School started, and I expected to fall back into the perfect slot I had fit in when I left BYU. During my freshman year, BYU was paradise. But now that I was back I found that much of what I had loved before I couldn’t stand. Church meetings were bland and felt hollow, like people were just telling stories. People seemed to be missing the point of the gospel in all their gospel-talk. And the culture was extremely appearance-based. I couldn’t believe this was the same place I had been before.
In addition to that, my feelings were getting stronger. In the repressed state I was in they manifested themselves in unhealthy ways, often hyper-sexually. I couldn’t talk to anyone, and there were some days I would weep, pleading for help. But God never answered. Not like I expected. He never sent someone to call me when I needed it. He never took my feelings away.
Finally, I couldn’t take it and I began chatting with other gay youth online. At least there I could gain some sense of connection. In the midst of this I began to feel the weight of the anti-gay position of the church more and more. I feared to talk to people about this, and I felt very alone.
I made friends with a couple people online that I enjoyed talking with regularly. Looking back, however, I realize how unfulfilling these virtual relationships were.
In November of 2009 I went with Monique and some of her friends to see New Moon, the new Twilight movie. I went, excited to be with friends. But through the entire movie I found myself drawn to Taylor Lautner. I was a repressed gay boy, and he was a hot guy on the silver screen. It was killing me inside. I couldn’t beat the emotions down, and it was making me sick.
Monique noticed, and asked if I was okay. I lied and tried to look better, but I’ve always been a bad liar. On the drive home I stared out the window the whole time. For the first and only time in my life I truly honestly wanted to die. I’ve never been able to think seriously about suicide. But in that moment, I wanted the car to crash and I wanted to cease existing.
A week or so later I was texting with Monique. She asked about that night, and I finally decided to tell her. “Monique, I think I’m gay,” I texted. She was shocked. She had never seen it coming. And she hit me with all the questions that tore at my soul. Did I still believe in God? Was I leaving the church? What did I feel about celestial marriage? Some of the questions hurt, because she was supposed to know me. She was my best friend. And she had to ask so much. I told her that I was the same person, with the same faith, but with this attraction. That seemed to be enough for the time being.
The next day she wanted to talk on the phone. We set a time, and I endured the texts that came in the meantime. A couple hours before we were going to talk I had a doctor’s appointment. I was having pain in my lower abdomen, and I went to get it checked out. They thought it was an infection, but the meds hadn’t been working. So we went to get an ultrasound. The doctors sat down with me and told me that I had a tumor, and it was malignant. I was 21, and I had cancer.
I handled the news well. I called my parents and even joked about it. We set up a time for the surgery the following week. And then I left.
I sat in my car and bawled. Not only had I failed on my mission, and I was an abomination for liking guys, but now I had cancer. I felt betrayed by God, whom I had tried to serve so diligently. I bent over the steering wheel and wept.
A moment later, there was a tap on my window. Two women, one likely the mother of the other, were at my passenger window. I rolled down the window.
“Are you alright?” one asked. The tears kept coming. I told them about the tumor. I told them how the doctors thought that perhaps the conditions on my mission contributed to it. I just cried. They asked if I had family nearby. I told them no, I was an hour away from home.
They walked over to my door, pulled me out of the car and wrapped their arms around me and wept with me. I ached. I felt so alone, so abandoned by everything I had held dear. But here were two women who I’d never met, loving me, and weeping with me. Never had I had an experience where someone was sent to me at the right time and the right place. To this day I don’t know these women’s names. But that day, God sent me angels and in his own way, wrapped his arms around me.