Hi, I'm Dallin.
I love exploring new places and learning about other cultures and languages. I was a mormon.
I was born in Provo, Utah, but mostly grew up in rural southern Arizona. I'm the youngest of five children and always tried to be the perfect son. I was quiet in class, but loosened up around my friends.
My family enjoys teaching, music, and generally everything creative. I've learned to play several musical instruments, including the Cello and Flute, but Piano was my first and continues to be the only one I claim any real skill with. I also participated in the community children's theatre a lot as a kid.
Around the time I started high school, all my siblings had graduated and moved out of the house. I still had friends at school, but two of them began fighting and I got emotionally crushed trying to mediate between them. I was able to find friendship and community in the school choir and FBLA clubs, but in my private life I had started to build defensive walls.
I had been taught and completely agreed that looking at naked girls or lusting after them was a bad thing. But that was never a problem for me. Instead, I would try to look at the other boys my age. On our only-recently-not-dial-up Internet I would search for pictures or video. But of course I wasn't seeking out "porn" or anything "gay" because both of those were also bad things.
I had already experienced one or two periods of doubting my faith, but each was resolved by feeling the Spirit or considering some logical tidbit like why would the Three Witnesses lie? I felt good at EFY in the summers and decided I wanted other people to feel this good, so yes I'd go on a mission.
During a youth temple trip interview with my bishop when I was 16 or 17 I admitted that the stuff I searched for on the Internet was only ever boys. He gave me the church pamphlets and had me talk to a counselor, but neither of them directly confronted me about sexuality, so in my own naive and sheltered way I was able to see him a few times and eventually felt happier so I stopped. I was able to abstain throughout my senior year of high school and graduated in good standing with everyone involved. My parents knew that I had issues but never knew the details.
I went to BYU in Provo, and absolutely loved my freshman year. I was in a dorm with five other guys who included me in their activities. I did folk dancing, studied computers, and had fun living as an adult out in the world.
I was called to the Hawaii Honolulu mission and went through the Salt Lake Temple for my endowments.
Leading up to the mission, though, I had started losing weight and having a small appetite. The day I entered the MTC I started having some chronic back pain. In Hawaii while eating with members I would often be unable to eat very much at dinner. In a mission where the average weight gain is 20-40 pounds, I was losing weight. After only six months in the field and a few medical tests my president agreed to release me to go home and get cared for. I was diagnosed with Crohn's Disease and started taking medication and learning which foods were problematic.
Instead of trying to return to the mission, I returned to BYU. But this time I lived off-campus and my roommates did not take effort to integrate me into their lives. Everything added up to enough stress that I quickly relapsed into my not-explicitly-gay-because-I'm-naive porn, and emotionally I would cycle between guilt and apathy. Over the next three years I stayed generally independent and isolated, slowly building up pressure and eventually seeing my grades begin to drop.
I was able to graduate, though, and I moved to an apartment in neighboring Orem, Utah. That September during a phone call with my mom she asked if I had advice about dealing with porn, since she knew something was going on with me in high school. I finally told her that it was only ever boys, and for the first time things clicked in my own head.
I sought out a counselor, not to change my sexuality, but to discuss my cycling depression. Unfortunately, the person I chose seemed out of his league. So even though I was able to use the time to explore my past, he wasn't able to provide me with any useful advice and I stopped after only two or three sessions.
I found an organization called North Star and began attending events. This was the first time I had a group of friends since high school, and we all shared a commitment to the gospel while still agreeing that boys are cute. We would hug, sometimes hold hands, but for me it never went past that. I spent the next two or three years integrating this new understanding that I was gay into my identity alongside my faith.
On my shelf
On the Mormon Spectrum
# Why I left More stories of 'Why I left' the Mormon church
I moved to Seattle, Washington in 2016 to work for Google. The move uprooted me from North Star and the generally Mormon culture. I found an apartment halfway between the office and church and began attending the local single's ward.
I pretty quickly gravitated towards this one friend, and we'd skip sunday school to stay in the lobby and talk about queer things. During these talks I began to wonder why I went from an apparently happy child to an obviously sad adult without anything clearly traumatic to account for it. Maybe I had clinical depression. I should seek out another counselor.
The only other out gay guy in the ward referred me to Josh Weed, who I had heard about but didn't realize was a local therapist. It seemed perfect; a gay Mormon man married to a woman would understand all the intersecting pieces of my life.
And Josh was completely different from my earlier counselors. He immediately had me questioning previous assumptions just because it's what other people wanted or thought. I formed a narrative about my youth that helped explain how I was living a double life, trying to please my parents and community by presenting as the perfect child, while hiding away my attractions and fearing their power.
I would naturally forget to make regular appointments with Josh, and I was feeling good with this new super-power of self-determinism. So our sessions got fewer and further between.
Then out of seemingly nowhere I had a thought... Am I attending church solely to please other people? Do I actually believe any of it?
I decided on what it means for me to "truly believe" something: that whether or not there is evidence, the world and myself only make sense if it is true. So I took this definition and asked myself about everything from Joseph Smith and the Spirit to Jesus and God. What other people did or said wasn't enough. I had to have my own deep conviction or else it wasn't really *my* belief.
And I found myself lacking in everything except the concept of "we don't understand consciousness or free will, so a soul is possible." Everything else, about the gospel, church, and life before or after this earth, it all *could* come from the minds of men. I didn't have any conviction of its truth, so I stopped claiming any belief in it. I refused to conform to expected behavior without sufficiently convincing reason.
I continued to attend church. At first, I tried to "translate" what was being said with religious motivations into more secular advice you might find and agree with outside. And I'd talk with my friend, who also did not believe as much as you would assume given a random sample. But then 2020 hit and church went remote.
After losing my faith, I began to watch YouTube videos by atheists or ex-mormons, which helped me accept and move on from thoughts that maybe it actually was all true and I was just being misled by Satan. I went from "I don't believe, but can see a way it's true and I just don't know it yet. I have nothing against the church." to becoming aware of how similar to a cult the members and leaders often behave.
When church started up in person again, I went back because I was the organist, but I started noticing how people talked and encouraged others to act. It made me uncomfortable for the first time, and I no longer wanted to be associated with things. I didn't want to be seen as implicitly endorsing it by helping out with the music.
I decided to stop going entirely, so I asked to be released from my calling. When the bishop asked me to explain I gave him my reasons and an ultimatum: I will no longer be here after my birthday in two months, so you need to find someone else by then.
It's now been a year since then, and I feel so good and confident now that I'm making my own decisions and taking responsibility for myself.
Questions about Mormons My Answers to Questions about Mormonism
#Link to this answer of 'Are you happy?' by Dallin Are you happy? See more answers about 'Are you happy?'
Leading up to my "faith crisis" I often felt like I was, on average, unhappy and couldn't say why. I described it like having someone pressing down my shoulders. But once I stopped claiming to believe, that weight went away. Now, whatever I decide to do, even if that's drink alcohol or have sex with a guy I met online, I'm satisfied because I know why I did it. I considered the risks and rewards, and I accept the consequences. I've got plenty of problems to deal with in my life, but I don't have regrets.
#Link to this answer of 'Did you want to sin? Is that why you left?' by Dallin Did you want to sin? Is that why you left? See more answers about 'Did you want to sin? Is that why you left?'
I lost my faith without intending to. The question of my belief arose at a time when I was actively attending church and did not intend on breaking chastity rules due to my sexuality. My morals were originally taught by my parents, and even now that I've left I still have no interest in many of those behaviors.
I've tried a few things. I've liked some, disliked others. And I'm confident that I haven't harmed anyone in the process. And now I have my own experience instead of having to rely on others.
#Link to this answer of 'How do you now explain the spiritual experiences that you had as an Orthodox Mormon?' by Dallin How do you now explain the spiritual experiences that you had as an Orthodox Mormon? See more answers about 'How do you now explain the spiritual experiences that you had as an Orthodox Mormon?'
Humans are social. We rely on those around us for stimulation and protection. When we do something bad, we are punished by society. And when we do something good, we are rewarded by society. We are taught all this from infancy, and we are able to imagine hypothetical futures when making decisions.
Regardless of the context or culture, people can feel an upsurge of elation in response to a positive reward. We can even construct this reward ourselves without anyone else around. So when we behave the way we are taught, when we expect to feel a certain way because of the music or the words on a page, we may feel a burning in our bosom.
Every spiritual experience I can remember is possible to explain as an emotion arising because I met my family's expectations, or I was listening to powerful music, or because I was surrounded by other people telling me positive things.
And I've been able to feel that emotion outside of any spiritual context. And I've known other people who understand this emotion and its causes. This isn't a phenomenon unique to the church, which is what you would expect if it was the only true gospel.