Meanwhile… (after the Escape)

As I sipped my champagne I just knew it couldn’t be this easy. What if the president stopped the plane? What if they let him come on board to talk to me? What if God made the plane crash?

Three hours later in New York City I had to dodge a couple of NYC-based missionaries that had been sent there to bring me back. The airline had squealed and informed the president of my entire itinerary. After an hour or so, I gave up and let them talk to me. No, I didn’t want to go back to Puerto Rico. No, I didn’t wan’t to go back and talk to their president, either. No, I didn’t want them to sit with me until my connecting flight boarded. No, no, no.

“Hello, Mom, guess where I am?”

“Well, if you’re not in Puerto Rico, I don’t know.”

“I’m in New York City. My flight get’s into Richmond around eight.”

So I managed to last until I was almost at my hump day. I had almost served half of my two-year tour. I think I was on the verge of a nervous breakdown. I did the only thing I could to survive – took the car, headed for the airport, and jumped on the first plane off the island. For the next few years I struggled to put my life back together and reconcile my experience with my religious beliefs. And guess what? After a couple of years I went back and started attending my local singles branch. I even got a temple recommend again. And I converted one of my friends in the process. What a swell guy I was.

The summer of 1993 was a turning point for me. I have been overweight since about the age of seven or so. I had tried every diet known to man, but couldn’t stick to any of them. I knew that one day the perfect one would come along, but until then I continued to have my weight go up and down, but mostly up. Then one day at our local library, while looking for a book I wanted to read, I saw an interesting book on the shelf right next to it called When Food Is Love. Interesting, I thought, so I checked it out and left the other one there for another day. What a move that was. I learned one very important thing that day – that it wasn’t what I ate that was the problem, it was why I ate. And over the next several months dealt with a lot of issues that I never wanted to face. Among them was a critical piece of information that I had never consciously accepted before – that I, the best little Mormon boy in the world, was gay.

That realization finally made, I stopped going to church and became completely inactive, except for my involvement with a group called Affirmation: Gay & Lesbian Mormons. They were there for me when I desperately needed it. They held my hand and supported me as I came out of the closet and really experienced life for the first time. They are some of the kindest, most sincere people I have ever met, and I count them among by very best friends. One thing they didn’t give me, however, were easy answers. I had much needed support, but I still had to reconcile my religious beliefs with my sexual orientation, and the church’s treatment of those of us who are “that way.” During my search, the church made the decision for me when they became an active participant in the Hawaii gay marriage legal battle. I knew that no matter what my beliefs were regarding Joseph Smith, the Book of Mormon, and the Restoration, I could no longer tolerate being a member of the church. I sent in my letter asking for my name to removed from the records of the church on April 6, 1996.

And then in January of 1997 a wonderful thing happened. I bought a new computer and started surfing the net for the first time. Now at my fingertips I had access to virtually everything I had ever wanted to know about the church, and a whole lot more. In the course of just a few months I not only gave up my Mormon beliefs, but all religious beliefs. I traded in my scriptures for a copy of Carl Sagan’s Demon Haunted World. I traded in my CTR ring for a fully-functional shit detector. I turned in my arrogance for an open mind. I learned that I know a whole lot less than what I used to think I knew.


I'm the secret love slave of Jonny McGovern, the Gay Pimp. I'm originally from the Bay Area of San Francisco, but have lived most of my life in Richmond, Virginia. I am the youngest of four kids, having 2 sisters and a brother. I joined the Mormon church when I was 15, and even went on a mission to Puerto Rico. After coming out in 1994, I eventually left the church, spent many years as an atheist / agnostic, and have recently become Unitarian. I used to be really fat until I had weight loss surgery about 4 years ago, and have lost about 250 pounds since then. I work as a techno geek and am currently working on getting my MCSE 2003 certification. I enjoy traveling, reading, music, movies, shooting pool, and drinking too much.

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9 Responses

  1. Hellmut says:

    Good for you, Dan. I am happy that it worked out for you.

  2. And now you know….THE REST OF THE STORY. Great story, Dan. I’m very glad you’re happier now in your life, and more comfortable in your own skin too.

    I’m enjoying getting to know you better.

  3. Hellmut says:

    If it’s not too personal, Dan, I would love to hear out your parents dealt with your orientation. Do you still live in Virginia? I live in suburban Maryland.

  4. Michael says:

    Yours is a beautiful story of growth, Dan. Thanks for writing it.

  5. Kullervo says:

    Man, who doesn’t live in suburban Maryland?

    And I’m even looking at Richmond law firms for after graduation.

  6. exmoron says:

    Great story. Great feeling, being out, isn’t it? From one skeptical atheist to another – Hail skepticism!

  7. dug says:

    i don’t understand. if you wanted to come home from your mission, why the drama? why the midnight escape? why not just say “i’m done and i’m going home?”

    sure they’ll try to talk you out of it, but they won’t make you stay. people come home early all the time.

    don’t get me wrong, i’m not saying you should have stayed. i still have nightmares about being in santiago. i’m just wondering, why the need for the dramatic midnight run?

  8. danuhler says:

    You know, that would have been ideal. And nowadays I’m not one to engage in a lot of drama. But back then, I was an immature 21 year old with very little self-esteem. My mission president intimidated the hell out of me. He was NOT a kind man, and I could never have stood up to him. I could do it today, but not back then.

  9. crawli says:

    Demon Haunted World by Carl Sagan is an excellent book. I would recommend reading all of his books if you haven’t already done so. April 6th is an interesting date to have your records removed (according to Talmage anyway).

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