I’m a recent BYU graduate.
I had a fairly typical Mormon upbringing and arrived at BYU very much a believer in the LDS church. I decided to attend BYU because it had a good program in what I wanted to study, I was offered a full-tuition scholarship, it was a good distance from home, and I believed the LDS environment would help me to maintain my standards at the time.
I served a mission after my freshman year and then returned to BYU, testimony as strong as ever. I had known that I was gay since I was 13, but being an RM at BYU made me really confront my sexual orientation for the first time. I had hoped that serving a mission would make it easier, that maybe I’d somehow be attracted to women or at least feel less horrible about the prospect of life-long celibacy. That didn’t happen, however, and the inner conflict I felt caused me to become depressed and hopeless about the future. I felt my life had no purpose, and watching my friends enjoy dating and romantic relationships made me begin to question why God would deprive me of those experiences.
After several months of introspection and seeking for an answer from God on what he wanted for me, I came to fully accept my homosexuality. Despite the messages I had received in church, I felt, as strongly as I had felt about anything, that God would want me to be happy and to experience having an intimate relationship with someone I was attracted to. I decided that I did not agree with Church on this issue and felt at peace about it. With my testimony now cracked, I began to look into other troubling issues in the church’s history and doctrine that I had tried to ignore before and what I found only increased my doubts until finally I had lost my faith completely. This was at once incredibly liberating and distressing. Nearly all of my friends were believing members. I depended on BYU for nearly everything: my job, my housing, and my education. If I let known my disaffection, I would lose all of that, not to mention the fallout that would happen with my friends and family. I considered transferring to a different university, but I knew doing so would set me back considerably and cost much more than I could afford. At this point I was only a couple of semesters away from graduating. Besides, I actually really enjoyed my courses and the academic side of BYU. So I decided to stay and keep my loss of faith a secret from all but a few trusted friends and family members.
Having to live disingenuously and lie about my beliefs was very taxing. I sometimes felt unable to voice my true opinion in classes. I had to fake my way through assignments in religion classes. I constantly lived in fear that I would be found out and reported to the honor code office or to my bishop who had the power to get me expelled. I even worried about a roommate reporting me to the bishop based on the type of underwear I wore. These are not concerns anyone should have to deal with. A university student’s life is stressful enough as it is. I was fortunate that I was able to make it to graduation without a problem. I felt as if a large weight was lifted from my shoulders when I saw that my degree had posted and I received my diploma.
I believe BYU should change the Honor Code to allow LDS students to change their religious affiliation and not get expelled. The current situation restricts the religious freedom of its students and does not reflect the teachings of the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.