I grew up in a very loving, traditional LDS home in the Washington, D.C., area. Earning my Eagle Scout award my freshman year of high school, graduating from four years of early-morning seminary, and attending Brigham Young University in Provo, I had as idyllic a Mormon upbringing as there could be.
I completed a full-time LDS mission in Arizona, where I taught the principles of Mormonism to English and Spanish speaking seekers. My mission gave me the opportunity to serve in a range of leadership capacities, and anchored me more deeply in both the pragmatic and the mystic aspects of a consecrated life.
My devotional life became complicated by the inescapable realities of my identity as a gay man. I pursued seven years of counseling and interventional approaches, calculated to change my orientation from gay to straight. My experiences in “reparative” therapy (also known as gay-conversion therapy) included participation in organizations, conferences, and retreats that spanned secular and religious approaches, including the BYU Counseling Center, Exodus International, Evergreen International, North Star LDS, Journey Into Manhood, People Can Change, LDS Social Services, LDS priesthood counseling, and various 12-step programs. I also served as a temple ordinance worker, and continued serving in quorum presidencies, and various stake and regional leadership capacities.
After seven years in this metaphorical wilderness, I realized that I was no longer complying with the temple mandate that is given to Latter-day Saints to “fulfill the measure of their creation.” Instead, my life had become consumed by trying to fight the measure of my creation, and the fruits of the efforts were not good.
With the co-realization that my Mormon faith is better characterized by the mythic and the symbolic content of doctrine and belief, rather than their historical and literal qualities, I took my spiritual journey in a broader Christian direction, and no longer affiliate officially with the LDS Church. I value the revelations of divinity through Jesus Christ, and the various traditions that have emerged to worship and understand him. I also value the inner light that has been expressed outside of Christianity, and consider myself an earnest seeker of light and truth, come whence it may. Perhaps somewhat ironically, this spiritual posture has reconnected me with the most expansive souls from the LDS tradition, and–in my opinion–encapsulates the principles of Mormonism at its best.
I am currently a PhD student at the University of Utah, where I am completing my graduate studies in neural physiology, and conducting basic and applied research on human brain systems.