My branch president said, “You can’t think gay thoughts, they will lead to going to hell.”
I was 7 years old when two older boys sexually assaulted me. These boys were over for a sleep over with my older siblings. I awoke to these boys trying to hold me down and penetrate. I was able to fight my way out of the situation. This situation led to me to feeling that I was gay. I was 7 and I didn’t even know what being gay meant. I simply assumed that because that happened it meant I was gay. Thinking I was gay was not the problem, it was what followed after that was the problem.
I was taught in primary that being gay meant “I’d end up in hell.” I overheard older siblings talking about what the church believed about gay people. So, after a few years of feeling this I went to my brand president. I wanted to tell him what happened and so I started with the statement of , ” I think I’m gay and I think a lot about this.” There were no questions about why I was thinking this and I was actually cut off. He seemed upset with me and proceeded to tell me how awful my life would end up if I kept thinking I was gay. Then I would end up in hell for thinking and behaving this way. He said that I shouldn’t talk about this with anyone as it would only cause trouble. I honestly didn’t understand why I was a bad person all of sudden. This guy had no damn clue how to talk about this issue and obviously had way too much power for an untrained person.
I was afraid to tell anyone about this situation. I worried I would be hurt if I told on these boys. As time went on I realized that I wasn’t gay. I also realized that even if I was gay there was nothing wrong with that. I saved enough money in high school to go get the help I needed and have sense worked past this. I have become a trauma psychologist who helped many through these situations now. The more I learned about trauma the more I realized how damaging that conversation was. One of the biggest issues was the trust I had in someone who is not trained to listen and navigate conversations in a way that doesn’t shame. I was a priesthood leader in the church on a few different levels and was astonished at how insufficient training was in interviewing youth. The LDS church needs to stop putting their local leaders in these situations.