Queer Mormon Women*: An Update on a Continuing Journey

KathyCarlston 1by Kathy Carlston

This is a post that is a part of the Queer Mormon Women* series.  Click HERE to see all the posts to date.

In 2012, I had the opportunity to tell a bit of my story in the LGBTQ issue of The Exponent II. I wrote the piece at the end of 2011, while I was unsure of what to do with my life. Shortly afterwards, I stumbled across a story written by Blake Hoopes in Brent Kirby’s Gay Mormons?: Latter-day Saint Experiences of Same-Gender Attraction. Blake talked about how he had spent most of his life begging for God to take away his attractions. Then one day it occurred to him that he’d never thought to ask God how He felt about his being gay. He prayed with that question and described his experience in his story. I immediately dropped my book and finally asked God what His thoughts were about my life.

Instantly, I had one of the most intense, if not THE most intense spiritual experience that I’d had. I was filled with peace, acceptance, and, above all, hope. I felt inspired that God was not just all right with me being gay, but excited for me to find someone to love and live with forever. He was excited for me to spend my life finding different ways to make her laugh and make her as happy as I possibly could. But on top of that, I had an almost physical sensation of a switch being flipped in the back of my head. Suddenly, that desire and longing that I’d had to be dead, (that I’d carried since I was a kid) was turned off.

I spent the next year doing visual effects for movies, including The Avengers, Oz: The Great and Powerful and RIPD.  I was shocked at the amount of energy that was unlocked in my soul as the result of that one, affirming prayer. All of the energy that I had previously spent in trying to fight and change my attractions was now free to go to other places. Over the course of 2013 to 2014, I founded a non-profit called Resilient Hope (http://resilienthope.org) with a goal to provide resources for those who have experienced trauma. Once again, the Exponent II gave me the chance to tell part of my story. During that time, I decided to move to Utah as my home base for a number of reasons, including the fact that I wanted to find a dating pool with folks who knew why Mormonism continued to be extremely important to me.

2013 was an incredibly hard year in my life. I was out of work for 8 months while my industry outsourced most of its jobs. I was completely head over heels for a woman who didn’t feel the same way, and towards the end of the year I ended up in the hospital for 6 days. But then, at Thanksgiving, I met someone who changed my life.

kathy puttingRingOn (2)Berta Marquez and I became fast friends after I Facebook-stalked her, having heard her podcast on Gay Mormon Stories. She was the first one to hear the delightful news that my family said they wanted to come to my wedding, should that ever happen. She and I worked together on several projects, and we started dating toward the beginning of 2014. Later, she told me that three days before we worked together, she said a prayer in her car. She prayed for God to bring her someone brave who would help her to be brave, someone who would help with her advocacy work, someone who would always be kind, and a number of other things. For me, I feel like I recognized her more than anything else. Being in her presence feels like being home. It’s like someone took all of the attributes I’ve loved the most about past loves and put them in one person, and then made her a fellow Trekkie. We had both written songs for Sir Patrick Stewart independently of knowing each other.

kathy wedding (2)On October 13, 2013 I woke up in the hospital for the first time of my life. On October 13, 2014 I woke up with my sweetheart and married her. We gave our friends and family only one week’s notice of our wedding, once marriage was legal in Utah. We had around fifty people there who love us, including our parents and several siblings and cousins who made the trip. The memory of being enveloped in that cocoon of love still brings tears to my eyes.

At the beginning of my journey, I had no clue what the steps would be to get to a better place. But now I wake up every day with a wonderful wife. I feel secure in my heart and I trust God that the future will continue to work out. If there are any words of advice that I could offer, it would be to trust God, find your own path and know that you are worthy of love and respect.sunset (2)

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11 Responses

  1. Cami says:

    Interesting! I find it presumptuous and a little condescending that many well meaning LDS people say to us (I am trans) just endure your affliction in this life and in the next life you will be as we are. Many of us who have navigated this far without taking our lives have come to accept and appreciate who we are. I would mislead if I said I have never wanted to be “normal”. However once I finally realized who I really am rather than who I pretended to be I am fine. Sorry, but I no longer need to be anything else in this life or the next.

  2. Caroline says:

    Love this story, Kathy. Made me teary reading it. I especially appreciated your description of feeling God’s love and acceptance. Thank you so much for sharing your story with us!!

  3. Liz says:

    This is such a beautiful love story! Thank you so much for posting it here. It made me all teary – this was definitely the best thing I read this Valentine’s Day. I especially love that picture of all of your friends/family with you both. What a gorgeous group!

  4. LOOOVE! Your story makes my heart happy. I am so glad you found your self and a your happiness. 😀

  5. Emily U says:

    I love, love, love the story of your transformative prayer. And this: “It’s like someone took all of the attributes I’ve loved the most about past loves and put them in one person, and then made her a fellow Trekkie.” So romantic! So beautiful. Thanks for telling us about it.

  6. Kelly Ann says:

    Kathy, it makes me so happy that you’ve found confidence and love. Even if in Utah far from Nations pies :-).

  7. Aimee says:

    I will never forget reading the first draft of your essay for the LGBTQ issue of Exponent II. Your honest and clear voice have always impressed me. But the joy, peace, and love you’ve expressed here is a powerful and moving addition to your story. Thank you so much for sharing it. You deserve all the good things.

  8. EmilyCC says:

    I echo Aimee here. I can’t fully express how much your story-telling abilities and your honesty and vulnerability have added to my life. Thank you so much, Kathy!

  9. Melinda says:

    So happy for you, Kathy! Your writing has always been so articulate and honest. It’s lovely to hear this exciting update.

  10. Ziff says:

    Thanks for sharing this, Kathy. I particularly love the story of your experience of God pouring out love when you asked what God felt about you being gay. I only wish–sorry for the tangent–that more Mormons and particularly Church leaders could have such an experience where they/we realize this too.

  11. Jenny says:

    I loved your description of your prayer and God’s answer, as well as the positive energy that filled you afterward. I’ve had a similar experience so that really resonated with me. Your story is very powerful, especially because of the joy and peace that you found after seeking to know God’s will and letting go of what other people think. I am so happy for you that you have found peace and love in your life.

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