Torn Between Two Worlds: What It's Like To Be A Mormon Lesbian

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By Allysha Snow

For the majority of my early life, Mormonism was my whole identity.

I attended church for three hours every Sunday. I studied Mormon materials daily with friends, and I even participated in youth activities at my church throughout the week.

Even when I left for college, I served as president of my school’s Mormon women’s organization. I eventually transferred to Brigham Young University, a private Mormon university in Utah.

Mormonism made me feel both happy and proud, but it also caused me to hide another important part of myself for many years.

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Around age 13, I realized that I felt somewhat “different” from other girls my age.

I felt annoyed and ashamed when female peers would talk about the boys they were crushing on. One night, I told my best friend that I experienced “a weird feeling in my stomach” when I was near one of our other female friends.

Although my friend and I didn’t understand my feelings at the time, I later discovered that I felt those butterflies because I found that particular girl attractive.

Even after the realization that I had feelings for my own gender, I never called myself “gay.” I never told anyone about my attractions, either.

After all, my Mormon upbringing told me that homosexuality was sinful. I needed to live a moral life if I wanted to go to Heaven with my family someday.

I tried dating boys, but those relationships never worked out. Still, I fought against my “same-sex attraction” and focused all of my energy on my salvation.

I lived “in the closet” for 8 years, but eventually, I could no longer keep my secret to myself.

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The moral dilemma around my sexuality caused me to experience daily panic attacks, severe depression, and even thoughts of suicide. For the longest time, I genuinely believed that dying would be easier than facing the reality of being a lesbian Mormon.

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Thanks to a close friend’s encouragement, a few weeks before I graduated from college, I finally found the courage to come out to my parents. To my utmost relief, my parents responded with unconditional love.

They assured me that I would always be welcome in their home, no matter who I loved. The support my parents and friend showed me that weekend gave me the courage to graduate from college.

Even after my parents accepted my sexuality as a Mormon lesbian with open arms, it took me many years to finally love myself exactly as I am. The dissonance between my religious beliefs and my sexuality caused me the deepest pain I’ve experienced in my entire life.

In 2017, after a long internal struggle, I finally stopped attending the Mormon church and adhering to its teachings.

I have been dating women for the past two-and-a-half years.

In that time, I have lost the privilege of taking the sacred sacrament on Sundays. I can no longer enter Mormon temples. I’m also not allowed to say prayers or give speeches in church. I can’t volunteer my time as a teacher, minister, or organizational leader of any kind.

However, I am finally choosing to carve out my own spiritual path and live a new life outside of the walls of the Mormon church.

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Allysha Snow is a writer whose work has appeared on YourTango, Unwritten, and All4Women. She writes primarily about being a member of the LGBT+ community and coping with chronic illness.

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This article was originally published at Unwritten. Reprinted with permission from the author.