005: John Gustav-Wrathall pt. 1 on his youth, spiritual development, and his descent into despair

In part 1 of this 4 part series John talks about his upbringing in the mission field and his intense connection to the church, his equally intense guilt related to his sexual orientation, how he danced with these  two opposing forces in his life while serving a mission and attending BYU, and how despair gained the upper hand.


Part 2 with John here

Part 3 with John here

Part 4 with John here

Part 1:

7 comments for “005: John Gustav-Wrathall pt. 1 on his youth, spiritual development, and his descent into despair

  1. Paula
    January 26, 2013 at 11:32 pm

    One of the indelible memories I have from the most recent Salt Lake ctw conference is of a man receiving hugs and kisses from an elderly couple I assumed were his parents. It has remained with me as a beautiful example of love and acceptance. I later came to find out that man was you. I also was lucky enough to sit next to you at one of the sessions. Thank you for sharing your story. Your goodness is infectious.

    • February 17, 2013 at 8:25 am

      Paula – my parents were at CTW in Salt Lake. Thank you so much! These kinds of gatherings are so important for all kinds of healing and understanding around these issues. There is a “mighty work and a wonder” under way…!

  2. Denise
    February 15, 2013 at 11:42 am

    Oh John, hearing your laugh on the podcast took me back to teen years in our ward together. I had to let you know, though you were older and may not remember me. I was deeply touched by you sharing your story. I was very impressed by your family’s responses throughout. (I wonder if A. remembers me teaching her on the organ to play the hymn used in the podcast production.)
    I imagine this interview in essence can function as a conversation for all who listen – maybe another million – as we seek to understand and love one another on this earth. – Denise Black Gold

    • February 17, 2013 at 8:11 am

      Denise, thank you so much for commenting… I yearn for these connections back to the days of my youth in the Church. Please connect to me through FB or email so we can chat some more. (You can find my email through my blog.) I’ll have to ask Anne if she remembers you! Love, John

  3. Rob
    February 17, 2013 at 1:18 am


    Thanks for sharing your amazing story. I can’t help but think that you’re in a very unusual place and maybe feel like a lone man in the wilderness because of the uniqueness of your position as being both an out gay man and a faithful believer in the LDS church. I want you to know that there are more of us out there, who have had powerful, undeniable spiritual experiences regarding our sexuality and the church. I myself have taken a very similar path to yours, though not nearly as extreme and perhaps a bit more unorthodox.

    Still, after a decade of being away from the church exploring my own identity, the Lord has specifically called me back to the church as well. I wasn’t born and raised LDS, but I served a mission and was very active for a good part of my life and my identity has forever remained associated with an LDS informed perspective (unorthodox though it may be).

    This situation is really so complex, and yet at the same time it’s so simple. My heart has always just wanted to draw near to my Savior. It just happened to also want to draw near a man instead of a woman for needs of intimacy and sexuality. Before coming out, I’d fall in love with guys and fantasize about taking them to the temple. Fortunately, I’ve never had to deal with feelings of guilt for it. I really only had the very potent need to make sense of everything. It was every bit as real and painful as I imagine guilt to be, even to the point of having it out with God in mighty prayer, many times. The basic outcome of my prayers initially was that it was painfully clear that the Lord was not going to “heal” me of my homosexuality. Sure he could heal my broken leg, cast out devils, and accomplish all sorts of other miracles in my life, but not this one.

    The culmination of that realization was that since God made me gay, He was also going to have to fix it if he wanted it to happen. We decided that I would live as a gay man, but that I was going to rely on Him for guidance and always follow his promptings as I went. Well, it wasn’t nearly as easy as I first thought, but for the most part, I was able to do that. At this point, I’m not really sure what my return to the church is going to look like. It’s the next thing I’m trying to figure out. There is a part of me that senses something as yet unrevealed about my sexuality that I need to further examine, and there’s also a part of me that wants to commit to a gay identity and find my eternal companion dude. I’m not worried. I feel resolved with God as I proceed down the path we’ve travelled together these past years. I love Him and trust Him explicitly. It’s almost startling how much he’s forgiven me for and the price of my own redemption, but He’s God so He can do it.

    Again John, thanks for sharing your inspirational story. I know it will be a powerful aid to many anxious souls. 🙂



    • February 17, 2013 at 8:20 am

      Rob, you’re quite right. I did for many years think I was quite alone, but I’m gradually discovering I’m not. Slowly but surely my path has converged with the paths of others like us. Some of us are beginning to gather in Affirmation. It’s moving to me to read the pieces of your story you’ve shared here. I hope you’ll make contact with me off line, and consider connecting to Affirmation if you haven’t already… Peace, John

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