|Dylan O'Brien (My husband).|
"I don't think you'll want me to be on the panel, I might embarrass you." I responded. My Mom didn't quite understand what I meant. I asked if I could have some time to think about it and they said that would be fine. I sent a text to my Dad a couple minutes after he left to go back to work:
"I'd like to be on the panel. But just to be clear, if questions are asked about gay marriage I'll answer with my honest opinion."
"OK, I'm in."
I knew that I wanted to be honest and if the question of gays and the church came up I would be candid even if that meant outing myself in-front of some members from the ward on the panel. But I wanted to also be honest in my introduction of myself on the panel. Should I just out myself from the start?
We arrived at the panel and I still wasn't sure how to construct my introduction statement. What I was sure about was my desire to be honest and candid. However, my worry of outing myself to ward members on the panel vanished and I was ready to do it., if only I couldn't find the right words.
The panel ended up not being what I envisioned. It was a small class and the members of the ward numbered 9, when there was only time for three to speak. My father was one of the three to speak and was asked only one question. The question was how he dealt with juggling his family, work and church responsibilities when so much of the church is about strong families. Did his family time suffer? He first looked at Mom and said she would be in a better position to answer. My mom answered in brief and then looked at me to finish. I stated that my Dad has been a Bishop or Stake President or in a counselor position since I was seven and I never felt like he wasn't around for me. Any time I wanted to go to him or spent time with him he was there. I never felt like a time with my Dad suffered.
I was a little disappointed that the panel experience was not as I envisioned it, as I think that would have been a fun experience. However, I am proud that I overcame my fear of outing myself as a gay Mormon to the class and the ward members who were present. That, for me, is a big step. Now I want to transpose this bravery into the next opportunity I have in conversation with a ward member to be who I really am without fear.