When I first began to distance myself from the church, I was motivated in large part by anxiety over my oldest child. I believed there was a good chance they were gay, and I worried for their future in a church where gay people are taught that is wrong to seek to make a commitment to someone you love and feel attraction for. I could not reconcile that counsel with a loving Heavenly Father who wants His children to be happy. I remember thinking many times that my youngest child would probably do just fine in the church, but my oldest would almost certainly face heartache and some extremely tough choices in attempting to reconcile their religious beliefs with the normal human desire to companionship. I felt that to continue to raise my children in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints would mean clipping my oldest child’s wings. And I simply could not do that. I am profoundly grateful that my husband understood this. While he remains an active latter-day saint, he agreed that we could respect our oldest child’s agency enough that we would not force church attendance past the age of ten. We both knew that, for the sake of fairness, we would also have to allow our youngest child the same leeway.
I never could have guessed that, in taking steps to protect my oldest child from potential religious harm, I was, in fact, protecting my youngest child just as much.
Two kids. Two coming-out stories. One nonbinary. One gay. I don’t know what the future holds for my kids. But I do know that they have parents who love them and support them and who want them to have joy and fulfillment in whatever paths they choose.
Growing up in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, I was taught from an early age to prepare for motherhood. I was taught that being a mother was my divine destiny. The greatest desire of my heart was to be a mother. There is no way I could have known that one of the most important ways for me to fulfill my role as a mother would be to create a safe place for a nonbinary child and a gay child to thrive. And the surest way for me to do that would be to provide a path for them to leave the very church that taught me the importance and value of motherhood in the first place.