Kevan Gardner – Mentoring and Support

“I was so utterly alone.”

I was so utterly alone when I came out. The only person I had [for support] was my friend Brad; that is it. He was in the same place. That was good that we had each other, but there was [no support]. The Mormon Church was a dismally hostile place. It was bad. It was very depressing. I went through suicidal times and all sorts of awful stuff. I am not by nature a very depressed person and it was so difficult. And of course, I’m in Provo, Utah. I did not have any one [as a mentor].

I would have much rather have had some support. It would have saved me who knows how many years of crap. I could have just gone on with doing the work that I feel called to do. I would have gotten to that sooner. I’m not sorry that I came out when I did, because I came out when the price of staying in the closet was greater than coming out. I paid a price for that, but I just couldn’t deal with dishonesty.

[While I was still at BYU] I found a copy [of The Swan], and there was this little Affirmation group [listed], so I called them up.[1] I was home on break, maybe it was spring break or something. I don’t think it was the holidays. Anyway, I went to that Affirmation meeting here in Spokane, which was really small. It was a combination of some Mormons who were staying Mormons and some members who had left the church or been excommunicated. It never was anything that called me very strongly. A lot of people that I met in there seemed to want to keep some of the trappings of Mormonism. I, quite frankly, thought that the trappings needed to go as well. My whole issue [with Mormonism] wasn’t just the gay thing, it’s the sexist patriarchal stuff, too. I mean, there are some good things about the culture, there really are. Things I still carry with me. But by the time I graduated and got back [to Spokane] that group was defunct. There had been one guy that was keeping it going and it was just too small.

I was at the Affirmation, years ago, in Salt Lake City. It was huge. It’s weird. It was all men. It kind of freaks me out actually. I never went back. It was like a church service. It wasn’t like the one in Spokane, which was more of a social support group. The meetings here were more social, but that one [in Salt Lake City] actually had an opening prayer and everything. And a speaker, which was on HIV/AIDS, so it was more topical to the group.

 

[1]The Swan was an LGBT newsletter in Spokane; Affirmation is a support group for LGBT Mormons.

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Source: Interview with Maureen Nickerson on 20 November 2006.