I remember being called in for an interview with the bishop when I was about fourteen. He said it was an interview to lead the Teachers’ Quorum. He got to the question of the law of chastity and asked if I was keeping it.
“Do you masturbate?” He asked the question as he stared right into my eyes. I’ll never forget those blue eyes.
And he just stared. I thought this was his power of discernment – that he could see right through my soul. Finally, I said, “Yes.” He then asked about details – frequency, location, what I thought of when masturbating. I wouldn’t be called as a leader, and I was told to stop taking the sacrament. He asked me to talk to him every Sunday with a secret phrase to let him know how I was doing; that way, he could keep tabs on me even without interviews.
At this time, I started to realize I was gay, but I felt such an incredible amount of shame that I didn’t tell anyone. Instead of sitting with family during sacrament meeting, I hid either in the foyer or in the back of the church so they wouldn’t see me skip the sacrament. This mentality led to self abuse and, eventually, to a close suicide attempt. I’m 33 now, and I’ve married a wonderful man. However, I still deal with the shame that had been heaped on me when I was younger – not shame now, but depression and anxiety.