God Loves Us and Blesses Us
"On judgment day, it is not our sexual orientation that will be placed on the scale, but our integrity, honesty and goodness to others”
By Daniel Collino, from Argentina
I was asked to talk about my experiences as a gay LDS returned missionary, and I didn't know where to start, so I guess I'll start at the beginning. I joined the Church at age 15. I was very excited about advancing in the Church, and from that early age I prepared myself to go on a mission. Shortly after turning 19, I was called to serve in the Argentina Bahía Blanca Mission.
I showed good leadership skills, and shortly after beginning my mission I was assigned to be a district leader. My promotions came to an end, however, when I got romantically involved with one of my mission companions. My companion made a confession to the mission president, and I was nearly sent back home. However, my mission president told me that he believed I could "change my tendencies" and I was allowed to finish my mission honorably—with no leadership positions, however, since my being gay excluded me from that privilege. For the remainder of my mission I hid my feelings, was "good," and thus finished my mission honorably.
I returned home and served in several church callings. I felt ashamed about what only I knew was happening to me, but an inner willpower pushed me to stay involved in the church, and that was too strong to resist. I served in several leadership positions and got sealed to my parents in the temple, which I believe are things I needed to do before my inevitable excommunication.
One particular year, a group of gay youth got baptized in my ward. I was longing for their friendship and ended up hooking up with one of them. There was at that time a woman in my ward who was in love with me and was literally throwing herself into my arms trying to conquer me. I had a talk with her, and she understood why I was rejecting her. In order to "help" me, she talked with my bishop, my bishop talked with his wife, the wife with a friend, and the story about me being gay ended up as the ward's best-known secret. Confronted with the fact that my mom was going to find out anyway, I had a talk with her and told her about my sexual orientation. She didn't take it too well, but did offer all her love and support.
Shortly after that, I was summoned to a stake court and, to make a long story short, they excommunicated me. After that storm I continued attending church. Some members who are more interested in other people's lives than in their own were trying to give me advice. Because of my personality, I put up with it and listened politely.
Years have passed, and I am no longer a novelty—just a "lost sheep." Fortunately, the ward members no longer try to give me advice on how to live my life. I am currently the pianist in the branch I attend. When I was first excommunicated, I was not allowed near the piano, but things are now more relaxed. I attend Institute classes and single adult conferences.
I am now 41 years old, and I continue attending church. I think I earned a place there and the respect of the members, who even let me participate and express my opinion during the lessons. They no longer ask me why I'm not married, nor do they harp on the importance of temple marriage. It seems that the longer they see my integrity as an individual, the more they respect and love me.
Although I am still working at reconciling my faith and my sexual orientation, I think such reconciliation is possible—we just need to know what we want. God loves us and blesses us. We are his children. On judgment day, it is not our sexual orientation that will be placed on the scale, but our integrity, honesty and goodness to others.
If this story helps brothers and sisters who feel guilty for simply loving in a different way, that will be a good ending, and I'm happy I wrote it. Thanks, Affirmation, for providing this space to share my experience and my feelings.