36-year-old Travis is a recently single father of five, a man of faith, and a soldier currently stationed in South Korea with the US Army. Travis is also gay. As a one-time follower of the Mormon faith, Travis battled for years with his sexuality. His former wife, Rachelle, who has been a pillar of strength and support through Travis coming out, knew he was gay for the entirety of their marriage. They both did. But like many others, they thought their marriage was something they could make work based on their beliefs.
Travis admires Rachelle greatly: as a fiercely protective and supportive mother, but also as his own rock during this difficult time. Their children are surrounded by love and support, and still view themselves as a family. From this experience, Travis and Rachelle are teaching their children to be open and honest, and to know that they will always be loved and supported. The family currently lives in Arizona while Travis is stationed abroad.
To help in his coming out process, Travis wrote this public post below to share how he's reconciled his sexuality with his family and his faith. In his own words, here's Travis' coming out letter, which you can also read on his own blog.
This bridge near Monterey has meaning to me. Ten months ago, Rachelle, the kids, and I had an impromptu family picture here (pictured below). It was a beautiful shot. The moment seemed happy.
But there was so much pain that the picture didn't capture. I was at the darkest point of a lifelong conflict. And the darkness wasn't just affecting me; it was taking such a toll on those other people in that picture.
The conflict? It starts with my being Mormon. I loved my faith. Mormonism was a part of who I was. It was true. It was how I would get back to God. I learned and believed this, starting as a child. But I also learned when I was young that this was not the case for someone who was gay. They didn't go back to God. So, quietly and internally, I battled for years. I had to change. Because I wasn't just Mormon; I knew pretty early on that being gay was also a part of who I was.
But I loved and wanted to be with God. I'd do what it took. So the conflict became about making one part of my identity go away. That effort lasted for a decade.
It transitioned when I felt God tell me to stop trying to change. So I did. I accepted that being gay wasn't going to go away, and the conflict then became about reconciling. The teaching of my faith was still clear that marriage to a woman was what God wanted of me. My best guess, my best effort to make sense of it, was that with enough faith and selflessness and love, it could work.
So, with all the faith I had, I married Rachelle. She was my best friend. I loved her.
For a decade+, there was so much goodness. God gave us the most perfect set of five kids ever put into two parents' arms. Life had joy. We were so blessed.
But there was also a difficulty—a haze that lingered and hurt.
Rachelle and I worked for years on making these two parts of my identity work. Together, we shared tears, prayers, fasting, and attempts to reach out—it felt like we did it all. Endless, enervating, and earnest effort was just a part of our story. We were following God, though, so it would soon work out.
But soon wasn't arriving. And eventually that haze became a darkness—one that slowly and cyclically grew.
Around the time that picture was taken, the darkness had gotten so bad that, for the first time in my life, I began to question whether what I'd learned from my faith about being gay was actually of God.
And that's when I feel that God began to speak to me. And He spoke to Rachelle. I felt His love and acceptance over all parts of my life in a way that was transformative. A spiritual transition began. I no longer saw my identity as being in conflict at all.
A different set of changes happened. Mormonism remains a part of who I am; it imbues my faith and my approach to God. But I am no longer Mormon. And while Rachelle and I are no longer a couple, we still view ourselves as a family with our children. She is my hero. She saved me. She's the one who had the strength to listen to God and make the difficult decisions when I was stuck too deep in a dark cycle. I love her more than ever. Our children are my joy. I see my future in them. And this all makes us a family still.
The darkness has faded. I now view myself as whole and learning everyday more about myself and God. This is how life should be. Life is supposed to be about arriving at a place that makes us happy.
My family came to know intense hurt during this process. But we have a rule: We let the hurt out, we let it be what it is, and then we surround it with love. Because love is what makes a family.
Looking back, life always seemed to be two parts that were unable to be connected. But bridges are a thing. They connect the unconnected. And love—God's love, Rachelle's love, and eventually my love for myself—became that bridge for me.
This is why this bridge has meaning to me. It used to remind me of darkness. Now, I see love.