Everyone needs a friend. For men and women like me who experience a real physical and emotional attraction toward the same gender, sometimes the friend we need is someone who knows exactly how we feel.

I remember the first person I spoke with who was both Mormon and attracted to the same gender. It was a scary but freeing experience. Our conversation led me to realize I’m not alone in experiencing these attractions while married to a woman. 

He helped me learn that I don’t have to feel shame for feeling this way and that God loves me still.

Over the years, I have come to know many individuals of a variety of faiths who also experience attraction to the same gender. They have brought me incredible peace and joy, just knowing they’re out there continuing to live true to their faith while also being authentic to who they are.

That is why I felt confident enough to share my story during a meeting at work in March of 2015. Ricardo happened to be in that meeting. I remember how quiet and still he was in the corner while listening to me explain my experience with same-sex attraction. I don’t think he said anything. He just listened. As we were leaving, he came up to me and whispered, “Can we talk?” Then I knew that like other men who had reached out to me before, Ricardo experienced same-sex attraction.

He opened up to me about his life and the internal conflict he had experienced for decades.

All I had to say was “I know how you feel.”

Those five words can cause anyone to weep, especially if you’ve never heard them before from someone who actually knows what it’s like to walk in your shoes.

Ricardo and I haven’t walked down the exact same road, nor have we had the same experiences in life. But when we get together for lunch or other meetings, there are no reservations with regard to how we feel or what we think.

We know we can be ourselves, completely, without embarrassment or shame.

To someone who hasn’t felt that their entire life, it can be liberating!

Ricardo is just one of many people who love God and seek to follow Him yet have been conflicted with feelings that some people would say are contrary to God’s plan. This can be very confusing. Although I don’t have all the answers, I can say that God has a plan for each of us. I know God wants us to experience happiness in this life, and more than anything, He wants us to return to live with Him.

To do that, He has given us the tools to be successful. For me, not only do those tools include obedience to the commandments, the Atonement, and the gospel of Jesus Christ, but they include having people around me who love and support me.

Through the Atonement, Jesus Christ felt all of my pain and my joy. He knows me better than anyone. And although I cannot be with Him physically right now, sometimes I feel He has put certain people in front of me to be an extension of His love and empathy. Men like Ricardo certainly fit that description. Not only do we experience a brotherly love for each other, but we both know how it feels to experience same-sex attraction. Being in the company of such individuals has changed my life for the better. For that I am eternally grateful.