Happy Birthday to Me

On queerness and the Mormon church

Matthew Gong
Gay Mag


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…