The first group of people I felt I needed to tell about (Gay) Mormon Guy were my closest family members. I had already told my parents over a year ago, and I told some of my siblings earlier in the week. I decided that Sunday afternoon would be a good time to catch the rest of the family, hopefully in a place they could talk.
Fortunately or unfortunately, I have a big family; but by the time I went to sleep, I had contacted almost everyone.
To make it easy on me, in most cases I contacted just one person in each family (aunt/uncle/cousin group) - the person I felt it would be easiest to tell.
Here's the jist of the things I would say in my conversation with each of them.
Small talk... then...
"So I called because I have something important I wanted to share. For the last few years, I've been writing anonymously on a blog about the gospel - how to find peace in gospel principles, etc - and had amazing opportunities to share my testimony with people all over the world. It's anonymous, so no one knows who I am, where I live, or almost anything about me. About two weeks ago I had a strong spiritual impression that I needed to be more open on the blog and share who I am... and part of that openness also means sharing the blog with the rest of the people in my life.
"The blog is about the intersection of the gospel and same-sex attraction. It draws from my own experience with same-sex attraction and talks about how I've been able to find peace in the gospel. That's the news - that this is a part of my life.
"The easiest way to find my blog is to just Google the words Mormon Guy. Mine is the first thing that comes up. The blog has been up for 2-and-a-half years, so there's a lot of stuff there. But I've created a "Start Here" page in the upper left section with 10 of the best posts so you can get a feel of what it's all about.
"As far as how this affects me, I'm the same person I was ten minutes ago... I'm temple worthy and I honestly believe and support everything the Church teaches. And in my patriarchal blessing it promises that someday I'll find a girl, fall in love, get married in the temple, and have children in this life. The key point is fall in love - it'll take a miracle for that to happen - but I believe it will."
Their responses surprised me.
Maybe it's because it took me years to be able to love myself... or to wrap my head around where I fit in the Plan of Salvation. Maybe it's because I know so many people who struggle with understanding the gospel's application in their lives, or I've seen families ripped apart when sons and brothers and fathers came out. I expected concern, difficulty understanding, and that they would need time to be able to process what was happening.
To be honest, two of the conversations were draining, and made me want to just send everyone else an email.
But almost without exception, their response was one of instant and total love... and very little concern. "I love you." "You know I'm your biggest fan." "There's this girl I know who I think would be great for you (that made me laugh, and I knew it was coming)." "You're awesome."
One person said, "Thanks for sharing this - I feel like this will help our family. That's how families grow together, by helping each other out in hard things."
The only concern, and one that came about after the initial conversation, was wanting to shield me from whatever bad could happen by sharing this with the world. They had the same questions I've had, and the same concerns: how will this affect my ability to serve in the Church? To date? My professional and academic careers? My presence in the community? Everyone has problems, and big ones. But we don't necessarily have to share them with the world to make a difference in people's lives. What doors will close to me forever when I take this step that can never be undone?
I've spent the last many years trying to develop a closer relationship with my family. And in a few hours, I was able to share who I was with them and listen to their trials and struggles. Many of them reciprocated in the conversation, and told me about the things that had given them pause in life. It was like they were saying, "I may not understand exactly what you are going through, but I've been through hard things... and found peace as well... and I love you and will do whatever I can to help you along the way."
There were plenty of reasons why I felt I didn't need to tell my family. Why I was afraid even after making the call. But today I'm glad they know. I feel like I can appreciate their love more than before... and I'm glad that I have another support in life that knows, at least in part, a little more about the challenges I face.