Gay Mormon Comes Out of the Closet… and Gets It All on Tape

If you’re gay and come from a Mormon family, what better way to come out than by telling those closest to you and capturing their reactions on film?

That’s what BYU student Jimmy Hales did:

His mom’s reaction (at 2:20) is priceless.

Hales, who is still a Mormon (good luck with that), writes on his blog:

Every time I came out to someone it was emotionally exhausting. I had to psych myself out before hand, find a time with them alone, pull my camera out, and hope things didn’t go awry. It drove me crazy. After coming out to someone it was always the same episode. Drama. I had to act that scene out over and over again. As I type this, there are certain people that are very close to me that I still haven’t come out to, simply because I’ve run out of steam. They’re going to see my video and be like, “Holy ….!” With other people, I would come out to them in a very causal matter. Most the time they didn’t believe me. Those conversations usually ended up more serious and emotionally draining, so I stopped with them too…

He deserves better than to remain celibate the rest of his life. But if he has the courage to out himself, he’s capable of leaving the Mormon church in due time, too. So here’s hoping he puts out another video in a year or two where he tells everyone he’s leaving the faith…

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the chair of Foundation Beyond Belief and a high school math teacher in the suburbs of Chicago. He began writing the Friendly Atheist blog in 2006. His latest book is called The Young Atheist's Survival Guide.

  • Darren

    Nice language skills! “I’m gay” in Japanese (I think that is Japanese) and ASL…

    • Steve

      His sister’s a “spaz”!? Kudos for coming out as a gay Mormon, pity he had to go and spoil it with that word!

      • http://www.last.fm/user/m6wg4bxw m6wg4bxw

        huh? What’s wrong with “spaz?” Or did I miss a joke or something?

        • Elizabeth

          I think that word is considered derogatory outside the US.

        • JohnnieCanuck

          From spastic, spaz is a casual slur for someone who is uncoordinated or incompetent. High school kids use it much the same way they use ‘gay’.

          For anyone with muscular dystrophy or similar problems, it’s going to be pretty hurtful.

        • Anon

          ‘Spaz’ is a derogatory word for somebody with spastic diplegia (a form of cerebal palsy). It’s incredibly ableist.

          • rlrose328

            Sweet mother of pearl… “ableist”?? I know we have to be sensitive and inclusive and not be so many -ists, it’s insane, but this one really pushes my politically correct buttons.

            • Anon

              Yes, because who doesn’t want to be discriminated against based on whether or not they have a disability?
              Just because you’re not saying it in front of somebody who has that disability doesn’t mean that it’s right.

              • http://www.last.fm/user/m6wg4bxw m6wg4bxw

                I’m trying to follow your thinking on this. Are you suggesting that a word like “spaz” should never be used around people with spastic diplegia? Or never be used around anyone, for the sake of protecting people with spastic diplegia? Just curious; Steve hasn’t responded.

          • monyNH

            Now you’re just making shit up, I’m sure of it. I think you’d be hard-pressed to find anybody who has ever heard of spastic displegia, let alone associates “spaz” with that disease. “Spaz” is just another version of “dork”, as any child of the 80′s will tell you; and while name-calling isn’t nice, it’s often not derived from any particular prejudice, although you could probably twist most anything into an “-ist” of some kind or another.

            Besides, it’s hardly the worst thing a brother can call a sister (for example, my older brother is partial to “turd”…we are very mature). :)

            • Pseudonym

              In places like the UK and Australia, you’d be hard-pressed to find someone who doesn’t associate that word with cerebral palsy. The most prominent awareness/fundraising charity in those countries was called “The Spastic Society” until a few years ago.

              • http://www.flickr.com/photos/chidy/ chicago dyke

                this is the first time i learned of that association. i’ve used spaz my whole life as a kinder sort of insult, obviously i do not like to use “gay” or “cunt.”

                i’ve always understood it to mean somebody who has a tendency to be silly and prone to freaking out over little things, with overtones of clumsy. i will take care not to use it outside the US.

                • Pseudonym

                  My general rule about cross-cultural insults is there’s no shame in ignorance, but once you know, you should be careful about your audience.

                  I remember the big blow-up over the word “niggardly” about 15 years ago. It’s not a word that I use (“stingy” is my preferred synonym), but it didn’t occur to me until then that anyone would think it had a racist overtone. Actually, now that I think about it, it wasn’t until about five years ago that I learned that the word “uppity” (which I always considered archaically classist) carried a connotation of still-fresh racism in the US.

                • baal

                  The bullies at my schools in the south would use “spaz” and twitch their arms and fingers (striking a elbows in hands up pose) while then saying ‘herrrrr’ or ‘durrrrr’*. It was clearly making fun of the disabled. I never saw anything quite like that in the north so I suspect the degree of offensiveness is regional.

                  *this is also why I’m aggrieved of the SJW who like to ‘derp’. It’s a near neighbor and while they get it in some contexts, they have utterly failed to understand that intentional infliction of emotional harm via the suggestion that someone is disabled or an idiot is not ok.

        • curtcameron

          I recall Tiger Woods playing in a golf tournament in England a couple of years ago, and in talking to the press he described himself that day as playing like a spaz. The British were all upset, but Tiger and we Americans were confused as to why. Over here “spaz” is not considered a term that refers to someone with a specific disability, it’s just a description of someone being uncoordinated.

          I’m somewhat of an English usage geek, and until then I had no idea that anyone might consider “spaz” to be offensive.

          • http://www.last.fm/user/m6wg4bxw m6wg4bxw

            Very interesting contribution. Thanks.

  • Master3004

    I feel really bad for this kid, and all gay mormons who feel the need to stick with the faith. They are squandering their one chance at life , and the ability to live it to the fullest and with someone they love, based on a false doctorine that tells them there is something wrong with them.

  • Paul

    His mom is hot!

  • rlrose328

    The fact that he says he just has to be celibate and alone for his entire life makes me so insanely sad, anything positive about this video is completely overridden and irrelevant. It’s one thing to embrace who you are and be batshit happy about it, but to stay within the confines of a nonsense religion and also be batshit happy about it is just plain wrong. Nope… No loving god would insist you be alone and have no soulmate or insist that you remain without love for your entire life.

    • http://twitter.com/Cafeeine Cafeeine

      While a healthy sexual life is not to be ignored, to say that this overrides having found acceptance within his family and friends and being happy with himself in his own skin is a bit much.

  • atheisticallyyours

    I found this clip humourous, dangerous, and irritating all at the same time. Humorous because of the reactions of certain subjects (like the Mom!), dangerous, because this guy could have been MURDERED by the WRONG PERSON he “came out” to (not everyone on this planet is so “understanding” or “comprehending” as in this video, and IRRITATING because it is yet another example of WHY someone who is gay has this apparent “OCD” to announce that they are! Is this a requirement if one is homosexual (I still have not been able to get a logical, coherent answer on this!)? Its feeding the “myopia” that people who are gay put themselves into that their sexual orientation is the end all and be all of their existence, and that is truly MARGINALIZING! Finally, for this guy to admit that he is both gay AND a Mormon is just BEYOND FUCKING STUPID! I mean, keeping the identity of being a Mormon that adheres to a mind-set that is COMPLETELY ANTI-HOMOSEXUAL defies all rational thought! I guess if he has to be “out” about something though, it should be about being gay, and put that damnable “Mormon” in the closet-where it truly belongs!

    • David Starner

      So if there was something so emotionally heavy that people might murder you if you told them, you’d rather people who care about you found out through the grapevine then telling them yourself?

      • atheisticallyyours

        Its more like a “proceed with caution” approach is needed. Why should a gay person worry if others think they are gay if they are? And since a person’s sexual orientation IS private, who needs to know, & WHY?

        • Yoav

          You’re so saturated in your privileged position you don’t realize how often you let people know about your sexual orientation. Have you ever mentioned your girlfriend/wife in a conversation, do you have a picture on your desk, have you ever invited them to the office holiday party? Each time you do that you “shove your heterosexuality in everyone’s face”, why is it OK for you but horrible when done by gay people?

          • atheisticallyyours

            Privileged position? LOL! What the hell might THAT be? And what IS my sexual orientation anyway (as if it is ANYONE’S BUSINESS!). I do know I have NEVER “shoved heterosexuality in everyone’s face” by “coming out” or being in a ridiculous “pride parade”! And I never said that what gay people do “announcing their orientation” to the world is “horrible”, but there is truly something mentally bizarre about those who have the OCD need to do so!

            • Yoav

              You enjoy the privileged position of living in a society where heterosexuality is assumed so you never have to “come out”. You just take it as a given that you can mention your opposite sex partner, effectively announcing your heterosexuality, without it being taken as such because of the privileged position enjoyed by heterosexuality in our society. Gay people need to come out, and have parades, for the same reason atheists do, to force society to acknowledge that not everyone is a christian heterosexual and I can assure you that as soon as being gay and/or atheist is considered just as unremarkable in the US as being straight and/or christian no one will need to “come out” in scare quotes.

              • atheisticallyyours

                In WHAT part of today’s day and age is heterosexuality “assumed”, when you can’t tell WHAT (or in my case even CARE!) what the sexual orientation is of a person (although there is that principal in the South who claims he knows how to spot a homosexual teen based on “looking gay”!)? And WHEN DID I mention an “opposite sex” partner? Is my partner (whether heterosexual or homosexual anyone’s business?). As for “coming out” to prove a gay person is part of society, I would think the activism and a pending Supreme Court decision would be PROOF ENOUGH that gay people exist! So, again WHY is a recording of “coming out”, or a ridiculous “Pride parade” really needed? From a freedom of speech/assembly issue, I have no problem with it, but to “promote existece”? I think the quantity of constitutional rights lawsuits from homosexuals AND atheists proves their existence overwhelmingly!

                • Yoav

                  Are you really going to claim that we don’t live in a society in which heterosexuality is assumed as the default? Do you really claim that a hypothetical straight person (not you atheisticallyyours who as you keep insisting I don’t know, and don’t really care to know) who mention their partner is considered unremarkable but if a gay person do the same its “coming out” and shoving their orientation in people’s face. And public events like pride parades or the reason rally are part of building social visibility that can help in foster political wins like the recent votes on gay marriage and the supreme court taking on the cases against DOMA and prop 8.

                • atheisticallyyours

                  I am NOT a sociologist, and do not have the “societal expertise” to claim WHAT “sexual orientation” is considered a “default”! I just think adults who are comfortable with theirs need not announce it to the world like a bunch of attention-seeking diva celebrities. Gay people exist, straight people exist. So what! who cares? Why DOES the world need to know?

                • Yoav

                  You don’t need to be a sociologist to see that we live in a society where heterosexuality is considered the norm and anything else is considered different at best or an abomination at worst. You should remember that there are several states where sexual orientation is not considered a protected class so a person can be legally fired for being gay so a chance mention of their significant other in a conversation, something straight people do all the time, can in practice out them and as a result cost their job, in addition to all the “christian love” they may get from family and the community. This is the background in which people “announce it to the world like a bunch of attention-seeking diva celebrities” and as we can see from the last few decades it was an affective strategy since people find it harder to support discrimination when they’re not just dealing with some faceless “gays” but instead have to deal with denying rights to John from accounting and Jane from down the street.

        • David Starner

          His mother may have heard from a neighbor “Have you thrown that faggot son of yours out yet?” I don’t think he wanted her to think of a response to that while processing the fact that he was gay; I think he wanted her to think about how she was going to respond the fact he was gay while he was standing there, letting him shape the discussion not the evil neighbor.

          • http://www.last.fm/user/m6wg4bxw m6wg4bxw

            It’s time to fold. The “privilege” card has been played.

            • nope

              “privilege” isn’t just a buzzword that tumblr kiddies throw around — it actually means something and does have merit to it.

              • http://www.last.fm/user/m6wg4bxw m6wg4bxw

                I acknowledge its merit, and yet, the more I witness its usage, the more cynical about it I become.

                • Conuly

                  That’s nice, and I’m sure we are all refreshed and enlightened by your point of view, but do you have anything substantive to say in response to the comment?

                • http://www.last.fm/user/m6wg4bxw m6wg4bxw

                  You’re both refreshed and enlightened, thanks to ME, and still you want more. Wow.

  • fsm

    He knows Lucy Lu!

    • Conuly

      But presumably not Lucy Liu.

  • Greg G.

    He should do a video about coming out to his gay friends as a Mormon.

    • flyb

      He probably doesn’t have any gay friends, unfortunately. Although his “high school bro” Richard is probably a candidate. NTTIAWWT

  • http://www.facebook.com/markfheil Mark Heil

    While I don’t think this video is faked, I have a feeling there’s more here than meets the eye. The way he so casually says that it means he will be celibate (and in one of the clips he tells his friend that he’ll always be single), makes me think that he may actually be part of a group within the church that is pushing this agenda. Basically telling any gay mormons out there that they can never act on being gay, but hey, look how happy I am!

    • Stev84

      This line is definitely part of a new Mormon PR campaign. After the Prop 8 fiasco – which was a legal success for them so far, but brought them a huge amount of negative publicity – they are desperately trying to sell a kinder, more gentle Mormonism. “You can be gay, but you have to be celibate” (or marry a woman) is exactly what they are pushing now.

      You can also be certain that Mormons will hold him up as an example to their gay relatives and ask them why they can’t be like him. They did so with that Josh Weed asshole.

      • Pseudonym

        Do bear in mind that it may not be deliberate on his part. Just because the video is in line with the PR campaign doesn’t mean he’s some official part of that campaign. It could just be that the PR campaign worked on him.

    • http://www.flickr.com/photos/chidy/ chicago dyke

      you may be right, but i don’t think so. read his blog. it’s a typically young person’s rambling as they face the truth of being queer and are filled with emotion about it.

      it’s poorly written, has spelling and punctuation errors, and often doesn’t make much sense. this is what religion does to the young, and why i oppose them. but it seems pretty “normal” and not like a PR burst written by a pro.

  • edgar ayala

    Ah religion really doing a number on many gay people, a friend of mine comes to mind. What a shame and disgrace the mental shackles that humans have invented.

  • http://friendlyatheist.com Richard Wade

    “So what does it mean to be a gay Mormon? Well, it means I’m gonna live a celibate life. SUCKS!”

    The irony of that last expression is both hilarious and heartbreaking. In one way it doesn’t suck at all. I hope that this young man eventually sees through and rejects the inhumane oppression that his propaganda film is selling.

  • Nonamed

    Gay Mormon. Do I get the honor of making the first “black KKK member” comparison?

  • Rain

    It’s show biz folks. He (or they) makes pop videos on his page. (And ignores his commenters too.)

    • Pseudonym

      A gay guy in show biz? Now there’s a stereotype.

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/chidy/ chicago dyke

    WHERE IS MY HAT TIP, YOU BASTARD! ;-)

    i posted this on another thread today. i was wondering if you’d see it. it’s a very sad story. i left a mess of comments over there, trying to encourage him to step into the light of reason and telling his evil mormon supporters egging him on that they were setting him up for a life of suffering. gawd they are insufferable. i hate mormonism. it makes christianity look reasonable (and no, i don’t consider it “christianity”).

  • Rain

    Tim Tebow cancels appearance with anti-gay anti-Mormon “Dr.” Robert Jeffress. “Dr.” Jeffress does not like gays or Mormons. Tim Tebow has canceled his appearance with “Dr.” Jeffress, even though Tim Tebow is neither gay nor Mormon.

    http://newyork.cbslocal.com/2013/02/21/tim-tebow-cancels-appearance-at-controversial-dallas-megachurch/

  • http://www.wideopenground.com/ Lana

    I enjoyed his sense of humor, but man, I feel sad for that kid. If he does leave the Mormon church, I’m afraid his family and friends won’t be as accepting as they are about him being gay.

  • http://www.facebook.com/karen.uncoolmom Cary Whitman

    He is dead wrong at the end of the video where he says something like, “church doctrine isn’t going to change”. It has changed and will certainly change again. The Mormon church is run much more like a business than a church, when the big-wigs see that change is necessary for further growth they suddenly have a “revelation” and change the church doctrine. They did it in the late 1800′s to get rid of polygamy and gain statehood for Utah. They did it in the 1970′s in response to the civil rights movement; suddenly blacks were no longer “cursed” and can now hold the priesthood. Once gay marriage has become mainstream for a few years I have no doubt there will eventually be another “revelation” and their God will suddenly decide gay weren’t so bad after all. The truth is that Mormons are not nearly as anti-gay as a lot of other religions. Former Utah governor John Huntsman just released a statement urging republicans to back gay marriage, if Obama hadn’t made him ambassador to China, Utah might even be one of the states considering allowing gay marriage right now. Mormons are pretty much ok with gays as long as they remain celibate and dont try to lead a Boy Scout troop or anything. The kid who made this video is basically accepting the churches stance on gays; tell us who you are so we can keep our kids away from you, don’t try to have a relationship or a family, and we will tell you we still love you and keep you in the flock. He is right that it sucks, and it’s highly likely that someday he is going to want more. But it’s a lot ask of someone like him to leave the church, and essentially risk being abandoned by his friends and family (who clearly do love him) right at the time when he needs that love the most.

    • Pawel Samson

      “Mormons are pretty much ok with gays as long as they remain celibate and dont try to lead a Boy Scout troop or anything.”
      lolwhut??? Urging gay folks to remain celibate and keeping them away from kids doesn’t make them “ok with gays.”

      • http://www.facebook.com/karen.uncoolmom Cary Whitman

        Calm down! I’m not trying to say this viewpoint should be acceptable to everyone, just that it is accepted by most Mormons, including gay Mormons, just like this kid. And it’s nowhere near as bad as the “God hates fags and he’s allowing innocent people to be killed by mass murderers and hurricanes to punish us for treating gays like human beings” kind of crap that other churches support. This poor kid clearly accepts what he has been told by his church, but at least he recognizes that what his church is telling him sucks. That’s the first step in questioning all the crap his church is telling him and I hope, for his own sake, he continues to question his church and eventually finds a way to have a life that doesn’t suck.

  • stojadinovicp

    I loved the boobs question :D

  • Pawel Samson

    I kind of hate this kid. Congrats, you’re gay and looking forward to being celibate your whole life because of your wacky religion. Your silly video accomplishes nothing.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Josh-Styles/1607933721 Josh Styles

    My solution to his problems:

  • kaydenpat

    Looks like his family and friends reacted very positively. Perhaps the Mormon Church will change its position on gays just like it changed its position on Blacks in the 1970s. It’s unrealistic to believe that he’s going to stay celibate for the rest of his life. If he wants to he should find a gay-affirming church. Yes, those do exist.

  • Brian Ortiz

    It makes me sad that people are sad for him. There could not be a wider gulf of disagreement and misunderstanding than between orthodox Christians (or quasi-Christians, I guess) and contemporary non-Christians. Jimmy’s decision to remain chaste and pursue a vocation of virginity must utterly bewilder the latter. Oh well. We have a work cut out for us.

    • Anna

      Yes, your work is indeed cut out for you if you are claiming that most people enjoy living lives devoid of romantic and sexual intimacy and can be completely fulfilled even though they are forbidden to have a partner or family of their own.

      It’s even crazier when you consider that there is no place for single, childless people within Mormonism. The goal of the religion is to get young couples married and breeding as soon as possible. There have been plenty of stories from straight Mormons who feel unaccepted because they are single. A celibate gay man with no wife and no children is a complete outsider.


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