We would like to thank Cal Burke for letting us share his story. Cal is a powerful example and disciple of Jesus Christ. He is a gay member of the church. He has a firm testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ and is on a mission to show love and compassion to all of his brothers and sisters. He hopes to help others who are struggling to feel loved and maintain their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and in His true church.
The first person I ever came out to was my Mission President.
It happened eight months or so into my mission. I was really struggling. I had never told anyone, and I would barely ever think about it myself.
I was struggling with feelings toward another elder at the time, and I thought that was going to mean I was going to be sent home. I was so nervous. I felt like an abomination. I had prayed and fasted and begged God to change me for years, and it wasn’t happening.
I had poured so much energy into being the perfect kid my whole life (grades, athletics, grooming, seminary, eagle scout, etc) in order to cover up who I really was, in order to not be cast out by family, friends, and church – it only made me feel like I was perpetually dying.
I knew that I needed help. I also knew that if my family found out, they would disown me. (My family is a whole other story). But I needed to tell someone. I needed help.
We had our interviews for our zone with our mission president one week and I was really struggling. But I had to be honest.
I walked into the room, sat down across a table from my mission president, and put my head in my hands and said, “President, for as long as I can remember, I have only been attracted to other boys. President, I’m gay.”
I started weeping because I couldn’t believe I had said it out loud.
My mission president darted his hands across the table and firmly grabbed onto mine.
“This is who you are,” he said. “And we love you. We love you. We would never think any less of you. We *love* you.”
I was sobbing, and I couldn’t stop.
I remember not being able to tell if I couldn’t stop crying because I had finally told someone, or because somebody I loved and revered was finally seeing this part of me that I had hated for so long, and this person loved and revered *me* still.
I just kept weeping, and he kept saying that over and over. “This is a part of who you are. And there is so much hope for you. There is so much hope.”
I’ll never forget the incredible amount of love I felt from my mission president. Didn’t wind up getting sent home, obviously.
We love you. We would never think any less of you. We *love* you.
The impact of my mission president’s incredibly warm and positive reaction was important because it prepared the way for me to be able to handle the incredibly, overwhelmingly negative reactions I would get from every.other.priesthood.leader and family member I came out to after.
But that little interview was the beginning of something so much bigger. I had other challenges I needed to face and overcome before I’d be able to completely sort out my sexuality, but my mission president’s positive response saved my life. I know that.
He is still one of my heroes.
This is a part of who you are. And there is so much hope for you. There is so much hope.
Please friends, if any of your friends, or siblings, or family members (ward OR biological) trust you enough to come out to you – please follow the example of my mission president.
You will be remembered by them forever. Please make the decision to love and support them.
You might also be interested in the article by Dallin Steele > A Powerful And Painful Glimpse Into The Heart Of A Gay Mormon
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