Every month we’re going to go indepth to find out a little bit more about you, our lovely members! So please say a big hello to Mel Guthrie, 24, from West Richland in the United States. She’s been with Gays.com since January 2011 (happy first anniversary, Mel!), and here she tells us about her experiences of coming to terms with her sexuality while also being a practising Mormon. Oh, and also about her love of soccer and scary movies!
Mel, you’re a Mormon. How has this worked with your sexuality?
My religion hasn’t worked with my sexuality! The Mormon religion says that people can be gay but they cannot act upon it. Acting upon it is considered a sin. There is no such thing as being gay and being Mormon, unless you choose to be unhappy and someone you’re not. Growing up in a Mormon family and telling your family you’re gay can lead to many problems such as being disowned, ignorance, judgement… My biggest issue was being so confused about my sexuality. I was confused for at least four years. This year I finally knew who I was.
Do you think your confusion from your sexuality stemmed from the Mormon beliefs that you grew up with?
Yes, my confusion with my sexuality had a big part in the fact that I was raised Mormon. I wouldn’t say the Mormon beliefs were necessarily forced upon me; I chose to go to church in my youth, and actually enjoyed the religion very much. It wasn’t until I met my ex-girlfriend that I realised who I was and that I liked girls. I had never had a boyfriend growing up and didn’t kiss a guy until I was 20 (it was terrible, I must say… LOL!). But the fact that I was raised in the Mormon religion, part of me felt that being gay was wrong and it was something I could change. That was not the story; being gay is NOT something I can change, even if I tried.
What are your beliefs as a Mormon and how do these interact with your sexuality?
Growing up as a Mormon, I believed I was to be with a Mormon man and marry him in the temple. There was no other way to live life. No drugs or alcohol and no sex before marriage. Keep the Sabbath day holy by attending church, not purchasing anything, no sports… Also paying ‘tithing’, which is 10% of all earnings. Obviously, being gay I cannot get married in the temple. The church says that marriage can only be between a man and a woman. Since I stopped attending the church, I’ve stopped following some of the beliefs. I believe that I can be with anyone who makes me happy. I believe God knew what he was doing when he created me; God does not make mistakes.
What is day-to-day life like as a Mormon?
Well, when I was active, day-to-day life meant attending many meetings and events, organising for activities or church callings. In some aspects, I will always be a Mormon. I hold the qualities like treating others as I would like to be treated, not swearing, providing service for others, etc.
Do the Mormons live within a sort of ‘community’? If so, are you still living there?
I’ve never heard anything about living within a ‘community’. We are placed in different ‘wards’ depending on where we live. Your ward attends church at a certain time and people within that ward have different jobs they do. As I’m no longer attending the church, I don’t attend my ward but I was actually part of the ’singles ward’. This is for people ranging from ages 18 to 30 who aren’t married. The leaders put SO much pressure on the young adults to get married and have kids ASAP. It was almost like attending high school all over again. There is drama, fighting over guys and girls, etc. You feel like you are on display and are sorted into categories depending on what people have heard about you, how often you go to church, if you are worthy enough to attend the temple, who you’ve dated, what you do…
“I spent so much of my time trying to make everyone else around me happy,
but finally I realised that I had to do what made me happy.”
And do you have to dress in a particular way?
Yes, we’re supposed to dress modestly. Basically, showing the least amount of skin possible. No low-cut shirts, no skirts above the knee, no shorts above mid-thigh. We’re also meant to wear one-piece swimming suits, not bikinis. And, of course, no shirts that show our stomach area. I don’t follow all of these guidelines. I like to keep myself covered, but I do wear bikinis and tank tops. I respect my body very much and so am not comfortable exposing a ton of skin.
Are you out to your parents?
I’ve been living with my parents for the past year and a half but am in dire need to get out! I told my parents I was gay when I was 21, almost four years ago. Mom saw it coming… she was upset but has never ever treated me differently. My parents don’t agree with the way I live my life, but I know they love me no matter what. All I can do is give them time and distance. Over the past year and a half, I’ve dealt with a lot of confusion, frustrations, sadness, loneliness, and heartache. I felt like my parents were ashamed to have a gay daughter, afraid to tell others. I spent so much of my time trying to make everyone around me happy. I put on an act and pretended to be someone I wasn’t. I was scared of hurting those around me so instead I let myself hurt. But I finally realised that I had to do what made ME happy and know that some people were going to be upset about that or hurt over that.
Do you have brother and sisters? How did they react?
I have two older brothers. My oldest brother is not active in the church. When I told him I was gay, he told me he already knew. He felt bad that I felt ‘trapped’ in the religion and told me I was lucky to have a brother who loved me no matter what. He’s always been supportive and been by my side. My other brother is active in the church and was married in the temple almost two years ago. He and I have never directly talked about me being gay but he knows. He approached my other brother about the subject and the two of them talked about it. I know that he supports me and loves me, even though we have never talked in person about it.
So, aside from Mormon life, what are your hobbies and interests? Your camp on Gays.com is ‘Tomboy’! ;)
My biggest passion is soccer – I’ve played for 17 years. After college ball, I starting playing on co-ed and women’s leagues. My strongest position is striker. I’m quiet speedy and can outrun most girls I come across. I was also a track and field star in Middle School and High School where I took home five state medals and shattered school records! My other biggest interest is animals. I currently work at a vet clinic as a vet assistant. I plan to someday work with animal control.
Talking of which, on your profile you say your best friend has four legs!
My best friend does walk on four legs! His name is Marley, and he’s my golden retriever. He’s my buddy and always happy to greet me at the end of the day.
And you also like films, too?
I LOVE scary movies. I will pay to see any kind of scary movie, even if it’s been dubbed the worst movie of all time! I am very much a kid at heart so I love going to animated films and kids’ films too. You’ll often see my Mom and I on a date seeing Rio or Smurfs!
And lastly, do you have a lovely lady in your life?
I’m currently single. The past few years, I have taken the time to focus on myself. I was so confused and had so many unanswered questions about the church and my sexuality. Back then I was lost and confused, but today, I’m confident and happy! It was a LONG road… but well worth it. I wouldn’t change a thing! I’m ready now to find that one person I can’t live without; I’m ready to share the rest of my life with someone! •
What do you think of Mel’s story? Please leave any thoughts or comments below. And if you fancy dropping Mel a message or a cheeky wink, check out her profile on Gays.com! Not a member? Scroll back to the top of the page and register for free!
If you’re interested in being a Gays.com Member of the Month, please send us an email telling us a bit about yourself (including any interesting or unusual hobbies you have) to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll get back to you. Thanks!