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  1. Jake, I have so much respect for you. You have always been such a kind guy with a great heart. I wish that we would have stayed closer throughout and after high school. Sounds like you are doing well and I’m so happy for you.

  2. I just listened to this podcast. Wonderful Jacob!! I usually have a hard time finding time to listen to long podcasts but I love them and yours really kept my attention and interest. I think it’s so important that you shared your story and were honest about everything. It will help so many people. I loved your thoughts about the things the Church could change to help these situations regarding missions. How about they also get rid of that horrid song “I Hope They Call Me On. Mission”!?!!!
    Our son got called to serve in Argentina in ’96. He came home from the MTC after 6 weeks due to anxiety and depression. It was really hard for him. We picked him up and as we walked out the doors of the MTC, the Branch Pres said “now elder jensen, you realize don’t you, that you can never attend BYU right?” We were so bugged. Our son turned around and said “don’t worry, I wouldn’t want to”. Anyway….he had a hard time coming home although remained active in the church for a long time. He has some very interesting stories regarding the church since then and now has resigned. Stories that would make your head spin….or maybe not! 🙂
    Thank you again and thanks John Dehlin! Best of luck and happiness to you Jacob!!
    Sincerely, Sharon Jensen

  3. Jacob,
    Thanks so much for having the courage to share your story.
    I’m not LDS myself but I have many LDS people in my extended family – probably at least 100 now because there are three generations involved. I also have friends who are most likely gay but because they attend evangelical churches they are probably afraid to come out to themselves, let alone family or fellow church members.
    I think it is very likely that your video will (literally) save someone’s life.
    I’m glad to hear that you are happier and enjoying life now.
    Again – thank you for your courage and inspiring words.

  4. Perhaps policy has changed – but back in the 80s I was in a bishopric while living on the east coast attending grad school. I was only in that position for 6 months before we left the area – but I was involved in three different disciplinary councils (I think we still called them church courts then). (I have to say – the bishop was much more lenient than I would have suspected – he was rather hard-nosed about most things, but in these cases, he was extremely kind, caring, and much more lenient than I would have imagined). Two of the cases ended with formal probation – and the third in disfellowshipment. The justification for the disfellowshipment was there was no means of follow-up for probation – which was purely a local matter. The person involved was moving back to Utah, and the bishop wanted to ensure there was some type of follow-up – so the verdict was disfellowshipment.

    It well may be the local authorities didn’t know how to proceed with the imposition of formal probation – because it sounded liked Jacob’s reporting of it was the only source they had. Disfellowshipment is noted on the membership record – probation is not.

    Beyond that –

    Jacob – you sound like a great guy. Hang in there –

  5. Jacob, thank you for sharing your story. I feel that being sent home PLUS 9 months probation was a result of Leadership roulette. I know a missionary who kissed his companion, his companion confessed, and neither of them got in any trouble. Their parents were not informed by anyone other than their own son if and when he chose to reveal it. I only know the one who chose to reveal it. That you were treated so harshly is definitely the choice of the Mission President and perhaps his counselors.

    I am so happy that you are now open and have found joy living the life you were meant to have with opportunities to love and be loved by one you can be truly intimate with as nature intended.

    May you continue in joy and love and happiness.

  6. Jacob, What a wonderful young man you are. The love your parents have had for you growing up is evident in your story and your present circumstances. Our society is sometimes seen to have so much hate and bad in it, but you are one of society’s hopes for the future. Don’t get discouraged or lost in the negatives around you. Seek out those like John who can see the goodness and light in your heart. Any religion that demeans good people like yourself has some serious if not fatal flaws. Much happiness to you in your future life.

  7. So terrifying about his companion who told him he’d held knives at previous companions throats while they slept. I want to know why HE was not sent home to go to severe counseling??

    Jacob’s story was so poignant and made me weep. I was so grateful that his mission president made things as loving as might have been possible. i do not understand why Jacob was not simply moved to another area and left to be able to finish his mission.

    As a gay member myself, i could certainly relate to a lot of what Jacob said during those podcast. I didn’t figure out i was gay until after my mission, so he is not the oldest to discover this about himself… I am pretty sure i have him beat by a bit.

    Thank you for being so open, and so honest, Jacob, in what you have shared. I am so sorry for all the pain and emotional upheval you endured. I do not know how you managed to keep it together with such a terrifying companion as you described. I am so glad you let someone know what was happening and you got people there to help protect you.

    Sending love, Duck

  8. I am so impressed with your story. Being raised Catholic, the experience is so very similar, however, the openness that you have experienced is something that I only long for, After a lifetime of living 2 lives, I find it very freeing to hear your story, thanks for sharing.

  9. I listen with fascination to these stories of young men discovering their sexual orientation while on a dual mission to save souls and stifle their own souls. Ever so long ago, my high school sweetheart, whom I was set to marry once he finished college, began discovering his same sex attraction while we dated, a situation which worked itself out painfully as he tried to deny and suppress it, experienced bizarre dreams and physical expressions of anxiety until he went to college, found out he wasn’t the only gay man in the world, and was finally able to accept himself and begin coming out. One of the interviews in which your guest explained that when you try to respond to the opposite sex, your attraction to the same sex just grows and becomes ever more ardent and painful in its unexpressed state. That explained a lot.

    As I listened to Jacob’s story, it came home to me that so much of what we have is being squandered on outdated social mores, with people trying to hammer themselves into an acceptable shape while other countries execute gay people under their laws. You have to grab your freedom before someone else grabs it from you. Jacob and other young Mormon men like him are all too kind to a church that sleeps, in denial of the divine potential in every human, in denial of the tool kit left by Joseph Smith in the form of the law of adoption. The device is there for the inclusion of gay people in the highest realm of heaven, while narrow minded men offer them social damnation and the withholding of spiritual gifts. What a pathetic shame.

    Even with all of the controversy surrounding that rascal Joseph Smith, through thoughtful sites like this one I continue to discover that the breadth and depth of his thinking is not half understood or tapped by his church. Mother in Heaven is in that tool kit too, in an era when women throughout western cultures are thirsting for knowledge of the divine feminine, but she must not be spoken of. Perhaps the men at the helm of things will recognize all of the potential in that tool kit before it’s too late.

  10. Really great podcast Jacob, thank you, it was lovely to listen to, hi from England, jon is doing such a wonderful work, helping so many of us struggling individuals here, l so appreciate his hard work in helping us all in the ways he does, thank you so much for sharing your story with such love care and honestly, l pray the church will really start to become more open and honest in every way and more caring and compassionate and understanding of each person’s needs. l am so thankful for these wonderful podcasts and for people like jon who are out there trying to support those in need, great job jon, all the very best Jacob for the future, keep smiling and going forward and making a happy life for yourself, bless you and your family,

  11. Jacob’s interview gets at the issue of perfectionism that a lot of queer Mormons experience. I saw a lot of myself in his story. Being on a mission for me was an experience in non-stop guilt and shame, which let to an obsession with the rules. It’s really hard not to fall into the trap of feeling like those rules will save you from what you perceive as the darkness inside you (at least that’s how it was for me). I was lucky enough that things didn’t fall apart for me until shortly after my mission, but like Jacob I initially tried to resign myself to the idea of celibacy, again believing that just obeying the rules would make everything work out for me somehow. Of course, that idea quickly broke down. I’m glad it did for Jacob too. It truly is wonderful to get out there and experience relationships with other men and realize that they don’t have to make you feel wrong or impure, like you’re led to believe they will. I’ve been home from my mission for 4 years now, and married to a truly wonderful man for a year and a half; life is good and love is worth the struggle of casting off the fear that growing up queer and Mormon inevitably brings.

    The other thing that resonated strongly with me was what he said about feeling like he was going to disappoint his parents by not continuing the family line. I had that experience as well, and still do to some extent. Although we’ve had some rough patches since I came out, I enjoy a mostly positive relationship with my parents now. However I do sometimes consider how devastating the idea of not having me with them in the Celestial Kingdom must be for them. Although I don’t regret the choices I’ve made, it does cause me grief sometimes to think about what my reality means for theirs.

    Thank you for sharing your story, Jacob! It’s an important one.

    1. “sometimes to think about what my reality means for theirs”
      This breaks my heart, sadly they are not living in reality and no one knows what is beyond the grave.
      I think you could view being gay as special like the flowers on a tree. Why would you want to be a leaf?
      Your unique in this way please exploit your opportunity.
      From one of the leaves : )

  12. One of the cruelest things about a mission is the mandate against normal expressions of physical and emotional affection. Cutting these adolescents off from family and old friends, forbidding them to date, etc., is oppressive and wrong.

    What’s horrifying to me about this missionary’s story is that whether the cuddling was for sexual or platonic comfort, the ultimate reaction of those in charge was punishment.

    When you step back from the missionary program, church schools, and other exclusionary and draconian LDS practices, it’s clear to see why some portray the church in such a negative light, even going so far as to call it cultish.

  13. Dear Jacob,
    I’m an active member. Congratulations on serving an HONORABLE mission! Thanks for so unselfishly serving my church. You made it work for over a year. Navigating the issues you faced during that time was obviously a daunting task. I would have been a miserable failure. I’m so happy that you have landed on your feet. It looks like you have chosen a good an proper path. All my best to you and Godspeed.

  14. Jacob,

    I’m impressed with your honesty and integrity. I too thank you for serving an honorable mission in an honorable way. Best of luck to you! I too believe kindness is a perfectly wonder thing to build a life upon. In my opinion, kindness is more important then goodness. I enjoyed your story, thanks for sharing it.

  15. This story reveals how different Church leaders (e.g., your mission president versus your subsequent bishop) hold vastly divergent interpretations of what is considered confession-worthy sin or transgression: one pronounced dishonorable discharge and a nine-month probation for same-sex cuddling, while the other thought same-sex kissing didn’t even need to be confessed?! This disconnect within leaders’ interpretations of “sin” is confusing for members young and old, but for missionaries who are striving with all their might to live all the rules, it’s nothing less than crazy-making. Gail (above) mentioned “leadership roulette”–great term for this serious issue within the Church. I wish you all the best, Jacob.

    1. i often experienced this in singles wards–especially wards for those who were older. One bishop might consider passionate kissing sinful (as Spencer W. Kimball was known to say) while another bishop would openly say that he had total compassion for straight single people sleeping with each other while unmarried because the law of chastity was “so difficult, especially if you’ve been married before.”

    2. Confusing to say the least Kathy. Considering they claim to be acting on behalf of God I’d use the word inconsistent which takes you down the path that leads to the determination that Mormon leaders have no real connection to God. The worst scenario I’ve seen is a liberal bishop/stake president followed by an ultra-conservative bishop/stake president. Talk about confusing! Now these men can’t help who they are and will react how they choose to situations like Jacob and the others in this series. I think that is forgivable. Men and women make dumb decisions every day. It is the assertion that THEY and other Mormon leaders make that they speak for God… That is NOT forgivable

  16. Brave, Brave Boy. I hope others are inspired to be true to themselves so that they can be happy,,,,for heaven’s sake. After all it is called the plan of HAPPINESS! Good luck to you in all your endeavors.

  17. Hi Jacob,
    Thank you so much for sharing your story. I’m not Mormon but I grew up and still live in Mesa, AZ so I guess you could say it’s always been a part of my life.
    I’m so glad you are doing well! The best advice for families was the example that yours set at your homecoming… especially your mom expressing how happy she was to have you back. That is love!
    I was a little surprised your companion wasn’t sent home for mental/legal issues. Seems that your superiors took a huge risk letting him stay. And on top of that he had either committed crimes against other people, was having thoughts of continuing these harmful acts or he was lying about it to scare or coerce you and that is acceptable missionary behavior?! hmm…
    Thank your for your honesty and advice. I’m sure you will help so many people.
    Love and happiness,
    Marni

  18. Jacob you’re only 23 and you’re still in your journey learning to think for yourself
    I think the more you realize the roots of this church are lies you come to realize that the present policies and doctrines are also
    The reality is members and leaders of the church can sound loving –smile and even hug you–and yet still reject and judge you-extremely hurtful

    It has been so ingrained in you to respect and honor the church that you immediately blame yourself and think you are wrong
    The fact that you still say your mission president was a good kind man shows you don’t recognize how the church worked through him to reject you
    His decision to send you home was hurtful and cruel
    As well as his decision to keep you with a crazy dangerous companion

    You have suffered so much guilt and Remorse and pain and even fear needlessly!! you have experienced so much rejection and judgment needlessly! As you come to realize this you will able see what your religion has done to you more clearly

    Your religion was a culture and all consuming way of life and it affected you in ways you don’t realize
    Members of the church and leaders may have good intentions …..But the culture and core beliefs put great pressure to conform and be judged
    Whether you realize it or not your whole life you have been pressured and given guilt trips to make you conform even if it is camouflaged by outward appearances of love and concern
    I think for those raised in a that environment it’s going to take many years to separate yourself and feel completely independent inyou’re thinking and choices–

    The truth is they don’t have all the answers –their opinion of what is right and wrong is just man’s opinion it is not based on revelation from God (actually most of it is based on lies) therefore you’re opinion is just as valid as there’s
    Thank you for sharing your journey
    You’re a good Man Charlie Brown😀

  19. I forgot to thank John for spending some time asking questions about doctrine and history that contributed to your decision that the church was not true
    I also want to encourage Jason to move to Oregon where he will feel accepted and appreciated for who he is and not judged. it would be a much better environment for you and your future companion and possibly children you adopt🌲🌲🌲

  20. Jacob, I was a gay missionary many years ago. I was too scared & “closeted” to cuddle with anyone, let alone confess my attraction to men. But you served your mission well. And in my book, you have an honorable release from your interview on Mormon Stories. Good that you learned early how to think critically, and to be true to yourself. Good luck in whatever you decide to do with your life!

  21. Jacob
    What a wonderful young man you are. I am sure your parents are proud. Thank you for your honesty which was shared though such compassion to both others and yourself. Sounds like you are evolving solutions to some huge challenges of the heart and soul Well done!
    Your thoughtful suggestions for other young people considering a mission are powerful. May you create love and happiness in your life.

  22. Jacob, you indeed served an honorable mission. Even if not by the LDS view, more truly and importantly in the eyes of life. You were true to yourself, which is the measure of a man. You are a hero and deserve a hero’s welcome home. Like the Vietnam War American veterans, who never received a ticker tape parade on their return, but instead general shame for their innocent part and sacrifices in the War–you too were (many still are) embattled for the soul “God” gave you–something we hated ourselves for, but now beyond acceptance we love. Though being gay doesn’t make life easy (what does?), like in the above comment by Ken I too agree…you deserve that parade, nothing less. Besides the value of your own esteem and searching for who you are in this cosmos, I think will be the esteem you instill in others. Indeed, as Debbie said above, you will help save some of our family of “investigators” in life, as all the other Missionary and other interviews by our good brother Dehlin do. May you, the others, and fellow viewers, keep shining…in the light.

  23. I attended the Timpanogos Storytelling Festival in Provo Canyon last week. They had two pairs of sister missionaries helping out at the venue. I watched as one of the pairs walked up the sidewalk hugging shoulder to shoulder. I could definitely describe it as “cuddling.” There were lots of people around but no one appeared to even notice. I thought of this podcast. I guess there are two differences here: 1) public vs private, 2) sisters vs elders. In our culture, women showing affection is more accepted than men doing so?

  24. Great story. Good luck going forward Jacob! I was happy to hear how great your family was at handling everything and how hard they tried to make you feel okay. The whole airport part was pretty heartbreaking, but I just thought, man, your family really tried to make sure you knew they were proud.

  25. Hey Jacob, thank you for your courage and for sharing your story. Interestingly enough, my father baptized the first member of the church in a river in Costa Rica while serving his mission there.
    I didn’t come out until I was nearly 51 and now have a husband of three years. I wish you all the best!

  26. Dear Jacob, I can relate to your story very much. Even though I am not gay, I also struggled as a young man and missionary with guilt and shame, and have felt the fear and trepidation of confessions as well as the irrational terror later on of coming out to my Mormon family as having removed my membership from the church. Your statement about being ok with not knowing what you believe about God really resonated with me. One of the comforts of being a True Believing Mormon is “knowing the truth” because then you feel like you have all the answers to life. Taking those first steps of letting go of that false knowledge and going into that realm of not knowing is really scary at first. That said, it is also liberating as you’re finally able to really think about what *you* want to believe in and do of your own will, just like you said. Thank you for sharing your story.

  27. Jacob, thanks so much for sharing your story! I love your call for LGBT members struggling to not think in all or nothing extremes. And for everyone to find their own path. Love it.

  28. Jacob, you are a wonderful young man, honest and kind and more Christlike than those who judged you. It is common for us to lose all our faith when we leave the church but I hope you will still come to know the Christ that loves you unconditionally. Thank you for your honesty and cantor. I wish you all the happiness in the world..

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