Thursday, September 11

Life Begins Anew: Coming Out on Facebook

[From the note I posted today on Facebook.]

Mark Ryan Johnson's Facebook profile

I’m gay.

There, I said it. It’s not an easy thing to say nor is it an easy thing to be. I’ve hidden it the majority of my life. I spent most of my adolescence trying to ‘ignore’ it, ‘repress’ it or ‘change’ it. And since I joined the Church, I’ve spent the time since trying to ‘overcome’ it.
Over the past two years, I’ve slowly started the ‘coming out’ process and it has been the most liberating experience of my life.

“Failing to acknowledge our parts keeps us from evolving… Rejecting our parts is like amputating our limbs. The more parts we deny and the longer our list of how we “should” be and behave, the more we cripple ourselves. And we do so in vain: the parts we decide we should not express eventually surface in devious, often destructive ways. This usually entails emotional or physical pain, or both…”

I have stopped acting as I “should” be and begun to be and act who I am. And I never want to go back. I never want to go back to feeling alone, unloved, different or evil. I have no need to be scared—this is who I am and who I have always been.

That’s not to say I have everything figured out or know what life has in store for me. I’m not just gay, I’m Mormon, too, and being either is hard. Being both is hell. For the most part, I still love the Church and the people in it. I love the Gospel and it’s clarion call to become less of me and more of something better. I love that within the Gospel is the power to become that ‘something better’.

Before my mission and on it, I thought that ‘better’ meant ‘normal’ or ‘straight’ or ‘heterosexual’. I thought if I worked hard and gave everything I had, that God would finally ‘fix’ me.

And He did. He gave me experiences that helped me to grow, gain perspective, become less selfish and more selfless, learn to sacrifice and understand my duty to help others. But he didn’t make me straight.

I’m not going to have a white picket fence and I’m never going to need to buy a suburban. I probably will never need to bring Cheerios or kids books to entertain my children during Sacrament meeting.

My greatest fear is that I’ll live life alone and unloved. That I’ll have a whole row to myself during Church, that I’ll only contribute to other people’s children’s mission funds, that I’ll face a lot of nights just cooking for one. I’m afraid of what happens when I lose my job or get in a car accident and have no one to hold me or tell me “everything is going to be okay”. I’m afraid I’ll have no one to share the good times, the funny stories, my dreams and secrets with.

I have hope though. Not necessarily hope that I’ll change or the Church will. But hope that life will be kind and that I’ll be able to find happiness, joy and friendship. Hope that whatever journey I end up taking, I will have friends by my side and that never again I’ll have to feel entirely different and alone.

Hope that instead of feeling ‘different’, I’ll begin to feel love.

As I’ve ‘come out’ to a few close friends I’ve been greatly encouraged. I’m grateful for an Elder’s Quorum president who isn’t afraid to talk to me about ‘it’ and tries more than anything to empathize. Grateful for a friend whose first reaction was to say “I know” and embrace me in a hug. Grateful for a straight guy who doesn’t mind that by hanging out with me, people think he’s probably gay, too. Grateful for an Institute teacher who is willing to share the burden with me. Grateful for a guy, who most people would consider homophobic, who gave me a blessing and a hug. Grateful for meeting a young man who I barely knew that showed me that I wasn’t, in fact, alone in the world.

I’m not sure anyone is going to be entirely surprised by this (if the Backstreet Boys didn’t give it away, maybe it was my affinity for Banana Republic or Broadway musicals). Sorry I didn’t tell you sooner. Sorry that I hid so much of me for so long.

This is me: an avid pop music fan, a pizza-delivering finance graduate, a return missionary, a kid with a crush on Justin Timberlake, a guy who really wants to be something better than he is.

It’s nice to finally introduce myself to you.
Mark Ryan Johnson


  1. Honey, who doesn't have a crush on Justin Timberlake?

    Brave. Brave.

    I'm thinking of it, myself--but at the same time, I fear the repercussions on my wife and kids. *sigh*

  2. This is way too weird - this very thought occurred to me this morning ... and then you and Chase blog about it nearly simultaneously ... and then kengo says he's been thinking about it.

    Congratulations?!? I'm really not quite sure what the appropriate response should be.

  3. Wow, is something in the air?

    I came out last Sunday in Sacrament meeting and on my blogs and Facebook the next day. Good luck with everything!

  4. YEAH MARK! although, i'm kinda feelin' left i'm the only moho from seattle that isn't coming out on facebook. haha

  5. Congrats Mark! I hope you enjoy your freedom and I hope that you and Chase have a good time in Europe! :)

  6. Ok, so you like guys. Now what? What is more important to you, being gay or living the gospel? I think its great you accept yourself and are honest to those around you. That's awesome. You have your agency. You know right from wrong and you know what Heavenly Father wants of you and how much he wants to bless you. I do think that some of what you wrote makes some broad assumptions that you can't be happy unless you are one way or that you must be lonely if you choose to live the commandments. I think that some of what you wrote are self fulfilling prophecy and that a lot of it rests on you choosing to act or be acted on. Either way, it doesn't change what I think of you as a person or a friend. I want you to be happy. But at the same time because I love you as a friend I want you to obtain everything that God wants to give you. I want you to know that I'll always be here to support you as a friend, maybe a friend who lives far off but a friend that if you need one would be there if you reached out. Remember, the Lord can do so much more with your life then you can do alone and his Gospel is the only REAL way to be happy eternally. Everything else is fleeting. But I don't need to tell you that. As for Justin Temberlake, Mark your way hotter then he will ever be.

  7. Mark, why didn't you tell me you came out! Congratulations!!! I was just looking over your facebook and saw that you came out last month. I am so out of the loop. *sigh* It made my day. We have to talk. Call me sometime.

  8. That's awesome. I hope to come out on facebook one day too. Well done.

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  10. Just like any other good church, it's more than just a religion, it's a community. It can be really tough to have that community reject you and have people see you as just 'a gay' or feel the need to preach every time they see you- I know personally what the LDS church teaches and would hope for it to produce more people like your Elder’s Quorum president who know how to love a person.

    I knew a few myself, but my life took me in other directions away from the church. I'm not going to say that's the right thing for you, but even now sometimes I miss the sense of community, but going back... I don't feel like I belong any more either. Who I am is always going to be at odds with what is expected of me there, so I don't think I can go back, nor do I ultimately want to. I just have to find that community elsewhere.

    All I know is you have a tough time ahead of you, but I hope it works out. I think you've gotten through the hardest bit and it will get better.

  11. you are amazing <3