Hello! My name is William and I am celebrating my 28th birthday today… Even though I am so grateful to have another year of life, there were times where it was not that easy…. Confusing aspects of sexuality in my childhood started around 7 years of age, where my bishop at the time, had to interview me for my baptism. It was during this time I confessed that I was “dirty” due to the sexual abuse I survived two years prior while living in Arizona. The bishop’s response to me and my parents at the time was that I “did not need therapy because I was too young to know what that was.” This is a bishop that I have later found out to be a monster.
Fast forward five or so years later with the same bishop, this was a man who everyone considered to be the “cool bishop.” I specifically remember going to pool parties at his house, where all the youth would gather and socialize. I would be at such events and notice the bishop would be often going along with the youth and playing alongside us. In our interviews together, I remember him commenting “masturbation was completely normal to do for boys my age.” Even though I had not even thought about it, and would not engage in such behavior until much later (most likely due to the strange conflict that existed between what the Church Officials in Salt Lake were preaching during General Conference talks and what my bishop at the time was saying), I would get asked this question, as well as invasive questions around my sexual abuse as a child. This would persist until this bishop was removed and I was subjected to the next batch of church leaders who started shaming me for being attracted to other men.
I am currently living my life as a proud gay man and could not be happier. This was after years of questioning and inappropriate grooming which I know was a regular part of my experience as a young man in the LDS Church. There are rumors circulating around that this bishop was, in fact, a pedophile, but I have no way of proving these rumors to be true. Along with all the negative things I heard as a young man, around the ages of 16-19, I had to endure strange messaging from church leaders that included my patriarch, Stake President, and several of the bishops at college and home respectively. It has taken years of therapy to undue the confusion and rage within me, and childhood sexual abuse aside, I am still an amazing person. I am a survivor.