Happy Birthday to Me

On queerness and the Mormon church

Matthew Gong
Gay Mag
Published in
14 min readJan 10, 2020


Illustration by Carmen John

EEvery year for the last eight years, I have written myself a birthday letter. They’re glorified journal entries that distill experiences from that year into meaningful stories. After I came out, I started posting the letters for family and friends to read.

Last year, I didn’t post a letter. I didn’t write one either. It’s not that I didn’t want to; it’s just that last year was . . . complicated. When I get stuck in my head, my boyfriends like to remind me jokingly, “Other people feel things, too — your emotions aren’t unique,” and they’re usually right. However, there aren’t many people who are queer and whose dad is an authority in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (also known as the Mormon Church). If there are, I would love to meet them for a nice cup of group therapy. We have so much to talk about.

Even before I was born, my dad immersed himself in Church service. He accepted every church responsibility asked of him, including teaching Sunday school in our congregation, being a youth group leader when my brothers and I were young, to serving as a Stake President for student congregations at BYU. When I graduated high school and went off to college, his church responsibilities changed. He went from local callings in nearby congregations to a new calling as a General Authority, which…