Sunday, January 15, 2012

"From the time I really accepted myself ...."

"When Queen Latifah enters a room, heads turn.  Even when she is dog-tired.  In sweats.  Hair tucked under a trucker's cap."This is how the article in Parade magazine starts.  Then, it said something that caught my eye.  "'I accept that I'm me,' says Latifah."

It says, "Latifah, 41, unwittingly shares what she believes is the secret for her success.  'I a me.  I don't have a choice!  From the time I really accepted myself, everything got brighter.  People were attracted to me for me.'"

Now, I don't know what she is talking about.  I know that there is speculation that she is gay.  She has also struggled with her weight.  It has got to be difficult to be a woman, a black woman in a tough business, entertainment world.  No matter what her understanding is, she hit the nail on the head.

I remember when I first came to grips with my struggles.  I was in high school.  I really wasn't too different from others.  I liked guy things.  I played sports.  I was musically gifted.  I was a smart kid.  Camping and hiking and blowing up things was fun.  Most everyone seemed to like me.  I wasn't so different.  But, I knew I was different.  It was a huge thing (internally) in my life.  But, something changed when I reached my junior year.  Something hit.  I began to come to terms that I liked myself.  I don't know why it hit then, but it did.  It wasn't that I hated myself, but it was an understanding that I liked myself.  I was a good guy.  I still didn't understand why or how or ... anything else.  But, I decided that I couldn't hate myself.

I went to a year of college and another epiphany hit me.  I was loved by God.  Now, that doesn't seem so odd.  I grew up Mormon ... I knew that God loves all of his children.  But, we all need to have that moment when we know that "I" am loved by God.  Not just learning that God loves everyone; God loves ME.  I had that moment and it helped me plan for my mission.  I served a mission and 2 years later came back home.  My family had moved and my scholarship was not held for me while on my mission.  So, I went back home to ... Provo.  And, I started up at BYU.

It was during my time at BYU that the next piece of the puzzle unfolded.  I realized that, like Queen Latifah, that I needed to accept myself.  I realized that I could admit (I'd known since late grade school) that I was attracted to guys.  I shared this with the first people, some church leaders.  Luckily, my experience was incredible.  They cried with me and prayed with me.  They shared the thought that it was probably something that was genetic.  And, I could admit that God loved ME and I was gay.

Isn't life fun?  I've had several moments when I've learned a lot about myself.  I am not sure what tomorrow holds for me.  But, I do know that for today, I am okay.  I've never been happier.  I've never been more close to my Savior.  And, "from the time I really accepted myself, everything got brighter."

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