In a raw, honest interview, Josh Searle, from eastern Idaho, recently discussed with East Idaho News what it’s like to be gay and an active member of the Church.
While chatting with interviewer Nate Eaton, Josh spoke openly about his journey as a gay Mormon: “This is such a personal journey of learning our relationship with God, learning how He communicates with us.”
Searle is one of many stories featured on the landing page of the Church website Mormon and Gay. When asked how he felt about being featured distinctly on the website, he said the situation is a catch-22.
“My greatest fear is people will say, ‘Oh look here’s his story. This is how it’s done,’” he says. “There’s no one size fits all in this journey of being Mormon and gay. It’s very personally driven. My fear is parents using my story to tell their kids, ‘This is how you should be.’ No, that’s not how it should be,” he says.
The Church heard about Searle's story from a YouTube video about his journey finding God and how He loves him. That video eventually reached Church leaders, and they decided to share his story.
Sharing Struggles in the Moment
But Searle's story has also gained some traction from his blog, Bravely Botching Life. About the genesis of that blog, Searle says, "A few years ago, I went to church court and was disfellowshipped from my Church. With Church protocol, during that time of discipline, you are not allowed to talk in church, pray, or comment. And so I was having all these spiritual experiences, but I had no way to talk about them."
Searle turned to Facebook to voice his experiences, but soon friends began asking him to post these comments on a blog. That was the beginning of bravelybotchinglife.com, which has been read by people all over the world. But it's not about being Mormon and gay. It's all about how Searl has tried to include God in his plan and "put the pieces back together." Searle says, "I try to be like, 'Okay, here I am hurting—not like here I was hurting five years ago. Here's my current pain, and here's how I am trying getting through it."
Searle acknowledges that culturally we tend to share those difficult experiences that are distant and that we have already overcome. "It's so much different to say, 'I have a struggle right now,' and I think that's what has more power for people, to say, 'I am hurting now,'" he explains.
Losing His Mother to Suicide
In fact, Searle shared one of those painful moments during his interview—losing his mother to suicide:
"I had just returned from my mission. I had been back about six months, and my mother suffered from manic depression and bipolar disorder. One morning she took five gallons of gasoline and started at the top of the stairs and poured it throughout the basement and started the house on fire," he recalls.
While he tried to grapple with this family tragedy, he shares, "The thing that I learned the most from that is we as humans tend to be terrified to suffer with people. When I went back to college and people found out my mother committed suicide by setting the house on fire, everyone made sure not to say the word suicide. 'Don't say mother. Don't say house.' And here I was hurting inside, but no one would bring up what I was struggling with."
People tended to avoid Searle. "It's not because they were mean, but they just don't know how to suffer with someone," Searle says. "And so for me, I learned it's such a powerful thing to walk into someone's suffering and just be present there. You don't have to say anything or do anything, but just being present [and saying] 'I am hearing your pain' has immense power to lift someone else's burden." And that's what he strives to do through sharing his story.
Watch the whole interview with Josh Seale on eastidahonews.com