Now is the time to reclaim our spirituality.
Please visit www.affirmation.org or contact me to learn more about what you can do to make a difference.